Definition of Mugwumps

Mugwump, an old word from a Native American language, came to be associated with Republicans who supported Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, in the presidential election of 1884. The Mugwumps were offended by the financial corruption associated with Republican candidate James G. Blaine.

The Mugwumps, who were considered reformers, most likely made a difference in the election and helped secure the presidency for Cleveland.

Mugwump leaders tended to be educated men from the Northeast. And for a time it appeared that the Mugwumps might become a lasting political force, as an influential group of people who were somewhat aloof from strict loyalty to political parties. But in practice the Mugwumps did not have an enduring influence, and their importance in national politics faded out in the early 1890s.