Election Frauds in Camden

Philadelphia Inquirer – November 8, 1885

RETURNS ALTERED TO FAVOR THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR COUNTY CLERK

Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 7, 1885.—At a quarter after twelve o’clock today a warrant was sworn out before Magistrate Cassady, of Camden, for the arrest of Harry Gallagher, the democratic judge of the First precinct of the Seventh ward, on the charge of altering and falsifying the returns of his precinct in the interest of Branning. Officers are now scouring this city and Camden for him, but it is alleged that he has fled. Mr. Burrough, the republican candidate for County Clerk, claims a clear majority of 120 over Mr. Branning, and his friends propose to stand up for his and their rights and to secure them. The Seventh ward and Gloucester city precinct returns bear every evidence of having been altered. City Solicitor Morgan, while Harry Gallagher, the Judge of the First precinct of the seventh ward, was reading off his returns, looked over his shoulder and states that he saw where the words “eighty-three votes for Burrough” had been crossed out and the words “forty-three votes for Burrough” written over it, and the words “one hundred and sixty-three votes for Branning” changed to “two hundred and three votes for Branning.” The ink was not dry on the paper, and it had evidently just been done.

THE PLOT

It is alleged that the leaders of the democracy, as early as Wednesday morning, determined to put Mr. Branning in office by fair means or foul. That gentleman had put $8,000 In the campaign, and to overcome a supposed majority of fifty-five for Burrough the leaders thought would prove an easy job. Then it was that the returns from the First ward of Gloucester were altered by sixty-one, which would have given Branning a majority. The manipulators, however, were figuring on the reporter’s figures, and knew nothing at that time if the error in the First precinct of the First ward. If they had it is not likely that the attempt of yesterday would have been made. Yesterday morning, finding that Branning still lacked a majority it was decided to alter the other returns, and accordingly the heelers were notified to be on hand, and if any kick was made to squelch the republicans, who were unsuspecting any thing of the kind and totally unprepared for it, into submission. Deputy County Clerk Morgan, after the rush was made for him yesterday, passed through the court room, and here he says he was grabbed by the throat by Samuel Alcott, night turnkey at the fall, who, with an oath, demanded the returns. Morgan refused, and escaped to his fireproof vault with a howling mob at his heels. He was accompanied by Joseph Sweeten and James Crews. After remaining locked up and sending for protection, which was refused, he finally escaped to Philadelphia, returning afterward to his father’s home at Fifth and Linden streets.

The Branning party endeavored to obtain from Judge Parker this morning an order compelling Clerk of the Court Hollingshead to yield possession of the office to John W. Branning. The Court refused. The County Clerk also refused to receive the alleged records. Mr. Harned entered the room, which was full of spectators, and advised the Clerk to place a force in the office and hold it against every assault which the Branning wing of the democracy might make. It is said that Judge Wescott administered the oath of office to Mr. Branning this morning at three o’clock.

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