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Rooster retracted: the night Mr. Huddleston crowed too soon

Chicken dinner in Burkesville the night of the November 8, 1916 election was what Mr. Huddleston, (or 95 years later, Mr. Williams, if predictions are correct today) had in mind. Uncooked Corvus humiliatus was and - and may be - more the order the day. -CM


The presidential election held 95 years ago today -- November 8th, 1916 -- was a real nail biter. The campaign of the incumbent, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, hinged to a large extent on a slogan he disliked: "He kept us out of war," referring to the conflict then raging in Europe. The challenger, Charles Evans Hughes, was a highly respected jurist who had been appointed to the Supreme Court during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

With New York, Indiana, and Illinois and their collective 82 electoral votes leaning away from the crowing rooster, the outlook for President Wilson got darker by the day.

In 1916, radio was in its infancy, television was barely a dream of distant decades, and the concept of an "internet" was far beyond the comprehension of all save perhaps the tiniest handful of futurists. Come the evening of November 8th, the national tallies began trickling in at a maddeningly slow pace, and the few coming in indicated a red tide rising.

As the News observed the following week, "the reports were very favorable for Mr. Hughes, and the Democrats felt blue and many were of the opinion that Mr. Wilson had lost the election."

However, a few days later, with the smoke cleared and the last votes finally tallied up, Wilson had earned a respectable popular vote majority and an electoral college margin of 254-277. (During the campaign, there had been somewhat of an effort to turn enough true-blue Kentucky Democratic voters to give Hughes the majority in the Bluegrass State. Had that occurred, Kentucky's 13 electoral votes would have tipped the balance enough to hand Hughes the election with a razor thin three-vote margin in the electoral college.)

The week following the election, the News, Democratic to the core, had sufficiently recovered its collective composure after Wilson's harrowing, come-from-behind victory to inject this bit of pawky humor:

Mr. A.A. Huddleston, State Attorney, of Burkesville, who is an ardent Republican, was here Tuesday night while the returns were coming in. The first reports were very favorable to Mr. Hughes. He concluded that a News man needed some consolation, and he said to us, "Hold up your head; don't look so crestfallen. When it is all over I will give you a rooster supper at Burkesville and invite in all the people." He was here Friday morning and the first thing he said, upon meeting us, was, "Look here! I have called off that Rooster supper!" Compiled by JIM

This story was posted on 2011-11-08 02:55:40
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