There is nothing new…

…under the sun

I had to laugh when read this in the latest upload I made of another back issue of the Gaslight News.

This excerpt from one of Betty Hahle’s “Yesterday” columns in our September 1984 newsletter is 35 years old and references a time 100 years before that.

Just a century ago… elections, then as now, filled much of the newspaper space. Citizens actively supported the candidate of their choice, with torch-light parades, fiery meetings (no pun intended), charges and counter-charges.

Newspapers left no question about which candidate they supported, and one has the feeling that too much enthusiasm, rather than passivity, was typical of the day.

1884 Presidential Campaign
L -R, Grover Cleveland, James G. Blaine

One ardent Blain supporter bought 40 new brooms, with which to “sweep the country clean” in the anticipated victory parade–one wonders what he did with them, when Cleveland won.

By the end of November election tales were finally dying down, and a comment was made that “it is a pity all parties can’t come before the public with a platform without resorting to trickery, falsehoods, and deceit.” A sentiment that could be echoed today….

Fun Facts:

During the 1880s, journalistic sensationalism brought new drama to American election politics and raised nastiness to a whole new level.

1884 Republican Poster
American Memory – Library of Congress

Notorious mudslinging, including a bachelor Grover Cleveland paternity scandal marked the 1884 presidential campaign, considered one of the dirtiest ever. You could google that.

Voters had to decide between “Slippery Jim” Blaine, a profiteering congressman blamed for taking bribes from railroad interests and lying about them, and Cleveland, accused of fathering an illegitimate 9-year-old child and paying the mother to keep her quiet. When a friend asked him how to reply to the scandal, he said. “Whatever you do, tell the truth.”

Cleveland prevailed, served a term in the White House, but lost in his bid for reelection in 1888. He ran again in 1892 and was elected, thus becoming the only president to serve two terms that were not consecutive.


I am scanning and uploading back issues of the Gaslight News as I work back to the first one we have, #009 December 1977. There are a few gaps where issues are missing, notably #001 through #008, #120, and #124. If you come across one of these in your travels, please let us know.

Let us know what news you find in the Gaslight News back-issue archive of the historical Society of Riverton. -JMc, Editor


Published by

John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

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