Franklin T Oldt.

History of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 56)
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Dyersville "was controlled by individual preferment; that the dele-
gates from the city exercised a proscriptive spirit and that certain
townships had not been suitably recognized in the convention."

In 1857 the vote for governor in this county was as follows:
Ben M. Samuels (D. ). 2,482; Ralph P. Lowe (R. ). 999. For


state senator, David S. Wilson (D.), 2,471; D. C. Sawyer (R.),
1,001. For representatives, D. A. Mahony, Lincoln Clark, Theo-
dore Crawford and W. S. Johnson (all D.), 2,422 to 2,450; A. S.
Chew, R. C. Waples, Fred Weigel and J. T. Stoneman (all R.),
996 to 1,015.

Late in 1857 the President's message and the great speech of
Senator Douglas concerning affairs in Kansas, particularly the
Lecompton constitution, were critically commented upon by the
press here.

In January, 185S, the majority against a new city charter for
Dubuque was 426 votes. At this time there was much dissatis-
faction over the management of city affairs. A change was de-
manded and the "People's" party was formed, many Democrats
joining the movement. D. A. Mahony was nominated for mayor
by the Democrats, but declined on the ground that there were too
many foreigners on the ticket, and Thomas Rogers was substi-
tuted. In April, 1858, the vote for mayor and other city officials
was as follows: Thomas Rogers (D.), 1,053; H. S. Hethering-
ton (P.). 1,5.58. Mathews, the Democratic candidate for treas-
urer, and Koch, the Democratic candidate for auditor, were en-
dorsed and voted for by the People's party. Kelly (D.) and
Markle (P.), candidates for recorder, received 1,036 and 1,561,
respectively. Griffith (D.) and Harvey (P.), candidates for city
attorney, received 1,197 and 1,403, respectively. These figures
will show about the People's majority on the remainder of the
ticket. The People's party elected their candidates for aldermen
in the second, fourth and fifth wards. A total of 2,611 votes were
polled in the city of Dubuque.

To check this state of affairs the taxpayers, without distinction
of party, banded together and originated the reformers' move-
ment. "The people have decided that they want practical business
men, who are honest and capable, without any reference to their
political associations, to manage the city business. They have de-
cided that when men of a certain class squander the taxpayers'
money, neither they nor their kind shall be re-elected." (Mayor
Harrington, April, 1858.)

"Who defeated the Democratic party in Dubuque? An inter-
esting question touching this matter will be discussed — when we
get ready." (E. and H.. April 8, 1858.) "The election is over
and although there is in the result much to displease and chagin
Democrats, we will not add to the bitterness of feeling already
existing by unfavorable comments. We trust that the measures
of retrenchment and reform called for so loudly by the popular
voice will be carried out." (E. and H., April 7, 1858.)

"Aldermen Hugh Treanor, J. B. Lane and George McHenry,
three of the most useful, industrious and capable members of the
city council, have resigned their seats because a corrupt and un-


scrupulous majority are determined to utterly disregard tlie wishes
and expectations of the people whom they represent." (E. and H.,
July 29, 1858.) In their resignation these men said: "We can
no longer consent to act in a capacity which makes us to any de-
gree responsible for the acts of a body which has proved to be
in the power of one individual— a half-way reformer, who, when
it may suit his private ends, is not restrained by the magnitude
or injustice of any scheme of corruption or favoritism and does
not even profess to be governed by the wishes of his constituents.
We are fully determinecl that the charge 'bogus retrenchment' shall
rest where it belongs." (E. and H., July 29, 1858.)

So great was the feeling against the city council that a mass
meeting of indignation was held at the courthouse July 31, 1858.
Speeches were made by C. C. Hewitt, J. Burt, J. B. Dorr, Dr.
Thomas, J. J. E. Norman and several others. The committee on
resolutions was composed of Burt, Hewitt and Bradley. Thomas
and Norman sustained the course of the council, but the other
speakers were bitter with facts and figures to prove the untruth-
fulness of the majority. Among the reforms demanded were the
following : Present city improvement work should be abandoned ;
house of refuge should be closed; its keeper should be discharged;
market master's duties should be assumed by the police; police
force should be reduced ; a reorganization of the city government
should be submitted to the people.

jMitton was the boss of the city council. John B. Richman un-
der oath stated that on election da}-, 1858, Robert IVIitton took
him into a beer saloon on Eighth street and privately told him
that "I do not want the office of alderman for the $52 a year;
that would not keep me in cigars and flour. It is the side cuts I
am after." After this he became known as, and so long as he
remained before the public was called, "Side Cut" or "Side Cut

The Democratic citizens of Dubuque held a mass meeting here
on August 23, 1858, to make arrangements to hear Stephen A.
Douglas at Galena on the 25th. A committee was appointed to
make full arrangements. A large delegation attended, accompa-
nied by the Dubuque artillery, which while there fired twenty shots
in thirty minutes, "causing the ancient hills to quake."

It was agreed early in October, 1858, that the Democratic and
Republican clubs of Dubuque should hold joint debates on the
issues of the day, and accordingly on October 9 the first was held
at the Julien theater. Ben M. Samuels opened and was followed
bv Timothv Davis (R.), J. B. Dorr (D.), D. N. Cooley (R.),
William Mills (D.), S. P. Adams (R.). Each spoke half an hour
and a large crowd was present. Ex-Governor Hempstead (D. )
and John W. Taylor (R. ) presided.

Late in 1858 the newspapers were filled with accounts of the


contest in Illinois, where the Republicans were doing their utmost
to elect Abraham Lincoln to the United States Senate to succeed
Stephen A. Douglas, the author of the Nebraska bill. A delegation
of Democrats from Dubuque attended the celebrations in Chicago
of the re-election of Douglas to the United States Senate over
Lincoln; the prominence and importance of the Douglas-Lincoln
joint debate in 1858 was fully recognized here.

The Democratic city convention in March, 1859, passed among
others the following resolutions: "Resolved, That this convention
representing a large majority of the people of Dubuque, view with
alarm and indignation the recklessness and extravagance and the
total disregard of the interests of the taxpayers and citizens gen-
erally of this city manifested by the present council.

"Resolved, That the majority of the council have acted in bad
faith to their constituents and have violated their obligations as
sworn officers of the city government.

"Resolved, That in assuming the debts of the Central Improve-
ment Company to the amount of $120,000 and in entering into co-
partnership with that company, the council have shown a total dis-
regard of the interests of the city and have prostituted the trust
reposed in their hands as guardians of the rights and interests of
the people, to the selfish purposes of private speculation."

"Bottle Holder at a Cock Fight. — That upright dignitary known as
Alderman Side Cut (Mitton) is said to have been bottle holder at
the rooster fight on Julien avenue last Saturday. Well, he isn't
so much to be blamed — a year among such men as compose the
common council is sufficient to sink a man to almost any imaginable
depth of degradation." {E. and H., March 23, 1859.)

At the mayoralty election in April, 1859, Hodgdon (D.) re-
ceived 1,151 and Hetherington (People's), 1,090 votes. The
Democrats elected mayor, marshal, auditor, collector and treas-
urer, city attorney, city judge, assessor and four aldermen. The
"People" elected recorder, city clerk and two aldermen. "The
contest for good government which commenced two years ago is
now ended and henceforth the affairs of the city are in the hands
of men who will take care of them. How arduous, thankless and
at the same time how profitless personally this contest has been,
let the constant and unlimited abuse which this paper has received
testify. Motives, designs, character and name have been assailed,
and yet the object in view has been estimated of too great a mo-
ment to allow the paper to be turned aside one moment in the
struggle." {E. and H., April 6, 1859.)

There was a split in the Democracy in August, 1859, led by
O'Halloran and others, joined by Republicans. They issued the
following statement to the public :

"Heretofore the balance of power has been in the hands of a
city clique ; on this occasion it is entrusted to those who are sup-


posed to be more free from undue influences. Hoping for your
co-operation and through it at tlie next election that we will put
down this system of barter and sale which exists on the part of
those who have become the self -constituted heads and dictators
of the Democratic party and leave to the entire party the right of
selecting persons to such offices as may be in their gift and not
to any clique or set of men. We have no object in view apart
from the general good and intimately connected with that is the
breaking up of a dangerous coalition of officials."

The Herald said the above statement was impudent and truth-
less. Prominent in this mo\cment were B. J. O'Halloran, A. Mc-
Daniel, George O. Karrick, J. O'H. CantiHon, Dr. A. F. Hell-
berg, S. M. Langworthy, J. J. E. Norman, William Y. Lovell and
V. J. David. At this date Heath and David edited the Northtvest;
Samuel McNutt was connected with the Herald. Hempstead, Ma-
hony, Crawford, Mason and others answered the above charge in
a long circular. In the end the bolting Democrats united with the
Republicans and nominated a strong ticket. A campaign of ex-
treme personality and vilification followed. For governor, Dodge
(D. ) received 3,153 votes in Dubuque county and Kirkwood (R. ),
1,751; for sheriff, Crawford (D.). 1,672; Cummins (R.), 1,821;
for treasurer and recorder, Mahony (D. ), 2,188; Stewart (Indp. ),
2,695. The Democrats were slaughtered by themselves. Taylor,
the only township to go Republican, gave Kirkwood a majority
of thirty-seven ; Dodge township went Democratic by two majority.

"The election is over and so far as Dubuque county is con-
cerned, combination money and misrepresentation have done their
work. The extent of the damage to the Democratic ticket is not
yet known, but there can be no doubt that the united strength of
the bolters and Republicans has been able to defeat one of the pur-
est and best men in tlie Democratic ranks. Dennis A. Mahony is
known to the Democracy of the whole state and to the leading
Republicans of the state as one of the most talented and at the
same time honest and upright men in the West. During two ses-
sions in the general assembly he established a high reputation and
for twenty years has labored in the Democratic ranks, faithful
to candidates and principles. He has ever been a consistent Demo-
crat." (Herald, October 13, 1859.)

The Herald in November, 1859, announced Douglas as its choice
for President in i860. The "irrepressible conflict" was much dis-
cussed in 1859; also the John Brown incident at Harper's Ferry
and the Dred Scott case. Thomas S. Wilson was candidate for
supreme judge in 1859. Rev. Mr. Collier, in his Thanksgiving
sermon in 1859, denounced slavery as the greatest sin of the age
and declared that fifty years hence John Brown would be re-
gared as a martyr to liberty and Judge Taney a disgrace to the
rountr\-. The Herald ridiculed these statements unsparingly.


At the Democratic county convention, lield in Epworth in Feb-
ruary, i860, the delegates to tlie state convention were instructed
to vote for no man as a delegate to the Charleston convention un-
less he was friendly to the nomination of Douglas for the presi-
dency. Ben M. Samuels, of Dubuque, was a delegate to the fa-
mous Charleston convention; he addressed that body in a lengthy
speech and presented the minority report of the committee on
platform. Again in i860 the Republicans tried the expedient of
naming a People's ticket for city officers ; they nominated H. L.
Stout for mayor. The Democrats nominated Mr. Randall, who
declined, whereupon they nominated E. Spotswood. The Repub-
licans won the mayor and marshal and the Democrats won the
city attorney, recorder, treasurer and collector, auditor and as-
sessor. For mayor. Stout (R.) received 1,173; Spotswood (D. ),
1,014; majorities were small.

In Mav, i860, the Herald sharply denounced the seceders from
the Charleston convention. Upon his return the Democracy was
called May 16 to hear Mr. Samuels's version of the rupture at
Charleston. At this meeting Mr. Samuels did not disappoint the
citizens, for he gave a graphic and eloquent account of the intrigue
which disrupted the convention. He ended with a brilliant eulogy
of Senator Douglas.

"The Chicago Republican convention has nominated old Abe
Lincoln, of Illinois, as their candidate for the presidency. This
is really the most amusing and farcical nomination that the great
sectional party can possibly have presented. Abe Lincoln for
President of the United States' Ye gods! a miracle must have been
performed since Douglas demolished him at Boonsboro in 1858 or
his face would convict him of petit larceny or any other mean
thing to which Republican politicians stoop." (D. in Herald,
May 19, i860.)

Many of the Republican delegates to the Chicago national Re-
publican convention paid this city a visit on their return and were
given a public reception by the citizens, irrespective of party. The
committee of reception were : Mavor Stout, F. V. Goodrich, John
W. Taylor. D. S. Wilson, William B. Allison, P. H. Conger, H. A.
Littleton, William Mills, D. A. Mahony, F. Gottschalk, A. Green-
wald and George McHenry. The visitors were met at Dunleith by a
subcommittee and were also met at the levee, Dubuque, by the officials
and the four companies — Governor's Greys, Washington Guards,
Jackson Guards and Turner Rifles. The entire levee was covered
with vehicles, pedestrians and equestrians ; many ladies were pres-
ent. Colonel Wiltse on the part of the city welcomed them to
Dubuque. They were royall)' entertained while here. Several of
the delegates brought with them a rail chair which attracted the
notice of everybody. The Chicago Light Guard band accompa-
nied the delegates here. They serenaded Mayor Stout and Will-


iam B. Allison. John A. Kasson, of Iowa, wrote most of the
national Republican platform.

The press of Dubuque sharply resented the criticism passed on
this city by the editor of the Chicago Tribune, who was among
the visitors. He published in his paper a statement to the effect
that Dubuque was prostrated by the crash of 1857; had grown
rapidly before that date ; had run up a large debt for improve-
ments; had left the work uncompleted after the crisis; could not
or did not now pay the interest on its debt, would in the end no
doubt repudiate the debt ; would never pay and should now take
the formal action of repudiation, and ended by adding: "The in-
fluence of these misfortunes is very strikingly manifest in every
part of the city. Grass may be said literally to be growing in the
streets and everything looks neglected and dilapidated." {Herald,
May 25, i860.)

Upon the receipt in Dubuque of the news that Douglas had been
nominated for the presidency by the Baltimore convention, the
Democracy gave one of the wildest exhibitions of gratification and
enthusiasm ever witnessed in this city. "The greatest enthusiasm
prevailed and the city was everywhere ablaze with bonfires and the
fierce glare of rockets. On the corner of Fifth and Main streets an
immense crowd gathered and were addressed by Colonel McHenry,
Samuel McNutt, D. S. Wilson and others. The Herald and National
Democrat offices and private buildings were magnificently illumi-
nated. The roar of a hundred guns given by Captain Hayden added
a powerful voice to the jubilation. Hurrah for the Little Giant, our
next President." (Herald, June 24, i860.)

Among the Democrats and doubtful Republicans of Dubuque
who did not accept the nomination of Douglas and Johnson, but
instead favored that of Breckenridge and Lane, were Judge Cor-
kery, Samuel Duncan, J. J. E. Norman, Patrick Quigley, H. H.
Heath, James Williams, James Lovell and John D. Jennings. They
and others held a public meeting July 7 and stated why they could
not and would not support Douglas. All shades of opinion were
shown at this meeting, which was made up of Douglas Democrats.
Breckenridge Democrats, ultra-Republicans and others witli un-
certain politics, opinions and principles.

At the Breckenridge and Lane ratification meeting July 7, i860,
there were present Judge Charles A. Corkery, P. Quigley, Warner
Lewis, J. J. E. Norman, S. G. Fenimore, William Myers, J. T.
Lovell, John Strohl, Hardin Nowlin, John D. Jennings, A. D.
Anderson, Ralph Sawyer, Samuel Duncan, W. W. Bird, James H.
Williams, J. H. Emerson, H. H. Heath and others. Speeches
were delivered by James H. Williams, John T. Lovell, John D.
Jennings, Patrick Quigley, H. H. Heath and John Strohl. The
campaign committee consisted of John D. Jennings, Patrick Quigley,
C. S. D. Jones, J. H. \\'illianis and J. H. Emerson. The resolu-


tions announced adherence to the Charleston platform and approved
the Cincinnati platform of 1856. The Herald denounced this
meeting and the movement it represented and called those taking
part therein "secessionists," "dissensionists," "Breckenridge fizzles,"

On August 4, i860, Samuels and Vandever, congressional can-
didates, held a joint discussion of the issues of the day in Dubuque.
Both made strong, artful and eloquent speeches and were ap-
plauded vigorously by tlieir respective adherents. Mr. Vandever
opened and closed the debate.

A meeting of all men favorable to the formation of a Bell and
Everett electoral ticket was called for August 30, i860. Those
who signed the call were William H. Clark, M. D. Bissell, Thomas
M. Randolph, Joseph Chapman, G. B. Smith, G. F. Bissell, M. F.
Patterson, William C. Friend, Thomas M. Monroe, J. M. Harri-
son, Alexander Young, W. B. Robbins, Thomas Monroe, E. Mc-
Craney and J. H. Thompson.

Lincoln Clark and Joseph A. Chapline, Democratic and Re-
publican candidates for elector, held a joint debate here August
20, i860. It was claimed by the press that each did the other up.
Some half dozen hickory poles (Democratic) were raised in Du-
buque in August, i860. The Wide Awakes made their first ap-
pearance here forty-five strong on July 28, i860. They marched
to the park and were addressed by Shiras, Langworthy, Vandever
and others. Another debate of the political issues was held in
Dubuque September 10, i860, between Lincoln Clark (D.) and
FitzHenry Warren (R.). The latter opened and closed the dis-

An important event here in September, i860, was the speech
delivered by Governor W. H. Seward, of New York. His party
arrived at the Julien House September 21. The Republicans did
their best to make the occasion notable and brilliant. The governor
was escorted to the square by the Wide Awakes, led by the Ger-
mania band. In the carriage with the governor were General
Nye, Charles F. Adams and Governor Patterson. The governor
spoke from a temporary stand erected in the square. F. V. Good-
rich presided. The speech was profound and eloquent, argimienta-
tive and logical and lasted two hours. He was followed by Charles
F. Adams, a son of John Ouincy Adams, and he in turn by Gen-
eral Nye, one of the wittiest, keenest, most eloquent and most pop-
ular speakers on the stump of that day. The Herald said: "This
gentleman is too well known to need much notice ; of an imposing
presence, massive head and easy carriage, he captivates the audi-
ence before saying a word. He spoke about an hour and alter-
nated between flights of pathos and rich humor — the latter bring-
ing down the house every time. He is a very engaging speaker
and carries the audience right with him." He was followed in a


short speech by Governor Patterson. This was the most enthusi-
astic i)ublic meeting of tlie Republicans of the county during the
campaign and was attended by from 5,000 to 8,000 persons.

The Democracy of this section claimed to take a middle course
between the Abolitionists of the North and the secession fire-eaters
of the South ; declared that the election of Douglas to the presi-
dency meant the safety and integrity of the government and that
the election of either Lincoln or Breckenridge meant disunion and
war. The Republicans and the Breckenridge men here denied such
consequences, while admitting and deploring the gravity of the

The announcement that Stephen A. Douglas would sppak in
Dubuque on October 11, i860, was sufficient to kindle the Democ-
racy of the county to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. On Octo-
ber 10, i860, the Democracy began to assemble. Henry Clay Dean
arrived on the loth. The senator was to arrive by train from
Anamosa and a reception committee of sixty-two, accompanied by
the Germania band, left for that place on the afternoon of the loth
to meet him. The Herald of the 12th said: "The announcement
that Douglas would speak at Dubuque a short time since ran
through the county and its surroundings like a shock of electricity
— people doubted, wondered, finally rejoiced. Never has a prouder
ovation been offered — never one more worthily bestowed and in
no case has it been mere hero worship." On the way to Anamosa
many humorous incidents occurred. At one station in Dubuque
county, as the train stopped, one member jumped off and called
to a German standing there, "Hurrah for Douglas!" He promptly
replied, "You pe dampt mit yer Dooglas! I hurrahs for Lincoln."
When thev reached Anamosa they marched downtown to the plat-
form in front of tiie Fisher House, where Douglas was then speak-
ing and all were overwrought with nervous excitement, enthusi-
asm and anxiety to see the great man. One more enthusiastic and
excited than the rest, catching sight of him, yelled out, "There he
is ; there he is, God d- — n him," and ended with a tremendous cheer.
"Hurrah, hurrah for Douglas!" Immediately upon the arrival of
the delegation, it became known who they were and Douglas ceased
speaking long enough to propose "three cheers for Dubuque,"
which were gi\en uproarously. Tiie delegation remained there all
night and the next morning all embarked on board car for Du-
buque. With the Dubuque delegation was Hon. T. S. Wilson. At
every station Douglas showed himself and was enthusiastically
cheered, .^t Farlev a special train from Independence awaited
the Douglas train, on board being the Independence Invincibles. a
fine company of 100 men.

At Dubuque when Douglas arrived the depot grounds and Jones
street were black with people. He was hurried past the crowd into
a carriage and transported quickly to the Julien Hotel, followed


by the procession, which continued "up Fourth to Locust and
around again to Main to escape marching under a Lincohi flag
suspended across Main street. This was a studied insuU which
we believe no gentleman would be guilty of perpetrating." {Her-
ald, October 12, i860.)

"The procession was composed of the various clubs from home
and abroad, citizens, strangers, etc., and together with those fol-
lowing on the sidewalks numbered not less than 10,000 people. By
I -.30 p. m. a denser crowd had gathered at the square than ever
before was known. We believe that from 15,000 to 20,000 people
would be a fair estimate. Hon. D. S. Wilson welcomed Douglas
in an eloquent address and was followed by Senator Douglas in
a long and brilliant speech, which was published in full by the
press. At night the torchlight procession and a speech by Mr.
O'Neil closed this memorable day. Henry Clay Dean did not
speak, owing to lateness of the hour. The torchlight procession
was the longest ever seen here, consisting of nearly 2,000 persons,
of whom goo belonged to Dubuque. In the procession were groups

Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 56)