History of Ontario Co. & Its People
Vol. 1, Pub. 1911 Pg. 79 - 86
Thanks to Deborah Spencer for transcription of these pages.
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RISE OF ANTI-SLAVERY FEELING
William H. Seward Defeated as the First
Whig Candidate for Governor-- “The Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” Campaign of
1840--The “Raising” of a Log Cabin in Canandaigua--An Honored Ontario County
Citizen Named as Postmaster-General in President Harrison’s Cabinet.
We cannot follow, even briefly, the politics
of the succeeding few years. The Republican party, now become Democratic in name,
continued in ascendancy, while the opposition in 1834, assuming the name of
“Whig,” nominated William H. SEWARD as its candidate for Governor, but he
was defeated at the polls. Mark H.
SIBLEY, of Ontario, was a prominent Whig in the Assembly of that year and
received the Whig vote for Speaker. The
Anti-Slavery feeling began to find expression through public meetings in Ontario
as elsewhere. In 1836, the year in
which Martin VAN BUREN was elected President and Mr. MARCY, Governor, both as
Democratic candidates, the Whigs of New York made little noise in the campaign
and small showing at the polls, and in State and local elections of succeeding
years the tide seemed to be running in favor of the Democratic party, but the
Whigs rallied in 1838 and elected William H. SEWARD, Governor.
He received large majorities in all the Western counties.
Henry W. TAYLOR was elected Member of Assembly on the Whig ticket in
Ontario that year.
The Presidential campaign in 1840 was a
milestone in the history of Ontario county, as it was in that of every other
section of the country. The
nomination of William Henry HARRISON for President, while a disappointment to
the friends of Henry CLAY, aroused the greatest popular enthusiasm.
The campaign was marked by many unusual features, the building of log
cabins, the singing of campaign songs as they had never been sung before and
have never been sung since, and the assembling of great mass meetings.
In Ontario county the feeling ran high; and,
not to be outdone in work for the cause, the Whigs, as early in the campaign as
the middle of April, arranged a great ratification meeting or “Raising” in
Canandaigua. The following account
of the affair, condensed from the report in the local Whig organ, the
Repository, affords a graphic picture:
The Log Cabin Raising.
Victory hung o’er our Flag proudly waving
the battle was fought by our valiant and true;
our homes and our loved ones our enemy braving,
Oh! then stood the soldier of Tippecanoe,
iron-armed soldier, the true hearted soldier,
gallant old soldier of Tippecanoe.
Last Thursday was indeed a proud day for the
Whigs of Canandaigua, as well as for Ontario county.
Agreeable to previous invitation by the Tippecanoe Club, the Whigs of the
neighboring towns assembled in this village, to assist in raising a Log Cabin,
to be used as a committee room.
The first procession which appeared was seen
approaching from the southern part of the town and consisted of some 30 or 40
wagons, loaded with material for the building, with banners flying; a fine
canoe, well manned by the hardy friends of the old hero, exhibiting a large flag
with the word “Tippecanoe” painted on it, accompanied with a fine band of
music. We extracted the following
from some of the banners which were carried by the wagons:
is the man”
The procession, made up of delegates from
the south part of this town, Hopewell and Gorham, was joined near the Court
House by delegates from East Bloomfield and Bristol and that from Manchester,
and moved in fine style across the square to the site of the intended cabin.
The side walks crowded with animated spectators--the air rending with
cheers and shouts for the hero of Tippecanoe.
Before 11 o’clock logs had been collected
enough to build a cabin two or three times the size of the one planned.
At 10 a. m., a numerous delegation from West Bloomfield came down Main
street in admirable style with banners flying.
The West Bloomfield delegation carried these mottoes:
Bloomfield will give 230 majority for Harrison & Tyler.”
Henry HARRISON, the Log Cabin Candidate for President--the string always out.”
March, 1841--Matty, clear the White House for old Tippecanoe.”
The following was borne by an old
William H. Harrison, the main stay--- Matty,
the flying jib.”
The Farmington delegation was large and
furnished some of the best timber on the ground.
The scene now became higly interested and
animating. The street where the
cabin was to be erected was literally blocked up with teams unloading the
materials they had borne. The large
piazzas of the Ontario House were crowded with spectators, many of whom were
ladies. The excellent band of music
belonging to this village enlivened the scene with spirited strains.
Perhaps never before has this village presented such a mingled scene of
active bustle, good feeling, and enthusiastic delight, as was evinced on this
At 11 o’clock, the first log, which was of live oak, and
furnished by our worthy friend, Mr. Joel S. HART, of Hopewell, was laid with
appropriate ceremonies by our venerable and highly esteemed fellow citizen,
Abner BARLOW, Esq., assisted by several of our oldest and most respected
citizens. Mr. BARLOW is now 89
years old, and assisted in putting up some of the first log cabins ever erected
in Ontario county and planted the first field of wheat west of Utica, which was
some 50 years ago.
The concourse was briefly addressed, in a
happy manner, by E. P. PARRISH, the marshal of the day, after which the building
began rapidly to rise.
Let us look now into the dining room of our
host, Mr. POWERS, and watch the busy note of preparation going on there.
Long tables were spread out groaning under the weight of substantial
articles which had been sent by ladies from the several towns, consisting of
boiled ham, pork and beans, acres of Johnny cake and mince pies, pickles,
doughnuts, and other articles too numerous to mention.
At the hour of 12, the dinner horn was heard
at the door, and soon after the room was filled with the hardy sons who had been
at work on the cabin, who partook bountifully of the fare and occasionally
regaled themselves upon hard cider, the only beverage the use of which custom
has sanctioned on such occasions, and which had been abundantly furnished by the
committees of arrangements.
At 1 o’clock a long procession appeared
from Naples. To the Democratic
Whigs of Naples belongs the honor of furnishing the flag staff to the log cabin;
and a noble one it is, being nearly 100 feet in length.
The building went up rapidly and by 4 o’clock was ready to receive the
flag staff, etc.
The Messenger, which was the
Democratic or Van Buren organ, in describing the meeting, said that “One of
the many odd contrivances to make up a show for the occasion was a large canoe,
which was mounted on wagon wheels and drawn up and down the street by four
horses. It was filled, continued
the opposition organ, “with some 30 or 40 assorted specimens of Whiggery.”
The Messenger saw a discouraging omen to the Whigs in the breaking of the
cord just as the flag was being run up on a fine liberty pole.
Then after referring to the speeches, it said that “a Connecticut
singing master” came out on the platform of the tavern, and taking a pitch
pipe from his pocket, commenced a song as follows:
all ye Log Cabin boys, we’re going to have a raisin’,
got a job on hand that we think will be pleasin’;
turn out and build old Tip a new Cabin,
finish it off with chinkin’ and daubin’.”
In response to an encore, the singer then
rendered a very classical parody on “Auld Lang Syne,” beginning as follows:
gude old cider be forgot,
never brought to mind.”
The canoe mentioned was afterwards carried
all over the county, its passengers always including a glee club.
Singing was a feature of all the meetings, and the songs had a swing and
pepper that set the whole country afire and that earned for them immortality in
the Walhalla of campaign literature.
The Democratic opposition vainly attempted
to offset the Whig’s singing campaign, and one of their efforts, written by a
local bard, was a song, “The Gathering of the Factions,” to be sung at
Canandaigua, on the 23rd of April, the date of the log cabin raising
heretofore described, or, as the heading stated, “At the Raising of the
Grocery for retailing old Federalism and hard cider.”
It read as follows:
The Gathering of the
wat ye wha’s coming,
coming, Bemis’s coming,
is coming, Worden’s coming,
coming, Dwight is coming,
General Granger’s coming,
Log Cabin Folks are a coming.
wat ye wha’s coming,
coming, Northrup’s coming,
is coming, Paul is coming,
and Jonas both are coming,
Willson, too, is coming,
A’ the Working Men are coming.
wat ye wha’s coming,
coming, Kibbe’s coming,
is coming, Clark is coming,
coming, Jones is coming,
coming, Johnson’s coming,
Office Holders a’ are coming.
wat ye wha’s coming,--
coming, Frisbie’s coming,
Doctor o’ the cloak’s coming,
and Garlinghouse are coming,
and Royce are coming,
A’ the Darkies sure are coming.
wat we wha’s coming,--
of ev’ry hue are coming,--
gloom, they glower, they look sae big,
ilka lift, they’ll take a swig,
cider stills each Tory Whig:--
gude old frien’, the De’il’s, coming.”
A Tippecanoe muse furnished the Repository
the following additional stanza to this song:
little wat we wha’s coming.--
old Jackson men are coming,--
sturdy teams they onward jog,
mounted on a hickory log;
what is more, they’ve tucked a slab in,
help the Whigs build Old Tip’s Cabin.”
The young men’s Whig committee in this
campaign was headed by John S. BATES, and included
Albert G. MURRAY, LeDran
BROWN, Sidney S. LAMPMAN, G. W. BEMIS, George L. WHITNEY, and E. B. NORTHRUP.
Excitement grew as election day approached.
The fact that Francis GRANGER and Jared
WILLSON, the Whig and Democratic
candidates respectively for Congress, were both residents of Canandaigua, and
that Alvah WORDEN, of Canandaigua, whom the Messenger contemptuously referred to
as “the brother-in-law of W. H. SEWARD,” the Whig candidate for Governor,
ran on the same ticket as a candidate for the Assembly, must have made the
county a veritable storm center.
In the success that crowned the
“Tippecanoe and Tyler, too,” campaign, Ontario had its share.
It gave HARRISON 4,828 votes, as compared with 3,451 for
VAN BUREN and
152 for the Abolition ticket. The
county gave William H. SEWARD for Governor 1,294 plurality, and
Mr. GRANGER led
his popular opponent by 843 majority.
Upon the inauguration of President
(Wm. Henry) HARRISON
in 1841, Ontario was again given notable recognition in National politics by the
appointment of its honored citizen, Francis GRANGER, as Postmaster General in
the cabinet of which Daniel WEBSTER was at the head as Secretary of State.
Mr. GRANGER retired from office, with the other members of the cabinet, a
few months later, upon the death of President HARRISON, but in this distinction
he was accorded an honor that rounded out a political career of great activity
and usefulness. The son of Gideon
GRANGER, who previous to his removal from Connecticut to Canandaigua had served
successively in the cabinets of JEFFERSON and MADISON as Postmaster General,
Francis GRANGER had a laudable political ambition, and, as we have seen, took a
prominent part in the politics of the county and State.
He was a recognized leader in the Clintonian,
Anti-Masonic, and Whig parties, and was repeatedly honored by his political
associates with support for the highest public offices, including those of
Governor, United States Senator, and Vice President.
Unfortunately his candidacy was several times unsuccessful, through the
mischance of events or the treachery of pretended friends, but through all the
years he maintained in eminent degree the confidence of the people of the State,
as well as his immediate constituents.
President Tyler, in his reorganized cabinet,
had also an Ontario county statesman in the person of John C. Spencer,
made Secretary of War, and later Secretary of the Treasury.
Mr. SPENCER had been a prominent figure in Western New York and for a
long time had a very large influence in shaping State politics.
He was Secretary of State through the two administrations of Governor SEWARD, and, as we have seen, was repeatedly elected to the Legislature and
The closing years of the 50-year period
which we have been considering saw the beginning of what was to be a complete
re-organization of party lines. Slavery
had become an imminent issue. The
Free Soil slogan was raised by Mr. SEWARD in this State, and was winning
recruits from both the old parties. The
recently victorious Whigs were irretrievably divided, the opposing factions
being known as “Silver Grays” and “Woolly Heads,” the latter
constituting the Seward wing. The
Free Soil Democrats became “Barnburners” and the old liners became
“Hunkers,” “Hard” or “Soft” as their prejudices or interests
The times were changing.
The leaders of neither of the old parties seem to have had the sagacity
to discern or the courage to meet the ground swell of the more aggressive
political force at hand.
They were most of them patriots, and theirs
likely the wiser way to deal with the generally recognized evils of slavery.
But it was not to prevail. Opposition to the “Institution” was no
longer confined to the cranks or radicals.
The young, forceful men all through the North, inspired by high
principle, were impatient of delay. The
new occasion was breeding new leaders. Neither
prestige nor birth could stand in the way.
The day for temporizing and comprising was almost passed, and be it said
in honor of many of those who had held high positions in one or the other of the
old party organizations, that while they hesitated, with the conservatism of
experience, to make the plunge, foreseeing perhaps the long train of war and
sectional dissension that was to follow, they finally allied themselves with the
new political movement and gave loyal adherence to the policy enunciated by the
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia conventions and to the new duties typified in the
leadership of SEWARD, FREMONT and LINCOLN.
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