The 1868 Grand Council elections were the first since 1853 with no incumbent candidate running for re-election as Governor-General. The incumbent Governor-General, Kenneth Parkes of the Liberal Party, chose to step down after two terms.
Previously, candidates for Governor-General had been chosen by each party's caucus in the Grand Council. However, at Parkes' suggestion, Liberal delegates from throughout the C.N.A. met together at a national convention in Burgoyne. Thanks to Parkes' lavish bribery of the delegates, the convention chose his protégé, Northern Confederation Governor Victor Astor, as their candidate for Governor-General. Like Parkes, Astor was charming, politically astute, and thoroughly corrupt, owning at least 15 brothels in New York City and Philadelphia. Astor's acceptance speech at the convention had been written for him by Liberal party boss William Conrad.
The Conservative Party chose to emulate the Liberals by holding their own national convention in New York. After bitter faction fights, the Conservatives nominated Councilman Herbert Clemens of Indiana as their candidate for Governor-General. Clemens was a veteran of the Rocky Mountain War who had become wealthy after the war running a dry goods store in Michigan City before winning a seat in the Grand Council.
The main issue of the 1868 election was the Liberals' corruption, contrasted with Clemens' own reputation for honesty. Clemens ran on a reform agenda, and also spent a considerable amount of his own personal fortune buying votes. This proved sufficient for the Conservatives to win a majority of 85 Grand Council seats to the Liberals' 65.
|Conservative Party||Liberal Party|
Sobel's sources for the 1868 Grand Council elections are Milton O'Casey's I Never Told a Lie: The Political Career of Victor Astor (New York, 1950); and Arthur Kurtz' Clemens of Indiana: Pirate with a Clerical Collar (New York, 1960).
|C.N.A. Grand Council Elections|
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