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William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

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The Whigs, though eighty votes behind the Democrats in Eas-
ton the year before, had now, in 1840, made such gains that they
had some hope of electing a representative to the Legislature.
The Democrats nominated their strong man, Jonathan Pratt,
father of the late Jonathan A. Pratt. He was a member of the
Orthodox society. In order to counterbalance any advantage
arising from that fact, it was desirable for the Whigs to nominate
a man from the same society. But how would that suit the Uni-
tarians ? Shrewdly then, the leading Whigs got all their followers
pledged to vote for any one whom the Whig Association might
nominate. It then nominated Lincoln Drake, also a member
of the Orthodox society, who was personally very popular, and
was sure to secure the votes of some Morton men. On the
vote for governor, Marcus Morton, Democrat, had a majority



628 HISTORY OF EASTON.

of seventeen votes, George W. Johnson, then of Easton, receiv-
ing three votes as a candidate of the Liberty Party. The
voting for representative excited the most intense interest. It
resulted in one hundred and eighty-eight for Pratt, one hundred
and eighty-seven for Drake, and three scattering. There was no
choice ; and neither party feeling confidence enough to risk a
second ballot, there was no representative elected from Easton
for that year. The next year, 1841, Morton had a plurality
only, and not a majority. Lincoln Drake was the Whig candi-
date for representative, Moses C. Dunbar the Democratic, and
Martin Wild the Liberty Party candidate. Drake had a plu-
rality, but not a majority, and there was no choice on the first
ballot. On the second ballot he was chosen ; and for the first
time Easton elected a Whig representative.

This marks the turning point in the politics of Easton, which
was hereafter to be a Whig town. The Democrats foresaw this,
but postponed the result one year by combining with the Lib-
erty Party men and electing the candidate of the latter, Lewis
Williams, for representative. There was only one other Liberty
Party man in the State Legislature that year, and there was so
nearly a tie between the Whigs and Democrats that the latter
nominated Lewis Williams for speaker, who failed of election by
only three votes. In 1843 Mr. Drake, Whig, was elected repre-
sentative from Easton by a majority vote, and was re-elected for
the succeeding three years by increasing majorities.

The Presidential canvass of 1844, Henry Clay and James K.
Polk being candidates, was an exciting one in town. Clay awak-
ened an ardent personal attachment, and the Whigs worked for
him with a hearty will. They attended a great convention at
Taunton, September 10, which was presided over by Daniel
Webster. The ladies of Taunton had promised to give a silk
banner to the Whigs of any town who would send to the Con-
vention the largest delegation proportioned to their vote for
governor in 1842. The vote of Easton for John Davis in 1842
was one hundred and fourteen, and its delegation to Taunton
consisted of two hundred and fifty men, showing a larger propor-
tional gain than any town there represented. The banner was
therefore bestowed upon the Easton Whigs, Daniel Webster
himself proposing three cheers for Easton, which were heartily



POLITICAL AND OFFICIAL. 629



given. Oliver Ames, Jr., was chosen to make the response
to the presentation. The banner is now in Memorial Hall;
on one side of it is a portrait of Henry Clay. As Easton
cast only two hundred and two votes for Clay, one wonders
what became of the forty-eight other Whigs who were in the
delegation.

Many interesting incidents occurred in town in this exciting
campaign. The result of the election was for some time in
doubt, inasmuch as the returns from New York, on which State
the final decision depended, came in slowly. On the Turnpike
were two shoe-shops, one hired by Samuel R. Clark and Israel
Randall, the other by the Clapp brothers, the former being a
rallying place for Whigs, the latter for Democrats. It seems
that the coon figured largely in this campaign as a Whig sym-
bol. In a Democratic song modelled after "Old Dan Tucker"
occurred this stanza : —

" High on a limb that same old coon
Was singing to himself this tune, —
' Get out of the way you old Sir Harry,
That coon ticket we don't carry.' "

When the first fall State elections, prior to the national elec-
tion, appeared unfavorable to Clay, Cyrus Alger procured a dead
woodchuck, in default of a coon, and hung him on a stick nailed
on a front corner of the Clapp shop, projecting towards the
street. The woodchuck was fastened by the legs to the stick so
as to hang below it, back downward. When news came of a
State going Democratic, Mr. Alger would draw the legs closer to-
gether, and the woodchuck soon presented a sorry appearance. It
hung there until th^ November Presidential election. When it
was finally known that everything depended upon the vote of New
York State, a copy of the " Boston Atlas " came out reporting
that New York had gone for Clay, and he was therefore elected.
Whereupon A, A. Gilmore and two companions took away the
woodchuck from Clapp's shop, and set it right side up on the
top of a pole ten feet above the roof of the Whig headquarters,
where it appeared to be in much better spirits. But the " Atlas "
was mistaken ; Clay was not elected, and the woodchuck made
an ignominious descent from his high perch. This was a sample



630 HISTORY OF EASTON.

of the practical jokes that were quite common in those exciting
election times.

In the mean time the Free Soil movement was growing, and
in this town it received many accessions from the Democrats.
Dr. Caleb Swan was their candidate for member of Congress,
Several elections resulting in no choice were held ; but Artemas
Hale, the Whig candidate, was finally chosen. In 1852 the vote
for President was one hundred and seventy-one for Winfield
Scott, one hundred and forty-three for John P. Hale, forty-nine
for Franklin Pierce, and four for Daniel Webster, who was dead.
This vote shows the political complexion of the town, and con-
firms the statement of the adoption of the Free Soil position by
many Democrats. Horace Mann, the Free Soil candidate for
governor, received one hundred and eighty-eight votes in Easton,
one more than the Whig candidate, John H. Clifford ; and on a
second ballot, and with the help of Democrats, the Free Soil
candidate for representative. Wade Daily, was elected. Hiram
Keith was chosen for the same office in 1853. At the same
time the Rev. Mr. Sheldon was elected a member of the consti-
tutional convention soon to be held, having a majority of seventy-
nine over Elijah Howard, the Whig candidate. This date marks
the vanishing point of the Whig party in Easton, as elsewhere.
It is related that when Mr. Sheldon was speaking in the conven-
tion alluded to, he addressed the audience as " My hearers." He
was called to order by N. P. Banks, the president of the conven-
tion, for not addressing the chair. Mr. Sheldon made a neat
apology, in which, referring to the inattention with which his
remarks had been received, he said : " I have been accustomed
to address an audience in which I have had, at least, hearers."

In 1854 occurred the Native American fanaticism, which by
secret lodges was organized into the Know Nothing Party, — a
party which though claiming to be distinctively American was,
both in its principles and methods, out of harmony with the real
spirit of American institutions. But this fanaticism swept over
Easton like wildfire. Henry J. Gardner received in this town
two hundred and forty-seven out of a total of four hundred votes,
and Dea. Harrison T. Mitchell was elected to the Legislature.
In 1855 Easton gave Governor Gardner two hundred and thirty-
four votes, and elected William Barrows representative by two



POLITICAL AND OFFICIAL.



631



hundred and forty votes. In 1856 Governor Gardner had two
hundred and forty-two votes here, and by a vote of two hundred
and eighty-nine John Kimball was sent to the Legislature. The
National Republican party had already been organized, and in
1856 nominated John C. Fremont for a Presidential candidate.
The Know Nothings kept up their State organization in 1856,
but voted for the Republican National ticket. Fremont's vote
in Easton was very large, being three hundred and forty-nine out
of a total of four hundred and sixty-five votes. Soon afterward
the Know Nothing Party collapsed. It will be remembered for
one good thing its Legislature did, which was the enactment
usually called the " Know Nothing Station," which obliges rail-
road trains to come to a full stop before crossing another
railroad.

Since 1856 Easton has been strongly Republican, though
its vote in 1883 was cast for General Butler as Democratic
candidate for governor ; and L. S. Drake, a Democrat, by the
help of Republican votes, was sent to the Legislature for one
year.

VOTES FOR GOVERNORS.

The votes of Easton for governors are here given, and they are
a good index of the political changes of the town for successive
years. The name first recorded in the vote of each year is that
of the successful candidate. When there was no election by pop-
ular vote, the name of the governor chosen by the General Court
is given in italics. For some unaccountable reason, the votes of
Easton for governor for the first six years are not given in the
town records ; the first vote recorded was that of 1787. In a
few instances but one name occurs, the vote being in some
years unanimous, and in other cases so nearly so that the town
clerk may have thought it unimportant to report the minority
vote. Until 1831 the election was in April, and the governor
was inaugurated on the last Wednesday in May. The State Con-
stitution was then amended, so that the election should be held
in November and the governor be inaugurated the first Wednes-
day in the January following. After 1831, therefore, the dates
are for the years of service, not the date of election.



632



HISTORY OF EASTON.



1787.
John Hancock 85

1788.
John Hancock ...... 8

Elbridge Gerry



35



1789.



John Hancock 58

1790.



John Hancock



78



1791.



John Hancock 61

1792.
John Hancock 39

1793-
John Hancock 56

1794.

Samuel Adams 5°

William Gushing 4



1 801.

Caleb Strong 35

Elbridge Gerry 79

1802.

Caleb Strong 49

Elbridge Gerry 70



1803.



Caleb Strong



82



1795-



Samuel Adams



1796.



Samuel Adams 32

Increase Sumner 9

Scattering 2

1797.

Increase Sumner 9

James Sullivan 33

Moses Gill 17

1798-

Increase Sumner 72

1799-

Increase Sumner 49

William Heath 'S']

Elbridge Gerry 5

1800.

Caleb Strong 14

Elbridge Gerry 113

Moses Gill 3



Caleb Strong 27

James SulHvan no

1805.

Caleb Strong 29

James Sullivan 117

1806.

Caleb Strong 42

James Sullivan 103

William Heath 4

1807.

Caleb Strong 46

James Sullivan 114

Levi Lincoln 5

1808.

James SuUivan 108

Christopher Gore 34



Christopher Gore 43

Levi Lincoln 139

1810.

Elbridge Gerry 150

Christopher Gore 46

Scattering 2

i8ir.

Elbridge Gerry 150

Christopher Gore 45

Caleb Strong 2

1812.

Caleb Strong 69

Elbridge Gerry 150



POLITICAL AND OFFICIAL.



633



1813.

Caleb Strong 107

Joseph B. Varnum 144

1814.

Caleb Strong 107

Samuel Dexter 122

1815.

Caleb Strong 116

Samuel Dexter 134

1816.

John Brooks 78

Samuel Dexter 117



John Brooks 73

Henry Dearborn 100

William King 2



John Brooks ()"]

Benjamin W. Crown! nshield . 79

Benjamin Crowninshield . . 6

1819.

John Brooks 76

Benjamin W. Crowninshield . 106

Scattering 2



John Brooks 86

William Eustis ^'j



John Brooks 63

William Eustis 99

Scattering 2

1822.

WiUiam Eustis 93

John Brooks 45

1823.

William Eustis 127

Harrison G. Otis 74



1824.

Wilham Eustis 162

Samuel Lothrop 102

1825.

Levi Lincoln 120

1826.

Levi Lincoln 106

1827.

Levi Lincoln 135

Marcus Morton 2

1828.

Levi Lincoln 141

Scattering 4

1829.

Levi Lincoln 122

Scattering 8

1830.

Levi Lincoln 10 1

Marcus Morton 47

Scattering 2

1831.

Levi Lincoln 212

Marcus Morton 8

William Ingalls 5

1832.

Levi Lincoln 197

Samuel Lothrop 114

Marcus Morton 7

James L. Hodges 2

1833-

Levi Lincoln 182

Samuel Lothrop 115

Marcus Morton n



1834.

yohn Davis . . .
John Quincy Adams
Marcus Morton



123

146

17



634



HISTORY OF EASTON.



1835-

John Davis 125

John Barclay 109

Marcus Morton 20

Samuel C. Allen 6



1S36.
Edward Everett 78



Marcus Morton . .
Samuel T. Armstrong



1837.



Edward Everett
Marcus Morton



66
18



68

122



Edward Everett 128

Marcus Morton 143

1839.

Edward Everett 112

Marcus Morton 156

1840.

Marcus Morton 210

Edward Everett 130



John Davis 178

Marcus Morton ^15

George W. Johnson .... 3

1842.

John Davis 148

Marcus Morton 161

Lucius Boltwood 26

1843.

Marcus Morton 153

John Davis 114

Samuel E. Sewall 44

1844.

George N. Briggs 181

Marcus Morton 133

Samuel E. Sewall ....



1845.

George N. Briggs 206

George Bancroft 145

Samuel E. Sewall 57

1846.

Georg^e N. Briggs i8q



Isaac Davis 120

Samuel E. Sewall z,-]

Henry Shaw 6

1847-

George N. Briggs 191

Isaac Davis . 94

Samuel E. Sewall 67

Francis Baylies 22

1848.

George N. Briggs 177

Caleb Gushing 102

Samuel E. Sewall 63

Francis Baylies 44

1849.

George N. Briggs 211

Stephen C. Phillips .... 181

Caleb Gushing 37



1850.

George N. Briggs .
Stephen C. PhilHps
George S. Boutwell

1851.
George S. Boutwell



179
137
44



36



George N. Briggs 198

Stephen C. Phillips .... 185
Francis Coo;swell 10



1852.

George S. Boutwell
Robert C. Winthrop
John G. Palfrey . .



49
192

179



1853-

Joh7i H. Clifford 187

Horace Mann 188

49 Henry W. Bishop 45



POLITICAL AND OFFICIAL.



635



1854.

Emory Washburn 181

Henry Wilson 180

Henry W. Bishop 64

Scattering 3

1855.

Henry J. Gardner 247

Henry Wilson 70

Emory Washburn 69

H. W. Bishop 13

1856.

Henry J. Gardner .... 234

Julius Rockwood 180

Erasmus D. Beach .... 42

Samuel H Walley 13

1857.

Henry J. Gardner 242

Erasmus D. Beach .... 69

George W. Gordon .... 33

Scattering 36



Nathaniel P. Banks
Henry J. Gardner .
Erasmus D. Beach
Caleb Swan . . .



1859-
Nathaniel P. Banks
Erasmus D. Beach
Amos A. Lawrence

i860.

Nathaniel P. Banks
Benjamin F. Butler
George N. Briggs .



180
142

47
II



250

56
29



135

55
46



1861.

John A. Andrew 280

Amos A Lawrence 50

Erasmus D. Beach 45

Benjamin F. Butler .... 6

1862.

John A. Andrew 134

Isaac Davis 36



1863.

John A. Andrew 251

Charles Devens 130

1864.

John A. Andrew 138

Henry W. Paine 45

1865.

John A. Andrew 355

Henry W. Paine 97

1866.

Alexander H. Bullock ... 96

Darius N. Gooch 15



1867.

Alexander H. Bullock . . . 202

Theodore H. Sweetser ... 20

1868.

Alexander H. Bullock . . . 254

John Quincy Adams .... 102

1869.

William Claflin 357

John Quincy Adams .... 70

Scattering 2

1870.

William Claflin 199

Edwin M. Chamberlain . . . 140

John Quincy Adams .... 68

Scattering 2



1871.

WiUiam Claflin . . .
Wendell Phillips . .
John Quincy Adams .

1872.

William B. Washburn
John Quincy Adams .
Edwin M. Chamberlain
Robert C. Pitman . .



1873-
William B. Washburn
Francis W. Bird . .



270
86
52



185
54



335
203



636



HISTORY OF EASTON.



1S74.

William B. Washburn ... 92

William Gaston 42

1875.

William Gaston 144

Thomas Talbot 217

1876.

Alexander H. Rice .... 120

WiHiam Gaston 96

John I. Baker 14

1877.

Alexander H. Rice .... 322

Charles Francis Adams . . . 217

John I. Baker 39

1878.

Alexander H. Rice .... 152

William Gaston 85

Robert C. Pitman 14

1879.

Thomas Talbot 286

Benjamin F. Butler .... 230

Josiah G. Abbott 26

A. A. Miner 2

1880.

John D. Long 283

Benjamin F. Butler .... 216

John Ouincy Adams .... 17

Daniel C. Eddy 2



1881.

John D. Long 301

Charles P. Thompson . . . 230

Charles Almy 3

1882.

John D. Long 220

Charles P. Thompson . . . 142

Charles Almy 3

1883.

Benjamin F. Butler .... 292

Robert R. Bishop 193

Charles Almy 4

1884.

George D. Robinson .... 293

Benjamin F. Butler .... 291

Charles Almy 7

1S85.

George D. Robinson .... 283

WiUiam E. Endicott .... 227

Julius H. Seelye 20

Matthew J. McCaflferty ... 17

1886.

George D. Robinson .... 154

Frederic O. Prince . . . . 128

Thomas J. Lothrop .... 4

1887.

Oliver Ames 332

John F. Andrew 144

Thomas J. Lothrop .... 4



Moderators of Annual Town Meetings.

Josiah Keith, 1 726-1 731, 1732, 1757, — seven years.

Benjamin Drake, 1731.

Capt. John PhiHips, 1733, 1734, 1737, i74o, 1741, i744, 1 75 1» — seven

years.
Capt. Edward Hayward (also called Esquire & Deacon) 1735, 1738,

i739j 1742, 1743? 1746, 17475 1752-1756, 1758, — twelve years.
Lieut. John Williams, 1745, 1756, — two years.
Capt. Eliphalet Leonard, 1736, 1748, 1750, 1768-1771,1772, — seven

years.



POLITICAL AND OFFICIAL. 637

Benjamin Kinsley, 1749.

3eth Williams, 1759.

Daniel Williams, Esq., 1761-1764, 1767, — four years, and probably
for 1760, where record is wanting.

Ilapt. Benjamin Williams, 1764.

^ephaniah Keith, 1765, 1766, 1771, — three years.

:ol. Abiel Mitchell, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1785, 1795-1799' iSoo, 1802,—
ten years.

Lieut. Seth Pratt, 17 76-1 783, 1784, 1 786-1791, — thirteen years.

rhomas Williams, 1792-1795, — three years.

(\bisha Leach, 1799.

Elijah Howard, iSoi.

[oshua Britton, 1803, 1805-1808, 1809, 1810, 1813-1820, 1822, 1824-
1827, 1830, 1837, — nineteen years.

[Calvin Brett, 1804, 18 12, — two years.

Samuel Guild, 1808.

Roland Howard, 1815, 182 1, 1823, — three years.

fohn Pool, 1820.

Elijah Howard, Jr., 1827-1830, 1833-1836, 1840-1850, 1856, — seven-
teen years.

[onathan Pratt, 1831, 1832, 1839, — three years.

Dr. Samuel Deans, 1S36.

Lewis Williams, 1838.

risdale Harlow, 1850, 1851, — two years.




Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 58 of 78)