Published Works


About this Item

Title: [According to the best authenticated]

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: April 14, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00395

Source: New York Aurora 14 April 1842: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue. Original issue held at the Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the journalism, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This piece is unsigned. However, Whitman was the editor of the Aurora when this editorial was written, and Herbert Bergman identified him as its author in Walt Whitman, The Journalism. Volume I: 1834–1846 (New York: Peter Lang, 1998). The Whitman Archive editors agree that the style and content of the piece are consistent with other known Whitman writings of this period.

Contributors to digital file: Nolan Shan, John Clayton, Sean Courtney, Jason Stacy, and Kevin McMullen

image 1

image 2

image 3

image 4

cropped image 1

☞ According to the best authenticated returns, last evening, our readers will perceive that while Morris gains his election by handsome majorities,1 the whigs have obtained a decided preponderance in the Common Council. It is well.

We were never brought up to rejoice at the defeat of democratic candidates. Yet our republican schooling has taught us that there are duties far higher and holier than devotion to the local interests of the party. There are times, too, when overthrow is better than conquest. A sudden pulling up of the reins, though it thrills through the structure of the body politic with startling shock, may teach no unneeded lesson.

Tammany is vanquished.2 For it is little that the presiding officer of the city is of her side, while all the essentials of power reside with her antagonists.3

Yet is the moral a wholesome one—one that, viewed in the proper light, may impress upon the minds of men of a great truth. When the representatives of the St. John's Hall clique4 insolently endeavored to browbeat the democrats into submission, the latter should have nobly entrenched themselves upon the rock of principle, and bidden defiance to the storm. But as Tammany allowed herself to be driven, she has little right to grieve when she reaps the harvest of her folly. The gods look with no favor on men who evince a want of confidence in the intrinsic justice of their own cause. Had Tammany stood forth with an honorable reliance on her principles and her countrymen, she would in all probability have succeeded. And even if defeated, as now she is, the satisfaction would be hers, of having done nothing to deserve defeat. As it is, she is not only defeated, but dishonored.


1. The 1842 New York mayoral election was won by the Democratic incumbent Robert H. Morris (1808–1855). Morris defeated the Whig nominee J.P. Phoenix by a count of 20,633 votes to 18,755 votes (The United States Democratic Review 20, [1847]: 554). [back]

2. Tammany Hall, the headquarters of the Democratic political machine in New York, dominated the city's party politics for over a century. Whitman was highly critical of the corruption in Tammany throughout his career. For further reading, see Oliver E. Allen, The Tiger: the Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall (Reading: MA: Addison–Wesley, 1993). [back]

3. The Common Council in New York consists of the Mayor, the Recorder, and the elected Aldermen, and served as a check on the power of the Mayor. The Mayor presided over the council meetings and was only able to cast a vote to break a tie among the council. Tammany failed even though their candidate for mayor won the election because the Whigs, their antagonists, dominated the Common Council and could exert power over the Mayor's office (Laws of the State of New York: Passed at the Session of the Legislature [New York State Legislature, 1844]). [back]

4. St. John's Hall was the base of operations for Bishop John Hughes and supporters of the Maclay Bill. It is now part of the campus of Fordham University. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.