Tuesday, December 15, 2015

John Hill Messinger Was a Democrat in 1840

This were going to be disappointed soon enough.  Van Buren was about to lose.  "Franklin Township," Indiana Democrat (Indianapolis, Indiana), 4 Jul 1840, p. 3, col. 2; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 15 Dec 2015).

John Hill Messinger Was a Democrat in 1840.  Well, that is what I am assuming from a notice* in the Indiana Democrat on July 4, 1840, where John Hill Messinger is listed among the "Commitles[Committees?] of Vigilance" for the Franklin Township Van Buren Club. Franklin Township is in the southeastern part of the greater Indianapolis area. The notice was for a committee to draft a constitution for a "Democratic Association" in Franklin Township, Marion County, Indiana, to be call "The Franklin Township Van Buren Club."

Martin Van Buren, former New York governor and previous Secretary of State and Vice President to Andrew Jackson, was the incumbent President, and was about to be voted out by Whig William Henry Harrison.

A nice summary about that election comes from the Virginia Historical Society:
In a national convention, the Whig Party united to nominate William Henry Harrison, who had been its most popular candidate in the 1836 election. Despite a severe and prolonged economic depression that had plagued his first term in office, President Martin Van Buren continued to have the support of the Democratic Party. The antislavery Liberty Party nominated James Birney as its candidate. Harrison’s nickname, “Old Tippecanoe,” came from his victory over the Creek Indians at the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The result of the nomination of John Tyler for vice president was a rhyming campaign slogan: “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too."
The opposing Democratic Party made a huge tactical blunder when it attacked Harrison’s character. A Democratic newspaper article joked that he would be content to quit the race and retire to his log cabin for a pension and a barrel of hard cider. Even though the Harrison came from an aristocratic Virginia family and currently lived in a mansion in Ohio, the Whigs turned this comment into a campaign symbol and began to promote its candidate as a common “man of the people” who lived in a log cabin and was always ready to greet visitors who ventured by with a cup of refreshment. Harrison became the first candidate to give speeches on his own behalf, but he confined himself to talking about his military career. As opposed to its candidate’s rustic image, the Whigs mocked Van Buren as an effete dandy who drank from gold goblets in the White House while the people suffered from hard times. Because Van Buren was too well known, the Democrats could not project the same “common man” persona for their candidate and were unable to compete with this new type of campaign strategy.
More people voted in this election than in any previous one (80 percent of eligible voters). Harrison received 234 electoral votes to 60 for Van Buren. After only a month in office, however, Harrison caught pneumonia and died. There were no constitutional guidelines for succession after the death of a sitting president, so John Tyler merely assumed the full powers of the president, thus establishing the precedent that the vice president would actually serve as president rather than as acting temporary chief executive until the next election. Virginia cast its 23 electoral votes for Martin Van Buren.
John Hill Messinger and his friends probably wore ribbons similar to this during the election.
Image from the Virginia Historical Society.

Here's more on the 1840 US Presidential election.

* "Franklin Township," Indiana Democrat (Indianapolis, Indiana), 4 Jul 1840, p. 3, col. 2; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 15 Dec 2015).

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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