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About New York Sunday Dispatch

Amor J. Williamson (1823–1867) and William Burns (1818–1850) founded the Sunday Dispatch in 1846 as a weekly publication with Whiggish leanings. The paper published human-interest stories, serials, fiction, poetry, reviews of books and the theater, as well as local and national news items.

In 1852, the Dispatch claimed to have the "largest local circulation of the daily or weekly press of this City, with but one exception . . . ." and engaged in ongoing rhetorical jousts with rival Democratic papers such as James Gordon Bennett's (1795–1872) New York Herald and with local politicos such as Michael Walsh (1810–1859), who also published the Democratic Subterranean until 1845.

When Whitman began his "Letters from a Travelling Bachelor" for the Dispatch in 1849, he had reached the nadir in his career as a Democratic editorialist. In 1848 he was fired as editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for his support of the Free Soil Party and, after an unsuccessful three months at the New Orleans Crescent, he edited and published the free-soil Brooklyn Freeman for only about a year.

There are ten "Letters," each numbered sequentially through 11, with number 8 missing. The editors have sought number 8 to no avail and have concluded that it may have appeared in either the December 2 or December 9 issue of the Dispatch, if these issues were published. Neither issue has been located in the Library of Congress holdings of the newspaper, the most complete collection of extant issues. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Amor J. Williamson and William Burns were arrested sometime before December 11, 1849 as part of a libel suit for "slanderous charges in relation to the manner in which the Williamsburgh ferry charter was procured," which may explain a possible gap in publication. Between Letter VII and Letter IX, the series title changes from "Letters from a Travelling Bachelor" to "From a Travelling Bachelor," which may also signify a break in the publishing sequence.


"Arrests," Brooklyn Daily Eagle 11 December 1849, .

"Advertisement," New York Daily Times 17 April 1853, .

"Death of an Editor," New York Times 2 June 1850, .

Jonathan Halperin Earle, Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1842–1854 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

"Mr. Amor J. Williamson," New York Times 2 March 1867, .

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