• Share
  • Read Later

The year the Grand Old Party nominated James Gillespie Blaine for the Presidency (1884), a young printer by the name of T. B. Dowden turned up in the shop of the Cincinnati Gazette looking for work. The Gazette took him on and one morning at 2:30 o'clock, just before the Gazette went to press, Printer Dowden took from the news hook a piece of copy marked: "Must go in ten lines." Setting ten lines solid, he frantically tinkered the spacing, then appealed to the foreman: "My copy ends with Grand Old Party and I have two words left over. What shall I do?"

"Oh, hell," exploded the busy foreman. "Throw them away and use your intelligence. Cut 'em short, get 'em in, abbreviate 'em, use initials. Do something and hurry up. This page is late!"

Next morning on the front page of the Gazette appeared this sentence: "The Hon. James G. Blaine will address the meeting on 'The Achievements of the Gop.' "

At the meeting that night the Man from Maine was concluding a two-hour Republican harangue when a voice cried from the gallery: "Why don't you tell us something about the 'Gop' and what it did?"

Retorted Speaker Blaine: "Why, my friend, I've been talking about the 'Gop' all evening. The word 'Gop' contains the initial letters of the Grand Old Party and that is its official and abbreviated form."

In a letter signed "The Printer Himself" published in the New York Herald Tribune last week, oldtime Printer Dowden, now living in Los Angeles, gave the foregoing version of the origin of the Republican party's nickname. He concluded: "The audience roared but Blaine never smiled. That settled it right there and 'Gop' held its own for a long time. Then fussy proofreaders got to decorating it with periods and it finally evolved into G. O. P."