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About this Item

Title: The School Bill

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: April 8, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00582

Source: New York Aurora 8 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.

Contributors to digital file: Noah Hayes, Jason Stacy, Sydney Bauman, and Kevin McMullen

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The School Bill

Day before yesterday, an attempt was made in the senats1 to take up the school bill. It was unsuccessful.

The Post2 of last evening thinks the bill will pass.3 If so, we shall blush for the party that we used to think it honor to own ourself a member of.4 In two days we will see whether Tammany yields to the threat of the Irish rabble.5


1. "Senate" is misspelled in the original issue. [back]

2. The New York Evening Post was a newspaper founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804). During Whitman's tenure at the Aurora, the Post editor was the poet and abolitionist William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878). See Allan Nevins, The Evening Post: A Century of Journalism (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922). [back]

3. Whitman is referring to the Maclay Bill, which hoped to form separate school districts in each of New York's wards, with each electing their own school administration. The bill also sought to provide public money for Catholic parochial schools, a measure which the Aurora opposed, framing the debate in nativist, anti-Catholic, and anti-Irish terms. [back]

4. The Democratic Party. [back]

5. Tammany Hall, founded in 1786, was the New York City headquarters of the Democratic Party that played a major role in controlling New York City and New York State politics. From the 1840s onward, Irish Catholics that resided in the city held the majority of power. See William C. Gover, The Tammany Hall Democracy of the City of New York (New York: Martin B. Brown, 1875), 5–6. [back]


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