On July 7, 1840 Vermonters showed their support for William Henry Harrison at the Stratton Convention. Daniel Webster was the spokesman. Log cabins were erected at the rally sight and people flocked to Stratton Mountain. While accounts vary, historians estimate there to have been 10,000 to 15,000 people gathered at this "log cabin rally." The following transcript of a newspaper article announces the construction of a log cabin at Stratton Mountain:
Log Cabin Raising
We learn the Fourth of July is the day selected for raising the Log Cabin, in which is to be held the District Convention on the seventh—a fit day for such an employment. As our Fore-Fathers on the Fourth of July 1776 raised a document which delivered thousands from the thralldom of Tyranny,—so will the Whigs of this District, on the Fourth of July 1840, raise a building in which means shall be devised to rescue thousands from a worse Tyranny. (Vermont Phoenix, June 26, 1840)
Below are excerpts from four accounts of the Stratton Convention. Have students read each account. Discussion questions:
- What is the main focus of each piece?
- How are each of the accounts different?
- How are they the same?
- Which account do you think is most accurate? Why?
Stratton Convention accounts
Vermont Gazette, July 14, 1840
"Never within our recollection have we been permitted to witness a scene equal in novelty and grandeur to the one exhibited at the Stratton Convention last week. It was such a scene as we could wish every Whig in the United States might have witnessed. They people were awake and one would have supposed that some mighty event was about to take place, as the people were seen hastily winding their way in masses up the rugged roads leading to the convention ground.
All classes were assembled; the laborer, the mechanic, merchant, farmer, all left their accustomed duties, many of them at a great sacrifice and expense, with the determination fixed and immovable that if anything could be affected by them to bring about change, it should be done. Here you might see the old and young, rich and poor, mingled together and discussing freely on the political state of things in that country.
As the procession on the east side of the mountain passed on from Hammond’s Hill to the Convention grounds, a distance of eight miles with their banners flying and bands of music playing lively airs, and the eye reverted to the valley below, it rested upon one of the most imposing spectacles ever presented. As the procession neared the encampment, each delegation was received separately with hearty cheers."
Bellows Falls Times, July 1840
"It was during the presidential campaign of 1840, in which General Harrison was the whig nominee in opposition to the democratic presidential incumbent at that time, Martin Van Buren. In all this land a peculiarity of the campaign was rural gatherings, immense conventions being held in small towns and away from business centers. An example of this was the Stratton convention.
This monster gathering which numbered 30,000 people, was held in a large open plot of land on the very height of the mountain between Windham and Bennington counties, where only one farmhouse was in sight for miles around."
Honorable Ira K. Batchelder, Peru, 1902
"The whig party of Vermont conceived the idea of having a grand rally high on the Green Mountains in Vermont. The invitation was spread broadcast north, south, east and west to all citizens in Vermont and adjacent states to gather on top of the Green Mountains, in the town of Stratton, it being called the watershed of the Mountains, to hear an address to be delivered by Daniel Webster, United States Senator from Massachusetts, on the politics of the country.
A log cabin built on the grounds of long spruce trees was said to be one hundred feet in length with good width and divided off into apartments, it being a huge cabin. A large cabin was drawn from the west side of the mountain with four horses driven by James Hicks, one from Westminster, on the east, driven by Mr. Church, with six white horses. Plenty of smaller cabins were in attendance. It was said hard cider was aboard the cabins; I did not see any, or the effects of any.
At an early hour on the seventh day of July, 1840 the people began to collect and continued coming until past ten o’clock a.m. when an organization was made by electing Dr. W.R. Ranney of Townshend, President of the day, and Col. Baker of Arlington, Marshall of the day…The president called the meeting to order and with a few chosen words introduces Mr. Webster to his audience. Mr. Webster arose in his majestic way like a full orbed moon, looking around upon the audience.
This was the largest gathering that ever met in the south part of the state; New York and New Hampshire were well represented in the body. I do not know the number in attendance, I have heard it estimated at 20,000. Half of that number is a great number, I should think 10,000 was more than there was there."
A.L. Tyler, Charlemont, Massachusetts, 1904
"I remember being on Stratton Mountain in 1840, and hearing the Hon. Daniel Webster make his great speech, for 'Old Tippecanoe and Tyler too,' and I know I thought it was a great talk being then a boy 16 years of age, it sounded big to me. Mr. Webster had a loud heavy voice, seemed to me at the time; he might have been heard in Bennington. Mr. Webster wore a blue swallow tail coat with bright buttons, and a buff vest.
I took dinner in the Log Cabin, and a good dinner it was, too, being a boy I had a good appetite after riding 20 miles that morning to get there. I did not have any hard cider at that dinner—although it was called a Log Cabin and Cider campaign, I now remember just how the Log Cabin looked that day. There was quite a steep bank or rising ground on the east side of it. It was truly a great Log Cabin Convention, and I remember one man said that stood next to me, ‘There’s more than 15,000 people here to-day.’
I went to Guilford, 35 miles away; I started the day before, stopped over night on the way, took an early morning ride arrived in sight of the Log Cabin at 9 a.m., found it erected on the North side of the high way as we went west. It was a great sight to me never having seen such a building before. It was a big convention; everyone enjoyed it, and all went home happy, and glad that they attended the Log Cabin Convention and heard Hon. Daniel Webster speak, saw the Log Cabin, all on Stratton Mountain in 1840."