Lemuel Haynes on Voting When the Options Are Evil

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Came across this funny anecdote in Cooley’s Sketches of the Life and Character of Lemuel Haynes:

“An important political office was to be filled in Vermont,” says a respected correspondent, “and two candidates were before the people, both of whom were avowed and open infidels, and rather notoriously such. These being the favourites of the two political parties, serious people felt embarrassed, and many withheld t heir votes. On the day of the election, when the people were thronging to the polls, Mr. Haynes, being a resident in the same county, had occasion to pass through B—–, and made me a friendly call. As he rode up to the door, I met him with the cheerfulness and pleasure which his presence was apt to inspire; and feeling curious to know his impressions in regard to the all-absorbing question of the day, and willing also to try his wit, I said, as I took him by the hand, ‘Well, Father Haynes, did you put in your vote for ———- before you left home?’

‘No;’ he replied without the least embarrassment or surprise,—‘No;—when there are two candidates up, and one is Satan and t’other the Old Boy, I don’t think it is much object to vote.’”

— Timothy Mather Cooley, Sketches of the Life and Character of Lemuel Haynes, New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969, p.124.

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