Monday, July 25, 2016

Samuel Kettell to James S. Pike, April 15, 1850

Boston, April 15, 1850.

My Dear Sir: I am quite as fully persuaded as yourself that political matters are in a most critical state. It's more the pity that honest men like you and me have not the power to make everybody obey us in marching straight ahead out of these troubles. I, for one, cannot have my own way in the matter, as you will see by what follows. You know the Courier has taken the side of Webster in the California and Proviso question. I have not space to tell the whole story, but the thing is done and we must stand upon it. You have spoken very freely upon all political subjects through our columns, and I wish to God things were so that nothing would lie in the way of your exertions in the same career. But what can we do? The matter has got beyond the limit of speculative opinions and assumed a practical shape. We have now a real job to do in sustaining Dan, and it is impossible to get ahead if we pull down with one hand what we build up with the other. People are quoting your letters against us, and making capital out of them for t'other side. Just look at the newspapers. Small causes we don't mind, but this is cutting our own throat.

I feel this embarrassment the more sensibly when I reflect on the obligation we are under to you for your long-continued and valuable labor in the service of the Courier. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than the ability to make you some recompense for the same, but Heaven knows I am as void of the pecuniary as of the political appliances and means to do such things. In short, there are such influences gathered round me that I must crave a very liberal forbearance from you in explaining how much I cannot do just now. I heartily wish all party politics at the devil.

In plain English, the political train of the Courier must run for the present on a single track. Don't think hard of me for saying I cannot publish your letters against old Dan. The truth is, a negotiation is now on foot for the transfer of the proprietorship of the Courier, which will place it under new management, and in this conjuncture I am restricted by business obligations from printing political matters of a certain character. This is confidential between ourselves; no one knows it but the parties concerned.

When I am free to fight on my own hook, I hope you and I may go shoulder to shoulder. Till then I must trust to your candor and good sense to put the right construction on my behavior, and, with a thousand thanks for your past services, I remain,

Yours truly,
S. Kettell.
J. S. Pike, Esq.

*Editor of The Boston Courier.

SOURCE: James Shepherd Pike, First Blows of the Civil War: The Ten Years of Preliminary Conflict in the United States from 1850 to 1860, p. 26

No comments: