Pease's Hoarhound Candy And The Dorr Rebellion
In the year 1842, a new style of advertising appeared in the newspapers
and in handbills which arrested public attention at once on account of
its novelty. The thing advertised was an article called "Pease's
Hoarhound Candy;" a very good specific for coughs and colds. It was put
up in twenty-five cent packages, and was eventually sold wholesale and
retail in enormous quantities. Mr. Pease's system of advertising was
which, I believe, originated with him in this country, although
many have practiced it since, but of course, with less success--for
imitations seldom succeed. Mr. Pease's plan was to seize upon the most
prominent topic of interest and general conversation, and discourse
eloquently upon that topic in fifty to a hundred lines of a
newspaper-column, then glide off gradually into a panegyric of "Pease's
Hoarhound Candy." The consequence was, every reader was misled by the
caption and commencement of his article, and thousands of persons had
"Pease's Hoarhound Candy" in their mouths long before they had seen it!
In fact, it was next to impossible to take up a newspaper and attempt to
read the legitimate news of the day without stumbling upon a package of
"Pease's Hoarhound Candy." The reader would often feel vexed to find
that, after reading a quarter of a column of interesting news upon the
subject uppermost in his mind, he was trapped into the perusal of one of
Pease's hoarhound candy advertisements. Although inclined sometimes to
throw down the newspaper in disgust, he would generally laugh at the
talent displayed by Mr. Pease in thus captivating and capturing the
reader. The result of all this would generally be, a trial of the candy
on the first premonitory symptoms of a cough or influenza. The degree to
which this system of advertising has since been carried has rendered it
a bore and a nuisance. The usual result of almost any great and original
achievement is, the production of a shoal of brainless imitators, who
are "neither useful nor ornamental."
In the same year that Pease's hoarhound candy appeared upon the
commercial and newspaper horizon, the "Governor Dorr Rebellion" occurred
in Rhode Island. As many will remember, this rebellion caused a great
excitement throughout the country. Citizens of Rhode Island took up arms
against each other, and it was feared by some that a bloody civil war
At about this time a municipal election was to come off in the city of
Philadelphia. The two political parties were pretty equally divided
there, and there were some special causes why this was regarded as an
unusually important election. Its near approach caused more excitement
in the "Quaker City" than had been witnessed there since the preceding
Presidential election. The party-leaders began to lay their plans early,
and the wire-pullers on both sides were unusually busy in their
vocation. At the head of the rabble upon which one of the parties
depended for many votes, was a drunken and profane fellow, whom we will
call Tom Simmons. Tom was great at electioneering and stump-spouting in
bar-rooms and rum-caucuses, and his party always looked to him, at each
election, to stir up the subterraneans "with a long pole"--and a
whiskey-jug at the end of it.
The exciting election which was now to come off for Mayor and Aldermen
of the good city of Brotherly Love soon brought several of the "ring" to
"Now, Tom," said the head wire-puller, "this is going to be a close
election, and we want you to spare neither talent nor liquor in arousing
up and bringing to the polls every voter within your influence."
"Well, Squire," replied Tom carelessly, "I've concluded I won't bother
myself with this 'lection--it don't pay!"
"Don't pay!" exclaimed the frightened politician. "Why, Tom, are you not
a true friend to your party? Haven't you always been on hand at the
primary meetings, knocked down interlopers, and squelched every man who
talked about conscience, or who refused to support regular nominations,
and vote the entire clean ticket straight through? And as for 'pay,'
haven't you always been supplied with money enough to treat all doubtful
voters, and in fact to float them up to the polls in an ocean of
whiskey? I confess Tom, I am almost petrified with astonishment at
witnessing your present indifference to the alarming crisis in which our
country and our party are involved, and which nothing on earth can
avert, except our success at the coming election."
"Oh, tell that to the marines," said Tom. "We never yet had an election
that there wasn't a 'crisis,' and yet, whichever party gained, we
somehow managed to live through it, crisis or no crisis. In fact, my
curiosity has got a little excited, and I would like to see this
'crisis' that is such a bugaboo at every election; so trot out your
crisis--let us see how it looks. Besides, talking of pay, I acknowledge
the whiskey, and that is all. While I and my companions lifted you and
your companions into fat offices that enabled you to roll in your
carriages, and live on the fat of the land, we got nothing--or, at
least, next to nothing--all we got was--well--we got drunk! Now, Squire,
I will go for the other party this 'lection if you don't give me an
"Give you an office!" exclaimed the "Squire," raising his hands and
rolling his eyes in utter amazement; "why, Tom, what office do you
"I want to be Alderman!" replied Tom, "and I can control votes enough to
turn the 'lection either way; and if our party don't gratefully remember
my past services and give me my reward, t'other party will be glad to
run me on their ticket, and over I go."
The gentleman of the "ring" saw by Tom's firmness and clenched teeth
that he was immovable; that his principles, like those of too many
others, consisted of "loaves and fishes;" they therefore consented to
put Tom's name on the municipal ticket; and the worst part of the story
is, he was elected.
In a very short time, Tom was duly installed into the Aldermanic chair,
and, opening his office on a prominent corner, he was soon doing a
thriving business. He was generally occupied throughout the day in
sitting as a judge in cases of book debt and promissory notes which were
brought before him, for various small sums ranging from two to five,
six, eight, and ten dollars. He would frequently dispose of thirty or
forty of these cases in a day, and as imprisonment for debt was
permitted at that time, the poor defendants would "shin" around and make
any sacrifice almost, rather than go to jail. The enormous "costs" went
into the capacious pocket of the Alderman; and this dignitary, as a
natural sequence, "waxed fat" and saucy, exemplifying the truth of the
adage "Put a beggar on horseback," etc.
As the Alderman grew rich, he became overbearing, headstrong, and
dictatorial. He began to fancy that he monopolized the concentrated
wisdom of his party, and that his word should be law. Not a party-caucus
or a political meeting could be held without witnessing the vulgar and
profane harangues of the self-conceited Alderman, Tom Simmons. As he was
one of the "ring," his fingers were in all the "pickings and stealings;"
he kept his family-coach, and in his general swagger exhibited all the
peculiarities of "high life below stairs."
But after Tom had disgraced his office for two years, a State election
took place and the other party were successful. Among the first laws
which they passed after the convening of the Legislature, was one
declaring that from that date imprisonment for debt should not be
permitted in the State of Pennsylvania for any sum less than ten
This enactment, of course, knocked away the chief prop which sustained
the Alderman, and when the news of its passage reached Philadelphia, Tom
was the most indignant man that had been seen there for some years.
Standing in front of his office the next morning, surrounded by several
of his political chums, Tom exclaimed:
"Do you see what them infernal tories have done down there at
Harrisburg? They have been and passed an outrageous, oppressive,
barbarous, and unconstitutional law! A pretty idea, indeed, if a man
can't put a debtor in jail for a less sum than ten dollars! How am I
going to support my family, I should like to know, if this law is
allowed to stand? I tell you, gentlemen, this law is unconstitutional,
and you will see blood running in our streets, if them tory scoundrels
try to carry it out!"
His friends laughed, for they saw that Tom was reasoning from his pocket
instead of his head; and, as he almost foamed at the mouth in his
impotent wrath they could not suppress a smile.
"Oh, you may laugh, gentlemen--you may laugh; but you will see it. Our
party will never disgrace itself a permitting the tories to rob them of
their rights by passing unconstitutional laws; and I say, the sooner we
come to blood, the better!"
At this moment, a gentleman stepped up, and addressing the Alderman,
"Alderman, I want to bring a case of book debt before you this morning."
"How much is your claim?" asked Tom.
"Four dollars," replied the rumseller--for such he proved to be--and his
debt was for drinks chalked up against one of his "customers."
"You can't have your four dollars, Sir," replied the excited Alderman.
"You are robbed of your four dollars, Sir. Them legislative tories at
Harrisburg, Sir, have cheated you out of your four dollars, Sir. I
undertake to say, Sir, that fifty thousand honest men in Philadelphia
have been robbed of their four dollars by these bloody tories and their
cursed unconstitutional law! Ah, gentlemen, you will see blood running
in our streets before you are a month older. (A laugh.) Oh, you may
laugh; but you will see it--see if you don't!"
A newsboy was just passing by.
"Here, boy, give me the Morning Ledger," said the Alderman, at the same
time taking the paper and handing the boy a penny. "Let us see what them
blasted cowboys are doing down at Harrisburg now. Ah!--what is this?"
(Reading:) "'Blood, blood, blood!' Aha! laugh, will you, gentlemen? Here
it is." Reads:
"'Blood, blood, blood! The Dorrites have got possession of
Providence. The military are called out. Father is arrayed against
father, and son against son. Blood is already running in our
"Now laugh, will you, gentlemen? Blood is running in the streets of
Providence; blood will be running in the streets of Philadelphia before
you are a fortnight older! The tories of Providence and the tories of
Harrisburg must answer for this blood, for they and their
unconstitutional proceedings are the cause of its flowing! Let us see
the rest of this tragic scene." Reads:
"'Is there any remedy for this dreadful state of things?'"
ALDERMAN.--"Of course not, except to hang every rascal of them for
trampling on our g-l-orious Constitution." Reads:
"'Is there any remedy for this dreadful state of things? Yes, there
ALDERMAN.--"Oh, there is, is there? What is it? Let me see." Reads:
"'Buy two packages of Pease's hoarhound candy.'"
"Blast the infernal Ledger!" exclaimed the now doubly incensed and
indignant Alderman, throwing the paper upon the pavement with the most
ineffable disgust, amid the shouts and hurrahs of a score of men who by
this time had gathered around the excited Alderman Tom Simmons.
As I before remarked, the "candy" was a very good article for the
purposes for which it was made; and as Pease was an indefatigable man,
as well as a good advertiser, he soon acquired a fortune. Mr. Pease,
Junior, is now living in affluence in Brooklyn, and is bringing up a
"happy family" to enjoy the fruits of his industry, probity, good
habits, and genius.
The "humbug" in this transaction, of course consisted solely in the
manner of advertising. There was no humbug or deception about the