[portion of letter from San Francisco written October 19, 1865]
BOB ROACH'S PLAN FOR CIRCUMVENTING A DEMOCRAT
Where did all these Democrats come from? They grow thicker and thicker and act more and more outrageously at each successive election. Now yesterday they had the presumption to elect S. H. Dwinelle to the Judgeship of the Fifteenth District Court, and not content with this, they were depraved enough to elect four out of the six Justices of the Peace! Oh, 'Enery Villiam, where is thy blush! Oh, Timothy Hooligan, where is thy shame! It's out. Democrats haven't got any. But Union men staid away from the election - they either did that or else they came to the election and voted Democratic tickets - I think it was the latter, though the Flag will doubtless say it was the former. But these Democrats didn't stay away - you never catch a Democrat staying away from an election. The grand end and aim of his life is to vote or be voted for, and he accommodates to circumstances and does one just as cheerfully as he does the other. The Democracy of America left their native wilds in England and Connaught to come here and vote - and when a man, and especially a foreigner, who don't have any voting at home any more than an Arkansas man has ice-cream for dinner, comes three or four thousand miles to luxuriate in occasional voting, he isn't going to stay away from an election any more than the Arkansas man will leave the hotel table in "Orleans" until he has destroyed most of the ice cream. The only man I ever knew who could counteract this passion on the part of Democrats for voting, was Robert Roach, carpenter of the steamer Aleck Scott, "plying to and from St. Louis to New Orleans and back," as her advertisement sometimes read. The Democrats generally came up as deck passengers from New Or leans, and the yellow fever used to snatch them right and left - eight or nine a day for the first six or eight hundred miles; consequently Roach would have a lot on hand to "plant" every time the boat landed to wood - "plant" was Roach's word. One day as Roach was superintending a burial the Captain came up and said:
"God bless my soul, Roach, what do you mean by shoving a corpse into a hole in the hill-side in this barbarous way, face down and its feet sticking out?"
"I always plant them foreign Democrats in that manner, sir, because, damn their souls, if you plant 'em any other way they'll dig out and vote the first time there's an election - but look at that fellow, now - you put 'em in head first and face down and the more they dig the deeper they'll go into the hill."
In my opinion, if we do not get Roach to superintend our cemeteries, enough Democrats will dig out at the next election to carry their entire ticket. It begins to look that way.
The Works of Mark Twain; Early Tales & Sketches, Vol. 2 1864-1865,
(Univ. of California Press, 1981), pp. 313-14.]
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