Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister
Chapter XXI - Political History -- Annual Record
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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."
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:
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."
Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Part II, Chapter XXI, pp. 340-430.