Just to wrap up yesterday's exploration of my stats for January, I have the rest of the month in, now, or almost all of it. For the 30th, it tops out at 302 visits for the day. I get the daytime stats first, then the overnight. So the daytime vists were 253, as I recall, and the overnight were 49. Since most of the overnighters are probably overseas, that means fully 1/4th of my site visitors are from countries outside the U.S. Then, the daytime visitor stats for the 31st have sunk even lower, to 228. This is down from a total of 637 on the 17th. I suppose, since Google dropped me some years ago, my website lives or dies by other websites' links to my internal pages--and half the time, as I pointed out yesterday, these are actually other peoples' work. Seba Smith's book about Andrew Jackson was a popular download for a long time (he was an early imitator of Mathew, as I have recently determined); Rick Brown's article about his case, "The Submarine Man," outstrips interest in my own case, and so-on. Once again, while I am happy to promote good work by other people, there is something disrespectful about other websites bypassing my own work, and linking directly to other people's work being mirrored in my website. I don't expect plugs, but I do expect the courtesy of a link to my home page, or a citation.
One of my spams, this morning, was amusing--they had chosen my long-dead company, Gold Thread Video Productions, to be featured in a television program about successful small businesses! My company website says clearly that the business is defunct, so obviously nobody read it. Strangely, after I had deleted the message, I thought to bring it back to my in-box, so as to quote it, here--but of about 12 e-mails I deleted, this one disappeared. It's not in the in-box, and it's not in the trash. I don't know what happened to it.
But here's where I go with this--I can prove to you (or I could, if I still had the e-mail), that these people did not actually read my website, and that it's a scam. How? Do I need to elaborate on this? They would not have offered me a place on a television show, if they had actually read that website. That is, unless they want to produce a show on failed businesses!
Now, this is what you might call the most simple piece of detective work in the world. But I will tell you that I can prove with equal certainty that Edgar Allan Poe did not write "The Raven"; but that rather, he stole it from Mathew Franklin Whittier. I have to go through a lot more steps to do it; but I can make just as strong a case for it.
Finally, we get to what I sat down to write about, this morning. I have asserted "to the air," as it were--the way I say almost everything connected with this project, since I get almost no feedback--that the detective work in my books is, itself, quite interesting and entertaining. It puzzles me that people haven't responded to it, including those few who have read, or have tried to read, my work. The radio show host who interviewed me recently, did make a comment, on the air, that while reading (probably, skimming) my book, she found it very interesting--"fascinating" may have been her term, I can't remember, now. If hardly anyone listened to that broadcast, however--if Path 11 Productions has a very small audience--then that, too, was said "to the air," i.e., to the empty air.
Anyway, when I wrote those books, I became fascinated with the detective process. I assumed that other people would, also. People seem to like detective work in other books, and in other presentations. The people who are finding remnants of artificial structures on Mars seem to thrive on detective work, as do those who study ancient earth relics, and UFO's. The quality of my detective work is at least as good as, say, that of the maverick academicians one sees in these fields, like Graham Hancock. I am very surprised that no-one seems to have picked up on mine. And by that I mean, almost no-one, as compared to thousands who follow Dr. Hancock. My work is no less interesting, and no less meaningful. Wouldn't you think, in the vast sea of the internet, I might pick up a couple of hundred people, or a couple of thousand--out of millions--who became interested for the sake of my detective work, alone?
But never-mind. I wanted to share a recent example, which I have added to my sequel. In the first book, I reported finding Mathew writing the "blotter," or police report, in the summer of 1846, in New Orleans, reporting for the "Daily Delta." This was just after he had left New York City, where for the past year and a half, he had been writing reviews and essays under his accustomed "star" signature, for the New York "Tribune." That series was falsely claimed for, and then by, Margaret Fuller. Now, he was signing his middle initial, "F." (variations of which, like the star, he had used before, and would use again). But while perusing the "Delta," I had come across two pieces I believed were also Mathew's, in mid-1848. Then, in the radical Boston "Chronotype," a paper he had long contributed to, comes a two-part investigative journalism piece on a New Orleans slave auction. That, I was quite sure, was Mathew's work.
The first of these pieces has the writer traveling by steamboat to Cincinnati, signing "Philo-Fulton." It seemed relatively typical, with one exception, for some of Mathew's travel letters. The second, "Chronicles of the Piscatorian Brotherhood," is hard to describe succinctly. It purports to be a sort of jocular, mock-philosophical account of a fishing expedition with friends, in the countryside near New Orleans. But actually, I think it is a heavily obfuscated report of a meeting of northern and southern abolitionists, in New Orleans. Clearly, in my opinion, based on style, this is Mathew under deepest cover. This one is unsigned, and it is written as though it is going to be a series, but no additional entries appear.
Now, as I have uncovered Mathew's various pseudonyms, and especially where his published letters are dated, the opportunity arises for me to cross-reference these dates to reveal his itinerary. Where the dates conflict severely, I can conclude either that he was deliberately fudging them to cover his tracks (which I think he did on occasion), or, that I have incorrectly attributed one of the pieces.
In the course of researching my sequel, I discovered Mathew's letters to the editor of the Boston "Chronotype," written from New York City, under the barely-disguised initials of "X.F.W." But here, "X.F.W." is writing several letters from New York, at the same time that "Philo-Fulton" has been on the steamboat for a week! Clearly, "Philo-Fulton" has to be somebody else. He seems to be a northerner--conceivably, he could be one of the other abolitionists traveling to the meeting in New Orleans. His writing is very much like Mathew's in some respects; but he is far softer on slavery, only daring to make the point that with free white laborers, you have more intellectual capital for the State. Mathew has made a similar point, before--and there is a reported incident on the boat, which Mathew relates in a similar manner a few years later. So there are distinct style similarities--but on the other hand, I see no plausible reason why Mathew would write of his intention to attend an anti-slavery meeting in New York as "X.F.W.," at the same time that he's writing from Cincinnati as the more moderate "Philo-Fulton." Not even if he's attending a larger anti-slavery convention there. And the "X.F.W." letters during this period are not generic, they are specific to events happening in New York City at that time, like the featured speakers for various "anniversary meetings."
When I thought "Philo" was Mathew's letter, I had speculated that he was traveling by steamboat down to New Orleans, for the meeting. But now, I see that he would have to have made this round trip--probably, with stops in Boston--within about five days. This is plausible by train, especially if you travel overnight. I am assuming that the dates of his "X.F.W." letters from New York are accurate.
Quite possibly this was, actually, a fishing trip, because it would be far safer than trying to meet in someone's private home. Here's what I think must have happened--traveling on the trains night and day, he went by train straight to New Orleans, where he met with this secret group of northern and southern abolition sympathizers, ostensibly on a fishing trip. One or more of the local attendees of this meeting got him in to see a private slave auction in the city. Mathew then immediately took the trains first to Boston, where he dropped off his report on that auction to Elizur Wright in person; then, to New York City. On either end of this trip are letters, dated May 18 and May 25, from "X.F.W.," so that nobody would guess he had been gone (remember that "X.F.W." was what you might compare to a "weak password," and easily broken). Soon, in two installments, the scathing report on the slave auction appears in the "Chronotype" under the one-off signature, "Grapho Mania." The third and last piece under this signature (again, supposedly an ongoing series) reports on the opening of a cemetery in Boston, telling us that Mathew was, in fact, there (at least long enough to attend the opening). He remarks on a song played during the ceremony--"I Would Not Live Alway." This was in direct tribute to his late wife, Abby (it having been, as I seem to remember, one of her favorite songs). He was dedicating his report on the slave auction--for which he was literally risking his life--to her memory, and to their work, together, to end slavery.
I note that only one more "X.F.W." letter appears after the first "Grapho Mania" report is published in the "Chronotype." Always best to use a strong password! Perhaps Mathew got a good scare--his pseudonyms were typically more obscure after this.
When I wrote the first book, I had assumed that Mathew was staying and reporting in New Orleans in 1848, as he had done in 1846. But I always wondered how he could have gotten away with it, because if he was living there, and attended a public slave auction (as the report makes it sound), and then this piece appears in the "Chronotype," they would have known that he probably wrote it. Now, I see how it was done--Mathew had not lived there for two years. He quietly shows up for the meeting, is slipped into a private auction, where he stands unnoticed at the back, and immediately leaves for Boston.
So it appears I was wrong about "Philo-Fulton" (unless there is some kind of "fancy footwork" going on with the dates, pretending to be one place and actually being in another, etc.); but I got stronger supporting evidence for the slave auction report, and the "Piscatorian Brotherhood"* report (of the meeting). I have never read this in historical works, but I gather that anti-slavery agents used the newspapers to communicate, in code. It would have been much more efficient, and far safer, than trying to do it by the mails. This is what Mathew was doing with his "Quails" travelogue in 1849-1852, in the Boston "Weekly Museum," which work historians wrongly attribute to the unlikely Ossian Dodge, a con-artist entertainer who was known as "The Dodge," and who turned out to be a racist once he bought out the paper.
My study, if it was ever embraced, would re-write a significant portion of 19th-century American literary history. It is so frustrating, for me--the selfish me--because it is like having a good one million dollar check that nobody will cash. One small discovery in my study, would make an aspiring academician's doctoral thesis, and his or her career. The entire thing would bring the whole system to its knees, with the required revisions. At the very least, it might destroy some illustrious academic careers, for those unwilling or unable to eat humble pie and adapt. I am tempted to list the mistaken literary attributions that have been uncovered in the course of my study. But, no. I will say that there are probably at least 15, perhaps more. Five of them involve famous literary figures. The rest are now obscure, haggled over only by historians. Just as one example, "Enoch Timbertoes" was not written by Asa Greene, editor of the New York "Constellation"--it was written by Mathew, who was the acting junior editor of that newspaper up until it folded in 1832 (probably because of the cholera epidemic). The book, "The Life and Adventures of Dr. Dodimus Duckworth," which was publishd under Greene's name in 1833, was actually ghost-written by Mathew. Perhaps three or four academicians in the world might care about this--but quite a few more of them would care about Poe. To me, as I've pointed out, before, they are all equally fascinating, because it is the emerging pattern of Mathew's life and work which I want to bring out.
Again, for the hundredth time, Mathew Franklin Whittier was the dark planet circling the 19th-century American skies. He was a real literary genius, and he wrote in all genres, including poetry. People were stealing the crumbs off his table and getting famous, thereby--mildly famous, or wildly famous, as the case may be. The same thing was happening with his first wife's poetry. The notorious Albert Pike got his early reputation as a poet by stealing Abby's poetry, written when she was 14. This sort of thing was going on all the time in that era.
Pike appears to have literally stolen Abby's poems out of her workbook, when he was her classroom teacher. But what most plagiarists would do, is to scour the newspapers. Many people wrote modestly under their initials, or a pseudonym, so you could find excellent work that was unprotected. You then publish a compilation, leading off with the stolen work, and you pad the book with your own attempts (this is precisely what Poe did with "The Raven and Other Poems"). And you make money--if you are lucky, you achieve fame. Historians say of you, "his early work was best--he could never achieve that level again, later in life." This was said of both Albert Pike, and of Ossian Dodge. That's because neither of them could write their way out of a paper bag, on their own. Nor could Poe write poetry on his own. I'm convinced that every poem with Poe's name on it, which is actually of quality, was stolen. This is why Mathew, with his tongue firmly in his cheek, referred to Poe as "this greatest of American poets."
I can prove Poe's theft of "The Raven" from Mathew as definitively as I can prove that the offer to include Gold Thread Video Productions in a television show featuring model successful businesses, was a scam.
And the detective work is pretty interesting, if I do say so, myself.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
*My guess is that this was symbolic for the Underground Railroad, inasmuch as they were literally "fishers of men."
Music opening this page, "The Detective," by Wally Badarou,
from the album, "Echoes"