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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Thatcher had treated Pettit generously


The

Honorable Isaac Pettit, of Fraser, was one of the most noteworthy figures on the floor. Had he not thrown off the Bassett yoke and trampled the lord of Fraser County underfoot? Did not the opposition press applaud the editor for so courageously wresting from the despicable chieftain the control of a county long inured to slavery? Verily, the Honorable Isaac had done much to encourage belief in the guileless that such were the facts. Even the "Courier" proved its sturdy independence by printing the result of the primary without extenuation or aught set down in malice. The Honorable Isaac Pettit undoubtedly believed in himself as the savior of Fraser. He had personally led the fight in the Fraser County primaries and had vanquished Bassett! "Bassett had fought gamely," the Republican organ averred, to make more glorious the Honorable Isaac's victory. It was almost inconceivable, they said, that Bassett, who had dominated his party for years, should not be able to elect himself a delegate to a state convention.

In a statement printed in the "Courier," Bassett had accepted defeat in a commendable spirit of resignation. He and Atwill had framed that statement a week before the primaries, and Miss Rose Farrell had copied at least a dozen drafts before Bassett's critical sense was satisfied. Harwood was increasingly amused by the manifestations of Bassett's ironic humor. "I have never yet," ran the statement, "placed my own ambitions before the wishes

of my party; and if, when the Democrats of Fraser County meet to choose a candidate for state senator, they are not disposed to renominate me for a seat which I have held for twelve years, I shall gladly resign to another and give my loyal support to the candidate of their choice." It was whispered that the Honorable Isaac Pettit would himself be a candidate for the nomination. The chattel mortgage scrolls in the office of the recorder of Fraser County indicated that his printing-press no longer owed allegiance to the Honorable Morton Bassett. Thatcher had treated Pettit generously, taking his unsecured note for the amount advanced to cleanse the "Fraser County Democrat" of the taint of Bassettism.

As they gathered in the convention hall many of the delegates were unable to adjust themselves to the fact that Bassett had not only failed of election as delegate from his own county, but that he was not even present as a spectator of the convention. The scene was set, the curtain had risen, but Hamlet came not to the platform before the castle. Many men sought Harwood and inquired in awed whispers as to Bassett's whereabouts, but he gave evasive answers. He knew, however, that Bassett had taken an early morning train for Waupegan, accompanied by Fitch, their purpose being to discuss in peace and quiet the legal proceeding begun to gain control of the "Courier." The few tried and trusted Bassett men who knew exactly Bassett's plans for the convention listened in silence to the hubbub occasioned by their chief's absence; silence was a distinguishing trait of Bassett's lieutenants. Among the uninitiated there were those who fondly believed that Bassett was killed, not scotched, and they said among themselves that the party and the state were well rid of him. Thatcher was to be reckoned with, but he was no worse than Bassett: with such cogitations they comforted themselves amid the noise and confusion. The old Bassett superstition held, however, with many: this was only another of the Boss's deep-laid schemes, and he would show his hand in due season and prove himself, as usual, master of the situation. Others imagined that Bassett was sulking, and these were not anxious to be the target of his wrath when he chose to emerge from his tent in full armor.


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