Displaying items by tag: elections
If you have not already heard, tomorrow is Election Day. So, it seems like a good time to share this article we found at HSMC last week.
This article was written in 1956 and discusses the Church of the Brethren, also known as the Dunkers. For the two centuries prior to 1956, many Dunkers resided in Pennsylvania, including here in Montgomery County. Much like the Quakers and Mennonites, the early Dunkers were known for practicing pacifism. For the Dunkers, that included refusing to participate in elections. Not only did they not vote, but they were also unlikely to hold a public office or participate in public legal issues. This included litigation. According to this article, members of the Church would risk censure if they filed a lawsuit. Instead of going through attorneys and court systems, they were expected to go to Church officials for an arbitration instead.
Meeting House in Lower Salford, HSMC Photo Collection
Interestingly, although participating in politics and other public systems was generally frowned upon, there does not appear to be any evidence that members were punished for doing so. There are even cases where some Dunkers served in public offices. The most notable one was Pennsylvania's own Governor Martin G. Brumbaugh! He served from 1915 to 1919, during World War I.
It was not until 1956, during their annual conference, when the Dunkers officially declared that voting and participation in public affairs should be encouraged in their congregations.
Last week I was scrolling through old Times-Herald’s for a research request, and I discovered this interesting headline.
Hmm, I don’t remember a President Hughes.
In 1916, incumbent Woodrow Wilson was running against Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes. Since the Civil War, Republicans had dominated the White House, Grover Cleveland’s two terms being the only ones for a Democrat between Abraham Lincoln and Wilson. Wilson was able to win the presidency because of a split in the GOP between the progressives (led by Theodore Roosevelt) and the more traditional Republicans led by President William H. Taft.
Charles Evans Hughes was governor of New York from 1907 to 1910 when President Taft nominated him for the Supreme Court. At the Republican Convention of 1916, Hughes was a compromise candidate between the Roosevelt and Taft contingents. He was highly regarded for his intelligence and moderation. Many believed that if the Republicans could unite behind Hughes, he would defeat Wilson.
The Daily Herald, as the paper was known at the time, was staunchly Republican. Notice on these instructions for voting, not only is the Republican box marked, but the other three parties (Democrats, Progressives, and Socialists don’t even appear!).
It heavily promoted Hughes as well as the local Republican candidates in both its articles and its advertising. This reflected Norristown and Montgomery County’s political tendency. Remember, not even native son and Democrat Winfield Scott Hancock won in Montgomery County.
The paper's gung-ho Republicanism and the general feeling that Republicans would unite behind Hughes led to the Herald’s “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment. It was not the only paper to declare Hughes the winner as he led in the early returns. But Wilson carried the Solid South and a few swing states, including California.
The Herald reported the uncertainly on Thursday, November 9, and a special edition later that day declared Wilson the winner. On Friday, it ran Wilson’s picture (smaller than Hughes).
The Ardmore Chronicle, a weekly, ran a large picture of Hughes in its last issue before Election Day. A week later, it reported the election still up in the air although the Herald had reported Wilson the winner two days before.
Norristown did have a Democratic paper, The Daily Register. It was just as strong in its support of Wilson as the Herald was of Hughes. It endorsed Wilson early and promoted Democratic rallies. The Register is a little more fun than the Herald because it has political cartoons, which were absent from the Herald.
The Register declared Wilson the victor right away and reiterated the claim with more evidence in the following days.
It ran this odd cartoon later in the week.
Losing the election wasn’t the end for Charles E. Hughes. He had resigned from the Supreme Court when he accepted his party’s nomination, so after the election he returned to private practice. He served as Secretary of State under Harding, and in 1930, President Hoover appointed him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.