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Chapter 27: recently.

  • Deliverance from party
  • -- a private platform -- last interview with Henry Clay -- Horace Greeley a farmer -- he irrigates and drains -- his advice to a young man -- the daily Times -- a costly mistake -- the isms of the Tribune -- the Tribune gets glory -- the Tribune in parliament -- proposed nomination for Governor -- his life written -- a Judge's daughter for sale.

During the first eight or nine volumes of the Tribune, the history of that newspaper and the life of Horace Greeley were one and the same thing. But the time has passed, and passed forever, when a New York morning paper can be the vehicle of a single mind. Since the year 1850, when the Tribune came upon the town as a double sheet nearly twice its original size, its affairs have had a metropolitan complexity and extensiveness, and Horace Greeley has run through it only as the original stream courses its way through a river swollen and expanded by many tributaries. The quaffing traveler cannot tell, as he rises from the shore refreshed, whether he has been drinking Hudson, or Mohawk, or Moodna, or two of them mingled, or one of the hundred rivulets that trickle into the ample stream upon which fleets and ‘palaces’ securely ride. Some wayfarers think they can, but they cannot; and their erroneous guesses are among the amusements of the tributary corps. Occasionally, however, the original Greeley flavor is recognizable to the dullest palate.

The most important recent event in the history of the Tribune [376] occurred in November, 1852, when, on the defeat of General Scott and the annihilation of the Whig party, it ceased to be a party paper, and its editor ceased to be a party man. And this blessed emancipation, with its effect upon the press of the country, was worth that disaster. We never had great newspapers in this country while our leading papers gave allegiance to party, and never could have had. A great newspaper must be above everything and everybody. Its independence must be absolute, and then its power will be as nearly so as it ought to be.

It was fit that the last triumph of party should be its greatest, and that triumph was secured when it enlisted such a man as Horace Greeley as the special and head champion of a man like General Scott. But as a partisan, what other choice had he? To use his own language, he supported Scott and Graham, because,

1. They can be elected, and the others can't.

2. They are openly and thoroughly for Protection to home Industry, while the others, (judged by their supporters,) lean to Free Trade.

3. Scott and Graham are backed by the general support of those who hold with us, that government may and should do much positive good.

At the same time he “spat upon the (Baltimore compromise, profugitive law) platform,” and in its place, gave one of his own. As this private platform is the most condensed and characteristic statement of Horace Greeley's political opinions that I have seen, it may properly be printed here.

Our platform.

I. As to the Tariff:—Duties on Imports-specific so far as practicable, affording ample protection to undeveloped or peculiarly exposed branches of our National Industry, and adequate revenue for the support of the government and the payment of its debts. Low duties, as a general rule, on rude, bulky staples, whereof the cost of transportation is of itself equivalent to a heavy impost, and high duties on such fabrics, wares, &c., as come into depressing competition with our own depressed infantile or endangered pursuits.

II. As to >National Works:—Liberal appropriations yearly for the improvement of rivers and harbors, and such eminently national enterprises as the Saut St. Marie canal and the Pacific railroad from the Mississippi. Cut down the expenditures for forts, ships, troops and warlike enginery of all kinds, and add largely to those for works which do not “ perish in the using,” but will re [377] main for ages to benefit our people, strengthen the Union, and contribute far more to the national defense than the costly machinery of war ever could.

III. As to Foreign Policy:— “Do unto others [the weak and oppressed as well as the powerful and mighty] as we would have them do unto us.” No shuffling, no evasion of duties nor shirking responsibilities, but a firm front to despots, a prompt rebuke to every outrage on the law of Nations, and a generous, active sympathy with the victims of tyranny and usurpation.

IV. As to Slavery:—No interference by Congress with its existence in any slave State, but a firm and vigilant resistance to its legalization in any national Territory, or the acquisition of any foreign Territory wherein slavery may exist. A perpetual protest against the hunting of fugitive slaves in free States as an irresistible cause of agitation, ill feeling and alienation between the North and the South. A firm, earnest, inflexible testimony, in common with the whole non-slaveholding Christian world, that human slavery, though legally protected, is morally wrong, and ought to be speedily terminated.

V. As to State rights:—More regard for and less cant about them.

VI. One presidential term, and no man a candidate for any office while wielding the vast patronage of the national executive.

VII. Reform in Congress:—Payment by the session, with a rigorous deduction for each day's absence, and a reduction and straightening of mileage. We would suggest $2,000 compensation for the first (or long), and $1,000 for the second (or short) session; with ten cents per mile for traveling (by a beeline) to and from Washington.

The Tribune fought gallantly for Scott, and made no wry faces at the “brogue,” or any other of the peculiarities of the candidate's stump efforts. When the sorry fight was over, the Tribune submitted with its usual good humor, spoke jocularly of the “ late whig party,” declared its independence of party organizations for the future, and avowed its continued adhesion to all the principles which it had hoped to promote by battling with the whigs. It would still war with the aggressions of the slave power, still strive for free homesteads, still denounce the fillibusters, and still argue for the Maine Law.

Doctor,’ said a querulous, suffering invalid who had paid a good deal of money for physic to little apparent purpose, ‘you don't seem to reach the seat of my disease. Why don't you strike at the seat of my disorder?’

‘Well, I will,’ was the prompt reply, ‘if you insist on it;’ and, lifting his cane, he smashed the brandy bottle on the sideboard.

And thus ended the long connection of the New York Tribune with the whig party. [378]

In the summer of 1852, Horace Greeley performed the melancholy duty of finishing Sargent's Life of Henry Clay. He added little, however, to Mr. Sargent's narrative, except the proceedings of Congress on the occasion of Mr. Clay's death and funeral. One paragraph, descriptive of the last interview between the dying statesman and the editor of the Tribune, claims insertion:

‘Learning from others,’ says Mr. Greeley, ‘how ill and feeble he was, I had not intended to call upon him, and remained two days under the same roof without asking permission to do so. Meantime, however, he was casually informed of my being in Washington, and sent me a request to call at his room. I did so, and enjoyed a half hour's free and friendly conversation with him, the saddest and the last! his state was even worse than I feared; he was already emaciated, a prey to a severe and distressing cough, and complained of spells of difficult breathing. I think no physician could have judged him likely to live two months longer. Yet his mind was unclouded and brilliant as ever, his aspirations for his country's welfare as ardent; and, though all personal ambition had long been banished, his interest in the events and impulses of the day was nowise diminished. He listened attentively to all I had to say of the repulsive aspects and revolting features of the Fugitive Slave Law and the necessary tendency of its operation to excite hostility and alienation on the part of our Northern people, unaccustomed to Slavery, and seeing it exemplified only in the brutal arrest and imprisonment of some humble and inoffensive negro whom they had learned to regard as a neighbor. I think I may without impropriety say that Mr. Clay regretted that more care had not been taken in its passage to divest this act of features needlessly repulsive to Northern sentiment, though he did not deem any change in its provisions now practicable.’

A strange, but not inexplicable, fondness existed in the bosom of Horace Greeley for the aspiring chieftain of the Whig party. Very masculine men, men of complete physical development, the gallant, the graceful, the daring, often enjoy the sincere homage of souls superior to their own; because such are apt to place an extravagant value upon the shining qualities which they do not possess. From Webster, the great over-Praised, the false god of cold New England, [379] Horace Greeley seems ever to have shrunk with an instinctive aversion.

As he lost his interest in party politics, his mind reverted to the soil. He yearned for the repose and the calm delights of country life.

‘As for me,’ he said, at the conclusion of an address before the Indiana State Agricultural Society, delivered in October, 1853, ‘as for me, long-tossed on the stormiest waves of doubtful conflict and arduous endeavor, I have begun to feel, since the shades of forty years fell upon me, the weary, tempest-driven voyager's longing for land, the wanderer's yearning for the hamlet where in childhood he nestled by his mother's knee, and was soothed to sleep on her breast. The sober down-hill of life dispels many illusions, while it developes or strengthens within us the attachment, perhaps long smothered or overlaid, for “that dear hut, our home.” And so I, in the sober afternoon of life, when its sun, if not high, is still warm, have bought a few acres of land in the broad, still country, and, bearing thither my household treasures, have resolved to steal from the City's labors and anxieties at least one day in each week, wherein to revive as a farmer the memories of my childhood's humble home. And already I realize that the experiment cannot cost so much as it is worth. Already I find in that day's quiet an antidote and a solace for the feverish, festering cares of the weeks which environ it. Already my brook murmurs a soothing even-song to my burning, throbbing brain; and my trees, gently stirred by the fresh breezes, whisper to my spirit something of their own quiet strength and patient trust in God. And thus do I faintly realize, though but for a brief and flitting day, the serene joy which shall irradiate the Farmer's vocation, when a fuller and truer Education shall have refined and chastened his animal cravings, and when Science shall have endowed him with her treasures, redeeming Labor from drudgery while quadrupling its efficiency, and crowning with beauty and plenty our bounteous, beneficent Earth.’

The portion of the “broad, still country” alluded to in this eloquent passage, is a farm of fifty acres in Westchester county, near Newcastle, close to the Harlem railroad, thirty-four miles from the city of New York. Thither the tired editor repairs every Saturday morning by an early train, and there he remains directing and assitting [380] in the labors of the farm for that single day only, returning early enough on Sunday to hear the flowing rhetoric of Mr. Chapin's morning sermon. From church—to the office and to work.

This farm has seen marvellous things done on it during the three years of Mr. Greeley's ownership. What it was when he bought it may be partly inferred from another passage of the same address: ‘I once went to look at a farm of fifty acres that I thought of buying for a summer home, some forty miles from the city of New York. The owner had been born on it, as I believe had his father before him; but it yielded only a meager subsistence for his family, and he thought of selling and going West. I went over it with him late in June, passing through a well-filled barn-yard which had not been disturbed that season, and stepping thence into a corn-field of five acres, with a like field of potatoes just beyond it. “Why, neighbor!” asked I, in astonishment, “how could you leave all this manure so handy to your plowed land, and plant ten acres without any?” “O, I was sick a good part of the spring, and so hurried that I could not find time to haul it out.” “Why, suppose you had planted but five acres in all, and emptied your barn-yard on those five, leaving the residue untouched, don't you think you would have harvested a larger crop?” “Well, perhaps I should,” was the poor farmer's response. It seemed never before to have occurred to him that he could let alone a part of his land. Had he progressed so far, he might have ventured thence to the conclusion that it is less expensive and more profitable to raise a full crop on five acres than half a crop on ten. I am sorry to say we have a good many such farmers still left at the East.’ But, he might have added, Horace Greeley is not one of them. He did not, however, and the deficiency shall here be supplied.

The farm is at present a practical commentary upon the oftrepeated recommendations of the Tribune with regard to “high farming.” It consisted, three years ago of grove, bog, and exhausted upland, in nearly equal proportions. In the grove, which is a fine growth of hickory, hemlock, iron-wood and oak, a small white cottage is concealed, built by Mr. Greeley, at a cost of a few hundred dollars. The farm-buildings, far more costly and expensive, are at the foot of the hill on which the house stands, and around them are the gardens. The marshy land, which was formerly very [381] wet, very boggy, and quite useless, has been drained by a system of ditches and tiles; the bogs have been pared off and burnt, the land plowed and planted, and made exceedingly productive. The upland has been prepared for irrigation, the water being supplied by a brook, which tumbled down the hill through a deep glen. Its course was arrested by a dam, and from the reservoir thus formed, pipes are laid to the different fields, which can be inundated or drained by the turning of a cock. The experiment of irrigation, however, has been suspended. Last spring the brook, swollen with rage at the loss of its ancient liberty, burst through the dam, and scattered four thousand dollars worth of solid masonry in the space of a minute and a half. This year a new attempt will be made to reduce it to submission, and conduct its waters in peaceful and fertilizing rivulets down the rows of corn and potatoes. Then Mr. Greeley can take down his weather-cock, and smile in the midst of drought, water his crops with less trouble than he can water his horses, and sow turnips in July, regardless of the clouds. If a crop is well put in the ground, and well cared for as it progresses, its perfect success depends upon two things, water and sunshine. Science has enabled the farmer partly to regulate the supply of the latter, and perfectly to regulate the supply of the former. The slant of the hills, the reflection of walls, glass covers, trees, awnings, and other contrivances, may be made to concentrate or ward off the rays of the sun. Irrigation and drainage go far to complete the farmer's independence of the wayward weather. In all the operations of his little farm, Mr. Greeley takes the liveliest interest, and he means to astonish his neighbors with some wonderful crops, by-and-bye, when he has everything in training. Indeed, he may have done so already; as, in the list of prizes awarded at our last Agricultural State Fair, held in New York, October, 1854, we read, under the head of “vegetables,” these two items:—‘Turnips, H. Greeley, Chappaqua, Westchester Co., Two Dollars,’ (the second prize); ‘Twelve second-best ears of White Seed Corn, H. Greeley, Two Dollars.’ Looking down over the reclaimed swamp, all bright now with waving flax, he said one day, ‘All else that I have done may be of no avail; but what I have done here is done; it will last.’

A private letter, written about this time, appeared in the country papers, and still emerges occasionally. A young man wrote to Mr. [382] Greeley, requesting his advice upon a project of going to college and studying law. The reply was as follows:

My dear sir,—Had you asked me whether I would advise you to desert agriculture for law, I should have answered no! very decidedly. There is already a superabundance of lawyers, coupled with a great scarcity of good farmers. Why carry your coals to Newcastle?

As to a collegiate education, my own lack of it probably disqualifies me to appreciate it fully; but I think you might better be learning to fiddle. And if you are without means, I would advise you to hire ten acres of good land, work ten hours a day on it, for five days each week, and devote all your spare hours to reading and study, especially to the study of agricultural sciences, and thus “owe no man anything,” while you receive a thorough practical education. Such is not the advice you seek; nevertheless, I remain yours,

This letter may serve as a specimen of hundreds of similar ones. Probably there never lived a man to whom so many perplexed individuals applied for advice and aid, as to Horace Greeley. He might with great advantage have taken a hint from the practice of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, who, it is said, had forms of reply printed, which he filled up and dispatched to anxious correspondents, with commendable promptitude. From facts which I have observed, and from others of which I have heard, I think it safe to say, that Horace Greeley receives, on an average, five applications daily for advice and assistance. His advice he gives very freely, but the wealth of Astor would not suffice to answer all his begging letters in the way the writers of them desire.

In the fall of 1852, the Daily Times was started by Mr. H. J. Raymond, an event which gave an impetus to the daily press of the city. The success of the Times was signal and immediate, for three reasons: 1, it was conducted with tact, industry and prudence; 2, it was not the Herald; 3, it was not the Tribune. Before the Times appeared, the Tribune and Herald shared the cream of the daily paper business between them; but there was a large class who disliked the Tribune's principles and the Herald's want of principle. The majority of people take a daily paper solely to ascertain what is going on in the world. They are averse to profligacy and time-serving, and yet are offended at the independent avowal of ideas in advance of their own. And though Horace [383] Greeley is not the least conservative of men, yet, from his practice of giving every new thought and every new man a healing in the columns of his paper, unthinking persons received the impression that he was an advocate of every new idea, and a champion of every new man. They thought the Tribune was an unsafe, disorganizing paper. ‘An excellent paper,’ said they, ‘and honest, but then it's so full of isms!’ The Times stepped in with a complaisant bow, and won over twenty thousand of the ism-hating class in a single year, and yet without reducing the circulation of either of its elder rivals. Where those twenty thousand subscribers came from is one of the mysteries of journalism.

In the spring of 1853 the Tribune signalized its entrance into its teens' by making a very costly mistake. It enlarged its borders to such an extent that the price of subscription did not quite cover the cost of the white paper upon which it was printed, thus throwing the burden of its support upon the advertiser. And this, too, in the face of the fact that the Tribune, though the best vehicle of advertising then in existence, was in least favor among the class whose advertising is the most profitable. Yet it was natural for Horace Greeley to commit an error of this kind. Years ago he had written, ‘Better a dinner of herbs with a large circulation than a stalled ox with a small one.’ And, in announcing the enlargement, lie said, ‘We are confessedly ambitious to make the Tribune the leading journal of America, and have dared and done somewhat to that end.’

How much he “ dared” in the case of this enlargement may be inferred from the fact that it involved an addition of $1,044 to the weekly, $54,329 to the annual, expenses of the concern. Yet he “dared” not add a cent to the price of the paper, which it is thought he might have done with perfect safety, because those who like the Tribune like it very much, and will have it at any price. Men have been heard to talk of their Bible, their Shakspeare, and their Tribune, as the three necessities of their spiritual life; while those who dislike it, dislike it excessively, and are wont to protest that they should deem their houses defiled by its presence. The Tribune, however, stepped bravely out under its self-imposed load of white paper. In one year the circulation of the Daily increased from 17,640 to 26,880, the Semi-Weekly from 3,120 to 11,400, the Weekly [384] from 51,000 to 103,680, the California Tribune from 2,800 to 3,500, and the receipts of the office increased $70,900. The profits, however, were inadequate to reward suitably the exertions of its proprietors, and recently the paper was slightly reduced in size.

The enlargement called public attention to the career and the merits of the Tribune in a remarkable manner. The press generally applauded its spirit, ability and courage, but deplored its isms, which gave rise to a set article in the Tribune on the subject of isms. This is the substance of the Tribune's opinions of isms and ismists. It is worth considering:

A very natural division of mankind is that which contemplates them in two classes—those who think for themselves, and those who have their thinking done by others, dead or living. With the former class, the paramount consideration is— “What is right?” With the latter, the first inquiry is— “What do the majority, or the great, or the pious, or the fashionable think about it? How did our fathers regard it? What will Mrs. Grundy say?”


And truly, if the life were not more than meant—if its chief ends were wealth, station and luxury—then the smooth and plausible gentlemen who assent to whatever is popular without inquiring or caring whether it is essentially true or false, are the Solomons of their generation.

Yet in a world so full as this is of wrong and suffering, of oppression and degradation, there must be radical causes for so many and so vast practical evils. It cannot be that the ideas, beliefs, institutions, usages, prejudices, whereof such gigantic miseries are born—wherewith at least they co-exist— transcend criticism and rightfully refuse scrutiny. It cannot be that the springs are pure whence flow such turbid and poisonous currents.

Now the Reformer—the man who thinks for himself and acts as his own judgment and conscience dictate—is very likely to form erroneous opinions. * * * But Time ill confirm and establish his good works and gently amend his mistakes. The detected error dies; the misconceived and rejected truth is but temporarily obscured and soon vindicates its claim to general acceptance and regard.

“The world does move,” and its motive power, under God, is the fearless thought and speech of those who dare be in advance of their time—who are sneered at and shunned through their days of struggle and of trial as lunatics, dreamers, impracticables and visionaries—men of crotchets, of vagaries, or of “isms.” These are the masts and sails of the ship, to which Conservatism answers as ballast. The ballast is important—at times indispensable —but it would be of no account if the ship were not bound to go ahead.


Many papers, however, gave the Tribune its full due of appreciation and praise. Two notices which appeared at the time are worth copying, at least in part. The Newark Mercury gave it this unequaled and deserved commendation:—‘We never knew a man of illiberal sentiments, one unjust to his workmen, and groveling in his aspirations, who liked the Tribune; and it is rare to find one with liberal views who does not admit its claims upon the public regard.’

The St. Joseph Valley Register, a paper published at South Bend, Indiana, held the following language:

The influence of the Tribune upon public opinion is greater even than its conductors claim for it. Its Isms, with scarce an exception, though the people may reject them at first, yet ripen into strength insensibly. A few years since the Tribune commenced the advocacy of the principle of Free Lands for the Landless. The first bill upon that subject, presented by Mr. Greeley to Congress, was hooted out of that body. But who doubts what the result would be, if the people of the whole nation had the right to vote upon the question today? It struck the first blow in earnest at the corruptions of the Mileage system, and in return, Congressmen of all parties heaped opprobrium upon it, and calumny upon its Editor. A corrupt Congress may postpone its Reform, but is there any doubt of what nine-tenths of the whole people would accomplish on this subject if direct legislation were in their hands? It has inveighed in severe language against the flimsy penalties which the American legislatures have imposed for offences upon female virtue. And how many States, our own among the number, have tightened up their legislation upon that subject within the last half-dozen years. The blows that it directs against Intemperance have more power than the combined attacks of half the distinctive Temperance Journals in the land. It has contended for some plan by which the people should choose their Presidents rather than National Conventions; and he must be a careless observer of the progress of events who does not see that the Election of 1856 is more likely to be won by a Western Statesman, pledged solely to the Pacific Railroad and Honest Government, than by any political nominee. And, to conclude, the numerous Industrial Associations of Workers to manufacture Iron, Boots and Shoes, Hats, &c., on their own account, with the Joint Stock Family Blocks of Buildings, so popular now in New York, Model Wash-houses, &c., &c., seem like a faint recognition at least of the main principles of Fourierism (whose details we like as little as any one), Opportunity for Work for all, and Economy in the Expenses and Labor of the Family.

From across the Atlantic, also, came compliments for the Tribune, In one of the debates in the House of Commons upon the [386] abolition of the advertisement duty, Mr. Bright used a copy of the Tribune, as Burke once did a French Republican dagger, for the purposes of his argument. Mr. Bright said:

He had a newspaper there (the New York Tribune), which he was bound to say, was as good as any published in England this week. [The Hon. Member here opened out a copy of the New York Tribune, and exhibited it to the House.] It was printed with a finer type than any London daily paper. It was exceedingly good as a journal, quite sufficient for all the purposes of a newspaper. [Spreading it out before the House, the honorable gentleman detailed its contents, commencing with very numerous advertisements.] It contained various articles, amongst others, one against public dinners, in which he thought honorable members would fully agree—one criticising our Chancellor of the Exchequer's budget, in part justly—and one upon the Manchester school; but he must say, as far as the Manchester school went, it did not do them justice at all. [Laughter.] He ventured to say that there was not a better paper than this in London. Moreover, it especially wrote in favor of Temperance and Anti-Slavery, and though honorable members were not all members of the Temperance Society perhaps, they yet, he was sure, all admitted the advantages of Temperance, while not a voice could be lifted there in favor of Slavery. Here, then, was a newspaper advocating great principles, and conducted in all respects with the greatest propriety—a newspaper in which he found not a syllable that he might not put on his table and allow his wife and daughter to read with satisfaction. And this was placed on the table every morning for Id. [Hear, hear.] What he wanted, then, to ask the Government, was this—How comes it, and for what good end, and by what contrivance of fiscal oppression—for it can be nothing else—was it, that while the workman of New York could have such a paper on his breakfast table every morning for Id., the workman of London must go without or pay five-pence for the accommodation? [Hear, hear.] How was it possible that the latter could keep up with his transatlantic competitor in the race, if one had daily intelligence of everything that was stirring in the world, while the other was kept completely in ignorance? [Hear, hear.] Were they not running a race, in the face of the world, with the people of America? Were not the Collins and Cunard lines calculating their voyages to within sixteen minutes of time? And if, while such a race was going on, the one artisan paid five-pence for the daily intelligence which the other obtained for a penny, how was it possible that the former could keep his place in the international rivalry? [Hear, hear.]

This visible, tangible, and unanswerable argument had its effect. The advertisement duty has been abolished, and now only the stamp duty intervenes between the English workingman and his penny [387] paper—the future Tribune of the English people, which is to expound their duties and defend their rights.

In the summer of 1854, Mr. Greeley was frequently spoken of in the papers in connection with the office of Governor of the State of New York. A very little of the usual manoeuvring on his part would have secured his nomination, and if he had been nominated, he would have been elected by a majority that would have surprised politicians by trade.

In 1854, his life was written by a young and unknown scribbled for the press, who had observed his career with much interest, and who knew enough of the story of his life to be aware, that, if simply told, that story would be read with pleasure and do good. This volume is the result of his labors.

Here, this chapter had ended, and it was about to be consigned to the hands of the printer. But an event transpires which, it is urgently suggested, ought to have notice. It is nothing more than a new and peculiarly characteristic editorial repartee, or rather, a public reply by Mr. Greeley to a private letter. And though the force of the reply was greatly, and quite unnecessarily, diminished by the publication of the correspondent's name and address, contrary to his request, yet the correspondence seems too interesting to be omitted:

The letter.

———county, Miss., Sept. 1854.
Hon. Horace Greeley, New York City:
My object in addressing you these lines is this: I own a negro girl named Catharine, a bright mulatto, aged between twenty-eight and thirty years, who is intelligent and beautiful. The girl wishes to obtain her freedom, and reside in either Ohio or New York State; and, to gratify her desire, I am willing to take the sum of $1,000, which the friends of liberty will no doubt make up. Catharine, as she tells me, was born near Savannah, Ga., and was a daughter of a Judge Hopkins, and, at the age of seven years, accompanied her young mistress (who was a legitimate daughter of the Judge's) on a visit to New Orleans, where she (the legitimate) died. Catharine was then seized and sold by the Sheriff of New Orleans, under attachment, to pay the debts contracted in the city by her young mistress, and was purchased by a Dutchman named Shinoski. Shinoski, being pleased with the young girl's looks, placed her in a quadroon school, and gave her a good education. The girl can [388] read and write as well or better than myself, and speaks the Dutch and French languages almost to perfection. When the girl attained the age of eighteen, Shinoski died, and she was again sold, and fell into a trader's hands, by the name of John Valentine, a native of your State. Valentine brought her up to ———, where I purchased her in 1844, for the sum of $1,150. Catharine is considered the best seamstress and cook in this county, and I could to-morrow sell her for $1,600, but I prefer letting her go for $1,000, so that she may obtain her freedom. She has had opportunities to get to a free State, and obtain her freedom; but she says that she will never run away to do it. Her father, she says, promised to free her, and so did Shinoski. If I was able, I would free her without any compensation, but losing $15,000 on the last presidential election has taken very near my all.

Mr. Geo. D. Prentice, editor of the Louisville (Ky.) Journal, knows me very well by character, to whom (if you wish to make any inquiries regarding this matter) you are at liberty to refer.

If you should make any publication in your paper in relation to this matter, you will please not mention my name in connection with it, nor the place whence this letter was written. Catharine is honest; and, for the ten years that I have owned her, I never struck her a lick, about her work or anything else.

If it was not that I intend to emigrate to California, money could not buy her.

I have given you a complete and accurate statement concerning this girl, and am willing that she shall be examined, here, or in Louisville, Ky., before the bargain is closed.

Very respectfully.

[Name in full.]


Mr.——–, I have carried your letter of the 28th ult. in my hat for several days, awaiting an opportunity to answer it. I now seize the first opportune moment, and, as yours is one of a class with which I am frequently favored, I will send you my reply through the Tribune, wishing it regarded as a general answer to all such applications.

Let me begin by frankly stating that I am not engaged in the slave trade, and do not now contemplate embarking in that business; but no man can say confidently what he may or may not become; and, if I ever should engage in the traffic you suggest, it will be but fair to remember you as among my prompters to undertake it. Yet even then I must decline any such examination as you proffer of the property you wish to dispose of. Your biography is so full and precise, so frank and straight-forward, that I prefer to rest satisfied with your assurance in the premises.

You will see that I have disregarded your request that your name and residence should be suppressed by me. That request seems to me inspired by [389] a modesty and self-sacrifice unsuited to the Age of Brass we live in. Are you not seeking to do a humane and generous act? Are you not proposing to tax yourself $600 in order to raise <*> intelligent, capable, deserving woman from slavery to freedom? Are you not proposing to do this in a manner perfectly lawful and unobjectionable, involving no surrender or compromise of ‘Southern Rights’? My dear sir! such virtue must not be allowed to “blush unseen.” Our age needs the inspiration of heroic examples, and those who would “ do good by stealth, and blush to find it Fame.” Must—by gentle violence, if need be—stand revealed to an amazed, admiring world. True, it might (and might not) have been still more astounding but for your unlucky gambling on the late presidential election, wherein it is hard to tell whether you who lost your money or those who won their president were most unfortunate. I affectionately advise you both never to do so again.

And now as to this daughter of the late Judge Hopkins of Savannah, Georgia, whom you propose to sell me:

I cannot now remember that I have ever heard Slavery justified on any ground which did not assert or imply that it is the best condition for the negro. The blacks, we are daily told, cannot take care of themselves, but sink into idleness, debauchery, squalid poverty and utter brutality, the moment the master's sustaining rule and care are withdrawn. If this is true, how dare you turn this poor dependent, for whose well-being you are responsible, over to me, who neither would nor could exert a master's control over her? If this slave ought not to be set at liberty, why do you ask me to bribe you with $1,000 to do her that wrong? If she ought to be, why should I pay you $1,000 for doing your duty in the premises? You hold a peculiar and responsible relation to her, through your own voluntary act, but I am only related to her through Adam, the same as to every Esquimaux, Patagonian, or New-Zealander. Whatever may be your duty in the premises, why should I be called on to help you discharge it?

Full as your account of this girl is, you say nothing of her children though such she undoubtedly has whether they be also those of her several masters, as she was, or their fathers were her fellow-slaves. If she is liberated and comes North, what is to become of them? How is she to be reconciled to leaving them in slavery? How can we be assured that the masters who own or to whom you will sell them before leaving for California, will prove as humane and liberal as you are?

You inform me that “the friends of Liberty” in New York or hereabout, “will no doubt make up” the $1,000 you demand, in order to give this daughter of a Georgia Judge her freedom. I think and trust you misapprehend them. For though they have, to my certain knowledge, under the impulse of special appeals to their sympathies, and in view of peculiar dangers or hard-ships, paid a great deal more money than they could comfortably spare (few of them being rich) to buy individual slaves out of bondage, yet their judgment [390] has never approved such payment of tribute to man-thieves, and every day's earnest consideration causes it to be regarded with less and less favor. For it is not the snatching of hand and there a person from Slavery, at the possible rate of one for every thousand increase of our slave population, that they desire, but the overthrow and extermination of the slave-holding system; and this end, they realize, is rather hindered than helped by their buying here and there a slave into freedom. If by so buying ten thousand a year, at a cost of Ten Millions of Dollars, they should confirm you and other slaveholders in the misconception that Slavery is regarded without abhorrence by intelligent Christian freemen at the North, they would be doing great harm to their cause and injury to their fellow-Christians in bondage. You may have heard, perhaps, of the sentiment proclaimed by Decatur to the slaveholders of the Barbary Coast— “Millions for defense—not a cent for tribute!” —and perhaps also of its counterpart in the Scotch ballad—

Instead of broad pieces, we'll pay them broadswords;

but “the friends of Liberty” in this quarter will fight her battle neither with lead nor steel—much less with gold. Their trust is in the might of Opinion— in the resistless power of Truth where Discussion is untrammeled and Commercial Intercourse constant—in the growing Humanity of our age—in the depending sense of Common Brotherhood—in the swelling hiss of Christendom <*> just benignity of God. In the earnest faith that these must soon eradicate a wrong so gigantic and so palpable as Christian Slavery, they serenely await the auspicious hour which must surely some.

Requesting you, Mr.———--not to suppress my name in case you see fit to reply to this, and to be assured that I write no letter that I am ashamed of, I remain,

Yours, so-so,

<*>the last volume of the Tribune, the reader is invited to survey of the place whence it was issued, to glance at the routine of the daily press, to witness the scene in which our hero has labored so long. The Tribune building remains to be exhibited.

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