S UDDENLY, Wood stumbled over the Whigs' new political gamesmanship and his own imperfections. In the 1840 elections, Whigs wooed voters using innovative smear and name-calling techniques, evoking emotional symbolism, and avoiding specific issues. Tammanyites countered by registering fresh voters, naturalizing questionable new ones, and seeking evidence of Whig misconduct. Luckily, they uncovered the shocking "Glentworth Affair" that implicated local Whigs in the hiring of illegal voters from Pennsylvania to swell their city count.1
Wood was busy on his own. Early in September, he picked up an Anglophobic theme, popular among the Irish, and fumed that "British stockjobbers" had contributed large amounts of "gold" to ensure Whig victories. The New York American, edited by Charles King, the son of the eminent Federalist Rufus King, unleashed a splenetic reply. The paper ripped Wood's credibility and snapped that he was a charlatan attacking his betters. The New York Evening Post defended Wood. He deserved better, it wrote, than the typically vile Whig tactic of attacking the person while evading the truth. Voters should ignore Kings "wretched print" because Wood's nature was "as courteous and generous as his reputation is unspotted."2
On Saturday, October 31, four days before the election, the self-righteous King shot back by disclosing a potentially damning incident about Wood's business affairs, one that threatened to destroy him both politically and financially. According to King, Wood had a small account at the Merchants' Exchange Bank from September 1836 through March 1839. His deposits ranged from a low of $96.98 to a high of $349.42. In November 1836, a clerk mistakenly posted a $1,750.62 check to Wood's account. Over the next two years, he withdrew "the whole of that amount" in a series of small checks. In 1838, the chief cashier discovered the error and demanded he return the money. Wood admitted that the check "did not belong to him," but insisted that the bank's bookkeeper must have erred and contended "that he owed the bank nothing." When the cashier sought
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Publication information: Book title: Fernando Wood:A Political Biography. Contributors: Jerome Mushkat - Author. Publisher: Kent State University Press. Place of publication: Kent, OH. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 13.
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