Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume III by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt

A Small-Tail Movement

In no campaign, perhaps, has there been so much rollicking "good time," so much extravagant parade and noise, so much ridiculous story-telling as in this campaign of "1840."

It is said that in a certain village of Western Virginia, while a speaker was setting forth in glowing colors the wonderful generalship of Harrison, a tall, angular farmer rose and called out,

"Mister! Mister! I want to ax a question!"

"I shall be happy to answer any question, if I can," replied the orator.

"We are told, fellow-citizens," said the quaint man, addressing the crowd, "that Gineral Harrison is a mighty great gineral; but I say he's one of the meanest sort of ginerals. We are told that he defended himself bravely at Fort Meigs; but I tell you that on that occasion he was guilty of the Small-Tail Movement, and I challenge the speaker to deny it!"

"I don't know, my friend," replied the orator, "what you mean by the 'Small-Tail Movement.' "

"I'll tell you," said the quaint man. "I've got it here in black and white. Here is 'Quinshaw's History of the United States' "—holding up the book—"and I'll read what it says: 'At this critical moment, General Harrison executed a novel  movement!' Does the gentleman deny this statement?"

"No; go on."

"Well, he executed 'a novel  movement.' Now here's Johnson's Dictionary,"—taking a small book out of his pocket, "and it says, 'Novela small tale!'  This was the kind of movement Gineral Harrison was guilty of. Now, I'm no soger, and don't know much of milentary tic-tacks,—but this I do say: a man who, in the face of an enemy, is guilty of a Small-Tail Movement, is not fit to be the President of the United States, and he shan't have my vote."

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