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ELECTING A PRESIDENT IN THE LATE SEVENTIES AND EARLY EIGHTIES

Narrator: Mrs. Mabel Gwynn McBrayer, Hamilton, Missouri

The business of electing a President was a more exciting matter in former times than now. First the Civil War was near enough to color all politics. The Republicans were Black Republicans to the Democrats and the Democrats were rebels to the Republicans; and even the children felt the hatred at Election times and yelled ugly words at one another.

Again preparing for election day was quite a show in itself here at Hamilton. There were numerous torch light parades in "rallies"; each party gave a rally at night and on that occasion there would be a long procession of torches, horse back riders, floats and four sided transparencies showing slogans. Always there was a fair young lady as goddess of liberty with forty eight girls as States and Territories. Bands played and people yelled. Along the line of march, the homes of the opposing partisans were black as night but the homes of the party giving the rally would be bright with candles and Chinese lanterns. Every curtain in the house had to be taken down and the windows filled with boards on which rested candles. The yards were strung with clothes line, trunk ropes and Chinese lanterns. Some of the family went on Main street but some always stayed at home to watch the candles. Of course it cost money but it was worth it, and the Chinese lanterns were used year after year for church lawn socials.

Then if your party won in the election you had a still bigger time at the ratification which was held just as soon as the returns had clearly shown what side really won. That was sometimes not known for days, for they did not have the quick counting then to get returns.

On Election day, there was a rough crowd in town and the men did not like for their women folks to go by the polls; it just did not look nice. Men drank and became noisy.

At one Rally at Hamilton - the Cleveland-Thurman - every one in the parade wore red bandanas on their head, around their necks etc., because old Allen Thurman, the Vice President candidate was supposed to use one. When Ben Harrison ran for President the Republicans had an old log cabin in the procession (echoing his grandfather's slogan) while the Democrats ridiculed him by having a small man wear a hat much too big, "Trying to wear Grandpa's hat". When Cleveland was defeated for re-election the Republicans had a float with E.H. Daley, who resembled Cleveland rowing a boat "going up Salt River".

 

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998