FRAUD AT A CAUCUS.
Swarms of Democrats Helping Rufus T. Peck to win in Cortland—Rallied at so Much a Head—The Qualifications by Which They were Permitted to Swear in—A Formal Protest Being Prepared.
(Special Dispatch to the Syracuse Standard.)
CORTLAND, N. Y., Aug. 22.—Since 1882, the year of the "spring bottom hat caucus," no political gathering has awakened such strong indignation among the respectable element of the Republican party in this village as that which exists here to-day over the disreputable methods by which Assemblyman Rufus T. Peck packed the Republican caucus here yesterday and secured the election of delegates to the Senatorial convention favorable to his candidacy.
Nothing has been talked of here to-day among politicians and business men but the proceedings at yesterday's caucus. Prominent Democrats, who are of course not actively interested in the contest between Wayland D. Tisdale and Mr. Peck for the delegates from Cortland county, could not help shaking their heads and indulging in exclamations of surprise when they heard that 1,077 votes had been polled at the caucus. "There is something queer about it" they said.
There was something queer about it to those on the outside, but to the people familiar with Mr. Peck's tactics in the campaign, there was nothing so mysterious that the magic word "money" could not explain. Mr. Tisdale's friends state in the most positive terms that Mr. Peck hired between 300 and 400 Democrats, minors and non-residents to go to the caucus and vote for his delegates. It cost Mr. Peck a lot of money to get these men to the ballot box, and Cortland politicians who know the [marked] value of individual members of the rabble that Mr. Peck gathered together at the caucus, estimate that it cost him between $3,000 to $4,000 to elect his delegates.
The caucus was held in the rooms of the Republican League from 4 o'clock in the afternoon until 9 o'clock in the evening. The crowd of voters was so great that the room where the ballot box was located, the passageway leading thereto and the street in front of the building, were seriously blocked. As soon as Mr. Tisdale's friends discovered that the caucus was packed with Democrats, they stationed watchers and challengers near the ballot box for the purpose of preventing any man whose Republicanism was not proved, from voting. Webster Young acted as challenger, but after he had challenged some 50 suspicious persons, who promptly swore in their votes, it was seen that the attempt to prevent fraud would prove useless. There was nothing to be accomplished by challenging a Democrat who had been paid to swear that he was a Republican and intended to vote the Republican ticket at the next election.
There were, however, a few Democrats who did not have the nerve to swear in their votes after they had been challenged, but this band of timid ones did not exceed five in number. One of these was John Garrity, a 'bus driver, known here as a lifelong Democrat. He was challenged and declined to swear in his vote and it was not received.
The test adopted by the caucus to entitle a man to vote was that he had voted for the Republican nominees for State officers and for member of Congress at the last election, and that he intended to vote the Republican ticket this fall. Mr. Tisdale's friends wanted to limit the right to vote to those who had voted for Harrison in 1888 and intended to vote the Republican ticket this fall, but Mr. Peck would not hear to this, and as he controlled the caucus committee, he had no difficulty in having this matter fixed as he desired. "Under this rule a great many Democrats were enabled to vote without straining their consciences very much as they had generally supported Congressman Belden last fall.
Many others got their votes in by saying they did not remember whether they voted last fall or not. One of the forgetful ones was C. W. Smith, the editor of the Cortland Journal. Mr. Smith used to publish a Democratic paper in Flushing, L. I., and was a delegate to the Democratic State convention held in Syracuse. He pretends to publish an independent paper, but he has been working for Mr. Peck all summer and played the part of a Peck heeler in yesterday's caucus.
The fact that 1,077 votes were polled in a Republican caucus in the two districts of the town of Cortlandville is enough in itself to make honest people think that there was something fraudulent about it. The usual caucus vote is about 600 and it did not exceed this number by many votes last fall, when there was considerable strife. The part of the town known as McGrawville holds its own caucus. In 1888 the town of Cortlandville, exclusive of the McGrawville district, cast 1,600 and some odd votes for Harrison. The vote in the whole town, Republican and Democrat combined, did not exceed 3,000 in 1888, and yet a Republican caucus in the town, exclusive of McGrawviile, polled yesterday 1,077 votes.
At the notorious "spring bottom hat caucus" in 1882, 1,300 votes were polled. The result of the shameful proceeding was that every candidate on the Republican ticket was defeated, with the exception of sheriff, who pulled through with a plurality of 64 votes. The honest Republicans sat down very hard on fraud that year, and they will do it again this year if yesterday's misdoings are not corrected.
Mr. Tisdale's friends have decided to present a formal protest to the Senatorial convention against the practices of yesterday. They will demand that admission to the convention be refused to the delegates chosen yesterday and granted to the delegates for whom they voted. This protest is being prepared to-day and will be circulated for signatures on Monday morning. There will be no trouble about getting signatures. The protest will be accompanied by affidavits that will tell a story of fraud and caucus-packing unparalleled in the history of Cortland county politics.
Edward Keator, president of the First National bank, a life-long resident of Cortland, said to-night that the caucus was controlled by Mr. Peck through the aid of purchasable Democrats.
"I know the people of this town and county pretty well," said Mr. Keator, "for I have been in the banking business for 23 years. I have always been in politics and I know the drift of political affairs here. I know that if Mr. Peck should secure the nomination that he would be buried in this county. When he ran for Assembly for a second term his majority was about 1,200. Last fall when he ran for the third time his majority was only 87. Last year his majority in his own town was only 90. I think if he ran for Senator the majority against him in Cortland would be 2,000. In case he is nominated, which seems an impossibility, the Democrats will nominate William B. Kirk, of Syracuse. Kirk would of course be elected, for it is absurd to think that the city of Syracuse and the county of Onondaga would not want such an important office filled by a man identified with its interests. Onondaga county has one industry alone that requires a brilliant man as Senator at Albany. I refer to the salt business. We do not expect to get a Senator from our county, and it would be unreasonable and absurd to indulge such expectations."
Returning to the subject of yesterday's caucus, Mr. Keator said that when the Democrats began to press toward the ballot box he went to Mr. Peck and told him that if he did not call them off he (Mr. Keator and his friends) would withdraw from the caucus and hold one of their own.
"For a short time," said Mr. Keator, "after I spoke to Mr. Peck there was a break in the line of Democrats and we held our own with the other side. But when Peck discovered that we were catching up the word was passed to the street and the Democrats swarmed in again. We will go to the convention with a protest that will command the attention of that body. We are satisfied that we will get justice, for we will not be appealing to Peck's heelers. There were a large number of Republicans who did not go to the caucus at all. I think I do not exaggerate when I place the number absent at 500. The heavy rains in the afternoon kept the Republican farmers away. Then there are a large number of Republicans in the village, business men, who never take any active part in fights, and who never go to caucuses. They are the ones who on election day vote against fraud."
Mr. Keator's view of the caucus is also the view of these gentlemen, who are the leading Republicans of this town and county: Fitz Boynton, president of the Second National bank; Theodore H. Wickwire, of Wickwire Bros., wire cloth manufacturers; Henry Gleason, treasurer of the Hitchcock Manufacturing company; Frederick Kingsbury, of the Cortland Chair company; Curtis L. Kinney, of the Cortland Forging company; H. M. Kellogg, hardware dealer; Prof. S. J. Sornberger; J. A. Jayne, dealer in boots and shoes; Ernest M. Hulbert, of the Cortland Screen company; A. S. Brown, grocer, and Webster Young, who has large mining interests in Georgia. They all say that between 300 and 400 Democrats voted in the caucus and that their names will be on the protest that will go to the Senatorial convention. These gentlemen stand for honesty in politics as well as in business, and the fact that they are united in denouncing the Peck methods in yesterday's caucus may be interpreted as representing the feeling here in the respectable element of the Republican party.
(Prof. Sornberger and Mr. Kingsbury, we understand, will fall into line and their dose of Peck straight and without making up very bad faces.—Ed. Democrat.)
Peck's Hand In the County Convention—A Weak Ticket Nominated—It Ought to be Floored in November.
The Republican County Convention was held in Wells' Hall in this village, last Tuesday afternoon. Every town in the county was fully represented. C. O. Newton, Esq., chairman of the County Committee called the convention to order and nominated Riley Hammond of Virgil for chairman and the nomination was ratified by the convention. Dr. Leonard of Harford, and A. V. Stevens of Truxton were elected secretaries, and W. J. Foster of Homer, and Dr. C. B. Trafford of Marathon were appointed tellers.
Mr. B. A. Benedict of Cortland offered a set of resolutions asking the Republicans of Onondaga county to give the nomination for State Senator to Hon. R. T. Peck, which were adopted.
On motion of F. T. Newcomb of Homer, the convention proceeded to take an informal ballot for a candidate for Member of Assembly.
Mr. F. M. Beardsley of Marathon arose and addressed the convention. He called the attention of the delegates to the fact that within the past three or four months he had called upon nearly every one of them at their elegant mansions in the country, where the perfumed breezes from their barnyards had toyed fondly with the sparce and yellow locks that adorned his brow, as they were wafted from the ruddy cheeks of the beautiful farm maiden while she stood in the gloaming, wrestling with the festive milk pan and hoydenish butter tub. The modest daisy turned its head in mute surprise as he passed by, while the pond lily closed its petals as if fearing that some vandal was abroad seeking to rob it of its sweetness. The yellow sun flower turned its round head towards the setting sun at close of day, while the cowslip of the marshes, plucked in the early morn from its soft and dewy bed, shed its effulgent rays on the cold and impassible hunk of pork resting placidly beside it in the turnip pot.
The contemplation of these beauties and various other considerations, while quietly perambulating the agricultural portions of the county had led him to believe, that no citizen within its confines could represent the poor down trodden farmer in the halls of the State Calamity half so well as one James H. Tripp of Marathon. He insisted that Mr. Tripp fully understood Mr. Blaine's idea of re-cip-er-ros-ity and that he was the one, and only man for the place.
Mr. Thos. E. Courtney presented the name of John C. Barry, Esq., of this place, in a few well chosen words. Henry Knickerbocker of Cincinnatus seconded the nomination of Mr. Tripp.
Capt. S. M. Byram presented the name of Chas. O. Newton of Homer, and set forth the claims of Homer to recognition by the convention. F. T. Newcomb of that village, seconded the nomination.
Mr. B. A. Benedict made a speech in seconding the nomination of Newton, wherein he announced that the party did not want a workingman's candidate. Mr. Benedict evidently succeeded in convincing the Cortland delegates that they should not vote for Newton or else they had been instructed by Peck to vote for some other candidate. Newton did not receive a single vote from Cortland.
An informal ballot was taken which resulted as follows:
Whole number of votes cast 90, of which James H. Tripp received 62; Chas. O. Newton, 22; John C. Barry, 4; Enos E. Mellon, 2.
On motion of S. M. Byram, the nomination of Mr. Tripp was made unanimous.
Mr. Tripp being called before the convention made a short speech in which he announced that he was entirely in accord with the principles of the Republican party and that upon strict party questions if elected, he would vote with the party and on other questions he would consult with the leading members of the same.
On motion an informal ballot was taken for a candidate for the office of Sheriff.
B. T. Wright, Esq., who was a little bit of a soldier himself, presented the name of his comrade-in-arms, Mr. John Miller of Cortland, in a very good but rather grand-dilloquent [sic] speech. It must have been quite apparent to those present that the country was saved in its hour of peril by brother Wright and comrade Miller.
Mr. B. A. Benedict, one of Peck's henchmen, proceeded to second the nomination of Miller after which an informal ballot was ordered, which resulted as follows:
Whole number of votes cast 90, of which John Miller, received 30; Henry Howes, 21; John O. Reid, 12; A R. Overton, 9; Adam Hillsinger, 12; R. L. Cass, 6.
Mr. C. E. Boyden of Marathon here moved that the following delegates be selected to attend the State Convention, viz: R. T. Peck, C. O. Newton, F. M. Beardsley, W. H. Crane, Wilbur Holmes and E. W. Childs. After considerable confusion and the putting of several amendments all of which were voted down, the delegates named were chosen unanimously.
A formal ballot for a candidate for sheriff was then ordered with the following result:
Whole number of votes cast 90, of which Miller received 56; Howes, 25; Reid, 9.
Mr. Howes moved that Mr. Miller's nomination be declared unanimous. Carried.
The nomination of a candidate for County Clerk was next declared in order.
Mr. F. E. Price of Virgil presented the name of Stephen K. Jones of the same place.
Henry Knickerbocker of Cincinnatus presented the name of Hubert T. Bushnell of Cortland, and Jas. T. Steele presented the name of Frank J. Collier of Preble.
On the informal ballot the vote stood as follows:
Whole number of votes cast 90, of which Stephen K. Jones received 34; Frank J. Collier, 33; Hubert T. Bushnell, 20; A.J. Fuller, 3.
The convention then proceeded to take a formal ballot with the following result:
Whole number of votes cast 89, of which Jones received 40; Collier, 31; Bushnell, 15; Fuller, 3.
A second formal ballot resulted as follows:
Whole number of votes cast 90, of which Jones received 44; Collier, 37; Bushnell, 9.
Mr. Bushnell withdrew his name and a third formal ballot was ordered with the following result:
Whole number of votes cast 90, of which Jones received 48; Collier, 42.
Mr. H. L. Bronson presented the name of Jerome Squires of Cortland, as a candidate for District Attorney, and Hon. M. M. Brown of Freetown performed the same service for Miles E. Burlingame of Willett. An informal ballot decided the question:
Whole number of votes cast 89, of which Jerome Squires received 50; Miles E. Burlingame, 37; S. K. Jones, 1; My Yaller Dog, 1.
The last candidate was badly handicapped in the race from the fact that his name had not been presented to the convention. Had his name been properly presented there is no telling what the result might have been. The nomination of Squires was made unanimous.
B. T. Wright, Esq., presented the name of Almon W. Angel of Cortland for the nomination for Superintendent of the Poor. His name was the only one presented and the informal ballot resulted as follows:
Whole number of votes cast 89, of which Almon W. Angel received 55; Dwight K. Cutler, 34.
On motion J. B. Hills of Cuyler was nominated for Justice of Sessions and Drs. Geo. D. Bradford of Homer, and Philip N. Neary of Taylor were nominated for Coroners.
B. A. Benedict, Esq., was elected delegate to the Judiciary convention to be hold in Binghamton next month.
The following constitute the new County Committee:
Cincinnatus—Dr. M. L. Halbert.
Cortland—H. L. Bronson, C. P. Walrad, T. E. Courtney, Arthur Stillson, C. A. Jones.
Homer—C. O. Newton, S. M. Byram, Wm. J. Smith.
Marathon—F. M. Beardsley, W. A. Brink.
Preble—James T. Steele.
Solon—Wm. H. Atkins.
Scott—John L. Vincent.
Truxton—D. M. Patrick.
Willett—C. J. Harris.
R. T. Peck, find a grave: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=75127204