1888: Presidential Election Vote Threatened to Be Split by Prohibitionist Third Party
September 19, 1888
A news item in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat carried the discussions of this election season, with particular focus on the possibility of a third party, running primarily on a platform of prohibition of alcohol, competing with the two major parties, Democrat and Republican. The article, reproduced and with a byline from the State Chronicle, reported that, “[s]ome days ago Rev. Dr. Robey, a prominent and able Methodist preacher in Goldsboro, spoke in favor of prohibition.” According to the newspaper, this anti-liquor speech was “incorrectly reported” and was “published without his [Dr. Robey’s] consent.” The resulting misunderstanding, “as published… made him take ground that the Methodist Church in N.C. was committed to the Third Party.” According to the source cited, “such a position did so great violence to the position of the Church upon this question that Methodists all over the State hastened to take the issue with Dr. Robey.” Wrote the article’s anonymous author, “[t]he Spirit of the Age, clearly and strongly answered Dr. Robey’s SUPPOSED position” – seemingly a reference to a general opposition to the vote being split and votes diverted away from the major parties, in an attempt to eliminate legal alcohol from public life. Continued the article, “the Chronicle is glad to know Dr. Robey was misrepresented and that he is really AGAINST the third party although strongly in favor of a prohibition party if the conditions were favorable. The reasons why he cannot vote for Walker and the other Third party men he gives are [those which] every honest Prohibitionist in the South ought to [hold and be] be influenced by the same reasons. Dr. Robey says, “The condition of our State and, indeed, of the entire South, is such, politically, that I cannot vote the Third Party ticket. Nor have I ever advised any one else to do so. I sympathize profoundly with the object which the Third Party people have in view, and I wish that I could help them, but I cannot without POSSIBLY HELPING ANOTHER RESULT WHICH WOULD BE A GREATER CALAMITY THAN THE BAR-ROOM.’” (“[This means Radical success. – Editor],” read a helpful insertion by the State Chronicle editor). The 1888 U.S. Presidential election was nearly evenly split in the popular vote, with the winner, Republican Benjamin Harrison, actually gaining fewer popular votes than the losing opponent, Democrat Grover Cleveland. The two candidates were within 1% of one another in the total of votes. It was the third of four U.S. presidential elections in which the winner did not win the popular vote – the fourth occurring 112 years later, in the year 2000.
September 14, 1944
Amidst news of military action towards the close of World War II, a local news item reported, “[t]he open season for hunting squirrels in Watauga county begins on Sept. 15th, and County Game Warden Walter Edmisten states that there appears to be an abundance of squirrels this season. Hunting licenses are on sale at the usual places throughout the county. With an improved situation regarding ammunition, it is believed that more hunters will take to the fields and forest this fall than for the past two seasons.”