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Salomon de Rothschild Tours America (1861)

The Rail Splitter and the Cabinetmaker

New York, May 22, '60.

We would have had a politically insignificant and monotonous week if the Republican convention at Chicago hadn't nominated [Abraham] Lincoln of Illinois, a man of strong opinions. This, to a great extent, assures the presidential opportunities of [Senator Stephen A.] Douglas.

People are talking much about the treatment of the Negroes. American warships have seized several slave ships, but certain newspapers censure their vigilance, for the American is philanthropic when it costs him nothing, and each Negro costs the government $200 to have him sent back to his country...

It seems that the Japanese have brought magnificent presents to the President of the United States. Since Commodore [Matthew] Perry, father-in-law of [the banker, August] Belmont, was the first to make a treaty with Japan, the ambassadors are to make their first visit in New York to Mrs. Belmont, who will give them a party...

New York, May 27, 1860.

They play politics here also, and they play it perhaps more bitterly than in any other country...The same scenes that dishonored the Democratic convention at Charlestown took place at the Republican convention in Chicago. So Seward was sacrificed in favor of Lincoln. The latter had all sorts of jobs before he reached the [candidacy for] President. He was in turn a sailor, a grocer, a sailmaker, a rail splitter, etc., etc. It was this lowly origin that got him his nomination. But Douglas, before becoming a lawyer, was a cabinetmaker. The Democrats claim that the two candidates should be treated in accordance with their abilities, and should each be entrusted with the work which they understand best. [Thus they say:] "Lincoln is then to be intrusted with the care of making rails, and Douglas with that of making cabinets"...