The Political Graveyard
November 1, 2002 3:01 PM   Subscribe

The Political Graveyard -- It all started innocently enough.....I was reading a piece by a professor of media and journalism studies who wondered: Was Paul Wellstone murdered?" and cited an unusual number of democrats who had died in plane crashes. Was it true, I wondered? -- My search led me to The Political Graveyard, with it's endless categorizations of the details in the deaths of US politicians. Deaths by religious affiliation, politicians killed by poison or gunfights, opium overdoses or car crashes. But was it true? Yes, the site seemed to confirm the deaths (for the last 3 decades or so) of a statistically anomalous number of national democratic politicians (sitting or running for office) in plane crashes....but the site just grabbed me and wouldn't let me leave: Charles Tillinghast James (1805-1862): died while making his own cannon, Richard Ellis (1781-1846): died when his clothes suddenly caught fire, Thomas Caute Reynolds (1821-1887): killed himself by leaping down an elevator shaft, Sidney Theodore Roebuck (1901-1982): died from RAT poison, and MY FAVORITE, Elmer Severson (1922-1999), who died from spinal cord injuries he lost a "tussle with a cow"
posted by troutfishing (21 comments total)
What's noteworthy about these figures isn't so much how they died,
but what occurred during their term of office. Ephraim Paine (scroll down)
is one such example. Not much is known about him, though what he didn't accomplish certainly beggars attention.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:41 PM on November 1, 2002

Great post - some serious hellraisers in here:

Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903) -- also known as Cassius M. Clay; "The Lion of White Hall" -- . . . Member of Kentucky state house of representatives, 1835-37, 1840; served in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War; candidate for Republican nomination for Vice President, 1860; . . . Probably the best-known Southern emancipationist; freed his own slaves in 1844 and edited the only Southern antislavery newspaper in 1845-47. Shot point-blank during a speech in 1843, he used a Bowie knife to cut off the attacker's ear and nose and cut out one eye; tried for mayhem and found not guilty. Died, of kidney failure, in Madison County, Ky., July 22, 1903

Henry Stuart Foote (1804-1880) Born in Fauquier County, Va., February 28, 1804. U.S. Senator from Mississippi, 1847-52; Governor of Mississippi, 1852-54; Representative from Tennessee in the Confederate Congress, 1862-65. Fought four duels; left Alabama in 1830 to escape prosecution for duelling. Exchanged blows with Thomas Hart Benton on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Expelled from the Confederate Congress in early 1865 for going North on an unauthorized peace mission. Died in Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn., May 19, 1880

Joseph Barker (c.1806-1862) of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pa. Born in Allegheny County, Pa. Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pa., 1850-51; defeated, 1851, 1852. In 1849, after an anti-Catholic speech, he was arrested, charged with using obscene language, obstructing the streets, and causing a riot, convicted, and sentenced to a year in prison; elected mayor in 1850 while still incarcerated. While mayor, he was twice arrested on charges of assault and battery. In 1851, he was convicted of riot. Struck and killed by a railroad train, in Ross Township, Allegheny County, Pa., August 2, 1862

. . . these guys obviously didn't worry about their next fundraiser; right or wrong, I wish our politicians gave a shit nowadays . . .
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 4:17 PM on November 1, 2002

Just remember, though, the important thing in this post isn't random deaths of unimportant historical figures; it's that there's a horrible plot to murder all the Democrats! It's not just anybody who's asking -- why, it's a "professor of media studies", certainly the first person to turn to in matters of criminal investigation! It's not even attributable to chance, either, because it's statistically anomalous according to careful back-of-the-envelope calculations! Wouldn't want you to miss the meat of this post so casually slipped in there like it didn't matter -- it's the sneaky technique of the buried lede! In fact, one of the most dangerous occupations in the country is simply being a Democrat!

Fishing, indeed.
posted by dhartung at 4:35 PM on November 1, 2002

Well, the dead politicians site is interesting, but of course the democrat-death theory isn't. The author of the Alternet "Was Paul Wellstone Murdered?" article, Michael I. Niman, doesn't quite strike one as a serious intellectual powerhouse: here is one of his seminal works. (complete with review by "High Times" - sweeet.)
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 4:49 PM on November 1, 2002

"Clement Laird Vallandigham (1820-1871) -- also known as Clement L. Vallandigham -- Uncle of John A. McMahon. Born in New Lisbon, Columbiana County, Ohio, July 29, 1820. Democrat. Lawyer; member of Ohio state house of representatives, 1845-46; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 1856, 1864, 1868; U.S. Representative from Ohio 3rd District, 1858-63; defeated, 1852, 1854, 1862; candidate for Governor of Ohio, 1863. Leader of the pro-Southern "Copperheads" during the Civil War; arrested by the Union military authorities in 1863 for treasonable utterances, and banished to the Confederate States; returned to the North by way of Canada. Accidentally shot himself in court while conducting a demonstration for the jury, and died of his wound the next day, in Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio, June 17, 1871. Interment at Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio. "

posted by RobbieFal at 5:44 PM on November 1, 2002

Gobbledygook. Of course, in the back of my mind, shortly after hearing of Wellstone's plane crash, similar questions arose...perhaps some covert Republican operative somehow caused the plane to crash, hoping that it would help ensure a Coleman win. But...then the other side of my brain countered: hey, maybe it was a covert Democratic operative who caused it -- perhaps because they figured that Wellstone was more of a liability than an asset, and Mondale (or some other waiting-in-the-wings figure) would be much more "electable" and follow standard DNC party lines, unlike the "maverick" Wellstone.

Of course, that's all just behind-the-scenes whirring of any thinking person's brain -- giving voice to such theories can, of course, lead one to be labeled as "paranoid" or simply another conspiracist.

The simple truth: the plane crashed. Planes crash sometimes. Small planes crash more often than big ones. Politicians travel by plane - A LOT. Particularly during the frenzy leading up to the election. It's like rock stars - given the number of rock stars who fly, and how often they fly, it's almost inevitable that some will perish in plane crashes.

What happened to Wellstone was, simply and sadly, an accident. No conspiracies - no covert ops - just sad.
posted by davidmsc at 7:27 PM on November 1, 2002

troll> Accident? Accident? Sure, and I suppose you'll tell me it was an "accident" that Bush's brother was governor of Florida!</troll
posted by ?! at 8:45 PM on November 1, 2002

Sorry, couldn't resist. Thanks for the link. I never realized we had politicians die fishing...
posted by ?! at 8:47 PM on November 1, 2002

Wellstone Plane Was Out Of Control
posted by Babylonian at 9:19 PM on November 1, 2002

Wellstone Plane Was Out Of Control

y2karl & MidasMulligan react:
posted by y2karl at 9:50 PM on November 1, 2002

troutfishing: Didn't you just post a thread about a site that claimed that Alternet is funded by the CIA and Skull & Bones... So I mean really how reliable is that story from Dr. Michael Niman? It is obviously a government plant story to throw you off the real trail....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:03 AM on November 2, 2002

I find it curious that no one has actually bothered to check out my basic observation - I.E. that the body count of national democratic politicians (sitting or running for office, and I included state governers in this count) who have died in plane crashes since 1968, as compared to the equivalent republican body count [note- I didn't include this last condition, as I thought it a bit too obvious to mention], is wildly skewed: lots of dead democrats. Bad planes? Bad pilots? Poor weather? Other factors? Random statistical blip?

The "Political graveyard" is a great place to research this claim.

You will discover, I believe, my "statistical anomaly".......
posted by troutfishing at 2:58 AM on November 2, 2002

Steve_at_linnwood - I guess you haven't bothered to research the background of the story of CIA funding/manipulation of US media [Cointelpro, Mockingbird, etc.] - I guess I'll have to do another post on those projects (hint - Cointelpro was the subject of a major US congressional inquiry) *yawn*
posted by troutfishing at 3:03 AM on November 2, 2002

I'm flattered at all the attention to my web site, The Political Graveyard, and I'm happy to see that people find it interesting or useful.

However, I am startled to see the link above, on the word "hellraisers", points to an out-of-date copy of one of my pages (politicians in trouble or disgrace) on some other web site. The current version of that page is here.
posted by polygon at 3:19 AM on November 2, 2002

polygon - great site. It rivals tombstone obituaries (and sayings). I'll return to it the next time I'm laid back for a while, like when I have my next wisdom tooth out, and want a soothing and educational alternative to TV . Any additional info on the "tussle with a cow"? Was it actually "cow wrestling"? Or was it an "altercation"?
posted by troutfishing at 8:13 AM on November 2, 2002

Cow wrestling? I don't have any definitive information, but I don't think it was done recreationally.

My politicians killed in aircraft accidents or disasters page has gotten about 5,000 hits since Wellstone's crash.

CNN also has a similar page with fewer crashes but more details per incident.
posted by polygon at 4:11 PM on November 2, 2002

Wellstone's co-pilot had been laid off at Moussaoui's flight school, which proves ...?
posted by sheauga at 6:21 PM on November 2, 2002

Of course, this "Wellstone was murdered" stuff currently falls into NULL HYPOTHESIS territory....I doubt we'll ever know. Polygon -- only 5,000 hits?

By the way Al Martin of "Al Martin Raw" just did a piece beginning with Wellstone:" It should be remembered that Wellstone also was the chairman of the new securities reform committee. And it was Wellstone who was attempting to block the nomination of the notorious William Webster, former CIA and FBI head and the Best Friend of Big Business and the Big Accounting Firms, to be the new chairman of the SEC/ Accounting "Oversight" Commission.

      If the Republicans wanted to take anybody out, this was THE guy.

      Wellstone was also the lead voice in the Senate, pushing for the investigation of the missing $350 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This is the affair in which Secretary of Interior Gale Norton has twice taken the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions about how $350 million disappeared late in the Reagan-Bush administration. Judge Lamberth cited her for contempt, but when do they send her to jail? It should also be remembered that Lamberth was a Republican appointed judge.

      Wellstone was a very significant player, and if there was one target (the most valuable guy to eliminate), it would be Wellstone. This could be the actual trump card in who will control the Senate."

.... well then....still null hypothesis stuff but, in the context of recent domestic "dirty tricks" (COINTELPRO, MOCKINGBIRD, yadda, yadda, yadda)....... fishy.
posted by troutfishing at 8:18 PM on November 2, 2002

"leaped down an elevator shaft" - that would be my choice.

Maybe all this reflects that Dem are more fun-loving, on the edge type people & therefore more prone to accidents like having their clothes spntaneously combust, while Reps. are more staid types who never get out.
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:22 AM on November 4, 2002

Pressed Rat - Hmmmmm.....You may have something there. But I think those profiles may have shifted (or even reversed) recently.
posted by troutfishing at 10:05 AM on November 4, 2002

Troutfishing, where precisely are you getting your information from (not just, but where within the site), and what numbers did you come up with?

I looked at this page for deaths from 1972 forward, counted only those running for or holding U.S. Representative, U.S. Senate, U.S. cabinet, or state governor at the time of death, and also added Wellstone, who isn't listed yet.

I counted 8 democrats and 6 republicans. Where's the statistical anomaly?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:32 PM on November 4, 2002

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