Winfield S. Hancock

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Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886) was a U.S. Army General duing the Civil War, and later the Democrat candidate for president in 1880.

Hancock, named for Whig presidential candidate and fellow General Winfield Scott, was born in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, graduated form the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1844, and served in the Mexican War before becoming a quartermaster under future Confederate rival Joseph Johnston.

With the outbreak of war, Hancock was promoted to General and quickly earned the nickname "Superb." He was one of the few commanders under George B. McClellan who quickly distinguished himself in the early, indecisive battles. Hancock later played decisive roles in the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Gettysburg, where, as a unit commander under George G. Meade he palyed a pivotal role in turning back the advancing Confederate forces.

Hancock, a "War Democrat," seemed a logical choice for his party for public office: none could accuse Hancock of lukewarmness in the Union cause, after all. But Hancock's favored policy of allowing the southern states to quickly return to civilian rule made him suspect among some northerners. Nontheless, he received the Democratic nomination in 1880, and came within an ace of winning, losing by a handful of votes in a few states, but more decisively in the Electoral College. Hancock lost to James A. Garfield 48.27% to 48.25%, a squeaker by any reckoning. But he lost the elctoral vote more clearly (214 to 155). Hancock died of complications from diabetes only six years after his narrow defeat for president.

Fun Fact: Hancock served as a president of the National Rifle Association, back when it actually had more to do with rifles than with legalizing submachine guns.

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