16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, July 15, 1911: Nothing really worthwhile. Oh sad routine.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Today we’re constantly bombarded with news about politics. I woke up yesterday morning to a radio story about a possible government shutdown, the upcoming recall elections in Wisconsin, candidates gearing up of the 2012 presidential election. . .
And, I wondered what politics were like in Pennsylvania in 1911.
Since not much happened a hundred years ago today, I’ll tell you what I learned. Only men could vote in 1911—women didn’t get suffrage until 1920. The Republicans controlled politics in the state back then. According to P. Jenkins:
Pennsylvania had long lacked a true Democratic opposition in one of the few industrial regions where Republican dominance at the state level was not countered by Democratic machines in the cities. The Democrats elected no U.S. senators between 1875 and 1934 and no state governors between 1890 and 1934, and the party lost ninety-five of ninety-six statewide elections between 1893 and 1931. In consequence, political conflicts were fought by factions within the Republican Party. Though alliances shifted frequently, this never damaged the overwhelming power of the Republican interest.
I don’t know which party Grandma’s father belonged to, but I do know which party one of her uncles, F. Miles Derr, belonged to. Miles was a brother of her mother (Phoebe Derr Muffly), and lived in Limestone Township in nearby Montour County. There is a short biography of Miles in the Historical and Biographical Annuals of Columbia and Montour Counties Pennsylvania (Vol. II) (pp. 753-4). It says that he was Republican:
He takes an active role in local political affairs, at present serving as tax receiver for his township, and on political questions is allied with the Republican party.