James A. Garfield -- a "dark horse" candidate. This panel from the museum at the Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio, tells of the drama at the Republican National Convention of 1880.
A "dark horse" is a person who suddenly and unexpectedly receives political support to run for office. The term was probably first used in a novel by Benjamin Disraeli titled The Young Duke (1831). In American presidential politics it was first applied in 1844 to James K. Polk, who won the Democratic nomination on the eighth ballot, and went on to win the election.
Photos and text © Gleaves Whitney 2004