George Forster Williams worked as a journalist for the New York Times. When the Civil War began, Williams was one of several Pfaffians who left New York City to work as war correspondents. Williams wrote a piece about Sheridan's military operations that General Grant liked so much he invited the author to dine with him (L. Starr 277). The article also brought the young man to the attention of President Lincoln. About his dinner invitation from Lincoln, Williams later said, "but being very young I supposed the President's invitation was merely a compliment" (qtd. in L. Starr 161). When Williams returned to Washington a month later, John Hay told him the President had seen him on the Avenue and was surprised he had not visited him yet. When he was at the White House, Lincoln said to Williams: "I am always seeking information, and you newspaper men are so often behind the scenes at the front I am frequently able to get ideas from you which no one else can give." After this statement and some small talk, Lincoln asked Williams for his opinion of Sheridan as an army commander, and began musing on Grant's abilities in the army. Lincoln would often ask news reporters to the White House and "sometimes unburdened himself to trusted reporters when he was worried about the military situation, talking with remarkable candor -- perhaps, as Williams suggested, more to himself than them" (161-162).
In a discussion of the idea that "To be a Bohemian affored license for all manner of youthful exuberances," Starr mentions that Thomson ("Doesticks") from the Tribune and George Forster Williams from the Times "spirited the Prince of Wales from the Fifth Avenue Hotel to a bar on Twenty-Fifth Street, where, while tumult reigned in the royal entourage as a result of his disappearance, they introduced His delighted Highness to a mint julep" (7).
Starr writes that in the days prior to the Civil War, like many others in New York, the "Pfaffians were exposed increasingly to the clamour of a world beyond their ken. Something like a revolution was afoot in the realm of journalism, a revolution that would lift these light-hearted pranksters from their subterranean retreat and whirl them in its vortex. Soon O'Brien, Aldrich, Thomson, Williams, and Stedman, together with others in Clapp's happy coterie--Charles G. Halpine (who stammered to fame at Pfaff's, speaking inadvertantly of 'H-H-Harriet Beseecher Bestowe'), William Conant Church, William Swinton, E.H. House, Charles Henry Webb, a couple of artists, Frank H. Bellew and Thomas Nast: in all more than half of the identifiable clientele at the Cave--would take the field along with hundreds of other youths of like mind to participate in the greatest undertaking in the history of journalism" (9).
Williams, a reporter for the Times wrote a piece about Sheridan's military operations that Grant liked so much he invited Williams to dine with him (277).
Williams was invited to dine with President Lincoln after he published a piece of Sheridan (161-62).[pages:7,9,161-162,277,338]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015