Click the images below for bigger versions:
Murphy, William D.
Autograph Letter Signed, Albany, New York, August 19, 1860 to his cousin, Daniel Wolfinger, Leitersburg, Maryland

quarto, 4 pages, folded, in very good, clean condition, accompanied by original mailing envelope.

$ 150.00 | Contact Us >

“… whether Sam visited you on his way to or from the Baltimore National convention [of the Constitutional Union Party] … The political cauldron is beginning to boil fiercely here. We expect to have a hot time here as this state is conceded to be the great battle ground. As New York goes, this time, so will go the Union. The Constitutional Union men have formed a joint electoral ticket with the Douglas Democrats, who have conceded us ten electors on their ticket. Should this ticket succeed, of which there is scarcely any doubt, it will be achieving more even than you carry Maryland, she having only eight electors. This, I am sure, is far more desirable than running a separate electoral ticket, which could only result in our defeat, and the success of Lincoln. It is our design to effect the same kind of a union on all the local tickets throughout the state and in that manner will, also secure some members of Congress and members of the Legislature. I think now the election will go into the House, where Mr. Bell stands decidedly the best chance of an election especially if Mr. Lane should go into the Senate as one of the two highest candidates. In that case, the Republicans will have to vote for Bell in the House in order to prevent the election from going into the Senate, where, in that case, Lane would be successful. If, on the other hand, Mr. Everett should go to the Senate, as one of the two highest, the Republicans will again have to vote for Bell, in order to prevent the Democrats from electing Everett in the Senate. There is no way you can count out either Bell or Everett, should the election go into Congress, which is now likely to be the case.”


The Constitutional Union “third party” was formed primarily by conservative former Whigs from the South, who wanted to avoid Secession over the slavery issue, but refused to join either the Republican or Democratic Parties. At Baltimore, the Party nominated John Bell of Tennessee for President and Edward Everett of Massachusetts for Vice President, hoping to force an election in the House of Representatives by denying any candidate a majority in the Electoral College. The final result, however, was that the Republican Lincoln won nearly every Northern electoral vote, Bell carrying three states in the upper South and, while finishing with the second highest vote total in each remaining slave state, taking only 13% of the nationwide popular vote. Bell himself declared his support for the Confederacy after Fort Sumter, but other Constitutional Unionists remained loyal to the Union throughout the War.


Murphy, a lawyer who was born in Maryland but moved to New York, was 28 when he was a delegate to the Constitutional Union Party Convention in Baltimore. After the Civil War began, while attending a People’s Union Convention in Syracuse, he was denounced as a Secessionist, nearly mobbed by other delegates and expelled from the meeting. Post-war, he was elected to the New York State Assembly as a Democrat; in the 1880s, he was denounced as a “political adventurer” and a “dead-beat” by the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee after suing that candidate for unpaid speech fees in the Midwest. After that, in his later years, he seems to have become a “silk stocking” Republican.