Charles E. Cunningham

Charles E. Cunningham (July 1, 1823 – April 21, 1895) was an American politician who is best known for being the Union Labor Party's nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 1888 election.

Charles Cunningham
Charles E. Cunningham.jpg
Personal details
Born(1823-07-01)July 1, 1823
Frederick County, Maryland, U.S.
DiedApril 21, 1895(1895-04-21) (aged 71)
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (Before 1876)
Greenback (1876–1886)
Agricultural Wheel (1886–1888)
Union Labor (1888–1891)
Populist (1891–1895)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Jones (1849–1883)


Cunningham was born in 1823 in Frederick County, Maryland, to James Cunningham, a retired British military captain, and Catherine Campbell, a native of the state. He had three brothers and a sister. Despite being orphaned in 1834, Cunningham obtained an education and married Elizabeth A. Jones (died 1883) in 1849.[1] They had eight children; Kate, Nannie, Mollie, James, Bessie (married John J. Cockrell, the son of Francis Cockrell), George, Nettie, and Charles.[2]

Cunningham moved to California in 1849 and to Johnson County, Missouri in 1854. He went to St. Louis, Missouri in 1862 and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas after the end of the American Civil War. He began operating a sawmill in Little Rock and served on the school board there from 1873 until 1877.[2][3] A former Democrat, in 1876 Cunningham joined the Greenback Party, and ran as that party's candidate in the 1882 congressional election, coming in second place to Democrat Clifton R. Breckinridge. He ran for Governor of Arkansas as the candidate of the Agricultural Wheel party in 1886, receiving 11.7 percent of the vote.[1][4]

Cunningham joined the newly formed Union Labor Party in 1888. At that year's Union Labor National Convention in May, Illinois State Senator Alson Streeter was unanimously nominated as their candidate for president. The vice presidential ballot saw Samuel Evans of Texas receive 124 votes, T. P. Rynder of Pennsylvania received 44, and Cunningham received 32. After Evans declined the party's nomination, Cunningham became the vice presidential candidate.[5] He waited several weeks before accepting the nomination.[6][7] The ULP ticket received 146,602 votes (1.3%) but did get 11.4% in Kansas and 6.8% in Arkansas.[8]

Cunningham was influential in the forming of the Populist Party in 1891. He was temporary chairman of the May 1891 Populist convention. Cunningham died on April 21, 1895. He is buried in Little Rock at the Oakland-Fraternal Cemetery.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Hild, Matthew (April 2, 2013). "Charles E. Cunningham (1823–1895)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Charles E. Cunningham". My Genealogy Hound. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Goodspeed's History of Pulaski County, Arkansas (1889)
  4. ^ "AR Governor 1886". Our Campaigns. September 17, 2005. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  5. ^ Thomas William Herringshaw (1888). The Biographical Review of Prominent Men & Women of the Day: With Biographical Sketches & Reminiscences. Live & Services of All the Presidential Candidates for 1888: with Platform & History of Each Party. W. H. Ives & Company. pp. 522–524.
  6. ^ "US President UL Convention". Our Campaigns. February 18, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  7. ^ W. Newcombe, Alfred (1945). "Alson J. Streeter: An Agrarian Liberal". Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. University of Illinois Press. 38 (4): 414–445. JSTOR 40188174.
  8. ^ Leip, David. "1888 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved July 27, 2005.
Party political offices
New political party Union Labor nominee for Vice President of the United States
Party dissolved