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History of Cambria County, V.2

"Adieu! to peace and all her charms.
Our country calls 'to arms! to arms!'
Arouse and seek your nation's foe
Upon the plains of Mexico.
  And who that voice shall disobey
Or who, through base and coward fear,
Refuse to be a Volunteer!"
* * * * *

    The old time political convention is one of the ancient landmarks, which we shall never see again, inasmuch as the primary election laws provide for the nomination of all officials. In 1845 the conditions in Cambria county were interesting and peculiar. Colonel Snodgrass, superintendent of the portage railroad, the property of the state, was therefore the leader of the State Democracy, and he was expected to nominate its friends for public positions, and to send delegates favoring the administration. At that time Johnston was a Whig. Possessing a keen sense of humor, with a sprinkling of satire, his observations of the proceedings of the Loco Foco Snodgrass convention published in the Gazette are an able work. He classified the politicians as the “Old Hunkers,” and the “Young Democracy.” the former of whom were led by Judge Noon, Dr. W. A. Smith, and Sheriff Murray, and the latter by Joseph McDonald, Michael Hasson and Patrick McCoy, Esqs. He also made a further division between the “Northern” and the “Southern” wings of the party. The northern wing was led by Colonel McGough, Colonel William S. Campbell and Colonel Patrick Shiels, and the southern faction by Major James Potts, Sheriff R. P. Linton and Colonel George Murray. The other prominent men were Colonel Thomas C. McDowell, Colonel John Kean and Colonel John McGough. If any of the delegates did not have a valid military title he gave them one. Among the delegates were Squire H. Kinkead, John W. Geary, who subsequently became governor and a major-general in the civil war, and a young Mr. Watson, and Colonel Thomas D. McGough. He saw “Big Jim Burk” looming up “taller than Saul.”
    At Colonel Matthew M. Adams' insinuation about rascality, Colonel McGough, Jr., replied: “Gentlemen, we have beaten you at your own game.” Apparently strenuous proceedings brought forth the remark that it was not convention but a “mob,” whereupon Sheriff Murray began to take the names of the rioters. Colonel Bracken made a few patriotic remarks, closing with the plea: “Gentlemen, don't make fools of your-

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Created: 26 Mar 2003, Last Updated:
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Lynne Canterbury, Diann Olsen and contributors