The Race of the
In 183-, it chanced in the big city of New York, that the aldermen
elect were a sort of tie; that is, so many whigs and so many
democrats. Such a thing did not occur often, the democracy usually
having the supremacy. They generally had things pretty much all their
own way, and distributed their favors among their partizans
accordingly. The whigs at length tied them, and the locos, beholding with horror and misgivings, the new order of things which
was destined to turn out many a holder of fat office, many a pat-riot
overflowing with democratic patriotism, whose devotion to the cause of
the country was manifest in the tenacity with which he clung to his
place, were extremely anxious to devise ways and means to keep the
whigs at bay; and as the day drew near, when the assembled Board of
Aldermen should have their sitting at the City Hall, various dodges
were proposed by the locos to out-vote the whigs, in questions or
decisions touching the distribution of places, and appointment of men
to fill the various stations of the new municipal government.
I have itI've got it! exclaimed a round and jolly alderman of a
democratic ward. To-night the Board meetswe stand about eight and
eightthis afternoon, let two of us invite two of the whigs, Alderman
Hand Alderman J, out to a dinner at Harlem, get Hand J
tight as wax, and then we can slip off, take our conveyance, come in,
and vote the infernal whigs just where we want them!
Capital! prime! Ha, ha, ha! says one.
First rate! elegant! ha, ha, ha! shouts another.
Ha, ha! haw! haw! he, he, he! roared all the locys.
Well, gentlemen, let's all throw in a V apiece, to defray expenses;
we, you know, of course, must put the whigs through, and we must
give them a rouse they won't forget soon. Champagne and turtle, that's
the ticket; coach for four out and two in. Ha, ha!The
whigs shall see the elephant!
Well, the purse was made up, the coach hired, and the two victims,
the poor whigs, were carted out under the pretence of a grand
aldermanic feast to Harlem, the scene of many a spree and jollification
with the city fathers, and other bon vivants and gourmands of Gotham.
Dinner fit for an emperor being discussed, sundry bottles of Sham
were uncorked, and their effervescing contents decanted into the
well-fed bodies of the four aldermen. Toasts and songs, wit and humor,
filled up the time, until the democrats began to think it was time that
one of them slipped out, took the carriage back to the city, leaving
the other to fuddle the two whigs, and detain them until affairs
at the Tea Room, City Hall, were settled to the entire satisfaction
of the democrats.
Landlord, says one of the democrats, whom we will call Brown,
landlord, have you any conveyance, horses, wagons, carriages or carts,
by which any of my friends could go back to town to-night, if they
Oh, yes, says the landlord, certainlyI can send the gentlemen
in if they wish.
Very well, sir,they may get very tight before they desire
to returnthey are men of families, respectable citizens, and I do not
wish them, under any circumstances, to leave your house until morning.
Whatever the bill is I will foot, provided you deny them any of your
means to go in to-night. You understand!
Oh! yes, sirif you request it as a matter of favor, that I shall
keep your friends here, I will endeavor to do sobut hadn't you better
attend to them yourself?
Well, you see, says Brown, I have business of importance to
transactmust be in town this evening. Give the party all they
wishput that in your fob(handing the host an X)post up your bill
in the morning, and I'll be out bright and early to make all square. Do
you hark? says Brown.
Oh, yes, sirall right, responded the landlord.
Brown gave his confederate the cue, stepped out, promising to
be in in a minute, and then, getting into a carriage, he drove back
to the city, almost tickled to death with the idea of how nicely the
whigs would be dished when they all met at the City Hall, and came up
Smith, Brown's loco friend, did his best to keep the thing up, by
calling in the New Jersey thunder and lightningvulgarly known as
Champagneand even walked into the aforesaid t. and l. so deeply
himself, that a man with half an eye might see Smith would be as blind
as an owl in the course of the evening. But Smith was bound to do the
thing up brown, and thought no sacrifice too great or too expensive to
preserve the loaves and fishes of his party. All of a sudden, however,
night was drawing on a pace, the whigs began to smell a mice.
The absence of Brown, and the excessive politeness and liberality of
Smith, in hurrying up the bottles, settled it in the minds of the
whigs, that something was going on dangerous to the whig cause, and
that they had better look outand so they did.
Jones, says one of the whigs, sotto voce, to the other,
Brown has cleared; it is evident he and Smith calculate to corner us
here, prevent your presence in 'the Tea Room' to-night, and thus defeat
The deuce! You don't think that, Hall, do you?
Faith, I do; but we won't be caught napping. Waiter, bring in a
bottle of brandy.
Brandy? said Smith, in astonishment. Why, you ain't going to dive
right into it, in that way, are you?
Why not? says Hall. Brandy's the best thing in the world to
settle your nerves after getting half fuddled on Champagne, my boy;
just you try ittake a good stiff horn. Brown, you see, has cut, we must follow; so let's straighten up and get ready for a start.
Here's to 'the loaves and fishes.' Jones and Hall took their horns of
Cogniac, which does really make some men sober as judges after they are
very drunk on real or spurious Champagne.
Well, says Smith, it's my opinion we'll all be very tight
going in this way, brandy on Champagne; but here goes to the fishes and
loavesthe loaves and fishes, I mean.
The brandy had a rather contrary effect from what it does usually;
it did settle Smithin five minutes he was so very boozy that
his chin bore down upon his breast, he became as limber as a rag, and
snored like a pair of bagpipes.
Now, Jones, says Hall, let's be off. Landlord, get us a gig,
wagon, carriage, cart, any thing, and let's be off; we must be in town
Sorry, gentlemen, but can't oblige youhaven't a vehicle on the
Why, confound it, you don't pretend to say you can't send us into
town to-night, do you? says Jones, waxing uneasy.
Haven't you a horse, jackass, mule or a wheelbarrowany thing, so
we can be carted in, right off, too? says Hall.
Can't help it, gentlemen.
What time do the cars come along? eagerly inquires Jones.
About nine o'clock, coolly replies the host.
Nine fools! shouted the discomfited alderman. But this won't do;
come, Jones, no help for itcan't fool us in that wayeight miles to
the City Halltwo hours to do it in; off coat and let's foot it!
* * * * *
The City Hall clock had just struck 7 P. M., the Tea Room was
lighted up, the assembled wisdom of the municipal government had their
toadies, and reporters and lookers-on were there; the room was quite
full. Brown was there, in the best of spirits, and the locos all fairly
snorted with glee at the scientific manner in which Brown had done
Jones and Hall out of their votes! The business of the evening was
climaxing: the whigs missing two of their number, were in quite a spasm
of doubt and fear. The chairman called the meeting to order. The roll
was called: seven good and true locos answered the call. Six whigs
had answered: the seventh was being called: the locos were grinning,
and twisting their fingers at the apex of their noses!
Alderman Jones! Alderman Jones! bawled the roll-caller.
Here! roared the missing individual, bursting into the room.
Alderman Hall! continued the roll.
Here! responded that notable worthy, rushing in, entirely blowed
Beat, by thunder! roared the locos, in grand chorus; and in the
modern classics of the Bowery, they wasn't any thing else. The whigs
not only had the cut but the entire deal in the appointments
that time, and Alderman Brown had a bill at Harlem, a little
more serious to foot than the racing of the aldermen to get a chance to