Bicentennial election event held in Kaskaskia

ELECTION DAY 1818–Posing for a picture before the voting process began at the Election Day 1818 event held in Kaskaskia on Sept. 16 arere-enactors: Ronnie White (portraying Philip Fouke), Tom Osborne (Hippolyte Menard), Bob Swanson (Dr. William Reynolds), Ed Fisher (Shadrach Bond), Nate Brown (Pierre Menard) and Stanley Archacki (Daniel P. Cook).

As was done 200 years ago, a crowd gathered at Kaskaskia to cast their votes for state officials. Only this past Sunday, the election was a re-enactment of the original historical event.

Those coming to the Election Day 1818 event on Sept. 16 were greeted by costumed re-enactors and were given slips of paper with the names of those that had attended the election in 1818. For those that could vote (in 1818, only white men age 21 and older could vote), the slip of paper also noted how that person voted.

Three candidates – Shadrach Bond (portrayed by Ed Fischer of Chester), Pierre Menard (Nate Brown of Chester) and Daniel P. Cook (Stanley Archacki of Aurora) all gave stump speeches, highlighting why they should be elected.

Stump speeches were notoriously long, sometimes with candidates speaking for six to eight hours. These three candidates however opted to give abbreviated versions of their persona’s 1818 speeches.

In 1818, Bond, who was a farmer, was the only candidate for the fledgling state’s governor.

Menard, a fur trader, was in the running for lieutenant governor. As Menard had only become a United States citizen in 1816, the requirements for the position of lieutenant governor were changed specifically to allow him to run. There were two other candidates running against Menard, but he was successful in becoming the state’s first lieutenant governor.

Cook, who was a newspaper publisher in addition to being a lawyer and politician, was campaigning to be elected as the Illinois delegate to the United States Congress. In the original 1818 election, he lost to John McLean by 14 votes.

Following the speeches by the three candidates, event attendees could meet and talk with the re-enactors, who tried to convince them to vote for them.

For more from the Election Day 1818 event, please see this week’s print edition.