Celebrate Labor Day Like It’s 1840 — No Multitasking

OPINION
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) With references to the presidential campaign of 1840…a great op-ed on why you should try and quiet your mind and unplug this Labor Day.

Chicago Tribune

We interrupt the frenzied 2016 political season with reflections on the presidential campaign of 1840. This may change the way you choose to spend Labor Day weekend:

Ahead of that distant year’s contest with Democratic incumbent Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison did not attend the Whig Party convention in Harrisburg, Pa. He stayed home on his Ohio estate. He found out he’d won the nomination … a week later.

There was no telegraph yet, and railroads were in their infancy. No one seemed in any rush to break the story. Harrison simply picked up his copy of the Cincinnati Gazette one morning and noticed a brief article stating that, oh, he’d been nominated for the presidency.

After finally getting official notification, Harrison sat down and wrote a letter of acceptance, according to “The Carnival Campaign,” a new book about that race by Ronald G. Shafer.

Another fact from the book about the pace of life back then: A Whig named James Brooks visited Harrison at home in North Bend, Ohio, during the summer of 1840. You might have thought Harrison would be, you know, out on the hustings talking to voters.

But no, Harrison, who loved to entertain, was there because it was viewed as unseemly for a presidential candidate to talk too much about himself. Brooks, editor of the pro-Whig New York Express, intended to spend a day at North Bend, but Harrison persuaded him to remain a week. “Seldom if ever have I passed any time of my life more agreeably,” wrote Brooks, who obviously also had no other pressing appointments.

Do you get the sense those guys operated at a slower rhythm than today’s candidates and second-by-second news cycle?

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