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Walt Whitman to the Editors of The Daily Crescent, 7 August 1848

The anticipated rising in Ireland1 continues to engross very much of the public interest here, even though the political witchery of the season is fast closing its spells around us. Ireland has such a large representation here in New York—many of the most distinguished professional men, as well as a large portion of the working classes, looking back to Erin as their native land—more beloved, because most oppressed. In almost every quarter the subject of the trials of the arrested Repealers is talked of, and the consequences it will lead to discussed. One thing is beyond doubt: if the fall of 1848 passes on to winter, (which latter rigid season is a fitting symbol of the icy clutch which the Russell2 government are tightening around Irish freedom) and the English officials go on imprisoning the glory and the pride of Ireland—for such are those young Repeal editors, as brave hearts as throb on old earth's surface!—and packing juries to convict them, and sending them off to the hulks, and the oppressed submit to it all, without actual resistance of deed, then the sympathy of the world—at all events of our New World—is shorn of its proportions, and we can hardly think the Irish yet deserving of their freedom. We can hardly think of any worse or more cowardly enemies, then, than they are to themselves. As it is, the great heart of America and of France would be with them. Nor could it be, in case of a deadly struggle, that the honest heart of Old England would willingly see the Government carrying fire and sword against men whose only crime is loving their country, and who have been pushed to desperation by untold persecutions—by starvation, stripes, scorn and outrages upon conscience!

The Buffalo Convention3 convenes next Wednesday—and a huge unwieldly meeting it will be. Delegations have been sent to it not by twos and tens, but by hundreds and thousands, without any regard to proportion or to relative sizes of places. That there will be very considerable excitement there, is a matter of course. Not unlikely, there will ensue a pretty bitter conflict of opinion between the committed friends of Mr. Van Buren,4 and those who prefer somebody else. The probability is, however, that Van Buren will be the nominee for President, with Judge McLean5 for Vice president; if not the Judge, Senator Hale.6 Even the New York Tribune, you see, endorses Van Buren. These are wonderful days, when such things come to pass!

Quite a conflict is going on between the omnibus proprietors and the drivers. The former have (they say in their own defence) passed some pretty stringent resolutions to dismiss all drivers who misbehave, or don't pay up every one of "them" sixpences. The worst of it is, that when one has been thus dismissed the other proprietors are bound not to take him into their employment. This don't suit the Messrs. Jehus, who number some four or five hundred of our "free and enlightened." So, on Sunday morning they held a grand meeting,7 and made speeches, and "resolved" many things—among the rest that they were an injured community, and wouldn't stand it; moreover, that they wouldn't work for less than a dollar and a half a day. Heretofore their pay has been a dollar a day.



  • 1. Young Ireland was an Irish nationalist movement that supported Irish independence. Originating in an 1830s campaign to repeal the 1800 Irish Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland, the Young Ireland movement garnered a strong base in Dublin and had a lasting influence on subsequent separatist endeavors. The Young Irelanders attempted an unsuccessful insurrection in 1848, in part, 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. [back]
  • 2. John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (1792–1878) was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1846 to 1852. [back]
  • 3. Formed during the 1848 election, the Free Soil Party opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories of the western United States. The Party held its national conventions in Utica and Buffalo, New York in 1848. The Free Soil Party was active for six years, from 1848 to 1854, and then it merged with the Republican Party. [back]
  • 4. 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 incumbent Van Buren in the 1840 election to become the ninth president of the United States. Van Buren later became an anti-slavery leader and was the Free Soil candidate for president in the 1848 election; the Whig Candidate Zachary Taylor (1784–1850) defeated Van Buren and went on to serve as the twelfth president of the United States. [back]
  • 5. 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]
  • 6. 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]
  • 7. Whitman is referring to the meeting of stage drivers that took place on Sunday, August 6, 1848, at Constitution Hall on Broadway. For a more detailed account of the meeting and the resolutions passed by the drivers, see "Indignation Meeting of the Omnibus Drivers," The New York Herald (August 7, 1848), 2. [back]
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