a kind of Mephistopheles

People often ask how I do research, and the short answer is that I find books and articles and documents, and use those to find other books, articles and documents.

Today, for example, I am reading a book called The North Reports the Civil War.  I have had this book on my “bibliography” for a while, I think because I saw it cited as dealing with Stanton’s arrest of a New York Herald reporter Malcolm Ives.  The book has the Ives story, including the salacious detail that he was a former Catholic priest who had married a Protestant woman, but also has many other interesting items.

For example, on page 194, there is a complaint about Stanton by Joseph White to Charles Ray, editor of the Chicago Tribune.  White was upset about a recent Post Office department order, limiting reporting re: military movements, that a senior Post Office official said was issued at Stanton’s insistence.

“Kasson [the postal official] don’t know what the order means–that is he presumes it means so & so, but he admits that the language is vague & mischievous, & moreover that the whole thing is illegal.  Stanton is a kind of Mephistopheles & the only good thing about him is that he hates McClellan profoundly.”

The citation is a little obscure, but with a little bit of work I find that the papers of Charles Ray are at the Huntington Library in California.  I had not previously intended to review those papers, but now I will, at least to confirm that this quotable quote is accurate, but more generally to see what else they might include about Stanton.  I had already planned to spend a few days at the Huntington; this may add another hour or two.