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The reception given to Thurlow Weed on his eighty-third birthday by the New York press club online

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November 15, 1880,



Thurlow Weed

Eighty-third Birthday

New York Press Club,




t r v C

Gift from
Mrs. Opal Logan Kunz
.2C, 1933

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/ ./_ /


From the Chicago Journal, Nov. 13.

A beautiful and lasting compliment has been paid the veteran
journalist and politician, Thurlow Weed, in the adoption, by the
New York Press Club, of a resolution whereby the regular annual
meetings of that select body are to be held henceforth on his
birthday, November 15. The first reception which Mr. Weed
will attend, if able, falls on next Monday, and a grand time is
promised. The guest of the club, after his years of memorable
labor in journalistic and political arenas, will be accorded all the
honors and privileges due to the closing years of a beneficent life.

Thurlow Weed is now a fine old gentleman — feeble, stooped
and gray, to be sure — but continuing in the possession of his
mental faculties to a remarkable degree. His age is 83 years, yet
he is almost daily seen on the streets, transacting his private
business. He has many friends and admirers, who greet him
warmly, and the most favored among them is the one who re-
ceives an invitation to dine at his home.

"My home," he says, "is No. 12 Twelfth street ; be there at
one o'clock to dinner."

No. 12 West Twelfth street is only a little way off Broadway,
and near the heart of the great metropolis. The house is of solid
material, large and comfortable in appearance. From the street
the visitor is ushered into a broad hall, and from the hall to the
left into a large room filled with pictures, mostly portraiture, from
ceiling to baseboard, even the outside and inside panels of the
door being thickly covered — a curious, interesting place — and


this is the aged editor's sanctum. The owner and occupant half
rises from a pillowed lounge in the rear of the room, and greets
the caller in a kindly, fatherly way, while gently stroking a pet
dove which sits at his feet and responds to the touch with grate-
ful cooings. Rising and pointing out various pictures, Mr. Weed
tells one that these all represent friends and acquaintances of his
life, and each has a history to him —paintings, lithographs and
photographs of Lincoln, Seward, De Witt Clinton and Lafayette,
among the older school, and Blaine, Sherman, Garfield and many
others of later-day politics, besides portraits of celebrated church
dignitaries of various denominations, both Catholic and Protest-
ant. There are also cartoons tacked up, and these Mr. Weed
seems to enjoy immensely, though the caricatures are directed
against himself, and issued in the heated days of the War of
Principle, or struggle over slavery.

Leaving the pictures the guest is shown volumes of correspond-
ence from the handwriting of all the great of our Nation for fifty
years past, Mr. Weed having, no doubt, the most valuable collec-
tion of this kind in the country.

At the call for dinner the host leads the way up a broad stairs
to a large dining-room facing the street, and at the table in the
center may usually be seen Mr. Weed serving the meats, while
his daughter Harriet, a lady of noble bearing, presides at the urns,
serving, with the aid of a colored servant, the family circle of from
four to six, generally grandchildren, and such outside visitors as
may be present. The hour is made enjoyable by intelligent con-
versation, chiefly on topics suggested by Mr. Weed in the rela-
tion of anecdotes or reminiscences of public men and public life
in the years of the war and previous. Of these, Mr. Weed holds
in his memory scores, of the utmost interest, unwritten and un-
preserved elsewhere. His friends, with himself, frequently feel
that he should gain time from the cares of property to give them
an enduring place in chronicled history.

Before the favored visitor leaves the home of Thurlow Weed,
he becomes cognizant of the unsurpassed orderliness of the house.
In the great, neat supply department there are almost tons of
fruits, preserves, fancy provisions and general culinary luxuries
and necessities, all attended to and put up, as Mr. Weed proudly
observes, by his daughter. And this daughter does another
thing of notable interest — every first of the month she stands all


day long at the back door and parcels out to the poor old women
of New York city the contents of a full chest of good tea and a
full barrel of fine sugar. This custom has been kept up by the
family for many years with an almost religious precision.

Mr. Weed is the soul of liberality, as well as of hospitality.
So well known is his name in alms-giving that his days are pes-
tered with applicants for relief, worthy and unworthy claiming
something from his purse every hour. It is beyond his nature to
turn the needy away, and the blessing of a fortune puts him in a
position where he does much good through his charitable heart.

The honor intended to be extended the veteran humanitarian
by the press of New York is reaffirmed by the press and people
of the country, and particularly by the many who have followed,
as pupils, the political principles so early promulgated by him as

Albany Evening Journal, Nov. 15.

Thurlow Weed, who fifty years ago, the 22d of last March,
founded the Albany Evening Journal, and who, on the occasion of
the semi-centennial birthday of the paper, reassumed its editorship
long enough to write its leader, to-day enters upon his eighty-
fourth year. Honored wherever distinguished services for the
country are honored, admired wherever there is admiration for
consummate leadership, loved wherever there is love for unfal-
tering and unselfish devotion to the interests of a great party,
his is an old age full of the kindliest of compensations. To-day,
as he sits surrounded by those nearest and dearest to him, mes-
sages freighted with heartiest congratulations and best wishes are
being wafted to this Nestor of politics and journalism, from all
parts of the land. None hold him in higher regard than his old
friends in this city in which he achieved his fame, and, in express-
ing their feeling, we have only to add — what we are sure we need
not tell him — that no greeting that reaches him will be more
sincere or heartfelt than that which conveys the gratitude and
affection of those who have succeeded him in this paper.



Indianapolis Journal.

The New York Press Club has paid a beautiful compliment to
the veteran journalist and politician, Thurlow Weed, by resolv-
ing to hold the annual meetings of that body on the anniversary
of his birthday, November 15. The first reception will be held
this evening, and Mr. Weed will attend if age and infirmity will
permit. He is now eighty-three years old, and yet his mind is
keen and alert and all his intellectual faculties well preserved. If
he is able to attend the reception of the Press Club this evening,
he will be accorded all the honors due to his age and position.

New York Tribune.

The reception, upon the occurrence of his eighty-third birth-
day, given last evening to Mr. Thurlow W r eed by the New York
Press Club, was an occasion which might give rise to many inter-
esting reflections. Mr. Weed has not permitted his advancing
years to diminish his interest in public affairs. Not only has he
kept up a close and patriotic observation of our politics, but he
has frequently given to the public his opinions of their various
phases through the Tribune. In these, notwithstanding his many
years, no one has yet been able to discover any decay of his per-
ceptive faculties, and still less any abatement of his ardor as a

Mr. Weed's experience as a journalist, or as an observer still
maintaining his love of journalism, covers considerably more than
half a century. Without holding public office, he has had as
much to do as any man of his time with our various political
vicissitudes. He has been for many years the counselor of his
party, and his suggestions have always been sought and acted
upon, not only by party managers but by those who held high
places in the Government. He has given to us an exhibition of
wisdom and integrity, exercised in behalf of the Republic, with-
out any reference to official reward or personal emolument. His
many years, with the noble way in which they have been spent,
have entitled him, whenever he pleases to speak, to the respect-
ful hearing of the whole country.


But those who practice the art preservative of all arts have
special reason to be proud of Mr. Weed as an associate. He, too,
is one of the celebrated printers who went from the case and the
press to the editorial desk, and to the cabinets of statesmen.
Printers love to enumerate the distinguished men whom they
may claim as fellow-craftsmen, and there is no one, not even
Franklin, of whom they are prouder than Mr. Thurlow Weed.

New York Times.

The fall reception of the Press Club, held last evening in its
pleasant rooms at No. 121 Nassau street, was made an occasion
for honoring the veteran journalist, Thurlow Weed, on the eighty-
third anniversary of his birth. The spacious parlors were attract-
ively embellished with a loan collection of paintings, gracefully
entwined flags, and a profusion of flowers. A large floral emblem,
bearing the word " Age," especially designed in honor of the
anniversary of Mr. Weed's birthday, rested on the table of the
President, and from the chandeliers and walls depended sprays of
smilax. More than 200 guests responded to the invitations of
the Club * * *

The reception exercises were begun at 8:30 P. M. Mr. Weed,
who reached the Club-rooms shortly before that time, was escorted
to a seat beside President Penney. The next place of honor was
assigned to Gen. Webb, and around him and Mr. Weed were
grouped the gentlemen whose names have been mentioned as
being included in the list of guests. Mr. J. W. Simonton, in
presenting Mr. Weed to the assembled company, said it might
be doubted whether any man now living, " other than this much-
loved Nestor of the press," had ever exercised so wide and deep
an influence upon the destinies of the country. * * * *

Mr. Simonton reviewed the career of the honored guest of the
evening as a soldier, printer, journalist and statesman. The jour-
nalists of New York, he added, had reason to feel justly proud of
their friend and co-laborer. His life story was familiar to all, as
an indestructible part of the brilliant record of American states-
manship and journalism during more than half the whole life
of the American Republic.

Mr. Weed was deeply affected by the remarks of Mr. Simon-
ton, and did not attempt to essay a response until after brief


addresses had been delivered by Gen. James Watson Webb,
Erastus Brooks, Whitelaw Reid, and Robert J. Burdette. After
these gentlemen had spoken, he rose simply to relate an incident
suggested by a remark of one of the speakers, touching the cir-
cumstances of his first meeting with Horace Greeley. This meet-
ing was, Mr. Weed explained, the origin of the copartnership
subsequently effected between the members of the firm of Sew-
ard, Weed & Greeley. After pleasant speeches by Postmaster
James, Algernon S. Sullivan, Henry Hyland Garnett, the Hon.
William E. Robinson, David M. Stone, and others, the Club's
guests were entertained with recitations by Mr. Charles Roberts
and Mr. A. P. Burbank. and musical exercises by Arbuckle, A.
Liberati, George Werrenrath, and Messrs. Filoteo, Castelli, Case
and Belari. The reception terminated at an early hour this


In presenting Mr. Weed to the President and members of the
Club, Mr. J. W. Simonton, of the Associated Press, spoke as fol-
lows :

It may be doubted whether any man now living, other than
this much-loved Nestor of the American press, has ever exercised
so wide and deep an influence upon the destinies of our country.
What has been the secret of his wonderful power? The answer,
it seems to me, is this: While others have been able and wise
and patriotic, Mr. Weed, more than any other in the journalistic
profession, who has impressed himself upon the times, recognized
that as the creator is greater than the creature, so the king-maker
is greater than the king, [applause] at least, in power for useful-
ness. And so Mr. Weed has always preferred to be a conscien-
tious king-maker, rather than to sit upon the throne and wield its
sceptre. During his long career his efforts have been steadily
addressed to molding and shaping the public opinion which, in
a free government, is king at last. He realized that his influence
could be best broadened and conserved by earnest work in the
editorial chair. [Applause.] And so, while always striving
faithfully and well to put whatever cause his pen espoused into
the hands of capable administrators, he ever and resolutely
pushed aside the honors of high office which were within his per-
sonal grasp. Thus no suspicion of self-seeking could impair his
power for good ; and thus, also, his thoughtful, wise, and unselfish
use of the influence commanded by his exceptional talents, won
for him that general respect, admiration and love of which we,
here and now, tender him our most cordial expression. [Ap-


A volunteer in the war of 1812, I believe he never again
eneaeed in official service until 1861. Then, when our country

was in the throes of revolution, Lincoln — recognizing his social
charm, no less than his logical power, directness of purpose and
marked capacity for terse and vigorous statement — [applause]
invited him to visit Europe, as a citizen representative of the
Union cause, to mingle in the society of the capitals of England
and France, and there to create and stimulate a sentiment against
foreign intervention in American affairs. The danger of such
intervention was the one half-hidden rock lying in the path of our
Ship of State, which, perhaps more than any other, imperiled its
safety during the cloud and tempest of that critical hour. Mr,
Weed promptly accepted this call to duty, though unheralded by
official proclamation, and with no hope of other reward than
consciousness of duty done. Himself a printer, he followed in
the footsteps of the printer Franklin, and served the Nation as
well at the Court of St. Cloud as Franklin did at an earlier crisis
in our Nation's life. [Prolonged applause.] The golden link
which thus connects the names of Benjamin Franklin and Thur-
low Weed will can')- them down together in history, to be cher-
ished among the choicer memories oi a grateful posterity. It
is our proud distinction that their reflected light will also and
ever illuminate the records of the journalistic craft to which
we belong. Let this thought inspire us to higher aims, to nobler
purpose and grander endeavor.

Why should I dilate upon our friend's life history? It is famil-
iar to you all, as an indestructible part of the brilliant record of
American statesmanship and journalism, during more than half of
our whole life as an independent people — or from 1818 to nearly
1 88 1. We are justly proud of it, and our hearts overflow with
affection for the manly man — at once our father and our brother
in the craft — whose presence within these rooms gives us so
much pleasure. With gratitude to God who has spared him so
long to his country and mankind, 1 know that every heart here
pulsates with mine in the hope that he may still enjoy added years
of happy and graceful usefulness, before he is called to go up
higher and receive the reward awaiting all who truly strive to
glorify the brotherhood of men. [Applause.]


Speech of Hon. James Watson Webb.

General James Watson Webb was introduced as the oldest liv-
ing journalist in America. He said :

I didn't know that I should be called upon to say any thing
this evening. I did not say positively that I could attend until
i P. M. to-day, when I penned a letter of acceptance from my
sick bed. But I could not let such an opportunity pass to meet
one with whom I have been on terms of friendship so many years.
[Hearty applause.] I first met Mr. Weed in 1814 [applause],
when we were both in the army, he as a volunteer, and with the
exception of two or three weeks [laughter], when we quarreled
over the question of abolitionism, we have been firm friends ever
since. I join heartily in this tribute to Mr. Weed. In his long
career of usefulness no one has accomplished more or made firmer
friends than he.

General Webb recounted an amusing anecdote about a num-
ber of Democratic editors from Albany who chartered a
steamboat to come to New York and obtain from him (he
was then the editor of the Courier and Enquirer) advance copies
of President Jackson's inaugural message. The object was to
beat the Journal. It ended with Mr. Weed's obtaining an earlier
copy than any of his rivals, and by a stratagem obtaining also
the steamboat which had brought them down and departing for

Speech of Hon. Erastus Brooks.

Erastus Brooks, for forty-one years, with his brother James, an
editor and part owner of the New York Express, was called upon,
and spoke as follows :

I am always glad to meet old friends, especially one whom I
have known so - many years as Mr. Weed. I recall with great
interest the striking incidents in his long career of usefulness.
He has been an observer of most of the striking incidents in the
life of this Nation. It is something to remember that die has
lived under all the eighteen Presidents of this Nation. He was
a child during the administration of Washington. With the
majority he has been on terms of intimacy. Of the twenty-five
Governors of New York he has voted for nearly all. He has


witnessed more of the chances and changes of life than fall to
the lot of most men. He has seen this Nation rise from a small
beginning and become one of the mightiest of the earth. He
has seen its population increase from 5,000,000 to 50,000,000; he
has lived through two wars besides our own civil war. He
remembers the abolition of the slave trade in 1808, and he saw
the. abolition of slavery in this country at a later period. He
remembers the embargo in 1809, and its removal. He remem-
bers the great fire of 1835, which occurred soon after I came to
New York, when 500 or 600 private residences were burned,
besides public buildings. Mr. Weed is many newspapers in his
own proper person. I have witnessed the rise of 125 newspapers
in this city. Of these only six now remain.

The speaker closed with a tribute to Mr. Weed. His address,
of which the above is a very imperfect outline, was frequently
applauded .

Speech of Hon. White law Re id.

After the speech of Mr. Brooks, Dr. J. B. Wood, Chairman of
the Committee of Arrangements, called the attention of the
meeting to the group of portraits hung on the side of the hall,
festooned with the National colors. Thurlow Weed was in the
center, with William H. Seward on one side and Horace Greeley
on the other. He spoke of the presence of the only survivor of
the famous copartnership, referred to a dispatch just received
from Mr. Seward's Son, Frederick, and called on Whitelaw Reid,
on behalf of the remaining member, to speak of the famous
political firm of "Seward, Weed & Greeley." Mr. Reid said:

This call reminds me of the first time I ever had the pleasure
of seeing your efficient chairman. I had just come on, an
unsophisticated youth, from the wilds of bashful Ohio, and had
been drawn to the most bucolic point of Manhattan Island — the
office of a newspaper which perhaps need not be further desig-
nated. [Applause. J I was not familiar with its ways, did not
even know how to put the office marks for type, etc., on my copy,
and was referred to the chairman of your committee for instruc-
tions. I shall never forget the first order he gave me, and it
seems particularly appropriate now — "cut it down one-half."
[Prolonged laughter.] Not long after this he migrated to


the shop over the way. I used to fancy that whenever
my name came up afterward, he gave the old order in a slightly
changed form — " cut him up." [Laughter.] He asks me now
to speak, and in this presence, of the famous partnership of
Seward, Weed & Greeley. The time for speaking frankly and
fully of that firm has not yet come. This, however, we may
fairly say : It was the greatest political triumvirate this State,
or indeed the country, ever knew. [Applause.] This, also, we
may fairly say: When this partnership was dissolved, each mem-
ber retained the highest respect for the commanding power
and ability of each of his late associates, and each cher-
ished it to the end. [Applause, Mr. Weed interrupting,
"That is true — to the end."] It shaped the politics of this
State and of the country during a most critical formative period.
It carried us safely through the death throes of the old Whig
party, and shaped the development and growth of the lusty suc-
cessor that abolished slavery, put down the greatest civil war of
modern times, and has ruled the country for well-nigh a genera-
tion. If it be true that one result of the dissolution of this firm
was the nomination of Abraham Lincoln, then I am sure no man
rejoices, or ever did rejoice, more heartily over the dissolution
than does the venerable survivor to night. [Applause, Mr. Weed
adding, " Yes, indeed."] It is a pleasure that the acerbities of
the separation have long faded out. There are some here who
will remember that an arrangement had been made to bring
about a meeting between the two great political editors, which
was only prevented by the events of 187.?, and the tragic close.
They did come together, but it was only over the coffin of one,
with the other among the first of the pall-bearers at a funeral
where men represented alike the official dignity, and the heart of
the city and nation. Both of Mr. Weed's old associates are long
gone each full of years and of honor. Each fills a great space in
our history. The memory of each is tenderly cherished. Who
that remembers Seward and Greeley can fail in gratitude to this
surviving Nestor of our politics, who guided the one and dis-
covered the other? [Applause.] His way of life is, indeed, fallen
into the sere and yellow leaf, but as he looks about him, here or
wherever he goes, he may be sure that he has to the full —

That which should accompany old age,
Honor, love, obedience, troops of friends.


Speech of Tliurlow Weed.

Mr. Weed, rising slowly to his feet, next spoke. He said that
he would not have attempted to say a word, but for a remark let
fall by his friend Mr. Reid, respecting the "discovery" of Mr.
Greeley. Mr. Weed spoke as follows:

I will not detain you long. I cannot express to you my deep and
profound sense of gratification at the honor you have shown me.

But I wish to say a word or two as to the manner in which I
became acquainted with one of the trio with whom my name has
been mentioned. It was anticipated that the presidential cam-
paign of 1840 would be a very warm one. The Whig Com-
mittee of this State were very anxious to establish a campaign
paper, something new in those days. The chairman asked me to
find an editor for the proposed paper. I had been struck with
some articles in a weekly paper published in this city, called The
New Yorker, favoring protection to American industry. Mr.
Greeley was the publisher of the paper. I came to New York and
went to the office of £he paper. One of the first persons whom
I met was a compositor standing at his case, and when I asked
for Mr. Greeley he said he was the man. I asked for the author
of the articles in question, and was told by Mr. Greeley that he
wrote them. The Chairmam of the State Committee was with
me, and the question of a campaign paper was at once broached.
Mr. Greeley agreed to come up to Albany once a week and
to devote two days in each week to editing the paper. The
remainder of the time he needed for his own establishment. I

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Online LibraryNew York press clubThe reception given to Thurlow Weed on his eighty-third birthday by the New York press club → online text (page 1 of 3)