Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


Chapter XXI - Political History -- Annual Record

 
1788-1829     1830-1839     1840-1849     1850-1859     1860-1869     1870-1879     1880-1883     List of Public Officers
 
1830
This was the first year in which Anti-Masonry entered directly into the choice of district and county officers. The Anti-Masonic candidate for Congress was John Banks, of Mercer County. The Democratic candidate was Thomas S. Cunningham, Mercer County. Banks had a majority of 316 in Erie County, and 1,135 in the district. The candidates for county officers were as follows:

Anti-Masonic -- Assembly, John Riddle, Erie; Commissioner, James Pollock, LeBoeuf; Coroner, David Wallace, Erie; Auditor, John J. Swan, Fairview.

Democratic-Republican -- Assembly, P. S. V. Hamot, Erie; Commissioner, John Saulsbury, Fairview; Coroner. Charles Lay, Erie; Auditor, Thomas Laird, of Erie. The Anti-Masonic tick was successful by an average majority of 250.

1831
The candidates were as follows:

Anti-Masonic -- Assembly, John Riddle; Sheriff, William Fleming, Erie; Commissioner, Thomas R. Miller, Springfield; Auditor, James Smedley, North East.

1Democratic -- Assembly, George Moore, Erie; Sheriff, Albert Thayer, Erie; Commissioner, Thomas Mellen, North East; Auditor, John G. Caldwell, Mill Creek.

Independent Candidates -- Assembly, William Dickson, North East; Sheriff, David Zimmerman and James McConkey, Erie.

The Anti-Masonic candidates were successful by average majorities of about 400. None of the independent candidates had much of a support.

1832
The candidates for Governor were George Wolf, Democrat, and Joseph Ritner, Anti-Masonic.

The Democrats of Pennsylvania supported Andrew Jackson for President, and William Wilkins, this State, for Vice President. Martin Van Buren, New York, was also a Democratic candidate for Vice President, and was elected, though Pennsylvania cast her vote for Wilkins. Henry Clay ran as an Anti-Jackson Democratic candidate for President, with John Seargeant, Pennsylvania, for Vice President. The Anti-Masons supported William Wirt, Maryland, for President, and Amos Ellmaker, Pennsylvania, for Vice President. Wilson Smith was the Jackson candidate for Elector in this district; David Dick, Crawford, the Clay candidate; and Robert Falconer, Warren, the Anti-Masonic. The Jackson and Clay men went by the designation of Democratic Republicans; the supporters of Wirt by that of Republican Anti-Masons. The vote of the county was as follows:

Wirt
Jackson
Erie and Mill Creek
284
163
McKean
94
16
Fairview
89
12
Springfield
82
69
Conneaut
118
74
Waterford
92
65
Harbor Creek
80
76
North East
110
42
Greenfield
37
52
Union
138
1
Venango
72
42
Conneauttee
36
26
Concord
16
33
Elk Creek
64
31
Beaver Dam
33
32
Amity
30
39
Wayne
23
17
LeBoeuf
37
61
Girard
109
88
--------
--------
     Total
1,494
1,049

 

Only three ballots were cast for Clay, all in North East Township.

The vote for Governor was larger than that for President, Ritner receiving 1,792, and Wolf 1,170. In the State the result was as follows: George Wolf, Democrat, 91,235; Joseph Ritner, Anti-Mason, 88,186; Wolf's majority, 3,049. The vote of the State for President was: Jackson, 90,983; Wirt, 66,716; majority for Jackson, 24,267.

Mr. Clay's vote was too light to be considered worthy of record by the papers of the day.

The candidates for district and county offices were as follows:

Anti-Masonic -- Congress, Thomas H. Sill, of Erie; Assembly, John H. Walker, Erie; Commissioner, John McCord, North East; Auditor, Samuel Low, Venango Township.

Democratic -- Congress, John Galbraith, Venango County; Assembly, Rufus Seth Reed, Erie; Commissioner, Thomas Mellen, North East; Auditor, John Phillips, Venango.

All of the Anti-Masonic candidates were elected except Sill. John Galbraith was defeated by 833 votes in Erie County, but received a majority of 778 in the district.

1833
Anti-Masonic Candidates -- State Senate, Charles M. Reed, Erie County; Assembly, John H. Walker, Erie; Commissioner, James Love, Mill Creek; Coroner, David McNair, of Mill Creek; Auditor, Mark Baldwin, Greenfield.

Democratic Candidates -- State Senate, Thomas S. Cunningham, Mercer County; Assembly, Dr. Tabor Beebe, Erie; Commissioner, John Gingrich, Mill Creek; Coroner, Wareham Taggart, Springfield; Auditor, John Saulsbury, Conneaut.

All of the Anti-Masonic candidates were elected except Reed, who received a majority in the county, but was defeated in the district.

1834
Anti-Masonic Candidates -- Congress, Thomas H. Sill, Erie County; Assembly, John H. Walker, Erie; Sheriff, Thomas Mehaffey, Erie; Commissioner, Stephen Skinner, McKean; Auditor, Russell Stancliff, Washington.

Democratic -- Congress, John Galbraith, Venango County; Assembly, James M. Moorhead, Harbor Creek; Sheriff, Albert Thayer, Erie; Commissioner, Daniel Gillespie, Erie; Auditor, John R. Rouse, Venango.

Independent Candidate for Sheriff -- Chauncey Rogers, Girard.

The Anti-Masonic candidates were elected with the exception of Sill, who received 353 majority in the county, but was defeated by 1,622 in the district.

1835
The Democratic party of Pennsylvania was divided this year over a candidate for Governor, one portion supporting George Wolf, and another Henry A. Muhlenburg, Berks. The Anti-Masons again chose Joseph Ritner as a candidate, showing a pertinacity in their devotion to him which has few parallels in political annals.

The vote of Erie County was: For Ritner, 1,743; Wolf, 164; Muhlenburg, 1,281. In the State the vote was as follows: Joseph Ritner, Anti-Mason, 94,023; George Wolf, Democrat, 65,804; Henry A. Muhlenburg, Democrat, 40,586.

Anti-Masonic County Ticket -- Assembly, John H. Walker, Erie; Commissioner, James Miles, Girard; Auditor, William Benson, Waterford.

Democratic County Ticket -- Assembly, P. S. V. Hamot, Erie; Commissioner, John Gingrich, Mill Creek; Auditor, David Webber, Concord.

All of the Anti-Masonic candidates were elected by an average majority of 400.

A proposition to hold a convention for reviving the State Constitution was carried by 10,404 majority. Erie County cast 3,023 votes for the convention and 21 against it.

The following bit of political history appeared in the Erie Dispatch in 1882:

"When the Democratic party was rent in twain in 1835, by one of the most serious of discordant elements, two State Conventions were held. One presided over by the late Chief Justice Thompson nominated George Wolf for Governor for a third term. The anti-Wolf delegates, being a minority of the convention, protested against the nomination and at once met and, under the presidency of the same gentleman, nominated Henry A. Muhlenberg. The Democratic party with their two candidates in the field battled bravely, no so much with hopes of success as to test the relative strength of the hostile factions. Gov. Wolf's vote was 65,804. Mr. Muhlenberg's 40,586. The result proved disastrous to the Democratic party and resulted in the election of Joseph Ritner by a plurality vote of 8,196. At once commenced plans of reconstruction and conciliation, though the elements of discord were deep-seated and the contest was of the most embittered character. Both wings of the party had to be recognized as Democratic, and no ostracism by the national administration against either wing of the party was to be tolerated. Van Buren, as President, was appealed to by leading men of both parties. He at once determined to use the best means in his power to suppress antagonism, and if possible unite the party. He appointed Muhlenberg as Minister to Vienna and Wolf Collector of the Port of Philadelphia. This recognition went far to restore confidence, allay bad feeling and unite the party. The union was so far perfected that at the time of the next Gubernatorial election in 1838, the Democratic party was united and elected by a large majority David R. Porter over Joseph Ritner, and ever after has continued a united party."

1836
The Democratic candidate for Congress was Arnold Plumer, Venango County; the Anti-Masonic was David Dick, Crawford County. The vote of the county was: For Dick, 1,773; for Plumer, 1,214. In the district, Dick had 3,628, Plumer, 4,323, the latter being elected.

The county tickets, with the vote for each candidate, were as follows: The apportionment bill of 1835 gave Erie County two Assemblymen.

Anti-Masonic -- Assembly, Thomas R. Miller, Springfield, 1,948; Elijah Babbitt, Erie, 1,716; Commissioner, Samuel Low, Harbor Creek, 1,719; Coroner, Samuel W. Keefer, Erie, 1,696; Auditor, William H. Crawford, North East, 1,689 -- all being elected.

Democratic -- Assembly, James C. Marshall, Girard, 1,281; Frederick W. Miller, Waterford, 1,032; Commissioner, William Doty, Springfield, 1,244; Coroner, Anthony Saltsman, Mill Creek, 1,158; Auditor, James Wilson, Greenfield, 1,176.

The Presidential election was held October 31. The Anti-Masonic candidates were: For President, Gen. William H. Harrison, Ohio; for Vice President, Francis Granger, New York. The elector for this district was James Cochran, Crawford County. The Democratic candidates were: For President, Martin Van Buren, New York; for Vice President, Richard M. Johnson, Kentucky. The elector was John P. Davis, Crawford County. Below is the vote:


 
Harrison
 
Van Buren
Erie  
217
 
113
McKean  
147
 
20
Fairview  
125
 
18
Springfield  
182
 
67
Conneaut  
86
 
91
Waterford  
122
 
92
Harbor Creek  
154
 
75
North East  
137
 
197
Greenfield  
48
 
37
Union  
59
 
25
Venango  
86
 
44
Washington  
133
 
58
Beaver Dam  
81
 
37
Elk Creek  
79
 
82
Concord  
15
 
47
Amity  
26
 
43
Wayne  
42
 
22
LeBoeuf  
35
 
55
Girard  
155
 
94
Mill Creek  
205
 
95
---------
---------
     Total  
2,134
 
1,312



The vote of the State was as follows:

Van Buren, 91,475; Harrison, 87,111; Van Buren's majority, 4,364.

Van Buren and Johnson were elected by a large majority of the electoral votes of the Union.

An election for delegates to the convention for framing a new Constitution was held on the same day. The candidates, with their votes, were as follows:

Senatorial delegate -- Anti-Masonic, Daniel Sager, Crawford County, 2,064 in Erie County, and 3,249 in the district. Democratic, Henry Colt, Waterford, 1,330 in Erie County, 3,016 in the district -- Sager being elected.

Representative delegates -- Anti-Masonic, Thomas H. Sill, Erie, 2,079; James Pollock, Le Boeuf, 2,063. Democratic, Wilson Smith, Waterford, 1,314; Henry L. Harvey, Erie, 1,315 -- Sill and Pollard being elected.

1837
The candidates for State Senator (Erie and Crawford constituting the district) were: Anti-Masonic, Joseph M. Sterrett, Erie; Democratic, Edward A. Reynolds, Crawford. The vote for Sterrett in Erie County was 1,840; for Reynolds, 1,065. Sterrett was elected by about 400 majority in the district, Crawford being at that time Democratic.

The county tickets, with the vote, were as follows:

Anti-Masonic -- Assembly, Charles M. Reed, Erie, 2,087; David Sawdy, Conneaut, 1,773; Sheriff, Andrew Scott, Erie, 1,715; Commissioner, Thomas Sterrett, McKean, 1,757; Auditor, Thomas Nicholson, Mill Creek, 1,876.

Democratic -- Assembly, Martin Strong, Sr., Beaver Dam, 902; David H. Chapman, Fairview, 630; Sheriff, Albert Thayer, Mill Creek, 1,204; Commissioner, Eli Webster, Beaver Dam, 944.

1838
The Anti-Masons again nominated Joseph Ritner for Governor; the Democrats placed in nomination David R. Porter, of Huntingdon County. The vote of the county was: For Ritner, 2,747; for Porter, 1,565 -- Ritner's majority, 1,182. In the State the result was as follows: David R. Porter, Democrat, 127,821; Joseph Ritner, Anti-Mason, 122,325 -- majority for Porter, 5,496.

The organization of the Legislature, in December following this election, caused those troubles which have been named in derision the "Buckshot war." Their history may be briefly given as follows: When the Return Judges of Philadelphia County met in convention, a motion was made to throw out the votes of the Northern Liberties, on account of alleged frauds. By accepting the votes, the Anti-Masonic candidates for Congress, State Senator and Assembly were elected; their rejection gave the seats to the Democratic candidates. The Democrats had a majority of the Judges, and the returns were not accepted. The Anti-Masonic Judges bolted and made out other returns, including the vote of the Northern Liberties, which were sent to Thomas H. Burrowes, Anti-Masonic Secretary of State, at Harrisburg. When the Legislature assembled, each set of candidates appeared for admission, and in the House the two parties were so nearly balanced that the acceptance or rejection of the Philadelphians involved the control of the body. Meantime, much excitement prevailed throughout the State, and serious disturbances were threatened. On the day of meeting, Harrisburg was full of angry men, but if we can rely on the Anti-Masonic papers of the time, the Democrats were largely in the ascendant. The vote for Speaker was taken, when the Democrats supported William Hopkins, and the Anti-Masons Thomas S. Cunningham, each party having separate tellers. Both claimed to be elected, and for some time occupied seats on the platform, side by side. Of course, under such circumstances, no business could be transacted, and affairs were brought to a dead-lock. The Senate, which contained a majority of Anti-Masons, recognized the Cunningham House. Excitement increased throughout the State, and the Democrats, resolved not to be defeated in their programme, threatened to maintain Mr. Hopkins' right to the Speakership by force. The Governor, in his fright, called out the militia of the adjoining counties, but when they reached Harrisburg it was found that the Democrats were in the majority among the troops, so that the Anti-Masons could not depend upon their support. He then wrote to President Van Buren for aid, who plumply refused. 2 After an agitation of several weeks, four Anti-Masonic Senators receded from their original position, voted to recognize the Hopkins House, and terminated all trouble in the Legislature. The Anti-Masons throughout the State were fierce in their denunciation of the recreant Senators, but soon subsided into acquiescence, and thus ended one of the most memorable, as it was also one of the most disgraceful, incidents in Pennsylvania history. Amid all the excitement, no blood was spilled. From this date, the Anti-Masonry party of Pennsylvania rapidly declined, and in a few years sunk out of existence.

The Anti-Masons again nominated David Dick for Congress. John Galbraith, of Venango, was the Democratic candidate. In the county, Dick received 2,614 votes, and Galbraith, 1,610. Dick's vote in the district was 5,918; Galbraith's 6,198, the latter's majority being 280. The district comprised Erie, Crawford, Venango and Warren Counties, the three latter giving Democratic majorities.

The county tickets, with the vote for each candidate, were as follows:

Anti-Masonic -- Assembly, Samuel Hutchins, Waterford, 2,581; William M. Watts, Erie, 2,368; Commissioner, William E. McNair, Mill Creek, 2,591; Auditor, Alexander W. Brewster, Erie, 2,601.

Democratic -- assembly, Ebenezer D. Gunnison, Erie, 1,646; Myron Hutchinson, Girard, 1,580; Commissioner, J. P. Grant, Wayne, 1,522; Auditor, Samuel T. Axtell, Union, 1,524.

A vote was taken on the adoption of the new Constitution, with the following result in the State: For the Constitution, 113,981; against, 112,759. Erie County went against the instrument by a majority of 1,721.

Previous to this, negroes had voted in the State. The new Constitution excluded them from suffrage. In the Convention, our delegates were divided, Mr. Sill voting for negro suffrage, and Mr. Pollock against. The Anti-Masons had a slight majority in the body.

The new constitution provided for the election of the Prothonotary and Register and Recorder, instead of their appointment by the Governor as before. The same instrument also changed the manner of selecting Justices of the Peace from appointment to election by the people. The choice of the latter offices was not made until the spring election in 1840, the old incumbents retaining their position until the first Monday of May in that year.

1839
The county tickets, with the vote for each candidate, were as follows:

Anti-Masonic -- Assembly, Samuel Hutchins, Waterford, 1,927; William M. Watts, Erie, 1,713; Prothonotary, William Kelly, Erie, 1,791; Register and Recorder, Thomas Moorhead, Erie, 1,997; Commissioner for three years, Lyman Robinson, Wattsburg, 1,845; Commissioner for one year (to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of Thomas Sterrett), Samuel Low, Harbor Creek, 1,886; Coroner, John K. Caldwell, Mill Creek, 1,817; Auditor, Gideon J. Ball, Erie, 1,791.

Democratic -- Assembly, William Townsend, Springfield, 1,522; Prothonotary, James C. Marshall, Girard, 1,155; Register and Recorder, E. D. Gunnison, 1,396; Commissioner, three years, James Duncan, North East, 1,420; Commissioner, one year, Horace Powers, Washington, 1,374; Coroner, P. P. Glazier, Erie, 1,291; Auditor, Martin Strong, Beaver Dam, 1,403.

Rev. J. H. Whallon, Erie, was nominated by the Democrats for Assembly, but declined. Dr. William Johns, Erie, who had previously sought the Anti-Masonic nomination for the office, announced himself as an independent candidate, and was supported by a portion of the Democrats. He received 1,137 votes in the county. A proposition to build a county poor house was submitted to the people, and defeated by a majority of 154 votes.



11831 - This year the name Democratic-Republican was dropped in Erie County, and the supporters of Jackson called themselves Democrats.

2The United States Storekeeper at Frankfort turned over a liberal supply of ammunition to the State authorities, much of which consisted of buckshot cartridges. Hence the name of "Buckshot war."
 
1788-1829     1830-1839     1840-1849     1850-1859     1860-1869     1870-1879     1880-1883     List of Public Officers
 

 

Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Part II, Chapter XXI, pp. 340-430.
 

 


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