Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Brooklyn Eagle allows Rev. Osborn to plead his innocence

The Brooklyn Eagle, one of the nation's largest newspapers, had originated as a Democratic Party paper in the 1840s. During the war, the paper came under attack by the postoffice and mobs loyal to the Republican Party. Thomas Kinsella, appointed editor during the war, steered the paper toward a more moderate course and after the war, became a leading champion of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. When Hamilton went public with his accusations against Senator T.W. Osborn and his brother, Rev. A.C. Osborn, minister of Brooklyn's Baptist Tabernacle Church, Kinsella's Eagle could not resist jumping into the fray.
Briefly summarizing the account of the Great Southern Railroad scandal carried in the New York Tribune the Eagle initially concluded that "in the absence of any explanation, and upon the letter of Osborn, the disclosures are decidely damaging." The Eagle wryly observed that "The moral of the very immoral transaction, which will probably come home with most force to Rev. A.C. Osborn, is that it is always prudent to conduct such delicate negotiations by personal interview. Litera scripta manet; and if profanity were not unprofessional, Rev. A.C. Osborn would curse the day he wrote those letters to Hamilton [Brooklyn Eagle, April 10, 1871]."

The next day, an Eagle reporter interviewed Rev. Osborn about the affair and the paper, showing Osborn's influence, took a skeptical stance with respect to Hamilton: "About the time the war closed, a Mr. C.M. Hamilton, it is said, went down to Florida from Pennsylvania, as an attache of the Freedmen's Bureau, and before he had been there very long managed to get himself elected Member of Congress. The star of Hon. C. M. Hamilton was evidently in the ascendant, but there was a Senator Osborn from the same State, of whom he appears to have been slightly jealous, and on the part of the member of the House of Representatives a struggle for power was at once commenced and kept up during the two years he remained in office. The Senator appears to have looked upon Mr. Hamilton much as the late Artemus Ward regarded the kangaroo - that he was an "amoosin' little cuss"- and at the end of two years the nomination was conferred upon another candidate, and Mr. Hamilton was left out in the cold. He is at present in Washington waiting for something to turn up, and at the same time is engaged in carrying on the war against Senator Osborn and his brother, the Rev. A.C. Osborn, Pastor of the Baptist Tabernacle Church of this city."
The paper then printed Rev. Osborn's defense in which he alleged that Hamilton had attempted to take control of the company's stock and, after initially failing, demanded shares sufficient to control the company, salary as the company's counsel and confirmation as U.S. Marshall as his price for support of the a bill supporting the Great Southern Railroad in Congress. Osborn said that the President of the GSRR [i.e., A.C. Osborn] refused Hamilton's demands and contending that Hamilton's confirmation as U.S. Marshall would put him in a position to "very easily embarrass the operations of the Company," sent an affidavit to Senator Conklin (NY), member of the committee to which the nomination had been referred and filed a copy with the Attorney General. Hamilton's name was withdrawn from the Senate immediately after the affidavits were distributed and, Osborn insisted that "it is the impotent wrath of Mr. Hamilton at being thus foiled that causes him to make these groundless charges against Senator Osborn and myself." Rev. Osborn did admit to his interviewer that he had told Hamilton that the influence of the GSRR "would be brought to bear for the purpose of preventing his return to Congress if he did not do all in his power to secure passage of the bill, before the close of the session." Osborn stated that he had received a letter from Hamilton dated April 6th that "opened with a quotation from Othello, and then through eight closely written pages of letter paper explained how angry and disgusted he had been at finding on file in the office of the Attorney General, the copy of the affidavit."
This is the last time the Brooklyn Eagle would take a sympathtic position toward Osborn.

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