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Walt Whitman to the Editors of The Daily Crescent, 18 November 1848

Eds. Crescent:—

Well, election times are over. We have recovered from the heat and burden of the battle, and most folks breathe freer." Taylor1 is President, the republic is comparatively quiet for about three years—quiet at least on one great subject—and the Universal Yankee Nation is "saved." How splendidly the Northern States, the biggest and richest of them voted for your Louisiana Planter! Does this look like a spite towards the South? That feeling which some mistaken gents in your latitude (though not precisely in your longitude) are so fond of ascribing to us! For my part I confess I did not vote for the old General, but I am willing to see all the good developments of the election, nevertheless. To me it is a beautiful thought, that the "fraternity" which forms the third ingredient in what Monsieur Crapeau2 is after, already exists—with "liberty" and an elsewhere unequalled amount of "equality"—in this Republic. Whoever doubts it, look at the grand majorities in Pennsylvania and New York, for the old Southerner, Taylor—and when convinced, make a note of, and don't babble of "sectional feeling" any more.

New York, about these times, is most musically pervaded. We have had the Germania Musical Society, a company of twenty-five splendid performers, led by Tenschow,3 the German composer—a remarkable and superior band. Now we have Gung'l's Band—Josef Gung'l,4 haven't you heard of him and his "three tact time," and his folks? Oh, if you haven't you had better set about it, because the musical critics say that he is "great:" and besides that, his corps will make a circle around the land, and take in New Orleans by the way.

Do you see that New York sends two editors to Congress? Greeley5 goes this winter, and Brooks6 (of the Express) next. Well, well, it's lucky the two are to be separated by the distance of nine months—for their interminable bickerings and pen-fights have kept the partisans of each on fire, for months and months past. Greeley is likely to do good, if he would but try, on such points as Postoffice reform, giving the election of officers to the people, wherever practicable, and such like. But the probability is, that he will leave all these, and try for the chimerical and never-to-be-accomplished establishment of a "Protective Tariff," or some such by-gone nonsense.

New York, now-a-days, is brilliant and busy, with crowds of strangers. General Butler,7 Mrs. Polk,8 the Van Burens,9 and divers more celebrities, are to be seen in Broadway, of a morning, or at some place of entertainment in the evening. Poor Manager Fry!10 His very name is descriptive of the condition of a musical director. He has more sulking and quarrelling and hair pulling to trouble him than any other mortal soul. He holds a tight rein, however, and will either make or break—probably the latter.



  • 1. 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]
  • 2. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
  • 3. Little is known about Tenschow, whom Whitman describes here as a German composer. [back]
  • 4. Josef Gung'l (1809–1889) was a Hungarian musician, bandmaster, and conductor. [back]
  • 5. Horace Greeley (1811–1872) was editor of the New York Tribune and a prominent advocate of social and political reform. Greeley generally supported the Whig Party in his early years, though he helped found the Republican Party in 1854. He ran for president as Liberal Republican in the election of 1872. For more information on Greeley, see Robert C. Williams, Horace Greeley: Champion of American Freedom (New York: New York University Press, 2006). [back]
  • 6. James Brooks (1807–1873) was the editor of the New York Express, a newspaper that began publication in 1836. He was also a lawyer and a politican who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from New York. [back]
  • 7. William Orlando Butler (1791–1880) was a United States Army Major General, having served in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, as well as a politician. He served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Kentucky. In 1848, Butler was the Vice Presidential nominee for the Democratic party. He and Presidential nominee Lewis Cass (1782–1866) lost the election to Whig Candidate Zachary Taylor (1784–1850), who went on to serve as the twelfth president of the United States, from 1849 until his death in 1850. [back]
  • 8. Sarah Childress Polk (1803–1891) was the wife of the eleventh President of the United States, James K. Polk (1795–1849). She was the first lady of the United States from 1845 to 1849. [back]
  • 9. Whitman is likely referring to Free Soil presidential candidate Martin Van Buren (1782–1862) and his son John Van Buren (1810–1866). [back]
  • 10. Edward P. Fry was an impresario and the manager and Director of the Italian Opera Company. [back]
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