Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Grand Old Party Is Not New Orleans During Mardi Gras

William A Stone. The Tale of a Plain Man. 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, Pa.: The John C. Winston Company, 1918. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries reprint).

The author, who was a Pennsylvania Governor, was born in 1846. He grew up where kissing was forbidden, even at weddings. Illnesses were fought with plants and sweating to boiling hemlock. Doctors were not required to be formally educated, and they mostly prescribed a plant with a low level toxin, aconite, and belladonna, a plant mixture. People would get up before dawn to travel 20 miles to hear politicians debate.

Stone attended an 1856 debate between two stump speakers, John Simpson for the Democrats and Galusha Grow for the Republicans. Many arrived from miles around to hear them. Simpson fell asleep during Grow's speech and vomited while asleep. After Simpson's speech, Grow responded "I can never listen to a Republican speech without becoming so deathly ill that I must vomit."

Stone's house was part of the Underground Railroad. His parents hid African Americans in a spare room and moved them away at night to another location 20 miles north on the way to freedom in Canada. Stone's father was also active in local politics, serving as Town Clerk, Treasurer, Assessor, School Director, and Justice of the Peace.

Stone enlisted for six months with the Pennsylvania volunteers for the Civil War. He did not have his father's consent and a telegram from his father to Senator Simon Cameron got him sent home. When Stone convinced his father that, without his consent, Stone would enlist under another name, his father gave his consent. Stone admits he felt shame staying home when others were volunteering.

Chronic siarrhea was a problem for Stone and many other Union soldiers. After finding a dead man in a well, water was brought from a distant creek. Stone participated in capturing a Confederate railroad. He helped fight a Confederate attack that didn't realize they had charged between two Union lines and thus were slaughtered. Stone's regiment was sent to Camp Cadwalder outside Philadelphia. He and others were upset to march in a parade with officers who ever left Philadelphia and never saw battle. There was criticism that the battle worn soldiers did not look as good as those who didn't see battle and were wearing their dress uniforms, a uniforms those in combat had discarded as necessary to carry. Captain Morgan Hart and others took offense to the criticism that they didn't look like proper soldiers. Hart and some others received court martials for insubordination.

After the war, Stone taught public school in Baldwin. His salary in 1865 was $20 a month plus board. He applied for admission to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1870. The interview with the Bar committee did not go well. They mentioned he needed to ask others when the proper interview rules were. He did, and the next time brought whisky and cigars for the interview. He was unanimously admitted to the Bar. Many young lawyers, as was Stone, were interested in politics. Stone was appointed Adjutant General with rank of Lieutenant Colonel in a National Guard division.

In 1872, Stone was appointed a Transcribing Clerk to the Pennsylvania legislature. He learned how Senator Simon Cameron and his lieutenants Matt Quay and Robert Mackey were important leaders who rewarded loyal followers. The political organization gave money for Stone and other sto help persuade, for $1 to $2 per vote. In 1874, Stone became District Attorney. In 1876, he became a U.S. Juryman.

Stone was convinced by a close friend A.C. Churchill to pose as him at the state Democratic Convention. Stone, a Republican, at first refused but then agreed. He voted per Churchill's instruction and was called upon, as Churchill, to speak. He pretended to speak as a good Democrat. The Democrat's nominee for Governor was elected. Pattison liked Stone's speech so much that Churchill received a Gubernatorial appointment.

Stone supported Beaver for Governor over Pattison. Beaver lost but won the next election as Governor.

In 1890, Stone went to a convention to nominate a candidate for Congress. Thomas Bayne was nominated but refused the nomination and recommended Stone instead. Stone was not expecting this, yet he was nominated. The press criticized him nomination as he had not been before the public when Delegates were elected. Stone asked for a second convention or else he wouldn't run. The party organization supported George Shiras, III. The organization unsuccessfully challenged seating some of Stone's supporters as Delegates. The Shiras Delegates attempted to walk out. The Chief of Police prevented this by bolting the door of the only exit. Stone was nominated and then elected.

In Congress, Stone sent a quart of whisky, found during an excavation in Pittsburgh, to the House Appropriations Chairman. That gesture helped preserve a Post Office in Allegheny County. Stone introduced a bill to restrict immigration.

Stone pushed Matt Quay for President in 1896. He got all but three Pennsylvania Republican members of Congress to pledge support to Quay. It was known that should McKinley be elected, a deal could be made to funnel Federal patronage through Quay. This deal was indeed reached between the McKinley and Quay camps.

Stone ran for Governor in 1897. Challenging him for the Republican nomination were John Wanamaker and U.S. Rep. Charles Stone. Wanamaker was opposed to Quay. Quay supported Stone. Some delegates suggested another candidate and promise their candidate would do what Quay asks. Quay replied "I would have to tell him and I wound not have to tell Stone. He would know what to do without telling." Stone was nominated.

Stone states his opponents Democrat George Jenks and Prohibitionist Dr. Swallow were able and good speakers. Swallow attracted many Republican votes, giving Jenks a better chance at winning. Boies Penrose and others spoke will on behalf of Stone.

The A.P.A., a powerful anti-Catholic organization elected Stone to its membership without informing him prior. Stone wanted both A.P.A. and Catholic votes. He declined to join as a candidate, stating it would look political if he joined while running for office.

Swallow was a member of A.P.A., a Mason, and a High Priest in the Hairless Goat, who believed the Catholic Church was behind the Lincoln assassination. This information was provided to Catholic voters to help Stone. Stone won easily.

Stone writes Quay did not ask Stone to make any appointments to his Cabinet. Quay did approve of who Stone selected.

As Governor, Stone faced anthracite coal mine strikes and a budget deficit. Stone approved legislation that changed Pittsburgh's government. He also approved a bill to build a Capitol building. He notes a fine building was created for less than what was budgeted. He states he had nothing to do with the furnishing of the Capitol which became a scandal.

Quay resigned as a U.S. Senator after being criminally charged with election law violations. Quay was acquitted. The legislature failed to elect a new Senator, Stone appointed Quay back to his old seat, but the U.S. Senate refused to seat him. The legislature eventually elected Quay to the seat.

Quay faced a dilemma when 20 allies asked to be appointed to a single state Supreme Court vacancy. Quay didn’t want to make 19 enemies by picking one. Stone offered a solution. Quay nominated all 20 and Stone rejected each. Stone instead appointed his law partner William Potter while Quay retained 20 friends

In 1903, anti-Stone forced supported Elkin for Governor. Quay supported Samuel Pennypacker. Stone writes that Elkin had a majority of Delegates but Pennypacker was nominated "by the most corrupt and shameless purchase of Delegates that the state had ever seen."


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