A Glass Tally Box Was the Response to Citizen Scams in the 19th Century | At the Smithsonian

The hyped-up panic over citizen scams is absolutely nothing brand-new, regardless of what headings may lead individuals to think– specifically as the country inches better to Election Day. However while deceptive ballot has been found to be rather uncommon, maybe among the most ingenious methods to secure versus it while likewise keeping a sense of openness happened more than a century back.

On October 5, 1858, a New Yorker by the name of Samuel C. Jollie, submitted a patent (number 21,684) for a tally box consisting of “a glass world installed in a frame.” According to the patent’s literature, it was built in such a method “that onlookers might see every tally, which is put in, and see them when gotten,” leaving little if any chance for incorrect ballot.

Jollie’s innovation was the outcome of a case of deceptive ballot– particularly tally stuffing– that took place 2 years prior in 1856. The San Francisco Committee of Caution, a vigilante group consisted of regional people, discovered a tally box with an incorrect bottom that was being utilized to unlawfully packing votes. The general public protest was quick, and citizens feared that democracy remained in jeopardy. Noticing a chance, Jollie produced a glass tally container that would make it apparent if anybody attempted to dedicate citizen scams.

Samuel C. Jollie’s patent for his tally box.

( U.S. Patent and Hallmark Workplace, Patent no. US000021684)

By the 1860s, glass tally boxes had actually ended up being an election staple, thanks to their openness, which enabled citizens to see their tallies once they had actually dropped them inside package.

” The concept was that citizens would take their printed tallies and drop them into the glass box, which provided a sense of what was entering,” states Harry Rubenstein, manager emeritus of political history at the Smithsonian’sNational Museum of American History “From a visual sense, it revealed them that they weren’t putting [their ballots] into someplace dark. It was the mental concept of openly voting, which your vote is entering and there was no chance for unfaithful.”

Amos Pettibone Ballot Box
The 1884 tally box made by Amos Pettibone.

( Corning Museum of Glass)

The American History Museum has a glass ballot jar comparable to the one developed by Jollie that belongs to its collection of political ephemera. It, too, is situated inside a lockable wood case and procedures 12 inches x 12 inches x 13 inches in size with a slit on top for individuals to cast their tallies. This tally container, developed by Amos Pettibone (1843-1926) of Chicago, dates to 1884.

Very little is understood about Pettibone besides that he was politically active. In 1904, he functioned as an alternate delegate at the Republican politician National Convention in Illinois. As the developer of this tally box, it’s simple to conclude that citizen openness was a concern of utmost significance to him. For many years, a variety of his tally boxes have actually surfaced in various collections, consisting of one that is presently on screen at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York City. The things belongs to the exhibition “Transparent: Ballot in America,” which checks out among the pillars of democracy: the right to vote.

While the masterpiece of “Transparent” is the glass tally box, manager Marvin Bolt developed the exhibit in such a method to drive house why election openness in America is so vital. To do so, he consisted of a range of historical political animations that extend from the mid-1800s to the passage of the 19th change in 1920, which extended the right to vote to (white) ladies.

” Due to the fact that the tally boxes are made from glass, there aren’t a great deal of survivors out there,” states Bolt, manager of science and innovation at Corning. “However we can take a look at the animations [from that era] to see how these boxes were an icon.”

I can handle both
” I can manage both,” states the girl. From San Francisco Sunday Call, July 4, 1909.

( Library of Congress)

With the assistance of Ellery Foutch, an assistant teacher in American Research studies at Middlebury College, who has written extensively on glass tally boxes, Bolt put together a collection of more than a lots animations, of which every one includes a glass tally box as the common measure.

” These animations actually do deal with the problem of openness,” he states. “They take a look at the various sort of ways that are utilized in citizen suppression and the efforts being utilized to challenge votes. These animations are a non-partisan method of dealing with those issues.”

Stop Fraud
” Stop Scams,” Harper’s Weekly, July 31, 1880.

( HathiTrust)

One animation from the July 31, 1880, problem of Harper’s Weekly reveals 2 ruffians packing a tally box emblazoned with the expression, “Stop Scams!” Their hats recognize them as southern and northern Democrats and reveal that, while they’re completing versus one another to win the election, they’re likewise dedicating comparable deceptive habits.

Another animation “The Hyphenated American” discuss both citizen scams and an anti-immigrant belief that resembles what we see today. Produced by political cartoonist J. S. Pughe and released in an 1899 problem of the now-defunct humor publication Puck, the animation reveals a line of males marking time behind Uncle Sam to vote. However upon closer evaluation, Pughe has actually drawn each male as if they’re divided, with the ideal half of their bodies suggesting their citizenship of origin, and the left halves revealing their present status as Americans. In the caption, Uncle Sam asks: “Why should I let these freaks cast entire votes when they are just half American?”

Hyphenated American
” The Hyphenated American,” by J. S. Pughe, from “Puck” 45, no. 1170 (August 9, 1899) .

( The Ohio State University, Billy Ireland Animation Library & & Museum)

” By taking a look at these historic examples, you can see a sort of bias that has actually constantly existed that threatens the openness of elections,” Bolt states. “The concerns that we’re dealing with today are not brand-new ones, and it is essential that we not conceal or mask them. That is among the more subtle points of this exhibit, that we have actually constantly had bigotry and unpleasant habits, however it was generally concealed, and now it’s not.”

Although glass tally boxes headed out of design in favor of brand-new ballot innovation presented at some point at the millenium (specifically voting makers that citizens run by turning a crank), Bolt believes that there is “inconclusive evidence of [glass ballot boxes] being adequately identifiable adequate to be consisted of in animations that were making a point about voting openness, even years later on.”

Senate Lobby
” A Required Modification in the Senatorial Lobby,” by J. S. Pughe, from “Puck” 52, no. 1327 (August 6, 1902).

( Library of Congress)

One example he indicates is of an animation released in the San Francisco Sunday Call on July 4, 1909, that reveals a lady stabilizing a tally box in one hand and a cradle in the other, stating “I can manage both.” Glass tally boxes continued to appear in political animations into the ladies’s suffrage motion.

Although glass tally boxes are no longer discovered in ballot locations around the United States (although Rubenstein states they are utilized sometimes in other nations, mentioning France as one example), phony claims of deceptive ballot still afflict American politics to this day.

Puck magazine
A concern of “Puck” includes a glass tally box on the cover.


” An absence of openness can eliminate from the concept of a complimentary and reasonable election,” Bolt states. “It’s quite rancorous, and there are some wicked and awful habits going on, however we have actually likewise seen them previously, and yet democracy has actually continued. That isn’t to state we ought to not do anything, this danger to openness and fairness throughout an election requires to be battled strenuously. However there’s likewise a message of hope that yes, this concept of openness is a perfect, which we need to keep combating these risks so that method our complimentary, civil and democratic society can make it through.”

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