In 1870 the Democratic party in Missouri, still reeling from the impact of the Civil War, did not nominate a candidate for governor. It adopted what became known as “the possum policy” and aligned itself with the liberal Republicans. The move enabled the liberals to throw out the radicals then in charge and the Democrats to avoid a crushing – perhaps killing – defeat at the polls. The man who conceived the possum policy is generally regarded as having been William Hyde, a St. Louis newspaper publisher, historian, and aeronaut.
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