Correct response: Who is Nathan Miller? On August 19th, 1922, The Post-Star of Glens Falls reported that Miller would speak September 12th at a dinner at the New York State Fair for contestants in the state spelling bee.
“Governor Miller, who knows all about spelling bees and who trudged to the little red school house between chores to obtain his ‘fundamentals,’ is going back to the spelling bees of two score years ago.”
This anecdote is among the lighter side of political reports in northern New York historical newspapers.
Speaking of bees, On January 11th, 1883, The Argus of Albany reported that more than 75 bills were introduced “in rapid succession” one-after-another the previous day in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The reporters and clerks were kept busy as bees.”
In the early 20th century, reporters even fact checked the humor of politicians.
“I’d just as soon take the small pox as the chairmanship of the state committee,” said former New York Gov. Frank S. Black, according to a report in The Argus on January 9th, 1906.
The Argus quipped that Black appeared reluctant to accept the GOP chairmanship, but his statement could not be interpreted as an emphatic refusal because small pox, by that time, was usually not fatal.
“Hence, without being finical or hypocritical, let us note in passing that if Mr. Black had been absolutely, sure enough, determined not to take the Republican chairmanship, there were the bubonic plague, yellow fever and leprosy which he might have used as dire similarities of distaste, rather than plain small pox.”
On May 3rd, 1886, The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported that two unnamed U.S. Senators and about a half-dozen congressmen organized a poker club in Washington.
“They meet once or twice a week, either at the apartments of the members or at an Uptown restaurant, where a fine dinner is served before the game begins. The limit ranges from $3 to $10, rarely going above that sum.”
The Granville Sentinel on July 13th, 1888 reported that the Republican party hired Gen. Lew Wallace, author of the best-selling novel Ben-Hur, to write the campaign biography of presidential candidate Benjamin Harrison.
“The book will be a finished literary product and will unquestionably be the best campaign biography published.”
Harrison went on to defeat incumbent Democrat Grover Cleveland, and the pending change of power brought an immediate surge in interest in political appointments in Republican-dominated Washington County.
“Candidates for appointment of postmaster in this vicinity are as numerous as the trees of the forest,” The Sentinel reported on November 16th, 1888. On May 25th, 1888, The Sentinel shared a political pun: “Politicians who are on the fence keep themselves well posted.”
How’s this for a legacy?
“David B. Hill left the office of governor poorer than when he entered it. And his friends love him for the money that he didn’t make,” The Poughkeepsie News-Press editorialized in a two-sentence tribute republished January 22nd, 1906 in The Argus.
Read more about New York State political history here.
Portrait of Nathan Miller courtesy Library of Congress.