|Philadelphia Public Ledger - December 19, 1872|
Henry F. Surault
James S. Henry
Engine Company 2
William H. Doughten
Edward H. Mead
Philadelphia Inquirer * March 26, 1877
June 23, 1884
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Philadelphia Inquirer *
September 2, 1885
|Camden Courier-Post - February 6, 1933|
When G.O.P. Battled
in a series of articles on
By BEN COURTER
Rival factions in the political conventions of long ago were more bitter toward one another than toward the common foe. So-called "rump" conventions were by no means exceptions. By "rump" was meant mereIy those who refused to play with the regulars and who set up the nominations, as did the Bull Moose on the national scale in the historic scrap of 1912 which resulted in the three-cornered battle of Wilson, Roosevelt and Taft, giving the Princeton professor the start that was to make him a world figure. Factions we still have, of course, and it is quite proper, since too much regularity often breeds party decay. But present-day political methods are certainly lacking in the spectacular rumpuses that stirred the rank and file in the period when delegates met and made their nominations.
In a recent article allusion was made to the Democratic convention of September 20, 1878, when Nathan T. Stratton, of Millville, was nominated for Congress by the Democrats in the midst of downright fisticuffs, when "liar" and "hypocrite" and worse was hurled about the hall.
Lest it may be assumed the party of Jefferson and Jackson only was given to such methods, it is fitting to give a picture on the other side of the political house. Dr. William H. Iszard's inexhaustible scrap book, loaned me by his son, former Assemblyman Iszard comes across with a copy of a tabloid political sheet, "The True Republican," which gives a recital of a battle royal in the G.O.P. ranks which will be of interest to some old-timers I know are still about.
That was the convention to nominate a sheriff called at Gloucester City Hall on Saturday, October 8, 1881, where we find the redoubtable Colonel James Matlack Scovel once more a moving factor, but this time in the ranks of the "regular Republicans" or at least so they called themselves as opposed to the "rump" set up by a rival group. Christopher J. Mines, long Fifth ward leader and later sheriff, apparently had been selected as temporary chairman with William A. Husted, who died last year well in his 70's, as secretary. But when that part of the delegation marched up to city hall, like the famed king's horses- they marched down again.
As a matter of fact, not much marching was done in the hall- for it was asserted by the "true Republicans" that when they essayed to enter the portals they found Colonel Scovel and Henry M. Jewett, father of Harry Jewett, a Camden newspaperman of the long ago and for years later Jersey editor of the Inquirer, in command. More, it was charged "people representing the worst elements of society" were on guard and presented a phalanx which even the huskies of the opposing force could not break. Mines was strong-armed by the minions of Scovel and Jewett and there was so much hooting and yelling and cussin' that the "true" part of the outfit walked out, all 29 of them, over to Moss' hall where they proceeded to carryon their convention to their own taste.
And all 29 of these valiant Republicans voted for Eli B. Morgan as their candidate for sheriff. You old timers will be interested in recalling these delegates who refused to kowtow to 'Colonel Jim.' In the Third ward there was James M. Lane, Charles S. Cotting and George Martin, in the Fourth, Husted, the Sixth, C. C. Smith, Thad Varney, Charles A. Sawyer; in the Seventh, Stephen Walters, Charles Lederman, William Simpson; in Gloucester, John W. Wright, David Anderson, Frank Mills, Robert Lafferty, Richard Allen, Jesse Daisey, Samuel Wood; in Haddon, Charles M. Macready, Elwood J. Haines: in Delaware, William Brick, William Graff, Isaac Coles; in Merchantville, Matthias Homer, William Naylor, and in Center, James Davis, Garrett Patton and Gilbert Shaw.
These "true Republicans" in a statement to the party rank and file, under the Algeresque title of "Now or Never," scathingly said: "It becomes the duty of every Republican voter of Camden county, who has the future interest of the party at heart, to administer a severe and lasting rebuke to all candidates who employ the element and encourage the means that were used in controlling the Sheriff's convention at City Hall, Gloucester City. It discounted anything within the memory of the oldest Democrat inhabitant. What with Col. Joseph Nichols urging the crowd to go elsewhere and nominate Gibbs, and the immaculate Billy Warner of the Fifth ward ordering them to burst the door in, coupled with the commanding voice of that great patriot and life-long Republican, James M. Scovel, alias Mountain Partridge, together with the curses and threats from John Furey, Jack Quigley, Pud Young, Bill Derr, "Tar Heel" Jim Hayes, the able city solicitor, and a gang of Philadelphia roughs, a beautiful spectacle was presented."
The "Gibbs" mentioned was Theodore B. Gibbs who long lived in the white mansion on the banks of Clementon lake and whose ancient grist mills ground the grain for farmers from miles around. None in the county was held in higher esteem and in later years most of the valiant 29 were among his closest friends, unnecessary proof the political animosities are, as a rule, not very enduring. Gibbs was nominated by the "regular" Convention which ousted the 29 and a mighty hot shrievalty campaign ended on November 10 with his ejection, in spite of the "now or never" demand of his opponents headed by Eli Morgan.
The latter was a real estate man, son of Randall Morgan, elected sheriff by a whisker over "Ham" Bitten in 1869, and brother of J. Willard Morgan, long a Republican chieftain. It was the elder Morgan who defeated Bitten, a rough and ready character nominated as a joke, by a narrow squeak.
In the shrievalty scrap of 1881. Gibbs received 5381 and Morgan, 1189. Angus Camerson, the Democratic candidate was given 4450 votes. Nor did the "true" nominees for coroner fare any better. Sam Bennett, William Thompson and Alexander Powell being defeated by 'Doc' John D. Leckner, Jacob Justice and William Duble.
But the "true" Republicans licked their wounds and most of them were ready to "yen their heads off" when Colonel Scovel in later campaigns made the welkin ring with his call from the rostrum to wallop the enemy. If you now come across any of the few actors of that period still in the flesh an allusion to that "spectacle" of half century ago will sure bring one big chuckle with the declaration "them was the days."
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