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Saturday, November 27, 2021

From The Shadow into Light: The Visionary Life and Times of Walter Brown Gibson

by Michael Mauro DeBonis
Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved by the author.

Walter Brown Gibson was an American literary dynamo, and he was a man of unquestionable artistic creativity, vision, and immense versatility. And so it was Gibson who forged the modern world's first great superhero, called The Shadow.

Master stage magician, top-notch true crime reporter, and word-puzzle expert and mystery writer, par excellence, only give a vague description of who the perennially brilliant Gibson was. Gibson's origins, achievements, and life deserve special attention to properly note his incredibly complex story. Gibson was, after all, a very cagy and competent illusionist. And so we must be careful, as students of history, to sharply look with eagle eyes beneath the veneer of a man (whose persistent modesty) always obscured the giant of who he actually was. Let us remove for your eyes the crafty clouds shielding the genius of Walter Brown Gibson. Let all who inhabit our twenty-first century know Gibson, as man and artist…let our show begin!

The curtains first opened for Walter Brown Gibson on the stage of life on September 12, 1897, at 2 PM (Shimeld, 11). Gibson's mother, May Whidden Gibson, gave birth to her son Walter at the family's somewhat lavish two-story Tudor style house, located at 707 West Philellena Street, in Germantown, Pennsylvania (Shimeld, 11-12). May Whidden Gibson's paternal family lineage and history could "…be traced as far back as the flight of the Pilgrims to America on the Mayflower…" (Shimeld, 8). Gibson's father, Alfred C. Gibson, had served as a young soldier and clerk in the Union Army during the American Civil War (Shimeld, 9-10). Walter Brown Gibson's grandfather, Joseph Gibson, also served honorably in the Union Army's 71st Pennsylvania Infantry Division during The War Between the States (Shimeld, 10). It is a point of the ongoing historical debate about Walter B. Gibson's father's genealogical origins. They (the Gibsons) appear to have been migrants from Great Britain to North America, sometime before the Nineteenth Century, and they were ardent followers of the Episcopal Christian Church. When Gibson's ancestors exactly left the British Isles for America is still unknown, but it is presently a matter of much historical probing, as mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

Alfred Cornelius Gibson (1849-1931) "…was noted as the last surviving person who was present during…[President Abraham Lincoln's accused murderers'] conspiracy trials" (Shimeld, 9-10). "Before his sixteenth birthday, Alfred enlisted in the 215th [Pennsylvanian] Regiment Volunteers as a fifer" (Shimeld, 10) before moving on to an orderly's position for Colonel Francis P. Jones and then later becoming a clerk for Major General John F. Hartranft (Shimeld, 10). During the trials, which began in mid-May 1865 and concluded in mid-June of 1865 (Shimeld, 10), the young Gibson reported to Hartranft on the prisoners, conversed with witnesses, listened to the trials' legal proceedings, and he played his musical instrument (Shimeld, 10). The elder Gibson patriarch would never let his magician son forget about Lincoln's tragic assassination. Nor would Alfred C. Gibson let Walter Brown Gibson lose historical perspective on the Lincoln assassination's turbulent and notorious aftermath, its hugely enduring effect on Alfred, personally, and on the American nation as a whole (Shimeld, 9-10). A. Cornelius Gibson painstakingly recorded the minutia of the history-making trial several times for both his son and others throughout his long life (Shimeld, 9-10).

Following his honorable discharge from the Union Army in 1865, Alfred C. Gibson resumed his academic studies, graduating from Central High School in 1867 (Shimeld, 11). Using an esteemed letter of introduction from his former mentor and Army superior General Hartranft, young Gibson Sr. could secure a decent job with a Pennsylvania gas fixture firm (Shimeld, 10-11). Alfred Gibson was to professionally and financially profit in the gas fixture industry, eventually opening his own private gas fixture company and factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called Gibson's Gas Fixture Works (Shimeld, 13), which was a dynamic, lucrative business operation. Gibson's company quickly transitioned from the manufacture of gas fixtures to electrical ones at the turn of the Twentieth Century (Shimeld, 13). Walter Brown Gibson’s father, Alfred, was one of the most successful, competent and forward-thinking businessmen in the city of Philadelphia (Shimeld, 13-14).

Alfred Gibson's professional and financial success in the gas and electrical businesses led him to build and to buy a larger and more ornate mansion (at 707 Westview Avenue) for him and his family to inhabit (Shimeld, 14). Their new home was close to their first (Shimeld, 14). The twelve-year-old Walter Brown Gibson enjoyed a happy and prosperous childhood at both residences. Walter B. Gibson would recall this fact recurrently throughout his long life (Shimeld, 15). It seems Walter Gibson was a hungry and ambitious reader from early childhood. Gibson "…often referred to himself as a teenage bookworm" (Rauscher, 1). The young Walter Gibson "…also developed a very early interest in the art of magic" (Rauscher, 1). In 1905, while visiting at a celebration in Manchester, Vermont, the eight year-old Walter had his first exposure to stage magic (Rauscher, 1).

"During the party games that followed, he [Walter] was given a string to follow and [was] told there would be a surprise for him at the end of it" (Knowles, 1). There was a trick box at the end of the string for Walter to find (Knowles, 1) and "…, and so started his life-long interest in magic and mysteries, (Knowles, 1). Walter exhibited tremendous writing talent early, getting his first literary piece published in 1905, while eight years old, in Saint Nicholas Magazine (Rauscher, 1). It was a very clever riddle that Walter's rich and cryptic imagination created all by itself. It read as follows: Change this figure (4) to another system of notation, and it will give you the name of a very old plant" (Rauscher, 1). The answer to young Walter's word query was "ivy," written in Roman numerical form as "IV." Walter had made a very small but meaningful artistic splash in the prestigious publication and (he) had officially joined the childhood ranks of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Edna Saint Vincent Millay. They all were also published as kids in Saint Nicholas Magazine (Rauscher, 1). The eight year-old literary phenomenon, who hailed from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had called his novel verbal puzzle appropriately “Enigma” (Tollin, 127).

Thus, from Walter Gibson's very fortuitous year of 1905 and forward, he had (knowingly or not) carefully mapped out his career path from an early age. His drive and success came about from his persistently insatiable and eclectic appetite for book learning. It also began from an individual work ethic that was literally second to none. These two vital and primal aspects of Walter Brown Gibson's protean personality would be fearlessly combined (almost alchemically) with Walter's incredibly fertile imagination. From Walter's eighth year of age and to his very end, he would become a man of big ideas, and he would rapidly and permanently transform himself into a bold literary visionary. For endless critics and naysayers of artists, Walter would prove them all wrong. In fact, Mr. Gibson did so regularly, and Walter would dramatically alter the world's literary landscape forever.

Young Walter (unusually curious for a child) became obsessed with magicians and magic tricks…" Throughout his early teens, Gibson devoured all he could find out about magic, and [he] spent hours entertaining his family with tricks" (Knowles, 1). In 1912 the fifteen-year-old Gibson "…was seeking out magic shops and he had also developed a passion for mystery books" (Knowles, 1). The youthful Gibson proved to be a literary dynamo. He published his first mystery tale, "The Hidden Will," in the Wissahickon School Magazine of Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia. Subsequently, Walter published his second mystery tale in 1916, as a student at the Peddie School, in Hightstown, New Jersey (Knowles, 1). Walter's story was called "The Romuda," It won him a prestigious writing award, earning the personal praise of former U. S. President William H. Taft (Knowles, 1). In a face-to-face acknowledgment to high school student Gibson, Taft remarked to Walter, "I hope your story will be the beginning of a long literary career" (Knowles, 1). These experiences bolstered tremendously Walter’s self-confidence as a short story writer when he entered into undergraduate study as a freshman at Colgate University, after Gibson earned his diploma from the Peddie School in 1916 (Knowles, 1 and Shimeld, 23).

Walter Gibson grew to be of medium height, with a build both lean and strong. His large, bright blue eyes resembled two sapphire lanterns, which generated both immense cleverness and mischief for all who looked in them. Walter's very animated and benevolent demeanor was the one that people remembered about him. Gibson used at his magic shows his innate positivity and style to electrify friends and fans alike. Walter's amiable personality was further intensified by his erudite and glowing charisma. Gibson had thick, wavy, light brown hair, perennially and neatly combed back over his crown.

Between his senior year at the Peddie School and his entry into Colgate University, Walter wrote and published several professional-grade instructional articles for The Sphinx magic magazine (Mayne, 1). Moving on to college, Walter eagerly filled his insatiable intellect by thoroughly studying "…Greek, Latin, rhetoric, French, public speaking and biology" (Shimeld, 25) while he was a student at Colgate University, in Hamilton, Madison County, New York (Knowles, 1). Walter even spent his summer preparing for war at the Plattsburg Military Training in Plattsburg, New York (Shimeld, 24). World War I was on and the very bloody conflict involved tens of thousands of American doughboys fighting in the European Theatre.

His ROTC-like soldering drills in upstate New York Gibson took seriously, and he was very attentive in performing his assigned tasks (Shimeld, 24-25). Very luckily for Walter B. Gibson, "The War to End All Wars" terminated in late 1918, allowing the young man to focus on his college studies and magic tricks in peace. It is noted here that from September 12, 1918-December 18, 1918, Walter Brown Gibson did enlist and serve in the U. S. Army successfully as a private (Shimeld, 27). Walter was honorably discharged from military service because the First World War had ended (Shimeld, 27), thus preempting any possible deployment the patriotic Gibson may have had to Europe from his American homeland.

Returning eagerly to college in January 1919, Gibson continued to religiously dedicate himself to his academic pursuits and his study of prestidigitation. He participated skillfully and incessantly in Colgate’s Music Club by doing many well-received sleight-of-hand presentations prior to concerts, before then joining the school’s Biological Society, to satisfy his scientific curiosities (Shimeld, 26).

Upon his successful completion of the spring 1919 semester at Colgate University, the intrepid Gibson did the unthinkable, withdrawing from college before the commencement of his senior year (Knowles, 1 and Shimeld, 28). Whether or not it was Walter's artistic leanings or very independent spirit that caused his premature departure from Colgate, he did leave there on his own accord, without any outside influence from anyone. Walter was a very popular student at Colgate University…but the change was in the air for Mister Gibson. With the Great War behind him and stellar grades under his belt, Walter Gibson seemed to have emotionally outgrown the many quotidian drudgeries of academic life, “Gibson felt that he had gained all the knowledge he could and [he] decided to leave college to reconstruct his life into, what he felt to be, something more beneficial,” (Shimeld, 28).

Gibson followed his sudden scholastic exodus by swiftly deciding, "…to join a carnival and perform magic" (Knowles, 1). Walter Brown Gibson was now on the move, and the terrific and steady momentum he had carefully and fearlessly gathered in his youth and as a teenager was firing away in truly volcanic fashion. Yet the young man Gibson was had only begun to work his miraculous sorcery. America and the world beckoned to Walter, and Walter would not scoff at or deflect the truly great opportunities that were laid before him.

While performing as a seasonal illusionist at the carnival, Gibson met and befriended many professional magicians (Mayne, 2). Gibson's first real job was selling insurance, while he applied for writing work with various Philadelphia newspapers (Mayne, 2). Walter continued to write behind-the-scenes and how-to articles about legerdemain and parlor games for both The Sphinx and Magic World magazines (Mayne, 2). All Gibson's writing was much respected. In the summer of 1919, Walter received a letter of high praise from Sphinx editor Dr. A. M. Wilson, who was very enthusiastic about Gibson's excellence in scripting contributions to his periodical (Shimeld, 28).

Gibson's terrifically steadfast work ethic (clearly instilled in him by his father Alfred) and his constant devotion to achieving superb literary craftsmanship were paying off because, in 1920, The Philadelphia North American hired Gibson as its newest cub reporter (Mayne, 2). During a local bridge collapse shortly afterward, destiny came knocking for Walter Brown Gibson (Mayne, 2). Veteran journalists were called away from the office to cover the story (Mayne, 2), and Walter, the novice reporter, was left behind to "…man the office" (Mayne, 2). At this precise moment, President Warren Harding had arrived in Philadelphia (Mayne, 2), and his staff contacted the North American to be interviewed (Mayne, 2). Walter serendipitously got his first big career break, and he questioned the sitting American President (Mayne, 2 and Shimeld, 35). "The interview went very well" (Shimeld, 35), and Walter Gibson garnered another huge feather in his professional cap. A year later, in 1921, The Philadelphia Evening Ledger hired Gibson as a full-time journalist (Mayne, 2).

At the Evening Ledger, the twenty-four-year-old Walter Brown Gibson was given a greater chance to blossom than his former writing position with the North American (Mayne, 2). "The new job provided him [Gibson] an opportunity to be more creative, and he even began making crossword puzzles, which were a novelty back then" (Mayne, 2). Walter's popular daily column with the North American was called "After Dinner Tricks," wherein each column focused upon describing fully a single magic trick and its procedure, to be performed by readers in their homes (Mayne, 2). After Dinner Tricks had a very successful five-year run (Mayne, 2), and selections from it were compiled into a book by Walter, along with "Practical Card Tricks," with both publications being printed and sold together, lucratively in 1921, with much fanfare (Shimeld, 35).

At this time, Walter was again at it, writing his mystery stories for magazines such as True Strange Stories (Knowles, 1) and successfully selling them. Gibson in the very early 1920s (called The Jazz Age) hustled ferociously like the busy, busy bee he was, attending major magic conventions in Philadelphia (Knowles, 2) and hobnobbing with and writing about the world's biggest names in the sleight-of-hand business, including the immortal Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Harry Blackstone and the very much-esteemed Joseph Dunninger (Knowles, 2). Gibson was selected by Houdini and others to ghostwrite articles and books on magic (Knowles, 2). These books were published under numerous pennames (Knowles, 2) and they proved Walter Gibson to be a literary hotshot.

From the mid-1920s to 1931, Walter wrote special syndicated features for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger (Knowles, 2). Gibson designed and contributed more than 2,000 crossword puzzles in the daily paper from 1924-1931 (Rauscher, 2). Walter was a brilliant and natural puzzle builder, and his work was very well respected in the United States because Gibson "…helped popularize the crossword puzzle for all time" (Rauscher, 2). Walter Gibson's other esteemed articles and featurettes for these papers included numerous and well-known IQ tests, riddles, brain-teasers, and articles on diverse subjects like human enigmas, miracles, card tricks, and games (Knowles, 2 and Rauscher, 2). Walter was the proverbial "man on fire," and his reputation as a versatile and highly skilled American writer was swiftly growing. Walter clearly was (at this point) on the rise, and his study of Greek and Latin at Colgate University had certainly not gone to waste…nor was his craft and deep insight of stage magic and illusion.

During his early days as both magician and newspaperman, Gibson met mystery fiction's greatest ever writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in June 1922 (Shimeld, 88). The encounter occurred "…at an annual S. A. M. dinner in the New York City McAlpin Hotel" (Shimeld, 88). It was Harry Houdini (a close mutual friend of both) who "…had introduced the two authors" (Shimeld, 88). Houdini, as a liaison, was thus responsible for one of the most historic and significant encounters in literary history. This was so because A. Conan Doyle was the world's leading and most revered writer of detective fiction during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries (the sole and brilliant originator of Sherlock Holmes) and Gibson. They, a decade later, would single-handedly create The Shadow and would go on to become (in the eyes of many literary critics) Doyle's undisputed artistic successor. Did Walter Brown Gibson and Arthur Conan Doyle swap artistic ideas concerning the composition of detective fiction as they conversed in 1922? Though scarce on this exact meeting, documentary evidence does actually exist, and I plan to probe it further in future writings. Gibson’s personal and one and only interaction with Doyle was apparently a pleasant one, for no biographical information available counters this assumption, especially information written down by Gibson’s historically accurate scholar and scribe Thomas J. Shimeld.

Gibson's thoughts on Houdini (however) are well noted concerning Walter's conference with A. C. Doyle. Gibson said in retrospection that Houdini presented him (to Doyle) as "an up and coming magical writer" (Shimeld, 88). "That was Houdini's way to flatter people when they deserved it. In return, he [Houdini] expected people to flatter him when he deserved it. Houdini was truly reciprocal…" (Shimeld, 88). It seems certain that Walter Gibson saw a somewhat opportunistic side of Houdini's personality, which Houdini, always the standout but careful salesman, shrewdly hid from his public. Gibson obviously did not let the petty side of Houdini's persona ever get the better of him, for they would both frequently collaborate on many stage magic and illusion projects together until Houdini, the world's best and most daring escape artist, died abruptly and unexpectedly on October 31, 1926 (Shimeld, 57).

By 1931, America's Great Depression was in full swing, almost two years after its initial economic blight and catastrophe had swept the country. Every American citizen was in dire need of an escape from the exacerbating and painful misery of those troubled days. The country responded in three major ways. The first task would be for the country to ratify President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's dynamic New Deal programs, which would dramatically revitalize and modernize America's greatly diminished and obsolete socio-economic infrastructure. The second measure would be a drastic promotion of America's national sports, namely baseball, football, boxing, etc. It was safer and more productive for America to keep its population mentally preoccupied with the innocuous but meaningful national pastimes, rather than having its citizenry overwhelmed about widespread food shortages and unemployment.

The third task to accomplish would be handled by America's pulp magazines. These were direct Twentieth Century descendants of the American dime magazines of the Nineteenth Century. This was blatantly reflected in the pulp magazines' prices, which almost always charged only 10 cents for each issue. "The very first [American] pulp magazine was made in 1882, and many different pulps ran till the 1950s" (Degnan, 1). The pulp magazines published many different genres of printed material, including true crime narratives, science fiction, tawdry and salacious sex stories, westerns, detective fiction, and sports stories (Degnan, 1). The publishers of these magazines would also do their part to keep the American mindset off of the doom and gloom of the 1930s and 1940s. Walter Brown Gibson would emerge from the proverbial shadows of obscurity and he would disappoint no one.

Thus, for only a dime, any American could set themselves temporarily free of the terrific burdens of The Great Depression (and World War II) via purchasing a mystery or sports "pulp" by getting lost in an article or a fiction story. "Because pulps were so cheap and affordable, they were one of the main forms of escapist entertainment for the working class, especially since comic [books] and television did not yet exist" (Degnan, 1). Called pulps for the cheap sort of paper they were written on, they slowly changed the style and essence of American popular culture from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. Gibson's The Shadow and Lester Dent's Doc Savage quickly and permanently became "pop" culture icons of superhero and mystery fiction, and American, and world audiences would become enthralled.

So, in 1931, pulp publisher Street and Smith asked to meet Gibson at their New York City offices to give form and substance to The Shadow (Knowles, 3) who was, at that point, only a grim, ghastly and disembodied voice, who had served to narrate the numerous mystery tales of its well-known Detective Radio Drama series (Knowles, 3). The radio show's narrator was The Shadow. But since the phantasmal voice of the radio show's narrator proved more popular than the actual show with listeners, Street and Smith decided it would be more lucrative to create a detective magazine using the narrator's name, The Shadow (Knowles, 3).

"Gibson happened to be at the right place at the right time…" (Mayne, 1). "The plucky young writer [Gibson] was in New York pitching one of his true-crime stories to the editors, and they wondered if he had the potential to give life to their new idea" (Mayne, 1). As the interview progressed, "…Gibson told them [the editors] about a character he'd been imagining, who had 'Houdini's penchant for escapes, with the hypnotic power of Tibetan mystics, plus the knowledge shared by Thurston and Blackstone in the creation of illusions,'" (Mayne, 1). Smith and Street's editors responded to Gibson's proposal with genuine curiosity (Mayne, 1), and they chose to "…gave him [Gibson] a shot" (Mayne, 1).

With Walter Brown Gibson's first composed pulp novel The Living Shadow finished, his answer to Smith and Street's demands would be total and uncontroversial. The Living Shadow was 75,000 words long, and it sold out immediately (Mayne, 1). In April of 1931, with one fell swoop, Gibson had done what no other writer before him ever did, and perhaps, even dared to imagine (Shimeld, 63). Gibson had single-handedly launched the Superhero Age with the publication of the first Shadow Magazine.

Gibson had entirely surpassed Smith and Street's expectations because, after Gibson's second Shadow novel also rapidly emptied off bookshelves, his editors decided at Smith and Street to revamp Walter Gibson's contract (Mayne, 1) and step up production on The Shadow Magazine, by changing it from a quarterly publication to a monthly one (Mayne, 1). Gibson had no trouble keeping up with the amped-up writing schedule, and he even exceeded expectations again when The Shadow Magazine went from being a monthly magazine in 1931 to a bi-monthly one in 1932 (Mayne, 1). Walter Gibson's intensive creativity was perpetually on fire. And his superbly diligent work discipline, instilled in him by his aged father, Alfred, also had a great deal to do with Walter B. Gibson's success.

The Shadow as a fictional character was promptly and effectively given a colorful origin story and mythology by Gibson (please see the novel The Shadow Unmasks for more information on this topic), who penned all of his Shadow novels under the nom de plume of "Maxwell Grant." The Shadow was, in fact, a WWI superspy and fighter ace named Kent Allard, who, after The Great War, left Europe for Asia. Allard studied there with numerous Hindu and Tibetan gurus and holy men, learning various arcane martial and mystic arts, including yoga, karate, meditation, hypnotism, etc. Allard was also a brilliant college student who deeply studied history, psychology, mathematics, and linguistics. In fact, Gibson's Shadow was the superhero world's foremost authority (perhaps inspired by A. C. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes) on ciphers, codes, and secret writing (please see The Shadow novel The Chain of Death and others).

Meanwhile, Gibson had Allard fake his death in South America and return (incognito) to the United States. Kent Allard (being primarily based on legendary British explorer, surveyor, and cartographer Percy H. Fawcett and famed American escape artist, daredevil, and stage magician Harry Houdini) donned a black slouch fedora hat, black and red cape, and a sinister red scarf (to shield his face from the public) to begin his vigilante war against crime. New York City was the helm of The Shadow's operations (please see The Living Shadow and other novels for more information about this topic), and The Shadow would use his amazing arsenal of eclectic skills to taunt and subvert the criminal underworld, especially when using his phantasmal, haunting laugh in the presence of crooks and lethal, cutthroat masterminds.

The Shadow was a master of stealth, spymastering, and certainly gunslinging. In the hit radio show, sponsored mainly by Blue Coal, he was also a psychic warrior who could "cloud men's minds" (see also the intro to The Shadow Radio Show, starring Orson Welles, Agnes Moorehead and others). Allard assembled a covert and valued international spy network and took on the very vaunted moniker of The Shadow. He also brilliantly (under Gibson's direction, of course) engineered various aliases that The Batman (his most direct historical and literary descendant) could never keep track of. The Shadow was called Ying Ko by the Chinese, The Dark Eagle (because of his very noticeable aquiline profile and jet-black hair), The Knight of Darkness, The Dark Avenger, The Master of Darkness, and Lamont Cranston (a wealthy New York City playboy who bore a striking, but coincidental resemblance to Allard himself), just to name a few. The Shadow used his keenly developed spy abilities and uncanny occult powers to battle evildoers and criminals of all sorts, from nefarious mad scientists and deadly mob bosses to lethal, cunning, and fanatical spies and others. All tales and foes Gibson created for The Shadow ubiquitously fell into the category of what literary scholars now call "supercrime," something wondrously forged by Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes tales, specifically where Holmes dangerously squares off against Professor Moriarty in The Final Solution and The Valley of Fear. No matter how difficult or bleak circumstances ever became for The Shadow while in the midst of combating evil, he always used his mind and grit to defeat his many, many enemies. Arthur Conan Doyle invented supercrime in his Sherlock Holmes novels, and stories and Walter Brown Gibson perfected supercrime in his Shadow ones.

The Shadow skulked silently and secretly about the hidden corners of human vision, only to deftly and mercilessly pounce on and eliminate his venomous adversaries. He did shoot his .45 caliber pistols only when being fired upon. Remember, the 1930s and 1940s America was the brutal era of vicious and homicidal gangsters like Al Capone, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde, and Mickey Cohen. The common folk of America, stung badly by the economic hardships of The Great Depression, yearned for a crime-fighter whose sense of justice was certain and whose ability to dispense some was unobstructed by political and social grandstanding.

Walter Gibson's Shadow fit the role perfectly, and The Shadow took his crusade around the world to end evil wherever he and his agents had found it. Lester Dent's starkly intrepid and super-intelligent Doc Savage, called The Man of Bronze, was also a Smith and Street superhero character, who used his super-strength and outstanding intellect to battle "super-criminals" on a global level, in a manner very similar to that of The Shadow, written by Walter B. Gibson. The Shadow was a crime-fighter who pushed his mind and body to their limits to adequately confront crooks and to turn them on their heads. The Shadow stories of Gibson had compelling, well-written plots and characterizations, great descriptive scenes and language, and terse and snappy dialogue. In the pages of The Shadow Magazine, Gibson was on a literary roll, and his fans were routinely left with their mouths agape. Gibson's high quality of writing spoke for itself.

The Shadow was (from a literary perspective) the most entirely nuanced and original superhero in pulp and comic book fiction. Perhaps, after ninety incredible years, The Shadow still is. Historical archivist and investigator Aleta Mayne notes that "Other crime-fighting vigilantes---particularly Batman---cut their capes from the same cloth as him" (Mayne, 1). Gibson's stellar run on The Shadow lasted fifteen brilliantly dynamic and prodigious years (Mayne, 1). He authored 283 Shadow pulp novels out of the current 326 Shadow novels (Knowles, 1 and Mayne, 1). This figure amounts to a total of almost 87% of all Shadow novels (including novellas and short stories, also). Gibson's internationally renowned prolificacy garnered him the personal paid endorsement of American typewriter manufacturer Corona in 1933 (Knowles, 3). Why should anyone be surprised? During Walter Brown Gibson's superbly productive lifetime, he wrote: 187 books (primarily mystery fiction and instructional books for stage magic, but also various books on history and the occult), 668 newspaper and encyclopedia articles, 48 separate and syndicated feature newspaper columns, 394 comic books and strips and 147 collaborative radio scripts (Mayne, 2-3). The Washington Post approximated in 1978 that Walter Brown Gibson had written a total of 29 million words during his lengthy writing career (Mayne, 3). Walter B. Gibson was (as a master scribe specifically) no slouch at all.

Years after Walter's death in December of 1985, his son Robert (a very-esteemed medical doctor and psychiatrist from Maryland) would comment, "My father first wrote of The Shadow in 1931, when I was just six years old. His workroom was next to my bedroom. The writing schedule demanded almost round-the-clock typing as I went to sleep. It was pleasant to know he was nearby" (Gibson, ix). Robert Gibson continued, "My bedtime stories were the plots of Shadow novels in their embryonic stage. Of course, other stories poured from my father's fertile, creative mind. Among them were the adventures of a remarkable family of fish, which should have been published" (Gibson, ix). Even during a hectic workday, Walter's very kind heart and quite a mischievous mind never divided themselves. Walter had shrewdly made use of his family time by spending his evening hours eagerly relating his Shadow story ideas and characters to young Robert while simultaneously expanding on them. Walter was a father firstly and a writer secondly. Work would not interfere with Walter's family life. This is because Walter had skillfully managed to marry the two into a benevolently cohesive and well-organized whole. Could Shakespeare himself have achieved such a feat in his own lifetime? One can only hypothesize about that possibility…

Writing full-length novels at breakneck speed certainly was not easy, even for a thoroughbred wordsmith like Walter B. Gibson. But Walter always managed to stay well ahead of his deadlines (Shimeld, 70). Walter did not use a specific literary formula for composing his Shadow stories. Instead, Walter would develop story concepts organically. These made The Shadow novels generally unpredictable with their plotlines, producing narratives much more suspenseful and exciting for readers. Walter was a master technician of science fiction and mystery literature, and he was not a commonplace assembly-line writer. "Plots would come to Gibson from any number of places: newspaper articles, a paragraph in the encyclopedia, anywhere" (Shimeld, 71). Walter was a painstaking literary researcher who premeditated storylines way before their due dates (Shimeld, 71). This very often entailed Gibson personally visiting different American cities and carefully recording their place names and geographical landscapes (Shimeld, 71) so that Shadow books were very realistic in as many details as possible for readers. Walter's approach to composing made The Shadow a much more national literary and popular culture icon. The Shadow appeared in all major American cities from coast to coast, cities that Walter Gibson intentionally and physically traversed. Shadow fans in Chicago, New York City, and Phoenix, Arizona, would be more motivated to read Shadow pulps because The Shadow's stories were taking place right in their own hometowns. "The Shadow…traveled to Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Miami and New Orleans" (Shimeld, 71). Smith and Street Publishing commercially motivated this "…so that the company might publicize the magazine in those areas" (Shimeld, 71). Money in the world of print media decides which way that particular planet always spins. Smith and Street was very effective in using Walter Gibson's The Shadow to efficiently fill its own publishing house's coffers at every twist and turn.

Despite all the toil that Walter was experiencing as a writer of fiction prose, Gibson was doing what he loved most, writing yarns as original and unique as are the ripples in the sea. Walter Brown Gibson also enjoyed getting paid for his services, saying, "Output means money. If you don't write stories, you can't sell them" (Shimeld, 70). But it was Gibson's salary from Smith and Street that was perennial of secondary importance to him. Walter positively lived and loved to write, whether the material was fiction or not.

The art of writing seemed to elevate Gibson's soul and mind to intellectually and emotionally more lofty and deeper places and conditions. Gibson found that the aesthetic aspects of writing mentally made time come to a sort of stop (Shimeld, 117), and these aspects of writing enabled him to think in much more visionary and richer ways (Shimeld, 117). For Walter B. Gibson, composing words for his novels transported his spirit and memory to an unearthly, inspired place. This was a realm where his ideas for language and storytelling relieved his psyche and his body of any emotional and physical weaknesses or hindrances they both may have had (Shimeld, 117). Writing for Gibson was both an act of love and an act of catharsis (Shimeld, 117). Writing a story of fiction was also something that suggested supernatural causation (Shimeld, 117). Walter took the craft of writing seriously, and he was consciously and creatively positing that writing was quite likely a divine act, one in which it connected him to his Christian God.

"Memory does not only contain things we remember from the past. It contains events of the future as well…Often, when writing mysteries, I picked up ideas psychically of things that really did happen in the future,"' Gibson related to journalist Claire Huff in a 1976 interview (Shimeld, 117). For example, in the 1942 comic strip Bill Barnes America's Air Ace, Walter Gibson (who was guest scripting for Bill Barnes at the time) has one of his characters, Doctor Blannard, reveals to Bill Barnes that he has just invented an explosive device that harnesses U-235 to be used against one of Bill Barnes' enemies (Shimeld, 117). Walter was contacted by Federal officials immediately after that, and he was informed to refrain from mentioning U-235 in any of his future works (Shimeld, 117). Walter B. Gibson fully cooperated with the agents "'in the interests of war security'" (Shimeld, 117). Thus, at the height of America's involvement in WWII, Gibson had accurately predicted the atomic bomb's creation three years before anyone else had (Shimeld, 117). Other such psychic incidents concerning W. B. Gibson were not isolated ones at all (Shimeld, 117-118) and are fully and factually recorded. Ironically, though, Gibson (the very cynical and perceptive stage magician) did not identify himself as a mystic. He identified himself as a creative artist who personally believed in God and the supernatural; however abstract and sublime these notions are for the human mind to grasp.

During turbulent years of World War II (1941-1945), Gibson kept the sci-fi-adventure story genre thriving for Americans by scripting one excellent Shadow novel after the other. "Up until March of 1943 he [Gibson] pumped out 24 pulps per year…" (Mayne, 3) "…but he did eventually slow back down to one per month" (Mayne, 3). By 1947, Walter B. Gibson was writing only one Shadow novel every other month (Mayne, 3). Then, by the autumn of 1948, Gibson was writing The Shadow Magazine was a quarterly until the summer of 1949, when Street and Smith Publishing finally terminated publication of The Shadow. Increasing competition from comic books and a concerted effort by right-wing extremists in the American government such as Senator Joseph McCarthy made selling pulp magazines in the United States very difficult. As the year 1950 approached, The Shadow's days seemed to evaporate. After, Gibson sued Street and Smith for his royalties on The Shadow amounting to $40,000.00 (Knowles, 5). Walter Gibson's creation The Shadow ceased to be…or so everyone thought. Gibson (by the late 1940s) had already moved on to other writing projects…but The Shadow was not dead…, and neither was his creator, "Walt" Gibson.

This temporary lapse in American pulp superheroes caused a gaping hole in the genre's writers' market. It is no historical coincidence that English writer and former officer for British Naval Intelligence Ian Fleming (Britannica, 1) emerged on the global literary scene by debuting his famous Agent 007 James Bond in 1953 (Britannica, 1). James Bond was the chronological successor pulp hero to American ones The Shadow and Doc Savage, repeating Walter Brown Gibson's pattern with Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes in 1931. In April of that year, The Shadow had made his grand premiere on the world's stage. His entrance was bolstered by the fact that Doyle's Sherlock Holmes had stopped being actively written and published by 1927 (Gardiner, 323). Doyle himself died in July of 1930 (Gardiner, 323). The Shadow Magazine's circulation numbers hence benefitted from Sherlock Holmes' absence from the literary world. But this fact (in no way) undermines the quality of The Shadow's literary significance or Walter B. Gibson's standing as a writer of great yarns. The Great Detective's influence on The Master of Darkness will forever be debated in literary circles and comic book conventions. And only a reader can decide for him or herself which character they prefer over the other.

From 1946-1961, Walter Brown Gibson was on the move again. "He [Gibson] was moving more and more into the book field, while at the same time (in the 1950s) creating true crime stories for Fact Detective Magazine" (Rauscher, 4). The Shadow was for fifteen consecutive years Walter's main source of income. Gibson had some severe trouble transitioning from pulp writer to book writer. Unfortunately for Gibson, the reasons for this were clearly not professional ones, and they were familial ones.

As The Shadow and his alter ego Kent Allard temporarily retreated to the popular culture background, Walter Gibson was slowly and silently experiencing the painful throes of his second failing marriage, to one Julia Gibson. Walter did not expect his wife to leave him (Shimeld, 98). The main culprit seems to have been Walter's artistic aloofness, which steadily increased as he grew older (Shimeld, 98). Walter's divorce became inevitable as the emotional disconnection between him and Julia widened over the years of their relationship. "By December of 1948, Julia and [Walter] Gibson were divorced" (Shimeld, 97). Walter fell into a deep melancholy under the hefty strain of his imploded marriage to Julia and his gradually diminishing income (Shimeld, 98). "With no time to prepare mentally for a break-up, Gibson plummeted into a depression" (Shimeld, 98). 

Consequently, Walter Gibson moved into his beloved son Robert's apartment, living there for three months (Shimeld, 99), before hitting the magic circuit again with his close and much-valued friend, Harry Blackstone, Senior, (Shimeld, 99). Many years later, in a retrospective interview, Walter's son, Robert Gibson, commented, "It [Walter's magic tour with Blackstone] just turned his whole life around" (Shimeld, 100). Walter would show up at Blackstone's shows and sell souvenir magic books (Shimeld, 100). Walter would also act as the critic for Blackstone's performances, being sure to ask all the shows' patrons what they liked or did not like about Blackstone's presentations of legerdemain (Shimeld, 100). The work and exposure to stage magic substantially bolstered Walter's horribly beleaguered spirits, and Gibson and his family would always remain very grateful to Blackstone the Magician for his kindness and loyalty (Shimeld, 100).

Walter did not remain in the doldrums for long. "On August 24, 1949, Gibson married his third wife, Litzka Raymond Gibson" (Knowles, 8-9). Litzka was the widowed wife of the very talented stage magician, The Great Raymond (Knowles, 9). Litzka was an excellent harpist, singer, and magic performer (Knowles, 9 and Shimeld, 120-121). "Litzka was a devoted wife who was constantly attending to Gibson…" (Shimeld, 120). The numerous "…encounters with Litzka's graceful singing, and beautiful presence would always have a positive effect on Gibson's mood…" (Shimeld, 120). Walter Brown Gibson frequently called his third and final wife "Angel" (Shimeld, 120). "The two [Walter and Litzka together] shared a life of magic and a love for the mysterious" (Shimeld, 120). Litzka and Walter Gibson's radiant and enduring love thrived for thirty-six healthy and romantic years until Walter's passing in 1985. Walter knew he had found his true love in Litzka, and the two did not part for as long as their lengthy marriage lasted. Walter doted on Litzka as she would dote on him while they were together.

Once Gibson had snapped loose from his mid-life funk, he resumed his writing career with vigor and skill. Walter's practical attitudes, apart from his exalted ones, were equally important to him. Walter once commented, "…one source of inspiration is a good, swift, self-delivered kick in the pants" (Rauscher, 5-6). Gibson was once accused of not needing the inspiration to fuel his work on fictional and factual prose (Rauscher, 6). The gentleman said to Gibson, "Maybe you don't need much inspiration, writing for your market" (Rauscher, 6). Walter masterfully responded, "I need just as much as if I were writing for another, because I'm not writing for any market. I have always written for readers, and I have found it valuable to continue that policy. It keeps a writer from going stale, enables him to follow any trend, and sometimes to start [a new] one" (Rauscher, 6). Translated critically for literature and history, Walter was saying that (concerning his writing) he wrote for himself firstly, and for others, secondly. Walter was writing his fiction pieces and non-fiction ones for the common man and woman. No one reader for Gibson was better than another to him, with the possible exception of himself. No one reader was less critical for Gibson than any other, again, with the same possible exception. This type of work ethic clearly imitated Walter's egalitarian views of people. His son, Robert, once said, "My father knew every famous magician and had personal contact with many prominent writers, but their prestige or prominence never drew him. He could spend an hour talking with the bellman of a hotel. He simply enjoyed people" (Gibson, x). But Walter Brown Gibson also shrewdly reasoned that if writers cannot please themselves with the individual quality of their work, then they aren't able to please anyone else with their writing, too.

Deadlines from editors never impressed Gibson, simply because his insatiable dedication to writing obliterated deadlines with disturbing regularity. Gibson never missed a single deadline. And yet his writing, whether creative or factual, habitually was thoughtful, intriguing, lucid, and well worded. What more could an editor ask of their writer?

Walter's dear friend, the Episcopal priest and professional magician, William Rauscher, said of Gibson, "Walter was a man who chose interesting side roads instead of a direct route" (Rauscher, 6). When walking (or driving a car), Walter chronically chose the most beautiful or interesting path of travel rather than the most convenient one (Rauscher, 6). Gibson was, after all, an artist at heart and consistently so.

In 1957, Walter Brown Gibson was an editor at Mystery Digest (Shimeld, 127). In post-WWII America, Gibson authored two crime novels, A Blonde for Murder and Looks That Kill, published between 1946-1948 (Rauscher, 5). These mystery novels sold well, and they are still actively in print today. As the 1960s came into swing, Walter successfully engaged in many profitable writing projects. At the behest of legendary series creator Rod Serling, Gibson scripted (in 1967) original stories for two volumes of the prose-anthologized Twilight Zone (Shimeld, 88) and Gibson repeated a similar feat for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., (Shimeld, 88).

In the early 1960s, Walter composed five novels of the critically acclaimed young adult Biff Brewster books series for the Grosset and Dunlap Publishing Co. (Tollin, 127). He returned to The Shadow with a vengeance in 1963, writing the all-new The Shadow Returns (Tollin, 127). Gibson's comeback Shadow novel was a huge hit, and it unofficially inaugurated the Silver Age of Superheroes (1963-1980). A new, vibrant renaissance swept American letters in superhero fiction. Walter B. Gibson and other sci-fi-visionaries such as Marvel Comic's Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were all responsible for it. Walter Gibson was back in the big leagues, but, of course, he had never actually left them. He was simply riding the crest of an incredible literary wave in the 1960s that (genre-wise) had slumped badly to its bottom in the late 1940s. Gibson proved to be an excellent surfer. Walter Brown Gibson would never slide to the literary bottom again. Gibson's unceasing perseverance would keep him afloat for the rest of his life.

Gibson authored a number of popular books on the paranormal and stage magic, including 1966's The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences, co-authored with his wife Litzka, The Complete Illustrated Book of Card Magic, in 1969, Secrets of Magic in 1973, The New Magician's Manual in 1975 and 1980's Big Book of Magic, (Knowles, 7-8). The tremendous esteem of Walter Gibson's writing and sage-deep wisdom of legerdemain and illusion earned him the highest honors by the very respected American Academy of Magical Arts (Knowles, 8), amounting to a Literary Fellowship in 1971 (Knowles, 8) and a Master's Fellowship in 1979 (Knowles, 8).

After 1970, Walter Brown Gibson was not done with his most illustrious literary creation, The Shadow. In 1979 he wrote and published for Conde Nast Publications another adventure featuring The Dark Avenger, entitled The Riddle of the Rangoon Ruby, for The Shadow Scrapbook (Tollin, 127). Gibson also penned the 1980 Shadow tale (also for Conde Nast) Blackmail Bay in The Duende History of The Shadow Magazine (Tollin, 127). Walter Brown Gibson's last published superhero tale came in late December 1980, when he wrote for DC Comics The Batman Encounters---Gray Face (Tollin, 127). The Batman short story Gibson scribed was roughly 6,000 words, and it was printed in DC Comics' exciting Detective Comics Issue Number 500 (Tollin, 127). These excellent prose featurettes firmly demonstrate that Walter Brown Gibson, even in his eighties, had not lost his golden touch for composing highly compelling and riveting works of mystery and adventure fiction.

In 1966, seventeen years after marrying Litzka in 1949, Walter and his beloved bride bought a house in Eddyville, New York (Knowles, 8). The two-story Victorian mansion was initially built in 1757 (Shimeld, 128), but it was later expanded over the years by several different occupants (Shimeld, 128). The Eddyville House rapidly emerged as "…the center for their intellectual and productive life" (Knowles, 8). The Gibsons together meticulously amassed and archived their vast library of over 9,000 books, volumes concerning history, metaphysics, stage magic, language, art, and other assorted subjects (Shimeld, 128). Walter and Litzka would use this library to its fullest potential as writing and reference material to compose their many assorted literary efforts (Knowles, 8). New York State was the focal point of Walter Gibson's life for many decades, so it would remain until his very end.

Walter (as a historian of magic) in the late 1960s came to be interested in Eddyville's rich maritime and shipbuilding past (Shimeld, 141-142). Gibson was inspired by the picturesque Rondout Creek, which his Eddyville home directly overlooked (Shimeld, 141). Walter Brown Gibson joined the local Delaware and Hudson Canal Historical Society (Shimeld, 141). In December of 1970, Walter was designated assistant editor of Then & Now, the historical journal of "D and H," (Shimeld, 142). In the early 1970s, Gibson was elected and served as the Delaware and Hudson Canal Historical Society's president (Shimeld, 142). Under Walter Gibson's tenure, D & H's Museum was created in April of 1971 (Shimeld, 143). "Gibson was well known and well respected within the society" (Shimeld, 142). "He [Gibson] would often perform magic shows at various functions" (Shimeld, 142). Gibson was partaking in a richly fulfilling life that was at once positive and spiritually beneficial for him and others. In all that Walter Gibson did, the creation of artistic and cultural achievements haunted and motivated his soul to move, act, and fashion. Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the Moon. Walter left his footprints in the countless imaginations of writers and artists who were all inspired by him, stage magicians or comic book artists and storytellers. In this capacity, Walter Brown Gibson would even outfox Time itself, and in the process, Gibson would become immortal. Walter's contemporary artists such as the magnificent Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould and later comics and graphics art genius Matt Wagner would all owe something to Walter, whether it was artistic radiance or intellectual variety. Gibson’s stamp of superhero novelty is impressed all over the world and especially in the United States.

Readers should keep in mind Walter is an utterly hard fellow to historically classify, mainly due to the immutable fact that he was an American original. Walter Gibson's titanic reverence for history, art, and language always lies at each of the centers of his Shadow stories, even if all of these elements are not easily apparent in The Shadow. Walter was a consummate literary professional who took great pride in fooling his Shadow fans with literary subtleties and unexpected and brazenly clever story endings. Gibson was a stage magician after all and readers of The Shadow should always be prepared for the unpredictable. Gibson was never static or mundane in his life or in his personality and his Shadow work reflects this truth overwhelmingly.

The historical narrative of Walter Gibson does not end here. I have previously mentioned the very talented and accomplished British pulp writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming in this text. They are both listed as topics of interest in the Encyclopedia Americana (alphabetically and accordingly) for their fine literary efforts, namely for their respective creations of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. Walter Brown Gibson is nowhere to be found in the Encyclopedia Americana for his literary activities as the author and the originator of The Shadow. But, ironically, Walter Brown Gibson is listed in the Encyclopedia America as a historical researcher, as the author of Harry Houdini's biographical entry (Gibson, 455). By hook or by crook, the very, very persistent and habile Gibson would not be overlooked by history. If Walter's superb skills as a composer of fiction were to be overlooked by some, his standout assets for writing non-fiction would not be neglected by others. The short article he writes of Houdini's life is properly detailed and organized. Gibson's writing hits all the high notes, and its subject matter is succinctly communicated and contextualized. Walter Brown Gibson was truly a literary force with which to be reckoned.

Walter Brown Gibson was a man of great personal conviction. He fought and hacked his own swath through the metaphorically bitter weeds, mire, and undergrowth of life. We must remember Walter Brown Gibson's father, Alfred C. Gibson, was a very down-to-earth and pragmatic businessman who was both hardworking and forward-looking. But Alfred was a man who dealt in and thrived from involving himself in facts and non-abstract truths. He was not one to obsess over fanciful matters. Incidentally, Walter Gibson's son, Robert W. Gibson, was a driven, humane, and very competent man of science. Robert Gibson was a man, who like his grandfather Alfred, was not one who dealt in the ethereal realms of fancy and fiction. Perhaps it was his job as a committed and empirically-grounded thinker and psychiatrist that made Robert not indulge in artistic activities, as his father Walter was prone? Historians and others are only left to speculate.

What is clear and self-evident is that Walter was certainly not a man who wasted the rich and inventive imagination God had given to him. Walter Brown Gibson was also a man of action who did not let the grass grow under his feet, especially when earning a living as a writer. He was ambitious enough and clever enough as a man to successfully weave his love of stage magic, history, mystery tales, and wordplay into a mighty and healthy vehicle for making money. His literary legacy as a pulp novelist, true-crime reporter, word puzzle maker, and magic historian unambiguously speaks volumes to Gibson's commitment to himself and others that the human mind was itself a magical instrument, whose limitations are both largely unknown and untested. Walter's feline-like hunger to feed the human mind's curiosity for higher learning, riddles and mysteries was a firm and fixed testament that Walter knew from his earliest age that human beings were beings who had to challenge themselves against riddles and puzzles in order to achieve self-discovery and self-actualization. One's mind could never be idle to gain wisdom for Gibson. A healthy human brain for Gibson was one that questioned the world around it through sound introspection, philosophical debate, and artistic and literary activity, specifically reading and writing. Walter's prolific output as a stage magician, adventure novelist, and word puzzle builder fulfilled much of his quest to awaken the wonder in peoples' souls. For Walter Brown Gibson, a dull mind was one that never forced itself to think. Walter was not boring nor was he unoriginal, be it as a man or as a thinker.

Walter left his family's hallowed ground of Colgate University before he could graduate from there, primarily because of his fierce and feisty self-confidence in himself as a writer and as a magician. We know this because Walter's uncle Frank Gibson was a very respected professor of Greek at Colgate (Mayne, 3). At the same time, Walter's brother Theodore Gibson became a much-lauded instructor there in mathematics (Mayne, 3). Not receiving his college degree from Colgate University did not wound Walter in any way, spiritually or otherwise. Although Walter did not conform to many of his family's norms or expectations, he did inherit from Alfred his tireless work ethic and his penchant for honesty and decency. Walter, in his 88 years of earthly life, never had any conflicts with the law whatsoever. This also speaks favorably for Walter's character.

Walter Gibson was not a spiritually or morally faultless man who inhabited a cosmologically perfect universe. Walter did have some minor personality flaws of his own. Gibson's biographer Thomas J. Shimeld writes of Walter, "He was considered by many magicians to be the '" foremost authority on magic in the world'" (Shimeld, 137). Shimeld continues, "Gibson knew so much about the history of magic, for he lived through the first golden age of the art; no one would argue against his word, even if his word wasn't totally fact" (Shimeld, 137). Walter Brown Gibson, rightly considered the elder scholar-statesman of American stage magic, was, at times, a self-ordained know-it-all. No one can reasonably or factually deny that Walt Gibson was one of the world's most well-read magicians on the history of prestidigitation. But his ego did get the better of him on more than one occasion, precisely when it came to his chosen field of expertise. Walter being his consistently amicable and talkative chatter-box self, always had a yarn to weave. This includes Walter's personal memories of stage magic and stage magicians.

Walter thought any student of stage magic would never argue against his very worthy and capable talent and reputation (Shimeld, 138). But some did (Shimeld, 138). It was Walter's belief that they were not personally there to witness the events as he had been there to see them, so who were they to challenge him? Yet Walter (persistently the cunning master of misdirection) would demonstrate to them his individual recollections of the facts in a historically half-true context and in the form of a biographically half-true but entertaining story (Shimeld, 138). Walter was not above embellishment. And because Walter could and frequently did charm the hearts of many cynical audience members, he was more than often able to prove his point about a particular aspect of stage magic without offending or discouraging the most hardened of critics (Shimeld, 138). If Walter had a point of debate to prove in a discussion of legerdemain, he did so with skill, gusto, and subtlety. Gibson was a magician, once and always.

Gibson was the middle son of his father Alfred's second marriage. Alfred Cornelius Gibson's first marriage yielded three healthy children, two daughters, and a son (Shimeld, 11). Alfred C. Gibson's second wife, May Whidden Gibson, brought forth three healthy sons, Walter Brown Gibson (Shimeld, 11). Although Walter was married numerous times (three to be exact), unlike Alfred, he was the father to just one child, Doctor Robert W. Gibson (Shimeld, 88).

Walter spent the happy, latter years of his life performing magic shows in and around Eddyville, New York, and elsewhere. He was a frequent guest at major comic book conventions in the United States in both the 1970s and until the early 1980s. Walter was also a major participant and lecturer at national stage magic conventions, who often creatively collaborated with his dearly cherished spouse Litzka. Although Walter gave up his habitual and unhealthy cigarette-smoking regimen (at Litzka's prodding) in the 1950s (Shimeld, 127), he did put on much weight from the 1970s forward. By the middle 1980s, Walter, who was often sedentary, was experiencing significant heart difficulties (Shimeld, 151). Walter B. Gibson suffered a horrible stroke on November 7, 1985 (Shimeld, 151). This stroke left him both blind and without the ability to speak (Shimeld, 151). Despite his body and mind being devastated by this vicious stroke, Walter still had his wits about him (Shimeld, 151). But the curtains were drawing to close on Gibson's life. Walter Brown Gibson, the renowned creator of modern superhero fiction and stage magician of the first rank, died on the fateful morning of December 6, 1985, at Benedictine Hospital, in Kingston, New York (Shimeld, 151). Walter was 88 years old.

Though the great man and artist was dead in body, Walter's soul, reputation, and legacy thrive. Litzka and Robert W. Gibson were devastated by Walter's tragic loss. And so was the world. Walter Brown Gibson's family, friends, and fans were legions, and none would ever turn their backs on him or his memory. In the world's two realms of popular literature and stage magic, Gibson firmly remains both an eternal and titanic hurricane of blinding and burning artistic illumination. His light is both far-reaching and unyielding. Writers of superhero fiction, such as myself, personally feel his huge loss and presence, as much in the twenty-first century as fictionalists and stage magicians have felt them in the twentieth. So Walter remains what he always wanted to be: a loving, productive, and innovative writer, performer, and family man…one who loved America and one who loved life.

Walter Brown Gibson was buried in upstate New York at the Montrepose Cemetery of Kingston (Shimeld, 153). He was given an Episcopal Christian funeral and burial service, conducted by his close friend and fellow stage magician, the Reverend Canon William V. Rauscher (Shimeld, 153).

When Walter Brown Gibson died in early December 1985, many historians felt that America's last living link to The Golden Age of Magic was gone (Shimeld, 156). This may well have been true. It could also be very smartly and historically wise to say that when Walter B. Gibson passed from this Earth, one of America's last living links to The Golden Age of Superheroes (1931-1950) vanished as well. But what serious and responsible students of history must realize is that though the man is no longer with us, his God-given spirit and mind still are relentlessly pulling us towards him to think, create, and persevere. In doing as much, Walter Brown Gibson not only outlasts Time and Space, but he spectacularly lives on in present-day imaginations, as the vital and almost preternatural artist he was. Walter Brown Gibson is as much a super-heroic inspiration for American artists now as he was nearly forty years ago. Gibson, along with his Shadow, both have finally seen the light of day. History and the world at large have permanently taken note.

About the Author:  Michael Mauro DeBonis is a poet and a historian from Long Island, New York.  A graduate of Suffolk County Community College (A. A. in Liberal Studies) and SUNY at Stony Brook (B. A. in English Literature), Michael's work first appeared in The Village Beacon Record and The Brookhaven Times Newspapers. Michael's current work (poetry and prose) may be found in The New York History Review and elsewhere.




1)                     Ian Fleming, The Editors, The Encyclopedia Britannica, copyright 2021,  

2)                     Mai Ly Degnan, Pulp Magazines and Their Influence on Entertainment Today, The Journal of the Norman Rockwell Museum, January 2013,


3)                     Dorothy Gardiner, Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 9, pages 322-323, copyright 1970, Americana Corporation, 575 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, 10022, USA.

4)                     Robert W. Gibson, Introduction to Walter B. Gibson and The Shadow, pages ix-x, copyright 2003, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, USA and London, England.

5)                     Walter B. Gibson, Harry HoudiniThe Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 14, page 455, copyright 1970, Americana Corporation, 575 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, 10022, USA.

6)                     George Knowles, A Wizard of Words, Walter B. Gibson, Online Journal, copyright 2006, Controverscial.Com  

7)                     Aleta Mayne, Behind The Shadow, Colgate Scene, Spring 2016,

8)                     William V. Rauscher, Walter B.  Gibson-Wizard of Words, Online Journal, copyright 2021, MysticLightPress.Com.

9)                     Thomas J. Shimeld, Walter B. Gibson and The Shadow, McFarland & Company, copyright 2003, Jefferson, North Carolina and London, England.

10)                  Anthony Tollin, The Men Who Cast The Shadow, page 127, The Shadow Magazine, vol. 41, copyright 2010, Sanctum Books, P. O. Box 761474, San Antonio, Texas, 78245-1474.




























Friday, September 3, 2021

Lorenzo L. D. Tanner

 by Richard White

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved by the author.

An African loving fanatic in Marathon, Cortland County, has sent a letter to the President, asking that he issue a “Compensation Proclamation,” giving to the negroes freed by the Emancipation Proclamation land in the South, all of which this lunatic says by right belongs to the freedmen. Tanner probably would like to be President, and this is a bid for the negro vote.

This was the opening “Editorial Sentiment” in Binghamton’s racially virulent Democratic Leader on March 29, 1872, regarding a petition authored by a long-time abolitionist from central New York to President Grant provide confiscated acreage in the South to the former slaves freed in 1863 by President Lincoln. “Compensation” and similar proposals such as land redistribution and agrarian reform were not new ideas. In fact, in 1862, President Lincoln signed two Compensated Emancipation Acts ended slavery in Washington, DC, and allowed former slaves to petition for reimbursement for their value. In 1865, the well-known slogan, “40 acres and a mule,” was popularized but never gained traction in Congress, and certainly not with President Johnson, whose viewpoint favored property restoration instead of compensation. In his classic The Struggle for Equality (1964), James McPherson explained Johnson’s amnesty proclamation in 1865. Subsequent pardons restored property rights to most rebels who would take an oath of allegiance. Still, he also points out that “abolitionists continued to work ”(410) for racial justice as Reconstruction developed as they had in the pre-War period.

Such a person was a little-known public-spirited resident who lived in the Marathon-Freetown-Galatia region of Cortland County, Lorenzo D. Tanner. L. D., as he was called, moved to this rural region of central New York from Oneida County in 1835 and practiced a variation of citizen advocacy. In a look back at his life, The Cortland Democrat, on March 16, 1934, stated that he “was an impressive figure [who] wrote letters to the newspapers on all public questions. In the slavery days, he was an uncompromising Abolitionist, and his opponents nicknamed him ‘Nigger’ Tanner.” For example, Cazenovia’s The Liberty Press on July 18, 1843, discussed L. D.’s participation at the village’s anti-slavery meeting and stated that “our excellent friend…L. D. Tanner of Freetown, moved the resolutions” condemning the inhumanity of enslavement.

Even before the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Tanner’s activism spurred him to travel to a nearby village to rally against slavery, not because he was “lunatic,” but because of his prime belief in racial equality and freedom for African Americans. At the rally on September 2, 1850, at Freetown’s Baptist Church, Tanner attended and was asked to co-write the assemblage’s resolutions.

According to Cortland’s The Whig on September 26, the rally’s first purpose was to validate “the inalienable right to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as a paramount principle of America.

The second was to support the imprisoned William L. Chaplin, an agent of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society, who was jailed for helping two slaves trying to escape bondage in Maryland. As the rally neared its closing, seven resolutions were formulated and presented, and three were specifically about Chaplin’s incarceration. One insisted “that in that as much as the friends of slavery claim the right to extend it into the territories now free, we in our turn demand that the U. S. Constitution shall be amended by striking out those clauses which are claimed as its compromises.” Tanner’s style as a proponent of impartial freedom was quiet and “uncompromising,” and it presented itself through the tumultuous pre-war and war years.

His approach to Reconstruction issues remained dramatically solid and unaltered in his work for civil rights. In 1870, for example, L. D. challenged a prominent neighbor and future two-term Assemblyman, D. C. Squires, to debate the freedmen’s immediate future at the Union school house in Lapeer to the west of Marathon. On June 3, The Cortland Democrat captured the complexity of their first debate months earlier and its aftermath. While the paper did not estimate the length of the first face-off or the audience’s size, it did note that there was no formal decision regarding who won the debate and later published L. D.’s challenge to Squires to debate on the pages of this newspaper which Squires did not answer.

Two years later, an issue concerning the future of the Freedmen prompted Tanner to write to President Grant but, despite it being a petition to the President of the United States, there was limited reportage on this letter which was published in The Marathon Independent, which reprinted on March 26 an article originally appearing in the Cortland Democrat. In it, Tanner asked Grant “to issue a compensation proclamation in behalf of the freedmen. He asked that the President shall give the negroes their ‘forty acres and a mule’—at least he wants them to have the land they used to till for their masters.” While a letter from one constituent might impact a President, in this case, Grant’s mind was already made up. In his book, Grant (2017), historian Ron Chernow succinctly states the President’s stance on compensation. “Grant opposed land redistribution, which had excited so much hope among freedmen….On the other hand, he urged the continuance to safeguard black rights (565).” Yet even if Tanner were aware of the President’s view, he would not have been deterred in writing his letter.

In the mid-1800s, Lorenzo Tanner's efforts in support of freedom and justice has endured for more than empirical reasons. He was not a firebrand or a  charismatic, but he stands tall in New York State history. The offensive nickname-- both then and now--"Nigger Tanner"-- provides a powerful picture of the resilient racism that Tanner challenged.

About the author: Richard White's articles have appeared in Civil War HistoryThe Journal of Negro History, and other publications.

Friday, May 21, 2021

New York’s 1810 Election

By Harvey Strum of The Sage Colleges
Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved by the author

New York’s 1810 elections showed the importance of foreign policy issues in local and state politics. The foreign policies of President James Madison dominated the interaction between the Federalist controlled Assembly and Republican Governor Daniel Tompkins. Federalists and Republicans debated foreign policy during the summer of 1809 and in the November Common Council elections in New York City. Madison’s foreign policy became the main issue used by Federalists and Republicans in the spring 1810 state and congressional elections. Republicans called the Federalists Tories, lackeys of the British, and claimed they sought to drag the county into war with France. Their opponents viewed continued Republican rule as a disaster that would lead to more embargoes and war with Great Britain. The 1810 elections in revealed the connections between foreign policy and local and state politics. Foreign policy played a crucial role in local and state politics from 1807-1815.

David Erskine, British Minister to the United States, negotiated an understanding with the United States in 1809 offering to withdraw the 1807 Orders in Council and settle the Chesapeake/ Leonard Affair of 1807 creating a dramatic improvement in Anglo-American relations. President James Madison proclaimed an end to the embargo on trade with Great Britain. News of the Anglo-American accommodation pleased New York Federalists who hoped, as Robert Troup noted, that it would lead to a new treaty "whereby all future misunderstandings will be prevented, and a solid foundation laid for a lasting peace." Federalists welcomed the Erskine agreement because the "unhappy differences" between the two nations had "proved highly injurious to… trade." For landholders in western and northern New York, the Erskine agreement would spur settlement and Troup expected his agency would probably "take a more prosperous course.”[i]

The agreement might also encourage the Republicans to take more decisive action against the French. Congressman Herman Knickerbacker expected the President to support non-intercourse against France. Federalists believed the Republicans were "throwing off the Gallic Yoke of French Influence." In fact, Republican John Nicholas recommended the President and Congress authorize the arming of merchantmen and if necessary, engage in an undeclared naval war with France. If the French refused to stop their violations of American neutral rights, Federalists favored declaring "war against them, and it must be war interminable and exterminating." In the wake of the Erskine accord Republicans and Federalists wanted the President to adopt bolder policies toward the French.[ii]

Federalists praised President Madison. According to Gulian C. Verplanck the President had "begun well" and if he continued "a course of strict impartiality" toward the European belligerents the Federalists would support him. Ontario County Federalists toasted Madison, "President of the People, and not of a party." As long as Madison followed "George Washington principles" Federalists would endorse his foreign policies.[iii]

Federalists and Republicans celebrated the Erskine agreement and the end of commercial restrictions on June 10th, but bitter partisanship marred the festivities and the Fourth of July celebrations. About four thousand Federalists heard John Lovett and Philip Van Vechten condemn the Republicans for the "crime" of Anglophobia at a meeting in Albany. Federalists took credit for the Anglo-American reconciliation. They also toasted the Spanish victories against Napoleon, continued to assail the embargo and praised the Canadians, "enjoying liberty under a mild government, may our friendship be as lasting as the waters of the St. Lawrence." Federalists identified themselves as the true party of the people. How long could deferential politics survive in a society where even the elitist Federalists considered middle class farmers "the lords of the soil" and warned, "if this republic – the world's last hope – should ever be subverted," it will be because Americans placed too much confidence in their rulers.[iv]

Confrontations between Federalists and Republicans occurred at Fourth of July festivities in Canajoharie, Goshen, and Poughkeepsie. When Federalists and Republicans passed each other in separate processions in Ballston Spa it was "with such masks of jealousy, such sullen reserve." Republicans tried to use June 10th celebrations to blunt Federalist efforts "to transfer the triumph of our country to Great Britain and to credit the settlement from the government to themselves." Rensselaer Republican Seth Parsons described the opposition as "a faction envenomed with the deepest hostility to the Laws and Liberties of their country." The Federalists encouraged "civil discord and domestic insurrection" and tried to aid the British "a second time to colonize us by commercial restrictions."[v]

Even though Republicans rejoiced on June 10th at the "happy termination of our differences with Great Britain," by the Fourth of July their Anglophobia resurfaced. "Again, has the haughty genius of British tyranny been humbled," Seth Parsons boasted, "again have the rights of our country been vindicated.“ Republicans stressed American exceptionalism during the Fourth of July. Contrasting the United States with Europe, John T. Irving described this country as a "tranquil mansion" in a world of warring despots. "The melancholy scenes of poverty" prevalent in Europe did not exist in the United States, an empire of "bountiful profusion." The United States did not have the burden of a titled nobility demanding deference based on "birth and not …merit." Men of superior merit or virtue won prestige and honor, but they were "still only considered as equals." Republicans saw the United States as a society based on the equality of man. Deferential politics had no place in a state or nation of free men.[vi]

In the wake of the Federalist victory, Tammany created a special committee to investigate the decline in the Republican vote. The committee recommended the dissolution of factional Republican clubs, the cessation of attacks on fellow Republicans in the press and a unity meeting. Efforts of "Burrite and Lewisite, Madisonian and Clintonian CHIEFS" to end their differences at two private unity meetings in July and August 1809 met with limited success. A public meeting nearly turned into a brawl when Clintonians tried to get the meeting to adopt a resolution praising both Madison and George Clinton. The factional animosities and suspicions still proved too strong for New York City Republicans to join together.[vii]

In late July news reached New York of the British repudiation of the Erskine agreement. Immediately, the Republican press assailed the British and Republican Party leaders and organized public demonstrations against the British. The "infamous conduct of England," wrote a Cazenovia Republican editor, "exposed the cloven foot of perfidy." Republicans meeting at City Hall Park charged the British with "deception and … breach of good faith." They pledged to follow the President if Madison decided to "employ our invincible means." In reply to resolutions of support from New York City and Washington County Republicans, the President called upon New Yorkers for a "firm and patriotic support of the measures devised."[viii]

Unlike the Republicans, New York's Federalists believed the failure of the Erskine mission arose from an "unfortunate misunderstanding …and not from… perfidy and diplomatic deception" by the British. Robert Troup feared the British disavowal of Erskine would "place at a much greater distance" an Anglo-American accord. The failure of the Erskine agreement ended the honeymoon between the Federalists and President Madison. John Jay described Madison as a "Prince worse than Pharoah." When demonstrations against the arrival of the new British Minister Francis James Jackson erupted in Annapolis and Norfolk, Richard Harrison denounced them as "arrogant and absurd, but our lord, the mob, is not famous either for Wisdom or Moderation." While the President might not be "mad enough" to reject the Jackson mission, his "pretensions" might prove "sufficiently extravagant" to doom the renewed effort to reach an Anglo-American understanding.[ix]

Angered by the pompous, insulting, and negative attitude of Jackson, the President demanded his recall in November. Jackson accurately reported that his Federalist friends in New York City found nothing wrong with his conduct. Congressman Barent Gardenier considered the dismissal of Jackson "a proceeding worthy only of Barbarians.” Albany Federalists “all" thought “our Government is decidedly wrong" and even Rufus King believed the President intended the dismissal of Jackson as “a satisfactory offering to the French Emperor." Federalists feared Jackson's recall would lead to war. "The boys here are a little frightened," Peter De Witt wrote from New York City, "they fully believe in a rupture with England." Federalists questioned what the United States would gain from war. "What if we conquer Canada," asked editor Zachariah Lewis. "Have we not territory enough… are we still greedy for more?”[x]

After the abrupt termination of Jackson's ministry, he remained in United States circulating among the Federalist social elite. New York's Federalists swamped him with attention. They invited him to every ball, dinner or wedding including the wedding of Rufus King's eldest son. While Republicans attacked Jackson as an agent of Satan, Federalists treated him as an honored guest. Upstate, Federalists endorsed the friendly behavior of the city's Federalists toward Jackson. "If we were in New York," Robert Troup wrote, "we should follow your example."[xi]

Oliver Wolcott, Jr. led a faction of the Federalists who disagreed with Federalist defense of Jackson. He believed Jackson had "not come to settle with us but to insult and humiliate the country." Federalists ought to stand behind the President. For over a year Wolcott and his friends wanted the Federalist Party to adopt a more nationalistic position on Anglo-American relations and expel the Tories. "Some of our friends," Robert Troup reported, wanted the party to assume "Americanism." However, Troup felt the Federalists bore a responsibility to criticize “the perfidious and detestable policy of our Rulers." They had a duty to the nation, "nay, to God, himself… to arrest the progress of our nation to swift destruction." In good conscience the Federalists could not "be Americans" if this meant supporting the "dishonorable, disgraceful, and ruinous" policies of the Republicans. From this kind of Americanism, "may God… deliver me.” Federalists rejected the advice of Wolcott and other nationalists within the Federalist Party because they believed the stakes were too high – the fate of the nation – to endorse Administration policies. Federalists perceived Republican policies as a threat to "our constitution and our liberties." As long as the Republicans followed policies which the Federalists perceived would lead to an Anglo-American war and cooperation with Bonaparte, Federalists could not support Republican foreign policy.[xii]

Republicans considered Jackson's behavior as further evidence of "British insolence and perfidy." Angered by Federalist support for Jackson, Republicans described Federalists as British agents and "true son/s/ of John Bull." Jackson's conduct created "much warmth" among Congressional Republicans. According to Ebenezer Sage, the Congressman for the three Long Island counties, Jackson's actions had fostered a "strong War party” in Congress.[xiii]

In late November 1809 New York City voters went to the polls to elect the Common Council. This election demonstrates the relationship between local, state, and national politics and foreign policy. Federalists and Republicans ran their campaigns not on local issues but on foreign policy. 11 Federalists will have the support," predicted editor Zachariah Lewis, "of all who deprecate a useless embargo and an unnecessary war" and all who oppose "favoritism and prejudice toward foreign nations.” Republicans raised the cry of Tories and British agents to hurl against the opposition. The two parties quarreled over the Revolutionary legacy. Ninth Ward Federalists reminded voters "they remembered well the plains of Lexington and the bloody field of Monmouth, where Federalists, led our… patriots" to victory.” [xiv]

During the summer, Republicans tried to heal their split but failed. They ran two slates in the Common Council elections. Tammany identified its slate as Madisonian because of its support for Madison in the 1808 Presidential election while the Clintonians ran a separate ticket. Federalists obtained 3,928 (53%) votes to 3,454 (47%) for the Republicans citywide. Due to the Clintonians and Madisonians (Tammany) putting up competing slates in the Sixth and Seventh wards, the Federalists carried those two strongly Republican wards. Federalists interpreted their winning fifteen of the twenty council seats as proof the people would not elect men "who are the… advocates of embargoes, non-intercourse, and war.”[xv]

Meanwhile, Congress debated what policy to adopt in the wake of the repudiation of the Erskine accord and the recall of Jackson. New Yorkers complained of the "perpetual tornado of wind and words" having taken "the place of decision" in Congress. Congressman Ebenezer Sage lamented if only Congress had "honest men, not speculators." Congress moved to pass Macon I s Bill #2, which removed all restrictions on commerce but provided for the imposition of non-intercourse on either France or England if the other agreed to respect American neutral rights. Several New York Republicans including Congressmen Jonathan Fisk (Orange County), Gurdon Mumford, Sage, and Senator Obidiah German opposed the bill because they believed it contained not even "a pretense of resistance." However, the Republican majority passed the bill. News of the new law gave "a new life to the operations of our merchants" in New York.[xvi]

Back in New York the Federalists gained control of the Council of Appointment and the state's patronage when a Republican council member, Robert Williams, defected to the Federalists. While several prominent Federalists including Gouverneur Morris, and Abraham Van Vechten objected to deals with "Changelings" the majority of state's Federalist leadership chose patronage over principle and accepted the deal with Williams. In opposition, Federalists denounced the Republican practice of only appointing loyal party members to office. However, once in control of the Council of Appointment Federalists ejected every Republican from public office and replaced them with job hungry Federalists. By 1810 the spoils system had become an established political practice which even the Federalists did not change. New York politicians practiced the spoils system long before New Yorker William L. Marcy coined his famous phrase.[xvii]

Just as the Republicans divided over the spoils Federalists scrambled for lucrative offices. Filling the lucrative posts of Mayor and Recorder of New York City created the most conflict. When party leaders considered appointing Jacob Radcliff as Mayor, Gouverneur Morris cautioned against the appointment because Radcliff belonged to the nationalist faction along with Wolcott who supported Madison's ouster of Jackson. To Morris their support of the President was "not only reprehensible but impeachable conduct." Recommending having "nothing to do with such federalists," Morris argued "their Judgement is not to be relied on by us." Albany Federalists decided upon Radcliff. Disappointed friends of Robert Troup, Richard Varick and Nathaniel Pendleton nearly split the party in the city. The appointment of a Recorder posed similar problems as friends of Thomas Morris, Robert Benson, and Josiah Ogden Hoffman fought for the post.[xviii]

This scramble for offices alarmed several Federalist leaders. Abraham Van Vechten, an Albany Assemblyman appointed Attorney-General, feared some Federalists in the Assembly cared more about patronage than about the "interests of the party." They threatened to split the party to pursue their own selfish interests. This "mortifying and disgusting" conduct alarmed many Federalists who labored "for the progress of federalism from patriotic motives." The conflict over jobs so disgusted Troup he refused to have anything more to do with the appointments battle. Congressman James Emott (Dutchess) warned if this continued "I shall despair of the ascendancy of correct principles." By competing for public offices, Federalists turned the fight with Republicans into a "war about names not about principles." While Republicans considered patronage an established part of the democratic electoral process, Federalists could not resolve the moral dilemma patronage posed for a party based on "correct principles."[xix]

By driving "everything down before them" the Federalists forced the warring Republicans to unite for the 1810 election. Just prior to the wholesale removal of Republicans, Tammany’s organizing chairman, Mathew L. Davis, anticipated Clintonian opposition to a Tammany Assembly slate and swore "an eternal war against every mother son of them." A group of Lewisite Assemblymen and State Senators met in Albany to determine strategy during the campaign. Caught between the Clintonians and the Federalists, the Lewisites considered them­ selves a "poor set of true Republicans between Hawk and Buzzard." The removal of the Republicans including Mayor De Witt Clinton by the Federalist Council of Appointment produced temporary unity in Republican ranks. Clintonian Republicans backed the Tammany slate and upstate Clintonians and Lewisites arranged a deal. Clintonians backed Morgan Lewis for State Senator while Lewisites endorsed Tompkins' reelection. Republicans waged the 1810 campaign unified for the first time since 1801.[xx]

The 1810 campaign began with a direct confrontation between the Federalist Assembly and Governor Tompkins. After Governor Tompkins gave a vigorous defense of the Administration's foreign policy the Assembly reacted by adopting an anti-Administration reply. During the debate on the floor of the Assembly, Republicans Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell, Roger Skinner of Washington County, Daniel L. Van Antwerp of Saratoga, and Oliver C. Comstock of Seneca County defended the foreign policy of President Madison and called upon the Assembly to vote for a substitute reply introduced by Mitchell which approved of the Governor's speech and the conduct of the Administration.[xxi]

During the election campaign, Republicans assailed former British Minister Francis Jackson for his "vile attempts… to evade the just…claims of our government." They attacked the Federalists for their "fulsome adulation" of Jackson which insulted "every citizen who possesses American feelings." Republicans also attacked their opponents for filibustering in Congress, defending British insults, misleading the public, sowing subversion, and joining with "Tories to elect… men notoriously hostile to the government." They claimed the Federalists sought to "involve us in a war with France." Republicans charged Federalist gubernatorial candidate, Jonas Platt, a State Senator from the Western District, wrote a pamphlet in 1800 "derogatory to freemen." Platt favored elected representatives following their conscience and not merely representing the opinion of the majority of their constituents. To the Republicans this appeared "language suited to the courts of St. James and St. Cloud, but little adapted to a nation of freemen." Republicans hoped to recapture the Assembly using the issues of Anglophobia and democracy.[xxii]

In the Assembly Federalists Abraham Van Vechten, Daniel Cady (Montgomery), Thomas P. Grosvenor (Columbia) and Alexander Neeley (Dutchess) assailed the dismissal of Jackson, Republican sympathy for France and the danger of an Anglo-American war. The Federalist majority in the Assembly passed a resolution, in reply to Governor Tompkins' address, critical of Administration's foreign policy and opposing war with England, the only bulwark against Napoleon's ambition. During the campaign Federalists claimed the dismissal of Jackson merited "the decided disapprobation of the nation." In an electoral address to the voters of New York and Westchester, Gouverneur Morris charged the President planned to use Jackson's dismissal as a pretext for war. Federalists even portrayed the appointment of John Quincy Adams as Minister to Russia as part of a conspiracy to form a Franco-American alliance and start a war with the British.[xxiii]

While Federalists publicly attacked Macon's Bill #1 as a continuation of the Republican policy of commercial warfare, they privately approved of Macon's Bill #2 because the law removed non-intercourse and consequently, improved the economic prospects for Federalist merchants and upstate landowners. During the campaign Federalists raised two state issues-Clintonian influence and Republican loans of common school funds to political associates and relatives including Edmund C. Genet. Federalists charged Tompkins with subservience "to a powerful and unprincipled family" – the Clintons. However, Republicans concentrated on foreign policy. George Tibbits portrayed the election as an opportunity for the voters to "decide… whether a course of measures which have already nearly ruined the country shall be persisted in and even matured to a State of war" or elect Platt and send a signal to Madison to halt the disastrous Republican foreign policies.[xxiv]

When a mob "of the lowest order" burned an effigy of apostate Republican Robert Williams in Poughkeepsie, Federalists denounced the act because a mob could easily go "from burning a man in effigy to burning his home or cutting his throat." Federalists repeatedly expressed the fear Republican mob violence would lead to excesses similar to the French Revolution. They hoped to use the 1810 election as the means to "extirpate this degenerate species of French Jacobinism, not only from our councils, but… from the minds of our deluded fellow citizens." They also criticized Republican efforts to change the militia laws as leading to "a military conscription, similar to that of France.”[xxv]

Trying to counteract the image of Tompkins as the "Farmer's Boy" and Platt as an aristocratic lawyer, Federalists described their candidate as a man of the people, "whose habits and manners are as plain and republican as those of his country neighbors." Platt was not "a city lawyer who rolls in splendor and wallows in luxury." Seeking to appear as the true party of the people, Federalists attacked the enlargement of the army as a threat to American liberties and the Republican attempts to restrict Congressional debates as unconstitutional and endangering free speech. Federalists censured the Republicans for withholding information on foreign affairs from the public. They demanded "frankness, publicity and no secrecy.” While the Federalists tried to appear as the party of the people, they drew a distinction between themselves and the Republicans. In a republic representative did not have to blindly follow public opinion. After all, "the principle of binding instructions is of French origin – the Jacobin clubs of Paris."[xxvi]

Appealing to ethnic voters, Federalists sang,

Come Dutch, and Yankee, Irish, Scot

With intermixed relation.

From whence we came, it matters not.

We all make, now, one nation.

Through the press of apostate Republican James Cheetham, Federalists competed for the votes of Irish, German, English, and Scottish immigrants. Republicans countered, "Republicans are the true… and liberal friends of CATHOLICS." While Federalists sought the immigrant vote, they did not totally abandon nativism. “The appointment of FOREIGNERS to offices of… trust, is degrading to… Americans and tends to promote the emigration of… seditious subjects of other nations." Federalists sought the votes of both immigrants and nativists.[xxvii]

Black voters condemned the Republican Party for seeking to disenfranchise them and agreed to support the Federalists. Both political parties competed for the votes of Quakers, especially in Columbia County. Federalists Elisha Williams and Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer favored legislative exemption of Quakers from the $10 tax on individuals released from militia duty. Martin Van Buren tried to persuade a local Quaker leader to get his brethren to vote Republican. In western New York, the two parties competed for the votes of Methodists. Republican Methodists condemned Jonas Platt's alleged failure to show any evidence of a conversion experience. However, fellow Methodist Elias Vanderlip defended Platt's religious life particularly his conversion to Methodism. Federalists also appealed to mechanics, cartmen and laborers who comprised 4,000 of the city's voters. They especially tried to obtain the votes of ship-carpenters, blacksmiths, ropemakers and mariners.[xxviii]

"Unexpected success has followed the standard of our opponents," noted a surprised Morris S. Miller. "It is not in our power to account for the result… never was there more unanimity among Federalists" nor greater exertions. Miller felt the Federalists did everything they could and still lost. Republican Governor Tompkins won reelection defeating Platt 54 percent to 46 percent. A total of 79,600 voters cast ballots in the gubernatorial election, an increase of 9 percent from the 1809 senatorial election and 20 percent above the 1807 gubernatorial contest. Republicans swept all the State Senate seats at stake and won two-thirds of the Assembly seats. They also carried twelve of the seventeen Congressional seats. "The republic is safe," declared Charles Holt, editor of the Clintonian Republican New York Columbian. The Republicans triumphed, he added, over internal “apostasy and corruption as well as British influence.” By electing Tompkins, New Yorkers demonstrated, Federalist editor Paraclete Potter lamented, "Their approbation of the whole system of embargo, non-intercourse and non-importation laws." New Yorkers elected, he added, "an abject tool of Clinton.”[xxix]

Republicans benefited from higher voter turnout in 1810. They gained 1,664 votes (20%) in the Eastern District, 1,584 votes (20%) in the Middle District and 789 (15%) in the Southern District while the Federalists picked up 991 (11%), 1,007 (15%) and 372 (08%) respectively. In 1809 the Federalists elected two Senators from the Eastern District but in 1810 the Republicans succeeded in obtaining more votes in virtually every county in the district. Their sharp increases in Washington and Montgomery (17%) gave them the victory. In the Western District, the Federalists won three Senate seats in 1810. The Federalist vote dropped 1,596 (-10%) while the Republicans increased 2,138 (14%). In the strongly Republican county of Cayuga over 400 Republicans who voted Federalist in 1809 returned to the Republican Party. In Jefferson about 135 voters switched back to the Republicans. In Chenango and Otsego about 150 voters in each county who voted Federalist in 1809 did not go to the polls in 1810. With the removal of the embargo, 300 voters in those two counties who went to the polls in 1809 to express their discontent with the embargo did not vote. A sharp rise in turnout in Seneca, Schoharie, Ontario, Onondaga, and Herkimer reflected the ability of the Republican Party to mobilize voters and inability of the Federalists to stir the voters once the embargo ended.

Republican Party unity did not guarantee Republican Party success. Surprisingly, the Federalists gained additional votes in Columbia and New York, the two counties where unity between Republican Party factions should have aided the party the most. In the Middle District, the Republicans ran Clintonian James W. Wilkin and former Governor Morgan Lewis for State Senator. Both Martin Van Buren, for the Clintonians, and Robert R. Livingston worked "very actively" for the Clintonian-Lewisite coalition slate, but they could not carry Columbia. Even the majority of the Chancellor's own freeholders voted Federalist. Down in New York City the Clintonian-Tammany deal should have produced a Republican majority in the gubernatorial and state senatorial races but the Federalists won.[xxx]

As in previous elections, illegal voting took place during the gubernatorial election. Federalists claimed the Republicans in every district in the state created voters "from the dregs of the people, by Quit Claim deeds." A newly made voter would cast his ballot and then "assign his deed to another." Republicans even released criminals and made them voters. Clintonians and Lewisites cooperated in creating illegal voters. As a Federalist editor observed, "the Quids supported them." Federalist charges suggest the Republicans disregarded the election laws on a widespread scale in western New York, Albany, Washington, Orange, and New York counties. In New York City, the Republicans even resorted to multiple voting. Republicans countercharged Federalists evaded the election laws in New York City and Albany. "Many federalists who were not worth one cent," perjured themselves to vote. Martin Van Buren admitted the Federalists proved more skillful in creating voters than the Republicans in Columbia County. Federalists managed to create twice as many votes as Republicans in the county. As Alden Spooner, a Brooklyn Republican editor noted two years later:

By the big book of laws our rulers wrote,

No Man unassess’d, is permitted to vote;

Yet, said one to his neighbor, in these party days,

They will vote, tho unable one shilling to raise;

You mistake, said the other, in grog shops and stores

And Brooklyn Hotels, they have raised many scores! [xxxi]

The evidence supports the charges of illegal voting. According to the 1807 electoral census, Columbia had 2,968 qualified voters. By 1814 this rose to 3,232. Yet, 3,742 cast ballots in 1810. Van Buren claimed 600 "made votes," one-third Republican, two-thirds Federalist, and the returns suggest at least 600 men voted illegally. In 1807 and 1814 about 3,000 men qualified to vote in New York City but in 1810 3,726 voted. Jefferson County had only 835 legitimate voters in 1807 and 1,039 in 1814 but 2,122 cast ballots in 1810. Returns for other towns and counties particularly in western and northern New York suggest considerable evasion of the election laws. Even though the Republicans refused to permit a de jure extension of the franchise they repeatedly manufactured voters. This enabled them to have tighter control over the voters than an extension of the franchise. While the Federalists condemned illegal voting and could not compete with the Republicans in making voters in western New York, they did resort to the same practice, apparently, in the upper Hudson Valley, New York City, and parts of northern New York.[xxxii]

As a result of the Congressional elections, the Federalists dropped from eight to five seats. Lawyer Harmanus Bleecker easily won election in Albany defeating Republican John V. Veeder. The double district of Washington, Columbia and Rensselaer counties elected Federalists Asa Fitch and Robert Le Roy Livingston over Republicans Roger Skinner and James L. Hogeboom, former Assemblymen from Washington, and Rensselaer counties, respectively. James Emott won reelection in Dutchess County defeating former Congressman and Lewisite Republican Daniel C. Verplanck. Congressman Thomas R. Gold also won reelection defeating Republican Thomas Skinner in the Oneida-Madison district.

The Federalists did not challenge the Republicans in the Long Island district. Consequently, Ebenezer Sage got reelected over token opposition from fellow Republican David Gardiner. In the double district of New York City, Richmond and Rockland, Republicans Samuel L. Mitchell and William Paulding, Jr. obtained "a majority of votes… in all the counties" defeating Federalists Peter A. Jay and John B. Calles. A leading Clintonian, Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr. defeated Federalist John Bradner in the Westchester-Orange district. Federalist John M. Bowers lost to Republican Arunah Metcalf, a farmer, in Otsego and Delaware counties. Republican candidate Daniel Avery, a large landowner, easily won election over former Republican Congressman John Harris in the Cayuga Seneca-Steuben­ Tioga district. Reelected to represent Chenango, Cortland, Onondaga and Broome counties, Clergyman Uri Tracy defeated Federalist Nathaniel Waldron. Later serving as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Peter B. Porter began his Congressional career trouncing Federalist Ebenezer Foote Norton in the district composed of Ontario, Genesee, Niagara, and Allegany counties. Federalist James McCrea lost to Essex County Assemblyman Benjamin Pond in the Saratoga-Essex-Clinton-Franklin district. Former land agent for Nicholas Low and former judge of Oneida County Republican Silas Stow succeeded in the district consisting of Herkimer, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. Federalist Simeon Ford lost to Stow.[xxxiii]

Federalists lost the Ulster-Sullivan-Greene district when their candidate Garrit Abeel unsuccessfully challenged Republican Thomas B. Cooke. Republicans also recaptured the Cayuga-Seneca­ Steuben-Tioga district and the Schoharie-Montgomery district. Elected as a Federalist Thomas Sammons defected to the Republicans in 1810 and defeated Federalist candidate Richard Van Horne. During the 1810 Congressional elections, Federalists won majorities in the upper Hudson Valley counties of Dutchess, Columbia, Rensselaer, Albany and Greene, the Southern Tier counties of Steuben and Broome, and the counties of Madison, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Franklin, and New York.

As a result of the elections, the Federalists lost approximately twenty-seven seats in the Assembly. The Federalists lost Richmond, Kings, Westchester, Schenectady, Otsego, Schoharie, Montgomery, Herkimer, Jefferson, Clinton, Tioga, and Ontario. The following table indicates the major changes in voting behavior between 1809 and 1810 which resulted in the Federalist debacle:

In the counties the Federalists lost the Republicans increased their vote totals by 10-25 percent while the Federalists reported losses or virtually the same returns of 1809. The Republicans won Herkimer, Westchester, Schenectady, and Ontario because new voters went to the polls and voted almost unanimously for the Republicans. The gains made by Republicans in Otsego, Schoharie and Jefferson came primarily from the defection of voters from the Federalists. Voters who did not vote in 1809 but went to the polls in 1810 combined with voters who switched from the Federalists to the Republicans to give the latter a narrow majority in Montgomery. Republicans also made gains in Madison and Queens which remained Federalist in 1810 but with reduced majorities. Federalists retained 35 seats while the Republicans won 71.

Only in New York City did the Federalists gain Assembly seats. They captured six of the eleven seats, thus giving the Federalists a total of 41 seats in the Assembly. This unexpected partial Federalist victory in New York City especially surprised the Republicans because of the cooperation of the Clintonians and Tammany during the election. Looking for a scapegoat, the Republicans blamed the eight hundred free black voters who "almost to a man voted for the federal ticket." Republicans charged the Federalists allowed their slaves to vote as free blacks. Actually, James Cheetham's apostasy and defection to the Federalists may have brought over part of the Irish American vote. Republicans described their opponents as an alliance of Federalists, Tories, Negroes and Cheethamites.[i]

Displeased with the partial Federalist triumph, several hundred Republicans staggered out of Martling's Tavern and marched down Broadway. They attacked and beat up several Federalists they encountered on the streets and broke the windows in the homes of William Coleman and James Cheetham. They also broke the windows of Mechanics Hall, the Federalist meeting place and at the home of Johnston Patten, a prominent Federalist mechanic. Republicans blamed the incidents on the Federalists and charged fifty Federalists "well drenched with brandy" stoned the home of merchant Stephen Jumel. Republicans also condemned the Federalists for allegedly parading outside the home of Governor Tompkins in Albany shouting their support for Jonas Platt. Angered at the Republican violence, Federalists used the incident to demonstrate the difference between democracy, espoused by the Republicans, and republicanism, which the Federalists favored. "The tendency of the former is to anarchy," argued editor William Coleman, “while that of the latter is to produce order, to cultivate rational liberty." Federalists portrayed election rioting as a harbinger of more serious Republican violence. "We must be prepared to see the horrid scenes of Revolutionary France," they warned, "enacted in our streets." Riots and effigy burnings led Federalists to nightmarish visions of American Robespierres roaming the streets of New York. While many New York Republicans accepted minor election rioting as part of the democratic process Federalists feared the Republicans would imitate the excesses of the French Revolution and portrayed each incident of Republican violence as the start of an American version of the Reign of Terror.[ii]

With the removal of the embargo and the Jackson Affair, the Republicans entered the 1810 election campaign without the handicap of an unpopular measure and with the advantage that the Jackson incident permitted them to wrap themselves in the American flag. The Federalist successes in 1808 and 1809 depended upon Republican blunders. In 1810 the Federalists needed an issue. They tried to use the hostility produced by commercial restrictions and the failure of Anglo-American negotiations to keep their party in control of the Assembly and to provide the means to recapture the state house for the first time since 1801.

By the time of the 1810 elections Congress and President Madison had abandoned commercial restrictions which had antagonized the voters of New York. The efforts of the Federalists to pin the blame for the failure of Anglo-American negotiations upon the President failed. Attacking England proved more effective than censuring President Madison and Congress. Voters in the upstate counties severely hurt by the embargo--Schenectady, Montgomery, Clinton, Herkimer, Ontario, Jefferson, Otsego and Schoharie and the downstate counties of Kings and Westchester returned to the Republican column.

Republicans who abstained from voting in 1809 because of their opposition to the embargo and new voters who went to the polls in 1810 generally voted Republican. Also, in several counties large numbers of voters who voted Federalist in 1809 either did not vote in 1810 or switched to the Republicans. The Republicans won the gubernatorial election, swept the State Senate seats, elected 71 of 112 Assemblymen and won control of twelve of the seventeen Congressional seats. The Federalists were reduced to their core area--the upper Hudson Valley, a scattering of towns in the Mohawk Valley, the Southern Tier counties of Broome and Steuben and parts of Allegany, Madison-Oneida counties, St. Lawrence-Franklin counties, western Ontario, central Westchester, and the lower three wards of New York City. However, the Federalists still remained stronger in 1810 than before the embargo in 1807. In 1807 they controlled only nineteen Assembly seats but in 1810 they retained forty-one. The resurgence of Federalism in 1809 proved the only force able to unite the feuding Republicans even temporarily. Republicans stood more united in 1810 than at any time from 1801-1820. Their loss of the Assembly in 1809 and of control of the Council of Appointment and with it the control of the state's patronage, provided the catalyst for the temporary alliance of Republican factions in 1810 spring elections.

The returns indicated a record turnout of voters for the gubernatorial race. Even with the thousands of illegal voters created by the Republicans and Federalists, the turnout probably stood in the mid ninety percentile. According to the 1807 electoral census 121,000 men could vote and assuming this rose to about 135,000 by 1810 (in 1814 about 152,000 could vote) than about 80-82 percent of the electorate cast ballots for Assembly and Congress, a significant rise from the 67 percent of 1808. The difference in turnout between the Congressional-Assembly and gubernatorial voters suggests about 55 percent of the electorate who could only vote for Congress and the Assembly voted. During the first party system in New York lower income voters, those who could only qualify for the Assembly-Congressional elections, voted in considerably smaller percentages than the middle- and upper-income gubernatorial voters. As a whole the 1810 elections further suggest the likelihood of high voter turnout and the probability that during the latter stages of the first party system, this tended to favor the Republican Party. Enlarging the electorate by “illegal” means became part of the democratic revolution in New York in the early national period suggesting the truth of what historian David Fischer called the American age of democratic revolution.

About the author: Harvey Strum is a history and political science professor at Russell Sage College in Troy and Albany. His most recent publications include: America’s Mission of Mercy to Ireland, 1880, New York History, 2018; Schenectady’s Jews, Zionism, New York History Review, 2019, 2020.


[i] David Gardiner to John L. Gardiner, May 1, 1810, MWC, MnU; New York Columbian, May 10, 19, 1810; New York Public Advertiser, April 26, 1810.

[ii] New York Evening Post, April 28, 1810; New York Commercial Advertiser, April 28, 1810; Poughkeepsie Journal, May 2, 1810. Canandaigua Ontario Repository, May 15, 1810; New York Public Advertiser, April 30, 1810; New York Columbian, April 30-May 9, 1810.

[i] Robert Troup to Sir John Johnstone, May 2, July 19, 1809, Pulteney Estate Letter book, Cornell University. Other accounts of the 1810 election: Dixon Ryan Fox, The Decline of Aristocracy in New York (New York, 1919); Jabez Hammond, The History of  Political Parties in the State of New York,( 2 vols. .Albany, 1842); Alexander Flick, ed. History of the State of New York , (10 vols. New York, 1933-37); Ray Irwin, Daniel D. Tompkins (Kingsport, 1968); Jerome Mushkat, Tammany: Evolution of a Political Machine, 1789-1865 (Syracuse, 1971); Harvey Strum, “New York and the War of 1812,” (Ph.D. diss., Syracuse University, 1978); John Brooke, Columbia Rising (Chapel Hill, 2010. See chapter seven. Gustavus Myers, History of Tammany Hall (1917, reprint, New York, 1968); Daniel Cole, Martin Van Buren, and the American Political System (Princeton, N.J, 1984); John Niven, Martin Van Buren, and the Romantic Age of American Politics (New York, 1983). For background on Republican divisions, Craig Hanyan, De Witt Clinton: Years of Molding, 1769-1807  (New York, 1988). Steven Siry, De Witt Clinton and the American Political Economy, Sectionalism, Politics, and Republican Ideology,1787-1828 (New York, 1990); Evan Cornog, The Birth of Empire: De Witt Clinton and the American Experience, 1769-1828  (New York, 1998); Craig Hanyan and Mary Hanyan, De Witt Clinton, and the Rise of the People’s Men  (New York, 1996). There appears to be no biography of the Federalist gubernatorial candidate in 1810, Jonas Platt. The excellent new study, Richard Barbuto, New York’s War of 1812:Politics, Society, and Combat (Norman, Oklahoma, 2021) briefly mentions the military appointments in 1810., 18.

[ii] Charles Dudley to Thomas Dudley, June 10, 1809, Box 31, Herman Knickerbacker to George Tibbits, June 10, 1809, Box 13, George Tibbits Papers, New York State Library (NYSL); Daniel Mills and James Scriven, Jr. to Jacob Houghton, July 4, 1809, Trojan Whig Society records, NYSL; John Nicholas to Wilson C. Nicholas, May 11, 1809, Wilson C. Nicholas Papers, Library of Congress( LC); Canandaigua Ontario Repository, July 11, 1809; Robert Watts to John Watts, July 4, 1809, Watts Papers, Columbia University; John Jay to Richard Peters, July 24, 1809, John Jay Papers, Columbia University; Albany Balance, May 19, 1809; Herman Knickerbacker to Bethel Mather, June 10, 1809, Briggs-Mather Family Papers, New-York Historical Society ( N-YHS).

[iii] Canandaigua Ontario Repository, July 11, 1809; Gulian C. Verplanck, Oration before the Washington Benevolent Society, July 4, 1809 (New York, 1809); Albany Balance, May 19, 1809.

[iv] Albany Balance, June-July 1809; Canandaigua Ontario Repository, June-July 1809; Cooperstown Federalist, June-July 1809; Ballston Spa Independent American, June-July 1809; New York Commercial Advertiser, June-July 1809; New York Evening Post, June-July 1809; New York Herald, June-July 1809; New York American Spectator, June-July 1809; Goshen Orange County Patriot, June-July, 1809; Salem Washington Republican, August 1809; Poughkeepsie Journal, June-July, 1809; Henry Schuyler to Ebenezer Foote, May 27, 1809, Foote Papers, Library of Congress ( LC).

[v] Poughkeepsie Political Barometer, June-July 1809; New York Aurora, May 1809; New York American Citizen, June-July 1809; New York Public Advertiser, June-July 1809; Cooperstown Otsego Herald, June-July 1809; Cazenovia Pilot, June-July 1809; Seth Parsons, "Oration, July 4, 1809," Hoosick Misc. Mss., N-YHS; John T. Irving, Oration Delivered Before the Tammany Society, July 4, 1809 (New York, 1809); Tammany Society Toasts, Box 25, Tammania, Kilroe Collection, Columbia University.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] New York Public Advertiser, July-August 1809; New York American Citizen, July-August 1809; Mushkat, Tammany,  38-40; John T. Irving to William P. Van Ness, August 18, 1809, William P. Van Ness Papers, N-YHS.

[viii] New York Public Advertiser, July-August 1809; New York American Citizen, July-August 1809; Cazenovia Pilot, July-August 1809; Cooperstown Otsego Herald, July-August 1809; Mushkat, Tammany, p. 39; Republican Party, New York County, Circular Letter from the General Committee of the Republican Party of the City and County of New York (New York, 1809); Washington County Republicans to James Madison, September 14, 1809, Jesse Billings to James Madison, September 22, 1809, James Madison to New York Republican Committee, September 24, 1809, James Madison to Washington County Republicans, October 9, 1809, Reel 11, Madison Papers, LC; William L. Marcy, Oration (Troy, 1809).

[ix] Richard Harison to Roswell Hopkins, July 31, 1809, Richard Harison to George Harison, August 19, 1809, Letter book, 1802-1814, Richard Harison Papers, N-YHS; George Newbold to Francis Baring, September 29, 1809, George Newbold Letter book, N-YHS; Albany Balance, August-September 1809; Utica Patriot, November 21, 1809; John Jay to William Wilberforce, November 8, 1809, John Jay Papers, Columbia University; New York Evening Post, August-November 1809; New York Commercial Advertiser, August-November 1809; Charles Dudley to Thomas Dudley, October 10, 1809, Box 31, Tibbits Papers, NYSL; Gouverneur Morris to J.B. Nicholls, November 10, 1809, Reel 3, Morris to Le Ray de Chaumont, November 26, 1809, Reel 5, Gouverneur Morris Papers, LC; Luther Bradish to Ichabod Brush, July 27, 1809, Luther Bradish Papers, N-YHS; Robert Troup to Sir John Johnstone, August 3, 1809, Pulteney Estate Letter book, Cornell; Rufus King to Christopher Gore, August 3, 1809, Christopher Gore to Rufus King, August 16, 1809, Rufus King Papers, N-YHS; Barent Gardenier to Peter Van Schaack, December 3, 22, 1809, Peter Van Schaack Papers, Columbia University.

[x] Ballston Spa Independent American, August-December 1809; Cooperstown Federalist, November-December 1809; Utica Patriot, November 21, 1809; New York Washington Republican, September-December 1809; Canandaigua Ontario Repository, December 1809; New York Commercial Advertiser, November-December 1809; New York Evening Post, November-December 1809; Annals, 11th Cong., 1-2nd Sess., 1809-1810, 723-724, 805-815, 829-840; Goshen Orange County Patriot, December 1809; Peter De Witt to Cornelius De Witt, November 17, 1809, De Witt Family Papers, NYSL; Richard Harison to Isaac Bostwick, October 14, 1809, Letter book, 1802-1814, Richard Harison Papers, N-YHS; Rufus King to Timothy Pickering, December 25, 1809, Robert Troup to Nathaniel Pendleton, January 23, 1810, King Papers, N-YHS; James Jackson to Earl of Bathurst, January 22, 1810, Precis of James Jackson, Vol. I,. 44, New York Public Library ( NYPL.).

[xi] Jonathan Goodhue to Benjamin Goodhue, January 24, February 17, 1810, Goodhue Papers, New York Society Library; Robert Troup to Nathaniel Pendleton, January 23, 1810, King Papers, N-YHS.

[xii] Oliver Wolcott, Jr. to Frederick Wolcott, December 7, 1809, Alice Wolcott Collection, Litchfield Historical Society; Robert Troup to Nathaniel Pendleton, January 23, 1810, King Papers, N-YHS.

[xiii] Salam Washington Register, November 23, 1809; New York Public Advertiser, November-December 1809; Poughkeepsie Political Barometer, November 1809; Hudson Bee, November-December 1809; Cooperstown Otsego Herald, November-December 1809; Annals, 11th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1809-1810, pp. 809-825; Samuel Mitchell to John Quincy Adams, Jan­ uary 7, 1810, Reel 409, Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society ( MHS); Ebenezer Sage to John L. Gardiner, December 1, 1809, David Gardiner to John L. Gardiner, March 1, 1810, Malcolm Wiley Collection (MWC), University of Minnesota, ( MnU);  Ebenezer Sage to Henry Dering, December 12- 15, 18-22, 25, 1809, Henry Dering Papers, University of Michigan (MiU)

[xiv] New York Commercial Advertiser, November 21-24, 1809; New York American Citizen, November 26-December 1, 1809; New York Public Advertiser, November 21-26, 1809; New York Columbian, November 21-26, 1809; New York American Spectator, November 21, 1809; New York Washington Republican, November 25, 1809; Goshen Orange County Patriot, December 5, 1809; Mushkat, Tammany, 39; George Newbold to n.n., November 24, 1809, BV Newbold, N-YHS.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] William Rhinelander to Mary Robert, January 18, 1810, Smith­ Robert Papers, N-YHS; David Gardiner to John Gardiner, January 4, March 1, 1810, Ebenezer Sage to John Gardiner, January 21, February 26, March 26, April 1810, MWC, MnU; Ebenezer Sage to Henry Dering, December 12-15, 18-22, 25-27, 29, 1809, January 1, 2, 7-13, 8, 15, 16-19, 18, 25, February 1-2, 21, 26-27, 29, March 2, 4-10, 15-17, 19-23, 24, 26, 29-30, 1810, Henry Dering Papers, MiU; Annals, 11th Cong., 1-2nd Sess., 1439-1440, 1446, 1454, 1489, 1494, 1654, 1916, 1931, 2051.

[xvii] Samuel Mitchell to Catherine Mitchell, February 3, 21, 1810, Samuel L. Mitchell Papers, MCNY; Mushkat, Tammany, p. 40; Hammond, Political Parties, I, p. 280; Gouverneur Morris to Abraham Van Vechten, January 6, 1810, Vol. 19, Reel 3, Gouverneur Morris Papers, LC; Abraham Van Vechten to Ebenezer Foote, January 13, 1810, Foote Papers, NYSL.

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] James Emott to Peter Van Schaack, February 4, 1810, Peter Van Schaack Papers, Columbia University; Robert Troup to Rufus King, January 12, February 23, 1810, Robert Troup to Nathaniel Pendleton, January 23, 1810, William W. Van Ness to Robert Troup, February 8, 1810, King Papers, N-YHS; Gouverneur Morris to Abraham Van Vechten, January 24, 1810, Vol. 19, Reel 3, Gouverneur Morris Papers, LC .Charles King, ed., Life and Correspondence of Rufus  King (6 vols. New York, 1894-1900), V: 183, 186; Fox, Decline, 111.

[xx] Mushkat, Tammany, 39-40; Mathew L. Davis to William P. Van Ness, January 2, 1810, Mathew L. Davis Papers, Misc. Mss., N-YHS; Jonathan Thompson to John L. Gardiner, April 20, 1810, MWC, MnU; Martin Van Buren to De Witt Clinton, April 9, 19, 1810, De Witt Clinton Papers, Columbia University; Henry Rutgers to Daniel Tompkin8, March 21, 1810, Derek Brinckerhoff to Daniel Tompkins, March 7, 1810, Box 6, Daniel Tompkins Papers, NYSL; Hammond, Political Parties, I,  286.

[xxi] Ibid., p. 283; Albany Balance, February-March 1810; Samuel L. Mitchell to Catherine Mitchell, February 13, 1810, Mitchell Papers, Museum of the City of New York (MCNY); Hugh Hastings, ed., Public Papers of Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of New York State, 1807-17 ,( 3 vols .Albany, 1898-1902), II:  238-240.

[xxii] Hudson Bee, January-April, 1810; Cooperstown Otsego Herald, January-April, 1810; Plattsburgh American Monitor, December 23, 1809; New York Journal, January-April, 1810; New York Public Advertiser, January-April, 1810; Poughkeepsie Political Barometer, January-April, 1810; Sag Harbor Suffolk Gazette, February 1810; Salem Washington Register, February 1810; New York Columbian, January-April, 1810; Troy Farmer's Register, January-April, 1810; Jedediah Peck, et al., Address of the Republican Members of theConvention… To the People of the Western District (Canandaigua, 1810); "Albany County Republicans," April 7, 1810, Broadside, NYSL; "Order of the New Mayor," April 25, 1810, Broadside, N-YHS; New York County Republican Committee, A Circular Address to the Republican Electors… (New York, 1810). Democratic Party, Suffolk County, An Address… To the Electors of. Suffolk (Sag Harbor, 1810); Republican Party, Albany, Proceedings of the Republican Meeting… (Albany, 1810); Republican Party, New York State, Republican Nomination and Address to the Electors (Albany, 1810); John Rodman to Mary Fenno, February 1810, Box 10, Gulian Verplanck Papers, N-YHS; Robert R. Livingston to James Madison, January 8, 1810, Reel 11, Madison Papers, LC; "Republican Party, New York," March 13, 1810, Broadside, MWC, MnU.


[xxiii] Albany Balance, January-April 1810; Albany Gazette, January- April, 1810; New York Evening Post, January-April, 1810; New York Commercial Advertiser, January-April, 1810; Poughkeepsie Journal, January-April, 1810; Goshen Orange County Patriot, January-April, 1810; Canandaigua Ontario Repository, January-April, 1810; Herkimer American, February-March, 1810; New YorkAmerican Spectator, January­ April, 1810; Abraham Van Vechten to Ebenezer Foote, January 12, 1810, Foote Papers, NYSL; Gouverneur Morris, To the People of the United States, manuscript, Gouverneur Morris Papers, Columbia University; Gouverneur Morris, "Electoral Address," manuscript copy, Gouverneur Morris Papers, Columbia University; Gouverneur Morris to Timothy Pickering, January 6, 1810, January 24, 1810, Gouverneur Morris to William Meredith, January 27, 1810, Reel 3, Gouverneur Morris to David Parish, May 16, 1810, Reel 5, Gouverneur Morris Papers, LC; Elisha Williams to Peter Van Schaack, March 26, 1810, Peter Van Schaack Papers, Columbia University; Killian K. Van Rensselaer to Harmanus Bleecker, March 15, 1810, Van Rensselaer Papers, AI; New York Federalist Corresponding Committee, "More French Kindness," Broad side, N-YHS; Peter W. Yates, "Plato," Manuscript copy, Miscellaneous Manuscripts, N-YHS; John Jay to Judge Richard Peters, February 26, 1810, John Jay Papers, Columbia University; Samuel M. Hopkins to Samuel A. Law, April 14, 1810, Box 1, Samuel A. Law Papers, NYSL.

[xxiv] Ibid.; Annals, 11th Cong., 1st-2nd Sess., pp. 1235, 1439, 1449, 1460, 1636, 1669; Rufus King to Timothy Pickering, January 26, 1810, Rufus King to Christopher Gore, January 2, 1810, Rufus King to Jonathan Trumbull, January 24, 1810, King Papers, N-YHS; King, V, pp. 194-196; Robert Troup  o Richard Williams, January 27, 1810, Robert Troup to Sir John Jwistone, March 16, 1810, Pulteney Estate Letter book, Cornell; James Emott to Peter Van Schaack, February 4, 1810, Elisha Williams to Peter Van Schaack, March 26, 1810, Peter Van Schaack Papers, Columbia University; John Jay to Judge Richard Peters, February 26, 1810, Jay Papers, Columbia University; Richard Harison to n.n., March 26, 1810, Richard Harison Papers, N-YHS; Gouverneur Morris to Timothy Pickering, January 6, 1810, Vol. 19, Reel 3, Gouverneur Morris Papers, LC; Gouverneur Morris to Timothy Pickering, January 24, 1810, Reel 29, Pickering Papers, MHS; Vincent Mathews to Abraham Van Vechten, April 7, 1810, Vol. 8, p. 75, X973, C72, Mss. .Collections, Columbia University; Jonathan Dayton to John Gardiner, February 21, 1810, MWC, MnU; Federal Young Men of Schaghticoke to Trojan Whig Society, February 9, 1810, Whig Society Papers, NYSL; Utica Patriot, January 30, 1810; Jonathan Goodhue to Benjamin Goodhue, February 17, 1810, Goodhue Pape NNS; Thomas R. Gold to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., December 24, 1809, Oliver Wolcott, Jr. Papers, Connecticut Historical Society( CtHi); Oliver Wolcott to Frederick Wolcott, April 20, 1810, Alice Wolcott Collection, LIHS; Killian K. Van Rensselaer to Harmanus Bleecker, March 15, 1810, Van Rensselaer Papers ,Albany Institute of History and Art  ( AI).

[xxv] Poughkeepsie Journal, February 28, 1810; Canandaigua Ontario Repository, March 1, 1810; Albany Balance, February 6, 1810; Annals, 11th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1810,  1503, 1576.

[xxvi] Goshen Orange County Patriot, April 10, 1810; Utica Patriot, January 16-30, 1810; Canandaigua Ontario Repository, March 6, 1810; George Tibbits to Caleb Bentley, April 13, 1810, Box 25, Tibbits Family Papers, NYSL.

[xxvii] "Platt and Liberty," Broadside, NYPL; Fox, Decline, 115; James Cheetham, "Address to Republican Adopted Citizens," Broadside, N-YHS; New York American Citizen, April 2-3, 1810; New York Journal, April 14-24, 1810; Albany Balance, March 13, April 24, 1810; "To the Independent Electors of... Montgomery and Schoharie," Broadside, N-YHS; Albany Gazette, January-April 1810.

[xxviii] Ibid.; New York Evening Post, April 23, 1810; Martin Van Buren to De Witt Clinton, April 19, 1810, De Witt Clinton Papers, Columbia University; New York Commercial Advertiser, April 25, 1810; Mathew L. Davis to William Peter Van Ness, February 13, 1810, Mathew Davis Papers, Misc. Mss., N-YHS.

[xxix] William North to George W. Featherstonehaugh, April 16, 1810, Duane-Featherstonehaugh Collection, N-YHS; Elisha Williams to Peter Van Schaack, March 26, 1810, Peter Van Schaack Papers, Columbia; Jonathan Dayton to John Gardiner, February 21, 1810, Jonathan Thompson to John Gardiner, April 20, 1810, MWC, MnU; William W. Van Ness to George Tibbits, April 13, 1810, George Conant to George Tibbits, March 22, 1810, Morris Miller to George Tibbits, March 19, 1810, Tibbits Family Papers, NYSL; Theodore Sedgwick to Theodore Sedgwick, April 9, 1810, Sedgwick Papers, MHS; Martin Van Buren to De Witt Clinton, April 9-19, 1810, De Witt Clinton Papers, Columbia University; Peter A. Jay to Charles Caldwell, April 14, 1810, Morris Miller to Peter A. Jay, May 8, 1810, Jay Papers, Columbia University; Samuel L. Mitchell to John Quincy Adams, May 9, 1810, Reel 409, Adams Papers, MHS; Albany Balance, May-June 1810; New York Columbian, May 3-19, 1810; New York Public Advertiser, May 1-21, 1810; Poughkeepsie Journal, May 9, 1810; New York Commercial Advertiser, May 1810; New York Evening Post, May 1810; Cooperstown Otsego Herald, May 1810; Cooperstown Federalist, May 1810; Canandaigua Ontario Repository, May 1810; New York Mercantile Advertiser, May 3, 1810; Goshen Orange County Patriot, May-June 1810; New York American Citizen, May-June 1810; Consortium for Political Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

[xxx] Martin Van Buren to De Witt Clinton, April 9, 1810, De Witt Clinton Papers, Columbia University. For further detail on the making of votes in Columbia County, Brooke, Columbia Rising, 331-334. For a general analysis of making votes in New York, Harvey Strum, “Property Qualifications and Voting Behavior in New York, 1807-1816,” Journal of the Early Republic,  1:4 (Winter 1981), 347-372.

[xxxi] Goshen Orange County Patriot, May 8, 1810; New York Commercial Advertiser, May 7, 1810; Albany Balance, May 2-20, 1810; New York Public Advertiser, May 8, 1810; Cooperstown Otsego Herald, May 19, 1810; Martin Van Buren to De Witt Clinton, April 28, 1810, De Witt Clinton Papers, Columbia University. Alden Spooner published “The Qualified Voter,” in Brooklyn Long Island Star, April 29, 1812.

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Samuel L. Mitchell to John Quincy Adams, May 9, 1810, Reel 409, Adams Papers, MHS.