The Press Gang: Newspapers and Politics, 1865-1878

By Mark Wahlgren Summers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11 The Silent Smoker in the Hands of the Foe

In the columns of his New York Sun, at least, editor Charles A. Dana lived a remarkable fantasy life, spotting conspiracy and fraud where none appeared and heeding rumor with creative skill. But even paranoid men have real enemies. Early in 1871, two of them opened up on their old employer in a sensational pamphlet, "The Biter Bit," exposing the blackmail racket that the Sun had practiced with the conspirators who tried to corner the gold market in 1869. 1

The charge could not have been more convenient for President Grant. Dana was among his most savage critics, especially in documenting the president's official incompetence, if not personal complicity, in the Gold Ring. The more the editor thought about it, the more suspicious the attack on his character looked. The pamphlet had been printed in Washington. Reports alleged that Grant's crony Ben Butler had paid the authors' hotel expenses while they prepared the attack. It was said that Secretary of State Hamilton Fish had revised the proofs himself Why

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