The following wall of text appeared in the New York Tribune for November 11, 1847. The first item is yet another letter from Headley, in which he coins a phrase that has irritated me no end and has been oft repeated. The remaining items were written by my wonderful publishers, Carey & Hart.
To the Editor of The Tribune:
You state that I made a sort of appeal “to you respecting Mr. Griswold’s veracity.” I certainly had no wish or design to drag you into the controversy. That appeal, if it was one, was of course wholly unwarranted by you. I stated what I did entirely on my own responsibility; nay, it was no more than I should say to anyone acquainted with Mr. Griswold who repeated to me a false and slanderous statement of his. I should say in each and every case, “you know he cannot be relied on,” and that without fear of contradiction or intending to compromise the person to whom it was addressed. I should not have taken the trouble to contradict the ridiculous accusations he made, if your paper had been confined to the city where he is understood. A man to whom even his friends have been accustomed to say, “Is that a Griswold or a fact,” I can well let pass where he is known, but in other parts of the country where the Tribune circulates, people are not so well acquainted with matters. Yours, &c. J. T. HEADLEY.
PHILADELPHIA, Tuesday afternoon. Nov. 9, 1847.
To the Editors of The Tribune, N. York:
GENTLEMEN: We enclose a copy of the Letter handed to the Editors of the Courier & Enquirer on the 4th inst. in reply to an attack on us, in their paper of the 2d Nov. by Rev. J. T. Headley, which we expected would appear the next morning, instead of which a farther attack from Mr. Headley appeared that day, and this morning only they published a part of our letter, with an explanation; stating, also, “that anything farther to be inserted from any party must be placed on the footing of an advertisement,” and as we are desirous that the public may judge of the entire letter written by us we have sent a Telegraphic Dispatch to them this afternoon requesting the insertion of the same as a paid advertisement in their paper of tomorrow.
Fearing farther delay in its appearance (in case our message did not reach them) we request you will also insert it as a paid advertisement, on the 2d page of your journal of the 11th inst. and send bill to us. Yours respectfully, CAREY & HART.
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 3, 1847.
To the Editors of the Courier & Enquirer:
GENTLEMEN—In your paper of the 2d inst. we notice the insertion of a letter from Rev. J. T. Headley respecting the publication of “Washington and the Generals of the American Revolution,” in which he states we have garbled his letter, [we here beg you to observe that we distinctly stated in our notice that we gave an extract from Mr. Headley’s letter of 21st September, not his letter entire,] and he gives in your paper the letter as written by himself, in which he states he had “such a work as the one we proposed to publish in contemplation for some time,” but does not add, as he did in his original letter received by us, that the work he contemplated publishing, (which is evident to us from the tenor of the letter,) was a History of the late War. (1812,) not “Washington and his Generals,” as will appear by a farther extract form this same letter of Sept. 21, 1846, which he has omitted in your columns, via:
“I have had in contemplation a history of the last war—a condensed history—perhaps it might be called a military one, for which I think there is a place. It is a little singular that we should have to standard history of that war. I shall return to New-York in a week or two, when I shall decide on what I undertake. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to publish a work with your imprint on the title page. There is no house in the country I should prefer to have my books before yours.”
You will, therefore, perceive that the garbling, if any, is not on our part, and that the gentleman himself is fairly entitled to all the epithets he so lavishly bestows on us.
He asserts that, in order to exculpate ourselves in consequence of the publication of our work, we have found it necessary to assail him with heavy charges. We had no occasion to exculpate ourselves, as we applied to Mr. Headley to compile a book for us (which he afterward wrote for himself,) entitled “The Generals of the American Revolution.” Of course Washington was included as ONE OF THE GENERALS—and we had no objection to use his illustrious name prominently on the title page, as we have since done—at the same time retaining our original title (and) “THE GENERALS OF THE REVOLUTION.”
Mr. Headley states that he had previously been spoken to on the subject of publishing that work (“Washington and His Generals”). Perhaps he will be kind enough to state the name of the House who made application previous to us! as it seems strange indeed that he should, under those circumstances, have offered “Washington and His Generals” to the Messrs. Harpers (after he had received our letter) and partly arranged with those gentlemen, but upon being offered a larger price by Messrs. Baker & Scribner, the publishers of his “Napoleon”, withdrew the work from the Messrs. Harpers and gave it to them. We quote the following extracts from Messrs. Baker & Scribner’s letter to us of 27th February, 1847, in evidence of the foregoing:
“Having had some reason to suspect that Mr. Headley was employed on such a work, we inquired of him distinctly, and then for the first time learned that he had been engaged on “Washington and His Generals” and had it partly written, and had partially agreed with the Messrs. Harpers to publish, and could not give us his book. Mr. H. also stated that he considered himself as having a right to such a work, both from its similarity in plan with “Napoleon,” to which it would naturally follow as a sequel, the unanimous opinion of all his friends, and the universal expectation that he should write it…
“We had then, in compliance with the wishes of Mr. Stewart, determined to abandon his work, (“Washington and his Staff,”) under the supposition, too, that Mr. Headley’s engagements with the Harpers were such that they would publish for him;…and we had offered him terms which he considered more favorable than any other he could make, he, with the consent of the Messrs. Harpers, gave us his book.”
We could make our letter much longer, and produce farther proof to show how unfairly we have been treated both by Mr. Headley and his publishers; could also furnish you copies of the written opinions we have in our possession from some of the most eminent publishers in this city and New-York who read the whole correspondence, prior to the publication of either Mr. Headley’s or our book, did we dare to encroach farther on your columns or readers, but offer you for publication in your paper, if Mr. Headley but desires it and you are willing to afford sufficient space, the entire correspondence from the 9th September, 1846, to March 4, 1847, between ourselves, Mr. Headley, and Messrs. Baker & Scribner, so that the public may fully judge between us. The correspondence was brought to a close at that date by the non-acceptance, on the part of Mr. Headley and his publishers, of our offer to leave the whole matter in dispute between us to three disinterested publishing houses in New-York, whose decision should be final in the matter, as the following paragraph form our letter of 2d March, 1847, to Messrs. Baker & Scribner will more fully show:
“In order to settle the difficulty between us, although we are satisfied we are in the right, but we wish also to place ourselves in the right before the Trade; we propose to leave the matter for final decision to two publishing houses, (in your city if you choose,) one to be selected by yourselves and the other chosen by us, which two in case they should not be able to agree to call in a third whose decision (from the whole correspondence between yourselves, Mr. Headley, and ourselves) as to whether you or us shall have the publication of Mr. Headley’s ‘Washington and his Generals’, on the terms you have agreed with him, shall be conclusive. (It is of course requisite that Mr. Headley’s consent should be first obtained by you to this proposition.) Should you accept of this arrangement please advise us of the same on or before the 8th inst.”
Had Mr. Headley and his publishers been satisfied that the course they were pursuing was a correct one they would gladly have accepted our offer. Farther comment we think unnecessary.
We have reason to congratulate ourselves that Mr. Headley did not become the author of our book, as we have been more fortunate in obtaining a work every way superior, and at the same time authentic, and by authors who have obtained their materials from “The Archives of the Separate States.” In support of the above we beg to quote the following from the Richmond Times:
“There are interesting circumstances attending the production of this work, and for ourselves, we do not regret Messrs. Carey & Hart’s disappointment. In lieu of the turgid declamations of Mr. Headley, they have obtained clearly written sensible sketches from a number of other gentlemen competent to the task allotted to them.”
In conclusion, we beg to say that we have been in business upward of eighteen years, during which time we have had transactions with many authors for numerous works, and to the amount of thousands of dollars, but this is the first time that we have been unfairly treated by an American Author. Yours, very respectfully, CAREY & HART
A CARD.—In Justice to C. F. Hoffman, Esq. we deem it proper to state that he is not the author of any portion of our book entitled “Washington and the Generals of the Revolution.” The Memoir of Gen. Schuyler, we were informed by the Editor, would be written by Mr. Hoffman for that work, and our Mr. Hart was under that impression at the time he attended the last New-York Trade Sale, and he there exhibited a specimen of the printing, engraving, binding and size of the volumes, and stated the names of several contributors to the book.
On the completion of the work a list of all the contributors was forwarded to us, for the purpose of making payment to the various authors for their contributions, and we then learned that the spirited Memoir of Gen. Schuyler contained in our book had not been written by him, but had been furnished by another writer in New-York.
CAREY & HART, Publishers of “Washington and the Generals of the Revolution.”
Philadelphia, Nov. 5, 1847
As Messrs. Baker & Scribner say they “had some reason to suspect,” we here annex a copy of our letter to them, (Oct. 8, 1846,) which, if they had referred to again, they would have noticed that we informed them of the very fact four months before “they suspected.”
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 8, 1846
“Messrs. Baker & Scribner:
“GENTLEMEN—Having seen a notice of yours in the “Commercial Advertiser” of the 6th of a work in press entitled “Washington and his Staff,” and thinking you might unintentionally interfere with a work we are preparing entitled “The Generals of the American Revolution,” and in regard to which had corresponded with Mr. Headley previous to the appearance of your announcement, we have thought it best to inform you prior to your proceeding with the work you announced, as we should be very sorry to have any misunderstanding with your house.
Yours, respectfully, CAREY & HART.”
If all of this blather were not enough, The Courier & Enquirer the same day published the following letter from Headley:
We publish the following letter from Mr. Headley, in accordance with the terms which we mentioned yesterday,--as an advertisement.
NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 1847
To the Editors of the Courier and Enquirer:--
I see that you publish this morning a letter from Mr. Griswold, in reply to my note of Wednesday last. The most of his letter has nothing to do with the point at issue,--which is simply a question of veracity between us. Of course I shall not argue that question with him; nor am I at all fearful that people who know Mr. Griswold’s manner of talking and who understand the constitutional infirmity which prevents his speaking the simple truth, should attach any importance to his additional falsehood that I have threatened “to ruin him, even if it costs all I possess and a life’s labor!”
As you have allowed him, however, to make this statement, I claim the right, (for which, if necessary, I will pay,) of stating that I never made such an absurd and ridiculous threat as this, which he pretends to quote from his veracious diary. That “Diary” should certainly be included in the next edition of Griswold’s “Curiosities of American Literature.”
But Mr. G. not only makes the facts he needs, to suit his own convenience, but attempts also to correct the facts of history. Here also he makes some statements which may as well be noticed. He says:
“After describing the defeat of St. Clair, in the Miami country, you allege that Washington, refusing to sympathize with the popular feeling against him, insisted on his retaining his commission, which he wished to resign; while, in truth, St. Clair wished to retain his commission, and Washington insisted upon his instant resignation.”
Now every reader of our early history knows very well that St. Clair ‘offered spontaneously to resign,’ and asked to retain his commission only till a Court of Enquiry could be called to investigate his conduct. To this manifestly just request Washington wished to accede, but could not; and the peremptory manner in which St. Clair was thrown aside was not the result of Washington’s displeasure, but of the great exigencies of the country. But the fact I was after, was, not which of the two proposed or desired the resignation, but that Washington “did not sympathize with the popular clamor” against St. Clair. And this is perfectly true: and Col. STONE, after speaking of the same event in his “Life of Bryant,” says:--
“It is believed, however, that the veteran Governor of the North Western Territory, continued in the full enjoyment of the President’s confidence to the last.”
The next charge is of somewhat more importance, and is thus set forth:--
“In the same chapter you state that numerous armed galleys, 200 boats, &c. sailed all the night of the evacuation of Ticonderoga, up Wood Creek, which, you should have known, is a small stream, not navigable, dashing precipitously over a ledge of rocks into the Champlain, some twenty miles from the point which the army is acknowledged to have left at midnight.”
The pains which Mr. Griswold takes to display his own ignorance is ludicrous. As to the simple matter of fact, NEILSON, who was brought up on the ground he describes, and who certainly knew as much about it as Mr. Griswold, says expressly in his “Burgoyne’s Campaigns,”—(p. 27)
“The passage at Ticonderoga being cleared, the ships of Burgoyne immediately entered Wood Creek and proceeded with extreme rapidity in search of the Americans.”
Again BOTTA, in his ‘History of the American Revolution,’ in speaking of the same affair says:--
“The general rendezvous was appointed at Skeensborough, [now Whitehall,] and the batteaux, proceeding, under cover of the galleys, up Wood Creek, &c.”—(p. 46)
And again the same writer says:--
“The passage being thus cleared, [referring to the boom and bridge,] the ships of Burgoyne immediately entered Wood Creek.”
Both these writers, though Mr. Griswold be ignorant of them, are generally regarded as good authority among persons of ordinary intelligence. The truth is, that the whole narrow channel at the head of Lake Champlain was formerly called Wood Creek, and sometimes a part of it only was so designated, and the other portion was called South River. Now, the name of Wood Creek applies only to the small stream which falls into Lake Champlain at Whitehall. But history describes things of the past, as they were,--not as they become a century after.—Somebody probably quizzed Mr. Griswold by pointing out this “grave historical blunder;”—and the bee has been buzzing “in his bonnet” ever since.
I see that Carey & Hart have again garbled my letter. As I informed you in a private note, which accompanied my published letter of Wednesday last, I wished to publish the letter entire, but could not get hold of it. The extract I gave was copied from Carey & Hart’s copy of the original, last spring, when Mr. Hart was showing it around town to get sympathy from the booksellers, and, on the strength of it, sell their book. I directed my publishers to write to Mr. Hart requesting a copy of my letter. They did so,--but hitherto he has declined to send it or publish it himself. Under these circumstances I certainly stand absolved from the charge they bring, of “garbling” the letter. The only point they raise in their preface is, that they suggested the book to me, and that I stole and appropriated the suggestion. That point is settled by the extract I gave. Let them publish the whole letter and then the public can determine where the dishonesty rests. Yours, &c.,
J. T. Headley