The Wars of the “Spirits.”

From Hooper’s “Montgomery Daily Mail.”

A legal dispute and contest between persons named, respectively, Wilkes, Dayton, and Devoe, all in somewise connected with “Porter’s Spirit of the Times,” resulted, a week ago, in Dayton’s getting possession of the materials of that paper, which he now issues, and in the starting, by Mr. Wilkes, of a new paper, called “Wilkes’ Spirit of the Times.” The criminations on both sides would lead the experienced to distrust both. But what are the facts--or rather, what is the great fact, in which Southern turfmen have felt an interest, in connection with the paper first mentioned.

The simple fact is, that the use of the late William T. Porter’s name, coupled with the idea that he might not have been generously treated in later years, by his associates of the New York “Spirit,” caused a large patronage to go to “Porter’s Spirit,” and a few of the old contributors of the old paper, to follow its beloved editor to a paper bearing his own name. Within a few weeks, however, after the issuance of the first number, he seemed to glide entirely out of sight. The name became hardly less than a misnomer--for though the “Spirit” displayed ample ability, there was “plentiful lack” of the Porter characteristics.

It seems now that Mr. Porter had little cause to congratulate himself on the change of his associations. Under the blazonry of his own shield, amid the profusion evoked by the magic of his own name, he found himself, it appears, a stranger--nobody! He fills a grave in Greenwood, and his friends cherish his memory--and as they do, they ought to object to any prostitution of his name.

We hope the lute emeute will send Southern Turfmen back, in a body--a large proportion never left it--to the old New York “SPIRIT OF THE TIMES.” Its Editors, Messrs. Jones and Thorpe, have abundant talent for their vocation, and they are well known at the South. The old books, records, &c., &.c, the collections of many years, and constituting the archives of the Turf, are in the old “Spirit of the Times” office. Let its proprietors but reasonably improve the typography of the paper, and they will find sure and abundant support from the South, provided they continue to ignore low, brutalizing topics, and avoid practically the implied admission, that the gentleman of the American Turf is the associate and “fellow” of every blackguard pugilist and rat-catcher, “foreign and domestic.” As a general rule, the influential turfmen of the South--(there are no other turfmen, or very few in this country)—are bent upon restoring the Turf to its pristine condition--elevating it above the control of the vermin who cling to it with a destructive affection. It is in the power of an old, well-reputed paper, like the New York “Spirit of the Times,” to make itself the organ of such men and such an idea. We speak without reservation, to its editors, in a spirit of friendship, but with an honest desire to advance the true interests of the Turf.


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 29.33 (24 September 1859): 390. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels, University of Richmond English undergraduate, prepared this typescript.

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