Thursday, November 15, 2012

Too Many Givewaways

Yesterday, "Mormon Tea"-toddler and 2012 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, blamed his election loss to President Obama, because the President bribed his voters with giveaways. One can only imagine how Governor Romney would have explained his loss if he had tried to oppose 26-year old Lieutenant Colonel George Washington during the 1758 campaign for a seat in the Commonwealth of Virginia House of Burgesses.  

Here's a sample of what biographer Denis Pogue, Vice President for Preservation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens had to say:
It's Election Day in Virginia, an event that back in George Washington's day would have had the ex-president and his supporters seeing double. The reason: Voting day was a reason to binge in Colonial times, and the candidate who served up the most hooch often won.

Washington biographer Dennis Pogue, vice president of preservation at Washington's home of Mount Vernon, reveals that the father of the nation lost his first campaign in 1755 to the House of Burgesses largely because he didn't put on an alcohol-laden circus at the polls. That year, Washington got 40 votes. The winner, who plied voters with beer, whiskey, rum punch, and wine, got 271 votes.

A quick learner, Washington won three years later with the help of alcohol. "What do you know, he was successful and got 331 votes," says Pogue, author of the new book Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry. He spoke about his research Monday night at an event sponsored by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the National Press Club.

Read the full 11/8/2012 USNews Washington Whispers article written by  here.


JMS said...

Ray - cheers! Ah, the good ol' days.

Influencing voters through various "enticements" is a practice older than the nation as we see in this vignette which describes George Washington's liberal distribution of rum to influence the voters of Frederick County, Virginia Colony in 1758. Although in this instance Washington encouraged the rum to be distributed to those inclined to vote against him as well.

Candidates frequently arranged for treats to be given in their names by someone else. Lieutenant Charles Smith managed this business for George Washington during a cam¬paign in Frederick County in 1758. Two days after the election, which Washington had not been able to at-tend, Smith sent him receipts for item¬ized accounts that he had paid to five persons who had supplied refresh¬ments for the voters...
On election day the flow of liquor reached high tide. Douglas S. Freeman calculated that during a July election day in Frederick County in the year 1758, George Washington’s agent sup-plied 160 gallons to 391 voters and unnumbered hangers-on. This amounted to more than a quart and a half a voter. An itemized list of the refreshments included 28 gallons of rum, gallons of rum punch, 34 gal¬lons of wine, 46 gallons of beer, and 2 gallons of cider royal...
To avoid the reality as well as the appearance of corruption, the candi¬dates usually made a point of having it understood that the refreshments were equally free to men of every political opinion. If a candidate’s campaign was under investigation, it was much in his favor if he could show that among his guests were some who had clearly said that they did not intend to vote for him. Washington reflected an accept¬able attitude when he wrote while ar¬ranging for the payment of large bills for liquor consumed during a Frede¬rick County election: I hope no Exception were taken to any that voted against me but that all were alike treated and all had enough; it is what I much desired.

Source: Richard W. Leopold, Arthur S. Link and Stanley Corbin, eds., Problems in American History (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1966), p. 48.

Phil Johnson said...

Can you see Chris Christy, in 2016, setting up the table with free lunch and beer?
As one of those "takers", it sure sounds good to me.
As GeeDubya said, Bring it on.