Description: Tilden sat down to write to his friend and advisor John Bigelow on September 5, 1874 after reading an op-ed in the newspaper regarding their pessimistic view of his chances at winning the governorship of New York two months later. He clipped the article to the letter for Bigelow's reference, and wrote: "I send a leader from this morning's Herald. It is charged in tone. The position that man is disaster because of such services as are described becomes more untenable the more discussion there is. The argument is same today than before." Tilden continues on with some political commentary and strategy for his campaign: "It seems to me that it affords a splendid opportunity for an article in the Post which should discuss the "Morals of Politics." Whether it be indeed true, in the case related in the article, there arises "a glorious and honorable ineligibility." We must be on the theory that the offense felt by the remaining [heathens?] of Tweed is a greater force in the community and will influence more votes even when there are no commanding issues... To deny this conclusion is to say that mere men will be moved, under the conditions stated, to vote for a candidate that can be taken away from him is a line of argument, which, while it is merely an abstract expectation, lends to good in the present case..."
Written on a single sheet of plain white writing paper, the letter uses all four pages. Measures approximately 6" x 9.75" when unfolded. Also included here is a re-print of the New York Herald Article Tilden originally clipped to the letter (the original was lost over the years), courtesy of the Library of Congress' collections. Item #A00876
Samuel J. Tilden (1814-1886) was a New York attorney, businessman, and politician. A reformer, he helped to bring down both the Tweed Ring at Tammany Hall and the New York Canal Ring. He was a member of the State Assembly before his election as Governor in 1874. In 1876 he won an outright majority of the popular vote for US President, but lost the Electoral College by one vote. He made a number of philanthropic donations in his will, including the funds to create the New York Public Library.
John Bigelow (1817-1911) was a newspaper man, diplomat, public servant, and author. He was Co-Owner and Co-Editor of the New York Post, American Consul in Paris, and Ambassador to France before serving briefly as Editor of the New York Times and then as New York's Secretary of State. He later used his many connections to influence the location of the Panama Canal. As Executor of Tilden’s estate, he helped to create the NYPL.
Condition: A rust stain from the paper clip that once held the New York Herald article, a fingerprint/smudge of ink in the blank margin of page four, otherwise in very good condition, and an intriguing insider view of an 1870s political campaign.