Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Crazy Day in 1871 When Little Rock’s City Council Voted 701 Times to Elect Its President

Twelve clangs from the clock on the east wall of Little Rock’s city council chamber interrupted the aldermen as they were about to cast another vote to elect the council’s new president. It was midnight and most of them could not recall how many previous ballots had been taken on this question. Was it 670, or maybe 680? No matter how many, they were sure how the next ballot would tally: four votes for Alderman Frederick Kramer and four votes for someone else.

When the clock quieted, the man at the head of the oblong table in the middle of the council chamber called on the aldermen to resume voting. As usual, he, Frederick Kramer, the temporary chairman of this first meeting of the 1871-72 city council, received his own vote and those of Aldermen Daniel Parham Upham, Daniel Ottenheimer, and Asa L. Richmond. Also, unsurprisingly, his main rival, Alderman Dudley Emerson Jones, voted for himself and got the votes of Aldermen George Wilson Denison, Jerome Lewis, and Henry Thomas Gibb. Another 4-4 tie.
Frederick Kramer
Arkansas Gazette, Sept 9, 1896

After announcing the results, Kramer quickly called for another vote on the issue. As the familiar process restarted, the few remaining spectators stirred. White men, leaning uncomfortably on the wall by the clock, shifted positions. Next to them, the city clerk dipped his pen into an inkwell. On the other side of the room, across the tobacco-stained carpet, a small audience of black men clustered around a drum stove as they watched Alderman Lewis, the blackest and oldest man seated at the oval table, doodle images of a fish. [1]  Next to him, Denison, the whitest and youngest alderman, sat quietly.


For the whole story of the 701 votes for the president of the Little Rock city council in 1871, go to the paper available at the following link:

George Denison (from Ancestry-com)

Alderman Jones and his Wife

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