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1863 October 31: Last-Minute Political “Ads”

November 2, 2013

October 31, 1863, was the last issue of the two local newspapers before the big election on November 3.  Unlike today, politicians running for office in 1863 did not take out advertisements in the local newspapers.  Instead they relied on the local newspaper editors, of the same political party as themselves, to fill their newspapers with articles supporting their candidates and, often, tearing down the opposition.  Here is a selection from the October 31, 1863, issues of The Prescott Journal and The Polk County Press, both of which were pro-Union Party and anti-Democratic Party (what they called disloyal “copperheads”).

It is interesting to note that both candidates for the Clerk of the Pierce County Board were Civil War veterans.  In the case of the Union candidate, John W. Winn, the editor of the Journal really played that up, but in the case of the other candidate, Milton J. Paine, his service and wound are not mentioned at all.

From The Prescott Journal:

The Principle at Issue.

Heretofore political parties have had issues, but they were merely on matters of policy.  To-day, the issue is a graver and more important one.  Principles are at issue.  The question is, shall we stand by the Government in its efforts to preserve and defend itself?  There can be but one answer for true men.  All the shams and subterfuges, the carpings and criticisms of the spurious Democratic party, are swept away by one generous impulse of patriotic feeling.  Never were there so momentous issues at stake—never such inducements to loyal men to work for a signal victory.


When you go to vote remember that last fall you voted for John Winn.¹

Remember that he is entitled to the office and competent to fill it.

Remember that he fell on the bloody field of South Mountain—that he lay twenty-four hours uncared for—that he was removed to a hospital and lay there two days before his wound was dressed—that now, crippled but not discouraged, he is a candidate for a deirable [sic: desirable] place within our gift.  Remember that he has suffered in our cause, and vote for brave John Winn, of the immortal “Iron Brigade.”

The Prospect.

The prospect for a glorious Union Victory in this County is good.  We do not believe there will be over two hundred Palmer [Henry L. Palmer] votes in the entire county.  But let no effort be spared to reduce that vote as low as possible.

Look to Your Tickets.

Messrs. Paine² and Hatch³ are running on the Union State Ticket, and what is called a Union County Ticket.  Of course this is a fraud.  Neither were nominated in a Union Convention ;  both were nominated by the Democratic Convention over which Judge Foster presided.  Look to your tickets !

The Effect of It.

Mr. Hatch’s² name is printed on about 2,000 Palmer tickets for use in this Co.  When Judge Foster and others are told that the Palmer ticket is disloyal, they will point to his name as a refutation of the charge.  His influence, whatever it may be, goes to help the copperhead ticket.  That is the effect of it.

Finger002  Vote for J. S. ELWELL, the loyal War Democrat.  He has seen service in South Carolina, and now, with Mat. Carpenter [Matthew H. Carpenter], and Charley Robinson4, he belongs to the “50th Wisconsin.”

From The Polk County Press:


We present our readers with this issue, the two opposing tickets that will be presented for their suffrage on Tuesday next.  The Union thcket [sic] heads the column, and is composed of straight out Union men, who go in for sustaining the National Administration in suppressing the rebellion.  The Democratic Ticket stands upon the Ryan Address for its platform, and H. L. PALMER, who heads the list for Governor, endorses Vallandigham [Clement L. Vallandigham].  The issue is plain to all who are not so blind that they will not see, and we feel confident that the People will choose the unconditional Union Ticket.

False on the Face of It.

The Democratic journals are now accusing the Administration of having secured the recent elections in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa by sending home the soldiers to vote.—It was owing to this, they said when it was reported that MEADE [George G. Meade] was defeated by LEE [Robert E. Lee], that the latter was able to achieve his victory.  Now that it turns out that MEADE has not been beaten at all, this part of the county has grown rather flawy.

The weakness and absurdity of the charge is, however, sufficiently manifest when people remember that the soldiers of Iowa and Ohio, like those from our own State, are allowed to vote in camp, and that consequently there was no inducement to send them home.


1.  John W. Winn was the Union candidate running Clerk of the Pierce County Board.
2.  Milton J. Paine, from Pleasant Valley at this time, the Democratic candidate running for Clerk of the Pierce County Board.
3.  Professor W. T. Hatch, from River Falls, the Democratic running for Pierce County Superintendent of Schools.
4.  Charles D. Robinson (1822-1886) was a Wisconsin newspaperman (Green Bay Advocate) and a Democratic politician. He “was Wisconsin secretary of state (Jan. 1852-Jan. 1854), and in 1869 was an unsuccessful candidate for governor. During the Civil War, he accepted a citizens commission from the President as captain and assistant-quarter master, U.S. Volunteers, serving in this capacity from Sept., 1861, until his resignation, Apr. 21, 1864.” For more see Robinson’s entry in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.

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