From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cooping was an alleged form of electoral fraud in the United States cited in relation to the death of Edgar Allan Poe in October 1849,[1][2] by which unwilling participants were forced to vote, often several times over, for a particular candidate in an election.[3] According to several of Poe's biographers, these innocent bystanders would be grabbed off the street by so-called 'cooping gangs' or 'election gangs' working on the payroll of a political candidate, and they would be kept in a room, called the "coop", and given alcoholic beverages in order for them to comply. If they refused to cooperate, they would be beaten or even killed. Often their clothing would be changed to allow them to vote multiple times. Sometimes the victims would be forced to wear disguises such as wigs, fake beards or mustaches to prevent them from being recognized by voting officials at polling stations.[citation needed]

Contemporary 19th-century accounts of cooping, independent literature describing Poe's death, do not describe cooping in relation to voter fraud but instead describe press gangs that used cooping to trick unwilling men to enlist in the Union Army during the American Civil War. One such claim of cooping of enlistees was made in a letter from Brigadier General Edward Winslow Hincks read by the Clerk of the House of Representatives in 1865. Brigadier General Hincks, who was in charge of the enlistment of men in New York, blamed the poor quality of enlisted men on cooping, whereby the men were "cooped up", plied with drink to the point of stupefaction, and tricked into enlisting.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Walsh, John Evangelist. Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2000. p. 32–33. ISBN 0-312-22732-9
  2. ^ Peeples, Scott (2007). The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe. Camden House. p. 157. ISBN 978-1-57113-357-1.
  3. ^ Marcotte, Frank B. (2005). Six Days In April Lincoln And The Union In Peril. Algora Publishing. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-87586-314-6.
  4. ^ The Congressional Globe. Office of the Congressional Globe. 1865-02-24. p. 1083.