Running for Office in 1815 in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania

The Western American of Ohio, apparently subscribed to Pennsylvania’s Dauphin Oracle, for it gave, on October 28, 1815, the following advertisement from it, with this introduction:  “In the County of Dauphin, among numerous candidates, who offered for the Sheriffalty, are Melchior Rham, Henry Wolf and Jacob Bear; and last comes Andrew Lion in the Dauphin Oracle, with the following advertisement.  There was a Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and there was a newspaper, The Oracle of Dauphin; whether there was an Andrew Lion is uncertain.

To the Free and Independent Electors of Dauphin County

“GENTLEMEN — Not having the least encouragement from friends or strangers, I beg leave to come forward at this late hour and offer myself as a candidate for the office of Sheriff.–Relying solely on my own merit, and particularly as I see on the list of candidates, a Bear, a Wolf, and a Ram, with several other animals too tedious to enumerate.  But I consider myself a far superior animal to any of my opponents, & am pretty certain you will be of my opinion when you become acquainted with the claims I have on your gratitude.  I have been a revolutionary soldier, (and an officer, if you please) suffered hunger, toil and heat, fought many bloody battles, got honorable scars, but little pay, and all this, gentlemen, merely that you may vote freely on the day of election.  Now i tell you plainly how I shall discharge my duty, should I be so happy as to  obtain a majority of your suffrages.  1st  If writs are put into my hands against any of you, I will take you if I can, and unless you can get bail, I will deliver you over to the keeper of the jail.  2d  If judgements are found against you, and executions directed to me, I will sell your property as the law directs without favor or affection, and if there should be any surplus money, I will punctually remit it.  3d and last.  If any of you should commit a crime (which God forbid) that requires capital punishment according to law, I will hang you up by the neck till you are dead, dead, dead.  Now gentlemen I hope you will not forget me on the day of election–and sincerely wish you many keep out of my hands, should you honor me with the office of Sheriff.

Your fellow-citizen to command,


Middle Paxton, Aug. 23, 1815

About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden