In 1843 an item appeared in the Daily Telegraph, a newspaper published in 1843 and 1844, under the title “The Harpoon.”
“We understand that, at the Whig meeting on Saturday Night, another attempt was made to identify this paper with the interest of the Democratic Party. We were charged with having printed and issued “The Harpoon” a partizin sheet got up by the Democrats for electioneering purposes.” The writer thanks his colleague at the Inquirer for informing the meeting the charge was untrue and also says “Other than to acknowledge the extent of our obligations to our contemporary we should not have mentioned this attack, but have let it pass with numerous others of a similar character, a thing of straw not worth a breath.”
Elsewhere in that issue, The Daily Telegraph reports on recent elections and notes, “The acidities of party spirit, which, used sparingly give a zest to public life are now neutralized.”
Election results show that in 1843 Nantucket voters favored the Whig party, electing George N. Briggs Massachusetts Governor and Joseph Grinnell to the 28th U.S. Congress. At the time, the American Whig Party ran a close second to the Democratic Party. In the 1850s the Whigs lost members as the nation struggled with the issue of slavery. A new Republican party began and was primarily focused on keeping slavery in the south. So many Whig members became Republicans that the Whigs, who had put two presidents in office, disappeared by 1860.
Excerpted from On This Day In Nantucket History
By Amy Jenness
The History Press
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