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Walt Whitman to the Editors of The Daily Crescent, 14 October 1848

Vibrations of hot breath and cold breath come to us from the land of the Buckeyes—the positive election news from whence is looked for here, with great interest. If Ohio has newly chosen the whig1 ticket, as a dispatch in one of the morning papers intimates, it will make the contest close. The impression here, at present, is, however, that the democratic Governor is elected in Ohio. But you will know the result, by telegraph, before this reaches you....We are now, as you may imagine, in the true whirl of excitement. "Old Hunkers" and "Barnburners,"2 and Taylorites3 of a warmer or cooler complexion, "mingle, mingle, mingle," in crowds, public and private, and hold hot arguments in Wall street, and on the steamboats, and even amid the deafening roar of the omnibusses. Old Tammany has a monster flag, with that Grecian temple, and the names of the regular democratic nominees. Great fun, though, is poked by the wags, at the petty larceny conduct of the female figure who appears to be either running away or hiding behind the centre post of the aforesaid temple. Last night, the great flag fell down, and trailed in the dust of Nassau street.

The Government continues ousting the Van Buren4 men from the Customhouse, and its appertainments. Several were discharged yesterday and the previous day....Have you, amid the "Free Soil"5 excitement, noticed what wide and steady progress has been made by the doctrines of what are called the "National Reformers"? (that ambiguous and unmeaning name, which they ought to change for something more descriptive and distinctive.) Depend upon it, these people are already fitted by numbers and power, to exercise a potent influence on the elections of this country. Well, there is much good in some of their nations6—particularly that demanding public land, in moderate quantities, for all actual settlers....We shall soon have a complete line of telegraph from this city to Halifax, N.S., via Boston and [illegible] A good plan has been adopted by that extortortionate [illegible] between this city and Philadelphia. For some time past, they have sent an early train—at 6 o'clock a.m.—fare three dollars; so that a person can go and stay several hours in Philadelphia, and then return at night....Our railroad, hence to Albany, is, about one-fourth of it, completely graded and ready for the superstructure of rails, etc. It looks somewhat ticklish, running close along the river, and often touching it, with the great mountains and rocks penning it in to the east....Lots of the innocent ones, in town, are victimized by sharpers, about now. Even the stale tricks of pocket-book dropping, watch stuffing, and so on, go down yet. Omnibus thieving, too, is rife....The crowd at the Castle Garden Fair is so great, that sometimes, of an evening, people can't get in. Where does all the money go?....Dr. Morrill,7 the balloon man, who started last Wednesday afternoon from Broadway, on an upward trip, came down ku-slosh in the waters of the Atlantic ocean, half a dozen miles from the light ship, somewhere between 8 and 9 o'clock at night. After ducking and bobbing up and around, for some time, the high-flyer was taken off by a pilot boat, but for whose presence near by, the Doctor would certainly have gone to kingdom come. He saved not only himself, but his baloon, and come into town Friday morning....There is a great war going on here among the hatters—who get some hard Knox. Never was the Scottish man more popular in his land, than K. is in this. But O, what a fashion the brimless things of Broadway present this fall!



  • 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. Barnburners and Hunkers were terms used to describe opposing sides of the fracturing Democratic party in New York during the mid-nineteenth century. The Barnburners held radical anti-slavery views and were willing to destroy banks and corporations to end corruption and abuses. The Hunkers were pro-government; they favored state banks and minimized the issue of slavery. The divisions between these factions in New York reflected the national divisions that would lead to the American Civil War (1861–1865). [back]
  • 3. The term "Taylorites" refers to the political supporters of Zachary Taylor (1784–1850). A Southern slaveholder and a well-known American miltary leader in the Mexican-American War, Taylor was the successful Whig Candidate for president in 1848, becoming the twelfth president of the United States from 1849 until his death in 1850. [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. Formed during the 1848 election, the Free Soil Party opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories of the western United States, which included the territory that Mexico had ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the Mexican-American War. When neither the Democratic nor the Republican party presidential nominees would rule out the expansion of slavery into these territories, the Free Soil Party was formed in response. The Free Soil Party was active for six years, from 1848 to 1854. [back]
  • 6. Whitman almost certainly meant "notions." [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]
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