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Title: Result of the Election

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: April 13, 1842

Publication information: New York Aurora 13 April 1842: [2].

Source: Original issue held at the Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00384

Contributors to digital file: Eric Rohman, Jason Stacy, Lucas Reincke, and Kevin McMullen




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Result of the Election.

As our readers will perceive by tables in another part of today's paper—Robert H. Morris is re-elected mayor of the city.1 His majority cannot be less than two thousand. The democratic ticket2 is successful in the Fourth and Seventh wards,3 which have hitherto gone for the whigs;4 and lost in the Sixth positively—and possibly the Eighth, Sixteenth, and Twelfth, and a slight chance also of the Fourteenth. If all these latter are defective—which is barely possible—the whigs will have a majority in the common council;5 if not, not.

Though Morris himself is a good officer and a worthy man, we did not hesitate in opposing him and his whole ticket; as we should do the same thing, under the like circumstances, again. No merit is their, to our taste, in gaining success through base truckling to a conglomeration of foreign vagabonds and rowdies.6 We would rather the whole Tammany ticket had gone by the board,7 than that the catholic priests should in this manner, have an example of their power, to which to point back, and say, in future—Behold what might we have to sway your elections to one side or the other—behold and tremble!8

Is it not a pleasant spectacle for an American to look upon? The greatest and most popular of the parties of the republic, bending to the very feet of the dictation of a rude, ignorant rabble! American citizens—good men and true—insolently browbeaten by a minority of foreign bullies; our own people, born and brought up among us, forced to stand aside and humbly doff their hats, like menials in the presence of their masters!

Has it come to be, that Irishman is a better title to office, here, than American? When the coarse, illiterate Kinderhook roarer9 proclaimed himself to be "half Irish," in Tammany Hall, night before last, there arose cheer after cheer, peal after peal, shaking the very ground, and almost deafening the hearer; had he called himself merely an American, he would have been listened to with apathy.10

For our own part, we confess that while our philanthropy is wide enough to take in all nations, grades, and sects, the love nearest and closest to our heart is reserved for our own beloved republic, and for our free born American citizens.

The Irish will now probably be ten times more insolent than ever. Yet is the scale turning—and that with no small rapidity. Hundreds and hundreds of democrats yesterday, reflecting on the course pursued in this business, and viewing the conduct of the foreigners during the day, were open in their expressions of disgust and of dissatisfaction with themselves for not having promptly nipped the matter in the bud.

P. S.—The actual political complexion of the Common Council was not known for certain when we went to press, although at 2 o'clock the probability, was that that the whigs had elected their Aldermen and Assistants11 in the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th wards—ten of the 17 wards.


Notes:

1. Robert H. Morris (1808–1855), 64th mayor of New York City, was first elected mayor in 1841, and in 1842 was running for reelection. Morris was a Democrat who received a majority of support from Tammany Hall and is of particular interest to Whitman here because of his appeal to Irish Catholic voters during the Maclay Bill controversy during the spring of 1842. Morris was also reelected mayor in 1843, and subsequently served as Postmaster of the city and then as a judge on the circuit court (Edwin G. Burrows, and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1999], 632). [back]

2. The ticket of the Democratic party, ostensibly in this case synonymous with the "Tammany ticket," referenced later. [back]

3. These are voting districts in New York City at this time. Wards became less important in mayoral politics after the consolidation of New York City in 1898 into the borough system used today. [back]

4. The Whig party was one of the two major political parties in the mid-nineteenth century United States, formed out of a coalition in opposition to Andrew Jackson's policies. In New York City the party often played a minority role to the dominance of the Democratic Party in the city's politics. For further reading, see: Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). [back]

5. The New York City Council, often referred to during this period as the "common council." [back]

6. For Whitman's complicated interpretations of Irish immigration, see: Joann Kreig, Whitman and the Irish (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000) and Jason Stacy, Walt Whitman's Multitudes: Labor Reform and Persona in Whitman's Journalism and the First Leaves of Grass, 1840-1855 (New York: Peter Lang, 2008), 59-67. [back]

7. The Aurora was a political newspaper allied with the Democratic Party, yet in the spring of 1842 it was opposed to Tammany Hall, the dominant political organization in New York City Democratic politics, and New York City politics in general, for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The paper placed itself firmly against the Tammany Hall establishment to the point of calling for Whig victories in order to oppose what it saw as the corrupting influence of the Tammany Hall's courtship of Irish voters in the mayoral election of 1842 (Edwin G. Burrows, and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1999], 822-826). [back]

8. Here Whitman is most likely referring to Bishop "Dagger" John Hughes (1797–1864), who supported the Maclay Bill, which sought to provide taxpayer money for Catholic parochial schools. The Aurora opposed the Maclay Bill, but framed the debate in nativist, anti-Irish and anti-Catholic terms. For further reading, see: Martin L. Meenagh, "Archbishop John Hughes and the New York Schools Controversy of 1840-43," American Nineteenth Century History 5, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 34-65. [back]

9. The nickname "Kinderhook roarer" was applied to Aaron Vanderpoel (1799–1870). At one time a member of the House of Representatives, Vanderpoel was active in New York City politics as a prominent figure of the Democratic party. Vanderpoel's support for core Democratic issues, such as preservation of slavery and, in this case, support for the Maclay Bill, situated him within the center of New York Democracy (John L. Brooke, Columbia Rising: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010], 481; William Raymond, Biographical Sketches of the Distinguished Men of Columbia County [Albany, NY: Weed, Parsons and Co., 1851], 93-94). [back]

10. Whitman's anecdote here epitomizes the Aurora's argument against Tammany Hall in the spring of 1842. As this article followed the election, and the results were already finalized, the Aurora could do little more than to decry Tammany Hall's support for Irish Catholic Democrats. [back]

11. These are titles of positions in the New York City Council. [back]


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