Political Unrest in New York City

August 13, 1864

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “The worst specimens of these wretched politicians are in New York City and State, though they are to be found everywhere. There is not an honest, fair-dealing Administration journal in New York City. A majority of them profess to be Administration, and yet it is without sincerity. The New York Herald with a deservedly bad name, gives tone and direction to the New York press, particularly those of Whig antecedents and which profess to support the Administration. It is not, of course, acknowledge by them, nor are they conscious of the leadership, but it is nevertheless obvious and clear. When the Herald has in view to defame or put a mark upon a man, it commences and persists in its course against him. He may be the friend of the Tribune and Times. Of course, they do not at first assent to what is said by the Herald. Sometimes they will make a defense,–perhaps an earnest and strong one,–but the Herald does not regard it and goes on attacking, ridiculing, abusing and defaming. Gradually one of the journals gives way, echoes slightly the slanders of the Herald, and having once commenced, it follows up the work. The other journals, when things have proceeded to that length, also acquiesce. This is a truthful statement of the standing and course and conduct of the papers I have named.”

Gen. Robert Anderson, hero of Fort Sumter, is President Lincoln’s guest for dinner

President Lincoln is sent a letter from a New York political supporter, Elliott F. Shepard: “I have just read again the kind little note which you sent me 28th Septber 1860,1 in answer to one which I had addressed to you enclosing letters of introduction from Governor Morgan, Mr Greeley and Mr Weed,2 and containing a few observations upon the then pending national election.

Since that time, I entered actively into the campaign of ’60, making various speeches in your behalf, and have, both in my conversation and, occasionally, by my pen in the journals, sustained your administration; and last year, at Syracuse, I had the pleasure, as president of the Loyal Young Men’s Mass Convention, of presenting the letter which you had sent to us as well as to the convention at Springfield Ills.

Under these circumstances, another national election being now pending, and as I believe your re-election to be essential to the welfare of the Country, allow me to make a few observations upon the present campaign.

Unfortunately, many, who in this state were united in supporting you four years ago, are now separated; and I think if of great importance that the Hon. Secretary of State [William H. Seward] should come immediately into the state and address his fellow citizens at half a dozen different places, to set bring old friends together again. He can do it — but there should be no time lost.

Something should be done to bring those of the more powerful journals which are now lukewarm into active advocacy of your re-election.

Wherever there are vacancies in office to be filled by the Executive, not only those who can do the duties of the office should be appointed, but those who can, in addition, reach the hearts of the people and bring them up to their work in this campaign, which many now in important places cannot.

We shall materially miss the aid that the organization of the Wide Awakes gave us in ’60, and the eclat which their music, their frequent processions and speeches, and their lights, lent to the canvass — and hence the greater necessity for increased exertion in other directions.

The regular Committees cannot alone make this campaign successful. I can speak understandingly about the Committees, for I am a member of the Union Central Committee for this City and County. If only those things are done which the Committees project, th and carry out, the campaign will be a failure.

Such men as General Dix, General Butler, John Brough, James T. Brady, should be induced to declare at once for the Union ticket without waiting for the nominations of the Democratic Convention. Of the above men, the action of Genl. Dix is of the most importance, and should be secured as quickly as possible. He can, if he will, be as serviceable to you as a whole convention, and I think that he ought from patriotic motives. There is a fine opportunity for these gentlemen to make a non-partisan movement before the Democratic nominations. They cannot do it half as well afterwards, for then those who support you would naturally be expected to attack your opponents — now they can commit themselves in your favor without opposing any one. It is very fortunate in this respect that the Chicago Convention was postponed. It was the best thing that could have happened, provided the delay be taken advantage of in the way suggested. And I take it that your intercourse with these gentlemen is such as to give you better opportunities to bring the matter up for their decision, than are possessed by private individuals, and especially by any political committee, which is always a partisan body.

I sincerely wish your re-election. I shall work for it, I shall spend money for it, I shall vote for it, I shall speak for it, I shall write for it. But my opinion is, that something more and wiser than is now doing should be done forthwith, or we shall not have the pleasure of rejoicing in another victory.

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