"Douglas Puffers and Valets," Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, September 20, 1858, p. 2: 2.
Chicago Press and Tribune
Douglas Puffers and Valets
Blake Dickinson, Dickinson College
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Douglas Puffers and Valets
Douglas takes around with him two reporters and one cannon to do his puffing and blowing. One of them, called Benmore [Binmore], we are informed, was dismissed from the employ of the St. Louis Republican for his incurable habit of lying. No reliance could be placed on his statements upon any subject. He serves Douglas in the double capacity of puffer and valet – recording his lies and handling his luggage. He has no political principles, and is simply a mercenary alien, detailed by Douglas to write the lying accounts of Lincoln’s meetings for the Times, caricaturing and mangling his speeches and making himself generally useful to his employer.
The other reporter he imported from Philadelphia; his duties are to report the speeches made by Douglas are to report the speeches made by Douglas at the discussions with Lincoln, revise and armed them, coloring up this point and pruning down that one, and also to prepare grandiloquent descriptions of his meetings and harangues. Latterly he has elbowed out the St. Louis lacquey [lackey] in the matter of writing defamatory and libelous statements concerning persons he supposes to be acting as reporters for this paper.
To the fellow Benmore is assigned the task of reporting Lincoln’s speeches at the discussions. His instructions are to report them incorrectly, to leave out words and sentences, and otherwise to mutilate his arguments so as to destroy their force and effect on the minds of those who read the Douglas papers. He, along with certain amateurs, carried out these instructions faithfully in the Ottawa debate, putting words in Mr. Lincoln’s mouth which he never uttered; garbling and emasculating what he did say. We detected and denounced the miserable trick at the time. The exposure had the effect to cause the fellow to be less reckless in his perversions of Lincoln’s speeches at Freeport, although on that occasion he slipped in as many errors as he dared without attracting too much attention. The Jonesboro speech of Lincoln as published in the Times is badly mutilated. The sense of many of he [the] best paragraphs is destroyed, the sharpest hits are blunted and blurred, and the happiest expressions marred by suppressing a particular word and supplying its place with another.
On the other hand, the speeches made by Douglas have been patched up, amended and improved by the other reporter. We do not find so much fault with this, as it sadly needed revision and amendment both in language and argument; but we protest against the mutilation of Lincoln’s speeches. It is small and dishonorable business on the part of Douglas to direct or allow his reporters to treat his opponent in this base and shameful manner.