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to succeed in a profession in which robust health is such an important element of success. In a letter dated Feb. 23, 1841, he takes his father into his confidence on this subject. He had been discussing the pros and cons of a busi
a ness enterprise which was reaching out its arms for him, and which he had evidently begun to contemplate seriously in case his health should unfit him for a professional career:
"For myself, I have been often disheartened as to the prospect of being able to depend upon my profession for support. In it the power of personal effort is literally everything; and health, which perhaps might not very materially disable in other vocations, might almost incapacitate from its practice. If I could rely upon the possession of this power, I should regard it as a large capital to me; and I have sometimes thought that for it I would be willing to start in life naked as I came into the world. Still it has seemed best to me not to abandon my profession altogether, especially without an experiment; and although I could not feel easy under the idea of an absolute dependence upon it, I have thought I might find it for my interest to do what I could at it, with some other reliance in the last resort."
As the time approached for his admission to the bar, his doubts and misgivings about a professional career seem to have weakened, if they had not entirely disappeared. On the 17th of March he writes his father:
" As for my coming home when the river opens, I scarcely know what to say.
On many accounts I need to do so. I never left home so unprepared for a long absence as last fall — I mean in the way of clothes. I have got me a coat, and been obliged to get a hat and a pair of overshoes. I do not see how I can get on much longer without some pants and vests. My shirts are very much worn. If you had linen, I should wish to have some making. Let Slyter make me a pair of boots; and a pair of slippers that won't squeak, and the front of which comes up so high as to cover all the stocking.
"I shall come if I can possibly spare the time, which I hope to be able to do, and if I can be sure of accomplishing anything and getting back by the time appointed; for I must not be hindered or delayed. I suppose that I shall be a great deal more than ready for the examination : but that is the safe side, and I intend to be sure.”
Admitted to the bar — Opposes a coercive bankrupt law - The Glentworth
election frauds — Law-book purchases Death of Elam Tilden - A winter's journey from Albany — The Know-Nothing cyclone - James K. Polk elected President - Silas Wright elected Governor of New York The " Daily News” established — The slavery schism in the Democratic party — Elected to the Assembly — The anti-rent war — Elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1846 — Governor Wright's defeat for reelection - Annexation of Texas -- Address of the Democratic members of the Legislature on the slavery issues - Baltimore convention Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams nominated by the FreeSoil party for President and Vice-President.
At the May term of the Supreme Court in 1841, Mr. Tilden was admitted to the bar, and immediately opened an office at No. 11 Pine street, in the city of New York. From that day forth he ceased to be a burden to his parents, and though his clients were not numerous, nor his business very lucrative, he had been accustomed to live so inexpensively that he managed to bring his expenses at once within his income, a habit which he maintained through life. His business was not yet so engrossing, however, as to withdraw his attention from public affairs.
Before President William Henry Harrison had been inaugurated, his ardent partisans threatened to improve the first days of the approaching session of Congress not only in rechartering the United States Bank, but in conferring upon it a charter which Congress should have no power to repeal. Mr. Tilden made the unsoundness and absurdity of such an attempt on the part of Congress to disable itself the theme of an article of some seventeen pages in the " Democratic Review” for August, 1841.1
* This 6 Review” had been established at Washington a few years before, and during the administration of President Jackson, by John L. O'Sullivan,
His argument has never been answered, nor has the action of Congress in repealing the charter ever been reversed.
He was also a speaker at a public meeting in New York of those opposed to a coercive bankrupt law, and conducted a protracted and somewhat acrimonious contest in the " Evening Post” with the Whig press in reference to the part which the collector of the port, Mr. Edward Curtis, had taken in procuring or conniving at the introduction of citizens from a neighboring city to vote at the then recent presidential election. The frauds were engineered by an adventurer of the name of James B. Glentworth. It is to this affair that allusion is made in a letter to his father, dated Jan. 20, 1842.
" I sent two of the Glentworth pamphlets to you and one to Mr. Younglove immediately on receiving Henry's letter. Can it be that you have not received them? I think I will send another.
" You will have seen that the papers do now make extracts from the pamphlet. Mr. Bryant and I have kept up a hot fire on Curtis. There was a concerted design not to answer, and to whistle down the whole matter; but we forced them to speak. The first and second long articles were mine, except the two concluding lines of each; the third, Mr. Bryant's; the two or three short ones mostly mine; the first answer to the American, and the concluding reply, except its first two paragraphs. I would not have been drawn into the matter except at the urgent solicitation of Mr. Bryant, and under the strong indignation I felt at the course of proceedings, commencing with the charge of conspiracy, and ending with the removal of Morris.? I hope we are now done with C., but we may be obliged to reply once more. The understanding is that the others shall receive justice at different hands than mine.
" These articles have made a great sensation, and are a friend of Mr. Tilden, and Mr. Langtry, a brother-in-law of Mr. O'Sullivan.
16. Writings and Speeches," Vol. I. p. 165.
regarded by our people as triumphant, and by some of the Whigs as satisfactory. The Whig press has been exceedingly troubled — the steadiness and perseverance of the attacks, the concentration of them on a single point until the public attention was thoroughly arrested, and the successful avoidance, so far, of all false issues, have annoyed them amazingly. The three last were written in great haste — nearly the whole of each, after I got down to the office of the 'Post,' and before the paper went to press at twelve or one. If, as is very likely, I am found out by Curtis, I shall have made one warm friend.
"I am, on the whole, better than for several winters before. Though on the day that I made the speech at the bankrupt meeting — I was in committee all the evening, and kept up late by Mr. Ward's business - I was fagged, and the next night was at a party at Mr. Butler's, and then editing the ‘Post,' I became a little worn. All that is now done, and I am in the usual train again.'
There were no law institutes nor law libraries accessible to the young lawyer in those days, and it was necessary for him to purchase such books as he required or go without them. The investment of a few hundred dollars in books, therefore, was the first expense for which he had to provide in those days after he had paid for his " shingle.” Tilden had opened his office but a few months when he felt that, with a little assistance from his father, he could afford to strengthen this branch of his office equipment. Of the way he set about it we have some curious glimpses in the following letter:
TILDEN TO HIS FATHER.
"NEW YORK, Feb. 7, 1842. "MY DEAR FATHER :
I went the other night to an auction of law books to pick up a few little things. Whether because of the rain, or from mere accident, probably from the season of the year in which there are few competitors, I found the 'New York Reports' selling at about twenty-five per cent. lower than the lowest auction prices. I bought