“Bloody shirt discourse” or Media Bias in 1876 — California Fractional Gold Coin

Today, the California Fractional Gold Coin highlights a news article in the Sonora newspaper, The Union Democrat, of September 23, 1876 during another presidential election season.

The title of the article, “Bloody Shirt Discourse” sets the tone of the commentary.


On Friday the 15th inst., during the middle watch of the evening the Hayes & Wheeler club was addressed by two bloody-shirt orators from Stockton, named respectively L. M. Noble and A. V. R. Patterson.

The audience was composed of an oil and water congregation, consisting of women, Republicans and Democrats, the latter predominating if the former were counted out.

The brilliant lights of the gorgeous chandeliers “shone o’er fair women and brave men,” the gaudy streamers danced in the draft from the windows and the officers of the club looked neat and prim in full evening dress.

The Muezzin had long since called the faithful to prayers when the dulcet voice of the President commanded attention to the reading of the past record of the club by the Secretary.

Then, soft as the signing of a summer zephyr came the soul-inspiring strains of that glorious campaign song, “Hayes is the man” or words to that effect.

Having demonstrated the fact that Hayes belonged to the male sex, a young man of Noble exterior and Noble cognomen was introduced.

This callow youth had evidently committed his little speech to memory, for he declaimed it with all the glibness of a school boy reciting from the class room rostrum.

The “address” as it was called, fairly reeked with blood.

Gore dripped from the speaker’s lips, gore flowed from his tongue and gore permeated the very atmosphere he breathed.

After causing the ladies to shudder with some unusually cold-blooded remarks, Demosthenes Noble sat down and the Glee Club warbled a melody that was probably called “Emblem of Sweet Liberty,” that being the sentiment oftenest expressed.

Then up rose Patterson the alphabetical, and smiling sadly proceeded to wave the bloody-shirt with even greater energy than his predecessor had.

He fought the war over, he pictured the South as standing like naked rebellion with the dagger drawn and the torch aflame, ready to annihilate the North at any moment.

He called rebels Democrats, he ranted about “loilty,” he pictured Tilden as a wicked old thief who would not for a single instant hesitate to cut a throat or scuttle a ship, (we acknowledge that he ate his grandmother), he reviewed Hendricks as a traitor, beside whom Benedict Arnold was a patriot and a martyr, he asserted that the Democrats would if placed in power, pay the Confederate war debt, he told a story about a man who fell down a well which reminded his hearers of the nursery rhyme commencing, “Ding dong bell, the cat’s in the well,” he rehearsed the Plattsburg flag raising outrage, reiterating the lie that southern men raised the flag, although the reading public knows that it was hauled up by emissaries of the National Republican Executive Committee, one of whom was tarred and feathered for the act by southern men, he complimented the ladies and told them that the Queen of Spain discovered America and that Joan D’Arc was the Maid of Orleans, supplementing this valuable information with an appeal for them to fly to arms and induce men who are supposed to be as well posted on political matters as they are, to vote for the mush and milk candidate.

When he sat down, there was shuffling of feet and the choir sang a cantata to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.”

Several gentlemen then stood up and said “hurrah” three times after which the solemnities closed and the audience dispersed, the Republicans earnestly persisting that the speeches were “splendid” and the Democrats smiling to think that their opponents had been taken for ignorant mud turtles by two reckless stump demagogues.


During his bloody shirt, grinning skull and gory raw bones speech last week, Patterson the stumper made the assertion that in the event of a Democratic victory, the war debt of the Southern Confederacy would be paid by the United States Government.

He imagined that he had an audience of mud turtles that could be gulled into believingevery word he uttered.

Now observe how plain a tale will compel him to “pull down his vest.”

Article 14, Section 4, of the Constitution reads as follows:

“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questions.

“But neither the United States, nor any State, shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

The above provision of the Constitution forever disposes of the pretense that there are any persons in the United States who expect to secure the payment of the war debt of the Southern Confederacy.


It is impossible to enumerate the long list of Tilden’s infamous crimes, but a few glaring instances will suffice to show the total depravity of his character.

In addition to the fact that he ate his grandmother while still a youth, it is asserted upon the very best authority he boiled his infant brother in oil and dined sumptuously upon the tender steaks and chops of that succulent relative.

Later in life he became a highway robber and was an accomplice of the Bender family.

He was the true murderer of Nathan, and the chief of the great organization of railroad wreckers and train robbers.

He was the incendiary who fired Chicago, and was the aider and abettor of Piper, the belfry murderer, and of Jesse Pomeroy, the boy vampire.

He is continually inciting the negroes of the South to acts of violence, and if elected President, will in all probability marry Bessie Turner or Anna Dickinson.


With serious yet snide comments and facetious rhetoric, this newspaper clearly supports the party announced in their title, The Union Democrat.

Interestingly, the 1876 presidential election showed the popular vote favored Samuel Tilden while the electoral vote went to Rutherford B. Hayes.

As with other elections where the popular vote candidate did not win, this election caused much turmoil among the constituents.

So, who did California support in the election of 1876?

The “Bloody Shirt Discourses” appeared to be effective. Their six electoral votes went for the Republican Hayes.

The California Fractional Gold Coin shows between the National Democrat and Republican charts for the presidential election of 1876.

California Fractional Gold Coin