During President's Week this past February, one of the TV channels ran a story about Samuel J. Tildon who was born in New Lebanon, just down the road from Berlin. He served as the governor of New York State which propelled him into being the Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 1876.
Tilden won the popular vote but the result in the Electoral College was in question because three southern states sent two set of Electoral Votes to the Congress. So, Congressional leaders tried to resolve the crisis by creating an Electoral Commission that would determine which set of votes for those three states was valid.
This Commission consisted of five members from the Republican-controlled Senate (3 Republicans and 2 Democrats), and five from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives (3 Democrats and 2 Republicans). The remaining five members were chosen from the Supreme Court consisting of 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats.
Everyone voted along party lines, giving Tilden's opponent became President.
The banner on Main Street in Berlin shows the town to be behind the Republican candidate!
Did You Know?
An early settler in Berlin was the grandmother of one of the Presidents of the United States?
One of the early settlers in Berlin was Robert Austin who, in 1774, yoked his oxen, put them to his cart, and loaded on his few household belongings in Rhode Island and headed to the "far west" to seek his fortune. His sister, Amanda, made the 21-day journey with him. They made their way up the steep and rocky mountainside, over the peak, passed Kendall Pond and found a level plot of ground and here there ended their journey. This was in the area of Yerton's old sawmill and across the road from Sally Smith's home.
After the close of the war, his wheat had increased so he could have it floured. There was no mill closer than Hoosick, where on one of his trips there, the lady where he was staying told him that she wished she could have a servant girl. Robert said perhaps his sister would come and be her servant.
A few days later, Amanda was in the lady's service. As time passed, Miss Austin made the acquaintance of Roger Birchard. Soon after they were married and moved to his home in Brattleboro, Vermont. Roger and Amanda had a daughter by the name of Sophia who married Rutherford Hayes. Their son was Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the man elected President of the United States in 1876!
As in the year 2000, this election was controversial. Hayes's opponent, Samuel J. Tilden (from New Lebanon, New York) won the popular vote and led the electoral college, but the returns in several states were in dispute. Remember Florida? A special electoral commission convened and handed the presidency to Hayes. Thus, the two candidates in the election of 1876 had roots within 20 miles of each other!
As chief executive, Hayes's accomplishments were mixed. His conservative financial policies helped to lift the country's economic depression, and he was able to reform the civil service and quell the 1877 labor uprising. It was his ability to compromise in order to help revitalize a floundering and factionalized nation that serves as his legacy.
He chose not to run for re-election.