Published Works

Periodicals

About this Item

Title: [When the list of names]

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: April 12, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00585

Source: New York Aurora 12 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: Jon Thompson, Jason Stacy, Rhianna Neel, and Kevin McMullen




image 1

image 2

image 3

image 4

cropped image 1
☞"When the list of names was called over to record the votes, Judge Scott, who but half an hour before had voted against ordering the bill to a third reading, had skulked. This may seem strange, but when I tell you that in the interval between the last vote of Judge Scott and the calling of his name on the final passage, John Van Buren had his honor cornered in the ante room the whole time, you will cease to wonder."

So says the Tribune of yesterday morning.1

We have, in our years, seen examples of slippery, cowardly, sordid politicians—but this Scott out Herods Herod. Not one iota of manliness, of honesty, or of patriotism, appears to reside in his character. The very clique whom he has pandered to, cannot but look upon him with contempt.2 His villainy is perpetrated in such a dissembling, timid, consciously guilty manner that he sinks below the regard even of his kindred rascals. They can call him "fool, as well as villain."3

In yesterday's Standard4 this small potato Arnold attempts to screen himself by a humdrum excuse about his bargaining with a fellow senator to stay away, jointly with himself, and so balance each other. And this in the face of the notorious fact that he, Scott, was sent for, (being but a short distance off,) and informed that the vote was to be taken, and refused to come! Did ever a man, pretending to be a man, utter such a scandalous lie? He knew the bill was to come up—was already up. He had not intrepidity enough to act as became an honorable treasurer of the people's rights—he had not strength of mind enough to resist the seductive tones of the eloquent sap head, who, we are told in the first paragraph above, was at his elbow—he had not even that redeeming spark of scoundrelism, its boldness—he childishly vascillated between the hope of future fat office from the patronage of his priestly commanders, and the fear of covering himself with infamy from backing out of his old professions—and so he skulked away! It would be an insult to the memory of Judas to say that the twain resemble each other.

Were it possible for this dastardly creature to render his reputation any more black, his letter to the Standard, which we have spoken of, might do it. He has posted himself to the whole city as an unprincipled liar!

If ever any scoundrel deserved a coat of tar and feathers, this base senator is the one. And yet it would defile the fingers of an honest citizen to touch him. Let his punishment be the contempt, scorn, and frowns of the people; and the consciousness in his own mind, that though his station shields him, he deserves to be kicked by every one of his constituents.


Notes:

1. The excerpt that opens this editorial had appeared the previous day in the New York Tribune, describing the passage of a heavily amended Maclay bill in the state senate, hastily passed before the New York City elections to give Democratic candidates for city positions an edge over their Whig counterparts. The bill passed narrowly with a vote of 13 for and 12 against; a tie vote would have defeated the bill. A Democratic senator vocally opposed to the bill was absent from the vote, raising suspicions that he was convinced or coerced by proponents of the bill into letting it pass, constituting a betrayal of his constituency. The senator, Judge Scott, claimed that he had agreed to recuse himelf from the vote along with a senator that was for the bill, thereby keeping the balance. This was discovered to be false however, as the senator he claimed to have paired with had already paired himself with another senator. This shady deal ensured that two no-votes were absent while only one yes-vote was absent, leaving the vote 13-12, and passing the bill. Scott was in fact absent at the behest of another Democratic politician in the employ of Tammany Hall. See Diane Ravitch, The Great School Wars: A History of the New York City Public Schools (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 75. [back]

2. Whitman is likely referring to the Democratic Party and, more specifically, Tammany Hall, the center of Democratic political power in New York City during the antebellum period. [back]

3. A line from Walter Scott's novel The Abbot (1820). [back]

4. A daily newspaper founded and edited by John I. Mumford (1791–1863). It seems to have originally been published in the early 1830s as the New York Standard & Statesman before ceasing publication for a number of years; it was then re-established as the Standard in 1840, in both instances edited by Mumford (see the entries for the Standard on the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030504/ and https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86071235/). [back]


Comments?

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

Support the Archive | About the Archive

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