An Old Political Handbook


An Old Political Handbook


A faded and yellowed little handbook for the 1896 political campaign in Madison County has been passed down through her family to Mrs. Robert Davidson of Ridgeway Drive, Richmond. This 50-page booklet is "pocket-size," and is liberally sprinkled with advertisements of local merchants and candidates, making it of value to those interested in Madison County history.

The cover states that the information therein was compiled by W.A. Bradshaw and printed by the Kentucky Register, a Richmond weekly newspaper plant. An ad on the lower portion of the cover indicates that the booklet was given free with the "compliments of J.H. Kennedy, the leading life insurance agent of Richmond, Ky."

The first couple of pages contain a word-for-word copy of Section 1471 of the Kentucky election law in effect at that time which dealt with proper procedures for election workers.

The candidates for the two major parties for the November, 1896, presidential election were listed on pages headed by the log cabin and rooster which were used on the ballot in those days for the benefit for voters who could not read. Wm. McKinley (who was assassinated in 1901) headed the Republican ticket, and the Democratic party was lead by Wm. Jennings Bryan. Throughout the remainder of the booklet are ads for local office seekers such as Jesse Cobb and A.T. Fish who were both running for jailor, and Dan H. Breck, a candidate for clerk of the Madison Circuit Court. H.H. Colyer, who was a candidate for sheriff, had as his motto, "Break up the Ring and represent the people."

Many of the pages are filled with statistical reports of the votes in previous elections in each precinct in Madison County, in the counties of Kentucky, and in the other states in the union. The figures for the 1887 gubernatorial election show, for example, that the precincts of Glade and Poosey went for the Republican, Bradley, while the others, Richmond (2), Foxtown, Union, Ellison, Yates, Kirksville, and Million went for the Democrat, Buckner, by a margin of 83 votes out of 4,563 votes cast in the whole county.

Advertisements included such well-known establishments as Joe Giunchigliani's restaurant, corner of Main and Third, and J.W. Azbill's livery stable on Main Street. The ad of Hurst & Fowler grocery, corner of E and Orange streets, urged readers to "buy your groceries for a low price and sell your country produce for cash." The furniture and undertaking establishment of Buchanan and Biggerstaff stated, "If your man is not elected you may need a coffin. If he is you can afford new furniture."

The Richmond Drug Co., 100 Main at First (where Collins Drugs is now located), advertised not only the usual drugs, soaps, and toilet articles, but also, school supplies, including students' slates. B.B. Irvine, who operated a blacksmith shop at the corner of First and Water Streets, declared, "We shoe a $2 plug to a $20,000 trotter." Dan H. Breck, a candidate for Clay and Carmichael, tonsorial artists at 103 E. Main (downstairs -- , advertised that the shop was open from 6 a.m., to 10 p.m.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “An Old Political Handbook,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed July 22, 2018,