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Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:57:42 EDT by webmaster, 9088 views
Library of Congress
History/Political Science paper by Nyirady, Kenneth (all papers)
Yet Another North American Editor Opposes Kossuth: James Watson Webb
In my previous AHEA papers I discussed the opposition of two editors to Kossuth and the Hungarian War of Independence 1848-49: Francis Bowen, editor of the North American Review, and Orestes Brownson, editor of Brownson’s Quarterly Review. The third member of the trio of editorial opponents was James Watson Webb, of the New York Courier and Enquirer (Q&E). The Q&E was a commercial paper, which Webb had edited since the late 1820s. Although Q&E mostly consisted of advertisements and business news, a considerable space was devoted to foreign news by the 1840s.
Webb was appointed by President Zachary Taylor to be Charge d’Affaires to Vienna in 1849. (He believed his early support of Taylor earned him a diplomatic post and was disappointed to be appointed to what was considered a minor post). However, Webb neglected to wait for confirmation by the Senate, and took up residence in Vienna. When the Senate rejected his appointment by a 34-7 vote, an embittered Webb was obliged to return to the United States. The public reason given was that the Senate intended to keep the post vacant as a “punishment” for Austria’s brutal suppression of the Hungarian rebels after their defeat in August 1849. A secondary (or perhaps primary) reason was that Webb, an outspoken, pugnacious character, had many political enemies. Upon Webb’s return, the Courier’s coverage of Hungary and Kossuth turned negative. Although he was one of the invited speakers at New York City’s Municipal Dinner for Kossuth in December 1851, the crowd shouted down the unpopular Webb both times as he attempted to give his speech. Webb’s opposition lasted throughout Kossuth’s time in the United States, and when Kossuth returned to Europe in July 1852, Webb claimed to find incriminating documents that Kossuth left behind.
Brief Professional Bio:
Kenneth Nyirady is Reference Specialist for Hungary in the European Division, Library of Congress, a position he has held since 1990. From 1983 to 1990 he was a research analyst in the Library's Federal Research Division. He received an M.A. in history from the State University of New York at Binghamton (now Binghamton University) in 1976, and an M. Phil. in Uralic Studies from Columbia University in 1979.