1835 General Election

1835 General Election


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Political Parties

Total Votes

%

MPs

261,269

42.6

273

349,868

57.4

385


PONSONBY, John George Brabazon (1809-1880).

Précis writer, foreign office May 1833-Nov. 1834 master of the buckhounds May 1848-Feb. 1852, Dec. 1852-Feb. 1858, June 1859-Jan. 1866 PC 27 June 1848 ld. steward of household Jan.-July 1866, Dec. 1868-Mar. 1874.

Sheriff, co. Carlow 1838-9, ld. lt. 1838-d.

Biography

Ponsonby was born into the charmed Whig circle, although his mother, who bore 13 children in a little over 20 years, came from a resolutely Tory family. As he grew up he accompanied his authoritarian father Lord Duncannon, the opposition whip and organizer, on his frequent absences from the ancestral home in county Kilkenny. He apparently gave Duncannon some clerical assistance in his role in the drafting of the Grey ministry’s reform bill in early 1831.1 At that year’s general election precipitated by the defeat of the measure Ponsonby was returned unopposed for Bletchingley on the Russell interest. He voted for the second reading of the reintroduced bill, 6 July, and at least twice against the adjournment, 12 July 1831, before vacating his seat to accommodate the secretary to the board of control. Three months later his father’s cousin Lord Milton*, son of Earl Fitzwilliam, brought him in on a vacancy for Higham Ferrers. He was absent from the majority for Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct. 1831. He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, gave steady support to its details, and divided for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He voted with government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., but was in the minority for printing a petition for the abolition of Irish tithes, 16 Feb. He voted for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry reform unimpaired, 10 May, and the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. He paired against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish measure, 1 June. Ponsonby, who is not known to have spoken in debate in this period, was added to the select committee on the East India Company, 1 Feb. 1832.

Higham Ferrers was disfranchised by the Reform Act and he did not find a seat at the 1832 general election. Overwork under Lord Palmerston’s* punishing regime at the foreign office, where he laboured for 18 months as a précis writer from May 1833, and delayed reaction to his mother’s untimely death in March 1834, contributed to his bizarre nervous breakdown when standing for Derby as a Liberal at the 1835 general election. He was nevertheless returned in second place, as he was again in 1837 and 1841.2 He was devastated by the loss of his first wife to consumption after only 16 weeks of marriage in 1835.3 He remarried 14 years later after succeeding his father to the earldom of Bessborough, but according to the family historian he lost the sight of one eye in the process

As a peer he held household places in the Russell, Aberdeen and Palmerston administrations. He spent almost 16 years as master of the buckhounds and was reputed to have said, in a discussion of where to place &lsquoa certain peer . not overburdened with brains’, that &lsquothe buckhounds is the job for him!’ Yet Benjamin Disraeli&dagger, no sufferer of fools, commended his &lsquoexcellent sense and tact’.5 He died childless at Bessborough in January 1880. He was succeeded as earl of Bessborough by his brothers Frederick George (1815-95) and Walter William (1821-1906), a clergyman.


Candidates and issues

As Pres. Andrew Jackson ’s second term drew to a close, he unofficially anointed his vice president, Martin Van Buren, as the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party. Although Van Buren lacked Jackson’s personal charisma, he was considered a skilled politician, and in May 1835 he was unanimously nominated as the party’s presidential candidate at a national convention in Baltimore, Md. Rep. Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky—a military hero during the War of 1812—was chosen as the vice presidential nominee despite objections from some delegates regarding his long-term intimate relationship with a slave.

While Jackson had effectively galvanized a base of supporters over the course of his presidency, he also provoked considerable opposition. Specifically, his assertive response to the nullification crisis in South Carolina in 1832–33 drew the ire of some states’ rights defenders, especially in the South, and his swift withdrawal of government funds from the Bank of the United States later in 1833 alienated advocates of nationalist economic policies. By 1834 several anti-Jackson factions, including the National Republican Party and the Anti-Masonic Party, had coalesced into the Whig Party. The Whigs had no unifying platform, however, and in the absence of a national convention, Whig presidential candidates were put forward by various state conventions and legislatures. This decentralized approach resulted in the emergence of four nominees—former Ohio senator and U.S. ambassador William Henry Harrison, Tennessee Sen. Hugh L. White, Massachusetts Sen. Daniel Webster , and North Carolina Sen. Willie P. Mangum—each of whom served as the sole Whig presidential candidate on the ballot for a state or group of states.


Parliamentary elections played a large part in the economic and social life of Beverley throughout the period. The right to return two members of parliament evidently passed from the corporation to the whole body of freemen in the late 17th century. (fn. 1) The town had one of the largest electorates in the country, an unusually high proportion of its adult male residents having the right to vote. In 1727, when 809 freemen voted, 688 of them were apparently Beverley residents, that is over 20 per cent of the population. (fn. 2) As the century progressed the number of voters increased, but the proportion that were Beverley residents decreased, as did their percentage of the town's population at the 1802 election residents accounted for 767 of the 1,296 voters, or some 14 per cent of the inhabitants. (fn. 3) At the election of 1832, the first after the Reform Act which disfranchised the nonresident voters and gave the vote to £10 householders, of whom there were 138, the 971 voters represented 13 per cent of the population. (fn. 4) That was still a high figure compared with the national average of under 5 per cent. (fn. 5)

The political domination of the town by the Warton and Hotham families which had been evident in the 17th century continued throughout the first third of the 18th, but their influence declined with the retirement of Sir Michael Warton in 1722 and his death three years later and the death of Sir Charles Hotham, Bt., in 1723. No members of the Hotham family represented the town after 1738 and although Warton's heirs, the Newtons, Pelhams, and Pennymans, usually provided at least one member from their own ranks up to 1796 their return was not without opposition. The 'Bar interest', so called from the house at North bar where the Wartons had lived, was based on the ownership of a large estate in the town which the Pelhams retained until the beginning of the 19th century. It still required considerable expenditure at election time, however, for the interest to be sure of success. (fn. 6)

The treating of voters was evidently a well established custom by 1722, when Michael Newton spent £131 on the freemen at 26 inns in the town. Other expenses included payments for votes and for the freedoms of voters. (fn. 7) In 1784 the expenses of Sir Christopher Sykes, Bt., amounted to £2,829, of which £753 went on innkeepers' services, £703 on general expenses, £672 on cash payments, £513 on ribbons, £83 on voters' freedoms, £53 on his own freedom, and the same sum to his agents. (fn. 8) By the 19th century c. £3,000 seems to have been the usual cost of standing in a Beverley election. In 1830, for example, Henry Burton spent almost £3,300, of which £940 was paid to Beverley innkeepers, £323 for ribbons, and £287 for musicians. Another major item was the payment of £650 to outvoters, who became an increasingly numerous part of the electorate. (fn. 9) John Stewart's election in 1826 had been secured partly with the support of at least 212 outvoters, at a cost of £610. (fn. 10) In 1832 Charles Langdale's expenses were also c. £3,000. (fn. 11) In view of the great cost of fighting a Beverley election, it is hardly surprising that John Wharton spent the last 15 years of his life in straightened circumstances after long service as the town's representative. (fn. 12)

Expenditure by M.P.s did not end with their election, for treating was expected by the freemen at the mayor-choosing and at Christmas and the corporation made frequent calls on members to subscribe to the poor or to public works such as the market cross. (fn. 13) In the years 1785-90 Sir Christopher Sykes, Bt., spent over £650, including £50 towards flagging the streets in 1786 and over £20 a year on coal for poor freemen. Sykes had, moreover, on his election been required by the corporation to undertake to pay each year £10 to the master of the grammar school, £25 for the races, and 5 guineas to the Charity school, besides providing a buck and a doe for the mayor's table. A month later he had been reminded that it was also customary for the member to provide the mayor with the St. James's Chronicle. (fn. 14)

Party politics apparently played little part in Beverley elections until late in the 18th century. The political sympathies of the members seemed to matter little to the electors, who were willing to vote Whig or Tory depending on the size of the purse. The increased politicization of the town owed much to the election in 1790 of John Wharton, an active Whig with radical views. Wharton, who was to dominate the political life of Beverley for some 40 years, came from a minor county family of Skelton Castle (Yorks. N.R.) and had changed his name from that of Hall on succeeding to the considerable fortune and estates of an aunt. He was a prominent but moderate member of the Constitutional Society in the 1790s, besides being a member of the Friends of the People and of the Friends of the Liberty of the Press. In parliament he was a staunch supporter of the abolition of slavery and favoured relief for Roman Catholics and constitutional and parliamentary reform. (fn. 15) His resounding success in the 1790 election gained him a considerable popular following in Beverley and his overt political position led to the development of clear Whig and Tory factions in the town. (fn. 16)

The financial benefits that a contested election brought to the town and the voters led to every effort being made to secure enough candidates for a contest. The general election of 1701 was contested, and only 5 of the 24 general elections and none of the 4 byelections after 1722 went uncontested. (fn. 17) In 1701 the sitting members, the brothers Sir Michael and Sir Ralph Warton, both Tories, were opposed by Sir Charles Hotham, Bt., and his father-in-law, William Gee, for the Whigs. Gee topped the poll and Sir Michael Warton secured the second seat. At the general election in 1702 Hotham and Gee were returned unopposed, as were Hotham and his relative John Moyser in 1705. Sir Michael Warton, who had supported Moyser, was once again returned, with Hotham, in 1708 and both represented the town without further contest until 1722, when Warton passed his interest to his nephew Michael Newton of Haydor (Lines.). (fn. 18)

Warton's retirement provided the opportunity for Ellerker Bradshaw of Risby, in Rowley, to attempt to break the Warton-Hotham control of the Beverley seats. He stood at the general election of 1722 but was defeated by Newton and Hotham, and after Hotham's death in 1723 he lost the byelection to Hotham's son, also Sir Charles Hotham, Bt. Bradshaw was undeterred and at the general election of 1727 he was at last elected, along with Charles Pelham of Brocklesby (Lines.), who had replaced his cousin Michael Newton in the Warton interest. Sir Charles Hotham, who was defeated despite his active cultivation of the corporation and careful canvassing, petitioned against Bradshaw alleging gross corruption. Bradshaw was unseated in 1729, his agents at Beverley were imprisoned, and the 'scandalous practices' revealed led directly to the passing of the 1729 Bribery Act. (fn. 19)

At the next general election in 1734 Hotham surprisingly joined forces with Bradshaw as a fellow Whig and convincingly defeated the Tory candidate, Pelham. There was no indication that the result reflected the political views of the electorate and in 1738, at the byelection caused by Hotham's death, Pelham was narrowly returned in a contest with Sir Robert Hildyard, Bt. Far more votes were cast for Pelham at the following general election in 1741, when he and a fellow Tory, William Strickland of Beverley, defeated Bradshaw. (fn. 20)

The death of Bradshaw in 1742 was no doubt partly responsible for there being no contest at the general election in 1747, when Pelham was returned with Sir William Codrington, Bt., a West Indian plantation owner and a relative of the Bethells of Rise. At the general election of 1754 the Beverley voters were more fortunate, for a third candidate, John Tufnell, a wealthy Essex landowner with some east Yorkshire property, appeared with an open purse. Codrington stood again but Pelham retired in favour of his relative Michael Newton, nephew and heir of Michael Newton, the member in 1722. Despite the belief that the return of both members was firmly vested in Pelham and 'the adjacent country gentlemen', Newton was decisively defeated, demonstrating the fragility of the Bar interest in the face of lavish treating. (fn. 21)

Before the next election both Codrington and Tufnell decided to stand down, the latter in favour of his brother George. At the end of 1760 Tufnell and Newton successfully canvassed the town and in 1761 they were returned unopposed. (fn. 22) Another uncontested election took place in 1768, when Newton gave up the Bar interest to C. A. Pelham (formerly Charles Anderson) and Tufnell withdrew on the decision of Hugh Bethell of Rise to stand. (fn. 23) Bethell's death in 1772 caused a hasty byelection, in which Sir Griffith Boynton, Bt., of Burton Agnes easily defeated Tufnell, who had declared his candidature only an hour before the poll. (fn. 24) Tufnell regained the seat at the general election of 1774, however, when Sir James Pennyman, Bt., another of the Warton heirs, was also returned. Pennyman lived in the Hall, Lairgate, and as M.P. for Scarborough had earlier helped the corporation in its opposition to a Bill for bridging the river Hull at Stoneferry. For his 'assiduous attention' he had been granted the freedom of the borough in 1772 and later that year was elected mayor. The unsuccessful candidate in 1774 was Sir Charles Thompson (formerly Hotham), Bt., who was invited to stand by 'the gentlemen of the county and all the principal inhabitants of the town'. Thompson recorded that Pennyman was returned in the Bar interest and that the contest was really between himself, supported by 'the respectable people', and Tufnell, who had 'all the rabble' the poll showed that Thompson did indeed get the votes of the aldermen and Tufnell most of those of the shoemakers and labourers. (fn. 25)

At the general election in 1780 Pennyman and Francis Anderson, the latter supported by his brother C. A. Pelham, were returned without a contest. Sir Charles Thompson was asked by the prime minister, Lord North, and others to stand but he refused. In 1784 a new opponent to the Bar interest was found in Sir Christopher Sykes, Bt., and after great expenditure he was returned just ahead of Pennyman, with Anderson in third place. The Pelhams' involvement continued, however, and in 1789, with Earl Fitzwilliam's encouragement, C. A. Pelham chose the Whig John Wharton as his candidate. (fn. 26) In 1790 Wharton had a resounding victory at the general election, receiving 908 votes from the 1,069 voters, including a high proportion of the working-class and London voters. Pennyman, who came second with 460 votes, received support from Wharton's friends, who preferred him to the wealthy landowner William Tatton Egerton, standing in the interest of his brother-in-law Sir Christopher Sykes. (fn. 27)

Pelham, who was created Baron Yarborough in 1794, withdrew his support from Wharton when their views diverged over the war with France, and at the 1796 election he backed instead the American-born Col. (later Gen.) N. C. Burton of Hull Bank House, in Cottingham, who was returned unopposed with a fellow Pittite, William Tatton, son of Egerton and nephew by marriage of Sir Christopher Sykes. In the byelection of 1799 caused by Tatton's death Wharton stood as an independent, opposed by J. B. S. Morritt of Rokeby Park (Yorks. N.R.), who enjoyed Lord Yarborough's support. (fn. 28) On Wharton's arrival four days before the election he was saluted by the mob, who removed the horses from his carriage and pulled him through the town. Each day, as he canvassed, he was accompanied by 'a great number of people with flambeaus, drums, and callers' who were 'a terror to every inhabitant . . . who was not of his side, I never see a mob so desperate as they was for him'. The uproar was at its greatest at the poll but Morritt was returned with a comfortable majority. (fn. 29) At the general election in 1802, which was in contrast very quiet, Wharton avenged his defeat, heading the poll once again, with Burton retaining the other seat. Morritt declared that he was beaten by a combination of bribery and mobbing which 'entirely defeated the interest the gentlemen and Lord Yarborough gave me, which entre nous is not worth having, as I found to my cost'. (fn. 30)

Morritt was not prepared to meet the expense of another Beverley election and in 1806 there was difficulty in finding a contestant for Wharton and Burton. The former had regained the support of Lord Yarborough which Burton lost for opposing the government in parliament. A third man was eventually found in Gen. Richard Vyse, commander of the Yorkshire military district, who had been based in Beverley since 1804. Wharton once again headed the poll, with Vyse in second place 'almost without knowing that he was a candidate'. Burton, angered by his defeat, blamed Wharton and fought a bloodless duel with him. (fn. 31) Another general election followed in 1807. Vyse stood down for his son Richard, who received 1,010 votes from 1,203 voters, beating Wharton into second place the third man Philip Staple stood on an anti-Catholic platform and had little support. Staple's consequent petition for bribery was unsuccessful, although Vyse is known to have paid all but 78 of those who voted for him at the rate of £3 8s. for a plumper and £1 14s. for a split vote. (fn. 32)

The expense of frequent elections severely affected Wharton and there were many rumours of his insolvency. He nevertheless successfully contested Beverley again in 1812, when the other candidates were Charles Forbes, a recently returned Bombay merchant, and the American-born William Beverley, an alderman and former mayor of Beverley, who stood solely to ensure a contest. Beverley, a Tory, came bottom of the poll, as he did again in 1818. The other candidates in 1818 were Wharton and Dymoke Wells, both Whigs, and R. C. Burton, a Tory, of Hotham Hall, in North Cave, the son of Gen. Burton. Wharton was elected with Burton, who was imprisoned in the Fleet for debt and had to be represented at the poll by his uncle. (fn. 33)

Unlike Wharton, Burton had little popular support and when he unwillingly stood again in 1820 he received only 71 votes, compared with 669 at the previous election. (fn. 34) His nomination was almost certainly made solely to promote a contest, for he had no money with which to fight, unlike his fellow Tory, the wealthy landowner G. L. Fox. Wharton, who was again in great financial difficulties, was the third candidate and in what was virtually a straight fight with Fox he received only 657 votes against an impressive 1,038 for Fox from 1,278 voters. That was Wharton's last successful election at Beverley: his defeat in 1826 and his enforced retirement from politics after representing the town for much of the period since 1790 demonstrated clearly that in Beverley political loyalty counted for little without substantial financial backing. The two successful candidates in 1826 were both wealthy Tory outsiders, John Stewart, who was related to the former member Charles Forbes, and C. H. Batley, who stood in G. L. Fox's interest.

Neither of the retiring members stood at the election in 1830, when parliamentary reform was becoming a key issue. Three new candidates were proposed: Henry Burton, a Tory, of Hotham Hall, the son-in-law and brother-in-law of former members, Capel Cure, a wealthy Tory landowner from Essex, and the retiring Whig member for Hull, Daniel Sykes of Raywell, in Cottingham. Sykes sought to attract the former supporters of his friend Wharton and resolved against any great expense on the election. Unlike his fellow candidates he refused to pay the £210 demanded by the corporation for the freedom of the borough, and possibly as a result only one alderman voted for him. He did not pay voting money but gave substantial expenses to the outvoters, whose support was crucial in securing him second place to Burton.

Sykes did not serve for long, retiring in bad health before the general election of 1831, when his place was taken by the Whig industrialist William Marshall of Leeds. The other candidates were Burton, an avowed supporter of the Reform Bill, and a Tory opponent to reform, the landowner Charles Winn of Nostell Priory (Yorks. W.R.). Marshall, who topped the poll, received the single votes of many non-resident freemen and Burton came second.

At the 1832 election Burton and Winn stood again, but Marshall retired and was replaced in the Liberal interest by a local landowner, Charles Langdale of Houghton Hall, in Sancton. Langdale, a Roman Catholic and thus a surprising candidate for such a protestant borough, nevertheless after great expense headed the poll, with Burton second. Winn blamed his defeat on a 'dishonourable coalition' between Langdale and Burton. Finance rather than politics once again determined the result of the election in 1835, Langdale retired rather than face the expense and corruption of an election and the Liberals eventually secured the candidature of Joseph Sykes of Kirk Ella, the nephew of the former member Daniel Sykes. Burton also stood, again advocating reform, and the Tories brought in J. W. Hogg, a wealthy East India Company director, who openly treated the electors and so topped the poll, with 62 per cent of his votes being plumpers. Sykes, who had spent over £600, came a disillusioned third. (fn. 35)


Maidstone

Maidstone, a large and venal borough, was one of the most highly politicized constituencies in Britain: it had witnessed contests at every general election (and all but one by-election) since 1715, resulting in a plethora of printed pollbooks.1 Its prosperity was based on trade in hops and fruit, especially to markets in London, 35 miles to the north-west, and about half the electors were employed as artisans, with the paper-making industry being another major contributor to the town’s thriving economy.2 Proximity to the capital and its role as the site of county meetings heightened the political atmosphere. Writing to Lady Holland about one called to agree an address of condolence and congratulation to George IV, 16 Apr. 1820, the 9th earl of Thanet of Hothfield Place hoped that ‘we shall not be too numerous for the town hall and be obliged to adjourn to the street, as sometimes happens on other occasions, for the Maidstone mob is rather capricious’.3 The borough was divided between the Tories or Purples, who controlled the corporation and generally aligned themselves with the Liverpool ministry, and a vociferous body of Whigs or Blues, whose interests sometimes coincided with those of radical tradesmen or the sizeable Dissenting communities. Maidstone had a reputation for popular participation, numerous contests and a high degree of partisan voting behaviour. Since the late eighteenth century there had been high turnouts and falling numbers of split and floating voters in parliamentary elections, a trend that was even more marked in municipal ones.4 Although there was a relative diminution in party strife in the late 1820s, contests occurred at all the general elections in this period and there were also four major contests for seats on the common council. There were polls at the election of the mayor in 1820, 1821, 1823, 1825, 1830, 1831 and 1832 and the municipal corporations report of 1835 was highly critical of this additional manifestation of party political spirit, ‘which prevails with the utmost rancour and bitterness of feeling. Both parties go to the contest only with the object of showing their strength and annoying their opponents’. It also stated that

A number of political clubs flourished and exerted an influence at elections, notably the Whig Inflexible Society, which was later opposed by the anti-Catholic and anti-reform Inflexibles.6 In addition, Richard James Cutbush’s broadly Whig Maidstone Gazette rivalled John Vine Hall’s Tory Maidstone Journal.7

By 1820 there had been a relative decline in the significance of electoral patrons, though some retained an influence, notably the 2nd earl of Romney of The Mote, who was also lord of the manor.8 Instead, the main factors at parliamentary elections were money and the corporation. Voters were paid set rates for plumpers and splits, and the distance they had to travel to the poll. Elections cost each candidate about £4,000 to £5,000, and it was perhaps no coincidence that three of the Members who sat during this period were bankers (Abraham Wildey Robarts, John Wells and Charles James Barnett), while two of the defeated candidates had banking interests (Wyndham Lewis* and George Simson†).9 The corporation consisted of a mayor, 12 jurats and 40 common councilmen. The freedom, which conferred the right to vote in elections for common councilmen and Members of Parliament, was obtained by birth, apprenticeship or purchase, though none of the 527 freemen admitted between 1813 and 1833 acceded by purchase.10 A group of freeholders and rated inhabitants, led by Thomas William Carter, an auctioneer, and John Arkcoll, a grocer, were repeatedly defeated in their attempts to gain admission, and measures to tighten up apprenticeship regulations were raised at courts of burghmote, 28 Oct. 1823, 27 Apr. 1826.11 Canvassing lists for 1826 among Lewis’s papers reveal that all Robarts’s ‘particular friends’ were ‘considered in poor circumstances’. However, Wells, a Tory, enjoyed the support of most of the senior figures on the corporation. Four of them were marked ‘very rich’, including Philip Corrall, who was a banker and had ‘great influence’, whereas several other members of his profession, including the Whig Thomas Atkins, had been badly affected by the collapse of the Maidstone Bank in late 1825. Another key figure was Courtney Stacey, a wealthy brewer, who was later described by Lewis as a man ‘of very great consequence’. The then mayor, John Wise, was also a brewer, and in 1835 fears were raised about four of the jurats, including two magistrates, belonging to the town’s principal brewery. The mayor handled most local business and burghmote meetings were rare, which served to encourage popular hostility towards the corporation.12

Contrary to the more usual pattern of sharing the representation, the Whigs had won both seats in 1818. Robarts offered again at the general election of 1820, but George Longman, a London stationer, retired, while Wells, the defeated Tory candidate in 1818, stood again. Although strongly anti-Catholic, he briefly withdrew because of his supporters’ temporary insistence that he pledge himself to vote against relief. Others considered as candidates in the Purple interest were William Henry Baldock of Broadway, Petham, and a Mr. Tulk of London, possibly Charles Augustus Tulk, who, however, as Member for Sudbury, subsequently proved to be a reformer. Charles Barclay* of Bury Hill, Surrey, and Thomas Law Hodges* of Hempsted Place, near Benenden, Kent, declined, but the veteran Whig, Richard ‘Conversation’ Sharp* entered as a third man.13 Robarts was proposed by Atkins and Henry Atkinson Wildes, a solicitor Wells by Corrall and Stacey and Sharp by Benjamin Chilly Pine, an ironmonger, and Henry Heathorn, a brewer. After a day of spirited polling, Sharp withdrew, despite being only 14 votes behind Wells.14 His friend Sir James Mackintosh*, who put his expenses at £1,500, recorded in his journal that ‘Sharp’s majority was literally bought from him in the course of the night’, but that he would not petition for fear of encumbering Robarts. Nevertheless, as Sharp had threatened, his supporters entered a petition against Wells, 11 May 1820, when petitions against Robarts and Sharp, from Corrall, Stacey and 11 others, were also lodged. But orders for their consideration were discharged, 15, 26 May, owing to informality and a failure to enter recognizances.15 The result was the closest of the last four elections before the Reform Act, with Robarts receiving support from 61 per cent of the 468 voters, Wells 53 and Sharp 50. However, the turnout was low (55 per cent), and some degree of apathy on the part of the resident freemen was shown by the fact that they comprised only 52 per cent of the voters, in comparison to the usual figure of about 60 per cent. Wells shared 69 splits with Robarts and 21 with Sharp. This difference of 48, plus Robarts’s three plumpers (Sharp received none) was larger than his final lead of 41 votes over Sharp, ‘from which it has been publicly stated that it would have been optional for the friends of Mr. Wells to have chosen either of the other candidates they pleased’. That there were only 90 cross-party splits (19 per cent of the voters) indicates the extent to which opinion was polarized. Wells’s 160 plumpers represented 64 per cent of his votes, while the 215 splits for Robarts and Sharp accounted for 75 and 91 per cent of their votes respectively.16

The mayor, John Mares, refused to chair a common hall on the Queen Caroline affair, 16 Oct. 1820, but his place was taken by James Smythe, and the meeting’s laudatory address was presented to her by Robarts, 30 Oct. Mares’s successor, Wise, called out the military to prevent illuminations on her acquittal in November, chaired a meeting which agreed a loyal address to the king, 19 Dec. 1820, and left the chair at another one, which passed a Whig address to him to dismiss his ministers at a time of prevailing distress, 1 Jan. 1821.17 Wells presented a Maidstone petition for reform of the criminal law, 17 May 1821, and another one was brought up by Stephen Lushington, 4 June 1822.18 Robarts presented a Unitarian petition for a bill to legalize their form of marriage, 17 Apr. 1822, but Sir Edward Knatchbull, the county Member, brought up one from the town’s clergy against it, 25 Apr. 1825.19 Petitions were presented by Robarts for repeal of the Insolvent Debtors Acts, 13 Mar. 1823, and by Wells against the coal duties, 7 May.20 A petition to light Maidstone with gas was entered, 19 Feb., and both Members assisted in the passage of the subsequent bill.21 Atkins and Smythe advocated the rebuilding of the dilapidated markets at courts of burghmote, 11 Apr., 28 Oct., 22 Dec. 1823, and persuaded the corporation to apply to Parliament for the necessary powers, 2 Mar. 1824. A petition was lodged to this effect, 11 Mar., and both Members again sponsored a bill, which received royal assent, 4 June 1824. The new markets were opened, 23 Mar. 1826, and despite financial problems, they proved to be an additional stimulus to the town’s commerce.22 Petitions were brought up for repeal of the duties on publicans’ licenses (by Robarts), 5 Mar. 1824, from Argles Bishop of Maidstone for alteration of the distillery laws (by Knatchbull), 29 Mar., and from the town’s butchers in favour of the hides and skins bill (by Wells), 3 May. Robarts presented an anti-slavery petition, 11 Mar. 1824, as did Wells, 28 Feb. 1826.23 The petition of the Maidstone friends of the London Missionary Society for inquiry into the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara was brought up, 27 May 1824. Following a meeting of the inhabitants, 21 Apr. 1825, Wells presented their anti-Catholic petition, 26 Apr.24 The Maidstone Agricultural Association was established, 6 Oct. 1825, passed resolutions against alterations being made to the corn laws, 20 Apr. 1826, and on 9 May agreed a petition to the Lords on the subject, which was brought up, 12 May 1826.25

After the Whigs had obtained a writ of mandamus in king’s bench, an election finally took place to fill three vacant seats on the common council, 11 Jan. 1822. It lasted for seven days, ‘with all the ardour and spirit of a general election’, and many out-voters were brought in from great distances. Three Tories narrowly beat three Whigs, and of the 738 freemen polled, only about ten per cent did not vote for one or other of the party slates. Whig objections to their being sworn, on the grounds of their not having received the sacrament in the previous six months, were defeated in the courts.26 At a court of burghmote, 1 Nov., and meetings of non-freemen, 12, 26 Nov., a group of inhabitants argued that they had a right to be admitted as freemen under the town’s charter. Heathorn urged their case at another court, 22 Nov. 1822, but his motion for their admittance was shouted down. On that day, John Newington Hughes, a Tory, was elected as a jurat by 19 votes to five, and the ministerial side also had two others elected as common councilmen against two Whigs, with only 17 of the 377 polled casting cross-party splits.27 Legal proceedings were resumed and a court of burghmote agreed to raise a subscription among the freemen to pay the corporation’s expenses, 18 Apr. 1825. Knatchbull presented the petition of several resident householders paying scot and lot, many of whom were also freeholders and had been born in Maidstone, for inquiry into their claims to be admitted as freemen, 10 May. Under Carter’s chairmanship, a society was formed to obtain the right of voting in parliamentary elections, 30 Aug.28 Forty freemen were admitted before a severe contest for seven seats on the common council, 9 Dec. 1825. Each party put up a full slate of candidates and the ministerialist side were put under great pressure. After four days a compromise was reached whereby two Whigs withdrew in order to let in two Tories, but nevertheless the Whigs gained five seats and reduced their opponents’ majority to just one. About 85 per cent of the 615 voters supported one of the two party tickets.29

The sitting Members offered again at the general election of 1826. Wells’s commitment to the abolition of slavery had already gained him support and, after a town gathering, 26 May, over 200 freemen signed a resolution urging him to stand. Expectations of an uncontested election were disappointed by the intervention of the Welshman Wyndham Lewis as a Pink or independent Tory.30 A wealthy man, Lewis canvassed assiduously and with an open purse. He established links with the London freemen and, as in his later attempts at Maidstone, he probably tried to engage the support of the local nobility. His lists show an awareness of the strength of his opponents, but also indicate extensive bribery. He promised £10 for each plumper and £5 for each split, and was believed to have received 270 promises. He calculated that his Third Man Club had 89 members in the borough and 90 in London, and that ‘the Inflexible Club at Maidstone is supposed to be 200 strong, 100 of which are bought’.31 The efforts of his committee, headed by George Burgess, a maltster, forced the others (led by Stacey for Wells, and by Henry Collis, a builder, for Robarts) to similar exertions. Presumably expecting a crush of electors, they all requested the appointment of three clerks to take the votes in the lower hall.32 On the hustings, 10 June, Wildes and Pine nominated Robarts on the basis of his independence and proven conduct. Stacey and Mares proposed Wells, who also eschewed party connection, but opposed the idea of splitting votes with Robarts. Lewis, who was introduced by Burgess and John Reader, a baker, gave his general support to the Liverpool ministry, but spoke against Catholic relief. As returning officer, the mayor (Wise) refused to allow Carter and three others to vote. After a full day’s poll, during which 76 per cent of the electorate voted, Lewis resigned.33 Having failed to achieve his hoped for level of support, Lewis, with only 105 votes (or 17 per cent of the 634 voters), was easily defeated by Wells and Robarts (59 and 56 per cent respectively). Wells received 197 plumpers (53 per cent of his total) and Robarts 206 (58), and they shared 126 splits (or about 35 per cent of each of their total votes). Lewis managed only 28 plumpers, and although 52 freemen split for him and the other Tory candidate, another 25 split for him and Robarts. Altogether, 151 (or 24 per cent) of the freemen voted across party lines, the highest proportion in any election between 1820 and 1832. While both Wells and Robarts received about 64 per cent of their votes from Maidstone freemen, and 18 per cent each from county and London voters, Lewis, despite some concentration in his canvass on poor voters, did worse in Maidstone (50 per cent of his total) and relied far more heavily on those resident in London (35 per cent).34

Lewis’s expenses were very high, but largely ineffective: for example, of the 32 identifiable freemen on his ‘list of those who will accept donations’, six plumped for him, but 17 split with Wells and nine with Robarts.35 No accurate total can be placed on Lewis’s outgoings, but the treasurer of his committee, Robert Collens junior, a Maidstone miller, later forwarded hundreds of receipts to him, and two undated account books give totals (for this or a later election) of about £4,300 and £5,000. The items included all the usual election paraphernalia, such as pink bows, stationery, music, tavern bills and conveyances, as well as costs of the Third Man Club and the Loyal and Independent Society.36 He was tardy with most of his payments, to the particular resentment of his London committee, which continued to meet regularly at its members’ own expense.37 Thomas Green, a Ramsgate brazier, wrote of the election, that he was ‘sorry to see the conclusion. There was something wrong somewhere or the people most shamefully betray themselves in their promises’. He also recorded a rumour that Lewis wished to form a club in order to be returned at the next opportunity.38 The losing candidate’s estranged son-in-law wrote of the episode:

Expelled from Cardiff, sad, forlorn,
And covered with contempt and scorn,
He tried for Maidstone, ‘mid the cry
Of ‘damn all priests and Popery’,
Expecting the ‘no Popery’ din,
Was almost sure to bring him in
The cry was rais’d, alas! in vain,
Our hero got kicked out again,
He now found out how very rash
He’d been to spend such heaps of cash
And felt some little degradation,
At loss of time and reputation.39

Wells argued in the House, 16 Mar. 1829, that he had declined to endorse the ‘no Popery’ cry that would otherwise have ‘turned the scale’ against Robarts, an argument which the latter flatly denied.

After this contest, the Catholic question was the only major issue to divide opinion in Maidstone before the accession of a pro-reform government in 1830. Despite the opposition of the Whigs, an anti-Catholic petition was agreed by a large majority, 23 Feb. 1827, and was presented to the Commons by Wells, 5 Mar.40 Both Members brought up petitions from Protestant Dissenters for repeal of the Test Acts, 6, 8 June 1827, 18, 22 Feb. 1828.41 Knatchbull presented others from local proprietors against alteration of the corn laws, 2 Apr. 1827, 16 May 1828.42 After sharp polling for five seats on the common council, 23 May 1828, a compromise was reached whereby three of the five Whig candidates and two of the six Tories were returned the next day, when only seven per cent of the 265 voters had cast cross-party votes.43 Following its adoption at a court of burghmote, 23 May, Wells presented the corporation’s petition against the alehouses licensing bill, 30 May.44 He made a blood-curdling speech against the Catholics at the first meeting of the Kent Brunswick Club in Maidstone, 16 Sept. 1828. An anti-Catholic petition signed by over 2,000 inhabitants was brought up in the Commons by him, 26 Feb. 1829, and presented to the Lords, 26 Mar.45 Wells lodged hostile petitions from the minister and congregation of Providence Chapel, 26 Feb., and from the Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists, 18 Mar., but Robarts presented pro-Catholic ones from the town’s Protestant Dissenters, 11 Mar., and its resident freemen, 16 Mar.46 Newspaper accounts recorded that there were more signatures on the petitions against emancipation than on those in its favour, but Robarts several times clashed with Wells in the House by asserting that the balance of opinion amongst the Dissenters and inhabitants of Maidstone was in favour of concessions.47 He also mentioned the role of the Inflexible Society in getting up reform petitions, but denied he was involved in any improper treating, 16 Mar. 1829. The distress experienced by Maidstone in early 1830 attracted the sympathy of both Members, as well as of Knatchbull, who presented a petition from local proprietors for repeal of the beer duties, 1 Mar. Wells, an Ultra, was praised by the Whiggish Maidstone Gazette for his endeavours, which included lodging a petition from the licensed victuallers against the sale of beer bill, 4 May 1830.48

Although it took on the appearance of another major contest, the general election of 1830 was in some ways a consensual affair.49 However, a sign that the poll would be close was given by the corporation’s admission of 72 freemen shortly beforehand.50 Wells had indicated in 1828 that he did not intend to seek re-election and duly retired at the dissolution.51 The barrister, William Hughes Hughes* of Ryde, Isle of Wight, was briefly rumoured to have considered standing. It was also said that a ‘mysterious stranger’ who had once sat for a borough in a neighbouring county, probably William Henry John Scott*, Lord Eldon’s son, might offer, but nothing came of it.52 Finally, Alderman Henry Winchester, a London stationer, addressed the freemen in defence of the landed and commercial interests of the country, 7 July, and condemned Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform at meetings, 9, 13 July.53 With Robarts standing again, it looked as if the two parties would divide the representation without a contest. However, Philip Rawlings of 3 Mortimer Street, London, who had been dismissed as a deputy commissary general in 1818 because of misconduct while in Portugal, offered as a third man under orange colours, four days before the poll. On 28 July he declared that

Bribery was in evidence as usual, with Robarts paying £12 per plumper (as he did in 1831) and Winchester apparently leaving at least 40 votes unpaid for.55 Robarts was nominated by Charles Ellis, an ironmonger, and George Prentis, a wine merchant, who had both voted for him in the past Winchester by Mares and Walter Hills, a draper, who had previously supported Wells, and Rawlings by Edward Russell, a London hop factor, and Isaac Pearson, a local blacksmith. Robarts stressed his reformist principles, Winchester promised to be an ‘apt scholar’ in a new school by fulfilling the electors’ wishes and Rawlings made clear his preference for reform and his intention only to oppose Winchester, not Robarts. At the end of the first day, Rawlings had fallen a long way behind, with only 152 votes to 336 for Winchester and 448 for Robarts. On the following morning, William, the son of William George Daniel Tyssen of Foley House, entered as an independent, proposed by Henry Collison, an East Malling labourer, and John Swain, a Maidstone waterman. After the votes of at least nine non-freemen, including Tyssen’s father, had been rejected, they refused to leave the hall and a riot nearly ensued. Although he received only four more votes (and Tyssen received a mere six), Rawlings insisted on keeping the poll open until the end of the day, when Robarts and Winchester were declared elected.56 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, listed Maidstone among those seats ‘gained in populous places’.

At the request of Winchester’s committee, two polling stations had been provided and their use was justified by the high turnout (84 per cent).57 Of the 752 freemen polled, 63 per cent voted for Robarts, 51 per cent for Winchester and 21 per cent for Rawlings. Robarts received 227 plumpers (representing 48 per cent of his total), and shared 126 splits with Winchester (27) and 112 with Rawlings (24). Winchester had 237 plumpers (61 per cent), and 126 splits with Robarts (33) and 24 with Rawlings (six). In total, 150 freemen (or 20 per cent of the voters) cross-voted. That the third candidate did so badly was partly due to his being closely identified with Robarts’s cause: 72 per cent of his votes were splits with him, compared to only 13 per cent in plumpers. He would also have benefited from the rejected votes, most of which were tendered in his favour. About 470 (or 75 per cent) of the voters of 1826 can be identified as having voted again in 1830, and their voting behaviour confirms the pattern of consistent partisanship. Of 150 plumpers for Robarts in 1826, 93 per cent plumped for him again or split their votes between him and one of the other non-Tory candidates. Of 146 plumpers for Wells, 74 per cent plumped for Winchester, and of 206 Tory plumpers and splitters in 1826, 69 per cent again cast a Tory vote in 1830. Of 114 cross-party splitters in 1826, 46 per cent voted the same way four years later. However, one indication that the Whigs were becoming more dominant was that another 46 per cent of them switched to purely Whig plumps or splits in 1830, compared to only eight per cent who changed to voting Tory.58

Two Whig voters petitioned against Winchester’s return as a government contractor, 16 Nov. 1830, and on the same day a petition was entered criticizing the mayor, Robert Tassell, for refusing to allow legitimate votes.59 At a meeting of non-freemen, which was chaired by Tyssen’s father in the absence of Rawlings, 29 Nov., Carter argued that the town’s charter empowered freeholders and inhabitants to vote. A petition was forwarded to Knatchbull outlining their claims, but was apparently not brought up. Carter appeared at a court of burghmote with three memorials from the non-freemen desiring their admission, 20 Dec. 1830, but he was again refused.60 Their cause was abandoned before the election committee sat, but Tassell was alarmed to get a summons to attend. The London solicitors, Amory and Coles, wrote to his Maidstone lawyer, 14 Mar. 1831, that

On 16 Mar. 1831 the committee reported that, since Winchester had transferred his contract for supplying the navy commissioners with stationery to his partner before the election, he had been properly returned.62 Unlike most towns, Maidstone experienced some of the disturbances that swept southern England in late 1830. William Cobbett† lectured there, 15 Oct., and radicals influenced demands for higher wages, though with the exception of a few men like John Adams, a journeyman shoemaker who helped lead the riots on 28-29 Oct., they were not responsible for the incendiary attacks. Worsening conditions of employment and hostility to mechanization, especially among paper-makers, also involved artisans, not just the labouring poor, in the unrest.63 There were demands for the alleviation of distress, such as the meeting of local inhabitants which called for lower malt duties, 18 Nov.64 Robarts presented an anti-slavery petition, 9 Dec. 1830, and another one was brought up, 25 Mar. 1831.65 Distress also stimulated demands for parliamentary reform, an issue which divided the corporation party from their Whig opponents.66 A meeting of freeholders, ratepayers and inhabitants agreed a petition for immediate and constitutional reform, 10 Dec. 1830, and this was presented by Hodges, 2 Mar. 1831. At a reform meeting of freemen and inhabitants, 10 Mar., Ellis suggested that as Winchester had pledged himself to be responsive to their demands, he should be asked to support their petition, but it was in any case forwarded to Robarts, who entered it, 18 Mar. Winchester brought up a petition against reform on the grounds that it would remove some of the freemen’s rights, 21 Mar. 1831.67

In April 1831 efforts were begun to turn out Winchester, but handbills also appeared calling for a third man to oppose reform, and Robarts was criticized for his vote in favour of the reform bill at a meeting in his favour, 13 Apr. Lord Mahon*, the son of Earl Stanhope of Chevening, was approached to stand with Winchester against Robarts at the general election, but he remained aloof Wells, Tassell and George Thomas, son of Edmund Knight of Godmersham Park, were also considered. Rawlings addressed the freemen, but got no further. Instead, Robarts introduced Charles James Barnett, son of the former Rochester Member, James Barnett, as his pro-reform partner, 1 May.68 The government’s patronage secretary Ellice informed Lord Brougham, the lord chancellor, 2 May, that they were ‘certain at Maidstone, pledged to support reform’.69 Against them, Winchester canvassed as an anti-ministerial candidate with George Simson, a former London banker, who had occupied the seat from 1806 to 1818.70 On the hustings, the reformers were nominated by Ellis and Prentis (for Robarts) and Thomas Hall Durrant, a grocer, and Collis (for Barnett). Mares and Wise proposed Winchester, and Tassell and James Poole introduced Simson, though not without the kind of noisy and abusive reception which had dogged them throughout the campaign. The Tory candidates’ endorsement of moderate reform met with little approval and most of the early votes were cast against them. Later in the day many London freemen voted in their favour, but they were decisively defeated and both withdrew before the second day. Despite the improved arrangement of having two polling compartments, which were installed at the candidates’ request, allegations were made that free access had not been given to the supporters of Winchester and Simson. Barnett recorded, however, that he owed his success to the electors’ ‘patriotism, added to the good opinion of me entertained by my highly esteemed and deservedly popular colleague, Mr. Robarts’.71 The radical Francis Place wrote that John Nicholson, a London tea dealer, had ‘turned his attention to that sink of corruption Maidstone, and with his usual energy, greatly contributed to turn out the jobbing Mr. Winchester’.72 At the Inflexible Society’s annual fête at Gibraltar Fields, 5 Sept. 1831, Robarts confirmed the significance of such Whig activists by acknowledging the important role of the club in securing his re-election.73 Given that the turnout was only reasonably high (73 per cent), the scale of the Whig victory was impressive: Robarts and Barnett received support from 74 and 68 per cent of the voters respectively, more than twice the figures for Winchester and Simson (30 and 23). There were 438 splits for the two reform candidates (representing 91 per cent of Robarts’s total and 99 per cent of Barnett’s), and 144 for the two anti-reform candidates (representing 74 per cent of Winchester’s votes and 96 per cent of Simson’s). There were only 24 plumpers (16 for Robarts and eight for Winchester) and only 41 electors cross-voted (six per cent of the total number voting). Winchester and Simson polled badly among out-county voters, but proportionately better among London voters (who accounted for 26 and 31 per cent of their votes respectively, compared to 21 per cent for the other candidates).74 The outcome of the election revealed an increase in the already high degree of partisan voting behaviour, which was especially visible in terms of the massive decline in cross voting and unnecessary plumping. This trend, although accelerated by the Reform Act, clearly began earlier than 1832, because the voters of Maidstone were influenced as much by the agitation over reform as by its actual implementation.75

Petitions were presented from the licensed victuallers against the Beer Act, 13 Aug., and from its inhabitants for justice to be done in the case of Thomas and Caroline Deacle, 15 Sept. 1831.76 There was a reform meeting, 23 Sept., and after the rejection of the bill by the Lords, another approved an address to the king in its favour, 15 Oct. 1831.77 Robarts promised to present and support a petition against child employment in factories, 27 Feb. 1832, but apparently did not do so. Barnett brought up a Maidstone petition for inquiry into the case of Alexander Somerville, 8 Aug.78 The pro-reform Inflexible Society continued to meet, for example on 13 Aug., and by the time of the dissolution, local party organization had been consolidated with the emergence of two Tory societies, the Conservative Committee and the Constitution Club, and two Whig groups, the Loyal True Blue Club and the Maidstone Political Union.79 With over 3,000 houses, of which 1,417 were valued at more than £10, Maidstone retained its representation under the Reform Act and its boundary was not altered. On the revised register of electors, 456 were ancient right freemen and 652 were £10 householders.80 At the general election of 1832 the sitting Members were returned after a fierce contest against Lewis. Robarts refused to engage in bribery, but Lewis paid about £5,000 and even considered settling Winchester’s outstanding debts.81 After failing to vote for economies in 1833, Robarts answered his constituents’ remonstrance with a strong statement of his own independence. According to Lewis’s agent, Richard Hart, Robarts’s support was declining in Maidstone, and it was only his ‘personal influence which carried him and his colleague through at the last election - it was certainly not political feeling’.82

A few days before the 1835 general election, Greville recorded a conversation with Robarts:

Although this points to the ineffectiveness of reform in combating corruption, Robarts’s off-the-cuff comment also reflected personal resentment at the persistence of an engrained venality in his constituency, despite the simultaneous existence of a long tradition of partisanship and the growing influence of national party consciousness.84 Turbulent and venal party politics did indeed continue for many years. Greville believed that power had been transferred to a ‘low class of persons so low as to be dissatisfied and malignant, high enough to be half-instructed’.85 The municipal corporations report agreed that

Partly as a result of Tory gold, Lewis eventually gained a seat at Maidstone in 1835 and two years later successfully introduced his protégé, Benjamin Disraeli†, but the agitation over reform had nevertheless had a powerful impact in augmenting the already high level of voter loyalty towards each party.87


5. 1912

Theodore Roosevelt giving a campaign speech in the 1912 election.

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Recently returned from the 10-month African safari he took after leaving the White House, Theodore Roosevelt found himself drawn back into politics as the 1912 election approached. After his close friend and handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, angered Roosevelt and fellow progressives by siding increasingly with the conservative wing of the Republican Party, Roosevelt challenged Taft in the primaries. Denied the nomination, he bolted with his supporters and formed the Progressive Party. In one particularly shocking moment of this wild campaign season, a fanatic shot Roosevelt in the chest during an event in Wisconsin the self-proclaimed 𠇋ull Moose” actually finished delivering his speech after taking the bullet. 

In the end, Roosevelt and Taft split the Republican vote, helping the Democrat Woodrow Wilson win the White House despite capturing less than 50 percent majorities in many states. Roosevelt finished second and Taft third—the last time in history that a major party candidate would fail to finish either first or second in a presidential election. In fourth place, Eugene Debs, the Socialist Party candidate, won 6 percent of the popular vote, turning in the best-ever showing for a Socialist candidate in a U.S. general election.


Andrew Jackson’s Legacy

In contrast to his strong stand against South Carolina, Andrew Jackson took no action after Georgia claimed millions of acres of land that had been guaranteed to the Cherokee Indians under federal law, and he declined to enforce a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Georgia had no authority over Native American tribal lands. In 1835, the Cherokees signed a treaty giving up their land in exchange for territory west of Arkansas, where in 1838 some 15,000 would head on foot along the so-called Trail of Tears. The relocation resulted in the deaths of thousands.

As a slave-owner himself, Jackson opposed policies that would have outlawed slavery in western territories as the United States expanded. When abolitionists attempted to send anti-slavery tracts to the South during his presidency, he banned their delivery, calling them monsters that should 𠇊tone for this wicked attempt with their lives.” 

In the 1836 election, Jackson’s chosen successor Martin Van Buren defeated Whig candidate William Henry Harrison, and Old Hickory left the White House even more popular than when he had entered it. Jackson’s success seemed to have vindicated the still-new democratic experiment, and his supporters had built a well-organized Democratic Party that would become a formidable force in American politics. After leaving office, Jackson retired to the Hermitage, where he died in June 1845.

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1835 Constitutional Convention

Reforming the state’s constitution was one of the most important and hotly debated political issues in antebellum North Carolina. The state’s constitution of 1776, which remained largely unchanged until the convention of 1835, had features that many North Carolinians had come to regard as unfair and undemocratic. The most widely criticized section related to the method of apportioning seats in the General Assembly.

Before 1835, each county was allowed to elect two members to the lower house, known as the house of commons, and one member to the state senate. Since most of the state’s counties were located in the eastern part of the state, the east had more representatives, which enabled it to maintain control of both houses of the General Assembly. But by the antebellum period, the western counties had grown to cover a larger area and were growing faster in population. In fact, by 1830, most North Carolinians lived in the west, and the 1776 system of apportioning representation seemed to them an obvious violation of the democratic principle of majority rule. In addition, the eastern-controlled legislature repeatedly defeated efforts by westerners to construct roads and other transportation improvements in the west. Western citizens believed that economic development of their section would not be achieved until the state’s constitution was amended to give them a fair share of seats in the General Assembly.

Other Problems with the Constitution of 1776

North Carolinians from both sections of the state were united in their dissatisfaction with other parts of the 1776 constitution. Residents of rural counties resented the fact that seven towns (the “boroughs” of Edenton, Halifax, Hillsborough, New Bern, Wilmington, Salisbury, and Fayetteville) had the privilege of electing additional members to the house of commons. Another objectionable feature was Article 32, which prohibited Catholics, Jews, and members of other faiths who denied the “being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion” from holding office.

The 1776 constitution contained numerous parts that many considered undemocratic. For example, justices on the county courts—who served as the principal officers of local government in North Carolina—were appointed for indefinite terms by the General Assembly rather than being elected periodically by local voters. Likewise, the governor, state judges (such as those on the supreme court), and most other state officials were appointed by the legislature, not by popular vote. Elections for state senators were open to voters, but those voters had to meet certain qualifications, such as owning at least fifty acres of land.

Ironically, the 1776 constitution made no mention of race as a qualification for voting. As a result, free blacks could and did vote in state elections. That practice displeased many white voters—particularly in the slaveholding east—who wanted to restrict voting to whites.

Still, the vast majority of easterners were willing to tolerate these displeasing aspects of the 1776 constitution because they did not want to risk changing the balance of power in favor of the west. On numerous occasions the eastern majority in the General Assembly defeated convention bills that had been introduced by western politicians. By the 1830s, though, frustrated reformers were threatening to call a convention without the General Assembly’s approval (they could have done that by encouraging local sheriffs, who were in charge of coordinating elections in antebellum North Carolina, to organize an election). Reformers also threatened to secede from North Carolina and set up their own state. Such threats of revolutionary action led a few prominent easterners like William H. Haywood Jr. to join the reform movement in the hope of moderating and controlling it.

Finally, the East Wants Reforms, Too

By the early 1830s, other factors were beginning to influence some easterners to adopt a more sympathetic attitude toward constitutional reform.

One important influence was the introduction of rail transportation. Leaders in eastern towns like New Bern and Wilmington suddenly began to see that internal improvements could transform their sleepy towns into thriving commercial centers. They began to view western reformers, who also supported transportation improvements, as allies in a crusade for state-financed railroads rather than as sectional enemies. In 1834, about twenty reform-minded easterners managed to win election to the General Assembly. In addition, Governor David L. Swain, whose popularity extended beyond his native west, threw his influence behind reform and presented the new legislature with a compelling argument for holding a convention. A reluctant reformer, Haywood was put in charge of drawing up the bill that would authorize a convention.

Haywood’s bill called for a special election to be held in April 1835. At the election, voters would be asked to approve a convention and to elect delegates to that convention. In order to win the needed support of Haywood’s fellow easterners, the bill placed severe limitations on the convention’s results. It ensured that easterners could control the convention by providing that two delegates would be elected from each county. And instead of giving convention delegates the power to write an entirely new constitution, the convention bill limited their activities to considering specific amendments to the existing 1776 constitution.

Haywood’s bill provided that delegates to the convention would create a new house of commons that would contain between ninety and 120 members apportioned according to “federal population” (defined as free population plus three-fifths of the slave population—the same system used for apportioning the U.S. House of Representatives). North Carolina’s more populous west would gain a majority of seats to control this lower house. The bill also instructed delegates to create a new senate that would contain between thirty-four and fifty members apportioned according to the amount of taxes paid by their districts into the state treasury. That arrangement enabled the wealthier east to keep more seats and its majority of control in the senate. Representatives to the new house and senate would be elected in August 1836.

On December 31, 1834, Haywood’s bill passed the house of commons by a four-vote margin. Despite the numerous restrictions and safeguards he had placed in the measure, only a few fellow easterners supported it. Three days later, the senate approved the bill by one vote. As expected, western legislators overwhelmingly supported the bill. Most of the easterners who finally supported the convention bill were associated with the railroad movement.

The special election that was held in April 1835 to select delegates approved the convention by a vote of 27,550 to 21,694. The vast majority of favorable votes came from the west.

The Convention Meets for Change

The convention, which assembled in Raleigh on June 4, 1835, consisted of 130 delegates representing thirty-eight eastern counties and twenty-seven western counties. Veteran politician Nathaniel Macon was unanimously chosen as its president.

The first amendment to win approval was elimination of borough representation. Most support for that proposal came from eastern delegates who represented small rural counties that resented the privileges boroughs had held. They also wanted to punish borough representatives for supporting the convention bill.

Eastern delegates were also responsible for defeating a proposed amendment to abolish religious restrictions on officeholding. The delegates did, however, agree to change Article 32 by allowing all “Christians,” rather than just “Protestants,” to hold office. Easterners again provided most of the votes for an amendment to prohibit free blacks from voting.

As directed, the convention made some significant changes in the structure of state government. The number of legislators was set at 120 for the house of commons and fifty for the senate—the maximums allowed by Haywood’s convention bill. Other amendments transferred election of the governor from the General Assembly to voters, extended the governor’s term from one to two years, and provided that the General Assembly would meet biennially (once every two years), instead of annually (every year) as before.

After approving the entire package of amendments with only twenty negative votes, the convention adjourned on July 11, 1835. As required by the convention bill, the new amendments were submitted to voters to be ratified. About 90 percent of the votes in favor of the proposed changes were cast by westerners. A similar percentage of the votes against them were cast by easterners.

The Most Noted Results

Constitutional changes approved in 1835 had an important impact on the citizens of North Carolina. The changes played a major role in reducing east-west sectionalism, because they gave the west more power in the General Assembly. Legislation favorable to the growth of the backcountry and Mountain region, such as creating new counties and providing state aid for internal improvements, could now be enacted more easily.

Constitutional changes also had a significant influence on parties and politics. Now that governors had to fight for popular votes statewide, campaigns had to be coordinated. These biennial governors’ campaigns provided the citizens of North Carolina with a statewide forum for discussing important political issues and hastened the development of a two-party political system.

In spite of the benefits most white North Carolinians received as a result of constitutional reforms, North Carolina’s government remained one of the least democratic in the South. For example, North Carolina continued to be one of the few southern states to require voters and officeholders, like candidates for governor and members of the General Assembly, to own property before they could vote or run for office. And since representation in the state senate was based on property ownership and wealth rather than population, slaveholding counties continued to have a disproportionate influence over legislation. Moreover, constitutional reform was actually a step backward for free African American North Carolinians: They lost the right to vote altogether.

*At the time this article was written, Thomas E. Jeffrey was the associate director of the Thomas A. Edison Papers, a project sponsored by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and the National Park Service.


1835 General Election - History

Santa Anna ( full name Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón ) won the election of 1833 as a liberal with the largest majority in history .The vice presidency went to Valentin Gomez Farias, a liberal politician of intellectual distinction .Santa Anna chased after the presidency for at least a decade, but once he had it he soon wearied of it left the day to day running of the country to his vice president while he retired to his estate of Manga de Clavo in Vera Cruz .He was President of Mexico on eleven non-consecutive ( 1833 multiple times ,1834, 1835 ,1839 ,1841 - 1842 ,1843 - 1844 and 1847 ) occasions over a period of 22 years.

Farias, began with two major reforms , that of the church and that of the army . To curb the undue influence of the army, he reduced its size and abolished military fueros . The Church was told it should limit its sermons to spiritual matters . Education was to be taken out of the hands of the church .The University of Mexico was closed down because its faculty was made up entirely of priests .The mandatory payments of tithes were made illegal . The total wealth of the church was estimated at 180 million pesos .Nuns and priests were permitted to foreswear their vows .

The Church , Army and other conservative groups banded together against these reforms .They appealed to Santa Anna who agreed to led the movement against his vice president and rescinded all of Farias reforms and dismissed him from office . He declared that Mexico was not ready for democracy and set about to build a caudilloist state ( It is usually translated into English as "leader" or "chief," or, more pejoratively, warlord, "dictator" or "strongman". "Caudillo" was the term used to refer to charismatic populist leaders among the people ) .In order to secure power, Santa Anna cast away his former liberal ways and became a conservative centralist .

Drawing on archives in Mexico, Spain, Britain, and Texas as well as published sources, Fowler supplies a much-needed corrective to existing impressions of Santa Anna with this balanced and well-written work

Gran Teatro de Santa Anna

The old constitution of 1824 was done away with and a new one, the constitution of 1836 was enacted . The Siete Leyes (or Seven Laws) were enacted, in which only those with a certain level of income could vote or hold office .The congress was disbanded .The old federalists states were redrawn into larger military districts governed by political bosses loyal to Santa Anna. State militias were disbanded .The presidential term was extended from four years to eight .Santa Anna was moving to concentrate power . The presidency changed hands 36 times between 1833 and 1855 . The army grew larger at this time to a standing army of 90,000 and even though the country suffered under excessive taxation, the treasury was still bankrupt .Corruption was widespread. Santa Anna became a millionaire . His land holdings by 1845 totaled 483,000 acres .He threw gala balls and had opera houses and theaters built, such as the Gran Teatro de Santa Anna . His official title was ' his most serene highness ' and he also styled himself the " Napoleon of the West .' His busts and statues were to be found throughout Mexico .

Presidency of Santa Anna and foreign intervention

Several states went into open rebellion after these acts of Santa Anna: Coahuila y Tejas, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Durango, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Yucatán, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas. Several of these states formed their own governments, the Republic of the Rio Grande, the Republic of Yucatan , and the Republic of Texas.The Zacatecan militia, the largest and best supplied of the Mexican states, led by Francisco Garcia, was well armed with .753 caliber British 'Brown Bess' muskets and Baker .61 rifles. After two hours of combat, on 12 May 1835, the Santa Anna's "Army of Operations" defeated the Zacatecan militia and took almost 3,000 prisoners. Santa Anna allowed his army to ransack Zacatecas for forty-eight hours. After defeating Zacatecas, he planned to move on to Coahuila y Tejas

Revolt of Texas October 2, 1835 to April 21, 1836

Throughout the colonial period the vast territory of Texas ( 268,584 square miles ) was one of the northern colonial provinces of New Spain . The first Europeans in the area, the Franciscan missionaries and early Spanish settlers in the early to mid 1700s faced attacks by Apaches, Comanches and other Indian tribes .The territory was far from Mexico City a few settlers arrived .There were small towns in the interior, San Antonio, Nacogdoches, Goliad, and others, which dated from the time of the early Spanish colonization, or which had grown around the Missions established by the Franciscan friars for the conversion and civilization of the Indians .

A well-written history of the Texas Revolution and the events leading up to it.

At the beginning of the 1800s, there were only 7,000 settlers .Spain wished to colonize the territory, and in 1821 granted Moses Austin permission to settle as an empresarios with around 300 Catholic families in Texas.

In 1820 he set out for Texas. He was at first coldly received by Governor Martinez of San Antonio, but by the aid of the Baron de Bastrop, a Prussian officer, who had served under Frederick the Great, and was then in the service of Mexico, he obtained a favorable hearing on his proposition to settle a colony of emigrants from the United States in Texas. Austin's petition was forwarded to the central government, and he returned home. On the route he was robbed and stripped by his fellow-travelers, and, after great exposure and privation, subsisting for twelve days on acorns and pecan nuts, he reached the cabin of a settler near the Sabine River. He reached home in safety, and commenced his preparations for removal to Texas but his exposure and privations had weakened him, and he died from the effects of a cold in his fifty-seventh year, leaving his dying injunction to his son, Stephen, to carry out his project.

Mexico became independent and Moses' son, Steven Austin was granted the same right and after advertising for settlers in New Orleans led 300 ( later called the ' old 300') families to settle a grant on the Brazos river .This was followed by a large influx of Americans entered Texas attracted by the cheap land ( ten cents an acre ) compared with $1.25 an acre in the US .Colonists were also given a 7 year exemption from taxes.

Life in the new land was rough, While at work they kept guard against the Indians, who roved about stealing the stock, at times making a night attack upon a cabin, or murdering and scalping some solitary herdsman or traveler. The Mexicans did nothing to protect or govern the colony. The settlers created a code of laws for the administration of justice and the settlement of civil disputes. The land titles were duly recorded, and a local militia was organized. Austin was the supreme authority, the judge and commandant .In 1827, New Orleans was abuzz with talk of the leagues of land that Mexico was giving to those who would colonize in Texas. By 1827 there were 12,000 Americans living in Texas. By 1835 there were 30,000 Americans and only around 8,000 Mexicans .

Many criminals from Mexico and the United States fled to eastern Texas to escape justice . Fraudulent debtors who had chalked on their shutters the cabalistic letters " G. T. T." Gone to Texas . The outlaws of the neutral ground organized themselves into bands, and fought over land titles and for political domination, and in 1826 commenced a war against the Mexican authorities under the leadership of Hayden Edwards, an empresario, whose contract had been annulled on account of the conflicts which had arisen between the claims of his colonists and the original Mexican inhabitants and squatters. This was called " The Fredonian War," was easily suppressed, Austin and his colonists taking part with the Mexican authorities.

The Mexican government believed the Americans could be integrated into Mexican society, but the societies were too different and tensions increased .Most Americans remained Protestant, even though they could go through the motions of being Catholic if questioned by Mexican officials and few bothered to learn Spanish .

One of the major grievances against Mexico by the Texans was that it was an appendage to the state of Coahuila . There were eventually given 3 representatives in the state legislature ( out of 12 ) buy were easily outvoted by Coahuilans on important matters . Appellate courts were located in faraway Saltillo .The Americans wanted Texas to be a separate state from Coahuila , but not independent from Mexico and to have its own capital. They believed a closer location for the capital would help to stem corruption and facilitate other matters of government.

Steven Austin traveled to Mexico City with a petition asking for separate statehood from Coahuila. this was not approved and he wrote an angry letter to a friend, which seemed to suggest Texas should succeed from Mexico. The letter was intercepted and he spent 18 months in prison .

The Americans were also becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Mexican government. Many of the Mexican soldiers garrisoned in Texas were convicted criminals who were given the choice of prison or serving in the army in Texas. Mexico did not protect Freedom of Religion , instead requiring colonists to pledge their acceptance of Roman Catholicism Mexican Law required a "tithe" paid to the Catholic Church. The American settlers could not grow what crops they wished, but as other citizens of Mexico were required to do, grow which crops Mexican officials dictated , which were to be redistributed in Mexico. Growing cotton was lucrative at the time, but most settlers were not permitted to grow it and those that did were sometimes imprisoned .

The Mexican government had reasons to be anxious about the growing American population in Texas .President Adams and President Jackson had offered to buy the territory .There were a number of filibustering expeditions from the United States into Texas to set up an independent, the most famous of which was that of John Long of Tennessee who invaded Texas with a private army and seized Nacogdoches and declared himself president of the Republic of Texas .Long's army was later defeated by the Mexicans, but it event drew more support in the US for acquiring Texas .

The check immigration into Texas from America, which was mostly by Americans from the south with slaves, president Guerrero enacted the emancipation proclamation in 1829 . Most Americans converted their slaves into indentured servants for life to get around this . By 1836, there were approximately 5,000 slaves in Texas.

In 1830, all future immigration from America was forbidden by president Anastasio Bustamente, although thousands continued to pour in through the porous borders . Bustamente also began preparations by making Texas a penal colony, by sending a thousand soldiers, mostly criminals and convicts, to stations in the country.

Santa Anna believed that the influx of American immigrants to Texas was part of a plot by the U.S. to take over the region. and the Mexican garrisons were strengthened .Mexico increased custom duties on exports, increasing the cost of trade with the US . Mexican colonization of Texas was encouraged .

The final straw for Americans in Texas was Santa Anna's annulment of the Federal Constitution of 1824 and feared they would lived under a tyrant with no representation at all .Many Americans began to argue that they should separate from Mexico, they were also supported by many Mexican liberals. The most active of these was Lorenzo de Zavala, leader of the Mexican Congress in 1823. The Texans choose independence and chose David Burnet as president and Zavala as vice president .

Much of Mexico led by the states of Yucatan , Zacatecas, and Coahuila, promptly rose in revolt of Santa Anna's actions. Santa Anna spent two years suppressing the revolts. Under the Liberal banner, the Mexican state of Zacatecas revolted against Santa Anna. The revolt was brutally crushed in May 1835. As a reward, Santa Anna allowed his soldiers two days of rape and pillage in the capital city of Zacatecas civilians were massacred by the thousands. Santa Anna also looted the rich Zacatecan silver mines at Fresnillo.

He then ordered his brother-in law, General Martin Perfecto de Cos , to march into Texas and put an end to disturbances against the state.Most American settlers in Texas or Texicans, were on the whole loyal to Mexico before and few were members of the independence party . But after the annulling of the Constitution of 1824, imprisonment of Austin and the news of what had happened at Zacatecas a majority supported the independence movement .

On September 20, General Cos landed at Copano with an advance force of about 300 soldiers bound for Goliad, San Antonio and San Felipe de Austin.

Austin was released in July, having never been formally charged with sedition, and was in Texas by August. Austin saw little choice but revolution. A consultation was scheduled for October to discuss possible formal plans to revolt, and Austin sanctioned it.

Colonel Domingo Ugartechea, who was stationed in San Antonio, ordered the Texians to return a cannon given to them by Mexico that was stationed in Gonzales. The Texians refused. Ugartechea sent Lieutenant Francisco Castañeda and 100 dragoons to retrieve it. When he arrived at the rain-swollen banks of the Guadalupe River near Gonzales, there were just eighteen Texians to oppose him. Unable to cross, Castañeda established a camp, and the Texians buried the cannon and called for volunteers. Two Texian militias answered the call. Colonel John Henry Moore was elected head of the combined revolutionary militias, and they dug up the cannon and mounted it on a pair of cartwheels. A Coushatta Native American entered Castañeda&rsquos camp and informed him that the Texians had 140 men.

Come and Take It Cannon - The Birth of Texas

On October 1, 1835, at 7 p.m., the Texians headed out slowly and quietly to attack Castañeda&rsquos dragoons. At 3 a.m. they reached the camp, and gunfire was exchanged. There were no casualties except for a Texian who had bloodied his nose when he fell off his horse during the skirmish. The next morning, negotiations were held, and the Texians urged Castañeda to join them in their revolt. Despite claiming sympathy for the Texian cause, he was shocked by the invitation to mutiny, and negotiations fell through. The Texians created a banner with a crude drawing of the disputed cannon and the words "Come and take it" written on it. Since they had no cannon balls, they filled it with scrap metal and fired it at the dragoons. They charged and fired their muskets and rifles, but Castañeda decided not to engage them and led the dragoons back to San Antonio. Thus the war had begun

Next, the Texans captured Bexar, under the defence of General Cos. When General Austin gave his army of volunteers the boring task of waiting for General Cos&rsquo army to starve, many of the volunteers simply left. Throughout November 1835, the Texian army dwindled from 800 to 600 men, and the officers began to bicker about strategy and why they were fighting against the Mexicans. Several officers resigned, including Jim Bowie , who went to Gonzales. The siege of Bexar, which began on October 12, 1835, would demonstrate how little leadership the Texan "Army" had. Austin had been appointed Commander of all the Texan forces, but his talents were not well suited for military life.

The siege ended on December 11 with the capture of General Cos and his starving army, despite Austin's leadership. The Mexican prisoners were paroled and sent back to Mexico after being made to promise not to fight again.

The early victories of the Texans were greatly attributed to their effective hunting rifles, which could fire at distant targets and with more accuracy than the smooth bore muskets of the Mexican infantry.

The remaining Texan army, poorly led, and with no collective motivation, prepared to advance towards Matamoros, hoping to sack the town. Although the Matamoros Expedition , as it came to be known, was but one of many schemes to bring the war to Mexico, nothing came of it. On November 6, 1835, the Tampico Expedition under José Antonio Mexía left New Orleans , intending to capture the town from the Centralists. The expedition failed. These independent missions drained the Texan movement of supplies and men, bringing only disaster for months to come.

Santa Anna decided to take the counter-offensive. General Cos informed Santa Anna of the situation in Texas, and the general proceeded to advance north with his Army of Operations , a force of about 6,000. The army had gathered in San Luis Potosí and soon marched across the deserts of Mexico during the worst winter recorded in that region. The army suffered hundreds of casualties, but it marched forward, arriving in Texas months before it was expected. Taking Bexar (San Antonio ), the political and military center of Texas, was Santa Anna's initial objective

The defenders inside the Alamo awaited reinforcement. "At dawn on the first of March, Capt. Albert Martin, with 32 men (himself included) from Gonzales and DeWitt's Colony, passed the lines of Santa Anna and entered the walls of the Alamo, never more to leave them. These men, chiefly husbands and fathers, owning their own homes, voluntarily organized and passed through the lines of an enemy four to six thousand strong, to join 150 of their countrymen and neighbors, in a fortress doomed to destruction." No further reinforcement arrived.

On March 6, 1836 the 13-day siege of the Alamo ended. Among the dead were three men destined to become martyrs and heroes: David Crockett, James Bowie and William B. Travis. Cries of Remember the Alamo! would eventually fuel an American victory over Mexico. The Alamo and its defenders grew into enduring symbols of courage and sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds. Controversy has always been part of the history and legend of the Alamo. Whether they hold traditional or revisionist views, people are passionate about their opinions.

Were Crockett, Travis and Bowie a "Holy Trinity" or less than perfect human beings?

Why were Tejanos like Juan Seguin, who fought for Texas liberty alongside the Anglos, virtually ignored in history books until recently?

Did Travis draw a line in the sand?

How many defenders were really there, and how many attackers?

Did everyone die, or were there survivors?

The Alamo was defended by about 183-189 men under the command of William Barret Travis and Jim Bowie. Most of the Alamo defenders were white men of Spanish ancestry. Numerous sick and wounded from the siege of Bexar, perhaps raising the Texan military total to around 250, as well as non-combatants were also reported present afterwards. The Battle of the Alamo ended on March 6 after a 13 day siege in which all Texan combatants were killed. The alcalde of San Antonio reported cremation of 182 defenders' bodies one defender's burial by a Mexican army relative was allowed. Santa Anna's army casualties have been estimated as about 600 - 1000 troops&mdashthe quoted number of Mexican soldiers killed varies greatly. The defense of the Alamo proved to be of no military consequence for the Texan cause, but its martyrs were soon hailed as heroes. The most important result during this time was the 1836 Convention signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico, on March 2.

Soon, Santa Anna divided his army and sent flying columns across Texas. The objective was to force a decisive battle over the Texan Army, now led by General Sam Houston.

General José Urrea marched into Texas from Matamoros, making his way north following the coast of Texas, thus preventing any foreign aid by sea and opening up an opportunity for the Mexican Navy to land much needed provisions. Urrea's forces were engaged at the Battle of Agua Dulce on March 2, 1836, which would soon lead to the Goliad Campaign. General Urrea was never defeated in any engagement his forces conducted in Texas.

General José Urrea was never defeated in battle during the Texas revolution

At Goliad, Urrea's flying column caught Colonel James Fannin's force of about 300 men on the open prairie at a slight depression near Coleto Creek and made three charges at a heavy cost in Mexican casualties. Overnight, Urrea's forces surrounded the Texans, brought up cannon and reinforcements, and induced Fannin's surrender under terms the next day, March 20. About 342 of the Texan troops captured during the Goliad Campaign were executed a week later on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, under Santa Anna's direct orders, widely known as the Goliad Massacre .

"The impact of the Goliad Massacre was crucial. Until this episode Santa Anna's reputation had been that of a cunning and crafty man, rather than a cruel one. together with the fall of the Alamo, branded both Santa Anna and the Mexican people with a reputation for cruelty and aroused the fury of the people of Texas, the United States, and even Great Britain and France, thus considerably promoting the success of the Texas Revolution .

This 360-degree video is the full film by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) about the Goliad Massacre, which took place in March 1836. It is an important, yet often-overlooked, moment in the pursuit of Texas independence.

Houston immediately understood that his small army was not prepared to fight Santa Anna out in the open. The Mexican cavalry, experienced and feared, was something the Texans could not easily defeat. Seeing that his only choice was to keep the army together enough to be able to fight on favorable grounds, Houston ordered a retreat towards the U.S. border, and many settlers also fled in the same direction. A scorched earth policy was implemented, denying much-needed food for the Mexican army. Soon, the rains made the roads impassable, and the cold season made the list of casualties grow in both armies.

Santa Anna's army, always on the heels of Houston, gave unrelenting chase. The town of Gonzales could not be defended by the Revolutionaries, so it was put to the torch. The same fate awaited Austin's colony of San Felipe. Despair grew among the ranks of Houston's men, and much animosity was aimed towards him. All that impeded Santa Anna's advance were the swollen rivers, which gave Houston a chance to rest and drill his army.

Events moved at a quick pace after Santa Anna decided to divide his own flying column and race quickly towards Galveston , where members of the Provisional Government had fled. Santa Anna hoped to capture the Revolutionary leaders, and put an end to the war, which had proven costly and prolonged. Santa Anna, as dictator of Mexico, felt the need to return to Mexico City as soon as possible. Houston was informed of Santa Anna's unexpected move. Numbering about 700, Santa Anna's column marched east from Harrisburg, Texas . Without Houston's consent, and tired of running away, the Texan army of 900 moved to meet the enemy. Houston could do nothing but follow. Accounts of Houston's thinking during these moves is subject to speculation as Houston held no councils of war.

On April 20, both armies met at the San Jacinto River. Separating them was a large sloping ground with tall grass, which the Texans used as cover. Santa Anna, elated at finally having the Texas Army in front of him, waited for reinforcements, which were led by General Cos. On that same day, a skirmish was fought between the enemies, mostly cavalry, but nothing came of it.

To the dismay of the Texans, Cos arrived sooner than expected with 540 more troops, swelling Santa Anna's army to over 1,200 men. Angered by the loss of opportunity and by Houston's indecisiveness, the Texas Army demanded to make an attack. About 3:30 in the afternoon on April 21, after burning Vince's Bridge, the Texans surged forward, catching the Mexican army by surprise. Hours before the attack, Santa Anna had ordered his men to stand down, noting that the Texans would not attack his superior force. Also, his army had been stretched to the limit of endurance by the ongoing forced marches. His force was overwhelmed by Texians pushing into the Mexican camp. An 18-minute-long battle ensued, but soon the defenses crumbled and a massacre ensued.

On April 21, 1836, Texas won its independence when an outnumbered Texas Army defeated Mexican forces on the plains of San Jacinto. The monument built in remembrance of the battle stands on the flat Texas wetlands along the Houston ship channel. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the history of Texas, a soaring monument to commemorate a small battle with huge consequences

Popular folk songs and legends hold that during the battle, Santa Anna was busy with and was distracted by a comely mixed race indentured servant, immortalized as 'The Yellow Rose of Texas.'

Santa Anna's entire force of men was killed or captured by Sam Houston's heavily outnumbered army of Texans only nine Texans died. This decisive battle resulted in Texas's independence from Mexico.

Santa Anna was captured when he could not cross the burned Vince's Bridge, and he was brought before Houston, who had been wounded in the ankle. Santa Anna agreed to end the campaign. General Vicente Filisola, noting the state of his tired and hungry army, marched back to Mexico, but not without protests from Urrea. Only Santa Anna had been defeated, not the Army of Operations, and Urrea felt that the campaign should continue, but Filisola disagreed.

Santa Anna surrenders at San Jucinto

With Santa Anna a prisoner, his captors forced him to sign the Treaties of Velasco ( one public, one private ) on May 14. The public treaty was that he would not take up arms against the republic of Texas .The private treaty was to recognize Texas's independence . The initial plan was to send him back to Mexico to help smooth relations between the two states. His departure was delayed by a mob who wanted him dead. Declaring himself as the only person who could bring about peace, Santa Anna was sent to Washington, D.C., by the Texan government to meet President Jackson in order to guarantee independence of the new republic. But unknown to Santa Anna, the Mexican government deposed him in absentia thus, he no longer had any authority to represent Mexico.

After some time in exile in the United States, and after meeting with U.S. president Andrew Jackson in 1837, he was allowed to return to Mexico aboard the USS Pioneer to retire to his magnificent hacienda in Veracruz, called Manga de Clavo .

When Santa Anna returned to Mexico, the Mexican legislature declared the treaties null and void since they were signed while the president was prisoner . Mexico was too disturbed by its own internal troubles to mount a serious invasion of Texas .

Texas became a republic after a long and bloody fight, but it was never recognized as such by Mexico. The war continued as a standoff.

Santa Anna re-emerged as a hero during the Pastry War in 1838. He was re-elected President, and soon after, he ordered an expedition led by General Adrian Woll , a French soldier of fortune, into Texas, occupying San Antonio, but briefly. There were small clashes between the two states for several years afterward. The war with Texas did not truly come to an end until the Mexican-American War of 1846.

In 1838, Santa Anna discovered a chance to redeem himself from his Texan loss, when French forces landed in Veracruz, Mexico

Republic of Yucatán and the Republic of Rio Grande

After Santa Anna annulled the Federalist constitution of 1824, they were many revolts against the centralisation of power, two actually formed republic besides Texas, the Yucatan and the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas formed the Republic of Rio Grande .

Flag of the Republic of Yucatán

In 1840, the local Yucatan Congress approved a declaration of independence. Santa Anna refused to recognize Yucatán's independence, and he barred Yucatán ships and commerce in Mexico and ordered Yucatán's ports blockaded. He sent an army to invade Yucatán in 1843. The Yucatecans defeated the Mexican force, but the loss of economic ties to Mexico deeply hurt Yucatán commerce. Yucatan became part of Mexico again in 1843 .the central government rescinded earlier concessions and in 1845 Yucatán again renounced the Mexican government, declaring independence effective 1 January 1846.

Cult of the speaking Cross

When the Mexican-American War broke out, Yucatán declared its neutrality.In 1847 the so-called " Caste War " ( Guerra de Castas ) broke out, a major revolt of the Maya people against the misrule of the Hispanic population in political and economic control. When Mexico was preoccupied with the war with America, many Maya united under the Mayan-Christian cult of the Speaking Cross to reclaim there land from the whites (dzul ) .This was a cult of a cross carved in a tree in the Yucatan that bore a resemblance to the Maya tree of life, La Ceiba .The Mayans took over the peninsula and almost took the last white stronghold of Merida, when the Mayans abandoned the fight to plant .By 1855, the whites had retaken most of the Yucatán, but some parts remained in control of the cult of the Speaking Cross until the early 20th century .

The Mayan Cult of the Talking Cross: Mexico Unexplained

The government in Mérida appealed for foreign help in suppressing the revolt, with Governor Méndez taking the extraordinary step of sending identical letters to Britain, Spain, and the United States, offering sovereignty over Yucatán to whatever nation first provided sufficient aid to quash the Maya revolt. The proposal received serious attention in Washington, D.C.: the Yucatecan ambassador was received by US President James K. Polk and the matter was debated in the Congress ultimately, however, no action was taken other than an invocation of the Monroe Doctrine to warn off any European power from interfering in the peninsula.

In 1848 Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula almost became part of the United States.

After the end of the Mexican-American War, Governor Barbachano appealed to Mexican President José Joaquín de Herrera for help in suppressing the revolt, and in exchange Yucatán again recognized the central government's authority. Yucatán was again reunited with Mexico on 17 August 1848.

The Republic of Rio Grande flag

On January 17, 1840 a constitutional convention was held at the Oreveña Ranch near Laredo. Here it was decided that the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas would withdraw themselves from Mexico and would form their own federal republic with Laredo as the capital. After the loss the Battle of Morales the republic moved its capital to Victoria, Texas . There was support from the new Republic of Texas for the Republic of the Rio Grande and 140 Texans joined the republics army .In November, representatives of Generals Canales and Arista met to discuss the war. During this meeting, the Mexican government offered General Canales the position of brigadier general in the Mexican army in exchange for his abandoning the cause of the Republic of the Rio Grande. General Canales accepted the offer on November 6. Upon this event, the Republic of the Rio Grande failed.

The Republic of the Rio Grande: Mexico Unexplained

In 1838, France demanded compensation for a French pastry chef whose stock was eaten by Mexican troops in 1828. For years Mexico failed to resolve the matter and France demanded 600,000 pesos in payment and when payment. Mexico had also defaulted on millions of dollars worth of loans from France. Diplomat Baron Deffaudis gave Mexico an ultimatum to pay, or the French would demand satisfaction. When the payment was not forthcoming from president Anastasio Bustamante (1780&ndash1853), the king sent a fleet under Rear Admiral Charles Baudin to declare a blockade of all Mexican ports from Yucatán to the Rio Grande, to bombard the Mexican fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, and to seize the port of Veracruz. Virtually the entire Mexican Navy was captured at Veracruz by December 1838. Mexico declared war on France. France blockaded Vera Cruz with 26 ships and 4,000 troops . Mexico agreed to pay, but France upped the ante to 800,000 pesos for the cost of the blockading fleet. This was too much for the Mexicans, who sent a few thousand troops to the old fortress of San Juan de Ulua . Thus began the Pastry War .Santa Anna arrived on December 4 . The French landed 3,000 troops and Santa Anna personally led the troops in the street fighting that followed .Santa Anna was wounded in the left leg and had his leg amputated below the knee .The French were driven back to their ships and agreed to their earlier demand of 600,000 pesos.Santa Anna was able to use his wound to re-enter Mexican politics as a hero.

A French pastry chef known only as Monsieur Remontel complained to King Louis-Philippe of France that his pastry shop had been looted, and the Mexican government had refused to pay for the damages. The stolen pastry was used as a casus belli for a French intervention that would have a lasting impact of the history of Mexico.

The Pastry War: Every 5 Days

Soon after, Santa Anna was once again asked to take control of the provisional government as Bustamante's presidency turned chaotic. Santa Anna accepted and became president for the fifth time. Santa Anna took over a nation with an empty treasury. The war with France had weakened Mexico, and the people were discontented. Also, a rebel army led by Generals Jose Urrea and José Antonio Mexía was marching towards the Capital, at war against Santa Anna. The rebellion was crushed at the Battle of Mazatlán, by an army commanded by the president himself.

Santa Anna's rule was even more dictatorial than his first administration. Anti-Santanista newspapers were banned and dissidents jailed. In 1842, a military expedition into Texas was renewed, with no gain but to further persuade the Texans of the benefits of American annexation.

His demands for ever greater taxes aroused ire, and several Mexican states simply stopped dealing with the central government, Yucatán and Laredo going so far as to declare themselves independent republics. With resentment ever growing against the president, Santa Anna once again stepped down from power. Fearing for his life, Santa Anna tried to elude capture, but in January 1845 he was apprehended by a group of Indians near Xico, Veracruz, turned over to authorities, and imprisoned. His life was spared, but the dictator was exiled to Cuba.

In 1846, the United States declared war on Mexico. Santa Anna wrote to Mexico City saying he no longer had aspirations to the presidency, but would eagerly use his military experience to fight off the foreign invasion of Mexico as he had in the past. President Valentín Gómez Farías was desperate enough to accept the offer and allowed Santa Anna to return. Meanwhile, Santa Anna had secretly been dealing with representatives of the United States, pledging that if he were allowed back in Mexico through the U.S. naval blockades, he would work to sell all contested territory to the United States at a reasonable price. Once back in Mexico at the head of an army, Santa Anna reneged on both of these agreements. Santa Anna declared himself president again and unsuccessfully tried to fight off the United States invasion.

In 1851, Santa Anna went into exile in Kingston, Jamaica, and two years later, moved to Turbaco, Colombia. In April 1853, he was invited back by rebellious conservatives, with whom he succeeded in retaking the government. This reign was no better than his earlier ones. He funneled government funds to his own pockets, sold more territory to the United States (see Gadsden Purchase), and declared himself dictator for life with the title "Most Serene Highness". The Ayutla Rebellion of 1854 once again removed Santa Anna from power.

Despite his generous payoffs to the military for loyalty, by 1855 even his conservative allies had enough of Santa Anna. That year a group of liberals led by Benito Juárez and Ignacio Comonfort overthrew Santa Anna, and he fled back to Cuba. As the extent of his corruption became known he was tried in absentia for treason and all his estates confiscated. He then lived in exile in Cuba, the United States, Colombia, and St. Thomas. During his time in New York City he is credited as bringing the first shipments of chicle, the base of chewing gum, to the United States, but he failed to profit from this, since his plan was to use the chicle to replace rubber in carriage tires, which was tried without success. The American assigned to aid Santa Anna while he was in the United States, Thomas Adams, conducted experiments with the chicle and called it "Chiclets," which helped found the chewing gum industry. Santa Anna was a passionate fan of the sport of cockfighting. He would invite breeders from all over the world for matches and is known to have spent tens of thousands of dollars on prize roosters.

In 1874 he took advantage of a general amnesty and returned to Mexico. Crippled and almost blind from cataracts, he was ignored by the Mexican government when the anniversary of the Battle of Churubusco occurred. Santa Anna died in Mexico City two years later, on June 21, 1876, penniless and heartbroken.


HOPE, John Thomas (1807-1835), of Luffness, Haddington

&lsquoBeauty’ Hope, who was born while his father was governor of Edinburgh Castle, apparently went in 1821 with his father, pious mother and siblings on their two-year European tour, which took them to Dresden, Lausanne and Florence. While abroad he received tuition from the Rev. Joseph Langley Mills, chaplain to the forces. He took a first at Oxford, where he recited his Newdigate prize poem on &lsquoThe Arch of Titus’ on the same day, 30 June 1824, that his father received an honorary doctorate. His brother James, who became a fellow of Merton and a leading figure in the Oxford Movement, later commented that John &lsquogot nothing from Oxford but a good name’, though &lsquofrom his situation’ he had no &lsquoneed of much more’.1 He revisited the continent under his own steam, 1827-8, before entering Lincoln’s Inn.2 At the general election of 1830 he was returned unopposed for Gatton on Lord Monson’s interest.

The duke of Wellington’s ministry listed him among their &lsquofriends’, and he probably voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. Two days before his father had asked the home secretary Peel to secure his appointment to the revived select committee on the East India Company, to which subject he had &lsquodevoted some time . and I hope not without profit’ but the ministry’s fall intervened.3 He may have been the &lsquoyoung Hope’ earlier referred to by Lord Ellenborough, a member of the outgoing cabinet, as one of the ministerialists who were supposedly &lsquovery unwilling to vote against’ parliamentary reform, &lsquothinking the public feeling too strong’.4 However, in his maiden speech, 7 Mar. 1831, he opposed the Grey ministry’s reform bill as an unnecessary concession to popular clamour, which would satisfy neither the &lsquomiddle classes’, who wanted tax reductions, nor the &lsquocrazy radicals and visionary anarchists’, who wished to &lsquoshare amongst themselves the plunder of the country’. He also argued that it would drive a wedge between the landed and manufacturing interests, give too much power to the Commons and enfranchise men &lsquowho have neither sufficient property nor sufficient education to guarantee a just and correct use of that privilege’. He divided against the second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he offered for Haddingtonshire, where his kinsman Lord Hopetoun exercised considerable influence, but withdrew in order to avoid splitting the anti-reform vote. He had taken the precaution of &lsquosecuring a seat’ for Okehampton on the Savile interest, and was returned unopposed.5

Hope joined in calls for gradual rather than immediate reduction of the barilla duties, 1 July 1831. He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and for use of the 1831 census as a basis for the disfranchisement schedules, 19 July. Two days later he expressed regret at the extinction of Gatton as a parliamentary borough. He voted to postpone consideration of the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July, and probably opposed the clause of the bill dealing with freeholders of city counties, 17 Aug. It is not clear whether it was he or Henry Thomas Hope who divided against the third reading, 19 Sept., but he certainly voted against the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. On 16 Dec. 1831 he claimed that many &lsquorespectable’ people were hostile to reform, and he divided against the second reading of the revised bill the next day. He dined at Peel’s house, 5 Feb.,6 and voted against going into committee on the bill, 20 Jan., the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He asserted that &lsquoa very large portion’ of Scots, &lsquothough . not opposed to some change’, considered the Scottish bill &lsquotoo sweeping and too extensive’, 25 May. He voted against the second reading of the Irish bill that day. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July, and criticized their foreign policy, 26 Mar., 20 July. He was a resolute opponent of Sadler’s factories regulation bill.7 He presented and endorsed a hostile petition from the flax spinners and linen manufacturers of Cupar, 8 Mar. He spoke at some length against the bill’s second reading, 16 Mar., contending that Parliament could not &lsquosupply the place of parental affections on behalf of the child’, that legislation was unnecessary and that the bill would be &lsquoproductive of great inconvenience’ to both masters and workers. He asserted that &lsquoill health and wretchedness are by no means the necessary consequences of being employed in . mills’, 27 June, and presented hostile workers’ petitions from Annan, Pendleton and Cupar, 3, 16 July. He called for the postponement of the Scottish cholera prevention bill to facilitate the introduction of a clause to cater for voluntary parish subscriptions, 27 Mar. 1832.


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