less than a Confederate victory in the field, meant a Union defeat. A very large and possibly a controlling element in the city Democracy was at heart strongly disunion in sentiment, and showed the feeling whenever it dared.
At the outset of the Civil War there was even an effort made to force the city into active rebellion. The small local Democratic leaders, of the type of Isaiah Rynders, the brutal and turbulent ruffians who led the mob and controlled the politics of the lower wards, openly and defiantly threatened to make common cause with the South, and to forbid the passage of Union troops through the city. The mayor, Fernando Wood, in January, 1861, proclaimed disunion to be a fixed fact in a message to the Common Council, and proposed that New York should herself secede and become a free city, with but a nominal duty upon imports. The independent commonwealth was to be named Tri-Insula, as being composed of three islands,Long, Staten, and Manhattan. The Common Council, a corrupt body as disloyal as Wood himself, received the message enthusiastically, and had it printed and circulated wholesale.
But when Sumter was fired on the whole current changed like magic. There were many more good men than bad in New York; but they had been supine, or selfish, or indifferent, or undecided, and so the bad had had it all their own way. The