THE SITUATION IN NEW YORK.
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.]
New York, August 12th, 1863. THE flag of the Republic moves steadily forward all along the line, and all the signs indicate that it will not be turned back. But when I tell you this, do not suppose that I expect no reverse hereafter, or that the rebellion will be at an end in ninety days, though that is not impossible. But did you ever stand upon the sea shore, close to the water's edge, when the tide was just at the flood ? At first you could not see it rise. Indeed, it seemed to you as if the little waves were shrinking from the shore, each one falling a little below its predecessor. Presently there comes one that a little more than recovers the lost ground, then there is another falling back, and then another sweeps past the former limit, and if, perchance, you muse a minute as you watch the ever moving, never changing waters, you are aroused from your reverie by find- ing that they are around your feet, and that you must flee before them. So, at least, the flood begins on our shores. Like this I think is now and will be the progress of events in the United States. But yet the tide may come in like the waters of your Solway.
Thus, too, plainly think the shrewd leaders of the Democratic party in this commonwealth. They have just met and adjourned at Albany to nominate subordinate State officers for the coming election ; and both their nominations and their resolutions show that they have abandoned all hope of success by advocating a policy of yielding to the rebels, and have thrown themselves back simply upon their old party strength. and party organization to work their way into power again. There is not a principle avowed or a policy advocated in eight out of their ten resolutions which is not as heartily avowed and advocated by the Republicans themselves. Of the remaining two, the first pro-
nounces the draft "unjust, vexatious, and oppressive," but, after all the vapouring, not unconstitutional; and the second, the last in order, praises Governor Seymour to the skies. They could not have done less than this. Especially was it necessary to laud Mr. Seymour, whose star is paling before that of Fernando Wood. You may remember that in my letter published in your number for August 29th, I told you that Mr. Seymour was too cautious and respectable a man for the pro-slavery Democratic leader at the present time, and that Fernando Wood was the man they needed. They seem to have come to the same conclusion themselves at last ; for Mr. Wood, who during the last nine months has even been snubbed and grievously disappointed in his reason- able expectations—based, he says, on promises—by the magnates of the older and more respectable of the two divisions of the Democratic party, has now been received again into full fellowship, and the schism has, for the nonce at least, been healed. The consequence is, that although Horatio Seymour reigns, Fernando Wood is Mayor—not of New York—but of the palace. But it is too late. The Democrats may not be beaten at the election ; but in that case they will have succeeded only by the open abandon- ment of the peace policy which made Fernando Wood's faction. at all formidable. For Mr. Seymour was elected, you should re- member, upon the ground of "a more vigorous prosecution of the war." It was by the reverses which the national arms had suffered, from the supposed peril of the Union, and in the hope that under Democratic management it might be saved, that the Republican party was defeated in this State last year. And now, again—note it and remember—that party comes before the people only as one that seeks to control and preserve an undivided Republic—a supreme national government. They do not even talk about propositions of peace or proclamations of amnesty ; but merely seek, by talking "State Sovereignty" strongly, to make it easier for the rebels to lay down their arms, and to cause them to remember who were their friends in their day of tribulation.
You will naturally ask why, if Fernando Wood's distinctive peace policy is not adopted, should he be again received into favour? Why is it that a party which includes great numbers of personally respectable people accepts as one of its prominent leaders a man whom the records of the Courts show to have escaped the States Prison for felony only by virtue of a statute of limitations, and not only so, but who has put the very existence of the Democratic party in this State in peril by his recklessness? The answer is very simple and sufficient. The Democratic party seeks first success; then a return to power. It does not concern itself much about the means by which it obtains its desired end. The emergency is very pressing. There is reason to fear that even with all schism healed and wounds salved over, the history of the past four months may be too much for its re-united strength to carry. It needs every man that can be whipped or coaxed into the traces. Under these circumstances Fernando Wood says, " Gentlemen, I have the foreign vote of the City and County of New York in my breeches-pocket. What is your bid for it, and what your security for the performance of your promises?" They have no alternative if they would succeed. They know that in this at least the fellow speaks the truth. If they do not come to terms with him he will "knock them higher than a kite." If they do meet his views and make things pleasant. he will throw into the ballot-box 40,000 votes ; not less than 30,000 foreign (for I find that in my letter about the riots I much under- rated the Irish voters in reckoning them at 20,000), and 10,000 of the least intelligent and worthy of the native population, who are also of his following. Now, as the party which goes out of the city of New York with a majority of 30,000 has thus far been sure to carry the State by a majority of at least 10,000, except under very extraordinary circumstances—such, for instance, as the last Presi- dential election ; and, as that is about the Democratic majority given at the last two elections, it is clear that, other things being equal, the man who controls the Irish vote of the city is at an election the most important man in the State as far as the purposes of party politics are concerned. (What a bitter confession this is to make!) So, in the present emergency the alternative was— Fernando Wood and possible victory, or no Fernando Wood and sure defeat. The regular " unterrified " members of the Demo- cratic party are not the men to hesitate at such a choice under present circumstances. For Wood had declared his intention of " smashing their machine " if they left him out ; and they knew that this is a promise that he both would and could keep. By what arts the man acquired his absolute command of the Irishry here I cannot tell. For the first that I knew of him—I or any one not a politician— was when, about ten years ago, by his control of this vote he became Mayor in the very teeth of the full revelation by the press
of his offences. He managed that affair well. The proofs of his conduct were placed in the bands of an editor who is my per- sonal friend. Before making them public this editor, to be per- fectly fair and above board, sent Wood notice that the matter had been placed in his hands, and that as it was upon the records of the court, and as it was not fitting that a man so situated should be Mayor of New York, it should all be made public unless he withdrew from the canvas. Wood went at once to see him, and
by pleas in misericordiam, and by promises to show that his con- duct had been morally, if not legally, correct, he succeeded in putting off the publication from time to time. At last, after a
month had passed and the election was at hand, he was in- formed that he must make good his promise within twenty- four hours or the publication would be made. He presented himself boldly with papers that made a great show, and of which he made very skilful use ; but which were nothing to the purpose, as all the courts, including the Court of Appeals, have since de- cided. He was told that he had only added a second deceit to his former offence, and that he should be exposed. Was he abashed, or did he even threaten a suit for libel? Nothing of the kind.
With imperturbable effrontery he replied, " Publish what you
please. You are too late. I have perfected my arrangements; and though you prove that I have murdered my mother I shall be
elected Mayor of New York next week." He was right. The publication was made in full. It was copied into many newspapers. All decent folk were shocked, and there was a great sensation.
But the accursed Irish vote (pardon and permit my epithet) was thrown for him in a body, and this, with a comparatively small addition from the most unscrupulous of the Democratic party, elected him. The power which his patronage and his official in- fluence then gave him he has never wholly lost, and this was the beginning of his political fortunes and of those of his worthy brother Benjamin. This is the man who has put a hook through the nostrils of the Democratic party of the greatest commonwealth of this Republic.
But, in spite of him and his monster, I think that peace—and peace without disunion, or compromise with slavery—is steadily approaching. And one circumstance of the condition of this city during the last month, and at the present day, makes it proper to look forward farther than is strictly prudent, and answer a question which has been much mooted in Europe—what is to become of our great army when the war is over ? First, and in parenthesis, the disposition to be made of that army, and of a few hundred thousand more men of the sort which compose it, depends upon the Imperial spider who has taken hold with his hands in the Palace of the Tuileries, and lies in wait, ready to pounce upon any prey he can entangle in his meshes. Louis Napoleon has been already told that any attempt even to intervene in the internal affairs of this Republic must be regarded as unfriendly. Should he, in spite of this frank warning, attempt not only to intervene, but to interfere, we shall fight him with a vigour and unity which will make our past efforts during this war seem mere child's play. Of the probability of his success in such a contest others are, perhaps, better judges than we. The event will show. We can only promise the fight.
But suppose that his policy leads him away from such a collision, and that all other powers being like-minded—which God grant I—the rebellion is put down in its pure and simple forms without foreign interference, what then shall we do with our army? The question, never a serious one to us, has just been answered to all the world in New York. This city- has for a full month been held by thirty thousand men of the army of Virginia, who are now gradually leaving it. They came on here straight from the pursuit of Lee after the battle of Gettysburg. They marched in such haste that their very gun-carriages and uniforms were still splashed with the mud of Virginia and stained with the red stains of the battle field. They came exasperated against the men Who had been plotting and rioting in the service of the men they had been fighting. " What regiment is this ?" said a friend of mine to a corporal, as he joined a line of march in Broadway late one evening at the end of the riot week, "The —th New York." " What, mustered out ? (He knew, of course, they weren't) " No." " What are you on here for, then?" The answer came with a snap and a heartiness that were almost venomous. " To shoot these d—d ruffians." There were Massachusetta regiments, too. One of these, the 2nd, has done its work so nobly from the very beginning that, if I were anything but a Yankee, I might safely call it famous. One of its officers said to another friend of mine, " The 2nd has left two hundred men upon the field of battle. So we can be easy without a fight. But we generally do our duty ; and I don't know where we could do it
more cheerfully than here. We're not in the habit of using blank cartridges." In this mood they came, Maine regiments, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Michigan ; but, mind you, all Yankees—no Irish or Germans. They were of necessity quartered all over the city, but chiefly in the large open green squares which dot the wealthiest and gayest quarters. In these they pitched their tents, and slept night after night upon the bare ground, eating their homely, though sufficient, fare from tin plates, while around them were men living in splendid houses, with all the luxury that wealth can command—men who were no better than they, and whom they knew were Copper- heads. The Copperhead newspapers scorned and flouted them, and called them "free lances," and rang all the changes upon the tyranny of " Federal bayonets." With the easy discipline of our volunteer army, they were allowed to go about the city quite freely when off duty, and thus were continually brought into con- tact with the Irish population. But in spite of all-these circum- stances, during the whole months that this army of 30,000 men, straight from two years' service in the field, was with us, except for the sight of their tents and their uniforms, we should not have known of their presence Not a single case of disorderly or even uproarious behaviour on their part has been heard of. The gentlemen living round the squares, who at first complained of the invasion, soon began to let their boys go into the camps and play with the men ; and finally the leading Copper- head journals for very shame's sake have been obliged to compliment them without reserve for their conduct. This tells us what the army will do when the war is ended. It will go home quietly and attend to its business just as it did before the war began. It is not an army as European armies _are. It has no army spirit. It does not look upon itself as one thing and upon the people as another thing. It has no interests or feelings peculiar to itself. This is one reason why its regiments go home as a matter of course when the time of their service is expired, unless something par- ticular is to come off. They have done the service they undertook to do for the public good, just as they would turn out with their oxen to mend the roads in their counties ; and when their part is done they unhitch and go home. But, more than this, there can no military tyranny ever spring up here. Had it been needful to create a military dictator, and at the end of a five years' war he had found himself at the head of a victorious army of 500,000 men, he would have laid down his sword as quietly and surely when the war was over as I shall lay down my pen when this long letter is ended ; and for the same reason—because his task was done.
Yet the dictator, like your correspondent, would doubtless regretfully leave something undone that he had hoped to do. Of mine, I shall only return to one, and express my surprise at your paragraph in the Spectator of August 29th, about Baltimore and the Yankee woman who, according to the Times correspondent, used our flag to insult and wound a poor dying rebeL I shall con- tent myself with assuring you that Baltimore, so far from being "held down," is a far more loyal city than New York; that Gene- ral Schenck neither uses nor has occasion to use his power "like an Austrian," although he certainly stands no nonsense ; and that a woman who would so behave to a dying man, were he the arch- rebel himself, would be turned neck and heels out of any hospital, and hooted out of any town that I know of in this country. The Times correspondent has misapprehended or misstated the facts.