Posted By Norman Gasbarro on April 26, 2016
Hiester Clymer (1827- 12 June 1884), a member of the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, was a State Senator who was opposed to Lincoln and his prosecution of the Civil War. In 1866 he ran for Governor and strongly espoused white supremacist policies.
His opponent was Union General John W. Geary.
According to Heister Clymer’s Wikipedia biography, his “camp produced some of the most virulently graphic racist posters and pamphlets of the decade.” One of those posters is pictured below.
Clymer lost the election which was held in October 1866.
A typical poster, as found on Wikipedia and available from the prints collection at the Library of Congress:
THE TWO PLATFORMS
Every RADICAL in Congress VOTED for NEGRO SUFFRAGE. Every RADICAL in the Pennsylvania Senate VOTED for NEGRO SUFFRAGE. STEVENS, FORNEY & CAMERON are for NEGRO SUFFRAGE: they are all Candidates for the UNITED STATES SENATE. NO RADICAL NEWSPAPER OPPOSED NEGRO SUFFRAGE.
GEARY said in a Speech at Harrisburg, 11th of August 1866 – “THERE CAN BE NO POSSIBLE OBJECTION TO NEGRO SUFFRAGE.”
CLYMER‘S Platform is for the White Man.
GEARY‘S Platform is for the Negro.
READ THE PLATFORMS
CONGRESS says, THE NEGRO MUST BE ALLOWED TO VOTE, OR THE STATES BE PUNISHED
(POST THIS UP.)
Prior to his nomination by the Democratic Party, Clymer held county delegate conventions for soldiers who “signed on” as supporters of his white supremacist, racist policies. The purpose of these conventions was to select delegates who would nominate and support Clymer in the state convention. One such convention was held in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, on 25 July 1866:
DAUPHIN COUNTY CLYMER AND JOHNSON SOLDIERS’ CONVENTION
The undersigned honorably discharged Union soldiers, believing that we battled in the late war for the Union of these States, and had successfully maintained it, view with alarm the persistent efforts of radical men who seem determined, practically, to destroy the Union we went forth to save. They would have the community believe that Union soldiers are willing to give up in the hour of victory the great object to which their sacrifices and toll and blood were given. This persistent misrepresentation must be rebuked. We again fall into line until the Union of these States is completely restored. Therefore, we unite in requesting all the honorably discharged officers, soldiers and seamen of Dauphin County who favor the wise and constitutional policy of President Johnson, who oppose the doctrine of negro equality and suffrage, and desire the election of the Hon. Heister Clymer, to meet in Mass Convention at Harrisburg on the evening of 25 day of July 1866, for the purpose of electing fourteen delegates of Union Soldiers, which is to assemble in this city on Wednesday, 1 August 1866….
Then followed a long list of Dauphin County signers, and their Civil War regiment and rank, all of whom supposedly signed the petition because they were supporters of Clymer’s racist and white supremacist policies.
In future posts describing this election, the names of the veterans from the Lykens Valley area who signed the Clymer petition will be revealed.
A typical statement of principles coming out of one these Clymer Soldiers’ Conventions was reported in the Harrisburg Patriot, 4 June 1866:
The “Boys in Blue” for Johnson and Clymer!!
JOHNSON AND RESTORATION!!
THE UNION AND CONSTITUTIONAL!!
We, as honorably discharged soldiers who participated in the recent sanguinary was, and have now returned home to find the Government struggling against a traitorous fanaticism, which aims a death-blow at the restoration of the Union and which treats the Constitution as an unclean thing, and daily offers amendments, looking to the entire destruction of Constitutional freedom, having met in Convention to form ourselves into an organization which will have for its object the defense of the principles for which we dared the perils of the field and for the triumph of which three hundred thousand of our comrades died, are desirous to announce the creed which we will support at the next October election, and the candidate under whose chieftainship we intend to be found at the polls, Therefore, be it
1. Resolved, The object of the war, now so happily ended, was declared bu the resolutions of Congress of July 1861, to be the defense and maintenance of the supremacy of the Constitution and the preservation of the Union with the dignity, rights of the several states unimpaired. That with that object in view, we in common with our gallant brethren, entered the army and aided in carrying the Old Flag, with not a single star obscured and not a stripe erased, over many glorious battle-fields, until victory crowned the contest and rebellion succumbed to the arms of the Union, and not a traitor for was, to be found, resisting the Government of the Constitution of our Fathers. The Constitution thus has been maintained, and the Union must now be unconditionally restored, and we hereby pledge ourselves as soldiers to sustain President Johnson in his wise, humane and patriotic policy. We denounce as revolutionary and wicked the schemes and legislation of the radicals, headed by Stevens and Sumner, who refuse the admission of loyal representative, elected by the eleven Southern States and the plan of reconstruction reported by the irresponsible cabal of fifteen, which violates the cardinal doctrines of a republican representative government. We adhere to the faith of our Father, that taxation without representation is tyranny.
2. Resolved, That Congress has no right under the Constitution to prescribe the qualifications of electors in the several States, but that the people of the States respectively only have that privilege. That to Congress belongs the constitutional right for each House to judge of the election returns and qualifications of its own members and when it transcends that boundary and undertakes to force upon any of the States the right of negro suffrage, it violates the essential guarantees of the liberty of the citizen, and its acts only tend to the subversion of reserved rights of the States.
3. Resolved, That we heartily endorse the veto messages of President Johnson and approve of his bold and manly determination to stand between the people and the tyranny of a Congress, which looks only to the prolongation of its own party power, irrespective of the interests of the country. If President Johnson carries out the good work he has begun, and in the future as in the past, proves himself “the tribune of the people,” (and we do not doubt but that he will do it,) his name will be associated in history with that of the other Andrew of Tennessee and immorality will crown his memory with the plaudits of the good in all future time.
4. Resolved, That as white soldiers we cannot support any party which favors negro suffrage and negro equality – that refuses to admit new territories while the word white remains in the declaration of qualification of voters – which sympathizes with negro interests in preference to the cause of the poor of our own color – which wastes all its time in providing for the freedmen and cannot be induced to equalize our bounties, and believing that John W. Geary, the Radical candidate for Governor, is a follower of Thad Stevens, and is fully committed to the cause of the Disunionists in Congress, and is the enemy of the conciliatory policy of the President, we cannot and will not support him at the polls. We call upon our fellow soldiers everywhere to remember that the party that Geary is a candidate of has repeatedly declared in Congress, through its press and on the stump, that the was could not have been ended but for the bravery and assistance of the blacks, giving to the negro the credit which alone was merited by our white soldiers.
5. Resolved, That we believe that Hon. HIESTER CLYMER, the Democratic Candidate for Government, holds the same sentiments in relation to Federal and State affairs, that we do; that he supports the administration of the President in the great leading measures which have characterized it; that he is a gentleman of unsullied private character and approved statesmanship, and during the whole period of the war, as proved by his Senatorial record, was the firm friend of the soldier in the field, voting for an increase of pay and protection of his family in his absence, and while demagogues and loyal, stay-at-home patriots only talked, he acted by contributing his own means to the support of our interests.
News clippings are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.