Monday, March 28, 2016


The Cortland Democrat, Friday, November 27, 1891.

He Fasted Too Long for Tired Nature's Needs.
   G. Henry Stratton was until early in the fall a meat cook in the Messenger House in Cortland. Among his other acquirements he had the faculty of abstaining from food for long periods of time. He had a record made in Buffalo of fasting for 30 days.
   About the first of October Stratton, after undergoing a thorough course of training left Cortland, went to New York, entering upon a fasting trial at Huber's Fourteenth Street Museum. From October 5th until Nov. 12th, 411/2 days he went without taking anything into his stomach except water. Last week Thursday morning he died in Bellevue Hospital. Stratton's fast at the museum ended Monday afternoon Nov. 16th. Four days before the close of the fast by the advice of physicians champagne in small quantities was given him.
   The Mail and Express gives this account of the events succeeding the close of the fast: "Monday morning when the fast was ended, he refused absolutely to take any food. When the physicians tried to force him to eat, he stuffed a handkerchief in his mouth. I will not eat until I have fasted fifty days,' said he. He was taken from Huber's residence, 107 East Thirteenth street, to Bellevue Tuesday noon in an exhausted condition. He was placed in one of the medical wards, but from his actions the physicians found that he was also suffering from alcoholism. He was then transferred to the alcoholic ward. Dr. Hollister refused to say whether Stratton's death was due to exhaustion or alcoholism. Dr. Douglas, of the insane pavilion, thinks that death was due to exhaustion, although alcoholism might have hastened his demise.
   The autopsy was made by Deputy Coroner Donlin at the Morgue Friday afternoon, and alcoholism was said to be the immediate cause of death. A brother A. S. Stratton, of No. 70 Pine street, Brooklyn, called at the hospital in the morning and said that he would take charge of the remains.
   The news of the death of Stratton had not reached the District Attorney's office when a Mail and Express man called. Assistant District Attorneys Charles E. Simms, Jr., and John D. Lindsay, looked up the authorities bearing upon the case, but could find nothing which would warrant the prosecution of the dime museum managers. The decision of Chief Justice Folger in the celebrated Cowley case, the eighty-third New York, would cover the death of the faster if he had been a minor. Cowley had the custody of children in what he represented to be a charitable institution. He starved and neglected them and was sent to prison for the crime. He was bound by the law to care for these children. 
   "So far as I can see," said Mr. Simms, the museum people were not legally bound to supply Stratton with food. There was a moral obligation to be sure, but that does not furnish the grounds for a criminal prosecution."
   "Mr. Lindsay said: I might see a burglar at work, but I could not be prosecuted for neglecting to hinder him. I might see a child fall into the water and drown, and make no effort at rescue, yet the law could not hold me responsible. This man Stratton abstained from food voluntarily. It can not be argued that it was a case of suicide, and that the museum managers were accessories to that crime, for the reason that suicide was not intended, and fasting is no more a crime than such tests of endurance as bicycle races and six days go-as-you-please affairs."

The First Assembly District.
(From the Syracuse Evening Herald, Nov.24.)
   The contest over the Member of Assembly in the First Assembly district is making itself felt all over the State. The latest development is perhaps the most noteworthy of the series. It is the presentation of charges to the Governor against County Clerk Cotton by William B. Kirk, member of the Democratic State committee from this district, and the summoning of the Clerk to a hearing before the Governor at Albany to-morrow. These charges are given elsewhere in the Herald to-day.
   It is evident that County Clerk Cotton finds himself so unpleasantly involved in this matter because he followed the advice of George N. Kennedy, a Justice of the Supreme court, whose partisanship has outrun his political acumen. Mr. Cotton as secretary of the Board of County Canvassers is a ministerial officer, but he took counsel with Justice Kennedy as to a plain clerical duty. No one, we are confident, thinks for a moment that he has committed any willful wrong, and he is simply unfortunate in having such an adviser as Mr. Kennedy.
   Mr. Kirk's part in the matter is entirely political. As member of the Democratic State committee for the district, he was naturally chosen to sign the affidavits in this purely political move on the part of the Democrats. They are seeking by resort to technicalities to gain a party advantage. And Mr. Kirk, as the official head of the party in Onondaga Cortland district by virtue of his committee position, takes the formal action. 
    And the Republicans have Justice Kennedy to thank for the present complications. In his partisan readiness to relieve the anxiety of Rufus T. Peck over the Senatorial vote, he ordered that the Canvassers complete at once the count for that office, without waiting for the returns to be sent back for correction. He succeeded in his purpose to have Mr. Peck declared elected. Next, when the Canvassers, obeying his instructions not to have the returns corrected, proceeded to canvass the vote for Member of Assembly, and to declare the result on the face of the returns, he again issued a mandamus, taking exactly the opposite ground, and ordering that the returns be corrected, in order to arrive at a political result that pleased him.
   It is fair to say that Justice Kennedy is endeavoring to make himself the Canvassing Board, its official members simply carrying out his instructions. He has, we understand, advised the County Clerk in private, and he has used expressions in public that already show him to be a partisan ready for any political emergency. His attempt to intimidate the chairman of the Board of Canvassers by threatening him in a matter entirely foreign to the case in hand called for the rebuke promptly administered to him by the chairman's counsel, and the happening was a most extraordinary one. It is lamentable that a Justice of the Supreme Court so soon to retire from his judicial position should leave such a record of partisanship behind him. The Republican managers chose not wisely when they had resort to George N. Kennedy, J. S. C.
   As for the merits of the contest between Mr. Munroe and Mr. Ryan, we are confident that the people of this county, irrespective of party, will admit that a plurality of the votes for Member of Assembly were cast for Mr. Munroe. Whatever may be the outcome of the struggle now going on, that conviction will remain in the minds of Democrats and Republicans alike.
   The new ballot law is a splendid one, but it is not perfect because, in the first place, some voters are not using brains enough in voting under it. The uproar in Sullivan county over Member of Assembly and in Dutchess county over State Senator is directly attributable to careless voting. To a certain extent the trouble in Onondaga county is traceable to the same cause. Voters must wake up and cast correct ballots if they would see less difficulty in canvassing the vote. If the present contests serve such purpose they will not have been in vain. And notably in this First Assembly district fight has it been shown that many inspectors of election are either ignorant, stupid or careless. They should not hold their office if they cannot perform its plain duty correctly. They ought to know enough to write a name correctly when it is in plain print before them. They ought to know enough to fill out blanks plainly directed. A suitable civil service examination would be a good thing for not a few Inspectors of Election in this county.

He is Summoned to Appear Before Gov. Hill and Answer Four Serious Charges.
   SYRACUSE, N, Y., Nov. 23.—[Special.]— To-day, County Clerk George G. Cotton was served by a special messenger from Albany with a copy of an order citing him to appear in Albany Wednesday, November 25, at the executive chamber, at two M., to answer to charges of misconduct in office. He is a bitter partisan, and it is charged that he has used his position for partisan purposes. The petitioner is ex-Mayor and Democratic State Committeeman William B. Kirk, a gentleman of high standing and influence.
   There are four specifications. They are distinct and clear. First, that he omitted official endorsements on the ballots. Second. that he assumed illegal and unwarranted authority in issuing illegal and erroneous directions to inspectors and ballot clerks, by which ballots cast might be identified. Third, that he exceeded his authority as secretary of the board of canvassers; and fourth, that "he changed, or caused to be changed, in various important respects the election returns" filed in his office. The latter is a serious charge. It is stated that there is evidence sufficient to convict him on that alone.
[By Associated Press.]
   SYRACUSE, NOV. 23.—The county board of canvassers met at noon, to-day, and then adjourned until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. At 4 o'clock they came together again, but transacted no business. Something came from Gov. Hill later. It was in the form of summons to County Clerk Cotton, informing him that charges had been preferred against him for malfeasance in office, and that he should go before the governor in Albany, on Wednesday afternoon, at two o'clock, to answer to the charges.
   The charges against County Clerk Cotton were made upon the affidavit of ex-Mayor W. B. Kirk, of this city. There are four counts in the charges. The first alleges that County Clerk Cotton purposely mixed the ballots delivered to the town clerks of the towns of Camillus and Tully, thereby marking them and destroying the secrecy of the ballot. The second count charges that County Clerk Cotton refused to deliver a copy of the certificate of election voted by the canvassing board to Patrick J. Ryan, Democratic candidate for member of Assembly in the First district, upon application. The third count charges that County Clerk Cotton wrongfully instructed the inspectors of election in instructing them to affix their signatures to the stubs upon the ballots. The last count charges the county clerk with tampering with the returns, changing their face and with allowing members of the Republican county committee to have free access to the returns during the absence of the members of the board of canvassers.

Kennedy vs. Kennedy.
(From the Brooklyn Eagle.)
   The Democratic Board of Supervisors of Onondaga County on Thursday received a peremptory order from a Republican Judge named Kennedy "not to make any correction on the face of returns, but to declare the result as those returns correct or incorrect, [as] might indicate." The Board of Supervisors literally and instantly obeyed this order, with the result of declaring the election of a Democrat by a plurality when, in point of fact, a Republican appeared entitled to the seat, if ballots intended for him but incidentally misspelt were counted, as they ought to be, in his favor.
   On Friday the same Republican Judge solemnly overruled himself, reversed his order and issued another one to the Supervisors, directing them to do what they were engaged in doing, when he stopped them by his original mandate. They are to reconvene on Monday and are to allow to the Republican candidate the misspelt ballots which were intended for him.
   The only moral to be drawn from the Onondaga incident is that Judge Kennedy was too quick on the trigger in his first order in the presumed interest of his own party, and had solemnly stultified himself in his second order, in the interests of justice and common sense, as well as incidentally in the interests of his own party.

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