The Press Gang: Newspapers and Politics, 1865-1878

By Mark Wahlgren Summers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16
The Wild Animals Loose
The Panic of 1874

Early in January 1874, the proprietor of the Washington Sunday Capital had some unexpected callers at home. Two men armed with heavy sticks were standing on the threshold, with great interest in seeing Donn Piatt. And what were their names? Neither man would say. The servant answering the door could not fetch Piatt, who was at the office, but he went to summon the editor's kinsman General Banning from the library. One glance at Banning's face and the callers fled, but not quickly enough to escape recognition. One was President Ulysses S. Grant's son, Second Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Grant, and the other the president's notorious brother-in-law, New Orleans collector of the port James Casey. If the chief executive was entitled to two assassins, Banning joked, how many was a congressman allowed? 1

When it was over, no one ended up hurt, though Piatt's invalid wife was given a fright. Piatt published a card inviting the bullies to call on him at his office "during business hours" for satisfaction. Privately, he joked that the stir did won

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