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flour was to be sold at a Presbyterian festival. In conclusion, the
Monitor reported that "The best of feeling prevailed on every
hand. . . ."

Another item in the same issue of the Monitor recorded the dis-
position of the ship:

The Liberal ship Constitution was raffled off at Henry's last night, and fell
to the lucky number held by Mr. J. E. Trent. It was afterwards purchased
by Mr. Shields and will henceforward ornament the roof of his block on
Locust Street.

Thus was the Liberal-Democratic symbol preserved for participa-
tion in future rituals.

The Presidential election of 1876 ended in a dispute which was
decided almost at the last minute prior to the inauguration day by
an extra-legal commission of 15 which voted eight to seven on the

3. References to the ship "Constitution" and its first public exhibition appeared in
ibid., October 23, 1872, and the preparations for the jollification were described in the
same paper, November 7-9 (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).


controversial issues. Under these circumstances Republican Ruther-
ford B. Hayes, instead of Samuel J. Tilden, became President of the
United States. No record of a "Jollification" similar to that of 1872
has been found, but when the decision of the electoral commission
was announced in February, the Monitor, February 18, 1877, re-
corded that: "Dr. Sanger mourns. . . . His arm was adorned
with crape yesterday. He evidently thinks the Democratic party
dead of suicide." Dr. Sanger replied that he did not mourn for
Tilden or the Democratic party, "but I mourn for the utter de-
moralization of the Republic and the death of the principles upon
which it was founded." The editor was reminded that Washington
had warned in his "Farewell Address" against the danger of party

I mourn, also, sir, for the blunted sensibilities of my countrymen. . . .
I care not, sir, for men or parties, but I do love the Republic and the principles
upon which it was founded. ... I have loved, cherished and defended
it in five quarters of the globe, and have been proud to call myself an American
citizen, but now, alas! I bow my head in shame. ... I mourn, however,
sir, not without hope. Truth, Justice and Right, though crushed to earth
may rise again. . . . 4

One reader of the Monitor was not willing to let well enough
alone, and the editor was so indiscreet as to print these lines ad-
dressed "To Dr. Sanger":

He mourns the best

Who mourns the least, for other's failings;
Who his own "beam" deplores,

Not other's ailings.


Sanger cited, in reply, the definition of "Squills" given in The United
States Dispensatory as a medicine that nauseates in large doses
emitic, and explained that:

If I have a failing I endeavor to correct, not to justify or defend it
never did.

The failing of which "Squills" refers was corrected months ago entirely,
and radically, as all my friends know, and rejoice at, but which chagrins and
disappoints some canting hypocritical puppies, who take their temperance,
morality and religion in small doses like "Squills" that nauseates and disgusts. 5

The details of Sanger's unhappy story cannot be reconstructed
with any degree of satisfaction, but the Daily Monitor, October 1,
1870, carried the following: "NOTICE All persons are cautioned
not to give credit to Dr. J. [I.] S. Sanger, as I, his wife, positively

4. Ibid., February 18, March 4, 1877.

5. Ibid., March 6, 7, 1877.


refuse to pay any of his debts/' The inference that is suggested by
these two items, seven years apart, is that Sanger had become ir-
responsible from drink, but had conquered his failing. Not only
that, such a public confession as he made required a very particular
brand of courage.

As the campaign of 1880 drew to a close the Republican Monitor,
October 26, printed an article "The Old Ship" in which the Demo-
cratic party was held up to ridicule, emphasizing the supposed
condition of both the party and "The Old Ship":

In passing along Scott avenue a stranger will be likely to have his attention
attracted by a miniature ship that stands on the top of the Shields Block,
under bare poles, with cordage swaying in the wind and a diminutive flag
floating from one of the masts. In the palmy days of 1872, when the De-
mocracy were gallantly battling for success under the lead of that great and
consistent advocate of a high protective tariff, Horace Greeley, this emblematic
institution, being the most inconsistent that could be conceived of by that
party of magnificent blunders, was built for use at a grand Democratic dem-
onstration at Fort Scott. After serving the immediate purpose of construction,
it was too fine a work of art to cast aside with the worthless trumpery and
paraphernalia of a campaign. Constructed of excellent material and being
an exact representation of a ship built to breast the rolling waves and buffet
the fierce storms of old ocean's restless domain it was right and sensible that
it should be placed on the top of a prominent building as a specimen of Fort
Scott handiwork. However inappropriate it may have been, originally, time
"which makes all things even," has at last constituted it a fit emblem of
Democracy. From its rotten and cracked hull the gloss and glare of paint
has long disappeared as the gorgeous pretensions of the party of slavery and
rebellion have faded and died. ... Its masts are shorn of sail and
shroud as the political ship of Hancock and English has been bereft of its
last shred of canvas by the hurricane generated in Indiana and Ohio. Poor
ship I Probably on some stilly Moonlight occasion it might be possible to
call the Ross-ter 6 of its diminished crew, and get them to lower it from where
the bleak winds so relentlessly Blow, through its rotten cordage, after which
with a gallant commodore Perry in command, and by the aid of the trade
winds, blowing free, it might be safely guided into some (Green) back water
and thence up to its proper moorings on the head waters of Salt River.

The victory went to the Republicans and inspired the election
jollification of 1880 with which this campaign history began "a
grand old-style riproaring sort of a jollification. . . ."

That consistent old-time Democratic patriot, Dr. Sanger, in company with
Senator-elect Ware, headed the list, and while the Doctor truly mourns the
defeat of Hancock, yet he is too much of an American not to accept the in-
evitable, and we judge enjoyed the parade as much as the most enthusiastic. 7

6. The references are to Thomas Moonlight, and to Former Sen. E. T. Ross.

7. Daily Monitor, November 7, 1880; the Republican Record, and the Weekly Herald
did not report the proceedings.


About a month later, political rancor having mellowed substan-
tially, the Monitor, December 15, again described the condition of
the ship "Constitution," and this time emphasized the devoted care
given it by its owner. That this story contradicted the pre-election
characterization did not seem to bother the editor. The article
closed in eulogy of the ship's symbolism:

Eight years and one month ago yesterday the ship "Constitution" was
hoisted on the Shield block and the flag of our country was nailed to the
masthead. A flag has been kept there ever since. The ship has received on
an average of four flags each year, making about forty that it has borne. Mr.
Shields is determined to keep the national bunting flying over the nautical
emblem [as] long as he lives. The original cost of the "Constitution" was
$115. After it had filled the purpose of its creation, it was sold at auction
to the highest bidder, when Mr. Shields purchased it for the sum of $24. It
cost fully an equal amount to place it on the top of his building. The cost of
the Constitution to the present patriotic proprietor up to date has been about
$60. Long may the old "Constitution," the emblem of the gallant ship that
did so much for American Liberty, preside over the building. May the
beautiful banner of our country float above it, and many a child be borne

The campaign of 1884 offered something different; the first
Democratic victory in a presidential election after the Civil War.
Although some doubts existed about the validity of some counts,
the Democratic national committee set Saturday night, November
8, as the date for celebrations over the nation of the accession to
power of "the grand old party of the people to the control of gov-
ernment." The news of the claim of a Cleveland-Hendricks victory
reached Fort Scott during Saturday morning and the local party
leaders "peremptorialy agreed" upon "a good-natured jollification
meeting" the same evening. Hand bills were printed and the call
appeared also in the Democratic evening Daily Tribune:

Come out with you[r] torches, and your drums and your banners, and help
swell the inspiring anthem that will roll over this great country to-night from
ocean to ocean.

Sound the loud timbrel

O'er Egypt's dark sea.
Jehova has spoken;

His people are free.

To-night the sixty millions of freemen who live by every rock and rill and
people every hill and dale in this lovely land of ours will stand up in the
glorious realization of a redeemed and regenerated republic and sing the
song of Tennyson: "That men may come and men may go, but this Union
shall live on forever." Come out.

The local Republicans refused to concede the defeat, so a bargain
was struck that they would go up Salt river Saturday night, No-


vember 8, provided the Democrats agreed to do likewise the next
Saturday night should the decision be reversed. The Tribunes
account of the celebration, printed two days later related that:

The old ship "Constitution," which had been put on top of the Shield's
block in 1872, and which was to stay there until a national victory would
perch upon the Democratic banner, was taken down by members of the
Cleveland and Hendricks club. It was taken to Grant's [carpenter] shop
and there placed upon a set of running gears and was put in full-rigged
style. She was decorated with flags and banners bearing the portrait of
Cleveland and Hendricks and strewed with Chinese lanterns in different parts
of the rigging.

. . . The old craft looking as youthful as a bride . . . was drawn
by four white horses. . . .

Again Ware was a member of the "crew" whose destination was
Salt river. The parade terminated with speech-making at a bonfire
in the center of the public square. Ware, who was among the
spokesmen for the defeated party, "congratulated the democrats and
said the republicans would turn over the government peaceably
and quietly, and with the treasury fuller than any democrat in the
audience." During the course of his remarks, as the Democratic
Tribune put it, Ware "got off the following happy bit on St. John,"
the Prohibitionist Republican ex-Governor of Kansas, and nominee
in 1884 of the Prohibition party for President:

He [Ware] said that the first thing a man always did after defeat was to
try to explain it, and went on to say, "that twenty years ago there came to
Kansas a man from Missouri with a painted mustache, named John P. St.
John. In the course of a few years he gave us a Democratic governor. He
has now given us a Democratic president, and I do not know exactly what
he is doing, but I think he is now working up some scheme to beat Christ
and give us a Democratic Redeemer."

According to the Republican Monitor's version: "Senator Ware's
remarks were received with loud cheering and tremendous shouts
of applause." The celebration "made a great deal of fun for the
boys, and did much to allay the bitter hostility that has prevailed
to some extent since Tuesday," concluded this paper, and in the
rally itself "there was entire absence of bitterness of partizan feel-
ing. . . ." From the Democratic Tribune's point of view, the
evening passed pleasantly, "with nothing to mar the pleasure of
anything or anybody. . . ." 8

After four years, 1888, the Presidency was again in Republican
hands. The Democratic Tribune, November 10, 1888, announced
that upon learning definitely of the defeat of its candidate, the

8. Daily Monitor, November 9, 1884, and the Evening Herald, November 10, have
the Republican versions, and the Daily Tribune, November 8, 10, told the Democratic
story. The Monitor and Tribune narrations were very similar.


Young Men's Democratic Club took down its manifestations of
partisan warfare, and "flung the stars and stripes to the winds of
heaven, as an acknowledgment of submission to the supreme will
and majesty of the people as expressed at the ballot box,
and a token of allegiance to the nation's newly chosen chief magis-
trate. . . ." The Republicans held their ratifying ceremonies,
the central attraction being "two wagons, one containing a plat-
formed float loaded with Republican guards, and the other con-
taining a full rigged boat, the masts flying a variety of bandannas
and flags/' This time, of course, Ware was one of the speakers for
the victors: "Everything passed off in the utmost harmony and
good fellowship. The Democrats, generally," the Monitor con-
ceded, "entered into the spirit of the thing," the festivities not
breaking up until long after 11 P. M. "No doubt," the Monitor
continued, "Mr. Harrison would have considered himself elected
without this ratification, but the General will feel better when he
learns how much good it does the lively Republicans of Fort Scott."

The Tribune's report on the Republican rally was that they
"literally painted things red." Furthermore, "to the great credit
of our people, . . . the victor and the vanquished, met most
fraternally. . . . Let's all, as one body, pull together from
now at least until '92, for the upbuilding of the best city in Southern
Kansas. . . ." 9

The following year the death of Mrs. Michael Shields, widow,
prompted a Tribune interview with Eugene Ware concerning her
husband. Ware recalled that:

[Shields] was the one who rigged up the "ship of state" in 1872. He was
then a Liberal, and rowed up Salt River a batch of defeated candidates,
and every four years since the ship has done similar service. After its first
and second trip Michael put the ship on the top of his building and that
became its accustomed dock. 10

Certain inaccuracies of detail should be noted in Ware's accounts
as reported, which indicate that already the ship was becoming
a folk legend. In this form details of historical facts were being
subordinated to the requirements of the symbol. So far as explicit
evidence has been found, the ship was placed on top of the Shields
building in 1872 and remained there until the Democratic victory
of 1884. The reports on the jollification of 1888 described a ship
mounted on a wagon, but did not identify it as the historic ship
of 1872.

9. Daily Monitor, November 14, 1888; Daily Tribune, November 10, 14, 1888.

10. Daily Tribune, November 23, 1889.


In 1892 the Democrats again won the presidency, sending the
Republicans once more "up Salt river." "The water was placid and
the journey hilarious enough." The organ of the victors, the
Tribune, November 15, prefaced its account with the following:

It is a custom immemorial in Fort Scott to ride the defeated party up Salt
River after a presidential election. Every four years the old ship that Mr.
McElroy dedicated to this purpose many years ago, is taken down from the
top of the McElroy block where it was first placed by him, and re-masted for
the cabalistic journey up Salt River, its passengers being the defeated candi-
dates on the local ticket and the local leaders of the defeated party. C. W.
Goodlander has upon every occasion been at the helm to steer the doleful crew
up the mystic stream.

Here again to celebrate a Democratic victory the specific ship was
identified, the one that had occupied the place of honor on top of
a building. A mistake was made, however, in linking its origin
with the name of McElroy rather than with Shields. Also an error
attributed the position of helmsman "upon every occasion" to C. W.
Goodlander. In 1872 Dr. Couch had been listed at the helm; in
1876 no ceremony occurred; in 1880 no helmsman was reported; in
1884 Goodlander was not named among those participating; in
1888 Goodlander was first mate; and in 1892 only was Goodlander
listed as helmsman. Most of the older men who had participated
in the initial ceremony were gone, and the stereotypes now being
attached to the legend did not square with the facts. But, possibly
all this is relatively unimportant, as the whole tradition of the quad-
rennial parade up Salt river was dropped. No such jollification has
been found for 1896, and the one attempted in 1900 proved to be
worse than a fiasco. An innovation of that year was a band of
Rough Riders who led the short parade. Only one defeated candi-
date "had the stamina to be rowed up the creek by the republicans."
No reference was made to the historic "Constitution." Rowdyism
marred the event. As the Monitor put it: "Many . . . people
had blotted out politics and had settled down to active business life
again. . . ." n Unmistakably, life in Fort Scott had changed,
and in a fundamental manner. In 1912 the Democrats again came
to power, but no mention appeared in the press of "Salt creek" or
of the "Constitution" which had once been perched upon the
Shields building to be taken down only when the Democrats won
a Presidential victory.

11. Daily Monitor, November 18, 1900.



Under American popular government of the 19th century, the
forms of political party organization and practices were largely
carried on under an unwritten code, subject of course to change.
Political parties were not yet a subject of statutory definition, nor
campaigning a game involving the evasion of corrupt practices acts.
In politics a man was expected to observe the rules of propriety.
A man's political and private life might be quite separate, as was
his professional career. The case of Ware and Sanger is only an
example of the general situation, not proof of it. Each was a very
positive man in his respective views on politics. During a campaign
each dealt the other vigorous blows. Neither pulled his punches
out of friendship, but the code differentiated between things public
and things private. A violation of the code as in the case of Leslie
Winter in 1872 resulted in a breech of friendship.

A variable amount of corruption occurred among all factions of
political parties, but that offense scarcely qualified as pertinent to
the present discussion. The elements that muddied the political
waters so frequently and seriously during these decades and which
did matter, were the fanatical advocates of causes; people who had
convinced themselves that they were bound by "principles" and
"morality," but to these must always be added those who climbed
on the band-wagon of what appeared to be a popular cause and
stayed with it so long as the chance for office seemed propitious.
The amateurs in these groups, many of them well meaning, inex-
perienced in politics, knew not the political code, or cared not to
respect the distinctions between things public and things private.
They knew not constructive compromise in things public. They
talked of "principles" and of "morality," but often practiced neither.
Political preachers, prohibitionists, greenbackers, silverites, farmers,
labor agitators, advocates of railroad regulation, of Negro rights,
of woman's rights, and other reformers, including vindictive dis-
appointed office seekers, drew especially Ware's contempt. He was
not a crusader, and frequently found himself caught between the
uncompromising elements, usually referred to as radical and con-
servative, but more often merely self-interested pressure groups.
Ware's independent proposals in matters of public policy were
sometimes more far-reaching and fundamental in their nature than
the purported radical measures, a fact that these groups failed to


Regular party members, even the much condemned machine
politicians, might disagree on men and measures, but they under-
stood Democrat Dr. Sanger, a diminutive man, his white hair blow-
ing in the breeze, heading a post-election parade carrying the United
States flag, and Republican Eugene Ware, all six feet of him, march-
ing beside Dr. Sanger, holding the latter's hat. This generation
that fought for the Union felt a passionate veneration expressed in
religious ideology for the United States flag and for the political
system for which it stood. This unique emotional focus was no
longer present near the end of the century. Also, concepts of the
political code and of the constitution were modified.

In 1888 rather generally the people had responded with a certain
enthusiasm to Ware's statement of Dr. Sanger's creed in terms of
an essentially religious apothesis of the United States flag. They
were thrilled by Ware's salute to the flag in his long narrative poem
on the Civil War "Neutralia":

There is something in a flag, and a little

burnished eagle,

That is more than emblematic it is
glorious, it's regal.

But by the end of the century only a dwindling handful of the Ware-
Sanger generation would react comparably and see in the flag a
faith to live by as in his poem

The Stars and Stripes have stood by me
In hours of darkest peril;

I worship them as good enough
For me in hours of need.
I know that they will live beyond
All present forms of creed,
Because all present forms of creed
Are sere and drear and sterile. 12

Unless one appreciates these things to the full and takes them
seriously, there can be no real understanding of the history of the
post-Civil War generation.

Again, emphasis must be placed upon the fact that the differen-
tiation which focuses upon a tacit code of political behavior pointed
out in the foregoing is not a value judgment. Whether or not such
a political code was good or bad, or might be abused more or less

12. The exact date of this poem has not been determined, but it appeared in the
Ehymes of Ironquill for the first time in the tenth edition of 1900.



than any other institution, is not the point. But to recognize the
existence and the nature of this mode of operation does explain
many things about the much misunderstood generation, which was
in power, immediately following the American Civil War. To be
sure, the Fort Scott manner of celebration is only a single local
instance, but it is small enough to be presented in detail and in
terms of named individuals. It is not offered as proof; only as an
example. This and other comparable variant cases at the local level
afford a solid basis, however, for a sure grasp of the political party
aspect of national history for the period.


An Editor Looks at Early-Day Kansas



WYANDOTTE, KAN.; Oct. 20, 1873.


It is a long day's ride from Lincoln, Neb., to this point, distant
about 250 miles, but the time is well spent in viewing the beautiful
prairie and the villages springing up along the line of the Atchison
and Nebraska road. This is a sort of cross road, not included in the
main through lines of travel, and is therefore not much crowded.
The passengers all have two seats each, and can spread out and
take as much ease and comfort as their respective dispositions will

After leaving Lincoln, Tecumseh is the largest village along the
line, till you reach Atchison, Kansas. It is a county seat, containing
about 1200 people, most of whom are in a fever about town lots.
The houses have the appearance of having been dumped down
upon the prairie, and left without fencing or ornamentation by way
of tree or shrub. Still the inhabitants are waiting for a city which
is sure to spring up, as they think, and give a demand for lots and
an opportunity for speculation. If it were not for speculation in
town lots we don't know what would become of a large per cent of
western men.

In passing Leavenworth we were strongly tempted to drop off
and interview the old acquaintances of 1864. This is the home of
Jennison, the Kansas Jayhawker, and of his associates. He was a
strong slavery man in the '56 times, but when the rebellion broke

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 30 of 59)