Future New York politician, and biographer of Fremont and Grover Cleveland, critiques George William Curtis' novel, to the grand-daughter of Alexander Hamilton, 1859.
Dorsheimer writes that he had not yet gone to New York, despite the urging of his parents who are "thinking that in their old age, they have a claim upon my future …" But, to please his mother, he had put off a decision until October. "You might have been sure that I would have sent you word if I had removed the prospect of renewing my association with your family … from an eastern residence ..."
"Literature seems to partake of the general midsummer stagnation. How do you like "Trumps'? I am afraid [George William] Curtis is too anilitic [sic] He has mounted a very difficult enterprise in introducing such a variety of characters and in rejecting the melodramatic element which is the source of power for all young and most old novelists. Bulwer and Scott for instance. Besides one often encounters in Trumps passages which are very Thackeray-ish and others very like Dickens. But this may be because he is wandering through the same fields and it would be strange if some of the flowers in his basket were not like the ones gathered by those who went before him…"
Like other multi-faceted American politicians of the ante-bellum period, William Dorsheimer had a literary bent. After attending Harvard (he never graduated but later received an honorary degree), he settled in Buffalo, as a lawyer, joined the Republican Party, supported Lincoln, and at the start of the Civil War, became aide-de-camp the General Fremont, writing an account of Fremont's "hundred days in Missouri" after he left the Army. Post-war, he was US Attorney for northern New York, switched parties to become a Democrat and was elected New Yok Lieutenant Governor. He then returned to private law practice as partner of the eminent David Dudley Field, published a biography Grover Cleveland and was again appointed US Attorney. Before his death in 1888, Dorsheimer became publisher of the New York Sun, one of the trio of influential New York City newspapers, together with the Times and Herald Tribune.
The book which he critiqued in this letter to Alexander Hamilton's grand-daughter, a social and intellectual grande dame, was the least popular novel of the prolific writer George William Curtis, who, as political editor of Harper's Weekly was another political literati of the day, though he always refused appointment to government office except for chairing President Grant's commission on reform of Civil Service. (Inventory #: 30802)