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Election Day in New York

The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1290, p. 559.

December 3, 1864


Our New York Correspondent has supplied a pair of Sketches, representing the crowds outside two of the polling-places in that city, on Tuesday, the 8th of November, which was the day of the Presidential election, as well as of the State elections. One of them is situated in the upper part of the city, near the fashionable avenues which run out northward, through the aristocratic quarter. "Here the poll is taken," says our correspondent, "in the office of a veterinary surgeon, attached to a livery stable. At any time from sunrise to sunset (which is the time allowed for depositing votes) knots of the richer class of New York citizens--the Upper Ten Thousand, as they are called, are to be seen congregated at this point, anxiously discussing the chances of the rival candidates. Mixed with these, however, a sprinkling of the rougher element is here and there conspicuous. There are, indeed, two or three young men in the crowd who might, on any other day, be seen parading Broadway in rather swell costume, but who have, on this occasion, come out as 'shoulder-hitters,' or pugilistic partisan bullies, attired after the fashion usually affected by those members of the 'Lower Twenty' who 'travel on their muscle.' They have red shirts on, without any collar or cravat; pilot coats, and heavy cowskin boots pulled over their trousers--a style of costume which shows them to be members of some Fire Company. By way of contrast, the subject of our second Illustration is found in the dirty and unwholesome districts of the city, where the hard-fisted classes chiefly make their abode. In this quarter, on the polling-day, the police were in strong force, and the liquor-shops were all closed--that is, the shutters of those dens of iniquity were up; but as the doors were open there was no difficulty in obtaining strong drink. All circumstances considered, however, there were wonderfully few drunken men to be seen, and such fighting as did take place was of a desultory and insignificant kind. The locality of the polling-place is one of the very worst in New York, being in the heart of the quarter known as the Five Points--the head-quarters of the thieves, bullies, organ-grinders, and all other such types of ruffianism as go to the making up of the dangerous classes."

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