Saturday, November 14, 2020

Sesquicentennial Humor

I spent a bit of time today exploring the Hudson Daily Star from 150 years ago and discovered this little item in the paper for November 14, 1870. Given all that is going on today--challenging outcomes, recounting ballots, mistrusting the media--this struck me as strangely, if ironically, relevant.

The reproduction is not the easiest to read, so here's the transcription:
There are some folks down east believe implicitly in what the newspapers say. The Pittsfield Sun, mistakenly, of course, stated that the election would be held on Monday, and a number of its readers, what take no other paper, went to town hall to deposit their ballots on that day, and could hardly by persuaded that they were a day too soon.
In 1870, Election Day was Tuesday, November 8. It was a midterm election, in the middle of Ulysses S. Grant's first term as president. There were a couple of things of interest about this election. It took place during the Reconstruction Era (1863-1877), which meant many Southerners were barred from voting. It was also the first election after the passage of the Fifteen Amendment, which prohibited the federal government and the states from denying a citizen the right to vote based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." (Women wouldn't be voting in a national election for another fifty years.)

Grant was a Republican, the party of Lincoln, and in the election, the Republicans retained solid majorities in both the House and the Senate.

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