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times a negotiation would be conducted between the stations, and yet, at the end of every such passage, he would move over to me, where I sat, and renew his pleasant and instructive talk.
Such are some of the leading traits of Thomas Alexander Scott, or “Aleck," as he used to be called while transacting business for his friend, Metcalf, in Franklin County. It is proper to add that no man has ever been more endeared to his associates in business. I wish I could refer to instances of his generosity to his family and to his friends, but this is a subject upon which he is a little sensitive, and yet he never seems to tire in doing good-never forgets the intimates of his early career, the men who served with him when he was a clerk, agent, or superintendent. Although overwhelmed with engagements, he never allows a case of suffering or misfortune to pass him unheeded. It deserves to be said that in his capacity as the active head of a gigantic corporation, he has never gambled with its great interests at the stock exchange, never corrupted judges or juries, never turned what belonged to others to selfish or mercenary ends; and it is undoubtedly to his exact, accurate, and inflexible business principles that the sound and permanent prosperity of the Pennsylvania Central is chiefly indebted.
I conclude this hasty sketch of my old friend by relating an incident of his promptitude. Some years ago, when his presence was necessary at an extraordinary crisis in the affairs of the company, he started from Pittsburgh on an express train, and found himself, after some hours' travel, obstructed by another train, which had run off the track. The débris, the fragments, and confusion produced by the accident would have required at least a day for their removal. The engineers were in despair. After a moment's reflection the Colonel directed that the whole of the wreck should be burned, and the torch was applied to the valuable machinery, cars, and goods that lay scattered around. Of course he made his destination; but when he reached the company and told his story, there was some indignation at what they regarded a waste of property. Colonel Scott sat down and soon convinced them, by a calculation estimating the loss that would accrue by the delay of trains, etc., that he had really saved a considerable sum by the transaction.
The brain-work of a man like Colonel Scott is immense, but he enjoys the rare facility of dismissing troublesome questions from his mind. He never takes his sorrows with him to bed. When his day's work is done he retires with a sunny face to his home, enjoys the society of his family, plays croquet or whist, rides around the park, looks in at the opera, and now and then mingles with a company of his friends. Of simple habits and refined tastes, he ought to live a long life. That he may so live is my
sincere and earnest prayer. [June 18, 1871.)
A FASCINATING volume might be written of the men who were identified with Government newspapers in Washington under the old régime, beginning with Joseph Gales and William Winston Seaton, and running on to Duff Green, Amos Kendall, Francis P. Blair, John C. Rives, Thomas Ritchie, Robert Armstrong, A. O. P. Nicholson, Roger A. Pryor, Charles Eames, Wm. M. Overton, George S. Gideon, Simeon M. Johnson, William M. Browne, George W. Bowman, Alexander C. Bullet, and others. Of this long list those who survive are Duff Green, now at a very advanced age; Francis P. Blair, the generous host at Silver Spring, Maryland, near Washington ; A. O. P. Nicholson, residing at Columbia, Tennessee; George S. Gideon and Simeon M. Johnson, of Washington ; Roger A. Pryor, practicing law in New York; George W. Bowman, Pennsylvania, and Will
JOURNALISM IN WASHINGTON.
It is a
iam M. Browne, who was in the South when last heard from. All the papers with which they were connected have passed out of existence excepting The Globe, now the almost exclusive record of Congressional debates, published by F. & J. Rives and George A. Bailey, to whom it is a source of enormous revenue.
In former times what was called the national organ was liberally sustained by the advertising and the printing of the Government, and the proprietors, who ought to have grown rich, were most generous in the treatment of their editors. grave question whether there has been any actual saving by divorcing the public printing from the press. Certain it is that ever since newspapers at Washington have had to depend upon their own energies they have had a hard struggle. Several attempts have been made to build upon the great profits of The Congressional Globe a permanent organ, representing the political party in the possession of the Government for the time being, but they have failed in succession; yet I do not doubt that if ever the Democracy get control of the Government they will accomplish precisely what the Republicans have not had the courage or strength to carry through. No class of men do harder work for less pay than the political writers at Washington, and none, if properly sustained, can exert a wider or better influence. Proprietors of newspapers at the national capital must now spend vast sums of money for editorial assistance, news, correspondence, etc., yet their incomes are comparatively small. They have no large population around them, and as yet no active, progressive States south of them. If the old system were resumed, or another adopted by which, under proper regulations, the profits of the public printing could be secured to the organ of the party in the majority, I have not the slightest doubt the treasury would be the gainer in the end. Abundant experience has shown, at least in this country, that whenever Government undertakes to carry on business which belongs to individuals, it does so at a dead loss.
When James K. Polk was elected President, in 1844, he resolved, under the advice of the Southern politicians, to supersede the old Jackson and Van Buren firm of Blair & Rives, and to invite the veteran Thomas Ritchie, for many years the editor of the ancient Virginia organ, the Richmond Enquirer, to assume the responsibility of defending the measures of his Administration. There can be no doubt that the anti-slavery inclining of Mr. Blair was the motive for this change. Martin Van Buren had twice offended the Southern Democracy-once when in his inaugural, in 1837, he declared in favor of the constitutionality of the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and again when he pronounced against the annexation of Texas in 1843. Renominated in 1840, and defeated by General Harrison, his name was again presented as a candidate in 1844; but his Texas letter raised a host of enemies against him in the National Convention of that year, who, after a long and harassing contest, united upon James K. Polk--the Blairs, the Riveses, the Bentons, the Tappans, the Allens, the Hoffmans, and the Silas Wrights all ranged on the side of the New York statesman. The new Tennessee President felt that his Administration would not be heartily supported by men who had sympathized with Van Buren in regard to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia and in opposition to the annexation of Texas, and hence he called for the services of Father Ritchie. The wound inflicted by this change of national editors was deep and rankled long. It undoubtedly created the Free Soil party; it soured Thomas H. Benton; it organized a fierce internal opposition to General Cass when he was the Democratic candidate against General Taylor in 1848 ; it vitalized the able and vindictive pens of Mr. Blair and his associates; it put Prince John Van Buren on the stump as the advocate of his own father, who ran as the third candidate on the Buffalo platform. It did much to inspire David Wilmot to offer the Wilmot Proviso in 1846. It was one of the early elements which gradually and
surely prepared the way for the political uprising of 1854, on the repeal of the Missouri Compromise—a convulsion which would have become universal had not James Buchanan in 1856 promised that the people of Kansas should be permitted to vote on the subject of slavery without interruption or violencea promise which, broken in his term, was avenged by the political revolution of 1858, which destroyed the Democratic party effectually, gave victory to the Republicans, carried Lincoln into the Presidential chair, and so maddened the South as to drive it into that rebellion, the defeat of which ended in the complete and eternal abolition of human slavery. So it will be seen that so trifling a thing as a change in the editor of a political organ originated a movement that culminated in the most remarkable event of the century.
Thomas Ritchie, the successor of the Blairs, though he changed the name of the national Democratic organ from The Globe to The Union, was, nevertheless, the unconscious harbinger of disunion. A more amiable, simple-minded, honorable gentleman, never existed ; but he had lived too long in a narrow sphere to figure on the national stage. He was a conscientious believer in the extreme doctrine of State rights—the kindest and most genteel old fogy who ever wore nankeen pantaloons, high shirt-collars, and broad-brimmed straw hats. He was the delight of every social circle, not for his wit, which was dull, but for his chronic Virginia peculiarities. He was the Grandfather Whitehead of the politicians; the Jesse Rural of the diplomats-his efforts at making peace between contending rivals generally ending in the renewal of strife, and his paragraphs in defense of the Administration awakening new storms of ridicule. He was a firm believer in the now happily exploded habit that nothing better became an editor than to be at war with his contemporary; and thus it was that The Union was filled with contradictions of accusations against the Administration, many of which had been invented by the practical jokers on