By Matthew Goodman
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Read or Download The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York PDF
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Additional info for The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York
The orange sellers plying their trade in front of St. qxd 8/25/08 9:57 AM Page 23 Benjamin Day’s Whistling Boy huge new textile factories; the blacksmiths, carpenters, caulkers, and riggers building ships along the docks; the fat collectors and the candle lighters, the butchers with their top hats and bloody smocks—these were the city’s bone and sinew, the people who kept it moving forward, and who, barring great misdeed or misfortune, never found their way into the papers. I n 1833 Benjamin Day was twenty-three years old, and he had been in New York for three years.
A fter several hours of hawking their papers, Day and his two assistants counted up their pennies. All told, they had more than three dollars: over three hundred papers sold. Despite the encouraging start, Day could hardly have felt elated. It was Tuesday afternoon, he hadn’t slept since Sunday, and it was already time to begin work on the next day’s edition. He trudged back toward William Street, carrying the unsold papers, as New York careened around him. He needed help: help in writing the paper, and help in getting the papers sold.
It was not uncommon for rival editors to come to blows when they passed each other on the street, so deep was their personal animosity. Three times in a matter of weeks in 1836 James Watson Webb, the editor of the Courier and Enquirer, caned the editor of the Herald, James Gordon Bennett, as retribution for critical editorials, the third attack so vicious that Bennett afterward kept a set of loaded pistols in his office. Even the renowned poet William Cullen Bryant, longtime editor of the Evening Post, once horsewhipped a fellow editor in front of the American Hotel on Broadway after an exchange of editorial insults; his target, William Leete Stone of the Commercial Advertiser, fought back with a bamboo cane that shattered on impact, revealing inside it a long, slender steel sword.