Life & Letters

Correspondence

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Title: Walt Whitman to the Editors of The Daily Crescent, 15 August 1848

Date: August 15, 1848

Whitman Archive ID: med.00962

Source: The location of the original manuscript is unknown. Whitman's letters to Alexander Hamilton Hayes (1806–1866) and John Eliot McClure (ca. 1809–1869)—the editors of The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, Louisiana)—were published in that newspaper. The transcription presented here is derived from The Daily Crescent (25 August 1848): [2]. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Zachary Turpin, Stephanie Blalock, Jeff Hill, and Amanda J. Axley




NEW YORK CITY,
August 15, 1848.

During the last six days every body here has been agog with the Buffalo Convention,1 and matters thereunto appertaining. It seems that seventeen States had delegations there—Ohio by hundreds, and New York by thousands.—From the reports, there were some fifty thousand person assembled, about one-third of whom were delegates. Judge McLean2 withdrew in the beginning. Senator Hale's3 friends, however, rallied a very respectable vote for him, but not quite enough to take the game; whereupon they gave in with a good grace, and Van Buren4 was ratified by acclamation.

Much astonishment is felt, however, at the nomination for the Vice Presidency. Very few people had hitherto heard of Charles Francis Adams5—except, perhaps, in the demesnes of Boston, where he has occupied, for years past, a position among the editorial corps. What the reasons of bringing him forward are, do not as yet appear upon the surface. The managing men at Buffalo, however, had some good reasons in their own minds, no doubt. McLean or Hale had been generally fixed upon for the station.

O, what a ferment we are in! The impetus from Buffalo has come five hundred miles to us, and little is talked of in the streets and public places generally, but the three tickets. Taylor6 has many firm friends here, notwithstanding the heavy ground-swell that sets in from certain quarters against him. Cass,7 I judge from what I hear and see, is least likely to carry New York of any of the candidates. Indeed, the shrewdest politicians do not count this State for the regular Democratic nominees at all.

Very many of the "good society" of the town are off to watering places, and spots all along shore, and some of them in the woods. They are having high times, I see, at Saratoga. Down at Rockaway, and off at Newport, also, balls, pic-nics, jollity, courting, promenading, etc., form the happy employment of some five thousand, probably more, happy dogs. Happy did I say? Well, who knows that they are any happier than we who are comfortably staying at home, and don't stir out during the three hours on each side of meridian line?

There is a report in town that Gen. Worth8 has arrived—he of the "waving plume." He should have come hereafter, or else a couple of months earlier. Just about now, he won't find people disposed to pay anybody much attention, except he come to them talking politics. The gallant General wrote a gratuitous letter to act on the Baltimore Convention,9 in which the desire for something stood out so prominently that even he who ran might read what he, the General, so very much wanted. This letter-writing has killed better men than Worth; and it has cooled the ardor of the friends of the latter exceedingly. It is every way to be hoped, however, that the gallant General will be received by his fellow citizens with due honor and courtesy; for he bore himself valiantly and wisely in the field.

Mr. Trist's10 violent and passionate attack on the President does not receive much serious attention. The Ex-Commissioner overleaps the mark in his fury, and charges too much on his extensively abused Excellency of the White House. Probably Trist is a little demented—at least at times. What do you think about it?

Every body is anxious to hear what they have done in Ireland.11 Heaven grant it may be good news for Freedom!


MANHATTAN.


Notes:

1. Whitman is referring to the first National Free Soil Convention that was held in Buffalo in August 1848. The Free Soil Party opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories of the western United States. At the convention, attendees endorsed Martin Van Buren (1782–1862) as the Free Soil presidential candidate and nominated Charles F. Adams (1807–1886) for Vice President. [back]

2. John McLean (1785–1861) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio and later served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. McLean was not chosen as the Free Soil Vice Presidential nominee in the 1848 election. Instead, Charles F. Adams (1807–1886) became the running mate of Free Soil Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren (1782–1862).  [back]

3. John Parker Hale (1806–1873) was a lawyer and politician from New Hampshire. He served in the United States House of Representatives and in the United States Senate, representing the state of New Hampshire. Early in his political career Hale was a Democrat; later he aided in the founding of the Free Soil Party before becoming a member of the Republican Party. Abraham Lincoln appointed Hale an ambassador to Spain, and Hale served in this role from 1865 until 1869. [back]

4. A founder of the Democratic Party, Martin Van Buren (1782–1862) was the eighth president of the United States, serving from 1837 to 1841. Whig candidate William Henry Harrison defeated the incumbant Van Buren in the 1840 election to become the ninth president of the United States. Van Buren was also the Free Soil candidate for president in the 1848 election; the Whig Candidate Zachary Taylor (1784–1850) won the election and served as the twelfth president of the United States, from 1849 until his death in 1850. [back]

5. Charles F. Adams (1807–1886) was the son of John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), the sixth President of the United States. Charles studied law and served as a member of the Massachusetts legislature. He was the Free-Soil Vice Presidential nominee in the 1848 election, alongside his running mate, Free Soil Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren (1782–1862). Adams served as a U.S. Diplomat during the American Civil War. [back]

6. Zachary Taylor (1784–1850), a Southern slaveholder and a well-known American miltary leader in the Mexican-American War, was the Whig Candidate for president in the 1848 United States Presidential Election. Taylor won the election and went on to serve as the twelfth president of the United States, from 1849 until his death in 1850. [back]

7. Lewis Cass (1782–1866) was a statesman, politician, and military officer. He served as a Senator representing the state of Michigan, as the Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson, and as Secretary of State under James Buchanan. In 1848 he was the Democratic candidate for president. Cass was a proponent of the Doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, which held that each territory should choose whether to permit slavery. Cass was also crucial in the implementation of Andrew Jackson's policy of Indian Removal. For more information on Cass, see The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–2005 (United States Government Printing Office, 2005), 797. [back]

8. General William J. Worth (1794–1849) was an officer in the United States Army for more than thirty-five years. He served during the War of 1812 and during the Mexican-American War. [back]

9. Whitman is referring to the 1848 Democratic National Convention, which was held in Baltimore, Maryland, from May 22 to May 26, 1848. The purpose of the convention was to nominate the Democratic Party's candidates for President and Vice President in the 1848 election. The nominees were Lewis Cass (1782–1866) for President and William O. Butler (1791–1880) for Vice President. [back]

10. Born in Virginia, Nicholas Trist (1800–1874) studied law and went on to become an attorney and a businessman. He served in a diplomatic position as a negotiator with the government of Mexico; although he was dismissed from this role by President James K. Polk (1795–1849). Despite his dismissal, Trist negotiated the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, which ended the Mexican-American War. [back]

11. Whitman is referring to the Young Ireland movement—an Irish nationalist movement that supported Irish independence. The movement had its origins in the Repeal Association's campaign to repeal the 1800 Irish Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. Young Irelanders seceded from the Repeal Association and formed the Irish Confederation, garnering a strong base in Dublin, and exerting a lasting influence on subsequent separatist endeavors. Young Irelanders attempted an unsuccessful insurrection in 1848 with the aims of Irish independence and democratic reform and as a response to British Parliament's passage of a "Crime and Outrage Bill" that enacted martial law in Ireland in an attempt to counter Irish nationalism. The Young Irelanders' rebellion in July 1848, resulted in the arrest of the movement's leaders and the collapse of the rebellion efforts. Ireland would not become self-governing until 1922.  [back]


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