History of Ontario Co. & Its People
Vol. 1, Pub. 1911 Pg. 135 - 141
Thanks to Deborah Spencer for transcription of these pages.
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THE LINCOLN - HAMLIN
Ontario County a Center of Political
Interest--Organization of the “Wideawakes”--One of the Candidates for the
Presidency Formerly a Resident of Ontario County and a Student in the
Canandaigua Academy--Speaks at a Big Meeting near Clifton Springs--Loyal in the
Hour of Defeat.
The campaign of 1860 marked the culmination
of the political movement whose rise we have been following.
In the election of LINCOLN and HAMLIN as against candidates representing
every shade of dissenting political opinion, the people saw their will in a way
to be obeyed and the aggressions of the slave power at last finally checked.
In the intervening years the Republicans of
New York had retained the control which they had won in 1856.
Governor John A. KING had been succeeded in 1858 by Governor Edwin D.
MORGAN, for whom Ontario county gave a majority of 1,640.
Truman BOARDMAN, of Seneca county, had been elected State Senator from
the 26th district, consisting of Ontario, Yates and Seneca counties,
over W. W. WRIGHT (Democrat) and William H. LAMPORT (American), and Emory B.
POTTLE had been elected to Congress from a district having the same numerical
number and the same constituent counties. Members
of Assembly from Ontario county had been elected as follows:
1857, Volney EDGERTON (Rep.), of Manchester, and Ira R. PECK (Rep.), of
East Bloomfield; 1858, Ulysses WARNER (Dem.), of Phelps, and Shotwell POWELL
(Rep.), of South Bristol; 1859, Lewis PECK (Rep.), of Phelps, and Shotwell
Powell (Rep.), of South Bristol. In
county offices, Elnathan W. SIMMONS had succeeded John J. LYON as county clerk;
Orson BENJAMIN had succeeded John N. WHITING as surrogate; William HILDRETH had
succeeded Henry C. SWIFT as sheriff; Edwin HICKS, by appointment, and
subsequently William H. SMITH, by election, had followed Thomas O. PERKINS as
district attorney; Spencer GOODING had succeeded Jacob J. MATTISON as county
treasurer, and Simeon R. WHEELER in 1857, Jonathan PRATT in 1858, and Daniel
ARNOLD in 1859, had been elected superintendents of the poor.
The Republicans in the 1857 and 1858
campaigns met two opposing tickets, one nominated by the Democratic and one by
the American party. In 1859 the
opposing forces fused and put union tickets in the field for State, district,
and county offices, but even then could not defeat the Republican ticket or
check the growth of that party.
So the opening of the year 1860 found the
Republicans in possession of every county office and represented at Albany and
at Washington by men of their own political faith.
Confident of success at the approaching National election and hopeful
that the brilliant leader of their own State, William H. SEWARD, would be the
nominee for the Presidency, they entered upon that campaign with the greatest
They fired the first gun in April, when they
carried 12 of the 15 towns of the county by largely increased majorities.
The supervisors elected were as follows:
Canandaigua, Charles COY; Canadice, Walling ARMSTRONG; Bristol, Stephen
A. CODDING; East Bloomfield, Edward BRUNSON; Farmington, George S. ALLEN;
Gorham, James M. PULVER; Hopewell, Robert CHAPIN; Manchester, Andrew J. HANNA;
Naples, Lester SPRAGUE; Richmond, Willard DOOLITTLE; South Bristol, Charles
SHELDON; Seneca, Perez H. FIELD; Phelps, Ambrose L. VAN DUSEN; Victor, Lanson
DEWEY; West Bloomfield, Elisha F. LEECH. The
minority members were Messrs. PULVER, CHAPIN and SHELDON.
Charles J. FOLGER and Charles P. JOHNSON, of
the First district, and Nathan J. MILLIKEN and Stephen A. CODDING, of the Second
district, represented the county at the State convention, held in Syracuse, and
there assisted in electing a delegation to the National convention pledged to
the support of Mr. SEWARD’s candidacy. Mr.
SEWARD led on the first and second ballots, at the convention held in Chicago,
May 16, 17, 18, but on the third ballot his Illinois opponent, Abraham LINCOLN,
who had sprung into prominence two years before through his debate with Stephen
A. DOUGLAS, received a large majority of the votes and was declared the nominee
of the convention. Hannibal HAMLIN,
of Maine, was named for the Vice Presidency.
The news of the nomination of LINCOLN and
HAMLIN was received in Ontario county and elsewhere through the State with
feeling of great disappointment, but the nominees were recognized as worthy
exponents of the Republican cause and their nomination was ratified in a loyal
The campaign was opened in Ontario county by
a big ratification meeting held in Bemis hall, Canandaigua, at which General B.
F. BRUCE and Hon. Elbridge G. LAPHAM made the speeches, and resolutions were
adopted endorsing the platform and the candidates of the Chicago convention.
Republican clubs were organized throughout the county, pole raisings took
place in many places, and a new force in campaign work appeared in the shape of
uniformed clubs under a name destined to become historic-- “Wideawakes.” Charles COY acted as chairman and George N. WILLIAMS as
secretary of a meeting at which the first organization of this kind was formed
in Canandaigua, and Lyman O. LAMPMAN was elected as captain.
The Wideawakes made their first appearance in the county at a meeting
held in Canandaigua on August 10, at which Henry W. TAYLOR and James C. SMITH
were the speakers. The new
organization numbered 100 men, were uniformed in black oil cloth capes and caps,
and carried torches.
At the Republican State convention held in
Syracuse, at which Governor Edwin D. MORGAN and Lieutenant Governor Robert
CAMPBELL were nominated for reelection, James C. SMITH, Esq., of Canandaigua,
acted as temporary chairman and made an opening speech that was widely quoted.
At the Republican county nominating
convention, held in Canandaigua on Thursday, September 27, Hon. Charles J.
FOLGER, of Geneva, acted as chairman and W. S. CLARK, of Victor, and Harvey
STONE, of Gorham, as secretaries. The
ticket nominated was as follows: For
county judge, George B. DUSENBERRE, of Geneva; for district attorney, William H.
SMITH, of Canandaigua; for county superintendents of the poor, Simeon R.
WHEELER, of East Bloomfield, and Daniel ARNOLD, of Farmington; for justice of
sessions, William SEAVEY, of Victor; for coroners, Anson WHEELER, of Geneva, and
Daniel P. WEBSTER, of East Bloomfield; for member of Assembly in the First or
Eastern district, Perez H. FIELD, of Seneca, and for member of Assembly in the
Second or Western district, Stephen H. AINSWORTH, of West Bloomfield; for school
commissioners, Luther B. ANTISDALE, of Phelps, and David E. WILSON, of Bristol.
The Republican nominee for Congress in the 26th district was
Hon. Jacob P. CHAMBERLAIN, of Seneca Falls.
While there were four Presidential tickets
in the field, the contest for local offices was between the Republican ticket as
above named and a Democratic ticket made up as follows:
For county judge, Jabez H. METCALF; for district attorney, Charles W.
GULICK; for superintendents of the poor, George RICE and Edward HERENDEEN; for
justice of sessions, Ezra PIERCE; for members of Assembly, Amos JONES and
William G. LAPHAM; for school commissioners, John B. HOSFORD and Horatio B.
BRACE. John L. LEWIS was the Democratic candidate for Congress in
this district, and John G. CLARK was the candidate of the Breckenridge faction
for the same office.
The campaign was an exciting one from
beginning to end. The Southern
Democrats, enraged and alarmed by the growing anti-slavery feeling at the North,
withdrew from the National convention of their party when they formed themselves
unable to control its action. Two
Presidential tickets resulted, one representing the Northern Democracy and
headed by Stephen A. DOUGLAS and Herschel V. JOHNSON; the other representing the
Southern wing of the party and headed by John C. BRECKENRIDGE and Joseph LANE.
A 4th organization, styling itself the Constitutional Union
party, and assuming to represent the old Whigs and Americans, nominated John
BELL for President and Edward EVERETT for Vice President.
The most noteworthy demonstration of the
campaign in Ontario county was that held at Canandaigua, on the afternoon of
Tuesday, October 23, when United States Senator DOOLITTLE, of Wisconsin, made
the principal speech in Bemis hall, in which were crowded, it was reported, over
James C. SMITH, Esq., presided, and Albert
LESTER, Jedediah DEWEY and R. C. STILES were named as vice presidents.
COOKE’s glee club led in singing campaign songs.
So many people were unable to gain admittance to the hall that an
overflow meeting was organized on the square in front of the court house, Hon.
Henry W. TAYLOR acting as its chairman and Harvey STONE, Marshall McLOUTH and
Andrew J. HANNA as vice presidents. A
handsome banner was then presented to the Wideawakes of Canandaigua by Judge
TAYLOR, speaking in behalf of the ladies, and Elisha W. GARDNER, Jr., made the
speech of acceptance. Following
this ceremony, Judge JESSUP, of Pennsylvania, was introduced and spoke until a
rain storm compelled the adjournment of the meeting.
In the evening the Wideawakes of the several
towns paraded the streets under the direction of Marshall HILDRETH and his aids.
Among the displays made by the paraders was a log cabin on wheels, drawn
by four horses, decorated with emblems of frontier life and the inscription
“Uncle Abe at Home,” and escorted by companies of Wideawakes from Rushville
The local speakers of the campaign included
James C. SMITH, Elbridge G. LAPHAM, Edwin HICKS, Elisha W. GARDNER, Emory B.
POTTLE, William H. SMITH, and William H. LAMPORT.
The latter had been affiliated with the American party and in 1856 its
unsuccessful candidate for the State Senate.
At the election held on the memorable 6th
of November, 1860, the LINCOLN ticket carried every free State, with the
exception of New Jersey, where there was a fusion of the opposition forces, and
as a consequence it secured only four of the seven electoral votes, the other
three going to the DOUGLAS ticket, which obtained beside these only the nine
votes of Missouri.
Mr. BRECKENRIDGE carried the Southern States
with the exception of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, which went to Mr. BELL.
Ontario county, doubling her majority for
Fremont four years before, gave LINCOLN 2,100 plurality.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN was elected member of Congress in the
Ontario-Yates-Seneca district by 3,800 majority, and the entire Republican
ticket for county offices was elected. In the National contest, party lines had been forgotten and
the people of the county had rallied magnificently to the support of the cause
of union and freedom.
The news of the election of Lincoln was
received in Ontario county with rejoicing, but the demonstrations were of a
comparatively moderate character, owing to the feeling of apprehension as to the
future. During the campaign the
expressions of Southern newspapers and orators had plainly indicated that in the
event of the election of the Republican ticket the Southern States would attempt
to secede from the Union, and if this threat was carried out the people realized
it would mean nothing less than war. As
a consequence the election was followed by an expectant hush, which was first
disturbed by the withdrawal of Southern members from Congress and by the action
of Southern legislatures in assuming to withdraw their States from the Union,
and which was finally broken by the attack upon Fort Sumter.
Stephen A. DOUGLAS, though winning only 12
electoral votes, had received a splendid endorsement, his popular vote exceeding
that given BRECKENRIDGE by 50%, and falling less than 500,000 below LINCOLN.
His vote in Ontario county was 3,634 as compared to LINCOLN’s 5,764.
That he did not receive a larger vote or carry the county shows how
thoroughly public sentiment had been aroused over the question of slavery and
how convincingly the arguments of LINCOLN had appealed to loyal citizens.
Mr. DOUGLAS was personally known to many of the people
of the county. He had been a
student at the Canandaigua academy from 1831 to 1833, spending his spare time in
the law office of Walter HUBBELL, Esq., and absorbing there and in the court
room where practiced such lawyers as John C. SPENCER, Jared WILSON, Dudley
MARVIN, and Mark H. SIBLEY, much of the knowledge of the law and of public
affairs that later made him an eminent lawyer and a great politician.
His mother lived at Clifton Springs with her
second husband, Gahasa GRANGER, and there, in the campaign of 1860, on September
15, he addressed one of the largest public meetings ever assembled in the
county. Newspapers of the time
reported that there were at least 6,000 people present.
But while the Ontario county voters had followed Mr. DOUGLAS’s career with much interest and admired his brilliancy of intellect and his great ability as a public speaker, they were not misled by his specious arguments in support of “Popular Sovereignty.” That the “Little Giant,” as he was affectionately called, declined to follow the reactionary elements of his party in their efforts to embarrass the new administration, and generously gave his allegiance to his successful rival, Mr. LINCOLN, in furtherance of the latter’s determination to save the Union, confirmed their faith in his statesmanship and his patriotism.
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