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Title: Tammany Meeting Last Night

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: April 6, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00403

Source: New York Aurora 6 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: Stefan Schöberlein, Amanda Kapper, Jason Stacy, and Kevin McMullen

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A great gathering of the Democracy convened at Tammany Hall last evening.1 John I. Morgan was chosen chairman, and a long string of resolutions was passed, expressing nothing in particular—and taking care most ingeniously not to touch any of the sore points which are at present existing upon the "body politic."

Messrs. Field,2 Vanderpool,3 Sedgwick,4 and Morrell,5 addressed the assemblage, and spurred them on to do their best in the coming contest. They endeavored to pour as much oil as possible upon the waters; and from the fact that the Irish present very condescendingly permitted themselves to refrain from hissing, or breaking up the affair in a row—we presume the speakers were successful.

We are confident, however, that they have only scotched the snake, not killed it. Hughes6 and his faction are determined to have decided friendship or war to the knife. They are insolent, overbearing, and not to be cajoled. They have nominated a separate ticket, and will undoubtedly go for it, heart and soul.

Tammany puts on a smiling face, meantime—but no one with sharp eyes, but can see that she is in a peck of trouble. That wretched hack, the New Era,7 does its best to widen the breach still more. It has, to a degree, identified the democrats with the movements of the Catholic priests—those hired fomenters of discord, and assassins of union.

We beseech the democratic party, in this matter, to take a stand worthy of their professed principles. As they love the memory of Washington—as they adhere to the teachings of Jefferson—as they prize the safety, present and future, of our beloved republic—we implore them to speak out against the machinations of these reverend demagogues.

What is the gain of an alderman or a mayor, or the whole city ticket, to the establishing of a precedent for the introduction of sectarianism in our politics? No man can calculate the danger—no eye can look far enough ahead to perceive the horrors that may ensure from following out this precedent.

Again we entreat that portion, (and it is a large portion) of the democracy, who condemn the policy of the Hughes clique, and their convenient pimp, the New Era, to stand firm and falter not.

One thing is certain—the steps taken by the conductors of the Era, have been so grossly insulting to their party, so uncalled for, so scandalous to the dignity of American citizenship—that the Era may expect, ere three months have passed away, either to be formally read out of meeting, or else allowed to sink quietly in the grave of newspapers lost from earth—scorned by every man, and regretted far more by Tammany's foes than Tammany itself.


1. Tammany Hall was a Democratic Party organization in New York City (Hon. William C. Gover, The Tammany Hall Democracy of the City of New York [New York: Martin B. Brown, 1875], 5–6). [back]

2. Daniel Dudley Field II (1805–1894) was a lawyer and a long-standing influential member of the American Bar Association. Field studied law under Robert Sedgwick and they would later become partners. He was a Democrat and resided in New York City much of his life. Field was known to be a master of procedure of the common law system (Report of the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association [Dando Printing and Publishing Company, 1894], 517–519). [back]

3. Abraham B. Vanderpool was an appraiser of customs in New York. He was a member of the Tammany Hall committee (The Republican Campaign Textbook for 1882 [Washington, DC: Republican Congressional Committee, 1882], 104). [back]

4. Likely Henry J. Sedgwick (1812–1868), who practiced law in New York City and served in the state legislature. [back]

5. Likely George Webb Morell (1786–1883), son of the prominent New York jurist and justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, George Morell (The National Cyclopedia of American Biography [New York: James T. White and Company, 1895], 4: 37). [back]

6. John Hughes (1797–1864) was a Catholic, Irish-born bishop and later archbishop of New York. He fought vigorously against the Public School Society's use of the Kings James Bible in public schools (Life of Archbishop Hughes: With a Full Account of His Funeral [New York: The American News Company, 1864], 7–11). For further reading on Hughes and the Public School Society, see: Martin L. Meenagh, "Archbishop John Hughes and the New York Schools Controversy of 1840–43," American Nineteenth Century History 5, no. 1 (2004): 34–65. [back]

7. The New Era, like the Aurora, was a Democratic newspaper published in New York City. The Era, edited at this time by Parke Godwin (the son-in-law of poet and editor William Cullen Bryant), was pro-Tammany, thus putting it at odds with Whitman's Aurora. But that did not stop the Era from publishing a poem authored by Whitman later this same year, in July 1842 (Wendy J. Katz, The New Era, The Walt Whitman Archive). [back]


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