Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Election of 1820

Josiah Holden writes to Sarah Cummings on 27 Sep 1880 answering some of her questions regarding the family tree. He mentions the Black Hawk War again and his leaving for Illinois in 1834. He then goes on to write, "With the exception of Milton [Josiah's brother], there never was one drop of democratic blood in our family, neither male nor female. Milton, I think, has been rather ashamed of his democracy of late years and has taken hold with the prohibition party." I just love the way Josiah describes the world around him!

Josiah and his wife were strong prohibitionists and, obviously, republican. One of their children, Charles Holden, has a lengthy biography published in one of those "mug books" we all hope to find our ancestors in. He even opted for the deluxe version as he also has his picture included, too. In his biography he tells the story of Josiah going west. Charles Holden is the son Josiah visits at Washington D.C. in 1870. This is what prompted his visit to his niece Sarah Cummings in Pennsylvania. I found this photograph of Charles Holden at the Seeking Michigan website. If you have Michigan ancestors, this is one of those 'do not miss' websites for research. Just click on the Seeking Michigan link to check out their site.

Josiah then mentions, "My first Presidential vote was cast in the year 1820 for James Monroe. At that time he had held the office 4 years and had given such universal satisfaction that all parties voted for him. In 1824, I voted for John Quincy Adams." The photo on the left is of John Quincy Adams taken late in his life. By this time he was an 'ex-President' in the House of Representatives. He was known as the voice of the anti-slavery movement. I just love his deep penetrating gaze. It's almost like he is looking into your soul.

I've included the section of Josiah's letter, at the top of the posting, in which he describes his Presidential votes. History has always been one of my favorite topics. Unfortunately, it sometimes can be taught in a two-dimensional way, like words on a page. You can ask your co-workers or your neighbors which subject they disliked the most in high school and inevitably one of the more common answers will be history. This is so sad.

This project of mine has brought me even closer to the past. Here we have Josiah Holden talking about James Monroe and John Quincy Adams as individuals he voted for. It's almost like Josiah, Sarah, and yes, even Josiah's brother Milton (even though he was a democrat) are still among us. I think this is why I am drawn to collect letters and diaries.

They speak to me...

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