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not arising out of any material change in the political sentiments of the population within the territorial limits of the county before 1817, but from the annexation, in that year, of the three eastern towns from Montgomery county, Salisbury, Manheim and Danube.
The federal party in the county, like that of the republican in Oneida, although twenty years in a minority, was neither dead nor asleep. Its wakeful and recuperative faculties were extremely facile. Whenever at a gubernatorial or senatorial election, it became expedient to poll a full freehold vote, their strong and tried men were put upon the local tickets, and the elections were canvassed with a zeal and animation that betokened a confident assurance of success. The annexed towns had usually given a pretty strong and reliable aggregate federal majority, when attached to Montgomery county. Of the candidates presented by the federalists in 1819, one was selected from Manheim, a gentleman of influence and weight of character, with a view, no doubt, of impressing our new neighbors with the notion that their interests were to be carefully looked after, and their prominent men not neglected. Candidates were taken by that party from each of the remaining towns at the two succeeding elections. In adopting and pursuing this policy, the federal party, under the circumstances, evinced a good deal of political skill. I well remember speaking with a Clintonian republican, Robert Shoemaker, on the subject, who remarked, it would do very well unless it provoked jealousy in other parts of the county.
At the succeeding spring elections, in 1820 and 1821, the federalists achieved two more victories in the county, and then rested upon their honors more than a quarter of a century. It had, I believe, become a fixed common law principle with the political parties in the county, when it was entitled to three members of assembly, to select one of German and two of English descent, as candidates. This rule may not have been observed in every instance during thirtysix years, and if not, the exception was extremely rare. The contest for governor in 1820, between the bucktail and Clintonian parties was, no doubt, one of the most severely contested of any that had taken place in the state for many years. The freehold vote in the county was 1226 for Clinton, and 947 for Tompkins. Mr. Clinton's majority in the state was only fourteen hundred and fifty-seven, and although he escaped defeat, his opponents held the political power of the state by having a working majority in each legislative branch. The federalists as a party supported Mr. Clinton, notwithstanding some fifty high-minded gentlemen, of great personal worth, talents and wealth, renounced their connection with that party, declared it dissolved, in a published manifesto, and avowed their intention of supporting Mr. Tompkins. A portion of the old republican party adhered to Mr. Clinton, and a perfect reunion of the dissevered fragments did not take place until General Jackson's election in 1828, and in the meantime most of the high-minded gentlemen had gone over to the Adams party. This brief view of the aspect of affairs outside of the county, seems necessary to enable us to appreciate more justly the true state of things at home. There were several provisions in the constitution of 1777, framed and adopted while the country was in a state of war, and when it was believed too many guards could not be thrown around the exercise of the powers of self-government, such as the veto power, vested in a council of revision, composed of the chancellor and justices of the supreme court, who held their offices during good behavior; the power of appointing all the civil and military officers in the state vested in the governor for the time being, and four senators, and the restriction upon the elective franchise, confining the choice of governor and senators to those citizens who owned a freehold of the value of two hundred and fifty dollars, which attracted public attention, and became the subject of discussion among politicians and in the public press. This subject, if properly managed, could be used as an effective instrument to produce a political crisis, and the opportunity was not neglected by Mr. Clinton's opponents. It is not my purpose to inquire after the reasons, or to discuss the motives which induced that gentleman and his leading friends to oppose the call of a convention to revise the constitution of 1777. Whatever may be the exact truth in respect to this matter, the people were told, and they believed, that he and his friends were in fact hostile to the measure, and with this impression strongly fixed in the public mind, the convention was called, and the result in the choice of delegates was precisely what every intelligent politician in the state expected.
The majority of the popular vote in the state for the convention, was seventy-four thousand four hundred and fortyfive. In this county the aggregate vote for it was 1598; against, 1627. The election of delegates took place on the third Tuesday of June, 1821. The republicans, or democrats as they were now called, had been defeated the previous April, and the Clintonians controlled the only newspaper in the county.
Although the current of public opinion in the state was setting strongly in favor of the democratic party, the condition of affairs in the county did not afford much prospect of success in the election of delegates to the convention. Mr. Simeon Ford, a gentleman whose private character was without reproach, of highly respectable talents, and who had long been a leading member at the bar in the county, had been elected a member of the assembly in 1820, and reelected in 1821. His capacity for business and industrious habits, rather than brilliant displays of oratory, rendered him an efficient member of the house, and one of the prominent Clintonian leaders. He was a politician of the old federal school, and had been long a resident of the county. It was considered very important by Governor Clinton and his friends to secure Mr. Ford's election as a delegate to the approaching convention. In view of the great interests at stake, no man in the county was better qualified by experience and ability to grapple with the accumulating difficulties of the times, and which eventually precipitated his party, for a time, into a hopeless minority.
I think the Clintonian and democratic conventions met at Herkimer, on the same day, to select candidates to be supported at the election for choosing delegates; and if this was not the fact, the Clintonians had made their nominations. It was known to the democrats that Mr. Richard Van Horne, of Danube, was a candidate on the ticket with Mr. Ford, before they made out their ticket. The democrats were neither hopeful nor sanguine, and their convention was not very numerously attended, but we had come resolved to make up a ticket, win or lose. During our deliberations it was stated in _ the convention that Mr. Van Horne was in favor of the extension of the elective franchise, and a modification of the veto, and appointing powers, and had given verbal assurances to that effect. It was somewhat difficult to make out a ticket, not on account of the pressure of claims by the friends of candidates, but for the want of the right sort of men, and none were envious of the distinguished honor of being defeated. We finally nominated a ticket, consisting of Sherman Wooster, Sanders Lansing and Richard Van Horne.
It was urged in the convention, that by placing Mr. Van Horne on the democratic ticket, we should render his influence in the town of Danube less hurtful to Messrs. Wooster and Lansing, than it would be if he was left off. To tho surprise of some, and contrary to the sober expectations of many, Messrs. Lansing and Wooster were chosen delegates by a majority of four hundred and thirty six. It was generally believed the Clintonians were opposed to the extension of the elective franchise, and this damaged their ticket with the non freeholders, to some extent. But considerable apathy prevailed among Mr. Clinton's friends at the polls of election which I attended. I always attributed this to dissatisfaction, in a certain influential quarters, in respect to Mr. Ford's third nomination, although the avowed reasons for non interference in the election, was, that the individual approved of the call and objects of the convention. There is no doubt, I think, that the minds of many people in the county, became settled and fixed in favor of the measure, after it was generally known that the call of the convention had been sanctioned by such an immense majority of the voters in the state.
After finishing their labors at Albany, the convention adjourned, submitting the new constitution to be approved or rejected by a vote of the electors. At a special election, held in the month of February, 1822, the constitution was ratified by a vote of 75,422 for it, to 41,497 against it; showing a majority of 33,926, in the state.
Without riots, bloodshed or the least disturbance in the machinery of government, this civil revolutiqn was accomplished, and the large approving vote was followed by the most salutary effects. I do not wish to be understood in this remark, to refer to mere party politics. It showed to the civilized world, that Americans were capable of selfgovernment; that old and well established principle of the fundamental law of the social compact, could be abrogated when found inconvenient or unsuited to our condition, with the same order and peaceable decorum which usually attend our annual elections. The vote in this county, on adopting the new constitution, was, 1583 in favor, and 1254 against it.
The first election in the county, under the new constitution, in November 1822, resulted favorably to the democratic party, and from that time, to 1847, I am confident no candidate, other than an avowed democrat, was elected to any office by the people. I shall notice the exceptions in due order of time, when the regular county-convention nominations were set aside or disregarded. I should notice the fact in this place, that a democratic paper was established in the county, by Mr. Edward M. Griffing, in 1821. It was called The People's Friend, and published at Little Falls.
The presidential controversy in 1824, produced the ephemeral nondescript called the People's Party. It lived one year, and no longer. Its leaders were in favor of almost