Chapter 13: the Jeffersonian.
- Objects of the Jeffersonian -- its character -- a novel glorious -- victory paragraph -- the Graves and Cilley duel -- the editor overworked.
The slender income derived from the New Yorker obliged its editor to engage in other labors. He wrote, as occasion offered, for various periodicals. The Daily Whig he supplied with its leading article for several months, and in 1838 undertook the entire editorial charge of the Jeffersonian, a weekly paper of the “campaign” description, started at Albany on the third of March, and continuing in existence for one year. With the conception and the establishment of the Jeffersonian, Horace Greeley had nothing to do. It was published under the auspices and by the direction of the Whig Central Committee of the State of New York, and the fund for its establishment was contributed by the leading politicians of the State in sums of ten dollars. ‘I never sought the post of its editor,’ wrote Mr. Greeley in 1848, ‘but was sought for it by leading whigs whom I had never before personally known.’ It was afforded at fifty cents a year, attained rapidly a circulation of fifteen thousand; the editor, who spent three days of each week in Albany, receiving for his year's services a thousand dollars. The ostensible object of the paper was —to quote the language of its projectors—‘to furnish to every person within the State of New York a complete summary of political intelligence, at a rate which shall place it absolutely within the reach of every man who will read it.’ But, according to the subsequent explanation of the Tribune, ‘it was established on the impulse of the whig tornado of 1837, to secure a like result in 1838, so as to give the Whig party a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Senate, Assembly, U. S. Senator, Congressmen, and all the vast executive patronage of the State, then amounting to millions of dollars a year.’  The Jeffersonian was a good paper. It was published in a neat quarto form of eight pages. Its editorials, generally few and brief, were written to convince, not to inflame, to enlighten, not to blind. It published a great many of the best speeches of the day, some for, some against, its own principles. Each number contained a full and well-compiled digest of political intelligence, and one page, or more, of general intelligence. It was not, in the slightest degree, like what is generally understood by a “campaign paper.” Capital letters and points of admiration were as little used as in the sedate and courteous columns of the New Yorker; and there is scarcely anything to be found of the “Glorious-victory” sort except this:
‘Glorious Victory! “We have met the enemy, and they are ours!” Our whole ticket, with the exception of town clerk, one constable, three fence-viewers, a pound-master and two hog-reeves elected! There never was such a triumph!’ Stop, my friend. Have you elected the best men to the several offices to be filled? Have you chosen men who have hitherto evinced not only capacity but integrity?—men whom you would trust implicity in every relation and business of life? Above all, have you selected the very best person in the township for the important office of Justice of the Peace? If yea, we rejoice with you. If the men whose election will best subserve the cause of virtue and public order have been chosen, even your opponents will have little reason for regret. If it be otherwise, you have achieved but an empty and dubious triumph.It would be gratifying to know what the Whig Central Committee thought of such unexampled “campaign ” language. In a word, the Jeffersonian was a better fifty cents worth of thought and fact than had previously, or has since, been afforded, in the form of a weekly paper. The columns of the Jeffersonian afford little material for the purposes of this volume. There are scarcely any of those characteristic touches, those autobiographical allusions, that contribute so much to the interest of other papers with which our hero has been connected. This is one, however: (Whosoever may have picked up the wallet of the editor of this paper—lost somewhere near State street, about the 20th ult., shall receive half the contents, all round, by returning the balance to this office.)  I will indulge the reader with one article entire from the Jeffersonian; 1, because it is interesting; 2, because it will serve to show the spirit and the manner of the editor in recording and commenting upon the topics of the day. He has since written more emphatic, but not more effective articles, on similar subjects:
The year of the Jeffersonian was a most laborious and harassing one. No one but a Greeley would or could have endured such continuous and distracting toils. He had two papers to provide for; papers diverse in character, papers published a hundred and fifty miles apart, papers to which expectant thousands looked for their weekly supply of mental pabulum. As soon as the agony of getting the New Yorker to press was over, and copy for the outside of the next number given out, away rushed the editor to the Albany boat; and after a night of battle with the bed-bugs of the cabin, or the politicians of the hurricane-deck, he hurried off to new duties at the office of the Jeffersonian. The Albany boat of 1838 was a very different style of conveyance from the Albany boat of the present  year of our Lord. It was, in fact, not much more than six times as elegant and comfortable as the steamers that, at this hour, ply in the seas and channels of Europe. The sufferings of our hero may be imagined. But, not his labors. They can be understood only by those who know, by blessed experience, what it is to get up, or try to get up, a good, correct, timely, and entertaining weekly paper. The subject of editorial labor, however, must be reserved for a future page.