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Birdsall, D.C.
Autograph Letter Signed, Cornwall, New York, July 9, 1856, to Hon. Josiah Sutherland, Member of Congress

octavo, 2 pages, formerly folded, in very good, legible condition.

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I am very glad to hear from you in the Old Tammany proceedings and that you are active in the good cause of Democracy.

            I am settled here and fighting the battle almost singlehanded against the Black R[epublicans] and K. N.s [Know Nothings] I have got up 2 meetings and am still doing the best I can for the party. You can rely on a good Report for our County. I hope you will attend the Convention the 30th and try and get the party united on a firm basis; I would be there surely but for affairs at home which will prevent it but my heart is with you, and anything I can do for the party or for you personally will be cheerfully done. I should be most happy to see you at my home this summer if you can possibly get time to come … As you are among the foremost in keeping up the excitement and getting up meetings, permit me to humbly offer my feeble assistance in making a noise at any time when the Democracy may call upon me in any place that is within reasonable distance of my place. I also intend to take the stump in the month of October if such may be deemed best in my part of the State. I admit my inability to do the subject justice but see the necessity of every person girding on the armor, for the good fight cannot be won without a strong lasting effort from all quarters of the glorious Union, now happily united but soon to be severed should wild fanaticism seize the Reins of government …”


         Birdsall was a boisterous – and, at times imprudent – Democratic stalwart who was close to Martin Van Buren. His one moment of fleeting fame came during the Civil War when a New York newspaper floated a rumor that Cassius Clay, the fiery Kentucky Abolitionist, just appointed U.S. ambassador to Russia by President Lincoln, had challenged Birdsall to a duel and planned to shoot him for some insulting remarks made by the New York Democrat. This turned out to be a hoax. Before leaving for St. Petersburg, Clay told the press he had never heard of Birdsall.


          Democrat James Buchanan won the Presidency that year, but the candidacy of John Fremont for the new Republican Party laid the groundwork for the election of Abraham Lincoln four years later.