Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Edward Sanford

New York

Edward Sanford, poet, essayist, and political writer, was a native of New York City. His father, Nathan Sanford, was a lawyer, United States District Attorney and U.S. Senator. Sanford graduated from Union College in 1824 and undertook the study of law in the office of Benjamin F. Butler who later became Attorney-General of the United States. Sanford practiced for some years in New York but left the profession to edit the Standard. He later edited the Globe in Washington, D.C., and then returned to New York. [Source: Rufus Wilmot Griswold, The Poets and Poetry of America 383 (New York: James Miller, Publisher, 1872)]

"He began an editorial career as editor of a newspaper in Brooklyn; was next associated with the New York Standard; and when that paper was compelled to yield to the commercial embarrassments of the day, he became one of the editors of the New York Times. The difficulties in politics which occurred after the second year of the establishment of that paper led him to undertake an engagement at Washington with Mr. Blair as associate editor of the Globe newspaper, then the organ of the Van Buren administration. In this relation his pen was employed in the advocacy and development of the sub-treasury system, then under discussion previous to its establishment as an integral portion of the financial policy of the country.

"The illness of his father now withdrew him from Washington to the family residence at Flushing, Long Island. At this time he held the office, at New York, of Secretary to the Commission to return the duties on goods destroyed by the great fire of 1835. He was subsequently Assistant Naval Office.

"In 1843, he was elected to the Senate of the state of New York, and while there was an active and efficient, though quiet political manager and leader.

"An anecdote of the Capitol exhibits his poetic talent. One day in the senate room he received a note from a correspondent on business; it was at the close of the session, and the whole house in the hurry and confusion which attend its last moments. He had a score or more measures to hurry through, and numerous others to aid in their passage, and thus pressed, answered the letter handed to him. A few days after he was surprised to learn that he had written this hasty reply in excellent verse.

"Of the literary productions of Mr. Sanford, a few only have appeared with his name. Mr. Bryant included the quaint and poetical Address to Black Hawk in his collection of American poems, and Mr. Hoffman presented this and the author's Address to a Mosquito, written in a similar vein, in the 'New York Book of Poetry.'

"To the New York Mirror, the Knickerbocker Magazine, and the Spirit of the Times, Mr. Sanford has been a frequent and genial contributor."

[Source: Evert A. Duyckinck, 1 Cyclopaedia of American Literature 234 (Philadelphia: T. E. Zell, 1875)(2 vols.)] [online text]

Nathan & Edward Sanford


Address to Blackhawk
William Cullen Bryant, Selections from the American Poets 280
(New York: Harper & Bros., 1860)