Samuel J. Tilden emerged from the election of 1876 as the clear front-runner for the 1880 Democratic presidential nomination. Three events changed his fortunes. First, the congressional investigation into 1876 voting irregularities uncovered a proposed bribe from the Tilden campaign of $1,000,000 for the certification of one additional Presidential Elector from the South. Second, Tilden's anti-boss activities in New York State caused Tammany Hall to start looking elsewhere for a candidate. Third, Tilden himself never officially made a statement entering the race.
While Tilden considered his options, many other Democrats entered the race. Leading contenders appeared to be Winfield S. Hancock, Sen. Thomas F. Bayard, Sen. Allen G. Thurman, and Speaker of the U.S. House Samuel J. Randall.
The National Convention
The 13th Democratic National Convention assembled in the Music Hall, Cincinnati OH. Each state was allotted two delegates per electoral vote, resulting in the same number of delegates as in 1876 (738).
Temporary Chairman: George F. Hoadly OH
Permanent Chairman: John W. Stevenson KY
When Hoadly took the chair, he gave a brief speech mostly relating to the "theft" of the prior election, setting the theme of most convention speeches.