The first presidential election reported in the columns of the Vineyard Gazette was that of 1848, two years after the founding of the Gazette by Edgar Marchant. The election took place on Tuesday. On Friday the Gazette printed the result in Dukes County, which was as follows, the figures being those for Taylor, Cass and Van Buren in that order: Edgartown 157, 46, 35; Tisbury 99, 38, 42; Chilmark 34, 49, 4; total 290, 133, 81. Dukes County therefore went Whig by a majority of 76.
Besides the fact that there were only three towns in the county, it is also striking that Edgartown was the dominant voice. General Zachary Taylor was, of course, elected, but the Vineyard did not know that until later. The Gazette was not able to announce the winner until the following Friday when more complete returns had been received.
The Gazette displayed little interest in the election four years later. Two brief paragraphs disposed of the matter in this wise:
Presidential Election. The following is said to be the vote of Massachusetts - Scott, Whig, 54,205, Pierce, Democrat, 49,018, Hale, Free Soil, 29,008, Webster and scattering 1879. (Daniel Webster had died in late October and the Gazette had devoted a page to his obituary and had turned the rules in the paper out of respect to his memory.)
Result in the Union, Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee have gone for Scott. California is not heard from. All the other states have voted Pierce.
The Whigs were victorious in the state election. “ The Whigs of Edgartown,” the Gazette noted, “on learning that Sam’l Keniston, Esq., had been elected Representative, fired a grand salute.”
In 1856 Edgartown gave Fremont, Republican, 197, Buchanan, Democrat, 65, Fillmore, American, 8, Tisbury gave Fremont 85, Buchanan, 51, and Fillmore 109, and Chilmark gave Fremont 35, Buchanan 45 and Fillmore 5. The marked split in political taste between Edgartown and Tisbury is worthy of comment in these days when the Island shows a solid Republican front.


Took Week to Know Result

“Mr. Buchanan is probably elected,” reported the Gazette, giving the results by states as received by mail two days after the election. A week later the report was: “The returns from the Western and Southern States come in very slowly. It seems to be conceded on all hands, however, that James Buchanan, the Democratic candidate, has been elected.”
Lincoln, Republican, won a large majority of Vineyard votes in the election of 1860, polling, with Hamlin, 171 in Edgartown, 113 in Tisbury, and 55 in Chilmark. Douglas and Johnson, Democrats, ran second in all three towns, 42 in Edgartown, 52 in Tisbury and 22 in Chilmark, while Bell and Everett, Unionists, polled 27 in Edgartown, 30 in Tisbury and 1 in Chilmark. Election notes stated “Democrats give up almost everything in New York State. The New York Herald announces that Lincoln is elected President of the United States.” The fair vied with the election in order of importance and fair awards rated two columns to the election’s one.
“Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson elected” triumphs the Gazette in 1864, adding, “New England has thrown an overwhelming vote for Abraham Lincoln, and the returns from the other states show a large majority against an armistice with the rebellion, and for a strong support of administration.” Lincoln and Johnson’s votes are listed first, M’Clellan and Pendleton’s following: Edgartown, 232, 52; Tisbury, 195, 50; Chilmark, 42, 35.
The next issue chronicled in a column and a half article, “The Union Republicans of Tisbury Awake. Immense Procession. Presidential Salute. Illumination of Public Buildings.”
“General Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax elected President and Vice President,” the Gazette exulted in 1868. “The great contest is over, and General Grant is master of the field. Liberty, Justice and Equal Rights to all men are secured. Appromattox Court House 2d has been enacted, and rebellion has, we believe, received its eternal quietus. The news of the glorious result was received by our people last night. A procession was soon formed, and to the music of the drum and fire, marched through the street.” November 17, a grand Republican rally was held. The headlines recorded: “Edgartown Aroused! The Grandest Torchlight Procession ever witnessed in Dukes County! The Grandest Illumination of Edgartown ever beheld here, or elsewhere, by any Town of its size! Perfect Thoroughness Pervades the Village! Almost every House, Small or large, from the Center to the Circumference of the Town Well Lighted.”
The voters gave Grant and Colfax, 188 in Edgartown, 186 in Tisbury and 44 in Chilmark. Seymour and Blair polled 38 in Edgartown, 28 in Tisbury and 42 in Chilmark.

The “Old Editor” Returns 

With the return of Edgar Marchant, the “old editor,” to the helm of the Gazette, and the continued victory of the Republicans, election news dwindled again in importance to that dauntless Democrat. He conceded the reelection of Grant in 1872 without enthusiasm, adding “Now ‘Let Us Have Peace.’” The Island voters gave Grant and Wilson 249 in Edgartown, 226 in Tisbury, 51 in Chilmark and 14 in Gosnold, that town’s first appearance in the electoral lists. Greeley and Brown got 40 votes in Edgartown, 52 in Tisbury, 24 in Chilmark, and none in Gosnold. No returns were received from Gay Head, incorporated since the last election, since the clerk inadvertently left the record of the vote at home when the clerks of the several towns met to record the vote.
In 1876, the “old editor” got his chance to blazon what was first believed to be a Democratic victory, having received the latest returns by telegraph. “Hayes concedes the election to Tilden, but Grant is still confident of Hayes’ election.”
“Blow Ye the Trympet,” cried Edgar Marchant. “The Eagle Soars Over a Land Redeemed from Corruption and Misrule. Grantism Defunct. Samuel J. Tilden elected President. A Reign of Beneficence, Equality and Justice Assured.” The columns of the Gazette were adorned with American eagles and the Stars and Stripes.
The vote: Edgartown, Hayes 174, Tilden 55; Tisbury, 157, 55. “We hear that Chilmark gave 36 Democratic votes and 34 Republican. Gay Head is reported as casting 17 votes, all Republican. Gosnold not heard from.”
It was not for weeks that this disputed election was decided in favor of Hayes. Shortly before the inauguration the Gazette ran an editorial, fairly temperate in tone, entitled “Counted in.” His inauguration was briefly mentioned. “ ‘God save the United States of North America’ now and always,” said Mr. Marchant. Recording the salute fired in Edgartown for Hayes, he said, “Neither the noise nor smoke of reverberating cannon, however, can hide from view the deep iniquity which has been practised upon the American people...”
“The election in Dukes County passed off very quietly in all the towns,” was the Gazette’s verdict in 1880, the result being as follows: Garfield, 201 in Edgartown, 199 in Tisbury, 70 in Chilmark, 87 in Cottage City (offspring of Edgartown after a bitter conflict), 18 in Gay Head, 20 in Gosnold; Hancock, 52 in Edgartown, 51 in Tisbury, 40 in Chilmark, 31 in Cottage City; Dow, 1 in Edgartown, 1 in Cottage City.
Chilmark’s was the largest vote and the largest Republican majority ever cast in that town. It is noteworthy that in all the early elections recorded in the Gazette, Chilmark displays the greatest catholicity of taste in voting as compared with Edgartown and Vineyard Haven which voted consistently for the Republicans or their fore-runners. The story goes that Chilmark had been known for years as a Democratic town, but that when the price of woold  - the most lively interest to that sheep-raising town - fell to new lows on one occasion, the blame was laid on the Democrats and Chilmark swore allegiance to the rival party.
A quiet election was again recorded in 1884, with a full vote, 818, against 771 in 1880. Four candidates were Blaine, Cleveland, St. John and Butler. Edgartown gave them 184, 55, 5 and 1; Tisbury, 213, 56, 31 and 5; Chilmark, 62, 36, 2 and 0; Cottage City, 73, 46, 25, 0; Gay Head cast only 24 votes, all for Blaine; Gosnold’s vote was not recorded.
Cleveland’s victory was not definitely confirmed in the Gazette until more than two weeks after the election. “The defeat of Mr. Blaine,” said Samuel Keniston, editor, “furnishes another illustrations of the truth of the proposition that no man of first-class abilities coipled with a commanding personality can ever be elected to the chief magistracy of this country.”
County conflict over the representative contest and allusions to “the gentleman of New Bedford who with all his wealth and position and individual and corporate influence finds the little district of Dukes is too big for him to successfully handle” drew more fire from the Gazette than Cleveland’s victory.
The election of 1888 was the first to show the name of Charles H. Marchant at the masthead of the Gazette recording the election. Harrison polled 211 votes in Edgartown, 188 in Tisbury, 108 in Cottage City, 40 in Chilmark, 10 in Gay Head. Cleveland’s vote was 56, 64, 39, 26, 7, and Fish’s 1, 69, 24, 20 and 4. Gosnold’s vote was not reported. Election news was received by phone at Holley’s grocery in Edgartown until 2 a.m. Archibald Mellen, Sr., 92, who had cast his ballot for Gen. William Henry Harrison for president in 1840, was the first to vote in Edgartown, casting his vote for Benjamin Harrison. Capt. Jared Jernegan, whaleman, cast his first vote, though well beyond 60 years of age, this being the first presidential year that had found him at home since he became a voter.
“Again Pres. Cleveland,” the Gazette reports in 1892. “The first tangible intimation of the result of the election was received here Wednesday morning (Nov. 8) by Mr. A. V. Deane in a private dispatch from Boston. This was quickly followed by a dispatch to the Gazette from Frank C. Barrows, which was quickly bulletined and caused much excitement.”
The vote: Harrison, Edgartown 195, Cottage City 118, Tisbury 131, West Tisbury (in the picture for the first time) 70, Chilmark 40, Gay Head 15; Cleveland, 58, 42, 65, 29, 33, 2; Bidwell, 6, 10, 13, 23, 8. 

Jubilation Over McKinley

Headed by an American flag, the Gazette’s article on the election of 1896 reported, “1897-1901. President McKinley and Prosperity. The Country for Sound Money with Tremendous Pluralities.”
“The election in Dukes County passed off with the usual good order, the principal contest being on the selection of a Representative (Capt. Otis Foss). The vote: Edgartown, McKinley 221, Bryan 21, Palmer 8; Cottage City, 119, 34, 5; Tisbury, 188, 19, 5; West Tisbury 85, 5, 13; Chilmark 42, 11, 2; Gay Head 19, -; Gosnold 17.
“Even the weather, in New England at least, was in sympathy with the McKinley landslide - a golden day in autumn.”
“309 to 139. McKinley and Prosperity. Republicans Sweep the Country. The Administration Enthusiastically Endorsed by the American People,” announced the Gazette in 1900. The landslide of 1896 is beaten by the avalanche of 1900...The election returns as received on Tuesday night on the Vineyard were the most satisfactory as regards promptness and completeness of any national election returns ever received on the Island. The Southern Massachusetts Telephone Co. had a special operator and assistant on duty at New Bedford, and from that city direct connection was made with New York and other points...Tuesday, as four years ago, was a golden day in autumn - McKinley, 195, Bryan, 19, Woolley, 3; Cottage City, 104, 40, 7; Tisbury, 157, 24, -; West Tisbury 90, 17, 9, Chilmark 32, 11, -; Gay Head, 20 -; Gosnold, 19, 3, -.
Gay Head was the banner town in the county and possibly in the state, in 1904, casting 35 Republican votes and no Democratic votes, In what the Gazette called the greatest landslide in political history throughout the country, the Vineyard voted as follows: Edgartown, Roosevelt, 188, Parker 33; Cottage City, 117, 25; Tisbury, 149, 25; West Tisbury 70, 18; Chilmark, 31, 11; Gay Head 35, 0; Gosnold, 13, 2. About 750 voters went to the polls.
Only about 730 of the Vineyard’s 1000 registered voters turned out at the election of 1908. Interest slackened early in the evening when it became evident that Taft had won over Bryan by a large majority throughout the country. The vote: Edgartown, Taft 154, Bryan 25; Oak Bluffs, 114, 27; Tisbury, 154, 35; West Tisbury, 63, 21; Chilmark, 46, 21; Gay Head, 31, 2; Gosnold, 25. 3.
It fell to the Gazette in 1912 to record with as much tolerance as it could muster Wilson’s election by the greatest sweep since that of Grant over Greeley in 1872, with “Republican Victory Here and There the Sole Comfort of the Old Guard.” The three candidates were quite evenly matched on the Vineyard, where the vote was: Edgartown, Taft, 65; Wilson, 81; Roosevelt 58; Oak Bluffs, 41, 34, 64; Tisbury, 79, 36, 97; West Tisbury 26, 34, 21; Chilmark 21, 26, 20; Gay Head 20, 6, 1; Gosnold, 17, 4, 12.

Edgartown Goes Democratic

The Democratic candidate for president carried Edgartown for the first and only time since the Gazette was founded.
The presidency was still in doubt when the Gazette went to press on Thursday Nov. 9, 1916, although, “it would seem from all information obtainable that President Wilson may be reelected. In the county Wilson gained 93 votes over 1912, and Hughes lost 26 from the combined Taft and Roosevelt votes for four years before.” The vote: Edgartown, Hughes, 138, Wilson, 82; Oak Bluffs, 103, 69; Tisbury, 111, 87; West Tisbury, 36, 36; Chilmark, 26, 30; Gay Head, 27, 5; Gosnold 23, 5.
“Island Happy,” was the election headline in 1920, appearing over a cut of the enigmatic face of Calvin Coolidge, elected vice president on the ticket with Harding. In this, the first year of woman suffrage, Mrs. Henry H. Jernegan was the first Edgartown woman ever to cast a vote for the president of the United States. The vote: Edgartown, Harding 246, Cox 24; Vineyard Haven 298, 24; Oak Bluffs 242, 32; West Tisbury, 91, 21; Chilmark 61, 21; Gay Head 40, 1.
In 1924, a year which saw Coolidge and Dawes elected with the largest popular majority in history, the Island voted: Vineyard Haven, Coolidge, 330, Davis 32, LaFollette, 28; Edgartown, 287, 28, 11; Oak Bluffs, 272, 25, 18; West Tisbury, 130 11, 3; Chilmark 71, 9, 9; Gay Head, 45, 1, 0.
In the last presidential election, that of 1928, the largest voice ever cast on the Vineyard gave Hoover a majority of 987. Hoover polling 1443 to Smith’s 456. The vote: Chilmark, Hoover, 111, Smith, 14; Edgartown, 361, 91; West Tisbury 135, 25; Gay Head, 57, 12; Oak Bluffs, 324, 163; Tisbury 455, 121; Gosnold, 44, 11.