Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Political Scandal in 1854, Part 1

Heman Doyle was my 4th great-grandfather.  He was born in Vermont but the first official record of him is in the Rochester, New York area.  He was a lawyer and when news of the Gold Rush in California he packed up and left to head west with his future son-in-law.  Once in California, he also practiced law and became DA for Carson Valley, Nevada (supposedly their first).  Its funny, though, that the legal scandal he was embroiled in in 1854 was never mentioned in the family stories:

From page 2 of the Daily Democratic State Journal, dated 6 March 1854.
We learn that legal proceedings have been commenced against Heman Doyle, Esq., associate Justice of the Court of Sessions of El Dorado, charged with an attempt to bribe and corrupt a portion of the Senators from that county, with a view to procure them to vote against the elections of an US Senator at the present session of the Legislature.  The investigations will probably show to the satisfaction of the public where the money comes from that is being so freely used to postpone the election.
For a firmer idea of what exactly was going on, here is another article from the same paper, same day:

ASTOUNDING DEVELOPMENTS
A BOLD ATTEMPT TO BRIBE THE WHOLE EL DORADO DELEGATION, WHO ARE IN FAVOR OF THE ELECTION!!!
$10,000 each for Senators, and $2,000 for Assemblymen!
THE NAMES!!- SENATORS HALL AND LIVERMORE, THE PARTIES APPROACHED!!


The following statement of facts, to which responsible names are signed, will astound the public. That bribery and corruption have been used by the opponents of the Senatorial Election, to purchase its defeat at the present session of the Legislature, is a fact which, however much it has been heretofore doubted, can no longer be denied. No means have been too base, no appliances too servile to be used for the accomplishment of their nefarious ends. The opponents of the election have been boasting for a week past that a bomb shell would shortly be thrown into the ranks of the true Democracy which would shatter them to atoms.

They have even circulated in San Francisco on yesterday and day before that Senators Hall and Livermore, of El Dorado, had resigned their seats, in anticipation, we presume, of what they excepted. They have made boasts of their approaching strength, without stating the means by which it was attained. Those means, we think, will now be evident to the public. Read and consider.

The further developments of this outrage upon the honor and integrity of the Legislature, will bring to light the cause of the recent summer-sault of some other members of that body:

To the people of El Dorado:

The undersigned, impelled by a sentiment of self-respect and public duty, feel called upon to present you the following statement of facts, involving their reputation and deportment, relative to an important matter pending in the Legislature of this State.
Public sentiment in California has never been so intensely excited, nor has the rancour of party spirit ever been so violently directed to any subject before, as to the Senatorial election the present session of the Legislature.
All that malignity can suggest, or ingenuity invent, has been exerted to influence popular will and control individual conduct, even to the destruction and utter ruin of private character.
Crimination and recrimination have perhaps, to a certain extent, characterized both the advocates and opponents of the Election, and the constituency of the county have been taught to look with distrust and suspicion upon the Representative.
To such degree does this exist, that every consideration of self-respect and patriotic duty induce us in this public manner to make an expose of the means employed by those who oppose us in opinion, in order to control our conduct: -
At Benicia, on Thursday the 22nd ult., a prominent citizen of El Dorado county, a Magistrate and associate Justice of the Court of Sessions, Heman Doyle, Esq., sought and interview with the undersigned.  He represented that his visit to Benicia was with special reference to a consultation with the El Dorado Delegation upon the subject of the Senatorial election, and that he desired more particularly to secure the complacency of the undersigned, and through us to influence our Delegates in the Assembly.
The inducement of political preferment as well as pecuniary compensation, were offered to us, conditioned that we would vote for the postponement of the Senatorial Election, or that we should resign our seats in the State Senate; and that our influence should be exerted to secure the co-operation of our colleagues in the Assembly.  To one of the undersigned the sum of ten thousand dollars was offered, the other was authorised to "name his price," while two thousand dollars was the consideration for each Assemblyman.
Prudential motives suggest the suppression of the first and natural impulse to reject and expose this nefarious and insolent assault upon our honor, until an opportunity could be had for doing so with such an array of proof and testimony that should carry conviction to every mind, and not only vindicate ourselves from any charge or mercenary and selfish legislation, but acquit the party with which we are affiliated, and fix upon them to whom it properly belongs, the odium of corrupt and unholy efforts to control the legislature of this State.
To this end, on the day when the proposition was made to use, we conferred with Hon. S.A. McMeans and others of Benicia, and corresponded with R.M. Anderson of Placerville, upon a proper line of conduct to pursue.
Apparent friendly relations were maintained with Doyle, his associations and affinities were strictly observed, until finally he was induced to make a full and complete statement to disinterested persons, outside of the legislature, and one of whom is a distinguished and ardent opponent of the Election this session.
This statement was made in Placerville on the night of the 2nd instant, before Robert M. Anderson and John O'Donnel, and was minute, even to the mention of the most trifling details of the conspiracy, except the mention of the names of the persons from whom the money consideration was obtained.  It was at this interview, for the first time, that Doyle, was told his corrupt proposition had been entertained thus far, for the purpose only of complete exposure on the one hand, and upon the other, to vindicate that portion of the El Dorado delegation who favored an election of US Senator this winter.
With reference to Doyle's coadjutors, we can only say, that while we are unable to name them, they are indicated by the strongest, clearest, and most incontestable circumstantial evidence.
We have only to add, that on the evening of the 3rd instant, (yesterday) the undersigned conferred with their colleagues, with the exception of those who are opposed to the Senatorial election, and after consideration, it was deemed an act of justice to our constituents, to our cause, and to ourselves that we should give this statement to the public.
H.G. Livermore
G.D. Hall
The undersigned, your representatives in the House of Assembly, have been for many days cognizant of the attempt to corrupt that portion of the delegation in favor of the election of an US Senator at the present session, and they endorse the statement above made.
ALFRED BRIGGS, S.A. BALLOU, E.C. SPRINGER, GEO. McDONALD, HANNIBAL HOLLISTER, D.P. TALLMADGE, JOHN CONNESS.

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