Rare electoral map of the “Republican Sweep” in the 1894 midterms

Wm. M. Bradley, REPUBLICAN SWEEP OF 1894[:] BRADLEY’S POLITICAL MAP OF THE UNITED STATES Showing Republican Sweep of 1894. Philadelphia: John E. Potter & Co., 1894.
14 ½”h x 23”w at neat line plus title and margins, full wash color. Old folds and some mis-folding, plus minor wear and soiling along edges.

An extremely rare electoral map depicting the results of the 1894 mid-term elections, in which the House of Representatives underwent its largest-ever realignment.

The 53rd Congress (1893-1895) had been dominated by the Democratic Party, which held a majority in the Senate and a dominant 218 of 356 seats in the House. However, in the 1894 mid-terms the Democrats, hamstrung by an economic depression, were absolutely demolished, losing four seats in the Senate and a stunning 127 in the House. The election is generally viewed as marking the beginning of a realignment in American politics and the dawn of the Progressive Era.

This thematic map is simple in design, though initially puzzling in that , in contrast to our modern color scheme, blue wash designates states voting Republican and red those voting Democratic. At any rate, the map clearly indicates that after 1894 the Democrats’ last remaining stronghold was in the Deep South. However the simple color scheme is misleading in at least a couple of ways: First, Kentucky and Maryland are both shown as red (i.e., Democratic) states. Yet, while both in fact elected two Democratic Senators, Kentucky elected a majority of Republican Representatives while the Maryland House delegation was evenly divided. Second, Arizona, Indiana Territory, Nevada and Utah are all shown as blue (i.e., Republican) states, even though the four had not yet achieved statehood and were therefore not entitled to send voting members to Congress.

It is worth noting that this is a relatively early example of an electoral map using color to indicate the results of an American election. The very earliest of which I am aware is this 1884 map issued as a premium to promote the sale of Old Honesty tobacco.

The map is extremely rare: I find no record of its having appeared on the market and but a single institutional holding at Penn State. A note at the bottom mentions “a comparative map showing Democratic sweep, 1892,” but I have been unable to locate an example.

OCLC 45887393 (Penn State only, as of December 2018).