H.G. — Battling the ‘king of the slate quarries’

This is the latest in an occasional series of posts about the 19th century politics of Henry G. Burleigh of Ticonderoga and Whitehall.

Not even the political muscle of H.G. Burleigh could overcome the opposition of GOP boss Hugh Hughes, “king of the slate quarries,” to the appointment of Anna McArthur, “energetic editor” of The Granville Sentinel, as postmaster.

“The applicants, though, are usually among the leading men of the party. In the little village of Granville, Washington County, however, a candidate has appeared in the person of one of the opposite sex,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on Feb. 28, 1889, republishing an article from the Albany Argus.

“Mrs. McArthur’s candidacy is indorsed by nearly every influential citizen of the village, and she is said the have at her back (former) Congressman Henry G. Burleigh of Whitehall, Assemblyman William Tefft, the Hon. I.V. Baker of Comstock, and the Hon. James S. Smart of Cambridge.

But the appointment went to the slate king’s hand-picked — or perhaps shoved — candidate for the job — a decision The Morning Star labeled a “political mistake.”

Reportedly, U.S. Rep. John A. Quakenbush, R-Schaghticoke, said he would recommend what ever candidate Hughes favored for the political appointment in a Republican administration.

“Hugh G. Thomas, who was so lacking in gallantry and manly instincts that he posed as an opponent of a woman, has been appointed postmaster of Granville,” The Morning Star reported on March 23, 1889. “Mrs. A. W. McArthur, editor of the Sentinel, made a lady-like but determined fight for the place, and was supported by every politician in Washington County except Hugh Hughes, king of the slate quarries, and Fred Betts.”

McArthur had the business acumen for the job.

“Mrs. McArthur is a lady of considerable business ability and with plenty of push and enterprise to successfully conduct the business of the government as well as her own,” the Albany Argus editorialized.

There was no questioning McArthur’s Republican loyalty, even though she, as all women, did not have the right to vote.

McArthur had championed Republican candidates and policies ever since she and sister Mary Weller took over the Sentinel in February 1886, returning the weekly publication to a Republican aligned newspaper.

“Hence the Sentinel is again placed squarely in the ranks of the Republican party, a sphere in which it formerly labored with zeal and fidelity, in which its services received commensurate recognition and reward, and from which it should have never departed,” the sisters editorialized on Feb. 19, 1886. “It would seem to us that the grandest of all political parties that ever existed, whose cornerstone was laid in the earnest of brotherly love and in a foundation rock of liberty and equality to all men.”

Click here to read the most recent previous post in the series.

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY