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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

. . . And One Prostitute

James A Garfield

The 20th President of the United States was James Abram Garfield, who incidentally was the last president to be born in a log cabin. He served in the Civil War, and then in the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years. In 1879, he was elected to the Senate but never took that seat because he was nominated to the Presidency. Garfield was truly a dark- horse candidate.

The Republican Party was divided into two factions, one for former President Grant and the other for Sen James Blaine of Maine. But because of a deadlock between these two for the presidential nomination, Garfield was proposed.

The Presidential election between Garfield and Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, a hero of the Civil War was close. Garfield barely won the popular vote, but with enough margin in the electoral college to take the election. A few months after he took office, a disgruntled office seeker who had hoped to be appointed to a patronage position, shot Garfield in a Washington train station. Garfield lingered for 80 days before he finally died.

Pensions for Civil War soldiers was much discussed by the candidates. Since the payments of pensions was in arrears, an amendment was offered in the Senate of February 28, 1879, that no rebel soldier should be entitled to receive a pension. The vote was 24 in the affirmative by the Republicans and 26 in the negative from the Democrats.

Republicans “waved the bloody shirt” by reminding Northern voters the Democratic party was responsible for secession and four years of civil war.

At the time of the Presidential election, Garfield and Arthur clubs were meeting all over Lawrence County. After the politicians talked, the singing entertainment commenced. Pryor Sutherland was president of the Lukin club and assured his readers that Lukin would roll up over 100 votes for Garfield.

The Rural Republican published an article about the Republican rally in Vincennes “where the democratic bummers threw rocks and clubs at the Garfield boys from Lawrence. Unfortunately, none of these imps of Hancock could be caught.”

Another “Garfield meeting” was written by a “reporter” about a political rally held at Birds Station August 28, 1880. It was printed in the Herald newspaper December 2, 1880. (The last paragraph is worth reading the whole article for…..)

“A Garfield meeting was held here last night. I will attempt to write it up for the Herald.

The meeting was held in the open air back of Jack Klinger’s new house. It was composed of carpet baggers, bummers, etc. from Lawrenceville and elsewhere and a few residents of Bond.

After the Bond Twp Boss--Squire Roberts-- had been drilled by Boss Dan’l, he called the meeting to order. After an organization had been effected Bill Robinson was trotted out and made an effort to speak, and might have done something in that direction if he had not undertaken too much. He made some sweeping charges against Democratic statesmen in general, after which he attacked Jefferson and Jackson in particular. But the more he ‘chawed’ on that mouthful the ‘bigger’ it got, so he was compelled to spit up that mouthful and spend the rest of his short time in agitating the bloody shirt, rebel claims, etc.

K. P. Snyder was then called for. He came to the front and piped for a very short time. He soon worked himself down. It was his first effort, and he will better his chances of election this fall, by making it his last. (Ed. Note: K P Snyder was running for State’s Attorney and won. Presumably his speech- making got better or he didn’t make any more after this one.)

Charley Borden then talked very pretty for a few minutes but could not get warmed up and soon quit, without saying anything.

Boss Dan’l then came to the front and dispensed taffy for a few minutes. (Ed Note: dispensing taffy seemed to mean talking about nothing.)

Fred Pierce made a few spasmodic efforts to say something, but didn’t. (Ed Note: Fred was the local blacksmith.)

After which Freeman Plummer was called for, who from his own statement has long been on the fence. As a bait gard(?) was last spring made census enumerator and since then the Republicans have been taffying him up till they have caught him. And they are now laughing at and despising him for biting at their hook.

During the interval between the efforts at speaking some singing was engaged in. The songs were in harmony with the spirit of the remarks and were for the purpose of deepening the sectional hatred, and so well did they succeed that Major (Dan’l) Gold ordered Capt Ford to lead a charge against a person who was so disloyal as to holler for Hancock.

Throughout there was nothing said about Garfield.

There were present as nearly as I can guess. Voters of Bond: Republicans—60, Democrats—30; Candidates from Lawrenceville—3; Carpet baggers—40; prostitutes—1; woman and children –75; Total—209.”

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