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Chapter 10: last days with the tribune

But neither the hatred of slavery nor the love of freedom, engrossing as they were, could absorb or afford occupation for all Dana's energy and activity. It must have been early in 1848-as he was in Europe during the last half of that year — that he translated and published a small volume of German “Stories and Legends” for children, under the title of The Black Ant.1 It included in its contents “The Inkstand,” “The curious Cockerel,” “The Christ-child,” “The Princess Unca,” “Nut Cracker and sugar Dolly,” and twelve others. The last of these was the longest. The little volume received wide circulation, and became most popular with American children, but was noticeable rather from the fact that it was one of the earliest, if not the actual forerunner, of a host which have since appeared both in Europe and America for the sepcial delectation of children.

Four years later, in 1852, he edited and prepared for the press a work illustrated with steel engravings, known as Meyer's Universum,2 or views of the most remarkable [156] places and objects of all countries. It had already met with considerable success in Europe, and especially in Germany, and it was thought that it would be well received in this country. The work was not without merit. The text was clear and interesting, while the engravings were exceedingly well done for the period. The last article of the volume was an historical sketch of the “General Post-office at Washington,” written by Dana himself. It gave a succinct account of the origin and growth of the postal service in the United States, and called attention to the fact that:

... This vast machine, when wielded by an unscrupulous and skilful executive, must exercise a very potent control over the elections, and may be so used as considerably to hinder, if not altogether to neutralize the true will of the people. And as the country grows in extent and population, this executive instrument must become more powerful and dangerous. Indeed, no man who is not blind to what passes before every eye can fail to perceive the degree of influence which the Post-office department already has in every canvass, nor how keen is the stimulus which partisans find in the hope of keeping or obtaining possession of its patronage. If the pernicious tendency of centralization, as exhibited in this department and that of the custom-house, is balanced and overcome by the influence of other more democratic institutions, it is certainly strong enough and active enough to cause serious anxiety to the thoughtful patriot. With so great a number of offices in the gift of the Federal executive, and with the habit of turning out political opponents from all places, lowest as well as highest, in order to make way for political friends on every change in the party hue of the administration, there has arisen a large body of men whose business is the pursuit of office, gamblers in politics, speculators in principle, seeking the triumph of this or that party solely for the sake of the public spoils, and at the easy sacrifice of every consideration of the public welfare. ...


Dana's wide acquaintance with both early and modern English poetry, and his keen critical sense, prompted him to select and publish a volume known as The Household Book of Poetry, which he intended should contain whatever was most truly beautiful and admirable among the minor poems of the English language. The work was first given to the world in 1857, through the publishing house of D. Appleton & Company, of New York, and so satisfactory was the collection, and so admirable was the typography, paper, and binding, that it soon found its way into many homes throughout the land. Notwithstanding the liberal and catholic taste with which the poems were chosen, the collection could hardly have been expected to include every worthy poem, or to satisfy all the critics, especially such as were from the South, where everybody known to be connected with the Tribune was naturally regarded as prejudiced against everything Southern. It has already been pointed out in this narrative that Dana was slow to recognize the merit of Edgar A. Poe, and as he did not include either of that brilliant but erratic writer's poems in his first edition, that fact was regarded as conclusive evidence of a sectional bias even in literature. Inasmuch, however, as Poe was born in Boston, and received much of his fragmentary education at West Point, the criticism did but little harm to Dana or the book. It must be confessed, however, that a sharp review in one of the magazines had the merit of calling Dana's attention anew to the whole list of American poets, which resulted in the selection of Poe's “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells,” and “The Raven,” as well as many others from both native and foreign authors, for the next and subsequent editions of the work. The Household Book has been frequently imitated under one name or another. It was thoroughly revised by Dana in 1884, has gone through many editions, and still justly holds its place as [158] the best volume of the kind published in the English language. It is to be observed, however, that the compiler's modesty was too great to permit him to include even one of his own poems within its ample limits.

The success which crowned this work from the start soon led to another and far more ambitious undertaking. Dana's indefatigable industry and wide range of reading had stored his mind with an extraordinary variety and amount of learning. Like Diderot, who compiled the first encyclopaedia worthy of the name, he was undoubtedly at that time among the very few men of his country qualified for a work of that character, and this his publishers were not slow to recognize. The time seemed to be favorable, and accordingly his proposal that he and his old associate, George Ripley, should undertake the preparation of The American Cyclopaedia was accepted. It was a work of considerable magnitude, requiring not only much capital, but the co-operation of many brains. It necessarily involved the organization of a staff of associate editors, revisers, and contributors covering the entire range of human knowledge, and especially of history, science, art, and literature. It might properly be said that Dana was already fully employed as managing editor of the Tribune, and, as has been shown, he was also devoted heart and soul to the war against the spread of slavery; but he did not hesitate to take on this new task. With Ripley to give personal attention to the editorial and administrative bureau, he grappled with the work, and by giving to it all the time he could spare from the Tribune, from his family, and from rest, he did his full share to the satisfaction of his associates and the publishers, and with their help carried the undertaking rapidly to a successful conclusion. The first volume was published in 1858, and the rest followed at regular intervals till 1863, when the last was completed. It was, of course, criticised by specialists, but in [159] spite of the hard times it proved to be a great success. It was thoroughly revised in 1873-76 by the original editors, aided by many additional writers, and may still be regarded as the principal American work of its time.

As might be supposed, his receipts from the copyright on these works, although intermittent, proved to be an important addition to Dana's income. He had become a shareholder in the Tribune on his return from Europe in 1849, and his salary as managing editor had been increased first to twenty-five, then to forty, and finally to fifty dollars per week, so that his earnings, his dividends, and his copyrights enabled him and his family to live in great comfort, if not in luxury, till the outbreak of the war between the States. With the large amount of literary and journalistic work which he carried on, especially for six or eight years prior to his separation from the Tribune, it may be fairly assumed that he found but little time for actual composition. As a matter of fact, he did less and less editorial writing himself, and what he did becomes more and more difficult from this time on to identify. Here and there a trenchant paragraph or a short editorial summing up an argument which had been carried on mainly by others, or “putting the cracker” to an article sent in by a member of the editorial staff, was the extent of his daily contribution. His work, like that of a skilful general, was rather in planning the campaign, making the orders and assignments, and seeing that the various movements conformed to the plans of the day, than in doing all the fighting himself. To the selection of his correspondents and his regular contributors he gave his personal attention, and to the very end displayed unusual skill and uncommon judgment. While managing editor of the Tribune he acquired the habit of making up the daily paper, and his remarkable skill in this part of the work was conceded by all. [160]

During the whole of 1860-61 the country was convulsed by the heated discussion of slavery and the policy of the pro-slavery party. The Tribune's main contention, as already stated, was that slavery should not be interfered with in the States where it legally existed, nor should it be carried into or be established in any territory of the United States. This doctrine had been adopted by the Republican party, and that party was growing rapidly throughout the Northern States, and consequently the Southern States were becoming more and more apprehensive of the outcome of the discussion. Their representatives gave repeated warning that the triumph of the Republican, or Black Republican party, as they preferred to call it, would be followed by the secession of the slave States and the destruction of the Union; but the Tribune was incredulous. While it deprecated and derided such threats, it asserted its right and its intention to continue the discussion till the question was settled.

As usual, Greeley was frequently absent, and this left Dana much of the time in practical control. As the discussion progressed and the excitement became greater and greater, two currents of thought starting from a common basis began to show themselves in the columns of the paper. Both were unrelenting in hostility to slavery and the Democratic party, but while one showed a disposition to admit the possibility of peaceable secession, the other stoutly contended that the Union was in its very nature indissoluble, and must be maintained in its integrity at every cost. That the former reflected the personal views of Greeley, and for a time became the policy of the Tribune, cannot be doubted. It is equally certain that the latter embodied the opinions of Dana, and ultimately became the dominant note of the Union men everywhere, whether they belonged to the Republican or to the Democratic party. [161]

Without attempting an elaborate analysis and comparison of the characteristics of these notable men, enough has already been quoted from their writings to show that Dana was the more virile and vigorous of the two. He was bolder, more aggressive, and more uncompromising in his conduct and opinions. His nerves were steadier, his muscles harder, his vision clearer, and his capacity for work greater. There is reason to believe that Dana stood with Greeley in resenting the treatment of the latter by Seward and Weed. It is now known that Greeley, notwithstanding his modesty, his personal peculiarities, and his long and faithful support of his friends as the great men of the Empire State, had political ambitions of his own, and deeply resented their failure to present and advocate his claims to the party of which they were members. He wanted to be senator, governor, or a cabinet minister. He might even have accepted a diplomatic mission, and yet this fact seems never to have occurred to either Seward or Weed. Greeley finally became frank enough to avow it, in a pathetic letter which dissolved forever the political partnership between Seward, Weed, and himself. Dana naturally favored his political aspirations, and did what he could to make him governor and senator. He also stood with him in his indifference, if not in his opposition, to the nomination of Seward for the presidency. The Tribune was of course in favor of whomsoever it believed could be elected, and yet it is certain that it did not at any time feel that Seward was the strongest man in the party. It is also certain that neither of its editors was primarily for him, unless it should become apparent before the convention was held that no Republican could be elected. In other words, while they could not do otherwise than support the candidate of the party, whoever he might be, they were willing that it should be Seward only in case it became reasonably certain that any Republican would [162] be beaten. And yet its three candidates, in the order of preference, were Seward, Chase, and Bates. No one in the East had yet thought of Lincoln. His first serious mention in the Tribune occurred in the announcement of his forthcoming speech at Cooper Union. This indorsed him:

... As emphatically a man of the people, a champion of free labor, of diversified and prosperous industry, and of that policy which leads through peaceful progress to universal intelligence, virtue, and freedom. The distinguishing characteristics of his political addresses are clearness and candor of statement, a chivalrous courtesy to opponents, and a broad, genuine humor. ...

In referring to the address itself, it declared:

... No man ever before made such an impression in his first appeal to a New York audience. ...

It is a matter of history that Lincoln was nominated for the presidency on May 19, 1860. From that day till November 6th the Tribune labored night and day to make his election sure. It entertained no doubt of the result. It as yet had no fear of secession, but on October 13th declared:

... The Union will in no case be shattered. It will not even be seriously shaken. It is a rock on which thousands may make shipwreck of their own hopes, fortunes, and even lives, but which will itself be unaffected by their criminal madness. Parties will rise and fall, factions may rave and cabals plot; but Saratoga and Yorktown are parts of our common country, and so will remain forever! ...

This, in the opinion of experts, was written by Dana. It was followed after Lincoln's election by another, which was evidently Greeley's. It runs as follows: [163]

The union of these States is in its nature irrevocable, and only the earthquake of revolution can shiver it. Still we say, in all earnestness and good faith, whenever a whole section of this Republic-whether a half, a third, or only a fourth-shall truly desire and demand a separation from the residue, we shall earnestly favor such separation. If the fifteen slave States, or even the eight cotton States alone, shall quietly, decisively say to the rest, “We prefer to be henceforth separate from you,” we shall insist that they be permitted to go in peace. War is a hideous necessity at best-and a civil conflict, a war of estranged and embittered countrymen — is the most hideous of all wars.

If the Union be really oppressive or unjust to the South --nay, if the South really believes it so-we insist that a decent self-respect should impel the North to say, “We think you utterly mistaken, but you have a right to judge for yourselves; so go if you will.”

A few days later, in another article, these lines occurred:

... We have no desire to see a single star erased from our Federal flag; but if any insists on going out, we decidedly object to the use of force to keep it in. ...

Again on November 30th:

... Let us be patient, neither speaking daggers, nor looking daggers, nor using them; stand to our principles, but not to our arms, and all will yet be well. ...

On December 8th:

... We gain avow our deliberate conviction that whenever six or eight contiguous States shall have formally seceded from the Union, it will not be found practicable to coerce them into subjection. ...

On December 12th it said: [164]

... We mean to be loyal to the Union, but we will hire nobody, bribe nobody, pay nobody, cajole nobody to remain in it. ...

And now a firmer note is heard:

The South Carolina secessionists openly proclaim their intention of treading the stars and stripes under foot. The only security the President can have that Fort Moultrie will not be violently seized upon is the presence of a force sufficient to protect it.

After Major Anderson had transferred his little garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, there follows, December 28, 1860, a word of warning as hard as adamant:

Let us entreat all who meditate treason to pause ere it is too late, and avoid at once the traitor's crime and his doom.

On January 17, 1861:

... Stand firm! No compromise; no surrender of principle! No cowardly reversal of the great verdict of the sixth of November. Let us have the question of questions settled now and for all time! There can never be another opportunity so good as the present. Let us know once for all whether the slave power is really stronger than the Union. Let us have it decided whether the Mexican system of rebellion can be successfully introduced in this country as a means of carrying an election after it has been fairly lost at the polls. It will be time enough to talk of redressing grievances of long standing and of minor consequences after this startling novelty has been disposed of ...

... The only adequate remedy is to be found in the Constitution of the country, the Union of the States, and, above all, in the enforcement of the laws. ...


This was followed by much more of the same sort. Greeley had been absent for five weeks, but appears to have come around to the position of “no compromise, no concessions to traitors,” “the nation must hold and defend its property everywhere,” “the government is about to vindicate its right to exist,” “to assert its authority and set forth its power.”

After Fort Sumter was fired on, and Lincoln's call for troops had been sent out, the cry from the Tribune has no uncertain sound:

... We are at war. Let us cease mere fending off and strike home .... There has been a good deal of discussion of the propriety of allowing “the Southern States” to separate themselves from the Union and set up an independent slaveholding government for themselves. But in face of the glorious, the sublime uprising of the unanimous and devoted people, this idea has become obsolete ....

... It is now evident — and all men will do well to shape their calculations accordingly — that the Union cannot be dissolved. There cannot be two rival and competing governments within the boundaries of the United States. The territorial integrity and the political unity of the nation are to be preserved at whatever cost. Rebellion is to be put down, and not treated with. ...

This is the meaning of every throb in the great popular heart, now beating with noblest purposes, and animated as it were by a divine inspiration. The freemen in this country understand this well; they know the obstacles; they appreciate the difficulties in their way. They perceive the struggle will be a long and bloody one. They see their enemy, and underrate neither his resources nor his desperation. But they are determined to fight no half battle with him....

... The business of this nation to-day is the annihilation of rebellion and the preservation of the national integrity. . . . That this end will be attained through perils, sacrifices, discouragements, disasters even, we know; but [166] it will secure a noble heritage of peace and prosperity to our country and our children. Through the Red Sea, not around it, lies the appointed way to the Land of Promise, and it will be steadfastly trodden by a brave and loyal people.

That Greeley approved this patriotic programme, there is no reason to doubt, but that he penned it can hardly be conceived. It is as certain as any unproven thing can be that it was Dana's brain which conceived it and Dana's hand that wrote it.

About the middle of May, 1861, the Tribune began to discuss the feasibility of a movement on Richmond; by the first of June it had begun to cry, “Onward,” and by the end of that month its columns bristled with:

... The Nation's war-cry-Forward to Richmond! Forward to Richmond! The Rebel Congress must not be allowed to meet there on July 20th! By that date the place must be held by the National army!

And this was kept up with but little variation till the defeat of McDowell's army at Bull Run put a violent end to it.

It was for years supposed that Dana himself wrote the article, “Forward to Richmond,” but Dana said, in later years, that it was written by a regular contributor, Fitz-Henry Warren, of Iowa. There is not the slightest doubt, however, that Dana was directly responsible for its publication, and for its constant reiteration in the columns of the Tribune. It is also certain that when disaster overtook the national army, Greeley made haste to declare, in a letter dated July 23d, filling an entire column of the Tribune, over his own signature:

... I wish to be distinctly understood as not seeking to be relieved from any responsibility for urging the advance [167] of the Union army in Virginia, though the precise phrase, “Forward to Richmond,” was not mine, and I would have preferred not to reiterate it. Henceforth I bar all criticism in these columns on army movements. Now let the wolves howl on! I do not believe they can goad me into another personal letter. ...

In reply to this the paper was urged by a correspondent to continue its military criticism of the government and its efforts to stimulate the army into activity, but declined on the ground that it had reached its conclusion after “sleepless nights of thought,” and that it could not stand the criticism of itself that followed the disaster of Bull Run. Not content with this, it hastened to declare anew, July 29th:

... If the States that hate the Union-mean to destroy the Union, were resolved to make war on the Union-had been willing to depart peaceably, and to arrange quietly and decently the terms of separation, we alone among the people of the free States expressed a willingness to let them go. But they would not go in that way. They set themselves to stealing arsenals, fortifications, and custom-houses, that were the property of the Nation. From that hour it has never been possible to let them go. ...

On August 6th the Tribune declared:

... The only hope of the South, did they but know it, is in their defeat. For the North, defeat, even though only the qualified disaster that comes through compromise and diplomacy, is remediless destruction preceded by years of the bitterest shame, and this we must acknowledge without shrinking, avoid with the forethought of the wise, strive against with the valor of the brave.

That the first of the above paragraphs is Greeley's, and the last Dana's, is evident from their form as well as from [168] their substance. The paper immediately after the defeat at Bull Run took strong ground in favor of reorganizing the cabinet, and continued to support such a reorganization till September, when the President declared that it was his firm belief that the public service could not be improved, and would be probably weakened by any change in the cabinet. Thereupon the Tribune changed its tone, and asserted that “the time and strength devoted to effecting a change in the cabinet might be more profitably employed.”

While it is not positively known who was responsible for this change of attitude, it was doubtless Greeley. On the other hand, a few days later, the paper published an editorial in which it sail, with all the foresight of a seer:

Our European advisers, who marvel that we do not let the revolted States go, and thus end the ruinous strife, are darkening counsel by words without knowledge. There is no road to peace which does not lead across fields destined to be male memorable by battles yet unfought.

That this was Dana's cannot be positively asserted, but as it lay within the province of the managing editor to insert it, the responsibility for it rested on him, even if he did not write it.

During the closing days of the year the Tribune brought forward the proposition that the war could be ended within ninety days if the President would issue his proclamation that

Slave-holding by rebels is not recognized by the government of the United States.

And this idea was reiterated at intervals till shortly after the battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), when President Lincoln, in recognition of a growing demand from [169] the people, issued, September 22d, his ever-memorable Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect January 1, 1863, and finally put an end forever to slavery in the United States. Who first formulated this demand it would be impossible to ascertain at this late day, though it is known that it was not favorably considered by Lincoln till he became convinced that he could properly issue it as a war measure. It is worthy of remark that it never received the active support of the army, in whose ranks the love of the Union, and the determination to save it, rather than the hatred of slavery, were always the controlling sentiments. The radical abolitionists were in favor of it from the first, and as the war progressed the more radical Republicans, of whom Greeley was the acknowledged leader, gave it their support. The credit of its early and continued advocacy by the Tribune should therefore be assigned to him rather than to Dana. It is to be observed that this proclamation was at the time of its issue a moral rather than a practical measure, a theoretical rather than an effective exercise of the war power. It was regarded by many as premature, because our armies had not yet gained a sufficient foothold in the South to completely enforce the government's policies, and it may be questioned even to-day if it did not at the time do more harm in the border States than good in those farther South.

And so it was to the end. Greeley stood for the abstract and even for the fanciful, while Dana stood for those practical and aggressive measures upon which the nation must necessarily depend for the suppression of the rebellion and the re-establishment of the Union. Two distinct streams of thought, dividing generally on the lines just indicated, continued to mark the policy of the Tribune, and yet there was no positive break between Greeley and his managing editor. They continued on good, if not [170] cordial terms, each doing his regular work to the end. They had concurred in praising McClellan's conduct in West Virginia, and in hailing his appointment to command and lead the Army of the Potomac. They apparently began to lose faith in him, to doubt his ability, and to chafe under his inactivity at the same time. They united in praising Grant's success at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, and might have consoled each other with the assurance that the policy of “onward to victory” was fully vindicated in the West, notwithstanding its failure in the East--that it was a question of leaders, rather than of theories — of relative readiness and resources, rather than of perfect organization and correct strategy. So far as can be ascertained, they had no differences as to the wisdom of removing Simon Cameron, or of appointing Edwin M. Stanton (January 13, 1862) as Secretary of War. They concurred in predicting that his successor would “organize victory.” Finally, if they did not join in recommending the removal of McClellan from the command of all the Union armies, they agreed that it was proper, when his campaign actually began, to limit him to the sole command of the Army of the Potomac. If they were not the first actually to warn him against political activities, they were among the first to suspect him of political ambitions.

But there was no external sign of disagreement, much less of a positive rupture, till Dana received notice at his desk that his services were no longer required. This notice was conveyed to him by direction of the board of managers, but they assigned no reason for their action, nor did they or any one else ever give him an authoritative statement of what they had based it upon. It is worthy of note, however, that Dana accepted his dismissal, unexpected as it certainly was, without question, and at once began preparations for a new career. He knew, without formal explanation, that the differences between [171] Greeley and himself were not personal, but temperamental, not a matter of habit, but of character. He felt that they were radical and irreconcilable, and recognizing Greeley's prior, though far from controlling interest,3 chose rather to submit than to resist.

No one who knew the men can read this narrative or the Tribune for the period under consideration without reaching the conclusion that while Dana may have been dismissed primarily for publishing and reiterating the cry of “Forward to Richmond,” which Greeley formally repudiated immediately after the battle of Bull Run, the real reason was that Dana was too aggressive, too positive, too self-confident, and too active to travel longer in harmony with Greeley. Their divergent natures, not less than their divergent opinions about the war, had brought them to the parting of the ways. It was doubtless better for both that they should separate, and this view of it was set forth later in a personal letter which Oliver Johnson, one of the board of managers, wrote to Dana on May 27, 1865. In this letter he says:

... Well, I have been reminded of this “little story” a hundred times in the last three years, in reflecting upon the part I took in terminating your connection with the Tribune. If I had felt then as I did not long afterwards, I should not have done it. In other words, if I had known then what I know now as to Mr. Greeley's state of mind in relation to the war, I would sooner have let him go off, as he threatened to do, than sought your removal to retain him.

I don't suppose that this confession is of any particular consequence in any way, but as the Quakers say, I feel “best satisfied” to make it. No feeling of personal hostility to you having actuated me in what I did (for I was under obligation to you for many acts of kindness), I have felt great pleasure [172] in knowing that you filled a highly responsible and honorable post under the government — a post for which you seemed to have special qualifications. ...

It is to be noted that the trustees of the Tribune association, in accepting Dana's resignation as managing editor, assured him by a formal resolution, dated March 28, 1862, of “their keen sense of his many noble and endearing qualities, . . . of his conscientious devotion to the duties of his post for so many years, . . . that he still holds the highest place in their esteem and affection, . . . and that his salary would be continued for six months longer.”

This was followed by letters of mingled friendship, gratitude, and regret from a number of the contributors and employees, whom he had befriended, and who had served with him in the work of building up the great newspaper with which they had all been connected so long. But gratifying as they must have been to Dana's feelings, they produced no change in his course, nor, so far as can now be ascertained, did they inflame his resentment against those who had joined in his deposition. He was too much of a philosopher for that. Apparently without ill-feeling against any one, he went to Washington shortly afterwards, and in reply to a letter from Robert Carter, he wrote from there, April 18, 1862, as follows:

... I have no idea that I shall ever go back to the Tribune in any manner. I have sold all my interest in the property, and shall be slow to connect myself again with any establishment where there are twenty masters.... Tomorrow I expect to go out to Manassas on horseback with a small escort and one or two generals. ...

Many letters from Dana to this gentleman, who was for several years the regular correspondent of the Tribune at [173] Washington, have come into my possession, and while they are models of brevity and clearness, relating mostly to current business management, they do not possess sufficient general interest to justify publication in this narrative. They show the most watchful care over the business of the paper, the cost of telegraphing, the subjects on which information was required, and the necessity of not being beaten by rivals. They also show the high esteem in which he held Mr. Carter as a correspondent, as a desirable contributor to the Cyclopaedia, and as a personal friend for whose son he had secured an appointment to West Point, but they throw no light on public affairs.

The fact is that Dana was for the most part of his life far too busy a man to write many letters of mere friendship, or to dwell much upon personal or public matters in his business correspondence; or, as he expressed it later, “If I don't write letters, it is because my brain and hand are so used up with other writing and other work that I have no strength or time left.” During the war between the States he had at times more leisure than while he was connected with the Tribune, and wrote more freely to his family and personal friends. One of his most valued correspondents for a period of ten or twelve years was William Henry Huntington, a college friend and classmate, a gentleman of refined tastes in both art and literature, and long a correspondent of the Tribune in Paris. Their relations seem to have been most intimate and affectionate, and the letters now in my possession, written by Dana, show that the affection which he felt for Huntington was fully shared by every member of his family. With here and there a suggestion about business matters or an allusion to the restrictions imposed upon his freedom of action by the Tribune executive committee, these letters abound in friendly gossip about their common acquaintances, the hard times, and the bank suspensions of 1857. On November [174] 24th of that year he enclosed a bill of exchange on Rothschild, and expressed the hope that the house would not stop before paying it. He adds:

... We are over the agony here, and have passed into a sort of coma or stupor so far as money affairs are concerned. There is nothing doing but gambling in stocks, for which the stock of money which has no industrial or commercial employment affords facilities. For my part I live in the stagnation. Last year I had eight thousand dollars income. Now I have my salary of forty dollars a week, and no great hopes of more. Of the first volume of the Cyclopaedia we are printing an edition of one thousand instead of ten thousand, which we should have done. It promises well, however, for ultimate profit, and I believe will be recognized as a good book by the critics. The Household Book of Poetry, which should have paid me one thousand dollars in January, lies sound asleep in the hope of a blessed resurrection.

But we don't cry about it; that is, I and the wife and babies; but keep on having as jolly a time as ever, even without the luxuries of other days. But we have got a good cook, and if you were only back in the second story front, there would indeed be reason to believe in a superintending Providence. It's stupid in you, too, to be there in Paris, when we could keep you so nicely at work on the Cyclopaedia, filling up the gaps as we advance with printing. But never mind — there will be a good time for us all somewhere. My love to Mrs. Cranch, and to you, my dear Huntington, the same steady old affection which never showed a sign of giving out.

On April 6, 1858, in explanation of his delay in writing, he says:

... The fact is I am a pretty busy chap. We print about seventy-five pages a week of the Cyclopaedia, which I must prepare the copy for, and then do my part in the revision of the proofs. Then all the afternoon and evening serving [175] the Tribune. However, we keep good spirits and good digestion, and for “constitutional” ride a horse for two hours daily. . .. The Household Poetry is not published yet, but there is hope for it within a few months. The Cyclopaedia sells pretty well, notwithstanding. Of volume I. five thousand have gone already, and the tide rises still.... Send on a biography of Gustave Dore.

On August 6, 1861, Dana, in a letter to his friend Huntington, commented upon the defeat at Bull Run as an awful blow for which Scott was mainly responsible. It had sickened Greeley, and kept him from the office two weeks. It had been made the occasion of his extraordinary card placing the Tribune in leading-strings. It had produced a crisis in all kinds of business as well as in the affairs of the government. It brought the war home to every interest, private as well as public. It cut down the income of the Tribune, and curtailed the sale of books. Ruin seemed to be staring every one in the face, editors and writers along with the rest. Dana's publishers were paying no dividends; taxes of every kind were increasing, and hard times seemed to be so certain that he thought of letting his house. Happily the necessity for that measure of retrenchment passed away with the return of business activity, which characterized the vigorous prosecution of the war.

The financial crisis had passed, but it was swiftly followed by a crisis in Dana's personal and professional career which resulted in severing his connection with the Tribune, as heretofore related.

On April 11th he wrote again to Huntington. I quote in part as follows:

... To put my news butt-end first, let me say that I have left the Tribune, and have just written to your brother to send on the share of stock in his hands as security, in order [176] that I may sell the same with my other shares, and pay him the thousand dollars for which it is pledged.

The facts very briefly narrated are: On Thursday, March 27th, I was notified that Mr. Greeley had given the stockholders notice that I must leave, or he would, and that they wanted me to leave accordingly. No cause of dissatisfaction being alleged, and H. G. having been of late more confidential and friendly than ever, not once having said anything betokening disaffection to me, I sent a friend to him to ascertain if it was true, or if some misunderstanding was at the bottom of it. My friend came and reported it was true, and that H. G. was immovable. On Friday, March 28th, I resigned, and the trustees at once accepted it, passing highly complimentary resolutions, and voting me six months salary after the date of my resignation. Mr. Ripley opposed the proceeding in the trustees, and above all insisted on delay, in order that the facts might be ascertained; but all in vain.

On Saturday, March 29th, Mr. Greeley came down, called another meeting of the trustees, said he had never desired me to leave, that it was a “damned lie” that he had presented such an alternative as that he or I must go, and finally sent me a verbal message desiring me to remain as a writer of editorials; but has never been near me since to meet the “damned lie” in person, nor written one word on the subject. I conclude, accordingly, that he is glad to have me out, and that he really set on foot the secret cabal by which it was accomplished. And as soon as I get my pay for my shares (ten thousand dollars less than I could have got for them a year ago), I shall be content. Mr. Greeley himself resumes the active management of the paper, and I am left to begin the world anew.

What I shall do, I don't know. I have had several propositions, but none that exactly suits. First of all, I am going to have a rest till the Cyclopaedia is done, which will be some three months hence. Then I shall naturally gravitate back into journalism, somewhere and somehow. ...


But Dana was not to be long left in doubt or idleness. His course and influence as managing editor of the Tribune had come to be well understood in Washington, and had made him many friends among the public men connected with the various branches of the government. His personality and character were differentiated with distinctness from those of Greeley and the other New York editors. He was generally recognized as a more virile and vigorous writer than his chief, and a more consistent and patriotic one than most of his rivals.

On September 30th of the same year, after a page of personal gossip, he wrote to his friend:

... I have sent you a copy of The Household Book of Poetry, . . . which also promises a fair pecuniary success. Lord, how the omitted poets growl over it!. .. [Fordyce] Barker is getting up in his practice, and must be a rich man very soon. When I see him trooping about with his two roan horses, I get vexed at you because you aren't a doctor, too. That was apparently what nature laid you out for, but you've been and stopped her.

The next year, after wondering how he ever found time to write at all, he wrote a long letter about the Cyclopaedia, the book of poetry, and also about their common friends, Bayard Taylor, George William Curtis, Count Gurowski, Pike, and Parke Godwin, winding up with thanks for the little moral lecture Huntington, his correspondent, had given him on the Cyclopaedia, which he suggested was not needed, because he probably knew its faults and the difficulties attending its composition and publication better than any one else.

With the first shot directed against the flag at Fort Sumter, Dana came out for war to the death. The Tribune also buckled on its armor and warned traitors of their doom. The administration had already begun to show [178] its determination to repossess and protect the government fortifications, custom-houses, and other property in the seceding States. The loyal people had sprung to arms, and war, bloody and determined, was now certain. The battle of Bull Run, the retirement of the superannuated lieutenant-general, the resignation of Simon Cameron, the appointment of Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War, and the assignment of General McClellan to the command of the army had all followed rapidly. Dana's acquaintance with the leading men in all sections of the country was both intimate and extensive. He corresponded upon occasions with many of them, especially when he wished to assure himself in regard to matters of party policy and management. Among the most important men of the day was Senator Chase, of Ohio, who had been a Free-soiler from the start, and was regarded by many as the best man in the country for president. As one of the defeated candidates for the nomination, his name was necessarily in the list of eligibles for an important cabinet position. The Tribune, with the rest of the Republican journals, naturally brought forward his claims, but not content with that, Dana wrote him, immediately after the election, a personal letter urging him to give the matter favorable consideration. The Senator replied as follows:

Columbus, November 10, 1860.
My dear sir,
I do not know what to say in reply to your wish that I may go into Mr. Lincoln's cabinet, except to thank you for the implied appreciation, by which I am ashamed to confess myself not the less gratified because conscious that it goes beyond my deserts.

Certainly I do not seek any such place. I greatly prefer my position as Senator, and would indeed prefer to that a private station could I now honorably retire.

For, of the great objects which first constrained me into [179] political life, one, the overthrow of the slave power, is now happily accomplished, and the other, the denationalization of slavery and the consequent inauguration of an era of constitutional enfranchisement, seems sure to follow; so that I do not feel any longer that I have “a mission,” and therefore allow myself to grow somewhat weary of the harness. But for the present I cannot get unyoked, and must work a while longer.

And I greatly prefer to work in a legislative than in an administrative position. It is more pleasant on many accounts. Still I do not say that I would refuse the post you refer to. Indeed, it would be rather superfluous to decline what has not been offered. Neither do I say I would accept it; but only this: that if the offer were made, without any urgency on the part of my friends, under circumstances otherwise agreeable to me, I should feel bound to consider it honestly and carefully with the help of the best advisers I could consult, and should be governed in my decision, not so much by my personal inclination as by my obligation to the cause and its true and faithful friends.

I thank you for giving my Covington speech a place in the Tribune. It has attracted a good deal of attention, and will, I hope, do some good.

Please give my best regards to Mr. Greeley, who will, I trust, now find appreciation in some measure proportioned to his great services-and to your other co-laborers. How your work shames ours!

Sincerely your friend, S. P. Chase.

As might be readily inferred from what has already been said as to the relations of the Tribune with Seward, still by far the most conspicuous leader of his party in the Senate, Dana had long since come to be regarded by him with favor, if not with actual friendship. Withal, it must be recalled that he had never been a “thick and thin” supporter of Seward. They had met at Albany and elsewhere, and there is abundant evidence that their political, [180] if not their personal, relations were close and confidential. If proof were needed on this point, it will be found in a holograph letter from Seward, marked “Private,” and addressed to “Charles A. Dana, Esq., editor of the Tribune.” It runs as follows:

Washington, January 27, 1859.
My dear Dana,
I am glad that you have explained the discordance in the reports of the debate in the Spanish Cortes. I will add a note of it to my speech in the pamphlet publication.

For three years I have regarded this Cuba demonstration as the most dangerous one to us that the Democracy could get up, and when it came at last, it was made a subject of anxious and careful discussion. It was apparent to me that the scheme had not yet embodied any such partisan support as could carry it through Congress, and that it could easily be pushed aside and be rendered harmless, if the Republican party should not in its zeal accept and assume the false issue it tendered, and so drive the Democracy into Union. I felt on the other side the embarrassment which might result from a manifest disinclination to meet so plaguy a proposition boldly. But our Northwestern friends told me, what I knew instinctively to be true, that to suffer the issue to go out as the Democrats had expected it to be made up would be disastrous to us in their part of the Union, What was done finally was in full consideration and agreement, and entirely satisfactory to all sides. When the subject comes up again we must meet it as we best can. We are anxious to draw out some Southern opposition, and this may be expected, if we do not too readily and selfishly appropriate the resistance to it to our own party uses. I expect Mr. Crittenden and Mr. Bell to oppose it, Mr. Hammond to vote against it, and some others, whom I will not name, to be relentless in their support.

I see that the Post, usually so very right, calls for a more decided activity on our side. If you can do anything in the emergency to reconcile our friends to the system of defence [181] we are making, you will do a great good. I think ridicule, not pure argument, the most safe and effective way of disposing of it. To talk of the danger of war from it is just what the movers want us to do. The most effective, the only effective point of Mr. Toombs's reply to me was that when he perverted a remark of mine into a deprecation of war with France and England. It would be killed in an hour if we of the opposition could avow ourselves in favor of such a war.

Faithfully yours, William H. Seward.

In view of the fact that Seward remained to the date of the inauguration the acknowledged leader of the Free-soilers and Republicans in Congress, and afterwards, as Lincoln's most conspicuous rival for the presidency, was selected to fill the high office of Secretary of State, it may be fairly assumed that he had not changed his attitude towards Dana, even though the latter was no longer connected with the Tribune.

But this is not all. The hearty support which that journal had from the first given to a vigorous prosecution of the war, and especially the aggressive views which the managing editor was now generally known to entertain in reference to the methods and plans of carrying it on, had secured for Dana the approval and friendship of a far more powerful and important friend in the cabinet than even Seward. I refer, of course, to Stanton, the new Secretary of War, and in order to remove all doubt as to the personal and official relations between them, I shall in the next chapter quote freely from the correspondence which passed between them, from the beginning of their acquaintance to the end of the war period.

1 Rudolph Garrigue, Astor House, New York, 1848-Tauchnitz, same.

2 Herman J. Meyer, 164 William Street, New York, 1852.

3 Greeley at that time owned only three-twentieths of the Tribune. See Appleton, Cyclopaedia of Biography, vol. II., p. 737.

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