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Walt Whitman to the Editors of The Daily Crescent, 12 October 1848

Half the people you meet this morning, have something to say about the Pennsylvania and Ohio election news. It seems every way probable, from the complexion of the returns so far, that the Whig1 tickets are successful in both those States. In Pennsylvania this was not expected. And to have two such big States declaring for the Whigs, adds highly to Gen. Taylor's2 chances—which his friends believe are "the best out." A large portion of voters are like the bubbles on a river; they run just which way the current runs.

We have the loveliest of weather, and have had for a week. The sun shines bright and clear in the day; and the harvest moon by night. The air is dry, bracing, and coolish—just the stuff for a respectable pair of lungs. Thirty or forty thousand visiters are in town, either buying goods for country stores for winter, or attending the Fair at Castle Garden, or something else. Never have I seen a more varied or spangled crowd than filled the sidewalks of Broadway, about noon yesterday! It was a close and uninterrupted phalanx of youth, beauty, manliness, moustaches, distant and domestic celebrities, dandies and spruce lads. Commend me to a stroll in Broadway, of an October noon!

I spent an hour at the Fair yesterday afternoon. One of the first attractions, at the entrance, is what appears to be a flannel-shirted "one of 23's b'ys," with hat on forehead, and a segar in an almost perpendicular position from his mouth. Upon a second look, you find it is wax-work—and capitally done it is. The grand saloon is crowded with the usual variety of wares—not forgetting the bed-quilts and pound-cake. Some sofas and a magnificent Gothic bookcase, attracted my attention; and a splendid display, too, of saws, and steel fixin's to enginery. Wending your way through the alleys, you have a first rate opportunity to see the pleasant country girls, with the fresh plump cheeks, and looks of modest wonder and pleasure. On these occasions it is that many families pay their only visits to the city. Gen. Scott3 was at the Fair yesterday. The band played a complimentary tune, and the folks stared at the old hero; but there was no hurrahing. Jerome,4 the sailor, is also to be seen in the area; he has a subscription paper to Berford's5 new periodical, (to be edited by Wm. Wallace,6 of Kentucky.)

The balloon ascension, mentioned in my last, came off according to promise, at Niblo's, yesterday afternoon. Mr. Morrill7 had a very pleasant time of it, according to appearances. He sailed over toward Long Island, but where he struck the earth, has not yet been announced. Macready8 still "goes it s'rong" at the Astor Place; to-night he plays Hamlet—his best performance. Those pleasant singers, the Seguins, with their satellites, are at the Broadway, giving Balfe's beautiful plagiarism of "the Bohemian Girl." The German Musical Society, twenty-three performers, have been giving concerts at the Tabernacle. They are glorious players—in individual perfection fully equal to the Steyermarkers,9 and more of them. A youth named Ikelheimer,10 aged only 15, said to be a wondrous violinist, has come among us, from Germany—last from Paris. You have no idea how music "takes" here. Our Evening Free Schools—capital institutions, that ought to be established in every city in the United States—open on Monday evening next. Do persuade your functionaries to have something of the same sort in New Orleans.* Frost has made its appearance hereabout. Indeed a little glaze of ice appeared, some miles at the east, the other morning



  • 1. The Whigs were a political party in the antebellum United States; the Whig and the Democratic Parties were the two major political parties in the United States as part of the two-party system. The Whigs were critical of the nation's expansion into Texas and of the Mexican-American War and favored a national bank. They preferred that Congress take the lead in lawmaking and opposed strong presidential power. Their supporters were primarily professionals and social reformers; they received much less support from farmers and laborers. The Democratic Party in this period opposed a national bank, and they advocated for strong presidential power, and the interests of slave states. [back]
  • 2. 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]
  • 3. Winfield Scott (1786–1866) was a military officer and politician. He served as a general in the Army for more than forty-five years, and he served in the Mexican-American War and in the United States Civil War. [back]
  • 4. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
  • 5. R. G. Berford was a literary agent with an extensive establishment offering books and periodicals for sale in Philadelphia. He founded several newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle in addition to publishing books under his own imprint. [back]
  • 6. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
  • 7. Dr. Morrill was an aeronaut who made ascensions and journeys in his balloon. Inflating the balloon required hyrdrogen gas, sulphuric acid, iron, and water ("The Balloon Ascension," The Evening Post, October 11, 1848, 2). [back]
  • 8. William Macready (1793–1873) was a British stage actor, who played Shakespearean roles, including Richard III. He performed in London, New York, and Paris. [back]
  • 9. The Steyermarkers were an Austrian musical group that performed in the United States. They gave a concert in New Orleans in 1848. [back]
  • 10. Little is known about Desire Ikelheimer, who was a violinist from Germany. [back]
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