A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Palpable Lies, Contradictions, and Absurdity

Donald L Kemmerer, in his book Path to Freedom: The Struggle for Self-Government in Colonial New Jersey, 1703 - 1776 (Princeton University Press, 1940), says elections were few and far between in the 18th century. This made such occasions into "excuses for holidays to interrupt their unexciting lives" that would often as not "signal for a general and hilarious outing." Kemmerer laid out the evidence of one such outing on page 38, with the final tab reimbursed in full by the legislature in Trenton:

The candidates sometimes showed appreciation for the conscientious support of their constituents. In 1769 an innkeeper in South Amboy presented two assemblymen with a bill of over £50 for an election celebration. The itemized account listed 37 mugs of beer, 38 jills of rum, 47 bowls of punch, 141 bowls of sangarie, 37 bottles of wine, 35 bowls of toddy, dinners for 89, and 33 quarts of oats for their 168 horses.

Kemmerer then quotes New Jersey Governor Robert Hunter from earlier that same century on the sad state of affairs with New Jersey voters:

Palpable Lyes Contradictions and Absurdity backed with a large dram botle have more force upon the minds of the lower Rank of men in these parts than Self-Evident truths and their own Interest it Self.

It seems we've turned a corner. No one attempted to pay for my horse's oats this election.


Post a Comment