Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Local Elections in Pelham in 1843

In 1843, local elections in Pelham attracted attention when the Town voted Whigs into office, rejecting several Locofoco candidates. The Locofocos began in the mid-1830s as an anti-Tammany Hall faction of the Democratic party. The faction existed for about a decade. By 1840, Whigs routinely applied the "Locofoco" label to the entire Democratic party. Locofocos typically supported free trade and circulation of coined money versus paper money. They supported unions and opposed "financial speculation". They supported such political figures as Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

Whigs, on the other hand, was the principal political party that opposed the Democratic party founded by Andrew Jackson. It existed from 1832 until the mid-1850s. The Whig party was suspicious of a strong Executive Branch and believed in the supremacy of the Legislative Branch of the federal government. Their platform included economic development and modernization. Whigs supported such political figures as William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Daniel Webster, Winfield Scott and Henry Clay.

John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham was a State Senator and a noted Locofoco. For years, it seems, the people of Pelham elected Locofocos to local office -- until 1843. That year, the Town elected James L. Townsend, a Whig, to serve as Town Supervisor. He won by the slim margin of two votes. Additionally, the Town elected two Whig Justices, a Whig tax Collector, Whig Commissioners of highways, Whig Commissioners and Inspectors of Schools, and Whig Inspectors of Elections.

Whigs throughout the state were elated. The Hudson River Chronicle published an article about the Whig victories in Pelham. The text of that article appears immediately below.

"Sound the trumpet, beat the drums,
The little town of Pelham comes!!

It is even so. The town of Pelham, which, though not much larger than a johnny cake board, contains the princely domains of Senator John Hunter, and several other splendid abodes of Locofoco aristocracy, and which has been Locofoco so long that the memory of the oldest woman in the town runneth not to the contrary, at the town meeting, on Tuesday last elected James L. Townsend, Esq., the Whig candidate, Supervisor, by the handsome majority of two votes. This majority of two may seem small to those who are accustomed to count their majorities by hundreds and thousands, but it is just as good as two hundred for our friend Townsend. It tells well for Pelham; it is carrying the war into Africa, and it is a splendid forerunner of things to come. We know our Locofoco friends will turn up their aristocratic noses, and say, 'Who cares for little Pelham!' But, gentlemen, is not Pelham a town in and of herself? Have you not always claimed her as a 'town,' when, in times past, she set her weight in your scale of the political balance? Does she not count one in the board of Supervisors? Has she not an equal voice with Mount Pleasant in electing Poor House officers, and in assisting to roll up a mighty great tax for the larger towns to pay? Have you not always wrote her down a town when it has been necessary to send an expression of Supervisors to Albany to control legislation? She is a town, every inch of her, and never more a town than since the last town meeting; and now, as the Whigs have got her right, we hope our friend Townsend will set his weight upon her and keep her so.

But, to the glorious result, which is as follows: For Supervisor, J. L. Townsend, Whig, had two majority over Mr. Ogden, Locofoco. This is glory enough for one year; but to swell the tide of triumph, and to cover themselves all over with glory, the Whigs of Pelham went the entire figure, electing two Justices, their Collector by 10 majority, Commissioners of highways, Commissioners and Inspectors of Schools, Inspectors of Elections, and so on and so forth, all through.

Some of the Locofocos of Pelham pretend they let the Election go by default, because Gov. Bouck differs with Senator Hunter about the County appointments!! This is all gammon, and put forth only to cover the mortification of defeat. The Locos of Pelham never fought harder in the world, but all to no purpose. There is a change; a most radical change, in Pelham, and neither Hunter nor Gov. Bouck can mend it. Townsend, the Supervisor elect, is a thorough, out and out Whig; in favor of a Tariff for Protection to American Industry and Labor; in favor of a Sound National Currency, the Distribution of the Proceeds of the Public Lands, the protection of the State Works, and the maintenance of the State Credit, and is opposed to Calhoun, Tyler, Van Buren, Broken Banks, swindling Office Holders, sloping Sub Treasurers, Repudiation and Sam. Young. Ogden, his opponent, is a Locofoco of 'the real ignorant kind;' goes in for Suspension, Low Wages, Broken Banks, Bad Currency, Bad Government, Repudiation, and Direct Taxation, and, like many other Locos, supports Tyler for the offices and Van Buren for the Presidency! These questions were brought directly home to the people of Pelham at the late town meeting -- Senator Hunter's votes and speeches in favor of the measures and principles which Ogden supports, were freely circulated among the Electors, and the result is, that the Locos of Pelham, have discovered the error into which such leaders, Senators and Representatives, have led them, and have triumphantly come out on the side of Townsend, Clay, and Democratic Whig Principles. We welcome the Electors of Pelham into the great Whig family, and give them thirty cheers for their gallant and glorious victory."

Source: Sound the Trumpet, Beat the Drums, The Little Town of Pelham Comes!!, The Hudson River Chronicle, Apr. 11, 1843, Vol. 6, No. 26, p. 2, col. 6.

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.


Post a Comment

<< Home