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Copyright 1934 
Columbia University Press 

Published 1934 




Y the middle of the nineteenth century New York had 
attained a maturity and preeminence among sister states 
that justified its designation as the Empire State. Geo- 
graphic boundaries had been fixed and the pattern of local 
government had been determined. New York had become the 
most populous state in the Union. The value of agricultural 
products exceeded a hundred million dollars and manufactured 
articles did not fall far below that sum. A primacy in trans- 
portation and communication tapped the resources of the West 
and made New York City the beneficiary as the ranking port 
on the Atlantic with its exports and imports far ahead of any 
rival. In wealth New York held first place and possessed about 
fifteen percent of that of the entire nation. 

It is important to observe that New York's leadership was 
not restricted to material progress but was also conspicuous in 
reforms which resulted in a broadened social and cultural out- 
look and development. Both noticeable and notable were the 
better homes, a higher standard of living, improved schools 
and colleges, superior institutions for the unfortunate, an en- 
lightened press, added libraries, and the growth of a more in- 
telligent appreciation of literature, music and art. 

As both cause and result of this transformation in civiliza- 
tion was the growth of a belief in the efficacy of democratic 
government. Inherited from the transformation of the War 
for Independence, this idea found embodiment in the Con- 
stitutions of 1 821 and 1846. Political institutions were liberal- 
ized, male franchise was established, the doctrine of equal privi- 
lege became fundamental law, the election of local and state 
officials by the people was extended, and a government by the 
citizens of the state was created. This triumph of democ- 


racy is clearly interpreted through the processes of its realiza- 
tion by 1850. 

Dr. Dixon Ryan Fox in Chapter I, " New York Becomes a 
Democracy," both indicates the problem clearly and explains 
how it was solved. As an example of interpretative history, this 
contribution sets a high standard in a neglected phase of the 
history of the state. Supplementing Dr. Fox's introductory 
discussion, Mr. Denis Tilden Lynch in two informing chapters 
traces the growth and struggles of political parties through a 
labyrinth of changes for a period of three-fourths of a century. 
Professor Dexter Perkins in Chapter IV clarifies New York's 
conspicuous participation in the Federal government and in 
the solution of national questions of the era. 

A vivid picture of the development of the railroad system 
in the Empire State following 1826, together with its industrial, 
social and political consequences, is presented in Mr. Edward 
Hungerford's two meaty chapters which round out a lament- 
able deficiency in the history of transportation. Dependent 
for marked success upon the steam locomotive for quick, cheap, 
and reliable transport, was the factory so ably described for the 
first time in Chapter VII on " The Rise of the Factory System " 
by Professor Harry J. Carman and Mr. August Baer Gold. 
Included in the survey are textiles, metallurgical industries, 
leather goods, lumbering, and shipbuilding. The new problems 
of both the workers and the industrialists are set forth in some 

The conspicuous reform movements of the period, such as 
those touching slavery, peace, woman suffrage, temperance, 
and secret societies are presented in Chapter VIII from the in- 
vestigations of Professor W. Freeman Galpin. Another sadly 
needed reform, namely, the correction of the evils inherited 
from the colonial system of land ownership and use, is discussed 
in an authoritative manner by Professor Edward P. Cheyney in 


his chapter on " The Antirent Movement and the Constitu- 
tion of 1846." 

Quite appropriately the final chapter in this volume by 
Dr. James G. Riggs and Principal Ralph M. Faust is a well- 
written summary of the growth of New York up to 1850 in 
population, agriculture, transportation, trade, wealth, social 
and cultural changes, and political institutions which estab- 
lished its recognized hegemony as the Empire State. 

Alexander C. Flick 

Albany, New York 
April 17, 1934 


Foreword v 


I. New York Becomes a Democracy i 


The New Issue of Democracy 3 

The Conservatives 5 

The Movement for Reform "... 12 

The Convention ofiSii 16 

The Fate of the Councils 19 

The Suffrage 22 

The End of Aristocracy in PoHtics 3o 

Select Bibliography 33 

II. The Growth of Political Parties, i 777-1 828 . . 35 


The Regime of Governor George Clinton .... 37 

The Federalists Elect Jay Governor 41 

A Decade of Party Factions 44 

Tammanies and Goodies 48 

De Witt Clinton and the Bucktails 51 

The Albany Regency 54 

The Origin of the Antimasonic Party 59 

III. Party Struggles, 1828-1850 61 


Van Buren Creates the Democratic Party .... 6} 

The Working Men's Party 64 

The Regime of Governor Marcy 69 

The Victories of Seward and Wright 71 

Factions in the Whig and the Democratic Parties . 76 

The Free Soil Party 80 

Select Bibliography 83 


IV. New York's Participation in the Federal Govern- 
ment 87 

by dexter perkins, professor of history, univer- 
sity of rochester 

The Federalist Period 89 

The Virginia Dynasty and New York 100 

Old Hickory and His New York Friends . . 108 

The Slavery Question 114 

Summary of New York's Role in National Affairs . 119 

Select Bibliography 121 

V. The Origin of the First New York Central Rail- 
road 125 

by edward hungerford, watertown, new york 

The Frst Vision of the Railroad 127 

The Coming of the Steam Locomotive 129 

The Mohawk and Hudson 131 

The First Trip of the "De "Witt Clinton " 136 

The Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad 140 

The New York and Harlem 143 

The Tonawanda Railroad 146 

Forging the Railroad Chain across the State . 147 

The First New York Central — The Hudson River Road 152 

Enter Commodore Vanderbilt 155 

VI. The Railway Systems of New York 159 


The Beginnings of the Erie 16^1 

Serious Problems of the Erie 1^5 

The Foundations of the Delaware and Hudson Company 173 

North-Country Railroading 17^ 

Other New York State Railroads 184 

Select Bibliography 189 

VII. The Rise of the Factory System 191 


The Textile Industries — Cotton, Wool, Flax and Hemp 193 

The Metallurgical Industries 205 


Leather and Leather Goods 215 

The Lumber Industry and its Alhes 218 

The Importance of Shipbuilding 220 

Flour, Sugar, Liquor, Salt and Glass 231 

Workers and Industrialists 237 

Select Bibliography 242 

VIII. Reform Movements 247 


Early Efforts to Mitigate Slavery 249 

Abolition and State Politics 254 

The Rise of the Peace Movement 261 

The Woman Suffrage Question 26 j 

Temperance Reform 26^ 

Hostility to Secret Societies 274 

Select Bibliography 278 

IX. The Antirent Movement and the Constitution 

OF 184^ 281 


Opposition to the Landed Aristocracy 283 

Evils of the System of Land Tenure 288 

The Outbreak of Land Riots 292 

Trouble in Other Counties 301 

Disturbances in Delaware County 303 

Call for a Constitutional Convention 308 

The Work of the Constitutional Convention of 184^ . 313 

Select Bibliography 318 

X. New York Becomes the Empire State . 323 


Evolution of State Boundaries 325 

Population Growth and Counties 329 

Agriculture 335 

Transportation and Communication 338 


Commerce and Trade 343 

Industrial Development and Wealth 3461 

Social Advance 352 

Cultural Progress 355 

Political Changes 359 

Select Bibliography 36i 

Index 365 


Martin Van Buren Frontispiece 

From a portrait, probably painted by Ezra Ames and now hanging in 
the Albany Collection at Headquarters House, New York State His- 
torical Association, Ticonderoga. 

At the Constitutional Convention of i 8 2 i . . 16 

Chancellor James Kent (1763-1847); Senator Rufus King (1755— 
1827); Stephen Van Rensselaer, the eighth Patroon (1765-1839); Gen- 
eral Erastus Root (1773-1846) — reproduced by permission of the 
publishers from Apple ton's Cyclopedia of American Biography (New 
York, 1887), The "Old Capitol," where the sessions were held, was 
authorized in 1805, completed in 1809 and torn down in 1883. It was 
the work of an architect who designed many beautiful buildings in 
Albany and the Mohawk region; see Edward W. Root, Philip Hooker 
(New York, 1929), especially pages 107—123. Our reproduction is 
from Arthur J. Weise, History of the City of Albany (Albany, 1874) , 
facing page 446. 

Four Governors 80 

silas wright ( 1 79 5-i 847) , governor, 1845-1847 

From an engraving by Hall. 

WILLIAM H. SEWARD ( I 80I-I 872 ), GOVERNOR, I 8 39- 1 844 
From a portrait painted by Edward Mooney, in Albany Collection at 
Headquarters House, Ticonderoga. 

HAMILTON FISH (1808-1893), GOVERNOR, 1849-185O 
From a portrait painted by Asa W. Twitchell, in Albany Collection at 
Headquarters House, Ticonderoga. 

WILLIAM L. MARCY (1786-1857), GOVERNOR, 1833-1839 
From a portrait probably painted by Asa W. Twitchell. 

Transportation in New York 152 

A through ticket covering transportation by three methods, issued 
probably in 1 8 3 1 . From Seymour Dunbar, History of Travel in 
America (Indianapolis, 191 5), Volume III, page 940. 

A railroad train in the Mohawk Valley. From Balloti's Pictorial Draw- 
ing Room Companion, December 12, 1857. 


Two Notable Reformers 260 


From the frontispiece in Luther D. Ingersoll, Life of Horace Greeley 
(Chicago, 1873). 

GERRIT SMITH (1797-1874) 
From the frontispiece in Octavius B. Frothingham, Gerrit Smith (New- 
York, 1879). 

The Prisons of the Anti-Renters at Delhi . 304 

From the Nexv York Herald, September 29, 1845. The issue also con- 
tains a two-column report of the trial at Delhi. 

End Papers and half-title decorations drawn by Paul Laune. 


Dixon Ryan Fox 

Professor of History 
Columbia University 



"^ HE museum visitor is often fascinated by eighteenth- 
century views wherein the painter's brush has pictured 
scenes now greatly changed, old quiet scenes of shad- 
owed rivulets and grazing herds and winding lanes where now 
one sees the crowded traffic of broad motor roads and railway 
tracks and the towers of commerce rising from the human 
swarm to pierce gray clouds of factory smoke. Could the minds 
of men be visualized in these two eras, their social ideals and 
philosophy, the contrast would be as sharp and striking. The 
changing means and methods of work and travel have ac- 
counted for this contrast, in some part, and particularly the 
changing means of carrying ideas from one mind to another. 
Living, as we do, in an age when knowledge of the world is 
not only freely offered to the citizen but forced upon him by 
the public school, the cheap press, the radio and the motion 
picture; when the accessories of life, including costume, are 
turned out by machines on standard patterns; when a fluid 
society is constantly reclassified by new wealth and prestige, 
generally earned by competence, it is difficult for us to realize 
the caste lines which seemed so permanently drawn two cen- 
turies ago, when, as someone has put it, a man might devoutly 
pray that 

God bless the squire and his relations 
And keep us all in our proper stations. 

The New Issue of Democracy 

It is true that the New-World colonies were peopled largely 
by one class, the middle class of yeomen and tradespeople, 
neither the best off nor the worst. But few came here out of 
zeal for democracy as a form of government; each, for the most 


part, was determined to rise in the freer opportunity, so that he, 
or at least his children, might hold a station in the social scheme 
higher than he had had to be content with in old Europe. Some 
were disappointed, and these joined the Revolution without 
much concern for constitutional disputation, vaguely hoping 
that an overturn might better their condition. In no colony 
did all the people, or all the adult males, participate in govern- 
ment, and in many it was but a meager fraction who held this 
privilege and fewer still who exercised it. The Revolution was 
not generally a democratic movement, but a movement of 
nationalism, a movement for community independence. The 
Continental Congress, desiring to enlarge its basis and to enlist 
every discontent it could, in the spring and summer of 1776 
advised the new states to extend the suffrage, but few went far 
in this direction. They emerged from the successful struggle 
with political restrictions not greatly different from those which 
they had imposed as colonies. 

As Doctor Spaulding has stated elsewhere in this History, 
not more than 6 per cent of the population of New York could 
show the necessary £100, or $250, in real property, to quaHfy 
their vote for governor, lieutenant governor and senators; and 
though three times as many might vote for members of Assem- 
bly, meeting the much easier test of $50, so accustomed were 
they to leave government to a class that in some counties not 
more than one in six of these who had this humbler privilege 
took the trouble to exercise it. Even after 1800 and in counties 
where real property was most evenly distributed, like Oneida, 
scarcely half the adult males enjoyed full suffrage. At the end 
of the eighteenth century, then. New York was far from being a 
political democracy. 

The party battles of that era are traced elsewhere, but it is 
appropriate here to say that, for the first half century in the 
history of the state, whether or not democracy was desirable 


and practicable was the question uppermost in nearly every 
party contest. There were personal foliowings and shifting fac- 
tions and regroupings, but it is this which gives real meaning to 
party annals. In no long-continued period before or since has 
there been so definite a philosophical alignment in the politics of 
the state, the Federalists and later the Clintonians arguing on 
the one side and the Republicans or Democrats arguing, and 
successfully, upon the other. In the 1790s, the Federalist theory 
was favored by the majority of voters, as judged by the three 
elections for governor held within that decade, though in the 
first, that of 1792, the majority was tricked out of its victory 
by its opponents. It is important, therefore, to examine that 
theory as represented by its party leaders. 

The Conservatives 

The great captain of Federalism was Alexander Hamilton. 
In his view, government existed to protect not only life but 
especially property; indeed, it should busy itself in every pos- 
sible way to develop national power through national wealth. 
Only a fraction of humanity was competent to build up this 
wealth. That government was strongest which had wealth be- 
hind it and that government was best which best provided 
incentive, opportunity and security for those who could accu- 
mulate and administer wealth. Agriculture was a simple process 
and could be left to itself in the broad lands of America, but 
business must be actively encouraged. At any rate, it was the 
men of property, men who had shown ability to make and keep 
it, who had the chief stake in government, and to them it should 
be intrusted. He had no belief in the equal distribution of in- 
telligence and ability. " Your public," he burst out on one oc- 
casion, "is a great beast." Governor Jay, as he became in 1795, 
was wholly sympathetic with these views. 


It is not a new remark [he wrote] that those who own the country- 
are the most fit persons to participate in the government of it. This 
remark, with certain restrictions and exceptions, has force in it; and 
appHes both to the elected and to the elector, though with most force 
to the former. 

A high-minded chief executive, he was criticized only for 
spending the public money too rapidly, for making the govern- 
ment too active, which to his adherents seemed more a virtue 
than a fault. With these stood Rufus King, lately come from 
Massachusetts. Like them, he had the manner as well as the 
mental outlook of the old ruling class, preserving its formal 
courtesy and, long after it had generally disappeared, the old 
costume of prestige and dignity, silk stockings and silver 
buckles, small clothes and lace. Completing the great quartet 
of Federalist leaders was Gouverneur Morris, in whose opinion 
" there never was and never will be a civilized society without 
an aristocracy." 

Behind these distinguished champions of the old regime stood 
the ablest lawyers of the state, with the exception of Aaron 
Burr, who organized his personal support wherever he could, 
without regard to political philosophy, and the Livingstons, 
most of whom in the early nineties crossed to Jefferson's in- 
terest, apparently in pique because the new Federal administra- 
tion had neglected them. The lawyers formed a numerous order 
-President Dwight, of Yale, estimated that there were more 
than twice as many in New York as in Connecticut for each 
thousand of population -and their aristocratic tendencies were 
resented by the popular party. 

Beware of lawyers [warned the New York Daily Advertiser, on 
March 4, 1789]. Of the men who framed the monarchical, aristocrati- 
cal, oligarchical, tyrannical, diabolical system of slavery, the New 
Constitution, one Half were lawyers. Of the men who represented, 
or rather misrepresented, this city and country in the late convention 


of this state, to whose wicked arts we may chiefly attribute the adop- 
tion of the abominable system, seven out of nine were lawyers. 

Old Tory lawyers in the city, men like Richard Harison, 
Josiah Ogden Hoffman and Cadwallader D. Golden, found the 
principles of Hamilton and Jay the best now practicable, and 
were welcomed to the party by conservative Whigs in the 
prof ession - Col. Robert Troup, now a powerful land agent in 
the Genesee country and one who did "not admire . . . the 
republican system"; Gol. Richard Varick, the high-toned and 
austere mayor of New York for many years; Egbert Benson, 
the state's first attorney general, John Wells, the Lawrences, the 
Ogdens, and others. And bracketed with them were the great 
merchants, almost to a man. Much the same could be written 
of Albany, Poughkeepsie, Hudson, Kingston, Troy and other 

The upstate squires, Dutch and English, held the same creed, 
following their high model, the benevolent patroon, Stephen 
Van Rensselaer, the richest landlord in America, presiding over 
his two thousand tenants. Even in the forest, aristocracy still 
penetrated here and there as it had in colonial days. Wild land 
remained, along with ships and cargoes, a favorite hope of 
riches. As one glances down the pages of the Calendar of Land 
Papers, one sees virtually all the old aristocratic New York 
names, the Bayards, the Duers, the Duanes, the Goldens, the 
Jays, the Lows, the Fishes, and the rest. Consider, for example. 
Saint Lawrence County, formed in 1802, almost the farthest 
and least accessible from New York City. Here great tracts 
were held by John Delafield, Nicholas Low, Josiah Ogden Hoff- 
man, Frederic de Peyster, Philip Brasher, Garrett Van Home, 
Stephen Van Rensselaer, Richard Harison, Philip Schuyler, 
David M. Clarkson, and, greatest in the area of his holding, 
Gouverneur Morris. Few speculators had the luck of Senator 
Robert Morris in the western counties to wholesale their hold- 


ings in million-acre parcels; it was necessary for Saint Lawrence 
proprietors to sell, if they could sell at all, to actual settlers. 
They sent promising young friends into the wilderness as land 
agents to bargain with these pioneers; they advised their law 
clerks to try the opportunities of the new country; and then, 
inspired by the tradition of solid county families in old England, 
induced their younger sons to take their wives and children, 
their libraries, mahogany and silver plate, into the woodland and 
build stately manor houses along with shrines of the Episcopal 
Church. Of this outpost gentry the Ogdens, the Clarksons, 
the Harisons, the Parishes and the Van Rensselaers long re- 
mained examples, as did scores of similar families elsewhere, all 
holding fortresses to stay the onrush of democracy across the 
new lands of New York. Most of these counts of the marches 
came from New York City, but, among the most famous, 
William Cooper, of Cooperstown, migrated from New Jersey 
and the Wadsworths, of Geneseo, from Connecticut. 

Meantime the forces of democracy were everywhere advanc- 
ing, favored by every circumstance of the time and place. 
Abroad it was an age of leveling change. The fires of liberty, 
equality and fraternity, flaming first in Paris, were burning the 
pillars of privilege all through western Europe. Many who 
fanned these flames professed to find their ideal in the simplici- 
ties of American society, but myriads on this side of the At- 
lantic, excited by French creeds and programs, protested that 
America was not yet fit to be the model of the new dispensation, 
and heartily resolved to make it so. Democratic societies were 
formed not only in New York City, but in little villages like 
Canaan, in Columbia, and Montgomery, in Ulster County. 
Aaron Burr easily captured the Tammany Society for the new 
principles. Party newspapers preached the doctrine through the 
state and orators proclaimed it. 

The tradition of aristocratic rule in the manner of England 


was stronger in New York than in the other northern states, 
but in one respect the struggle for democracy was less bitter 
here than in the region to the east. In the chief New England 
states at the beginning of the nineteenth century, an established 
church was part of the standing order and dependent for its 
privileges upon political restrictions. No such establishment 
had ever been completely accepted in any part of New York, 
despite attempts to make it so, and since the Revolution there 
was no vestige of it. Doctor Dwight, used to clerical con- 
trol in New England, believed that religion in New York was 
starved by want of political support, but New Yorkers jeal- 
ously defended their religious liberty against any possible 
encroachment. When Governor Jay proclaimed an annual 
Thanksgiving Day it roused suspicious opposition, and it re- 
mained for the days of DeWitt Clinton after 1817, when 
democracy had little need of apprehension, to establish this ob- 
servance. It would be extravagant to say that any large pro- 
portion of democratic reformers were anticlerical, but it is 
certain that the militant deists, such as those who, under Elihu 
Palmer and Thomas Paine, made New York City the principal 
center of the cult in America, and those who organized the 
Society of Ancient Druids in Newburgh and set dogs on clergy- 
men, were, while their influence persisted for a dozen years 
after the middle nineties, a strong force against class rule. Cer- 
tain clergymen like the Reverend William Linn, an outstand- 
ing figure in the Dutch Reformed Church, at first applauded 
the democratic tendencies of the French Revolution; but by 
1800 most of these had come over to the safer company of the 
reverend faculties of Columbia and Union Colleges and the 
village clergy of the river towns, as upholders of political con- 
servatism. Only among the Baptist leaders, like the famous 
itinerant Jedediah Peck, of Otsego County, was democracy 
cherished through this age as an ideal. 


The Jeffersonian victory in 1800, due in part to the shrewd 
finesse of Aaron Burr in New York City, but more largely to 
the increase of pioneer farmers, warned the Federalists of their 
diminishing power. Continued disappointment lay before them 
and they were never afterward of and by themselves to regain 
complete control of the state. Hamilton, impressed with the 
effectiveness of Burr's Tammany Society, advised a similar or- 
ganization to keep conservatism tolerable to the lower classes 
by preaching fraternity as a substitute for equality. But it was 
not till 1808, in the encouragement that came with the un- 
popularity of Jefferson's embargo, that Isaac Sebring, a New 
York merchant, Richard Varick and young Gulian C. Ver- 
planck organized the Washington Benevolent Society to serve 
this purpose, with addresses pointing to the charm of old con- 
servative principles, with banners and parades, a secret ritual 
and solemn pledges to protect the country against political 
innovations, including democracy. It spread to every consider- 
able town in the state and far beyond, becoming especially 
popular in New England during the War of 18 12, reaching 
scores of thousands and then, wilting rapidly, was virtually 
dead by 1820. 

But the conservatives relied on more than sentiment; they 
well illustrated that chicanery could flourish under a restricted 
suffrage as well as in the pure democracy of later days. Land- 
lords here and there bribed their tenants to accept a deed for 
their holdings covering the three days of election only and, 
thus qualified, to vote according to directions. Young Martin 
Van Buren found his aristocratic opponents in Columbia 
County very proficient in this practice; he knew one landlord 
who had thus "made" 190 Federalist voters. "I am sorry for 
Columbia," he reported to his chief, " but have done all I could 
-King George has issued too many pattents for us." The Re- 
publicans, holding the legislature in 181 1, determined to cut 


off the landlords' opportunities and, against stout opposition, 
passed a law calling upon each voter for governor to swear that 
he had not become a " freeholder fraudulently, for the purpose 
of giving my vote at this election, nor upon any trust or under- 
standing, express or implied, to reconvey such free-hold during 
or after election." Voters for Assembly, and therefore for Con- 
gress, had to take oath that they had held their fifty dollars' 
worth of landed property for six months preceding the election; 
it was thought that no landlord would forfeit a half year's rental 
for a vote. 

One important step in the progress of democracy, social and 
political, was taken in the law of 1779, which provided for the 
gradual abolition of slavery, referred to in a previous volume. 
In 18 1 8, another law designated July 4, 1827, as the date of 
emancipation for all slaves, of whatever age, in the state, a 
day celebrated long afterward by the Negro population. But 
long anticipating these final measures, individual manumission 
had proceeded rapidly and a considerable fraction of the Ne- 
groes were free at the beginning of the War of 18 12. A Euro- 
pean following this trend would have expected it to forward 
political democracy, but such was not the case. It must be re- 
membered that though most of the slaves were owned by the 
Federalists, the party of wealth, it had been their leaders, Jay 
and Hamilton, who had successively presided over the Manu- 
mission Society; Gouverneur Morris had, along with Jay, 
striven in vain for emancipation in the Revolutionary con- 
stitution, and Rufus King had been chiefly responsible for 
excluding slavery from the Northwest. It had been a Federalist 
legislature and a Federalist governor who had put through the 
law of 1799, almost by a straight party vote. The fact is that 
slavery did not pay in New York, and the Federalists felt no 
economic brake upon their benevolent instincts. It was the 
artisans, fearing the free Negro as a competitor, who opposed 


his liberty. The free Negro, when by gift or earnings he met 
the property quahfication as a voter, was not a menace to 
conservative principles. Slavery had been in New York a per- 
sonal relationship - very few masters even before the Revolu- 
tion had held more than five slaves — and a relationship generally 
of mutual good will. In consequence the colored voter remained 
a client of his former master and voted for his ticket. In the 
hotly-fought contest of 1813, it was charged that the votes of 
Negroes massed in doubtful wards in New York City and 
Brooklyn had made possible the Federalist capture of the As- 
sembly. Their opponents watched the colored voter with a 
suspicious eye and put every possible obstacle in his path. 

The Movement for Reform 

But by neither argument nor cunning could the Federalists 
stem the rising tide of democracy. In the thirty years which 
followed the first census, New York quadrupled in population 
-grew greater by a million -but four-fifths of this gain had 
come in the western and northern counties, where an insufficient 
equity in land excluded a majority of the adult males from the 
franchise, and where on the great Holland Company, Pulteney, 
and Macomb purchases many titles did not pass on estates, how- 
ever extensive, until the final payment. Most of the other gain 
came in the landless mill hands of manufacturing towns, of 
growing importance, especially since 1807; or in other city 
workers living in small rented lodgings. Naturally these new 
classes clamored for extension of the suffrage. 

There were other constitutional reforms demanded, notably 
the abohtion of the Council of Appointment. Upon this, all 
disinterested men agreed. In all the eighteenth-century prov- 
inces, the executive had represented outside authority, fre- 
quently in conflict with American will. Remembering their 


long-drawn controversies with the governors, the Revolution- 
ary architects of government grudged authority to the execu- 
tive, the old agency of tyranny. The governor must not be 
permitted to build up an "interest" through appointments. 
In most states this power was entirely denied him; in New York 
he was, in this function, merged in a council with four col- 
leagues, each a senator chosen annually by the Assembly from 
one of the quarter districts of the state. For a time, the chief 
executive assumed to nominate with the consent of his fellow 
members, but in the early nineties the opposition insisted that 
Governor George Clinton's vote weighed no more than that 
of any other. Under Governor Jay, the Republicans, now 
themselves the opposition, made the same claims and, by call- 
ing a special constitutional convention in 1801, made possible 
through their majority in the legislature, wrote their interpreta- 
tion into the fundamental law. By 18 18, this body, selected 
as always on strictest party lines, dispensed some fifteen thou- 
sand offices, civil and military, worth in fees and salaries more 
than a million dollars. Often obscure men, raised to transient 
power by a chance majority in the Assembly and flattered by a 
horde of office seekers, they met behind closed doors and voted, 
usually without a record of yeas and nays. " If the ingenuity of 
man," a governor admitted in a later message, " had been ex- 
ercised to organize the appointing power in such a way as to 
produce continued intrigue and commotion in the state, none 
could have been devised with more effect than the present 
arrangement." The system cried for reform. The politicians 
with some reluctance joined in the demand, but neither Gov- 
ernor DeWitt Clinton nor his chief adversary Martin Van 
Buren desired that the credit for improvement should go to the 

In February, 1 8 1 8, Ogden Edwards, of the Tammany Society, 
introduced a resolution in the legislature calling for a constitu- 


tional convention to provide a new scheme for appointment. 
Governor Clinton, hoping to control the council soon to be 
selected, against the advice of prudent friends refused to sanc- 
tion the proposal. Gen. Erastus Root, nothing daunted by this 
rebuff, then moved further to revise the fundamental law by 
amendments to extend the right of suffrage and to abolish 
the Council of Revision, the board made up of the governor, the 
chancellor and all the judges of the supreme court, to which the 
constitution had intrusted the veto power. The resolution could 
not be immediately carried, but it focused favorable propa- 
ganda through the state. Clinton, silent for a year, finally 
recommended a convention to consider the appointing power, 
but the Tammany men refused, now demanding more exten- 
sive reforms. They believed that with caution they could attract 
the naturalized immigrants, who would be qualified to vote by 
a new constitution, without losing the prosperous mechanics and 

The reelection of the governor in the spring of 1820 made 
it clear to his foes that his influence must be destroyed by some 
far-reaching means; at a meeting in Tammany Hall it was 
determined to strike for a constitutional convention, and the 
Democratic press took up the cry in all parts of the state. The 
governor notwithstanding, the reformers carried through a bill 
calling for the election of delegates to such a convention, with 
inclusive powers. 

Clinton and the Federalists saw that a convention of some 
sort must be summoned; their next device had to be postpone- 
ment. If they could but delay it for a year or two, the census of 
1820 might be the basis for appointing delegates, and this would 
weight the influence of western counties, where Clinton, as the 
protagonist of the Grand Canal, could count on much support. 
In the elections which would intervene, their party might be 
able to win back the legislature, and then the bill might be 


drawn to protect those features of the old fundamental law 
which were so esteemed by men of property. Most of all, they 
feared to lose the Council of Revision which the Democrats had 
destined for extinction. This body had been hated as the 
guardian of old Federalist principles. While Chancellor Kent, 
Chief Justice Ambrose Spencer, Jonas Piatt and "William W. Van 
Ness, as a majority, could veto any law, democracy might well 
complain. To save their power for a season, the Council now 
resolved to use it, and refused consent to the convention bill. 
It was necessary, they declared -somewhat fantastically, since 
there was little doubt as to the people's will -that the people 
should cast ballots to decide whether a convention should be 
called, suggesting a date after the publication of the coming 

This was not the first time the Council had denied a popular 
demand. In 1809 they had disallowed a bill for setting off new 
districts in the state; in 18 12 they had refused permission for 
the enlargement of the supreme court by a Democratic Council 
of Appointment. They had checked the " War Hawks " in their 
measures for conscription and the treatment of deserters. They 
had extended their protection to the Negro allies of the Federal- 
ists. The Council's temporary victory in 1820 but nerved the 
Democrats to fiercer resolution. Not only must the Council 
be abolished, but every one of these aristocrats in ermine must 
be driven from the bench. 

Despite the Federalists' attempt to confine consideration to 
the Council of Appointment and their efforts at delay, the 
plans for a general convention moved rapidly forward. Their 
backs to the wall, the Federalists preached caution and conserva- 
tism. A Poughkeepsie address, for example, warned the state 
" that no alterations should be made except such as experience 
had made absolutely necessary, [and] that no wild plans of 
innovation ought to be indulged." "Fluctuation," solemnly 


observed another, in the New York Commercial Advertiser, 
" in any form of government is a calamity." To save time, the 
Democrats accepted the proposal of a preliminary vote, but 
threw it open to all adult male taxpayers and militiamen. An 
overwhelming majority of more than 74,000 rebuked the Fed- 
eralist obstructionists. 

Quite as impressive was the vote for delegates. The suffrage 
issue was uppermost. " As honest poverty is no disgrace," wrote 
an essayist in the Albany Argtis, " it ought to form no obstacle 
to the full enjoyment of our political rights." Some conserva- 
tives hoped a compromise might be worked out in the delibera- 
tions, but the returns showed how meager was the prospect of 
concession to old principles. The personal adherents of Gov- 
ernor Clinton elected but 3 delegates and their Federalist col- 
leagues but 13, while the Democrats with no could carry their 
reforms to whatever lengths they might desire. 

The Convention of 1821 

The convention, meeting on August 28 in the Assembly 
chamber of the capitol, proceeded to elect the " Farmer's Boy," 
Daniel D. Tompkins, then second officer of the United States, 
as its president. Escorted to his high seat opposite the doors, he 
could regard with satisfaction a body whose " towering major- 
ity," as the Argus boasted, " represented the interests, feelings 
and views of the friends of democratic government." In the end 
seat on his right was Col. Samuel Young, whom Tompkins in the 
late war had rewarded with a place upon his military staff in 
recognition of his trenchant satire on Federalist sedition. In the 
prime of middle life and inclined to radical reform, he could be 
counted on for telling blows against all institutions that did 
not square with the new philosophy. Two seats behind, there 
sat another stout reformer. Gen. Erastus Root, much more re- 

f»'/ "^'p^/ 




The Old Capitol 

VaUvuf y^^^ ' 



nowned upon the field of politics as one who sought to break 
a lance with every champion of privilege. Forty-nine years old, 
he stood as yet unscarred by the dissipation that injured his good 
fame, and ready to take up the battle, in his gay and taunting 
way, for all revolutionary theories of politics or of religion. He 
would have graced the Mountain thirty years before in France. 
Behind him in the rear row and a little toward the center sat 
the third of this extraordinary trio, Peter R. Livingston, a philo- 
sophical democrat of considerable wealth, harsh and forceful 
in his utterance and steadfast in allegiance to the principles of 
Thomas Jefferson. These led the madcap democrats of whom 
Van Buren said, "They thought nothing wise that was not 

In front of Livingston was Ogden Edwards, who represented 
Tammany and the influences of restrained reform: with him 
the president, in looking through the rows, might naturally 
associate the venerable Rufus King, sitting but a few feet dis- 
tant, now the moderate spokesman of the few " high-minded " 
Federalists, who, disliking Clinton, were cooperating with the 
Democrats. On the left side of the house, in an aisle seat near 
the front, sat King's colleague in the national Senate, Martin 
Van Buren, blond and smilingly benignant, whose soft words 
and subtle indirections had charmed his way to leadership. No 
obstruction of the enemy would escape his notice, yet no 
vain enthusiasm would betray him to intemperance in speech. 
Doubtless Tompkins realized that here, and not in the stately 
presidential chair, sat the man whose prudent hand would hold 
the Democratic delegates in firm control. 

It was, as the president well understood, a delicate business. 
Although reforms might seem predestined by the June election, 
they would not be accomplished without meeting from the 
Federalists an opposition no less grim than skillful. As he looked 
upon that little company -less than a score of men, " commis- 


sioned," as George Bancroft said in his Yan Buren, " to impede 
the onward movement to a government of all men by all men " 
-he might well have suffered some misgivings; for their talent 
was far more impressive than their numbers. In knowledge of 
the law, of history and of institutions, they outmatched any 
group of equal size that could be furnished by the Democrats. 

Midway down the right aisle sat the chancellor, in the ripe- 
ness of his eight and fifty years, short in stature, but so vivacious 
and alert that in all the room there was no man less likely to 
be overlooked. He had come resolved to dedicate his learning 
in political science, gleaned from tireless study of the ancient 
classics and the works of modern commentators, to the task of 
saving for posterity those principles and practices which had 
been tried and sanctified by time. The aptest pupil of Judge 
Egbert Benson, he had surpassed his master in determination to 
defend the old dominion of the wise and good. Three seats 
from Kent, looking toward the left, sat the patroon, younger 
by two years than the chancellor and more fine of feature. He 
was not accounted eloquent, but his probity and public spirit, 
universally acknowledged, might so weight his simple word as 
to outbalance the labored rhetoric of many an opponent. 

In that same row, exactly in the center, towered the form of 
Chief Justice Ambrose Spencer, master of the law, somewhat 
supercilious in his deportment, and suspicious of political re- 
formers. No man in the assemblage could cow this august per- 
son, and none there could convince him of an error in his logic; 
no man of small experience might safely challenge him in a 
debate. Sitting at his right was his associate upon the bench, 
William W. Van Ness, whose brilliant, penetrating mind and 
ready wit were famous; and beside Van Ness, his old friend, 
Elisha Williams, still " the most celebrated jury lawyer in the 
state and probably in the Union," inventive in conception, 
rounded and graceful in utterance, fertile and copious in die- 


tion, though now smirched in reputation and discounted by- 
many of his hearers as too clever to be great. Some seats farther 
to the left side of the house was J. R. Van Rensselaer, their col- 
league from Columbia County; and on his right Judge Piatt, 
of Oneida, then fifty-two years old, pious, honest and intensely 
serious in his efforts to check " the ravages of demagogues." 
The president might turn away from such a row where clustered 
his opponents, but looking toward the rear he could not fail to 
recognize the formidable Abraham Van Vechten, of Albany, 
" full of solid learning and solid sense," but with all the horror 
of a good Low Dutchman at any innovations whatsoever. 

There remained two men of some importance in that little 
group, Ezekiel Bacon and Peter A. Jay, both born in Independ- 
ence year. The former had served as an official under President 
Madison, but upon removing to the Mohawk Valley, being a 
man of enterprise, he had struck hands with Clinton, planned to 
build a packet to ply the Grand Canal, and stood out against all 
policies of its opponents. As to Peter A. Jay, he was an able 
father's able son, inheriting his political philosophy together with 
his personal integrity, and called his adversaries quite impartially 
" the Jacobins," though certain radicals were singled out for 
special scorn. Such a galaxy of talent might well cause the presi- 
dent to wonder if in numbers there was strength. As frequently 
in history, the conservatives had len.rning on their side. 

The Fate of the Councils 

It was not surprising that the Council of Revision was marked 
as first to feel the power of the people. The judiciary, it was 
said, must be separated from the other branches, to supply the 
check demanded by the perfect scheme of Montesquieu; the 
old Council had acted idtra vires when they vetoed laws as in- 
expedient; they should have passed on constitutionality alone. 


But the chief reproach was founded on their FederaUsm and 
their arrogant attempts " to stay the march of progress." Oppo- 
sition to the will of the majority was hopeless, and the Council 
was abolished without a dissenting vote, though not without a 
protest. Some, like the president, would hide the wound by say- 
ing that it had been done in kindness to relieve the judges of 
these disagreeable distractions, but this was but a thin decep- 
tion, for, as everybody knew, the judges were themselves to be 

The moderate committee, which had discussed this question, 
advised that the negative be given to the governor, whose veto 
could be overridden by two-thirds of the legislature. Peter R. 
Livingston was for a mere majority. " Keep the power with the 
people," he adjured his hearers, " they will not abuse it." It ap- 
peared to him, he said, agreeing here with Jeremy Bentham, 
" like a solecism to say that the people would assent to measures 
which would be injurious to their own good." In this he had 
the aid of General Root, who observed that 

in all ages, where free governments have existed, those have been 
found who would transfer to the minister or executive more power 
than was expedient for the good of the people. This tends to perpetu- 
ate the aristocracy which exists in the constitution, and instead of 
being fostered, should receive the firm opposition of those who advo- 
cate the cause of the people. 

Tompkins, the president, believed that no negative was nec- 
essary. " There can be no use for a veto on the passing of laws," 
said he, "but to prevent violations of the constitution; and for 
this purpose your judicial tribunals are sufficient." The con- 
servatives, on the other hand, would use the power especially 
in questions of expediency, but admitted that the plan of the 
committee was adequate, if the governor were given a sufiicient 
length of term to make him independent. Van Buren's " moder- 
ate men " were satisfied and the measure was adopted. 


The " people's adversaries " thus shorn of power, the conven- 
tion took notice of the Council of Appointment. No one could 
say a word in its behalf. The wanton partisanship of the Demo- 
cratic Council which had sat throughout that very spring had 
disgusted friend and foe alike; it was abolished by unanimous 
vote. Following the spirit of the times, the committee on this 
subject recommended that militia officers, except the very high- 
est, be elected by the men in arms. The Federalist press might 
argue that popular elections would destroy authority; but what 
authority, it was replied, should be obeyed that did not spring 
directly from the people? Many civil servants likewise were to 
be elected, and cities were to choose their own; certain officers 
of the state administration, like the treasurer, the comptroller 
and the secretary of state, were now to be selected by the legis- 
lature; while others, including all the judges, were to be ap- 
pointed by the governor, subject to the confirmation of the 

This last proposal introduced the question of the governor's 
term. Spencer, Kent, Jay, Piatt, Williams, the Van Rensselaers, 
Van Vechten and Van Ness, together with obscure fellow parti- 
sans, voted for continuation of the three-year term. At the 
opposite extreme were Colonel Young, General Root, P. R. 
Livingston, and others who desired annual elections, following 
that "great principle of republicanism -rotation in office." 
Again Van Buren, always anxious that the party enterprise be 
not wrecked upon excess, came forward with a compromise 
calling for a two-year term, which was accepted by a scant 
majority. P. R. Livingston, however, was still determined that 
the executive be curbed wherever possible. Still following Jef- 
ferson, he had it laid down in the constitution that the governor 
should address the legislature only by a written message - " the 
speech," said he, was '' a relic of monarchy, founded in the love 
of pomp and splendour and show." 


The Suffrage 

But it was the question of the suffrage which ehcited the great 
debates of the convention; it was held to be of more than local 
or temporary interest. The conservatives believed that those 
who held property were the able, and that government by the 
able was preferable to government by the mass. Elisha Williams 
argued that those in whose hands sovereignty was lodged were 
trustees for the rest. It was natural that such men should be 
satisfied with the old constitution, which limited the franchise 
to those who held the requisite amount of real estate or rented 
tenements of a considerable value. The old system had worked 
well, they said; the state had grown in business and in popula- 
tion. Was it, then, the "part of wisdom to substitute experi- 
ment for experience? " Gentlemen were warned of " doubtful 
and dangerous innovations." The delegates were there "con- 
vened to amend their constitution, not to destroy it." Talk of 
social evolution showed a shallow understanding; "man has 
been," said J. R. Van Rensselaer, " and probably always will be, 
subject to the same passions and feelings, and under like circum- 
stances the future will strongly resemble the past." But the 
majority were not impressed with these sententious sayings. 

The committee on the suffrage reported for a very liberal ex- 
tension; every white male citizen twenty-one years old, who 
had resided for six months within his district and paid taxes, or 
on assessment had performed work on the public roads, or had 
been enrolled in the militia, might vote for any officer elected 
by the people. The chairman, Nathan Sanford, declared that 
this was what the electors had expected. The chancellor, how- 
ever, voiced the protest of conservatives: "Such a proposition 
as that contained in the report, at the distance of ten years past, 
would have struck the public mind with astonishment and 
terror." Yet everyone was well aware that much had happened 



in the last ten years. Chief Justice Spencer, hoping that a rem- 
nant might be saved, now offered an amendment providing that 
only those possessed " in law or equity " of a $250 freehold could 
vote for senators. It was upon this proposition that the principal 
debate developed. Although the holding specified was left un- 
changed, there was one element of novelty, the introduction of 
an equity qualification for those who had not completed pur- 
chase and those who held large property on long leasehold. 

To the defense of the amendment in general, there came an 
able champion. James Kent had fought throughout his whole 
career for the rights of the individual, as distinguished from those 
of the people. He could never forget that he was " Lord Chan- 
cellor," commissioned to uphold true legal principles however 
unpopular they might be. Yet in all that company, when he 
arose, there was not one to sneer. " When I recall the suspicions 
that then prevailed," wrote a delegate, John Duer, in later life, 
" and the censure in which others were then involved, I doubt 
whether a similar case is to be found in history." No abstract 
can do justice to the grave and solemn eloquence of the chan- 
cellor as, with an unmistakable accent of sincerity, he pleaded 
for the old order on that September afternoon in Albany. It de- 
mands quotation in long passages, for so complete was his 
defense that it touched on nearly every point that later was 
developed. "It was," as a member afterwards remarked, "an 
elegant epitaph of the old constitution." 

Dare we flatter ourselves [he asked, when he had painted the calami- 
ties democracy had brought upon republics of the old world] that we 
are a peculiar people, who can run the career of history exempted from 
the passions which have disturbed and corrupted the rest of mankind? 
. . . The men of no property, together with crowds of dependents 
connected with the great manufacturing and commercial establish- 
ments, and the motley and indefinable population of the crowded 
ports, may, perhaps, at some future day, under skilful management. 


predominate in the assembly, and yet we should be perfectly safe if 
no laws could pass without the free consent of the owners of the soil. 
That security we at present enjoy, and it is that security which I wish 
to retain. The apprehended danger from the experiment of universal 
suffrage applied to the whole legislative department, is no dream of 
the imagination. It is too mighty an excitement for the moral condi- 
tion of men to endure. The tendency of universal suffrage is to 
jeopardize the rights of property and the principles of liberty. There 
is a constant tendency in human society -and the history of every 
age proves it -there is a constant tendency in the poor to covet and 
to share the plunder of the rich; in the debtor to relax or avoid the 
obligations of contract; in the majority to tyrannize over the minor- 
ity, and trample down their rights; in the indolent and profligate to 
cast the whole burthen of society upon the industrious and virtuous; 
and there is a tendency in ambitious and wicked men to inflame those 
combustible materials. New York is destined to be the future London 
of America, and in less than a century that city, with the operation of 
universal suffrage, and under skilful management, will govern this 
state. . . . 

Society is an institution for the protection of property as well as 
life, and the individual who contributes only one cent to the common 
stock ought not to have the same power and influence in directing the 
property concerns of the partnership as he who contributes his thou- 
sands. He will not have the same inducements to care and diligence 
and fidelity. His inducements and his temptation would be to divide 
the whole capital upon the principles of agrarian law. . . . We have 
to apprehend the oppression of minorities, and a disposition to encroach 
upon private right -to disturb chartered privilege - and to weaken, 
degrade and overawe the administration of justice [especially since 
the delegates are] already determined to withdraw the watchful eye 
of the judicial department from the passage of the laws. . . . We 
stand, therefore, on the brink of fate, on the very edge of a precipice. 
If we let go our present hold on the senate, we commit our proudest 
hopes and our most precious interests to the waves. 

The sentiment that property rights must have particular 
protection was general among the Federalists. 


Life and liberty are common to all [said Abraham Van Vechten], but 

the possession of property is not. Hence the owners of property have 

rights which, in relation to those who are destitute, are separate and 


Those should have a greater voice who have a greater stake in 

society, remarked Elisha Williams. 

They are the patrons of your institutions, civil and religious [added 
Judge Van Ness]. They build your churches, and defend your altars 
and the country of which they are the protectors. They erect your 
school-houses, found and support your colleges and seminaries of 
learning, establish and maintain your charitable institutions, and con- 
struct your roads and canals. 

The chancellor declared again that life and liberty were seldom 
jeopardized; it was property which must be walled against as- 
sault. Gen. J. R. Van Rensselaer conjured up the gloomy pros- 
pect of agrarian laws; the poor had always coveted the goods of 
the more prosperous, and, if they had the power, they would 
gratify their criminal desires by a general distribution. 

When Democrats declared that the franchise was demanded 
by the poor, Federalists became impatient. If they demanded 
thus what was not theirs, how long, if it were granted, before 
they would demand the property itself? " Sir," said one, " if it 
be just and safe to confer this right, it should be bestowed 
gratuitously; nothing should be yielded to this menacing de- 
mand." " Are we jealous of property," inquired the chief jus- 
tice, " that we should leave it unprotected? " He was assured by 
Radcliffe, of New York, that gentlemen need not despair about 
the helplessness of property; it would always carry with it an 
influence quite sufficient for its own protection; to give it artifi- 
cial aid was to make it dangerous to other rights. If property 
must specially be represented, why should there not be two 
votes for the holder of five hundred dollars' worth, and twenty 
for a man who held five thousand? Society was not a money 
partnership, but an association of all men for the common good. 


But it was freehold property for which the FederaUsts felt 
a singular concern. They assured their colleagues that here there 
was no danger of large accumulation. Few estates would grow 
in size; on the contrary, by the operation of the laws for regu- 
lating descents, the holdings would grow smaller. Landowners, 
representing the most stable and important interest, should have 
a distinct weight in one branch of the legislature. Personal 
property might elude the eye, but theirs was always there, im- 
perishable and immovable and ready for the tax assessor. It was 
because of this that they were called upon to pay a dispropor- 
tionate amount into the public treasury. When danger threat- 
ened, the landless man might swing his pack upon his shoulder 
and disappear from sight, but the yeoman and his son must 
stay, abide the draft and defend the state. They were the least 
dispensable of all society; prosperity was bottomed upon agri- 
culture; its surplus products made possible the arts and the 
professions. Then, too, that ancient superstition that honesty 
is the peculiar quality of countrymen was exploited in well- 
rounded periods. To hear the Federalists, remarked a Democrat, 
one would conclude that all rights were safe if thirty-two men 
from the sacred turf sat gravely in the Senate. 

In another argument of the conservatives can be seen a faint 
reflection of the rivalries in England; as in the Parliamentary 
contests of 1832 and 1867, so here was heard the warning that 
to qualify the landless would so increase the influence of selfish 
manufacturers as to create an aristocracy far more pernicious 
than that which it would supplant. Single men employed in 
factories, and boarding here and there, would have the ballot; 
but, observed the chief justice, *' under the pretence of giving 
the right to them, we in fact give it to those who employ, clothe 
and feed them." It was the influence of this kind of property 
so concentrated, said J. R. Van Rensselaer, that he dreaded as a 
source of evil to the state. 


Van Buren, on the other hand, declared the old arrangement 
most unjust; when three-eighths of all the property in the state 
was personal, why should real estate be so specially favored? In 
rejoinder. Judge Van Ness affected to regard with dread the 
battening money interest. The lines were to be drawn as dis- 
tinctly as between the sexes; witness how parties were aligning 
on the question of the tariff. Commerce and agriculture, he 
declared, must intrench themselves against the manufacturers. 
As for the holders of securities and money whom Van Buren had 
commiserated, let them invest $250 in real estate, said Abraham 
Van Vechten; nineteen-twentieths of them had done so already, 
added Van Ness. But J. R. Van Rensselaer finally admitted that 
these interests in New York State were not so disparate, and 
proposed a new amendment in which personal estate of the re- 
quired sum was mentioned as alternative to freeholds held " in 
law or equity." 

The Federalists found in the property qualification a stimulus 
to thrift: "If you bestoiv on the idle and profligate [asked 
Elisha Williams] the privileges which should be purchased only 
by industry, frugality and character, will they ever be at the 
trouble and pains to earn those privileges? " It might be said, 
remarked Ezekiel Bacon, that property itself conferred upon its 
owner no talents and no virtue, but in this country, at least, " it 
was a safe and general rule that industry and good habits did, 
in almost every instance, conduct the man who practiced them 
to some moderate share of property." " As to those who failed," 
said Judge Van Ness, " by an irreversible decree of Providence, 
it was pronounced that the poor ye have always with you. . . . 
But what was the character of the poor? Generally speaking, 
vice and poverty go hand in hand." 

Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer, the patroon, would not insist 
upon $250 as a minimum for qualification, but the payment of 
some money tax he thought quite indispensable; he opposed the 


clauses which would qualify voters under road work and militia 
duty. Yet, responded Doctor Ross of Genesee, this proposition 
would leave unenfranchised many, if not most, of those the 
general had commanded in the War of 1812. In that trying 
day, who came forward into service? inquired ex-Governor 
Tompkins. "Not the priesthood - not the men of wealth -not 
the speculators: the former were preaching sedition, and the 
latter decrying the credit of the government to fatten on its 
spoil." Mr. Sharpe explained the importance of the militia clause 
to the constituencies in the city of New York, where there was 
no public work upon the highways. General Root, always dis- 
concerting in his frankness, revealed a cogent reason for the 
Democrats' anxiety to qualify all militiamen: 

They will not vote for peace-party men, but for men who are willing 
to bare their breasts to the arms of the enemy. . . . Not one in ten 
of these young militiamen would vote for a haughty, proud, domineer- 
ing aristocrat; they will vote for repjiblicans. 

" The cry of aristocracy has been too frequently addressed to 
this convention," complained Abraham Van Vechten. " I trust 
the old names of Aristocrat and Republican will persist," was 
General Root's response, " till the former shall be bound to jthe 
footstool of the later." 

Recurring in the Federalists' argument, like the motif in a 
fugue, came the fear of New York City. While among the 
citizens of that community, they said, there were some who had 
as much of virtue as any corresponding number elsewhere in 
the state, and more of wealth, talent, refinement and acquire- 
ments in literature, there were also those more ignorant, more 
wretched, more vicious and miserable, the instruments of any 
demagogue. And these by immigration would increase out of 
all proportion. 

The chancellor and Judge Van Ness reviewed the city's 


growth and contributed their dismal prophecies. Van Vechten 
said that the average of the senatorial votes under the old system 
in the wards of the metropolis was some 4,000; the proposed ex- 
tension would increase this by more than threefold. The agri- 
cultural interest would be outweighed completely. 

But the radicals were warmed by their own oratory and, im- 
patient of obstruction by these voluble conservatives, soon ad- 
vanced to more extreme positions. General Root brought in an 
amendment which would qualify the sons of those provided for 
by the committee, and Melancthon Wheeler, a member from 
Washington County, moved further to include all citizens who 
had been three years within the state, and one within the town in 
which they registered. In late September such confusion came to 
mark the voting that no man could prophesy what the next hour 
would bring forth. Certain Federalists like Williams, Bacon and 
Van Ness fanned the flame that had been kindled by the root- 
and-branch Republicans, and apparently were wiHing to par- 
ticipate in any movement that would run to such absurdity as to 
disgust the voters at the polls with the whole constitution. 

One day the convention voted to withdraw the franchise 
from those who merely worked upon the highways, and the 
next day voted by about the same majority to make it universal, 
on the plan of Mr. Wheeler. The moderate Democrats expostu- 
lated at this ''phrensy." Van Buren said this would increase the 
electorate of New York City to 25,000 men, enough to out- 
weigh many counties in the west. Ogden Edwards thought the 
time would come when those who now opposed demands for 
universal suffrage would be remembered as the benefactors of 
the state. "High-minded" Federalists, like Duer, now coun- 
seled once again the exclusion of militiamen; their organ, the 
New York American, warned solemnly against excess. In a Sun- 
day recess, Rufus King, weary of it all, wrote to his son Charles 
that " should the right of suffrage be made universal, the f oun- 


dation of the constitution will be such as to impair my safe 
reliance on the superstructure." Edwards finally was able to 
carry through a resolution to commit the whole question of the 
suffrage to a select committee, who might formulate an article 
more consonant with the deliberate judgment of the delegates. 
The committee brought in a proposal very similar to that 
which had originally been offered. It was fought through, 
clause by clause, and finally carried by a vote of nearly two to 
one. When the Federalists, led by Peter A. Jay, sought to extend 
the same new privileges to Negroes as to whites, their opponents 
laid aside their democratic theory and voted no. The old prop- 
erty qualifications were retained for this small fraction of the 
voters until outlawed by the Fifteenth Amendment to the 
Federal Constitution in 1870. It was hoped by the conservatives 
that some privilege might still be kept for property by a require- 
ment, which was once accepted by the convention, that can- 
didates for senator must have a thousand dollars' worth of real 
estate, but even this small relic of the old restrictions was denied 
them, for, by a resolution of Colonel Young, a simple freehold 
was at last declared sufficient. The conservatives had again been 

The End of Aristocracy in Politics 

Any who had stood between the people and their will were to 
feel the heavy hand of the convention. The judges who had 
made up the old Council of Revision must know their masters' 
scorn. Appointments to the supreme bench had run until the 
judge was sixty years of age; under this arrangement the eldest, 
the chief justice, had four more years to serve, while the young- 
est, Judge Van Ness, would not be superseded until 1836. 
The chancellor would retire the following year, likewise at the 
age of sixty, unless considering his unique capacity the conven- 
tion should extend the age of service in the equity court. But, 


in spite of Federalist appeals, there was apparently but little 
disposition so to do. In judicial duties he was unassailable, ad- 
mitted the "high-minded" Peter Jay Munro, but outside the 
court room, retaining the prestige of his high office, he was a 
menace to the liberty and safety of the masses. As to the other 
judges, a scheme was cunningly devised which provided for im- 
mediate retirement. The Federalist party left high office in the 
state forever. 

That some leaders were quite willing to exclude the remnant 
of that party from any influence in the legislature is shown by 
a proposal of Van Buren. The Federalist majority in Columbia 
County would be sufficient to carry the third senatorial district, 
as planned by the committee. Van Buren moved to take Colum- 
bia away from Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Schoharie and 
Schenectady, and attach it to the Democratic second district 
running down the Hudson River; and to take from this in com- 
pensation the safe and constant counties of Sullivan and Ulster, 
and transfer them to the third. A prompt and effectual remon- 
strance came from Elisha Williams, on whom Van Buren lav- 
ished no affection: 

In the third district you have a Gerrymander. The monster will curl 
its tail on the mountains of Jersey - coil along the borders of Penn- 
sylvania, wind its scaly and hideous carcass between the crooked lines 
of counties, and finally thrust his head into Bennington. Disguise it 
as you will, the object will be visible, and the people will understand 
it is to exclude federalism from every senatorial district. 

Van Ness presented an amendment to the prejudice of New 
York City, but both were soon defeated in the vote and the 
committee's apportionment was allowed to stand. 

Devices to humiliate the Federalists were scarcely needed; 
their favorite theories had been as thoroughly discredited as 
those of astral influence and the philosopher's stone. Although 


there was some carping at the constitution as not giving quite 
enough scope to popular control, it was accepted at the polls by 
a majority of over 30,000. So certain was the victory that many 
did not take the trouble to vote. 

The extension of the suffrage was not achieved by the elo- 
quence of advocates; it came because it accorded with an 
American ideal. " From our cradles," wrote Judge Hammond, 
" we had been taught that a zealous support of equal rights and 
an extension of equal civil privileges to all was an evidence of 
our devotion to liberty and the true principles of a republican 
government." The impulse was not wholly spent in the con- 
vention. Five years later, what restrictions yet remained upon 
the franchise for white men were swept away, and the choice 
of the presidential electors was taken from the legislature and 
given to the voters. In the convention of 1821, no one had 
raised the question of electing judges; the old English precedent 
of appointed courts had not been challenged. But in 1826, 
so potent was the new philosophy, an amendment was ratified, 
by the enormous vote of 129,098 against 1663, specifying that 
justices of the peace should be elected, a development to be com- 
pleted in the election of all judges, as provided by the Constitu- 
tion of 1846. In 1 82 1, after the Council of Appointment had 
been abolished, the choice of the mayors of all the cities in the 
state had been intrusted to their common councils; but an 
amendment of 1833 transferred to the voters of New York 
City the election of its chief executive and, six years afterward, 
in 1839, a like privilege was extended to the electorate in all 
other cities. The Constitution of 1821, revolutionary as it was 
in its theory of equal privilege, had clung to the freehold qualifi- 
cation for governor and senators. With the passing of a quarter 
century, however, even this seemed an anachronism and, by an 
amendment of 1845, it was declared that "no property qualifi- 
cation shall be required to render a person eligible to or capable 


of holding any public office in public trust in this state." To 
none of these amendments did the opposition muster more than 
4 per cent of the total vote. 

No longer was there in New York a theory that any class of 
men was wiser, abler or better than another in the public busi- 
ness. A political democracy had been established, that '* perver- 
sion " of which Aristotle warned, " in which the mechanics and 
the hired laborers must needs be citizens." The ballot, in the 
Jeffersonian opinion, was a weapon of defense to protect the 
individual's rights; a decade must elapse before it was considered 
as an instrument of social progress. Yet to recognize and to de- 
fine his rights, the young citizen must be enlightened by a 
systematic course of training, for Jefferson's whole theory rested 
on a " strong faith in the teachableness of the great mass of the 
people." The framers of the constitution realized that democ- 
racy and education must make their progress hand in hand, and 
their generation in New York showed an unexampled interest 
in the common school. 

The achievement of the workingmen's parties after 1828, 
by which free schools were introduced, as well as protection of 
debtors from imprisonment and of mechanics against loss of 
wages and other consequences of the democratic constitutional 
reforms, must await discussion in another chapter. 

Select Bibliography 

Much of this chapter is summarized from the author's Decline of Aristoc- 
racy in the "Politics of New York (New York, 1919), whose footnotes will 
supply an extensive bibliography. See also citations to Hammond, Alexander, 
Van Buren, McBain, King, Jay and Werner under Chapter III of the present 
volume. The newspaper sources, upon which naturally any such study of 
political opinion must largely depend, are too numerous for citation; these 
materials, especially for the period from 1815 to 1821, are listed, for the 


most part, in the New York Public Library Check List of Newspapers for 

these years. Special attention might be called to the following works: 

Barnard, D. D., Discourse on the Life, Services and Character of Stephen Van 
Rensselaer (Albany, 1839). 

Bobbe, Dorothie, De Witt Clinton (New York, 1933). The only modern 
biography of this many-sided statesman. 

Carter, N. H., W. L. Stone, and M. T. C. Gould, Report of the Proceedings 
of the Convention of 1 8 2 1 (Albany, 1 8 2 1 ) . The fullest and best account 
of that convention. Though Carter (of the Albany Advertiser) and 
Stone (of the New York Commercial Advertiser) were both ardent 
Federalists, there is no trace of partisanship in their report. 

Clark, L. H., Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of 
the State of New York in 1821 (New York, 1821). 

Flick, H. M., New York's Worst Constitutional Mistake. A paper, scheduled 
for publication in New York History during 1934, which has the most 
recent account of the Council of Appointment. 

Gitterman, J. M., The Council of Appointment in New York. Political Sci- 
ence Quarterly, VII (1892), 80-115. 

Kent, WiUiam, Memoirs and Letters of James Kent, LL.D. (Boston, 1898). 

Lincoln, C. Z., Constitutional History of New York. 5 vols. (Rochester, 
1906). A summary of constitutional changes. 

Ed., Messages from the Governors of the State of New York (Albany, 

1909 ff.). 

Lynch, D. T., An Epoch and a Man, the Times of Martin Van Buren (New 
York, 1929), Contains an animated and incisive account of the conven- 
tion from the Democratic point of view. 

Street, A. B., The Council of Revision of the State of New York (Albany, 

Young, Helen L., A Study of the Constitutional Convention of New York 
State in 1821 (unpublished doctor's dissertation, 19 10, in Yale Univer- 
sity Library) . 


*— . II '— . 

PARTIES, 1777-1828 

Denis Tilden Lynch 

The New York Herald Tribune 



The Regime of Governor George Clinton 


]^ ]f ^HE first election in New York State was held in June, 
1777, in compliance with an order of the Committee of 
Safety. Of the four candidates for governor, put for- 
ward by friends, two were in military service. George Clinton 
was in command of the troops in the Hudson Valley, and 
Philip Schuyler was at the head of the northern army. The other 
candidates were John Jay, chief author of the recently adopted 
state constitution, and John Morin Scott, a brilliant lawyer and 
a founder of the Sons of Liberty, who were engaged, as members 
of the Committee of Safety, in directing the civil government of 
the state. Like Schuyler and Clinton, Scott had been in military 
service; he was a brigadier general and had fought in the battle 
of Long Island. Of the four outstanding men. Jay alone openly 
electioneered - but not for himself. He wrote a letter advo- 
cating Schuyler for governor, and Clinton for lieutenant gov- 
ernor. Clinton was elected not only governor, but lieutenant 
governor as well. Upon resigning the latter office, the state 
senators chose Pierre Van Cortlandt president of the Senate; and 
as such, he served as lieutenant governor. 

Toward the end of his first term, in the legislative session of 
1779, Clinton inspired the Confiscation Act, penalizing with the 
loss of their estates " persons who had adhered to the enemy." 
This represents the first important division in the legislature. 
Moderate men opposed this drastic law; but the majority held 
that self-preservation governed, and that only those of unques- 
tioned loyalty were wanted in the new state. 

In 1780, Clinton was unopposed for a second term of three 
years; and Van Cortlandt was elected lieutenant governor. In 


1783, when Clinton won his third victory, he received more 
than three times the combined votes of his opponents, Philip 
Schuyler and Ephraim Paine. The vote stood Clinton, 3,584; 
Schuyler, 643; Paine, 520; this small vote being due partly to 
the restricted suffrage and partly to public preoccupation with 
the war. 

In 1784, the legislators divided again, when the Clintonian 
majority took back from Congress the power to appoint the 
collectors of customs in the ports of the state. This right, to- 
gether with the power to collect and retain the duties on im- 
ports, had been ceded in 1781. At the time of this division on 
state rights, the minority was called the Schuyler party, and 
there was talk of nominating Schuyler for governor in 1786. 
But Clinton was reelected without opposition. The scission be- 
came pronounced over the adoption of the Federal Constitution. 
Only the eloquence of Alexander Hamilton, now the leader of 
the anti-Clintonians, kept New York from rejecting the Con- 
stitution at the Poughkeepsie Convention in the summer of 
1788, for no less than fifty of the sixty-five delegates were origi- 
nally opposed to ratification. Before leaving for Poughkeepsie, 
Hamilton referred to Clinton and his adherents, in a letter to 
Madison, as " the anti-federal party." But the Clintonians did 
not regard themselves as merely a party of opposition, as wit- 
ness the New York Journal and Weekly Register, of March 
12, 1789: **The federals are manoeuvering to displace the Gov- 
ernor . . . for no other reason but because he is still a whig, a 

Out of these maneuverings emerged Robert Yates, associate 
judge of the supreme court, as the Federal nominee for governor. 
Yates was a follower of Clinton, and had zealously opposed 
ratification of the Federal Constitution. But shortly after vot- 
ing against ratification at the Poughkeepsie Convention, he 
urged all to support it. The Federals nominated Van Cortlandt, 


also a Republican, as the old Antifederalist party now called 
itself, for lieutenant governor, the nominations being made in 
Bardin's tavern in New York City, on February 11, 1789. Our 
early campaigns were conducted by committees of correspond- 
ence. Alexander Hamilton was chairman of this committee, 
and had thirteen aides, one of whom was Aaron Burr. 

This union of Burr and Hamilton astonished the friends of 
Clinton; and their sentiments were thus voiced by a Philadel- 
phian in the Netv York Journal and Patriotic Register of March 
26, 1789: 

I observe by the papers that Alexander H — 1 — n and Co. are artfully 

endeavoring to divide the patriotic party by setting up Judge Y s 

as a competitor to the worthy Clinton. . . . But I hope the whigs will 
not be so easily taken in. Here, I am sorry to say, the tories rule the 

The Hamilton-Burr union almost encompassed Clinton's de- 
feat, for he was reelected by a majority of only 429. An extraor- 
dinary vote was cast; 12,900 of the freeholders, estimated at 
nearly 20,000, went to the polls. Some of the ballots, totaling 
547 votes, arrived too late to be counted. But these came from 
Clintonian territory, and had they reached the canvassers in 
time, Clinton's majority would not have been quite so slim. 
His vote was 6,391, and Yates polled 5,962. 

The Federals elected a majority to the Assembly; but as only 
a fourth of the representation in the Senate was chosen annually, 
the Republicans still controlled there. Clinton was saved from 
defeat by his popularity and the fruits of that political anomaly, 
the Council of Appointment. This body consisted of the gover- 
nor and a senator, chosen by the Assembly, from each of the four 
great districts, as the constitution had it. All officials in the state, 
civil and military, were appointed by the Council. So appre- 
hensive of the abuse of the appointing power were the framers 


of the constitution that no senator could sit in the Council two 
years in succession. Clinton had not abused this power, but it 
was only natural that officeholders would support him. The new 
Council of Appointment was chosen on January 15, 1790. But 
as the Federals elected senators in the southern and western dis- 
tricts only, and had none from the eastern and middle districts, 
the Republican senators and Clinton controlled the Council. 
When Chief Justice Richard Morris resigned, Clinton nomi- 
nated Yates, his recent opponent, for the place; and made Burr 
attorney general. Seemingly, Clinton had both Burr and Yates 
back in the fold. But Hamilton, as the dispenser of Federal 
patronage in New York, was building up a strong organization. 
In the following January, the legislature elected Burr to the 
United States Senate to succeed Schuyler, whose term would 
expire on March 4, 1791. Schuyler's defeat for reelection was 
due chiefly to the Livingston family, a political party in them- 
selves. They had been Federals, but joined the Republican party 
in 1790, because Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, head of the 
clan, differed with Hamilton's financial policy. The Federals 
said Livingston was disappointed because he had not been named 
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court; but it is hard 
to reconcile this partisan explanation with the career of the 
chancellor, who, next to his brother Edward, was the most bril- 
liant of the Livingstons. In addition to being a preeminent 
jurist, he was one of the foremost financial authorities in the 
nation, and his report to Congress on December 14, 1779, on 
the country's finance problems would have received high praise 
if it had come from the pen of Hamilton. As Secretary of the 
Department of Foreign Affairs created by Congress on January 
10, 178 1, he gave shape to our diplomatic relations; and in 1789, 
as chancellor, administered the oath of office to President Wash- 
ington. In political importance in the state, he ranked with 
Chnton, Schuyler and Hamilton; and none of his political con- 



temporaries surpassed him in breadth of learning. He was a 
founder and first president of the Academy of Fine Arts, and a 
patron of the sciences. His enemies mistook his scholarly re- 
tirement for arrogance. Either is fatal in the maelstrom of 

The Federalists Elect Jay Governor 

In the early part of 1792, when Clinton was serving his fif- 
teenth year as governor, the Federals cast about for a candidate 
to run against him. After considering Yates and Burr, they 
nominated Jay who, as has been seen, had effaced himself from 
the state's first election by advocating the election of Schuyler 
and Clinton. Stephen Van Rensselaer, the patroon, was named 
for lieutenant governor. The Federals were confident of success. 
The patroon would cut into the Dutch vote, the backbone of 
Clinton's upstate following. Jay relied on some support from 
the Livingston family, because he had married a Livingston. The 
Federals planned wisely, for they elected their ticket. Then the 
board of canvassers, controlled by Clintonians, stole the election 
from Jay, who had won by a majority of nearly 400 votes. The 
board rejected the ballots of the counties of Clinton, Tioga and 
Otsego, where Jay had decisive majorities, and tabulated the rest 
of the state, where Clinton had a majority of 108, the bobtailed 
vote being Clinton, 8,440; Jay, 8,332. 

The election was stolen under color of law. In Otsego the 
term of the sheriff had expired. Earlier in the year, when Clin- 
ton had been urged to name a successor, he replied that the old 
one could hold over. The sheriff de facto of Otsego deputized a 
messenger to take the ballots to the secretary of state. The 
deputy sheriff of Tioga fell ill while en route with the ballots, 
and turned them over to a clerk. In Clinton County, the sheriff 
neglected to deputize the messenger. The board of canvassers 
consisted of four Federals and seven Republicans. Unable to 


agree, they submitted the question to the two United States 
senators. Burr and his Federal colleague, Rufus King, agreed on 
the law, but differed on its interpretation. King construed the 
law in furtherance of the privilege of suffrage; Burr interpreted 
the law literally. By a party vote of seven to four, the board 
gave the election to Clinton. To prevent a recount, the election 
thieves burned the disputed ballots. 

Jay was holding a circuit in Vermont when robbed of the 
governorship. On Saturday morning, July i, returning home 
by way of the Hudson Valley, he was received at Lansingburg 
by the citizenry, who entertained him at Piatt's inn. Later, as 
the Daily Advertiser tells us, the reception committee escorted 
him to Troy, *' where he crossed the river and was saluted on his 
landing with 1 5 discharges of a field piece, by a detachment of 
the Albany Independent Artillery Company, and a volley by 
the troop of horse." The return to his home was a triumphal 
procession; and only his sober counsels restrained the rage of the 
people; some were talking of armed revolt. 

As Clinton's stolen term was ending, he announced his re- 
tirement; and his followers nominated Yates. Jay was renomi- 
nated, and defeated Yates by a vote of 13,481 to 11,892. 

Six weeks after his election, upon publication of the treaty he 
had negotiated with England, marching mobs denounced Jay 
as a traitor who had sold his country for gold, and he was burned 
in effigy, here and there, throughout the Union. His defenders 
were attacked - Hamilton was stoned in New York. To Jay's 
loss of popular esteem may be attributed the gains made by the 
Republicans in the legislative election of 1796. Burr, no longer 
a member of the Senate, was elected to the Assembly. Another 
Republican chosen was De Witt Clinton, nephew of the gover- 
nor. But the unjust suspicions were forgotten by 1798, when 
Jay was reelected over Chancellor Livingston. The vote was 
Jay, 16,012; Livingston, 13,632. 



In 1800, knowing that New York City's thirteen assembly- 
men would determine control of the legislature, and conse- 
quently the state's twelve votes in the electoral college, Burr 
persuaded a number of exceptional men to make up his Assem- 
bly ticket, among them, George Clinton, Brockholst Livingston, 
Horatio Gates and Samuel Osgood. While Hamilton could not 
offer such outstanding candidates, he followed Burr's example 
in making a house-to-house canvass, and the two leaders spoke 
nightly at ward meetings. The work of Burr and public resent- 
ment at President Adams' Alien and Sedition Laws resulted in 
a Republican triumph. 

Hamilton, Schuyler, and other Federalist leaders -for in this 
campaign the press had grown partial to the extra syllable - set 
out to rob Jeflferson of the presidency. They importuned Gover- 
nor Jay to call a special session of the old legislature to change 
the method of selecting presidential electors. Under date of 
May 7, Hamilton besought Jay to recommend a law to choose 
electors by districts by popular vote. This, he wrote, '' will insure 
a majority of votes in the United States for a federal candidate." 
He tried to conceal his political depravity with this Machiavel- 
lian mask: " In times like these in which we live it will not do 
to be overscrupulous." And then this argument: "It is easy to 
sacrifice the substantial interests of society by a strict adherence 
to ordinary rules." But the high-minded governor spurned the 
proposal, for he respected the will of the majority. 

The presidential intrigues and counterintrigues of Burr, now 
vice president, and Hamilton, were temporarily forgotten in 
the state election of 1801. Jay having earned the right to retire 
to the quiet of his Westchester farm, the minority named Ste- 
phen Van Rensselaer for governor. The Republicans turned 
to George Clinton, who received 24,808 votes to the 20,843 cast 
for the patroon. The Republicans also gained control of the 
legislature, and thus of the Council of Appointment. 


A Decade of Party Factions 

Immediately after Clinton's inauguration, while Jeffersoni- 
ans watched approvingly, the Livingstons and the Clintons be- 
gan their campaign to eliminate Burr from the party in the 
state. Burr's scheming for the presidency was their excuse. 
Through the Council of Appointment, they apportioned all 
important offices among themselves. Edward Livingston, whose 
Louisiana Code was later to astonish an applauding world, was 
appointed mayor of New York City. Other appointments were 
Brockholst Livingston, judge of the supreme court; Morgan 
Lewis, a brother-in-law of Edward Livingston, chief judge of 
the supreme court; Thomas Tillotson, another brother-in-law 
of Edward, secretary of state ; William Stewart, a brother-in-law 
of Governor Clinton, district attorney of Tioga and other coun- 
ties in the southern tier; Sylvanus Miller, a Clinton lieutenant in 
Kingston, surrogate of New York County; and so on. John 
Armstrong, a brother-in-law of Chancellor Livingston, resigned 
from the United States Senate so that DeWitt Clinton could 
succeed him. Then when Edward Livingston went to Louisiana, 
De Witt Clinton resigned as United States senator to be mayor 
of New York, and John Armstrong was returned to his seat in 
the Senate. But Burr was not without a following, especially in 
New York City. John Swartwout, an ardent Burrite, accused 
De Witt Clinton of planning the war on Burr for selfish and un- 
worthy reasons. A duel ensued, and Swartwout was shot twice 
in the leg. There were other political duels, like that which cost 
the life of Philip Hamilton, in 1 801 ; and that which grew out of 
it two years later, when William Coleman, editor of the Neti^ 
York Evening Post, killed Captain Thompson, the harbor mas- 
ter. Vehement journalistic controversy culminated in a famous 
war of pamphlets shot back and forth by John Wood, James 
Cheetham, William P. Van Ness (" Aristides ") , and other scur- 
rilous writers who remain anonymous. 


The state was on edge as the presidential election of 1804 
approached. Burr was fighting back. Barred from the national 
ticket, he decided to run for governor. He had promises of aid 
from Federalist leaders the country over, but Hamilton stood 
against him. The Clinton-Livingston faction of the Republi- 
cans nominated Chancellor Lansing for governor and John 
Broome for lieutenant governor. 

On the night of February 16, Hamilton and a number of 
Federalist members of the legislature met behind closed doors in 
Lewis' tavern in Albany to consider the situation. Their small 
vote in 1803 made a Federal ticket impracticable; a majority 
preferred Burr, but Hamilton wanted Lansing. Two Burrites, 
concealed in an adjoining room, published a report of the secret 
meeting. Lansing then withdrew, and Morgan Lewis was named 
in his stead. The day following Lansing's withdrawal, the Burr- 
ites in the legislature nominated their chief for governor. A 
week after Burr's nomination for governor, the Republican 
congressional caucus renominated Jefferson and named George 
Clinton for vice president. This formal repudiation of Burr, 
and Hamilton's relentless campaign against him, made Burr's 
defeat certain. Lewis received 30,829 votes in the election and 
Burr, 22,139. 

It was a contest of unbridled bitterness. Burr was the target 
of the press supporting Lewis. Pamphlets and broadsides helped 
to spread the calumnies. A few short weeks after his defeat. Burr 
put an end to his political career on the Weehawken dueling 
ground. The death of Hamilton, whom he killed there, left the 
Federalist party in the state more sadly shattered than ever; and, 
with Burr a fugitive and an outcast, it was in order to expect a 
struggle between the Clintons and the Livingstons, for De Witt 
Clinton was highly talented and equally ambitious. 

In the spring of 1805, De Witt Clinton, still mayor of New 
York, was elected to the old seat in the state Senate. Shortly 
after, the war between the Clintonians and the Livingston f am- 

46 POLITICAL PARTIES, 1777— 1828 II 

ily emerged into the open. Before the autumn waned, the CUn- 
tonians had quietly arranged to unite with the Burrites, the 
union being consummated in New York City with a supper at 
Dyde's hotel, on February 20, 1806. Many influential Burrites 
were embittered against the Livingstons because Lewis removed 
Peter B. Porter, clerk of Ontario County, solely because he sup- 
ported Burr for governor. The day after the supper at Dyde's, 
several disgruntled Burrites and followers of the Livingston 
family called a protest meeting, for February 24, in the Long 
Room of the tavern of Abraham Martling, a Tammany sachem, 
and there the Clintonian-Burrite union and its authors were 
denounced. Until his death, Clinton was to remain the chief 
object of the hatred of the Martling Men, as those who fore- 
gathered in this first Wigwam of Tammany were originally 

Clinton was in Albany, attending the session of the legislature, 
when these meetings were being held. When Governor Lewis 
presided at the first meeting of the new Council of Appoint- 
ment, Clinton, and three other senators who acknowledged 
Clinton's leadership, were there to oppose him. On March 16, 
the Council removed Maturin Livingston from the office of 
recorder, replacing him by Pierre C. Van Wyck, a lieutenant 
of Clinton. Dr. Thomas Tillotson, who had married a sister of 
Chancellor Livingston, was deposed as secretary of state, to make 
way for Elisha Jenkins, a Clintonian. Other outstanding Quids, 
as the adherents of Governor Lewis were called, met the same 
fate. At the annual election in the ensuing month, the Federal- 
ists ceased being passive spectators. In districts formerly strongly 
Federal, they put up their own legislative candidates; elsewhere, 
they supported Quids. This coalition was successful; and only 
Quids were put on the 1807 Council of Appointment, which 
undid the work of its predecessor. Maturin Livingston was re- 
stored to the recordership; Dr. Tillotson went back as secretary 


of State; Clinton was removed as mayor, and Marlnus Willett 
appointed in his stead. 

But while the Quids and Federalists in the Assembly gave 
Lewis a majority, the Clintonian Republican strength in the 
Senate was such that its factional rivals were outnumbered in a 
caucus; and on the evening of Clinton's removal, he and his 
legislative followers nominated Daniel D. Tompkins for gover- 
nor. Tavern nominations had gone out of fashion. Tompkins, 
a former Burrite, was then on the supreme court bench. Lewis 
lost, polling but 30,989 to the 35,074 for Tompkins. The Clin- 
tonians elected a majority to the Assembly, and six days after 
the 1808 legislature convened on January 26, their Council of 
Appointment began removing all Livingstons and their sup- 
porters. Even officers of the militia, hitherto untouched by the 
spoils machine, were deprived of their commissions on the merest 
suspicion of loyalty to the Livingstons. Clinton, of course, was 
restored to the mayor's chair. One of the Clintonians appointed 
was Martin Van Buren, who was made surrogate of Columbia 
County for his zeal in behalf of Tompkins, who had been held 
up to the voters as " the farmer's son." 

Tompkins was the state's first governor who did not owe his 
advancement to either wealth or family ties. When of voting age, 
he and thirty other propertyless youths qualified by purchasing a 
house in New York City; this device, known in England as 
" fagot voting," was suggested by Burr, or his friend and biogra- 
pher, Matthew L. Davis, grand sachem of Tammany. The Fed- 
eralists required no such dodge. They were mostly men of fair 

As Jefferson's second term neared its end, the Republican 
Congressmen nominated James Madison for first place and re- 
nominated Vice President Clinton. In not promoting the vice 
president, precedent was shattered. The Clintonian press ac- 
cused the Virginia dynasty of holding that only a Virginian 


was fit to be president, a charge not peculiar to the Chntonians, 
for John Adams and others voiced this view. The CKntonians 
showed their resentment against Madison's nomination by cast- 
ing six of New York's nineteen electoral votes for George Clin- 
ton for president. The continued dissension among the Repub- 
licans, and the prostration of commerce because of the Embargo 
Act, resulted in a Federalist majority to the Assembly in the 
election of 1809. There being no Federalist senators in two of 
the districts, the Republicans controlled the Council of Appoint- 
ment. But the Federalists obtained control of the Council by 
bribing Robert Williams, one of its number. His price was the 
appointment of his son-in-law, Thomas J. Oakley, as surrogate 
of Dutchess County. 

Tammanies and Coodies 

In the state election of 18 10, the clouds of the Napoleonic 
wars cast their shadows here. The Federalists accused the Re- 
publicans of being partial to France, saying we had more cause 
to go to war with France than with Great Britain. The Republi- 
cans answered with recollections of the awesome massacres by 
the Indian allies of the British in the Revolution, and defended 
the Berlin and Milan decrees as necessary war measures taken 
by Napoleon against Great Britain. The Republicans had the 
popular side, and Tompkins was reelected. He polled 43,094 
votes to the 36,484 cast for Jonas Piatt of Oneida, the Federalist 
candidate. The Republicans regained control of the Assembly, 
and one of the first acts of the Council of Appointment of 1 8 1 1 
was to return DeWitt Clinton to the New York City Hall 
from which he had been removed the previous year. 

Because of the death on August 8, 1 8 10, of Lieutenant Gover- 
nor John Broome, the legislature passed an act for the election 
of his successor in the spring polls. The Republican legislators 


nominated DeWitt Clinton, who sought this new honor as a 
stepping-stone to the presidency. The Tammany men rebelled 
and nominated Marinus Willett at a meeting in Martling's Long 
Room, soon to be supplanted as a meeting place by Tammany 
Hall. The hand of the ambitious Tompkins was evident in this, 
for Mangle Minthorne, his father-in-law, presided at the Tam- 
many convention, which accused Clinton of trying to establish 
a pernicious family aristocracy. Clinton's friends called a coun- 
termeeting; but when they met in the Union Hotel, the Tam- 
many men drove them into the street. The Federalists nominated 
Nicholas Fish, who, as it turned out, received the votes of a 
majority of the Tammany men, thus giving him the lead in New 
York City where Clinton ran a poor third; but Clinton's popu- 
larity upstate saved him. 

In December, De Witt Clinton, as a member of the recently 
created Canal Commission, went to Washington and vainly tried 
to obtain a Federal land grant to promote the project. The Mart- 
ling Men denounced the canal as impracticable and as a scheme 
to advance Clinton's presidential aspirations. 

During the legislative session of 1 8 12, Albany was besieged by 
agents seeking a state charter for the Bank of America. Like 
most Republicans, Clinton was opposed to banks; but several of 
his legislative colleagues, on whom he was relying to launch his 
presidential boom, had forsworn their faith and accepted bribes 
contingent upon the granting of the charter. The venal mem- 
bers declined to caucus and nominate Clinton as the state's 
choice for the presidency until the charter was granted. While 
Clinton's friends pleaded with them to caucus, Tompkins pro- 
rogued the legislature, on March 27, until May 21. The reason 
he offered was the activities of the bank lobbyists. His real pur- 
pose was to delay Clinton's nomination until after the congres- 
sional caucus had acted. While the legislature was in forced re- 
cess, Vice President George Clinton died in Washington, on 

50 POLITICAL PARTIES, 1777-1828 H 

April 20. After the legislature reconvened, the RepubUcan cau- 
cus nominated DeWitt Clinton, although Madison had been 
renominated by a congressional caucus. 

On June 1 8, the day before the legislature adjourned, war was 
declared against Great Britain. All the Clintonians in Congress 
voted, with many other Republicans, against this declaration. 
Clinton began intriguing with the Federalists who, with rare 
exceptions, opposed the war. At a large conference of Federalists 
from several states, held in New York City in September, Clinton 
was nominated as the party's choice for president, and Jared 
Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, for vice president. Although Clinton 
was supporting the war, he was preferred to Madison. 

When the legislature convened to choose presidential electors, 
Martin Van Buren managed the caucus. Van Buren, new in the 
Senate, offered to divide the electors on the basis of the respective 
legislative strength of the Madisonians and Clintonians. When 
the offer was spurned, Clinton was given the state's entire vote. 
But for Pennsylvania's twenty-five votes, Clinton would have 
been president. Clinton's bid for the presidency lost him a re- 
nomination for lieutenant governor, John Tayler being named 
in his stead. Tompkins was renominated by acclamation, defeat- 
ing Stephen Van Rensselaer by a vote of 43,324 to 39,718. The 
Federalists, however, carried the Assembly by a majority of 

After the April election of 1815, when the Federahsts again 
elected a majority to the Assembly, the Tammanies -such was 
their plural designation then - and the Coodies forced Clinton's 
removal as mayor. When GuHan C. Verplanck satirized Clinton 
under the nom de plume of Abimalech Coody, he replied that 
Verplanck was " the head of a political sect called the Coodies, 
of hybrid nature, composed of the combined spawn of federal- 
ism and Jacobinism." And, for more than a decade, the term 
Coodies was part of our poHtical nomenclature. 


In February, 18 16, the Republican legislative caucus in- 
structed the New York delegation in Congress to support 
Tompkins for president. A week later, they renominated him 
for governor. Then the congressional caucus nominated him as 
Monroe's running mate. Tompkins was elected to both offices, 
defeating Rufus King by 45,412 votes to 38,647. To avoid an 
immediate contest with Clinton, who sought to succeed Tomp- 
kins as governor, the Coodies first proposed that Tompkins serve 
out his term while acting as vice president. Then they suggested 
that Tayler fill out the unexpired term. But the state constitu- 
tion provided that the lieutenant governor could perform the 
duties of the chief executive only until the next succeeding an- 
nual election, which in this case meant April, 18 17; and so a bill 
for a special election was passed. 

Clinton immediately called a state nominating convention, 
the first held in New York. Counties controlled by Federalists 
sent delegates. Republican counties being represented by their 
legislators, and the convention met in Albany on March 25. 
The Coodies entered Peter B. Porter, but he received only 41 
votes to the 8 5 for Clinton. The Tammanies bolted, and nomi- 
nated Porter. Clinton was elected almost unanimously, for Por- 
ter polled but 1,479 of the 44,789 votes cast. The Federalists did 
not nominate a ticket, for their opposition to the war, their 
misunderstood Fiartford Convention, and their espousal of Old 
World doctrines, had reduced them to a selected few. 

DeWitt Clinton and the Bucktails 

In De Witt Clinton's first year as governor, the Republicans 
opposed to him were called the Bucktail party. The name was 
rooted in the nucleus of the opposition, for the Tammanies were 
summoned to patriotic gatherings in newspaper advertisements 
always ending thus: "Each member will wear a Buck's tail in 


his hat, the distinguishing badge of Tammany, in honor of the 
day." Attorney General Van Buren, having now broken with 
CHnton, was the Bucktail leader. Clinton wanted party peace. 
Van Buren agreed to give it, if Clinton resigned the governorship 
to accept a foreign post from Monroe. Clinton retorted by re- 
moving Van Buren as state attorney general. The war went on. 
With the aid of a few Federalist votes, the Bucktails obtained 
control of the Canal Commission, with its desirable contracts 
and countless jobs. 

In December, 18 19, Republican legislators arriving in Al- 
bany for the 1820 session received copies of an anonymous 
pamphlet asking them to reelect King to the United States 
Senate. Van Buren was the author; and William Learned Marcy, 
who was to amaze the Republic with his " to the victors belong 
the spoils " speech, and whose career is sketched in more detail 
below, polished the phrases. Shortly after King's return to the 
Senate, the Bucktails nominated Vice President Tompkins for 
governor. He was tired of Washington. In response to Van 
Buren's appeal to King for Federalist support, forty-eight Fed- 
eralists, including the sons of King and Alexander Hamilton, 
urged the election of Tompkins. The signers said their party 
had been annihilated, and that Clinton surrounded himself with 
sycophants " disgusting to the feelings of all truly high minded 
. . . men." Clinton characterized the appeal as the product of 
"High Minded" Federalists. By this name, shortened to the 
High Minded, this division of his opponents was thereafter 

The letter of the High Minded was but part of the many- 
sided attack on Clinton. Personally, he was above reproach. He 
was popular, given to plain dress, and had the esteem of the 
scholars of the state. He fraternized with the faculty of Colum- 
bia College, from which he was graduated at the head of his 


class of 1786. He had succeeded to the presidency of the Acad- 
emy of Fine Arts which Chancellor Livingston founded, and 
was also president of the Literary and Philosophical Society and 
the New York Historical Society. Unable to deny his talents, 
his enemies made light of them. This was the amusing side of 
the attack on Clinton, and was given direction by two of the 
High Minded, John Duer and Gulian Crommelin Verplanck, 
whose Opera Minora of the Poeta Bucktailici, the Bucktail 
Bards of beloved memory, was published shortly before the ap- 
peal of the High Minded. Even Clinton must have chuckled as 
he read: 

'Tis Dr. Clinton, our State's chief reliance, 
A paragon of learning, wit and science. 
Skilled in all arts, the Crichton of our day. 

Clinton, himself gifted in pasquinade, described his lettered 
critics as " the witlings, the poetasters, and the sciolists of the 
country, who unite to run down merit which they cannot imi- 
tate . . . literary punchinellos and shallow-pated coxcombs 
. . . the fag ends of the learned professions, and the outcasts of 
reputable associations." 

But Clinton barely succeeded against the combination of the 
High Minded, the Bucktails, and the Monroe administration. 
The vote was Clinton, 47,447; Tompkins, 45,990. The anti- 
Clintonians elected a majority to the Assembly, and so con- 
trolled the Council of Appointment. Roger Skinner, later a cir- 
cuit judge, was Van Buren's faithful spokesman in the Council. 

Four appointments of the Council are important. Benjamin 
F. Butler, Van Buren's law partner, was made district attorney 
of Albany County; Samuel A. Talcott, state attorney general; 
Benjamin Knower, father-in-law of Marcy, state treasurer; 
Marcy, adjutant general. 


The Albany Regency 

These four, Marcy, Knower, Talcott and Butler, with Van 
Buren and Skinner, constituted the first governing group of the 
Bucktail party. Van Buren was its directing genius, but never its 
dictator; and when he took his seat in the United States Senate 
in the following year, his lieutenants governed in his absence. 
Because most of them lived in or near Albany, this circle of 
exceptional men was called the Albany Regency. Closest to 
Van Buren was Butler, who was of New England stock, a lineal 
descendant of Oliver Cromwell and, like Van Buren, the son of 
a tavern keeper. He was born in Kinderhook Landing, and knew 
Van Buren from childhood. After a course at the Hudson Acad- 
emy, he studied law under Van Buren. After the revision of 
New York statutes. Chancellor Kent gave the chief credit for 
the splendid achievement to Butler; and it is not strange that 
when Van Buren's star rose, Butler served in the cabinets of 
Jackson and Van Buren. Then there was Edwin Croswell, whose 
father was the prosperous editor of the Catskill Recorder. In 
1823, he became editor of the Regency's organ, the Albany 
Argus, and toward the end of the legislative session of that year 
was made state printer. A brilliant journalist, he was soon shap- 
ing the editorial opinions of party journals everywhere. The 
background of his childhood and youth was more cultured than 
that of any of his associates; and his profits as state printer made 
him rich. But he was avaricious, and became head of the cabal 
excoriated in 1 83 6 by William Leggett as " creeping, dissembling 
creatures, who have grown fat on the drippings of unclean bank 
legislation." Croswell was the only venal member of the Regency 
and, when it was to his profit, he betrayed Van Buren and the 
rest. Azariah Cutting Flagg affiliated with the Regency soon 
after his election to the Assembly in 1822. He was born in 
Clinton County in 1790, and at the age of eleven was appren- 


ticed to a printer. He enlisted when the second war with Eng- 
land was declared, participating in several engagements. He 
established the Vlattsburg Keptiblican, and edited it for several 
years. He was secretary of state from 1826 to 1833, and state 
comptroller from 1 8 34 to 1839; and when, years later, he moved 
to New York City, he was elected comptroller of the metropo- 
lis. When darkness fell upon him, he received a letter from Van 
Buren saying that he never knew a man "more exclusively 
devoted to the public interest or who labored with a purer 
or more disinterested zeal for their advancement." There is a 
bronze tablet on the home of the American Antiquarian Society 
recording a side of Flagg known only to historians. To this 
noblest of his co-workers, Van Buren paid this tribute in his 
memoirs: "the financial and economical systems [of New 
York], devised and matured by those unpretending, but able 
public servants and benefactors, Wright, Hoffman, Flagg and 
their associates." Hoffman was born in Clifton Springs, Sara- 
toga County, in 1788, and was christened Michael. He was, in 
turn, doctor, lawyer and politician. He was county judge of 
Herkimer County from 1830 to 1833, ^^^ was district attorney 
there from 1823 to 1825; he served in the House of Representa- 
tives from 1825 to 1833; he was canal commissioner from 1833 
to 1835; in 1836 he was appointed register of the land office at 
Saginaw, Illinois; he was a member of the Assembly in 1841, 
1842 and 1844, and was chairman of its ways and means com- 
mittee; and was naval officer of the port of New York from 
1845 to the time of his death in 1848. William Learned Marcy, 
who had the most distinguished public career of any of the 
Regency, was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts, in 1786. 
After he was graduated at Brown, he studied law and practiced 
in Troy. Like Flagg, he also volunteered in the War of 18 12. 
While commanding a company of light infantry, he captured 
the first prisoners taken on land by the Americans when he 


overcame the Canadian forces at Saint Regis. In 18 16 he was 
appointed recorder of Troy, and after his removal by DeWitt 
Chnton, edited the Troy Budget. He served with distinction in 
the state supreme court, and was thrice elected governor of the 
state. He was Secretary of War under Polk, and Secretary of 
State under Pierce. He sat in the United States Senate from 1 83 1 
until he resigned two years later, to run for governor. His diplo- 
matic achievements are unknown to many, but one phrase from 
his maiden speech in the Senate is remembered by all; in de- 
fending the spoils system of the Regency, he said he saw nothing 
wrong " in the rule that to the victor belongs the spoils of the 

This spoils doctrine was the core of the philosophy of the 
Albany Regency. Save on rare occasions, the " regents " de- 
manded merit of a high order in the men they appointed to office 
in reward for party service. "When the caucus method of nomi- 
nating candidates for state office gave way to the convention, 
they made their convention proof against stampede by sending 
delegates subservient to them, chiefly officeholders. And when 
the Regency passed away, it left to its successors, in New York 
and elsewhere, a system of party discipline that its members had 
reduced to a science. 

Clinton saw the Regency taking shape, and played into its 
hands by his inborn contempt for consequences. In October, 
1820, at a convention in Tammany Hall, the Bucktails unani- 
mously voted for a state constitutional convention, the delegates 
to have unlimited scope in proposing amendments. Back of this 
was the growing demand for several reforms, especially universal 
suffrage. The manorial interests, together with many of the fore- 
most men, including Van Buren, were against " cheapening this 
invaluable right "-to quote Van Buren. And when the legisla- 
ture met the next month to choose presidential electors, a bill 
was passed authorizing a convention. But it was rejected by the 


Council of Revision consisting of the chancellor, judges of the 
supreme court, and the governor. Clinton cast the deciding 
vote. Such was the protest against this veto that the Council of 
Revision dared not repeat itself when the bill was passed in the 
1 82 1 session. The work of the convention was ratified by a vote 
of 74,732 to 41,402. Save for a property qualification for 
Negroes, virtually universal male suffrage was established, the 
Councils of Appointment and Revision were abolished, and 
other progressive reforms became the basic law. The terms of 
governor and lieutenant governor were shortened to two years. 

Having almost complete control of the legislature in 1822, 
the Regency revived the caucus method of nominating. Joseph 
C. Yates, judge of the supreme court, was named for governor. 
Knowing that he had no chance, Clinton withdrew gracefully. 
The Republicans elected all their candidates to the Senate -the 
entire body as, under the new constitution, the Senate changed 
biennially. The Assembly was also almost wholly Bucktail. Few 
partisans of Clinton were left in the legislature. So complete 
was the Bucktail victory that Solomon Southwick, a self-starter 
against Yates, received only 2,910 votes out of an aggregate of 
131,403. But, within a year, trouble began brewing for the 
Regency. Early in 1823, it was for Crawford for president; 
but many influential Bucktails were for John Quincy Adams 
or Henry Clay, while a few favored Calhoun. The Clintonians 
supported Jackson. The opponents of Crawford raised the cry, 
voiced by anti-Crawford men the country over, of " Down with 
King Caucus," and demanded a law empowering the people to 
choose presidential electors. 

The refusal of the Regency to heed this demand led to the 
formation of the People's party, which nominated candidates 
for Senate and Assembly. The organizers of the new party were 
mainly High Minded Federalists. Such was the clamor against 
the Regency that the Assembly of 1824 was organized by the 


People's party men. The Assembly passed the electors bill, but 
the Senate, controlled by the Regency, deferred action until 
the legislature should reconvene in November to choose presi- 
dential electors. This was adding fuel to the flames. Seeking to 
make Yates its scapegoat, the Regency denied him renomination, 
and named Samuel Young for governor at a legislative caucus. 
Denouncing caucus nominations, the People's party members 
issued a call for a state convention in Utica. Five days later, on 
April 12, on the closing day of the session, the Regency sprang 
a surprise. A resolution was introduced in the Senate removing 
Clinton from the canal board. It was his only public office, 
and from it he drew no salary. The resolution was adopted with 
but three dissenting votes, and with a handful of nays, the 
Assembly concurred. Speaking of this shameful act, the Evening 
Vost said: "The envenomed malignity . . . must cause the 
cheek of every honorable man who calls himself a New Yorker 
to blush with shame." Protest meetings were held everywhere. 
In New York City, ten thousand men met and groaned, " Re- 
gency! Regency! Regency! " 

Hoping to be the choice of the People's party convention. 
Governor Yates convoked the legislature in extraordinary ses- 
sion on August 2, to consider the bill to change the mode of 
choosing presidential electors. The legislature censured the gov- 
ernor for calling the session, made speeches, and then adjourned. 
The Utica Convention met on September 21. The People's party 
delegates wanted for governor James Tallmadge, one of their 
representatives in the Assembly. But Tallmadge's vote for Clin- 
ton's removal was against him; and on the second day, Clinton 
himself was nominated, and Tallmadge was named for lieutenant 
governor. But this did not placate the minority, who bolted 
and at their own convention indorsed Tallmadge's nomination 
and assailed Clinton's. Yet they did not dare nominate a candi- 
date to oppose Clinton. An angry electorate swept Clinton into 


office with 103,452 votes, Young polling but 87,093. As the 
returns showed the defeat of the Regency, Van Buren said to 
Skinner: "I hope, Judge, you are now satisfied that there is in 
politics such a thing as killing a man too dead." Van Buren was 
in Washington in his seat in the Senate when Skinner, unknown 
to him, decided on Clinton's removal. 

Shortly after Adams was inaugurated. Van Buren became 
the chief critic of the administration. His advocacy of Jack- 
son's candidacy again placed him on common ground with 
Clinton; and the Regency supported the governor on occasions. 
When the Clintonian state convention met in Utica on Septem- 
ber I, 1826, the delegates were confident that the Regency 
would name a weak candidate to oppose their choice. Henry 
Huntington was named to run with Clinton. But Van Buren 
plotted otherwise; and at the Regency party convention in Her- 
kimer on October 3, William B. Rochester, secretary to the 
Panama Commission, and son of a business partner of Clay's 
father-in-law, was nominated to oppose Clinton, The Regency 
circulated the false report that Washington had dictated the 
naming of Rochester, and no one in the Adams administration 
denied the untruth. The canard almost defeated Clinton, who 
won by only 3,650 plurality. His vote was 99,785. Nathaniel 
Pitcher, the Regency nominee for lieutenant governor, defeated 
Clinton's running mate. 

The Origin of the Antimasonic Party 

Clinton lost many votes in the counties of Genesee and Mon- 
roe; it was whispered there that he had ordered the mysterious 
execution of William Morgan. From the dark recesses of the 
hidden drama involved in Morgan's slaying, emerged a political 
party which became national in scope - the Antimasonic Party. 
Morgan, although a Mason, was preparing for publication parts 


of the Masonic ritual when he was seized at his home in Batavia, 
Genesee County, on September 11, 1826, on a charge of petit 
larceny. His accuser was Nicholas G. Chesebro, master of a 
Masonic Lodge at Canandaigua. After his discharge on this 
complaint, Morgan was rearrested on a civil process. The follow- 
ing night, he was taken from the jail in Canandaigua to Fort 
Niagara where he remained imprisoned until his disappearance. 
Clinton was the grand high priest of the Grand Chapter of the 
Royal Arch Masons; this circumstance was the sole basis of the 
foul charge against him. 

In the spring of 1827, Masons were denied nomination by 
various town conventions in Monroe and Genesee counties. Be- 
fore this action was taken, the question of making Morgan's 
death a political issue was considered by Thurlow Weed, James 
S. Wadsworth, Assemblyman Francis Granger, and others from 
the infected district, as the cradle of Antimasonry became 
known. Sentiment was divided. Although Clinton offered a 
reward of $2,000 -then a princely sum -to aid in solving the 
mystery, and instituted a prosecution which led to indictments 
and convictions for abduction, the movement spread. The 
Masons were pictured as a murderous brotherhood; and Weed 
and other opportunists capitalized the excitement and nomi- 
nated and elected Antimasonic candidates for the legislature in 
the fall of 1827. As the movement was nearing its height, De 
Witt Clinton died, while conversing with his two sons in his 
library, on the evening of February 11, 1828. Antimasons at- 
tributed his death to " the goading of a guilty conscience." 

Select Bibliography 

The bibliographies of Chapters II and III have been combined and follow 
Chapter III. 


Denis Tilden Lynch 

The New York Herald Tribune 


Van Buren Creates the Democratic Party 

VAN BUREN now became the manager of Jackson's 
presidential campaign in the state. Jackson was a 
Mason; on this was built the least of the slanders of 
1828. The state canvass began on July 22, when the Adams 
men convened in Utica. Delegates from the infected district 
wanted Granger, spokesman for the Antimasons in the Assem- 
bly. The majority argued that Granger at the head of the ticket 
would drive those who frowned on Antimasonry into the Re- 
publican party; yet they were aware that without the Anti- 
masons they would lose the state. A close vote resulted in the 
selection of Smith Thompson, an associate judge of the United 
States Supreme Court. Granger was named lieutenant governor 
by acclamation. The Antimasonic party, after organizing in 
Utica on August 6, named Granger for governor, although he 
had informed his friends that he did not desire this nomination. 
John Crary was given second place. 

Before these conventions were held, it was known that Van 
Buren would run for governor, and that if elected he would 
serve but a few weeks, as Jackson intended him for the cabinet. 
With Jackson's election generally conceded, leaders of the 
Adams party besought Crary, an ardent Adams man, to decline 
the nomination. Crary agreed, provided Granger also withdrew 
from the Antimasonic ticket. Granger withdrew, and the Anti- 
masons replaced him with Solomon Southwick, a bribe passer 
for the Bank of America. For an unexplained reason, Crary did 
not withdraw. 

The Regency convened in high feather at Herkimer on 
September 12, and named Van Buren and Enos T. Throop. Van 
Buren came within 3,000 votes of the combined vote of Thomp- 


son and Southwick. The vote for governor was Van Buren, 
136,794; Thompson, 106,444; Southwick, 33,345. Throop also 
won. In this first popular election of presidential electors, the 
Jacksonians carried 18 of the 34 Congressional districts, the 
election being then conducted in that manner. This gave Jack- 
son 20 of New York's 36 votes, as the majority chose 2 electors 
at large. In this campaign, the Adams men called themselves 
National Republicans; the opposition was called the Demo- 
cratic-Republican. The quick transition to Democrat was fore- 
shadowed in this excerpt from a letter from Van Buren to Jesse 
Hoyt, after the election: "We have succeeded in democratic 
counties by overwhelming votes." The name had, in fact, been 
fastened upon them by their enemies for more than twenty 
years. Van Buren resigned as governor on March 12, to serve as 
United States Secretary of State. 

The Working Men's Party 

The state campaign of 1830 began on April 2, when the 
Albany leaders of the Working Men's party issued a call for a 
convention to meet on April 1 6. This party had its inception a 
year earlier in the demands of workers in New York City for 
an effective lien law for laborers on buildings and the abolish- 
ment of imprisonment for debt, and in their protest against the 
threat to lengthen the ten-hour day. Those who led them added 
these principles: " all children have equal rights to maintenance 
and education; all mankind, at the age of maturity, to equal 
property." The agrarian principle was temporarily forced upon 
the party by Thomas Skidmore, a printer, who presided at its 
first meeting. The demand for universal education, including 
free colleges, was the contribution of Robert Dale Owen, son 
of the Welsh philanthropist whose short-lived cooperative col- 
ony at New Harmony, Indiana, ended in 1827. Young Owen, 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 65 

who came to these shores in 1823, took up his residence in New 
York in 1828. He arrived in the city with Frances Wright, 
whom he had met when both were working for the New Har- 
mony experiment, and pubHshed the Free Enquirer, conspicu- 
ous for its attacks on church and clergy. The pair hved at 359 
Broome Street, near Ehzabeth Street. Like the youth she held in 
tow, Fanny Wright, as she called herself, was of Scotch birth. 
Young Owen was in his early twenties when he fell under the 
charm of the classic features he admired, but never loved. In 
later years he wrote of her: '' a friend some ten years my senior, 
possessing . . . ideas . . . more extravagant than my own 
. . . [who] . . . mainly shaped, for several years, the course 
and tenor of my life." Of their personal relations, he wrote: 
"Friends; but never throughout the years we spent together, 
anything more." The erratic Fanny Wright impressed not only 
young Owen, but multitudes the country over. She assailed 
slavery and championed woman suffrage. Her followers or- 
ganized Fanny Wright clubs and sang her praises; her enemies 
organized mobs and stormed her meetings. Young Owen, as 
leader of the Working Men's party, was her echo. A fourth 
founder of the Workies, as they became known, was George H. 
Evans, a printer, English by birth, who edited The Man in Ithaca 
before coming to New York. 

In the fall of 1829, the Workies nominated a ticket in New 
York City. Their candidates for the Assembly, save one physi- 
cian, were artisans and laborers; and one of them, Ebenezer 
Ford, a carpenter, polled 6,166 votes and was elected. The high- 
est Tammany vote was little more than 1 1,000. 

On December 29, 1829, at a meeting in New York City, 
the new party began to prepare for the campaign of 1830. Of 
the resolutions, this stands out: "Next to life and liberty, we 
consider education the greatest blessing bestowed on mankind." 
The movement was spreading, and there were flourishing groups 


in upstate communities. The party now had its own paper, the 
Working Man's Advocate, nominally edited by Evans. The pub- 
lic regarded Fanny Wright as the editor, which pleased her, for 
we find this card in the Advocate of February 13, 1830: 

Two of our subscribers have " stopped " because, they say, " It is a 
Fanny Wright paper." ... If any others wish to decline taking the 
Working Man's Advocate for a similar reason, they may have their 
money returned for all in advance. 

Old line politicians became apprehensive of Fanny Wright, 
Robert Dale Owen, and their Working Men's party; and some 
set out to crush it, while others sought to make use of it. When 
Jackson was fighting the Bank of the United States, Churchill 
C. Cambreleng, Van Buren's spokesman on the floor of the 
House of Representatives, sent an appeal to Jesse Hoyt to " get 
the Workies to be up and doing on the U. S. B. question," add- 
ing, in truth, " they are democrats in principles." Another fol- 
lower of Van Buren, Erastus Root, speaker of the Assembly, 
noted for his double-dealing, made a sinister use of the Workies 
in his efforts to get his own party's nomination for governor. 
The conclusion is inescapable that Root induced his adherents 
to become Workies. The first evidence of his chicanery was 
the Albany convention of Workies which met on April 16, 
1830, and nominated Root for governor. Root did not want 
the honor, save to impress the Regency. Miss Wright and 
Owen denounced the nomination as imprudent, and suggested 
the need of a state convention. Another circumstance support- 
ing the conclusion is Root's silence after being chosen by the 
Albany Workies, and he did not utter a word until another 
local convention, held in New York City in June, ratified the 
nomination made in Albany. Then he declined, while praising 
some of the aims of the Workies -and who could not? The state 
convention was held in Salina, on August 26. Root's followers. 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O dj 

in a majority, unseated the New York City delegates loyal to 
Miss Wright and Owen, and named Root for governor and 
Nathaniel Pitcher for lieutenant governor. The Advocate of 
September 4 denounced the nominations as a betrayal of the 
Workies. On the night before this denunciation. Root's Workies 
held a meeting in New York City to ratify the Salina nomina- 
tions. But the real Workies forced their way into the hall and 
defeated this move by a vote of ten to one. On September 10, 
Root's Workies met again and tried to exclude those of Miss 
Wright and Owen, but again they were outnumbered. It was 
not until September 14, when bona fide delegates of the Work- 
ing Men's party met in Military Hall, on the Bowery, that a 
true ticket was named, with Ezekiel Williams, a tanner of the 
village of Auburn, for governor, and Isaac S. Smith, of Erie, for 
lieutenant governor. Of course Root had again withdrawn. 

Two weeks before the Working Men's convention, the Anti- 
masons met in Utica and again named Granger for governor. 
Samuel Stevens, who was identified with the Working Men's 
party, was named for second place. Subsequently, the National 
Republicans indorsed the nominations, as the Antimasons had 
adopted a platform embracing Clay's tariff program and other 
articles of faith of the party of Adams. The fusion gave Granger 
120,361 votes, but it fell short of electing him. Governor 
Throop, named to succeed himself, polled 128,842. Edward P. 
Livingston, his running mate, was also elected. Williams polled 
but 2,332 votes. 

The small vote for Williams showed that the Working Men's 
party had run its course. In New York City, he polled less 
than one-third of the votes cast for Ford, candidate for the 
Assembly in 1829, and only 317 in the rest of the state. The 
primary cause for the decline lay in the agnostic and anticlerical 
teachings of Miss Wright and Owen, which were also published 
in the party's organ, giving color to the charge that their fol- 

68 PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-1850 IH 

lowers were infidels. Root's supporters made the party ridicu- 
lous when they stole its state convention. Tammany's abandon- 
ment of its opposition to a mechanic's lien law and to the repeal 
of the law providing for imprisonment for debt, together with 
the organization of a Whig Working Men's party in New York 
City, won back many to the ranks of the major parties. Internal 
dissension played a minor part. Unable to dominate, Skidmore 
formed his own party, the Agrarian party, popularly called 
Skidmore's party. He nominated a complete Assembly ticket in 
New York City; and the highest vote cast for his nominees was 
147. For a while the Workies held together, but Owen aban- 
doned them in 1832 and returned to New Harmony. He served 
in the Indiana legislature from 1835 to 1838; was elected to 
Congress in 1842 and again in 1844; was first charge d'affaires, 
then minister, to Naples, under Pierce and Buchanan; and dur- 
ing the Civil War he served on a commission on ordnance and 
stores, audited claims of nearly $50,000,000, and his letter to 
Lincoln advocating emancipation was more effective " in de- 
ciding the president to make his proclamation than all other 
communications combined," according to Salmon P. Chase. 
Fanny Wright continued her public activities long after she 
ceased to be a leader of the Workies. In 1838, she spoke for 
Van Buren's subtreasury bill; and in that year married M. 
d'Arusmont, but soon left France and her husband and re- 
turned to America with their child, with whom she lived quietly 
in Cincinnati. 

Besides the emergence of our first woman political leader, 
the campaign of 1830 is also noteworthy for the introduction 
of a nominating convention that was proof against surprise, the 
invention of the Regency. A majority of the delegates who 
nominated Throop at Herkimer were on the public pay rolls, 
and the Commercial Advertiser of September 9 called the body 
" the office holders' convention." 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 69 

The Regime of Governor Marcy 

In 1832, the Antimasons boasted a national ticket com- 
posed of William Wirt, of Maryland, for president, and Amos 
Ellmaker, of Pennsylvania, for vice president. At their state 
convention in Utica on June 21, they again named Granger 
and Stevens, and chose an electoral ticket equally divided be- 
tween Antimasons and National Republicans. Again the Na- 
tional Republicans approved the work of the Antimasons. 

The Democratic-Republicans saw victory perched on their 
banner when they met in Herkimer on September 19, and 
nominated Marcy and John Tracy, after ratifying the national 
ticket of Jackson and Van Buren. But as the campaign was end- 
ing, Marcy wrote to Jesse Hoyt that the opposition would prob- 
ably carry the state. " The U. S. Bank is in the field," continued 
Marcy, " and I cannot but fear the effect of 50 or 100 thousand 
dollars expended in conducting the election in such a city as 
New York." 

The Bank's corrupt practices were reprisals for Jackson's 
order removing the government deposits; but they were offset 
by the state's indignation because of the Senate's unjust rejec- 
tion of Van Buren, as minister to England. Marcy came within 
2,000 of Jackson's total, his vote being 166,410. Granger polled 
156,672. Before the next gubernatorial election, the Anti- 
masonic party ceased to exist, save in the infected district. 
Most of its members joined the Clay party, now known as the 
Whig party. The Whigs convened in Utica on September 10, 
and nominated William H. Seward, a prominent Antimason, 
for governor, and Silas M. Stillwell for lieutenant governor. The 
Democratic-Republican convention, organized the same day 
in Herkimer, renominated Marcy and Tracy. 

The Whig party, whose leaders were supporters of the Bank 
of the United States, was called by Jackson's followers the 


Monster party, and the Bank party. Not to be outdone, the 
Whigs dubbed the opposition the Tory party, hkened themselves 
to the Whigs of 1776, saying that, instead of George III, they 
fought King Andrew. The Jacksonians answered with: " Down 
with the aristocrats! " But the Whig revolution of 1834 failed 
in New York, Marcy being reelected by 181,905 votes. Seward 
fell short of this by 13,000. During the election. Van Buren 
wrote to Hoyt that he believed the Whigs would next call them- 
selves Democrats. But before the end of Jackson's second term 
his followers had adopted the name. 

In the fall of 1 83 5, the Equal Rights party was born of efforts 
to wrest control of Tammany Hall from the bankers. When a 
meeting was held in the Wigwam on the night of October 29, 
1835, to ratify the Tammany nominees, antibank men voted 
down the organization's choice for chairman. A fight ensued, 
and the bank element was put to flight. But before the re- 
formers could organize the meeting, the gas was turned off. 
This had happened once before when the reformers had a 
majority, so they were prepared and nominated a ticket in the 
guttering light of candles and matches. The matches were called 
locofocos, and the next day the Equal Rights men were called 
Locofocos. In the spring of 1836, they nominated a candidate 
for mayor of New York City; on September 15, at their con- 
vention in Utica, they named Isaac L. Smith for governor, and 
Moses Jacques for lieutenant governor. They indorsed the free 
education program of Robert Dale Owen's group. 

After Marcy and Tracy were renominated, the Whigs named 
Jesse Buel, lately editor of the Albany Argus, and Gamaliel H. 
Barstow. Marcy was not apprehensive now; Van Buren was 
running for president and carried the state with 166,815 votes. 
Marcy ran only 693 votes behind him. Buel's vote was 136,648. 
Smith polled 3,496. Soon after the election, the Equal Rights 
men returned to a bankerless Tammany. But the name Locof oco 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O J\ 

persisted. The Whigs used it for years as an equivalent of 

The Victories of Seward and Wright 

The state election of 1837, when the people voted against 
the panic, and the Whigs carried 6 of the 8 senatorial districts, 
and loi out of 128 Assembly districts, foreshadowed Marcy's 
defeat the following year. The Whigs nominated William H. 
Seward for governor. They were aided by a revolt of Bank 
Democrats, headed by Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, United States 
Senator. At their state convention, the Tallmadge faction in- 
dorsed Seward and his running mate, Luther Bradish. The vote 
for governor stood: Seward, 192,882; Marcy, 182,461. 

Although the Whigs elected a majority to the Assembly, and 
5 of the 8 candidates for the Senate, they still lacked control of 
the upper house by 3 votes. This prevented the Whigs from 
electing a United States Senator, and what was more important 
to Thurlow Weed, from choosing him as state printer. Other 
lucrative offices, eyed hungrily by Weed's followers, were 
retained by Democrats through the refusal of the Senate to con- 
firm the nominations of the Whig governor. But in the fall elec- 
tion of 1839, Weed used, in senatorial districts where the Demo- 
crats were weak, $8,000 received from New York. As a result, 
when the legislature of 1840 convened, the party of Van Buren 
found itself in a minority in the senate for the first time in more 
than two decades. As a reward for leading the Democratic re- 
volt in 1838, Weed ordered the reelection of Tallmadge to the 
United States Senate, and directed the removal of all Demo- 
cratic officeholders; he also made himself state printer. He had 
written finis to the story of the Albany Regency. 

Weed was now as powerful in the Whig party as Van Buren 
had been in the Democratic, and was proud of the title of 
" Dictator." His Albany Evening Journal, founded as an Anti- 


masonic organ, became the mouthpiece of the Whigs. He shared 
the unscrupulousness of Croswell, whom he succeeded as state 
printer. They had been boys together in Catskill and, when Cros- 
well seemed criminally involved in a bank failure, Weed saved 
him from indictment. This was to be expected, for Weed had 
profited with Croswell in "unclean bank legislation"; when 
leader of the Antimasons, he accepted a $500 bribe from James 
Perkins, a bank lobbyist, according to the confession of Perkins, 
spread on the Senate records of 1833. Although the first politi- 
cian of stellar rank who made politics a source of personal profit, 
men of talent and integrity followed his leadership blindly. 

Weed's leadership was shown at the Whig state convention 
when Seward was renominated by acclamation. For months, 
Whig and Democratic journals had denounced Seward for two 
paragraphs in his annual message to the legislature in which, 
after describing the hard lot of children of foreigners " in our 
populous cities and towns, and in the vicinity of our public 
works," he said: "I do not hesitate, therefore, to recommend 
the establishment of schools in which they may be instructed by 
teachers speaking the same language with themselves and pro- 
fessing the same faith." Seward's critics charged that this was 
a bid for Catholic votes, and was inspired by Bishop John 
Hughes, the Roman Catholic prelate of New York. Seward 
held his peace; but Weed assures us that Bishop Hughes had no 
hand in it, and that it was decided upon after a conference with 
two Protestant divines. Emulating the example of the Albany 
Regency, Weed sent hand-picked delegates to Utica, and no 
voice was raised against Seward. 

To add to Van Buren's strength in New York the Democrats 
nominated for governor William C. Bouck, a Schoharie farmer, 
who had endeared himself to many thousands by his unremit- 
ting labors as canal commissioner since his appointment in 
March, 1821. But Bouck and Seward were almost forgotten in 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 73 

the frenzy of the national campaign, in which issues gave way 
to abuse of Van Buren and exahation of his opponent, the aged 
Gen. W. H. Harrison. The corrupt bankers, whose enmity Van 
Buren had earned by his three-years' fight for sound money 
and the subtreasury, spent money lavishly. Their prostitute press 
said Van Buren had brought on the panic of 1837, with its at- 
tendant misery. Typical of the appeals to workers in the Whig 
press is the following, from the Morning Courier and New York 
Enquirer: ** If you wish to be poor and trodden down, and to 
see your wife starving and your children in ignorance, vote for 
Martin Van Buren." Daniel Webster, a mercenary of the Bank 
of the United States, transmuted Van Buren's truthful state- 
ment that the Bank had been established by friends of the 
privileged orders, into a direct accusation of corruption against 
Washington and Madison. Harrison boldly announced his stand 
for paper money, and Whig orators followed Webster's lead in 
declaring for another charter for the Bank of the United States, 
controlled by Nicholas Biddle, the arch corruptionist. Van 
Buren's enduring achievement, the subtreasury, was the chief 
weapon of his opponents. The bill creating it did not become 
law until July 4, 1840, too late to be of any service in the cam- 
paign, whose grotesque shape was fashioned by this slur on 
Harrison in the Baltimore Republican: " Give him a barrel of 
hard cider, and settle a pension of two thousand a year on him, 
and my word for it, he will sit the remainder of his days in a 
log cabin." Almost overnight, log cabins arose in the streets, 
each with its barrel of hard cider, and raccoon skins adorned the 
walls. Weed started the Log Cabin and made Horace Greeley 
its editor; and Greeley filled it with crude woodcuts depicting 
Harrison as the hero of Tippecanoe and other battles, and with 
the words and music of cruder songs which marching thousands 
howled to the accompaniment of bands and fife-and-drum 
corps. As Greeley wrote: ''Our opponents . . . had campaign 


and other papers, good speakers and large meetings; but we were 
far ahead of them in singing, and electioneering emblems and 
mottoes." Typical of the mottoes was one borne aloft in many a 
Whig parade: 

With Tip and Tyler 
We'll burst Van's biler. 

The emblems were medals and debased currency assailing 
Van Buren's fiscal reforms, picturing him as a fox, or as a help- 
less creature of Jackson, and otherwise trying to bemean him. 

Van Buren lost the state by 13,290 votes. Four years before, 
he had carried it by 28,272 plurality. James G. Birney, tem- 
porarily residing in the state, was the presidential candidate of 
the Abolitionist or Liberty party, which held a national con- 
vention in Warsaw, Genesee County, in December, 1839. The 
Harrison landslide reelected Seward. His vote was 222,011. 
Bouck polled 216,808. 

Chiefly because of Seward's blunders, the Democrats regained 
control of the Senate and Assembly in the election of 1841 ; and 
when the Whig state convention met in Utica on October 7, 
1842, Seward had declined renomination. He had alienated 
many when he advocated schools for children of foreigners, 
with teachers of their own faith. He also lost support when he 
told the governor of Virginia that harboring fugitive slaves in 
New York was not a crime, but an act " inspired by the spirit 
of humanity and the Christian religion." Bradish was named for 
governor. He was defeated by Bouck, who polled 208,072. 
Bradish ran 22,000 behind him. 

On the eve of the Democratic national convention of 1844, 
William H. Hammett, a Representative from Mississippi, asked 
Van Buren to declare his views on Texas. Van Buren opposed 
annexation, and said that without Mexico's consent it would 
mean an unjust war. This courage cost Van Buren a second term 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 75 

in the White House. When at Baltimore the vice-presidential 
nomination was offered to Silas Wright, after the slave power 
robbed Van Buren of the nomination, Wright declined to " ride 
behind the black pony." Thus he designated James Knox Polk, 
our first dark horse. 

Van Buren and his followers in New York did effective 
work for Polk. They shelved Bouck, and persuaded Wright 
to resign from the United States Senate and run for governor. 
The Whigs nominated Millard Fillmore, an aide of Weed in 
the Antimasonic party. The Abolitionists nominated Alvan 
Stewart. The vote stood Wright, 241,090; Fillmore, 231,057; 
Stewart, 15,136. Polk carried the state, but ran more than 
4,500 behind Wright. 

Clay lost the state and the presidency because of the Aboli- 
tionist vote. Birney, again the Liberty party's choice for presi- 
dent, polled 15,812 in New York, more than double the vote 
cast for him in the entire country in 1840. Fillmore lost the 
state by 10,033. Clay lost it by only 5,106. Both truckled to the 
slave power. 

Aware that Wright would not resign the governorship, Polk 
offered him a place in the cabinet. Subsequently, he asked Van 
Buren to suggest a New York man for the cabinet. This was 
also a gesture. Ignorant of Polk's plot. Van Buren named Aza- 
riah C. Flagg, Churchill C. Cambreleng, and his former law 
partner, Benjamin F. Butler, who had served ably in the cabinets 
of Jackson and Van Buren. Polk then invited Butler to be 
Secretary of War, knowing he was entitled to the State or 
Treasury portfolio. When the expected declination came, Polk 
consummated his treachery by appointing Marcy Secretary of 
War. Marcy had broken with Van Buren over the annexation 
of Texas, and his appointment was planned to strengthen the 
opposition to Van Burenites. At first called Conservatives, the 
followers of Marcy were soon known as Hunkers, because they 


thought only of ojQSce. The name came from the Dutch word, 
hunherer, and signifies a selfish person. Marcy's followers lik- 
ened the Radicals, or Van Burenites, to the farmer who burns his 
barn to rout the rats, and called them Barnburners - an allusion 
to their antislavery stand. Despite the Federal jobs, the election 
of 1845 went against the Hunkers, the Barnburners electing 
twice as many Assemblymen as their opponents. 

Factions in the Whig and the Democratic Parties 

At the end of the legislative session of 1846, the Hunkers 
accused the Barnburners of hostility to the national administra- 
tion. Their immediate target was Wright, whose renomination 
they opposed. But Wright was renominated at Syracuse, with 
only 12 of the 125 delegates in the negative. Gardiner was re- 
nominated for lieutenant governor by acclamation. The Whigs 
had met in Utica a few days earlier, nominating John Young 
and Hamilton Fish. Young was spokesman of the Antirenters 
in the Assembly. 

The Antirent movement grew out of the protest of tenant 
farmers against the anachronistic provisions of feudal leases. 
These disputes, older than the Revolution, had been settled 
peaceably until 1839, when Stephen Van Rensselaer died. When 
the heirs of the patroon attempted to collect rents in arrears, 
the tenant farmers routed their agents. From the Van Rensselaer 
manor lands in Albany and Rensselaer, the revolt spread to ad- 
jacent counties. Night riding and assassination ended when 
Wright declared Delaware County in a state of insurrection, on 
August 27, 1845. After the Whigs and Democrats named their 
state tickets in 1846, the Antirenters organized as a state party, 
convening in Albany on October 6. The convention indorsed 
Young, the Whig candidate for governor, and Gardiner, the 
Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Wright's refusal 


to pardon two Antirenters convicted of murder had made the 
party hostile to his candidacy. 

The Native Americans also emerged as a state party in this 
campaign. They had begun their career of proscription in New 
York City when the Equal Rights movement was starting. In 
1843, they elected James Harper mayor of New York City, and 
paraded its streets with "No Popery" banners. They named 
for governor Ogden Edwards, who polled 6,306 votes. But it 
was not until ten years after that they made their national ap- 
peal to bigotry. The Abolitionist candidate for governor, Henry 
Bradley, received 12,844 votes. 

The Antirenters and the knifing Hunkers elected Young and 
Gardiner. Young's vote was 198,878; Wright's, 187,306. The 
Whigs carried 5 of 8 Senate districts. The Assembly contests 
resulted in the election of 68 Whigs, 50 Democrats, and 10 Anti- 

Wright's opposition to the state constitutional convention of 
1846 cost him many votes. This constitution gave the people 
a larger voice in the government. Its f ramers hit at the Native 
Americans by making naturalized citizens eligible for governor. 
State officers below lieutenant governor had been appointed 
by the legislature, and judges of the higher courts had been ap- 
pointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the 
Senate. The new Constitution made all these judgeships and 
state officers elective, beginning with the fall of 1847. The 
Democrats convened in Syracuse on Wednesday morning, Sep- 
tember 29, 1847. For five days and nights, the two factions 
engaged in a historic struggle. The Barnburners missed Wright's 
commanding presence. He had died a month before, on August 
27. But the Van Burenites had able leadership in the former 
president's son, surnamed Prince John, and in Butler, Cambre- 
leng, James S. Wadsworth and Preston King. On Saturday, 
they offered a resolution indorsing the principle of the Wilmot 


proviso. This free-soil resolve was an answer to the challenge of 
the slave power, whose legislatures and conventions had adopted 
resolutions binding southern Democrats not to attend a na- 
tional convention where slavery would be an issue. To avoid a 
record vote, the chair entertained a motion to table the resolu- 
tion. After a turbulent day-and-night debate, the motion was 
tabled by a viva-voce vote. It was nearly three o'clock Sunday 
morning when Dudley W. Field, another Barnburner, offered 
a similar resolution. Robert H. Morris, who was in the chair, 
ruled that it was not in order. The Barnburners appealed from 
the ruling, and " a scene of indescribable tumult arose," said the 
Evening Post correspondent. " Threats, denunciation, and dis- 
cordant noise, for fifteen minutes, drowned out all discussion of 
the question." Above the din, Wadsworth shouted: "Why this 
cowardice and recreancy? Are the gentlemen afraid to meet this 
question? " Dreading a roll call, the Hunkers left the hall. The 
Barnburners then issued a call for a state convention where low 
ward politics would not govern the deliberations. 

Meanwhile, the Whigs met in Syracuse, adopted the Barn- 
burners' free-soil resolution, and nominated a state ticket. But 
the Whigs were not free from division over slavery. The mi- 
nority were called Cotton Whigs, or Commercial Whigs. 
Their opponents answered to Conscience Whigs. It is in 
order here to observe that the Barnburners also bore the name 
of Soft Shells; the Hunkers had a corresponding alias in Hard 

The Barnburners met in Herkimer, on October 26. It was 
more than a state convention, for Barnburners from other states 
attended, including the author of the Wilmot proviso. The free- 
soil resolution, tabled at Syracuse, was unanimously adopted; 
also, a second resolve reciting that, as the slave states were 
pledged not to attend a convention which countenanced the 
principle of free soil, the Democrats of New York would " be 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 79 

obliged to adopt a counter declaration and proclaim their de- 
termination to vote for no man, under any circumstances, who 
does not subscribe to the preceding resolution." The convention 
did not name a state ticket. The Whig candidates for the lesser 
state offices carried some Democratic counties by a vote of ten 
to one, defeating the Hunker ticket by 30,000. They also elected 
a majority to both the Senate and the Assembly. 

As the Barnburners had a majority of the Democratic legis- 
lators in 1848, the Hunkers avoided the party's legislative cau- 
cus, held in presidential years, to issue a call for a state con- 
vention to choose delegates to the national convention. The 
Hunkers held an irregular meeting in Albany on January 26 and 
elected delegates. At the Barnburners' convention in Utica on 
February 16, another set of delegates was chosen. 

Van Buren now began work on a defense of the Barnburner 
delegation. Minor changes in it were made by Samuel J. Tilden 
and Prince John. This document was published in April, as the 
traditional address of Democratic legislators at the end of the 
session. It was the first effective assault on slavery, and has been 
fairly called the corner stone of the Free Soil party. The pro- 
posed injustice of seating both delegations was rejected, Van 
Buren saying that if the right of the Barnburners to sit were 
questioned, ** it must be decided, not compromised." When the 
Baltimore convention seated the rival delegations, the Barn- 
burners withdrew. 

At a meeting in New York City on June 6, the Barnburners 
described the nominations of Lewis Cass and W. C. Butler " as 
invalid as an Act of Congress passed after arbitrary expulsion 
of the members from any State." The Barnburners next held a 
convention in Utica, on June 22. Although the delegates listened 
to Van Buren's epistolary announcement of his " unchangeable 
determination never again to be a candidate," they unanimously 
nominated him. Henry Dodge, United States Senator from 


Wisconsin, was nominated for vice president. The delegates then 
issued a call for a national convention in Buffalo on August 9. 

The Free Soil Party 

More than 30,000 Free Soil Democrats and Conscience Whigs, 
from most of the states, assembled in Buffalo. A mass meeting 
was held in a circus tent in the park opposite the courthouse, 
presided over by Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio. Charles Francis 
Adams, of Massachusetts, was president of the convention, held 
in the Brick Church. A letter from Van Buren advised the 
delegates to abandon him if the great end of their proceedings 
could be better promoted, and added that the convention might 
be productive of "more important consequences than any 
which have gone before it save only that which framed the 
Federal Constitution." After a complimentary vote for John P. 
Hale, of New Hampshire, Van Buren was unanimously nomi- 
nated. Hale had been nominated for president by the Aboli- 
tionists but withdrew, and the Liberty party supported Van 
Buren. Dodge had declined the nomination for vice president, 
and Charles Francis Adams was nominated by acclamation as 
Van Buren's running mate on the Free-Soil ticket. 

The last plank of the platform read: 

Resolved, That we shall inscribe on our banner, " Free Soil, Free 
Speech, Free Labour, and Free Men," and under it we will fight on, 
and fight ever, until a triumphant victory shall reward our exertions. 

In this epoch-making canvass, the Whigs nominated Millard 
Fillmore for vice president, to make Zachary Taylor and his 
four hundred slaves less unpalatable to New York, whose vote 
would decide the election. At their state convention, they 
named Hamilton Fish and George W. Patterson. The Free 
Soilers chose John A. Dix and Seth Gates. The Hunkers put up 
Reuben H. Walworth and Charles O'Conor. 

Q^!^^C^^ /^^L^^X^ 

^'^'o.^ 7fr^ 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 81 

The Whigs carried the state by a minority vote, as the com- 
bined votes of Democrats and Free Soilers on both state and 
national tickets exceeded the Whig poll. The presidential vote 
was: Taylor, 218,603; Van Buren, 120,510; Cass, 114,318. The 
gubernatorial poll stood: Fish, 218,776; Dix, 122,811; Wal- 
worth, 1 1 6,8 1 1. It will be noted that the nominees for governor 
ran slightly ahead of the presidential candidates of their re- 
spective parties. Of the Assembly candidates, the Whigs elected 
108; the Free Soilers, 14; the Hunkers, 6. 

The campaign over. Van Buren returned to his well-earned 
retirement, leaving politics to Prince John. When Horatio 
Seymour undertook to reunite the Democrats, Prince John in- 
sisted that a compromise on the principle of free soil was im- 
possible. Seymour's acceptance of this condition brought in 
the Abolitionists; and all three groups were represented on 
Democratic tickets, state and local, in 1849. This fusion elected 
four of the seven minor state officers and two-thirds of the 
Assembly. But the Whigs held the Senate. The union of Aboli- 
tionists and Democrats did not last; and in 1850 the Demo- 
crats nominated Seymour for governor and Sanford E. Church 
for lieutenant governor; the Abolitionists named William L. 
Chaplin and Joseph Plumb. 

The Whig convention of 1850 was like the Democratic con- 
vention of 1847, even to factional labels. The Radicals were 
bent on a party indorsement of Seward's prescient speech in the 
Senate on the Clay compromise. Seward advocated the abolition 
of slavery in the District of Columbia, opposed slavery in new 
territory, and said that the South's threat to secede embraced 

the fearful issue whether the Union shall stand and slavery be removed 
by gradual, voluntary effort, and with compensation; or whether the 
Union shall be dissolved and war ensue, bringing on violent but com- 
plete and immediate emancipation . . . That crisis ... we must 



He abjured the provocative fugitive-slave law, which Fillmore 
signed a week and a day before the Whigs convened in Utica. 
Washington Hunt, a Radical, was nominated for governor. 
George J. Cornell, a Conservative, was chosen for second place. 
Then the convention indorsed Seward's speech by a vote of 
74 to 42. Francis Granger and other Conservatives bolted, and 
issued a call for a convention in Utica on October 17. Fillmore 
had sent secret orders to bolt, if Seward's speech was approved. 
The color of Granger's hair gave the bolters the name of Silver 
Grays, and they, in turn, called their opponents Woolly-Heads. 

The Whig rump convention merely praised Fillmore's fu- 
gitive-slave law and decried Seward's speech. Their failure 
to nominate a candidate for governor astonished the unin- 
formed. But the Castle Garden meeting of October 30 revealed 
Fillmore's plot to crush Hunt and the antislavery faction of his 
party. The proslavery speeches at this meeting, voiced in the 
name of Union, had the hearty indorsement of the Fillmore 
administration, for Secretary of State Daniel Webster sent a 
letter to the meeting, urging good citizens not to rekindle the 
fires of "useless and dangerous controversy." The gathering 
appointed a campaign committee which promoted the can- 
didacy of Seymour and other proslavery men. Cornell, of 
course, was the Unionist choice for lieutenant governor. 

For four weeks, the election for governor was in doubt. It 
was thought Hunt had met the fate of Cornell, who lost the 
lieutenant governorship by 8,000 votes. The final tabulation 
showed Hunt's election by 262 votes. The treachery behind this 
slim majority and in Cornell's defeat was manifest in the legis- 
lative contests, the Whigs electing 17 of the 32 senators, and 
82 of the 128 assemblymen. To ascribe Hunt's election to his 
popularity is to ignore two factors -the Antirenters, whose 
ticket he headed, and more important still, the Abolitionists, 
whose candidate for governor received only 3,416 votes, a small 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 83 

fraction of the party's strength. The major part of the AboK- 
tionist vote went to Hunt and Church. 

In this election, party labels lost more of their traditional 
significance. A president covertly bolted his party's nominee for 
governor in his own state, and the ranking member of his cabi- 
net, residing in another state, openly counseled defeat. Men 
were supported without respect to party. No longer could one 
write, as did De Witt Clinton in his Hiberniciis, that " the whole 
controversy is about office." It was a still further cry from the 
days of Clinton's uncle, governor for twenty-one years, chiefly 
because of himself. Van Buren, born in the sixth year of George 
Clinton's governorship, had seen the great change. He had par- 
ticipated in the struggles of the Clintons and the Livingstons, 
first against the Federalists and their aristocratic concepts, next 
against Burr and his ambitions, and finally among themselves. 
All this was before universal suffrage - which he had opposed. 
Then came the Albany Regency, mother of officeholders' con- 
ventions and group control of party affairs. He saw these, and 
their elder foster brother, the spoils system, wander over the 
land. He saw these strands of New York's tangled skein of 
politics -the phrase is Marcy's - thrust aside by principle. And 
it did not take a Van Buren to discern the new day, whose red 
dawn was fated with the landing of the first black on our shores. 

Select Bibliography 

Alexander, D. S., A Political History of the State of New York. 4 vols. 

(New York, 1906-23). Ably covers the history of parties in New York 

to 1905. 
Bancroft, Frederick, Life of William H. Seward. 2 vols. (New York, 1900). 
Beardsley, Levi, Reminiscences (New York, 1852). 
Bryant, W. C, Discourse on . . . Gulian Crommelin Verplanck (New York, 

Butler, W. A., Martin Van Buren (Boston, 1888). 


Byrdsall, F., History of the Loco-Foco, or Equal Rights Party (New York, 

1842). Every student must turn to this book for source material on the 

Clinton, DeWitt, Manuscripts. Twenty-four volumes of letters, chiefly to 

Clinton, in the Columbia University Library. ' 

Clinton, George, Public Papers of; ed. by Hugh Hastings. 10 vols. (Albany, 

1 899-19 14). Valuable for the period from 1777 to 1785. 
Daly, C. P., Gulian C. Verplanck (New York, 1870). 

Dickinson, D. S., Speeches, Correspondence, etc. 2 vols. (New York, 1867). 
Donovan, H. D. A., The Barnburners (New York, 1925). Based on research 

in manuscripts and newspapers. 
Flagg, A. C, Manuscripts. Six bound volumes, chiefly of letters to Flagg, in 

the New York Public Library. 
Fox, D. R., The Decline of Aristocracy in the Politics of New York (New 

York, 1 9 19). A philosophical unraveling of New York's tangled skein 

of politics down to 1846. The footnotes of this volume contain pertinent 

references to the contemporary newspapers, pamphlets, memoirs and 

collections of papers of political leaders. 
Hamilton, Alexander, Works of; ed, by H. C. Lodge. 9 vols. (New York, 

1885-86). Republished in 12 vols. (New York, 1904). Indispensable 

for the early period. 
Hammond, J. D., Political History of the State of New York. 3 vols. (Syra- 
cuse, 1852). Rich in source material. Hammond participated in many 

of the scenes he described with candor and fairness. 
Hone, Philip, Diary; ed. by Allan Nevins. 2 vols. (New York, 1927). 
Jay, John, Correspondence and Pubhc Papers of; ed. by H. P. Johnston. 

4 vols. (New York, 1893). Important, 
Jenkins, J. S., Life of Silas Wright (Auburn, 1847). 
King, Rufus, Life and Correspondence of; ed. by C. R. King. 6 vols. (New 

York, 1 894-1900). 
Knight, T. A., The Strange Disappearance of William Morgan (Brecksville, O., 

1932). A good account of the Masonic viewpoint. 
Lynch, D. T., An Epoch and a Man, the Times of Martin Van Buren (New 

York, 1929) . 
McBain, H. L., De Witt Clinton and the Origin of the Spoils System in New 

York (New York, 1907). 
McCarthy, Charles, The Antimasonic Party, Annual Report of the American 

Historical Association, 1902, I, 365-574 (Washington, 1903). 

Ill PARTY STRUGGLES, 1828-185O 85 

Mackenzie, W. L., The Life and Times of Martin Van Buren (Boston, 1846). 
Based on purloined letters written by Van Buren and his political lieu- 
tenants from 1819 to 1838. These letters, chronologically arranged, are 
the chief merit of the work. 

Myers, Gustavus, The History of Tammany Hall (New York, 19 17). 

Pearson, H. G., James S. Wadsworth of Geneseo (New York, 1913). 

Renwick, James, Life of De Witt Clinton (New York, 1840). An old narra- 
tive, but valuable in the light of Renwick's personal acquaintance with 
the subject. 

Scisco, L..D,, Political Nativism in New York. Studies in History, Economics 
and Public Law, Columbia University, Vol. XIII (New York, 1901). 

Seward, W. H., Autobiography, from 1801 to 1834, with a Memoir of His 
Life (New York, 1877). 

Tilden, S. J., Letters and Literary Memorials; ed. by John Bigelow. 2 vols. 
(New York, 1908). Tilden's part in the Free Soil movement. 

Trimble, G. W., Unpublished doctor's dissertation, in the Harvard Library, 
on the Locofoco party. 

Van Buren, Martin, Autobiography of; ed., with notes, by J. C. Fitzpatrick. 
In American Historical Association Annual Report for 19 18, Vol. II 
(Washington, 1920). This political memoir was planned to include all 
the " principal events " of the author's life, and throws new light on the 
Albany Regency. Save for a few fleeting references to his later public 
career, the work is not carried beyond 1836. Van Buren's frankness 
makes it all the more regrettable that he did not complete his task. He 
had a mine of material at his disposal; and this is preserved in the Li- 
brary of Congress. A mere glance at the Calendar of the Papers of 
Martin Van Buren (Washington, 19 10) will indicate what he could have 
done concerning the Free Soil movement and the events preceding it. 

Verplanck, G. C, The Bucktail Bards (New York, 18 19). This, and other 
pamphlets, criticised DeWitt CKnton, mayor of New York City. See 
W. C. Bryant's discourse on Verplanck. 

Weed, H. A., Ed., Life of Thurlow Weed, Including his Autobiography and 
a Memoir. 2 vols. (Boston, 1884). An indispensable source for the 
period subsequent to 1825. 

Werner, E. A., Comp., Civil List and Constitutional History of . . . New 
York (Albany, 1889). 

^ IV ^ 


Dexter Perkins 

Professor of History 
University of Rochester 



The Federalist Period 

IN the actual drafting of the Constitution of the United 
States, as has been seen in a previous chapter, New York 
played no conspicuous part. In the struggle over the ratifi- 
cation of that document, nowhere was the contest closer than 
in the Empire State. So strong were the Antifederalists in 
the legislature, that they created a deadlock in the choice of 
presidential electors and United States Senators. They were 
even able, also, to force through a call for a new convention, 
to make alterations in the regime already set up. But despite 
all these things, no state was to contribute more vitally through 
its public men to the operation of the new government. It 
might be regarded as symbolic of that influence that it was in 
New York City that the first Congress of the United States 
convened, in New York City that George Washington took 
the oath of office as President of the United States, and in New 
York City that the Supreme Court of the United States was 
to hold its initial sessions. 

It was in the executive and judicial branches of the new 
government that New York was to be most brilliantly repre- 
sented. To the lower house of the first national legislature, 
the Empire State sent six representatives, some of them men 
of means and influence, but none of them destined to play 
decisive roles. In the Senate, when the legislative deadlock which 
delayed the elections was broken, appeared Rufus King, a sub- 
stantial figure, a member from Massachusetts of the late Con- 
stitutional Convention, a vigorous proponent of the Constitu- 
tion in the ratifying convention in that state, and just lately 
removed to New York City; and beside King, one of the great 


feudal overlords of the Hudson Valley, General Philip Schuyler, 
eminent in war, less strikingly able in the arts of peace. These 
men were to bear a useful part in the large work immediately 

But in the other branches of the government, New York 
stood out more conspicuously. To the office of Chief Justice of 
the Supreme Court of the United States, Washington appointed 
John Jay, one of the most respected of the Federalist group, 
well-to-do, allied with the other great families of the state, with 
a distinguished public career as a member of the Congress, as a 
negotiator of the treaty of peace with Great Britain, as Secretary 
of State under the Confederation, as the vigorous supporter of 
the new regime itself. And to the important post of Secretary 
of the Treasury, no doubt in the eyes of contemporaries the 
most important in the executive department, came another 
New Yorker in the person of Alexander Hamilton. At the time 
of his nomination to this important office, Hamilton was only 
thirty-two years old. Related through his marriage to Elizabeth 
Schuyler to one of the great families of the state, with a mind 
extraordinarily vigorous and logical, strong in the trust and 
confidence of the President, under whom he had served in the 
Revolutionary War, with a reputation enhanced through his 
brilliant campaign in behalf of the new Constitution in the New 
York State ratifying convention, Hamilton brought to the 
office to which he was called a consistent political philosophy, 
a genius for financial affairs, and a concrete program for the 
consolidation of the new regime. Through his person, indeed. 
New York was to have a dominant influence in the first years 
of the national government. 

The program which he submitted to the first Congress, and 
which was enacted into law, was, no doubt, conceived in the 
interest of the financial and commercial classes of which he 
was invariably the spokesman. It has sometimes been criticized 


on these grounds. But, whatever else may be said of it, it brought 
to the support of the new government powerful political and 
economic interests, as Hamilton intended that it should. And, 
if one may judge by the votes of the New York members of 
Congress, it represented on the whole the predominant political 
opinion of New York State. 

What were the principal points in this program? The first 
was the funding of the debt of the United States, the vindication 
of the public faith, as Hamilton would have called it; the second 
was the assumption by the Federal government of the state 
debts; the third was the establishment of a national bank; the 
fourth was the establishment of a revenue system which should 
supply the new government with adequate funds for the pay- 
ment of its expenses, the interest on the public debt, and the 
establishment of a sinking fund, and which should, by its in- 
cidence, bring home the existence and power of the national 
authority to the people. 

The first and second of these measures were ably dealt with 
in the famous report on the Public Credit of the United States, 
published on January 9, 1790. The redemption of the debt, and 
the assumption by the Federal government of the state debts 
incurred in the common cause of the Revolution, would, Hamil- 
ton argued, be of the greatest utility to the country as a whole. 
For, in countries where the national debt was funded, the Secre- 
tary declared, the stock answered most of the purposes of 
money, and thus increased the amount of fluid capital. Thus 
trade, agriculture and manufactures were all stimulated; 
the rate of interest declined; and an accession of prosperity 

The views herein set forth, and the proposals which they sup- 
ported, came before Congress in the winter session of 1790-91. 
They soon became the center of a vigorous discussion. With re- 
gard to the funding of the debt of the Confederation, there was 


virtually no disagreement; the only important dissent from the 
recommendations of the Secretary of the Treasury came on 
the question of whether the same treatment should be accorded 
to the original holders and to the ultimate purchasers of such 
obligations. In behalf of a less liberal treatment of ultimate 
purchasers, James Madison waged a vigorous battle on the floor 
of the House of Representatives. But even here the Secretary 
prevailed. Madison's amendment to the bill was defeated, 3 6 to 
13, and on this question Hamilton's fellow citizens of New York 
all stood by their great political associate. 

But the question of the assumption of the state debts was 
naturally more bitterly contested. Some of the representatives 
of the states with small state debts were opposed to the project, 
as imposing upon them an additional burden; and many mem- 
bers of Congress objected to a measure which, as they viewed it, 
unnecessarily increased, by about 50 per cent, the size of the 
national debt. The debate was long and vigorous, and in the 
House of Representatives, on April 12, assumption was defeated 
by a vote of 3 1 to 29. But Hamilton was not the man to take 
a beating easily. He found a means to snatch victory from de- 
feat by one of the most famous logrolling compromises in the 
history of the Federal government. Meeting Thomas Jefferson, 
the Secretary of State, before the door of the President's house, 
he walked him to and fro, appealing to him to use his influence 
in support of the administration, and in behalf of a measure 
whose failure might mean the secession of the northern states. 
The result was a famous dinner, at which, in part through the 
urging of Jefferson, two members of the Virginia delegation 
bound themselves to vote for assumption; in exchange, the 
Secretary of the Treasury engaged to secure the votes for the 
establishment of the national capital on the banks of the Poto- 
mac. Thus the assumption amendment was successfully passed 
through the House, by a vote of 32 to 29. In the Senate, the 


whole funding program had already been accepted by the close 
vote of 14 to 12. 

In the struggle over the funding question, Hamilton secured 
no unqualified support from the New York members of Con- 
gress. In the Senate, it is true, Schuyler and King whole- 
heartedly sustained the administration; but in the House of 
Representatives three of the six Congressmen from New York 
voted against the assumption amendment, its principal support 
coming, as might be expected, from the two representatives of 
the capitalist interests in New York City. 

Next in importance to the funding and assumption measures 
in Hamilton's fiscal program was the establishment of a national 
bank, in which the government should have an interest, and 
which should be used as a depository for government funds. In 
this project, it is interesting to note, the Secretary had the un- 
qualified adhesion of the New York members of the national 
legislature. In many quarters vigorously contested, the bill was 
approved by every New York member in House and Senate. 

Two other legislative achievements should be mentioned here 
in connection with the work of Hamilton. One is the measure 
enacted in 1792 for the establishment of a sinking fund; the 
other is the excise law of March 3, 1791. The first needs no ex- 
planation, and its wisdom is apparent; the second, levying a 
tax on liquor, was in accord with the desire of the Secretary to 
make the strong arm of the government everywhere felt. The 
scanty records of the first Congress do not permit us to deter- 
mine the vote of the New York members of Congress on the 
excise; but it was certainly the most unpopular and the least 
successful of all the Secretary's measures. It was, before long, 
much modified; even so, it produced a discontent which culmi- 
nated in armed resistance; and it never yielded a considerable 
revenue. It is, however, in its fiscal incidence, thoroughly char- 
acteristic of the economic theory of its author. His theory of 


protection to American manufactures will be dealt with else- 

The domestic policy of the Washington administration was 
of the first significance in the history of the United States, and 
it was largely framed, as has been seen, by a New York man. In 
the field of foreign policy, also. New York was to play an im- 
portant role. The knottiest problems which confronted General 
Washington in this field were those connected with the French 
Revolution, or rather those connected with the outbreak of a 
world war in Europe. By American conservatives, such as Alex- 
ander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris, the New York man 
who represented the United States at the Tuileries, the French 
Revolution in its progress had been regarded with increasing 
detestation. Morris, indeed, had actually had a hand in the at- 
tempted escape of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in June of 
1 79 1, and his dispatches reveal the most striking aristocratic 
prejudice. But to simpler men, in New York State as elsewhere, 
the cause of France was the cause of republicanism and lib- 
erty, all the more attractive, perhaps, when, in February, 1793, 
Great Britain, the oppressor of little more than a decade before, 
was added to the number of France's foes. Amidst a tempest of 
popular feeling, the Washington administration attempted to 
steer the prudent course of neutrality. 

In favor of such a policy, at least in principle, the members 
of the administration were united. Hamilton and Jefferson, the 
Secretary of State, equally deprecated war; and both approved 
the famous proclamation drawn up by John Jay, and promul- 
gated on April 19, 1793, which has served as a model of neutral- 
ity proclamations ever since. But when concrete questions arose, 
the two great rivals in Washington's cabinet no longer saw eye 
to eye. When a minister from the French republic, Citizen 
Genet, arrived in the United States, Hamilton desired that he 
be received with the reservation that the United States no longer 


recognized the binding force of the treaty of alliance made by 
it with royalist France; Jefferson contended, successfully, for 
his unqualified reception. But the grossly undiplomatic conduct 
of Genet, in attending public meetings, criticising the admin- 
istration, and fitting out privateers in the ports of the United 
States, created further difficulties; and, while Jefferson did 
finally ask for his recall, the pressure toward this end must 
have come from men of other views, and especially from Hamil- 
ton. Before the end of 1793, the rivalry of Washington's two 
principal advisers had led to the resignation of the Virginian. 

In the meantime, our relations with Great Britain were 
rapidly growing worse. There were many unliquidated issues aris- 
ing from the treaty of peace, while Great Britain's treatment of 
American neutral commerce and of American seamen was arous- 
ing a very decided irritation in the United States. Resolutions 
sponsored by Madison, looking to commercial retaliation, were 
introduced in Congress in the spring of 1794. But, despite the 
existence of valid causes of complaint, there were powerful 
economic interests aligned in favor of an understanding, rather 
than a breach, with Great Britain. The representatives of the 
merchant class, indeed, despite arbitrary British action on the 
seas, were more intent upon a commercial treaty than upon a 
redress of grievances. It was this class, of course, that Hamilton 
represented, and in the spring of 1794 the rumor began to go 
about that he was to be appointed special envoy to London. But 
the opposition to his appointment was so intense that he was 
obliged to withdraw his name from consideration, suggesting 
to the President that of John Jay. Washington acted upon this 
suggestion and, after confirmation by a close vote in the Senate, 
Jay set out for England. The treaty which he there negotiated 
has been variously judged. His negotiations were not made easier 
by the all-too-reassuring language as to American purposes 
which Hamilton addressed to Hammond, the British minister 


at Philadelphia, and he himself was perhaps more yielding than 
he needed to be. On questions of neutral rights, he conceded 
much to Great Britain, and on matters of commerce he secured 
only grudging and incomplete concessions, and accepted a re- 
striction on the export of important articles of American com- 
merce, such as cotton. The result was a tremendous outburst 
of indignation in the United States, especially, of course, among 
the Francophiles. It was only by the bare constitutional major- 
ity of two-thirds that the Jay compact was approved by the 
Senate at the end of June, 1795, and then only after the ob- 
noxious twelfth article, restricting American exports, had been 
stricken out. One of its principal opponents in the Senate had 
been Senator Aaron Burr of New York, who in 1791 had suc- 
ceeded to the seat held by Schuyler. 

Shortly after action in the Senate, the terms of the treaty 
leaked out and became known to the general public. Popular 
emotion now rose to fever heat. In New York City, attempting 
to defend the pact, Hamilton was stoned by a mob. In Phila- 
delphia, the treaty was violently denounced. In the South, it 
was the object of much dislike. When the House of Representa- 
tives was called upon to pass legislation necessary to its execu- 
tion, it did so only after an acrimonious debate. The members 
of the House from New York were divided; even in his own 
state John Jay, who had been elected governor during his ab- 
sence abroad and took office as governor July i, before the pub- 
lication of the treaty, found his work the subject of bitter 

The debates on the Jay treaty illustrate with great vividness 
the strong partisan antagonisms which were being imported 
into American politics. These antagonisms, indeed, had been 
growing from the days of the Hamilton fiscal program. There 
would have been a party battle in 1792 if Washington, in part 
because of the urging of Hamilton, had not consented to be a 


candidate for a second term. As it was, a clear-cut partisan 
division presented itself in the vote for Vice President, the Ham- 
iltonians, or Federalists, as they called themselves, voting once 
more for John Adams, the Republicans, as the anti-fiscal party 
was now known, for George Clinton, of New York. In 1796, the 
division was even clearer. By a majority of only three votes, 
John Adams became President, and Thomas Jefferson, the leader 
of the Republicans, Vice President. 

From September, 1795, when Hamilton resigned his post in 
the Treasury, up to and indeed beyond the election of Jefferson, 
no New York man figured prominently in the administrative 
side of the Federal government. But Hamilton, though out of 
office, was still a tremendous political force, and his personality 
continued to influence political events. His successor at the 
Treasury, Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut, took much advice 
from him; the Fareivell Address delivered by Washington in 
September, 1796, owes much to his inspiration, though Jay had 
a hand in its composition; and even the impending retirement 
of his great patron from the political scene could not put an end 
to his activities. In the campaign of 1796, he played a devious 
role, giving no hearty support to Adams, the Federalist candi- 
date; and once the New Englander had become President, he 
constantly intrigued with members of the cabinet to determine 
the policies of the new administration. When relations with 
France became strained in 1797, owing to the insulting refusal 
of the French government to receive our envoys, and its attempt 
to extort a bribe from them, Hamilton was one of those most 
determined on war. Always ambitious for military glory, he 
pressed for the creation of a Federal army, and, when such an 
army was constituted, secured for himself a most important 
military appointment, second only to that of Washington. 
When Adams made peace with France, the New Yorker was 
one of his most virulent critics, and the letters which he wrote 


in violent condemnation of the President, while not meant for 
publication, soon saw the light through the chance agency of 
Burr, and did real damage to the Federalist cause in the elections 
of 1800. 

In the meantime, an important domestic issue had arisen. In 
1798, the Federalists, in violent reaction against foreign agita- 
tion, lengthened the period for naturalization and passed the 
famous Alien and Sedition Laws, suppressing criticism of the 
administration. The Republicans countered with a vigorous 
assault upon this unwarranted extension of the powers of the 
Federal government, and the legislatures of Virginia and Ken- 
tucky, at the instigation of Jefferson and Madison, passed the 
famous Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, asserting the right 
of the states to protest against, and if need be to " interpose " 
against, such an abuse of power. In New York State, as else- 
where, the strife of parties was well exhibited in the discussions 
on the laws. When Judge Jedediah Peck, of Otsego, was arrested 
for having put his name to a petition requesting the repeal of 
the obnoxious laws, and brought to New York City under in- 
dictment, the Republicans made his journey thither the occa- 
sion for tumultuous demonstrations. On the other hand, when 
John Jay, now governor, transmitted to the New York legis- 
lature the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, the Federalist 
majority promptly took issue with the views therein set forth, 
affirming the constitutional doctrine that the construction of 
Federal laws rested not with the states, but with the judiciary. 

Partisan skirmishes on the subject of the Sedition Laws were 
the prelude to the great electoral contest of 1800, in which 
Jefferson and Adams were pitted against each other for the 
presidency. As in many presidential elections to come, the vote 
of New York was vital, and might be decisive; and, since the 
electors were chosen by the legislature, the election of that body 
was the central problem. It was the Republicans who were 


victorious. A coalition of the Livingston and Clinton factions 
of the party paved the way for electoral success, and in New- 
York City Aaron Burr, a rising member of the party, who had 
already served a term as United States Senator (1791-97), 
systematically organized the voters, and secured one of the first 
triumphs of modern electoral methods with the aid of the 
Tammany Society. Great, indeed, was the distress of the Fed- 
eralists, and especially of Hamilton. Animated by partisan zeal, 
Hamilton now made to John Jay, still governor, one of the 
most extraordinary of political proposals; he suggested that Jay 
call the old Federalist legislature together, and have it arrange 
the legislative choice of electors by districts which would insure 
a sufficient number of votes to prevent Jefferson's success. Years 
later, to the eternal honor of Jay, there was found in his papers 
the letter of the great Federalist, and on it in Jay's handwriting 
the words, " This is a measure for party purposes which I think 
it would not become me to adopt." 

In the events immediately to follow, however, Hamilton ac- 
quitted himself better. Under the terms of the Constitution 
as it then read, a single ballot was cast for President and Vice 
President together; he who received the most votes was to 
be President, he who received the second largest number, Vice 
President. But in the election of 1800, Jefferson and Aaron 
Burr, his Republican running mate, received exactly the same 
number, and the election was thrown into the House of Repre- 
sentatives. Here the Federalists controlled, and there were those 
among them who were willing to defeat the clear purpose of 
the electors, and make Burr President. Hamilton opposed this 
proposal, and while the wiser heads of the Federalist party in 
Congress might in any case have rejected so discreditable a 
scheme, his influence deserves to be noted. His strong personal 
dislike of Jefferson was not permitted to override more impor- 
tant considerations. 


The Virginia Dynasty and New York 

The new administration of Thomas Jefferson brought to the 
vice presidency, as we have seen, the New Yorker, Aaron Burr. 
For thirty-two out of the eighty-four years to follow, New 
York was to be represented in that office. But in the cabinet and 
in Congress, the scepter of power passed to the South, and, 
though New York had now become Democratic-Republican, in 
the main, it exerted less influence on the national counsels than 
it had in the previous decade. Its defeated Federalist group be- 
came a discredited faction. In Congress, such Federalists as 
Gaylord Griswold, of Herkimer, offered a partisan opposition 
to the great measure of Jefferson's first administration, the pur- 
chase of Louisiana; and though they were impotent, and a 
feeble minority in New York's state representation (with 
eight Republicans in the House, and the Republican DeWitt 
Clinton and Theodorus Bailey in the Senate) , their attitude il- 
lustrated the factiousness into which Federalism had fallen. It 
was not the leaders of New York Federalism, however, who 
were primarily responsible for the discreditable intrigue of 
1804. Timothy Pickering and others of New England were 
dreaming of a new political alignment, which might look to- 
ward the formation of a northern confederacy, and they hoped 
to make the instrument of their plans none other than the Re- 
publican Vice President, who, within a year of taking office, had 
broken with the administration. In the campaign of 1804, in 
which Burr stood for the governorship, they gave him support. 
The wiser heads among the New Yorkers, such as Rufus King 
and Alexander Hamilton, discouraged the Federalist intrigue 
and looked with suspicion upon Burr; and it was Hamilton's 
virulent attacks upon Burr which led to the famous duel, and 
to the tragic death of the great financial genius of Federalism on 
the rocky heights of Weehawken. 


In the election itself Burr was defeated, and there followed 
an episode in his career around which romantic legends have 
clustered and which is surely one of the most extraordinary in 
the history of the Republic. Returning to Washington in the 
fall of 1804 for the final session of the Senate in his vice- 
presidential term, Burr took leave of that body in a speech of 
great dignity and power, and before long set out for the West. 
The tangled web of intrigue which he now wove has long 
puzzled the historian. It used to be believed that he aimed at 
the separation of the West from the Union; but it seems more 
probable that his real purpose was to undertake a military ex- 
pedition against Mexico, a step all the more likely to be feasible 
in view of the strained relations of the United States with Spain. 
Comfort Tyler, of Onondaga, was one of his important lieu- 
tenants. Burr's aims were brought to the attention of the ad- 
ministration, and on November 27, 1806, President Jeiferson 
issued a proclamation which led to his arrest. There followed 
the famous trial at Richmond, Virginia, which lasted for five 
months, and brought to the capitol of the state men of eminence 
from all over the Union. Burr was acquitted, but his political 
career was over, and so this brilliant, but self-centered, man 
passes from the stage. 

The disgrace of Burr, however, did not mean that New York 
was compelled, at the end of Jefferson's first term, to relinquish 
the vice presidency. Instead, on the ticket with Jefferson ran 
the venerable George Clinton, and so great was the popularity 
of the administration that the Democratic-Republican candi- 
dates were elected by an electoral vote of 162 to 14. The im- 
portance of securing the support of the New York political 
leaders was further attested when, in 1806, the President ap- 
pointed Brockholst Livingston to be a Justice of the Supreme 

And now came critical events, of no less interest to New 


York than to the nation at large. The first term of Jefferson 
had been relatively tranquil, so far as foreign affairs were con- 
cerned; in the second, the President found himself compelled 
to grapple with problems of neutrality even more difficult, per- 
haps, than those which had vexed the administration of Wash- 
ington. American interests and rights were flouted by both 
belligerents, and the administration, reluctant to wage war, yet 
equally reluctant to submit without question, turned to the 
President's cherished weapon of commercial coercion. Limited 
nonimportation, as against Great Britain, was voted in No- 
vember, 1806, and thirteen months later the drastic measure 
of the embargo totally suspended our trade with the nations 
of the Old World. For this extraordinary measure, and for 
those necessary to enforce it, Jefferson's New York supporters 
in Congress for the most part voted. But that the measure 
worked great hardship was clear, and that it tempted to evasion 
was even clearer, as has been shown in a previous chapter. All 
along the New York border, smuggling became almost a pro- 
fession, and Lake Champlain in particular became the center of 
a prosperous, if illicit, trade. The government made vigorous 
efforts to stop the evil, even resorting to force against the smug- 
glers, and on at least one occasion something like a pitched battle 
took place. But in course of time the discontent worked its own 
remedy, and one of the last acts of Jefferson's administration 
was the repeal of the embargo, and the substitution of a milder 
act which restricted American trade in less drastic fashion. 
Never until the days of the Volstead Act was New York to 
offer so striking an example of popular disregard for a Federal 

The discontent evoked by the administration's policy was 
reflected in the presidential campaign of 1808. The Federalists 
scored large gains; and in the Empire State DeWitt Clinton, 
the ambitious nephew of Vice President Clinton, sought to 


capitalize this discontent against the candidate of the RepubU- 
can caucus, James Madison, and to commit the New York 
electors to his uncle for the presidency itself. The effort was 
only partially successful; the legislature, instead of instructing 
the electors, gave them a free hand, and only six of them voted 
for the elder Clinton. The rest obeyed the principle of party 
regularity, and the venerable New York Republican was once 
more obliged to content himself with the second place. 

In the events leading up to the War of 1 8 1 2, the public senti- 
ment of New York was deeply divided. In the Congress which 
was finally to react against the policy of patience and to declare 
war against Great Britain, there were New Yorkers who felt 
as strongly as Calhoun and Clay, conspicuous among them 
being Peter B. Porter, of Buffalo; but in the vote on the declara- 
tion of war itself, both the House and the Senate delegations 
were evenly divided, and not only Federalists, but Republicans, 
were numbered among those who opposed the administration. 
Once again, moreover, the policy pursued at Washington fur- 
nished the means for promoting the personal ambitions of lead- 
ing New Yorkers. The death of George Clinton, in the spring of 
1 8 12, left the younger Clinton in a position of great influence. 
This extraordinary man, scholar, administrator, philanthropist 
and politician, now aimed at nothing less than the presidency. 
While thus benefiting, on the one hand, from the discontent at 
the weakness of the chief executive, Clinton sought, on the 
other hand, to exploit the discontent of the Federalists with the 
war itself; and in this course he was brilliantly successful. 
Though opposed by the New Yorker, Rufus King, he secured 
the indorsement of most of the Federalist leaders. A rising politi- 
cian named Martin Van Buren associated himself with his cause, 
and worked hard for his election. But though the electoral vote 
of New York State was thus secured, and though the New 
England states, with the exception of Vermont, voted for 


Clinton, James Madison was reelected. The vote in the electoral 
college was 128 to 89. 

The role of New York in the war itself has been treated 
elsewhere in this history. It will suffice to say here that De Witt 
Clinton himself atoned for the equivocations of his presidential 
campaign by the vigor and force which, as mayor of New York 
City, he brought to the prosecution of the struggle; and that a 
New York man, John Armstrong, allied with the family of 
the Livingstons, discharged during more than two years of the 
conflict the functions of Secretary of War. Armstrong's ad- 
ministration has often been judged with severity, in part, no 
doubt, justly; but it is at least to be said of him that he brought 
into prominence leaders like Scott, Brown and Jackson, among 
the most successful military figures of the conflict. 

The closing years of the Madison administration were years 
of increasing nationalism. The partisans of more extended 
powers for the Federal government came once more into the 
ascendancy; and, the recharter of the first national bank having 
been defeated in 18 11 (as it happened, by the casting vote of 
Vice President George Clinton, in the Senate) , a second national 
bank was created by the act of 1 8 1 6. By a curious irony, the 
Federalist Senator, Rufus King, was found in opposition to this 
measure, while Republican members of the House of Repre- 
sentatives from New York voted in many instances in its favor. 
The trend toward the extension of Federal power was even more 
strikingly exhibited in the vote on the tariff bill of 18 16, the 
first tariff in which protection for manufactures was admittedly 
the dominant purpose; and for this bill the New York delega- 
tion in Congress voted almost unanimously, thus displaying 
tendencies and revealing the existence of economic interests 
which were to play a powerful role in New York politics for a 
long time to come. Still a third measure of centralization re- 
ceived the ardent support of the New Yorkers in Congress. 


When Calhoun proposed an ambitious program of internal im- 
provements at Federal expense, the representatives from the 
state voted for this measure almost as unitedly as they had for 
the tariff law. There v/as to be a reaction against this kind of 
thing before many years, skillfully developed and crystallized 
by a leading New Yorker; but in the nationalist ardor of the 
years after the War of 18 12, the tide ran strongly toward ex- 
tension of Federal activities. 

In the administrations of James Monroe, New York men 
were not conspicuous, though the Vice President, Daniel D. 
Tompkins, elected for Monroe's two terms, was, it is true, a New 
Yorker, and Smith Thompson served in the cabinet. In the 
many important executive decisions of the period, the treaty of 
1 8 18 with Great Britain, the acquisition of the Floridas, the 
enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine, New York had no great 
part. But in the great constitutional and sectional issue which 
falls athwart the middle of the era of good feeling, the contrary 
was the case. The story of the Missouri Compromise is very 
decidedly germane to the subject of this chapter. 

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, the slavery 
question played a relatively unimportant role in the delibera- 
tions of Congress. But the situation was changed when, in 1 8 19, 
a bill for the admission of Missouri appeared in the House of 
Representatives. It was a New York man, James Tallmadge, Jr., 
who offered an amendment to this measure forbidding the fur- 
ther introduction of slaves into Missouri, and providing that 
all children of slaves born in the state after its admission should 
be born free, but might be held to service up to the age of 
twenty-five years. By a vote of 79 to 67, the Tallmadge pro- 
posal was adopted, despite the warm opposition of many mem- 
bers and the eloquence of Henry Clay, and for it almost the 
whole New York delegation voted. But the Senate refused to 
concur, and the bill was lost. Immediately there arose a mighty 


outburst of feeling in the North. Between the adjournment of 
Congress in March, 1 8 19, and its reassembUng in December, the 
antislavery cause was warmly championed by the public opinion 
of the free states. In November, in New York City, a meeting 
attended by 2,000 persons passed resolutions looking to the ex- 
clusion of slavery from Missouri. When the legislature met in 
January, by a unanimous vote of both houses it went on record 
as supporting the proposition of Tallmadge. In Congress, the de- 
bates of the beginning of the session of 1 8 19 and 1 820 took place 
chiefly in the Senate. There the Southern members attached 
to a bill for the admission of Maine an amendment looking to 
the admission of Missouri without restriction. There followed 
a long-remembered and dramatic debate, in which one of the 
principal figures was Senator Rufus King, of New York. King 
had been elected to the Senate in 18 13, and reelected, after a 
legislative deadlock, in 1820. A Federalist, he commanded the 
respect of many Republicans. And now, in a great speech, he 
denounced the extension of slavery with such effect that, to 
quote John Quincy Adams, " the great slave-holders gnawed 
their lips and clenched their fists as they listened to him." In 
a sense. King battled in vain. After days of discussion, the Sen- 
ate adopted the famous compromise amendment by which all 
the rest of the territory north of 36' 30'' was dedicated to free- 
dom. The struggle was now transferred to the House. Should 
the compromise be accepted, or should it not? The members 
from New York in most instances answered with a determined 
No. Yet when the Senate amendment permitting slavery in 
Missouri was finally adopted, March 2, 1820, by a vote of 90 to 
87, two Congressmen from the state voted for the bill. Without 
their accession the measure would have been defeated. 

Important as the slavery debates of 1820 actually were as an 
expression of Northern feeling, and as an augury of the future, 
the country, after the adoption of the Compromise, relapsed 


into political tranquillity. The old party lines had now virtually 
disappeared. The election of 1 824 was fought on personal, rather 
than party, differences. No election, however, holds greater 
elements of interest. There were four candidates in the field, 
Crawford, the Secretary of the Treasury; John Quincy Adams, 
the Secretary of State; Henry Clay; and Andrew Jackson. In 
New York State, sentiment was much divided. An important 
group of politicians headed by Martin Van Buren, now in the 
national Senate, were for Crawford. So, too, were most of New 
York's representatives in Congress. On the other hand, this very 
fact created a strong sentiment against Crawford on the part 
of the foes of Van Buren. When the legislature met to chose the 
presidential electors (such, as we have seen, was the custom in 
New York) , an immense amount of pulling and hauling took 
place. The final result, reflecting a party bargain rather than 
public opinion, was the election of 25 Adams men, 7 Clay men, 
and 4 Crawford men. In his Autobiography, Thurlow Weed 
explains how, by secretly printing a split ticket and by promis- 
ing electors to Clay, in case they could be used effectively, he 
gained control of enough electoral votes to make John Quincy 
Adams President. For, there being no choice in the electoral 
college after the votes of all the states had been counted, the 
names of the three highest candidates were balloted upon by the 
House of Representatives. These three candidates were Craw- 
ford, Jackson and Adams. But had Crawford not received the 
four votes given him by New York, it would have been Clay 
and not Crawford whose name would have come before the 
House. And there, in view of his great popularity, the Speaker 
might have been elected. New York's decision excluded Clay 
from the presidency. 

In the balloting in the House itself, moreover. New York 
played an important role. The election of Adams required the 
support of thirteen states. Twelve states were almost certain, 


but New York was doubtful. Of its congressional representa- 
tion of 34, 17 were for Adams, 16 were unqualifiedly opposed 
to him, and one, Stephen Van Rensselaer, was doubtful. It was 
the decision of the patroon to give his vote to the New Eng- 
lander, made at the last moment, after much wavering and al- 
most by accident, which finally brought about the latter's 

Old Hickory and His New York Friends 

The election of 1825 ushered in a President whose whole 
term was hardly more than a prolonged electoral campaign, 
looking to the election of Andrew Jackson to the presidency. 
In the maneuvering of these four years, a great New York 
politician, later to be a genuine statesman, played an impor- 
tant part. Martin Van Buren, as has been seen, had been rising 
into prominence in New York State for some time. He had, 
though first a supporter of Clinton, finally attached himself 
to the anti-Clintonian wing of the New York Republicans; he 
had thoroughly mastered the technic of the spoils system, now 
an established practice in New York State; and he had been 
elected to the Senate in 1821. Before the term of Adams had 
been far advanced, the doughty little New Yorker was a recog- 
nized leader of the Jacksonians. When the President sent a 
mission to the Congress of American Nations at Panama in 
1826, Van Buren took up the cudgels against the measure, 
shrewdly capitalizing American sentiment against entangling 
alliances. Gauging the fact that there was a reaction against 
the expenditure of large sums by the Federal government on in- 
ternal improvements. Van Buren identified himself thoroughly 
with this point of view. And, on the thorny question of the 
tariff, he played a devious game with the interests of Jackson 
always in mind. 


On the tariff question, indeed, he was, if Henry Clay is to be 
beheved, responsible for one of the most extraordinary political 
maneuvers in the history of Congress. The ranks of the Jack- 
sonians were by no means united on the question of protection. 
In New York, and in the West, protectionist sentiment pre- 
vailed. The South, on the other hand, was decidedly in favor 
of lower duties. Accordingly, an ingenious plan was framed 
to satisfy both sections in some measure, and to put the odium 
of defeating a tariff bill on New England where Old Hickory 
had very little support. The plan was this: a bill was framed, 
carrying high duties on the products of the West, but neglect- 
ing the claims of New England. All amendments to this bill 
in the House were to be resisted by the Jacksonians. Then, on 
the final vote, it was expected that the Southerners and the New 
Englanders would defeat the measure. Thus, in the North, the 
Adams men would be in the position of having balked the 
claims of the West; and in the South, capital could be made 
out of the fact that no tariff bill at all had been passed. The 
only difficulty with this plan was that it was too ingenious by 
half. The measure passed both houses, and ironically enough, 
in the Senate, pleading the instructions of the state legislature, 
Martin Van Buren went on record in the affirmative. Thus " the 
tariff of abominations " was adopted with the support of New 

It needed no such elaborate maneuvering on the tariff, in all 
probability, to determine the issue of the campaign of 1828. 
The rising democracy of the West, and the political leaders of 
the South, rallied to the cause of Andrew Jackson; New York 
gave him a small but adequate plurality; and when the new 
administration took office in March, 1829, it was known that 
Martin Van Buren was to occupy the office of Secretary of State. 

The advent of Old Hickory to power has been treated 
properly as an epoch in the history of the Federal government, 


as a significant step in the development of democratic, as op- 
posed to aristocratic, conceptions in government. In New York 
State, as elsewhere, it was the masses who shouted for the hero 
of New Orleans, and the masses who hoped to benefit from his 
election. For some years before his advent into the presidency, 
indeed for a long political generation, the spoils system had 
been a feature of New York politics, and appointments and re- 
movals on the basis of partisanship had not been unknown at 
Washington. But the purge which the government underwent 
under Jackson in 1829 was, none the less, something novel. And 
moreover, " rotation in office," as it was called, was defended 
as a beneficent democratic principle. In these events, Martin 
Van Buren had a prominent, indeed one might almost say, a 
decisive role. Schooled in the spoils politics of New York, he saw 
no reasons why the same system should not be applied in 

Yet Van Buren was no mere office broker. His administration 
of the State Department was distinctly creditable. There were 
no major diplomatic issues, it is true. But he settled a dispute 
of long standing with Great Britain over the West Indian trade, 
and in his contacts with foreign diplomats, bore himself well, 
and made himself very decidedly respected and liked. At all 
times, he retained the confidence of his chief, who, long before 
his first term was over, had determined to make the New Yorker 
his successor in the presidency. 

Van Buren's increasing importance, however, led to more 
and more violent attacks upon him by the supporters of Vice 
President Calhoun. He was accused of having intrigued against 
the South Carolinian, and in the summer of 1830 he persuaded 
the President to accept his resignation. Appointed minister to 
Great Britain, he sailed for his post in August. There followed 
an act of private vengeance on the part of Calhoun, which re- 
acted against its author. When the Senate met in December, 



Van Buren's appointment was submitted to it. By the casting 
vote of the Vice President, it was rejected. The result of this 
maneuver was only to strengthen the New Yorker, who was 
himself nominated for the vice presidency on the ticket with 
Jackson in 1832. 

In the meantime, stirring battles were being fought in Wash- 
ington. The anti-Jacksonians, now coming to be known as 
Whigs, imprudently brought forward, on the eve of the presi- 
dential campaign, a bill for the recharter of the national bank. 
The measure was passed. New York's two senators voting 
against it, and her delegation in the House being divided, eleven 
for and fifteen against. But when the President sent in his veto, 
the votes could not be found to override it. Jackson and Van 
Buren went into the campaign of 1832, strong in their appeal 
to the popular prejudice against concentrated wealth. But this 
prelude to the electoral battle of 1832 was no more exciting 
than its sequel. In the spring session, a tariff bill had been en- 
acted, modifying in some respects the measure of 1828, but 
strongly protectionist in its general flavor. South Carolina, dis- 
contented ever since 1828, now flatly proclaimed the doc- 
trine of nullification. The crisis was met with boldness by the 
President, who challenged the new dogma with soldierlike 
directness, and demanded of Congress authority to enforce the 
laws. At the same time, the forces of compromise made them- 
selves felt in Congress, and a new tariff measure, for a sliding- 
scale reduction of duties, was brought forward by Henry Clay. 
Both these measures passed at the close of the session, and the 
crisis was dispelled. New York's representatives voted almost 
unanimously for the force bill, but preponderantly against the 
compromise tariff. Van Buren, the master politician, was in 
Albany during this critical period, and seems to have exercised 
no direct influence on the solution of the problem. 

In the second administration of General Jackson, the New 


Yorker who now sat in the vice presidential chair, though en- 
joying close and confidential relations with the White House, 
played no decisive role in policy. The victory of 1 832 embittered 
and emboldened the President in his struggle with the Bank of 
the United States, and in the course of the next year he em- 
barked upon the drastic course of withdrawing the government 
deposits. Van Buren was not enthusiastic about this policy, when 
it was first proposed; he sought at one time to postpone action; 
but the old General's imperious will determined it. In one other 
matter, the Vice President's influence was more important. Old 
Hickory was determined that the New Yorker should be his 
successor; and this fact must have had much to do with the 
policy of the administration with regard to Texas. In the re- 
volt of this Mexican province against the central government, 
the administration sought to maintain a cautious neutrality; and 
when the victory of San Jacinto determined the independence 
of the new state, recognition was, with equal caution, withheld 
until after the election of 1836. 

In the preparations for the electoral struggle of that year, and 
in the campaign itself. Van Buren behaved with dignity, and 
with considerable candor. The suavity of this most interesting 
man has led uninformed or hostile critics to believe that he was 
without convictions. The facts do not bear out this view. In his 
term as Vice President, he faced without flinching a most embar- 
rassing vote on a minor phase of the slavery question, voting in 
favor of the South. In his declaration of principles in the sum- 
mer of 1836, he not only expressed himself clearly on the issues 
involved, but took leave to differ with his patron, Jackson, on 
one point, that of distributing the governmental surplus to the 
states; and to differ with the views of many persons in his own 
state on another, that of abolition of slavery in the District of 
Columbia. No one can say that his victory in the election of 
1836 was won by a campaign of " non-committalism." 


As President of the United States, Van Buren was called upon 
to deal with a business depression more serious than any which 
had preceded it in the history of the United States. In those 
days of extreme individualism, it is not surprising that recovery 
was left, in large measure, to the operation of natural economic 
forces. Van Buren states the case for such a policy persuasively, 
in more than one of his presidential messages. But this does not 
mean that he was an apostle of mere inertia. The panic of 1837 
was, in no small degree, accentuated by Jackson's policy of 
placing government funds in favored state banks, where these 
funds became the basis for outrageous speculative activities. 
Van Buren saw this clearly; and seeing it, he urged tenaciously 
and, in the last event, successfully, upon Congress the passage 
of the so-called subtreasury bill, providing for the establishment 
of an independent repository for government funds. 

Nor was this the only question on which the President showed 
a steady head, and took a large view. In the first year of his 
administration, insurrection broke forth in Canada. The excite- 
ment in New York State was intense, and so, too, was zeal for 
the cause of the revolutionists. Many New Yorkers, indeed, 
enlisted in the ''patriot" cause; and Canadian forces, on the 
other hand, on one occasion crossed to the American side of the 
Niagara River, and there destroyed the vessel " Caroline," which 
had been engaged in carrying supplies to the patriots. In the 
midst of this commotion, the administration in Washington 
faithfully sought to pursue its neutral duties, and to enforce the 
neutrality laws. The ebullition of popular feeling did not swerve 
it from this course. 

In still a third question Van Buren gave evidence of a wise 
caution. The republic of Texas, as we have seen, had won its 
independence of Mexico in 1836, and in 1837, at the very end 
of Jackson's administration, it had been recognized by the 
United States. In Van Buren's term of office, it applied for 


annexation. This application Van Buren denied. Mexico had 
not yet given up hope of reacquiring its former province, and 
would be deeply irritated at American absorption of Texas. 
Still more important, rising antislavery sentiment in the North 
would be sure to resist the acquisition of more slave territory. 
The Texan question was therefore left to a later administration 
to solve. 

On the slavery question itself, at this period, the President 
was, as he had been in the vice presidency, a conservative. He 
opened his term of office with a denunciation of the abolition- 
ist agitation itself. In taking this stand, he was running counter 
to the trend of the times. The slavery question was drama- 
tized in Congress in the late thirties by the extraordinary strug- 
gle of John Quincy Adams against the gag law, the rule of 
the House forbidding the reception of antislavery petitions; 
and the student of the politics of New York can easily trace 
in the speeches and attitude of leading politicians, such as Wil- 
liam H. Seward, for example, the development of increasing 
antislavery sentiment in the Empire State. Indeed, as the decade 
of the thirties comes to an end, and that of the forties opens, 
the stage is being set for the great political struggle that leads 
on toward the Civil War. 

The Slavery Question 

Yet slavery can hardly be said to have played a part in the 
defeat of Van Buren in 1840. The depression which inaugu- 
rated his administration had even yet not run its course; in the 
South, the President had never really been popular, but had 
merely been accepted as the political heir of Andrew Jackson; 
and, in addition to these handicaps, the Whigs had succeeded in 
arousing great enthusiasm for the bucolic military man, Wil- 
liam Henry Harrison, whom they nominated for President 


without any inconvenient declaration of principles to hamper 
his campaign. Van Buren, then, joined the two Adamses as a 
one-term President, and his own state contributed to his defeat. 

In the nomination and election of Harrison, New York Whig 
leaders had had a not insignificant part. The decade of the 
thirties had seen the rise of that remarkable political mecha- 
nician, Thurlow Weed, the editor of the Albany Evening Jour- 
nal, and virtually the Whig boss of the state. Associated with 
him, the public figure gaining in popularity throughout the 
state, while Weed worked behind the scenes, was William H. 
Seward. Both had had a hand in the nomination of Harrison, 
preferring him to Clay. Judge H. L. White, of Tennessee, who 
abhorred Martin Van Buren "above all pretenders," was the 
first person to disclose the "Triangular Correspondence" by 

which "C residing in Rochester, S ... in Utica, 

and T ... in the city of New York " wrote to one an- 
other: "Do all you can for Mr. Clay in your district, for I am 
sorry to say he has no strength in this." Thus districts favor- 
able to Clay were induced by friends of Webster to choose 
delegates to the national convention, opposed to Clay's nomina- 
tion. Weed concealed his intention to force the nomination of 
General Harrison by selecting twenty delegates ostensibly com- 
mitted to General Scott, but really favorable to Harrison. On 
the way to the convention, Weed completed an arrangement 
with New England leaders by which the supporters of Scott 
and Harrison combined to give the nomination to the latter. 
The nomination for Vice President was repeatedly offered to 
New York, but no candidate appeared. New York was recog- 
nized in the new cabinet by the selection of Francis Granger of 
Canandaigua, a courtly and agreeable personality, for the im- 
portant office of postmaster-general. 

But before long, disaster overtook the Whigs. Harrison died 
only a month after his inauguration, and John Tyler, the new 


President, marched on to a breach with his party. Separating 
from it on domestic affairs, he also embarrassed it on questions 
of foreign poHcy, by bringing forward the question of Texan 
annexation and negotiating a treaty to that end, a treaty which 
was defeated in 1844. 

The Texan question bore a principal part in the impending 
presidential campaign. In the skirmishes preceding the nomi- 
nating convention. Van Buren, who seemed to be in the lead 
for the nomination, declared against immediate annexation; and 
although he hedged about this declaration with professions of 
willingness to heed the will of the people as expressed in a gen- 
eral election, he probably injured his chances by his attitude of 
caution. The Democratic convention turned to a dark horse in 
the person of James K. Polk, of Tennessee. The Whigs nomi- 
nated Henry Clay. Clay had opposed the Texan treaty in the 
Senate, and it was believed that he would maintain this attitude. 
As the campaign developed, however, he began to equivocate, 
with a view to capturing the Southern vote, and this equivoca- 
tion may well be considered to have been fatal. 

In New York, antislavery sentiment had been steadily de- 
veloping. A Liberty party, opposed to the further extension of 
slavery, had appeared in the campaign of 1840, nominating 
James G. Birney for the presidency; the language of politicians 
of the older parties more and more reflected the antislavery view, 
so important in central and western New York, and both New 
York's Senators had voted against Tyler's Texan treaty in the 
spring of 1844. Clay's wobbling attitude on Texas may very 
well have lost him the electoral vote of the Empire State, and 
with it the election of 1844. For Polk carried the state by a 
plurality of hardly 5,000 votes, and over 15,000 votes were cast 
for the candidate of the Liberty party, which again brought 
forward James G. Birney. Had those who voted the Liberty 
ticket, or even half of them, been willing to vote for Clay as 


the opponent of Texan annexation, as has been observed in 
another chapter, the Kentuckian would have attained the 

The administration which came into power in 1845 called 
a New Yorker, in the person of William L. Marcy, to the office 
of Secretary of War. That office was to prove particularly im- 
portant in the Polk administration. For the strained relations 
with Mexico created by the annexation of Texas, and by the 
failure on the part of the Mexican government to settle Ameri- 
can claims, coupled with Mexican unwillingness to treat with 
the United States, produced war in 1846. In the struggle which 
followed, Marcy exhibited real capacity, and, despite charges to 
the contrary, freedom from partisan prejudices. New York 
troops, too, played an honorable and gallant part in the famous 
march of General Scott from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico. 

But despite these things, public sentiment in the state was 
by no means united in support of the war. In many quarters, it 
was regarded as raising new problems with regard to the exten- 
sion of slavery. New York representatives in the House and 
Senate were, regardless of party, aligned in favor of the famous 
Wilmot Proviso, introduced in the congressional session of 1847 
as an amendment to one of the appropriation bills and stipulat- 
ing for the exclusion of slavery from all the territory acquired 
from Mexico. In the congressional elections of 1 846, the Demo- 
crats, victorious two years before, lost heavily. One of the 
reasons for these losses lay in the factionalism which, as has been 
shown in another chapter, had now taken possession of the 
Democratic party. 

In the presidential campaign of that year, indeed. New York 
was again destined to play a highly important role. The Whigs, 
agreeably to their traditions, nominated a military hero, Zachary 
Taylor, selecting as their candidate for the vice presidency a 
prominent New York Whig, Millard Fillmore; the Democrats 


selected Lewis Cass, of Michigan, and Butler, of Kentucky. But 
the two old parties found a third and even a fourth group now 
in the field. A powerful and influential group of political leaders 
and men of affairs named Van Buren as the candidate of the 
Free Soil party; and a still more radical group of antislavery 
men, under the name of the Liberty League, nominated the 
well-known philanthropist and abolitionist, Gerrit Smith, of 
Peterboro. In the ensuing election, the vote of New York was 
badly split. The Whig strength, it is true, held firm; but the 
Democrats divided evenly, or almost evenly, between Cass and 
Van Buren, thus giving the electoral vote of the state to Taylor, 
and again, as in 1844, deciding the election. 

In the stirring events of the days which followed. New York 
men had no small part. The new administration faced the diffi- 
cult problem of organizing the territories taken from Mexico; 
and the question of what should be done produced one of the 
greatest political crises in the history of the Republic. Faced 
with the indignation of the South, and the antislavery feeling 
of the North, Whig leaders like Clay and Webster declared for 
compromise. An elaborate legislative program was brought for- 
ward, the purpose of which was to calm the agitation, and to 
take the slavery question out of the political arena. Should this 
program be accepted, or should the possibility of compromise 
be thrust aside? To the Senate of the United States, there had 
been elected from New York in 1849 a strong antislavery man, 
in the person of WiUiam H. Seward. Brilliant, often statesman- 
like, always a lover of popularity and applause, Seward was op- 
posed to any concession to the South. And Seward was one who 
wielded great influence with the President, for he and Thurlow 
Weed had had an important part in Taylor's nomination. The 
soldier in the White House was preparing to insist upon the 
admission of California as a free state and the adjournment to 
a later date of the other issues raised by the compromisers, when 


once more death stepped in to alter the course of a Whig ad- 
ministration. In July, 1850, President Taylor died, and Millard 
Fillmore became President of the United States. Fillmore had 
once been an antislavery radical; but he now cast his influence 
on the side of adjustment, and the result was the series of meas- 
ures which are known as the Compromise of 1850. These meas- 
ures have, of course, been variously judged. But it is perhaps 
the dominant view that they were the means by which the 
Union was consolidated for another decade, until the gathering 
strength of the North made secession both an inescapable chal- 
lenge, and a certain way to the victory of the cause of the Union. 
In their realization, New York State, as we have seen, had its 
significant part. 

Summary of New York's Role in National Affairs 

The year 1850 concludes the period which we have been ex- 
amining in this chapter. A new epoch, that of increasing sec- 
tional strife and civil war, was about to begin. But it is not the 
prospective, but the retrospective, glance which we must now 
take. Looking back, what is to be said of the place of the Em- 
pire State in the history of the first sixty-one years under the 

In the formative years of the national government, the role 
of New York was almost preeminent. It gave to the nation the 
great financial genius, Alexander Hamilton, whose labors did so 
much to consolidate the new regime; and John Jay, who be- 
came the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Its Senators 
supported the fiscal program of the first Washington adminis- 
tration; the majority of its representatives did likewise. In the 
party struggles of the era. New Yorkers played an important 
part. Here again one discovers Hamilton, not always as wise in 
partisan maneuver as in statesmanship; one meets the fascinat- 


ing, if sinister, figure of Aaron Burr; and one notes the impor- 
tant role of New York in the election of Thomas Jefferson to 
the presidency of the United States. The country was governed 
for a season by an alliance of Virginia and New York. Then 
comes a period of influence less profound. The vice presidency, 
it is true, is much in the hands of New Yorkers: Aaron Burr, 
1801-5; George Clinton, 1805-12; and Daniel D. Tompkins, 
1817-25. On the Supreme Court bench sits Brockholst Living- 
ston, 1806-23; and Smith Thompson, 1823-45. But the mov- 
ing forces are not guided by New York men. New Yorkers 
like Peter B. Porter, it is true, play an honorable part in the 
events leading to the War of 1 8 1 2 ; a New Yorker, not the most 
successful of his line but still a New Yorker, presides over the 
War Department during much of that struggle; and in the 
controversy over the admission of Missouri in 1820, no Senator 
gained a greater admiration than the venerable Rufus King. 
But the role of New York is far less significant than in the first 
decade. With the second quarter of the century, the scene again 
changes. New York plays a central part in the election of John 
Quincy Adams; it produces, in Martin Van Buren, one of the 
great political managers in the history of this country; through 
him, it has its part in the advent of Andrew Jackson to power; 
and the shrewd New Yorker who sponsored Old Hickory be- 
comes Secretary of State, Vice President, and then President of 
the United States. It contributes P. B. Porter, Benjamin F. 
Butler, John C. Spencer, William L. Marcy, James K. Paulding, 
Francis Granger and Nathan K. Hall to the cabinet. In the leg- 
islative branch of the government, no veritable giants of debate 
or of counsel, except Silas Wright, make their appearance; yet 
New York is well served in Congress, and furnishes, in the main, 
support to the policies of the executive. In the rising struggle 
over slavery, moreover, its role is again a prominent one. On this 
issue, it contributes to the defeat of Clay in 1 844; to the consoli- 


dation of Northern sentiment, as expressed in the Wilmot Pro- 
viso, against the acquisition of further slave territory through 
the Mexican War; to the division and defeat of the Democratic 
party in 1848; and to the great events which culminated in the 
Compromise of 1850. And as the period closes, it sends to the 
Senate one of the most eminent of its public men in "William H. 
Seward, as, only a few years earlier, it had given to the nation an 
effective and much underrated Secretary of War in William L. 
Marcy. In the whole story of its influence, there are two main 
lines of development which ought to be emphasized; at times 
the great commercial interests of the state seem to hold the stage, 
as in the fiscal program of Hamilton, as in the strong protection- 
ist sentiment characteristic of the state, as in the hostility of the 
metropolis to Jackson; but measured against these interests are 
those of the agrarian democracy, usually triumphant, always 
powerful, sometimes crude, but often idealistic; sometimes 
ignorant, but often imbued with sound sense; and always typi- 
cal of the time and of its spirit. In the rivalry of these interests, 
indeed. New York epitomizes a larger struggle, which is one 
of the major themes of the history of the United States itself. 

Select Bibliography 
for the whole period 

Alexander, D. S., A Political History of the State of New York. 4 vols. 

(New York, 1906-23). A work of real merit closely related to the role 

of New York in Federal affairs. 
— — John W. Taylor, New York's Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, XVIII, 

14-37 (1923)- 
Annals of Congress. 42 vols. ("Washington, 1834-56). Obviously the most 

important source for this chapter. 
Congressional Globe. 46 vols, in iii (Washington, 1834-73). Of equal 

value, for the period after 1834. 


Fox, D, R., The Decline of Aristocracy in the Politics of New York (New 

York, 19 19). A highly suggestive and thorough study. 
Hammond, J. D., History of Political Parties in the State of New York. 

3 vols. (Cooperstown, 1846-48). Partakes of the nature of a source and 

is invaluable. 
Harrington, Virginia D., New York and the Embargo of 1807. Proceedings 

of the New York State Historical Association, XXV, 143 (1927). 
Hart, A. B., Ed., The American Nation: A History. 28 vols, by various con- 
tributors (New York, 1904-18). The men and measures of the period 

are discussed from various aspects. 
Johnson, Allen, Ed., Chronicles of America. 50 vols, by different authors 

(New Haven, 19 18-21). A work of merit. 
McMaster, J. B., A History of the People of the United States. 8 vols. (New 

York, 1883-1914). An interesting and unusual work. 
Register of Debates in Congress. 14 vols, in 29 ("Washington, 1825-37). 

Contains the speeches and reflects the attitude and influence of New 

York men in the national legislature. 


Adams, Henry, History of the United States of America. 9 vols. (New York, 

1909— 11). Perhaps the foremost of American historical literary classics 

for the Jeffersonian period. 
Bemis, S. P., Jay's Treaty (New York, 1923). A study based on thorough 

Bowers, C. G., Jefferson and Hamilton (New York, 1925). A vivid and 

colorful, but not unprejudiced, sketch of the rivalry of the two great 

advisers of Washington. 
Davis, M. L., Memoirs of Aaron Burr. 2 vols. (New York, 1837-38). An 

interpretation of the romantic career of Burr by one who knew him. 
Fitzpatrick, J. C, Ed., Autobiography of Martin Van Buren (Washington, 

1920). Valuable for the Jackson period, but by no means telling all that 

one would wish. 
Hamilton, J. C, Works of Alexander Hamilton. 7 vols. (New York, 1850- 

57). Of great value for the early period. 
Johnston, H. P., Ed., Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay. 4 vols. 

(New York, 1890-93). A source of importance. 
Lodge, H. C, Alexander Hamilton (Boston, 1882). A favorable interpreta- 




tion, in the American Statesmen series. There is no first-rate biography 

of Hamilton. 
Ed., Works of Alexander Hamilton. 12 vols. (New York, 1904). 

Much more complete than the collection by Hamilton's son. 
Lynch, D. T., An Epoch of a Man, the Times of Martin Van Buren (New- 
York, 1929). A readable, but somewhat partisan, study. 
Proctor, L. B., Review of John C. Spencer's Legal and Political Career (New 

York, 1886). 
Sears, L. M., The Middle States and the Embargo. South Atlantic Quarterly, 

XXI, 152 (1922). 
Severance, F. H., Ed., Millard Fillmore Papers. 2 vols. Publications of the 

Buffalo Historical Society, X-XI (Buffalo, 1907). Important source for 

this leading statesman. 
Shepard, E. M., Martin Van Buren (Boston, 1888). An older, but a careful, 

Smith, J. H., The Annexation of Texas (New York, 1911). 
War with Mexico (New York, 19 19). The role of New York men in 

the Texan question and the Mexican "War is touched upon in these two 

great works. 
Wandell, S. H., and Minnigerode, Meade, Aaron Burr. 2 vols. (New York, 

1925). A secondhand and rather too favorable account. 
Weed, H. A., Ed., Life of Thurlow Weed, Including His Autobiography and 

a Memoir. 2 vols. (Boston, 1884). A source that cannot be neglected, 

for the period after 1825. 
Woodburn, J. A., The Historical Significance of the Missouri Compromise. 

In the American Historical Association Report for 1893, pp. 249-98 

(Washington, 1894). A thoughtful summary. 


Edward Hungerford 

Author of The Story of 
the Rome, Watertown and 
Ogdensburgh Railroad, etc. 
Watertown, New York 


The First Vision of the Railroad 

IN 1826, the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad was incorpo- 
rated, and the business of building and operating railroads 
across the state of New York was begun. Five years later, 
the first train in the state operated over the track of that first 
small road -from Albany to Schenectady -so that the railroad 
industry in New York is now over a hundred years old. Prior 
to its coming, the state already was in a fair stage of industrial 
development, owing to the evolution of its transport facili- 
ties. In the fifty years following the Revolution, real progress 
had been made in the opening of water transport routes, both 
across the state and up and down its more easterly counties. In 
addition to its rivers, lakes and canals. New York possessed a 
good system of highroads; some of them well-famed, such as 
the Albany Post Road, the Great Western Turnpike, the his- 
toric Ridge Road from Rochester to Niagara Falls, the North 
Country Road from Utica up to the Black River Valley and 
to Sacketts Harbor, the so-called Military Road (because ori- 
ginally it had been built by the United States Army as part of a 
scheme of national defense) from Sacketts Harbor through to 
Plattsburg, and many others. 

These highroads admirably supplemented the natural water- 
ways of the state. In the long months of northern winter, when 
waterways were more or less frozen and impotent, these served 
as the busy arteries of the commonwealth. Their handicaps were 
obvious. Paving was all but unknown, although the great road 
from Albany to Schenectady was equipped with long stone 
paving flags, placed in a double row, like a crude form of rail- 
road track, so that teamsters and carters could haul their heavy 
loads up the steep grades with a little less effort on the part of 


their horses. Since the highroads of the New York of that early- 
day were -to put it hghtly- inadequate for the demands of 
commerce, the state turned to waterways. It is enough to 
say here that the canal system paved the way for the coming of 
the railroad, even though oftentimes bitterly opposed to it. 

The Grand Canal had hardly begun to handle its commerce 
and to give impetus to new towns upon its banks - Amsterdam, 
Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Rochester and Lockport being the chief 
among these -before the railroad clamor was heard in the land. 

Railroads of a crude sort there had been, both in England and 
upon the Continent, for more than two hundred years past, but 
almost invariably these were connected with collieries as plant 
facilities - generally to bring coal from mines to the nearest 
dock upon navigable water. And so they were in the United 
States, at first. The small railroad with horse-drawn cars which 
Gridley Bryant opened, in 1826, at Quincy, Massachusetts, was 
a plant facility for bringing out great blocks of granite from 
the quarries, to scows three miles distant. Similar small railroads 
at Mauch Chunk and at Honesdale, Pennsylvania, were append- 
ages of coal mines. On the last of these, there was to be 
run on August 8, 1829, the first practical steam locomotive 
ever operated in America -the "Stourbridge Lion," British- 
built, which Horatio Allen had brought across the Atlantic to 
bring coal from the Delaware and Hudson Company's mines in 
a distant mountain side to the terminal of its private canal at 

Horses were the motive power of these very early railroads. 
In fact, even the far-visioned Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 
which the citizens of Baltimore were planning to build three 
hundred miles into the hinterland, in an attempt to recover 
some of the traffic for their seaport city that had been lost to it 
through the recent completion of the Erie Canal, was designed 
originally for operation by horses. These were not only to haul 


its cars over the long level stretches, but they were to turn the 
capstans for endless cables by which these same cars were to be 
raised or lowered upon the inclined planes to be installed over 
the high hills. 

The Coming of the Steam Locomotive 

But the steam locomotive was coming -with an irresistible 
sweep and power. In England, as early as 18 14, Timothy Hack- 
worth had made a practical adaption of Watt's steam engine to 
a road vehicle, capable not alone of propelling itself, but of 
hauling other vehicles behind it. Blendinsop and others had de- 
veloped this idea remarkably. But it was George Stephenson who 
created a highly successful transportation device. His " Loco- 
motion No. I," in September, 1825, hauled not only one car, but 
a whole long train of them. This Stephenson triumph was fol- 
lowed, four years later, by an even greater one. The Liverpool 
and Manchester Railway, of thirty-five miles, advertised a con- 
test for steam locomotives. At this contest in the outskirts of 
Liverpool, Stephenson's " Rocket " emerged a rather easy victor 
and the most famous locomotive in the world. It was rapidly 
succeeded, however, by an increasing host of other practical 
locomotives, not only in Great Britain, but in France, Germany, 
other parts of Europe, and in the United States as well. 

American manufacturing enterprise, although still in an in- 
cipient stage, was not to be denied this new field for its 
endeavors. Indeed, as early as 1825, John Stevens, upon the 
grounds of his estate at Hoboken, New Jersey, had laid down a 
small circular track and was running upon it a tiny steam loco- 
motive, which functioned perfectly. Four years later, Peter 
Cooper, an alderman and distinguished citizen of New York 
City, was endeavoring with a similar crude and homemade de- 
vice, the " Tom Thumb," to convince the skeptical directors of 


the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that a steam locomotive was 
the only solution for their motive-power problem. His success 
induced those directors, two years later, also to hold a locomo- 
tive contest near Baltimore, similar to that at Rainhill, near 
Liverpool, from which they chose their first practical locomo- 
tive, the " York," which had been hauled to the seaport city for 
sixty miles, over the rolling Maryland hills, by teams of oxen. 
The result of that test was that the Baltimore and Ohio never 
used British-built locomotives. 

Yet for the next twenty years or so, England was to send a 
very considerable locomotive fleet of her manufacture to this 
side of the Atlantic. The pioneer "Stourbridge Lion," as we 
already have seen, made its successful debut up in the Penn- 
sylvania hills at Honesdale. But the first locomotive to be used 
in New York State - the " De Witt Clinton," which made the 
now historic trip over the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad from 
Albany to Schenectady, in August, 183 1 -was built within this 
state, at the West Point Foundry, situated at the foot of Beach 
Street, in the city of New York. This factory, an affiliate and 
outgrowth of an early iron foundry at Cold Spring, just across 
the Hudson from West Point, had already constructed two 
highly practical locomotives. The first of these was the "Best 
Friend of Charleston," built on order from the South Carolina 
Canal and Rail Road Company and shipped from New York 
to Charleston by water in October, 1830. After a few trial trips, 
this small locomotive went into regular service. Unfortunately 
it was doomed to a short life, for six months later it burst its 
boiler and was practically destroyed. The safety-valve device 
already had come into being; but the "Best Friend's " engineer 
had been annoyed by the sound of escaping steam, and had tied 
it shut, with the result that the locomotive was ruined and three 
men rather seriously injured. 


The Mohawk and Hudson 

Despite the fact that its charter permitted the use of horse 
power, the Mohawk and Hudson, even before its completion, 
also ordered an English locomotive. This was not the "DeWitt 
Clinton," but the " John Bull," built by the Stephensons at their 
factory at Newcastle upon Tyne. It reached New York late 
in August, 1 83 1, and was at once sent up the river to Albany. 
But in the meantime the "DeWitt Clinton" had been com- 
pleted and was already in active service. Although apparently 
a somewhat inferior locomotive in practical results, it aided the 
Mohawk and Hudson in making a rather spectacular bow to the 

What was this Mohawk and Hudson company and how had 
it come into existence? The story may be told in a few para- 
graphs. In order to find the easiest possible gradients for the 
Erie Canal up the steep ascent from the Hudson at Albany to 
the Mohawk, it had been found necessary to take an extremely 
roundabout course between Albany and Schenectady -distant 
from each other but sixteen miles in a direct line. It was 
obvious that to stretch a railroad tangent across this bow would 
be a great shortening of the western trip for passengers, but not 
for freight, which could hardly afford the cost of double trans- 
fer at the two ends of such a road. 

No one thought at the outset that the railroad would be fool- 
hardy enough to attempt directly to parallel adequate water- 
ways, such as the Hudson, Long Island Sound, Lake Champlain 
or the Erie Canal and its branches. But where a railroad, run- 
ning over high plateaus, could shorten these waterways, it was 
an admitted facility - even in 1826. And so it came to pass that 
the first road to be planned and built in western New York 
was for a similar purpose, to shorten the distance between 


Rochester and Buffalo -also a roundabout and tedious trip by 
the canal. The second in that territory- the railroad from Syra- 
cuse to Rochester, by way of Auburn and Canandaigua-was 
careful to avoid paralleling the waterway, even though it took 
a route a full twenty miles longer than that of the canal. And 
the first railroad planned between the highly important cities 
of New York and Albany -the New York and Harlem -took 
very good care to avoid directly paralleling the Hudson and so 
offending the powerful steamboat interests that were the veri- 
table kings of that stream. 

George W. Featherstonhaugh, of Duanesburg, in Schenec- 
tady County, at an early day had sensed the possibility of a short- 
cut rail line between Albany and its neighboring Dutch town 
of Schenectady. He brought to his aid that powerful old pa- 
troon, Stephen Van Rensselaer. But the Mohawk and Hudson 
Railroad, as it soon came to be named, was essentially the prod- 
uct of Featherstonhaugh's enterprise and vision. He was a man 
of parts, and is credited with having organized the State Board 
of Agriculture. For several years prior to 1825, Featherston- 
haugh, the possessor of a large library, had been a student of 
railroads. He began to plan how this new form of land trans- 
port could best be adapted to American needs; to the needs of 
the very community in which he lived and worked. His in- 
terest in the new idea eventually was to lead him, in the fall of 
1826, to England, there to see this strange new device, the steam 

Prior to his voyage overseas, Featherstonhaugh apparently 
had contemplated only horse power for the proposed railroad 
between Schenectady and Albany. He had estimated, in 1825, 
that the new railroad, double-tracked and built largely of a 
wooden superstructure with thin " strap " iron rails, laid upon 
wooden sills, would cost $9,258 a mile to put down, or $148,128 
for the entire distance of 1 6 miles. On this track, there would 


operate 300 " waggons," at a cost of $60 each, and hauled by a 
total of 60 horses, in turn costing $70 each. Interest on all this 
investment of right of way and running equipment, plus wages 
of officers and employees, Featherstonhaugh had put down at 
the modest figure of $23,000 a year. He carefully figured out 
the carrying capacity of his *' waggons " and the revenue that 
should come to them (based on the earning capacity of the Erie 
Canal between the two cities) , and arrived at the conclusion 
that the new road should earn from this freight traffic alone 
(passengers apparently did not come into his reckonings at this 
time) $73,000 annually. The promoter of the Mohawk and 
Hudson did not lack the optimism that those who were to 
follow him were frequently to show -so strikingly and so 

But optimism probably was what the Mohawk and Hudson 
most needed at just that particular moment. It must have been 
optimism that brought the hard-headed Stephen Van Rensselaer 
into the picture; with him the astute John Jacob Astor, Nicholas 
Fish, James Duane, Peter A. Jay and some other representative 
New Yorkers. It must have been optimism that had inserted 
in the Schenectady Cabinet on December 28, 1825, a notice 
that an application would be made to the legislature of New 
York for an act " to incorporate the Mohawk & Hudson Rail 
Road Company, with an exclusive grant for a term of years, 
for the construction of a Rail Road betwixt the Mohawk and 
Hudson rivers, with a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, 
to be increased to five hundred thousand dollars, if necessary; 
and to receive such certain tolls on the same, as may seem fit for 
the legislature to grant." It may have been optimism that led the 
legislature of the state to grant the Mohawk and Hudson Rail- 
road its charter, on April 17, 1826, even though the cautious 
Van Rensselaer had just written Featherstonhaugh: 


I have brought an old House about my ears by signing the petition. 
I have written I will withdraw my name if necessary, the Albanians 
think the city will be ruined and the trade diverted to my land below 
the overslaugh. You must help me out of the difficulty. 

The legislature, under great pressure, and after long labors 
by Featherstonhaugh, finally had passed the incorporation bill. 
There was no general law in New York authorizing the incor- 
poration of railroad companies, and a special act was necessary. 
This one stated that by this act " Stephen Van Rensselaer and 
George William Featherstonhaugh with such other persons as 
shall associate with them for that purpose, be and are hereby 
constituted a body politic and corporate by the name of the 
Mohawk and Hudson Rail Road Company for the purpose of 
constructing a single or double rail road or way betwixt the 
Mohawk and Hudson Rivers." 

Upon its incorporation, Van Rensselaer became the first 
president of the Mohawk and Hudson. Yet his interest in the 
project seems never to have been strong. From holding 80 shares 
at the time of its inception, he gradually dropped down to an 
ownership of but 24 shares. Featherstonhaugh became vice 
president of the company. Yet even he was not long to remain 
identified with it. Within a brief time, he was visited by a suc- 
cession of personal catastrophes - the death of his two daughters, 
followed by that of his wife, and then by the destruction by 
fire of his lovely home near Duanesburg. These disasters, coming 
in quick succession, had the effect of driving him out of the 
state of New York. In November, 1829, he resigned all con- 
nection with the Mohawk and Hudson and tendered his hold- 
ings of 601 shares of its stock to the company, all of which was 
accepted. He retired to a new residence in Philadelphia and his 
important connection with the first railroad enterprise in the 
state was all but forgotten. 

Without him, the Mohawk and Hudson company, beset by 


many difficulties, strove for a new leadership. It was to come, 
but slowly, in the person of a remarkable early American rail- 
road engineer, John B, Jervis. Jervis, a native of Huntington, 
Long Island, was the man who had helped design the Erie, and 
the Delaware and Hudson Canals, and who had become chief 
engineer of the latter. For many years, he was to be prominently 
connected with the construction of many of the component 
parts of the present New York Central Railroad; in the last 
year of his life, he was to be elected president of the Rock Island; 
and he was to die, on January 12, 1885, in Rome, New York, 
for many years his home city, one of its most honored residents. 
Jervis took hold of the nascent Mohawk and Hudson enter- 
prise, with force and with vigor. He imbued it with his own 
enthusiasm, gave it the leadership that it so very much needed. 
Under his direction, the route was surveyed and definitely 
located, and actual construction upon the road began in the 
summer of 1830. Its original promoters, almost to a man resi- 
dents of New York city -the citizens of Albany and Schenec- 
tady took but little interest or part in the project - while accept- 
ing the steam locomotive, did not have faith that it would be 
able to climb the steep hills at Albany and at Schenectady. 
Therefore the first accepted route for the road contemplated, 
at both of these towns, inclined planes, up which the trains 
would be hauled by cables attached to stationary engines, and 
a level stretch of line across the plateau connecting them. The 
highest point of the road was 335 feet above the level of the 
Hudson and 105 feet above the Mohawk. The level stretch 
upon the plateau would be fourteen miles long. The road was 
compelled by its charter to begin at the edge of the Hudson, at 
Albany, and to enter into the very heart of Schenectady. All of 
this was carried through, but upon a location considerably dif- 
ferent from that of the main line of the present-day New York 
Central between those two cities. 


The construction of this early railroad, which was begun at 
Schenectady, was of a heavy type; in the words of that day, 
"permanent." The foundation of the tracks was of heavy 
granite blocks, about sixteen inches in each dimension and set 
three feet apart. These blocks were quarried both at Sing Sing, 
on the Hudson, and at a point on the Mohawk about twelve 
miles distant from Schenectady, and were brought to that city 
by water. Upon them was laid the stout wooden superstructure 
of the track, which was finished by the strap rails of wrought 
iron, which were imported from England. The entire roadbed 
was, indeed, " permanent "- perhaps too much so. For experi- 
ence was quickly to prove that the stone foundation was entirely 
too rigid for the comfort of passengers and the long life of the 
rolling stock, and when, a year or two later, Mr. Jervis began 
the construction of the neighboring Saratoga and Schenectady 
Railroad, he discarded the use of stone blocks entirely and began 
laying the track more as it is laid at the present time. 

The "DeWitt Clinton" 

Actual operation of the Mohawk and Hudson began in the 
late summer of 183 1. At the outset, and for a number of years 
thereafter, horses were used to some extent for motive power, 
particularly on the extension of the line down through State 
Street, Albany, past the Capitol and to the Hudson's edge, in 
compliance with the company's charter. But the iron horse 
came into this picture coincidently with the one of flesh and 
blood. The " De Witt Clinton," having safely arrived by boat 
from New York, made several trips during August and Septem- 
ber, hauling three to five heavily-loaded cars, each weighing 
about eight tons, from Albany to Schenectady and back, at 
times reaching a speed of 30 miles an hour. William H. Brown, 
a well-known silhouette artist of that day, who made one of 


these trips (and later fashioned a fascinating and authentic pic- 
ture of the train) has handed down the most generally accepted 
description of it, though he is probably wrong as to the date 
and other details: 

On this first excursion, on the 9th day of August, 1 831, as no such 
officer as a conductor had been required upon the road, where hitherto 
no connected train of cars had been run. . . . Mr. John T. Clark, as 
the first passenger railroad conductor in the North, stepping from 
platform to platform outside the cars, collected the tickets, which had 
been sold at hotels and other places through the city. When he finished 
his tour, he mounted upon the tender attached to the engine, and, 
sitting upon the little buggy-seat, as represented in our sketch, he gave 
the signal with a tin horn and the train started on its way. But how 
shall we describe that start, my readers? It was not that quiet, imper- 
ceptible motion which characterizes the first impulsive movements of 
the passenger engines of the present day. Not so. There came a sudden 
jerk, that bounded the sitters from their places, to the great detriment 
of their high-top fashionable beavers, from the close proximity to the 
roofs of the cars. The first jerk being over, the engine proceeded on 
its route with considerable velocity for those times, when compared 
with stage-coaches, until it arrived at a water-station, when it sud- 
denly brought up with jerk No. 2, to the further amusement of some 
of the excursionists. Mr. Clark retained his elevated seat, thanking 
his stars for its close proximity to the tall smokepipe of the machine, 
in allowing the smoke and sparks to pass over his head. 

At this water-station stop, a practical device was resorted to, 
to prevent a recurrence of these unpleasant jerks. The cars were 
stretched as far apart as possible and wooden rails, from a near-by 
fence, inserted between them to hold them taut. Let Mr. Brown 

In a short time the engine (after frightening the horses attached to 
all sorts of vehicles filled with the people from the surrounding coun- 
try, or congregated all along at every available position near the road. 


to get a view of the singular-looking machine and its long [sic] train 
of cars; after causing thus innumerable capsizes and smash-ups of the 
vehicles and the tumbling of the spectators in every direction to the 
right and left) arrived at the head of the inclined plane at Schenec- 
tady, amid the cheers and welcomes of thousands, assembled to witness 
the arrival of the iron horse and its living freight. 

After some time passed in the ancient city of Schenectady, and am- 
ple refreshments had been afforded, the word was given by conductor 
Clark to prepare for the return. The excursionists resumed their seats 
and in due time, without any accident or delay, the train arrived at 
the point from which it had first started, the head of the inclined 
plane at Albany. 

The records show that the " Clinton " made at least one more 
exhibition trip that year, but how much further use of the en- 
gine was made in 1831 is not known. It must have been that 
it did not work properly, because it was found necessary to equip 
it with new wheels and eccentrics. But that second exhibition 
trip in September, 183 1, deserves a paragraph or two of atten- 
tion. It was enjoyed by a group of high state officers, including 
the governor, the lieutenant governor, the members of the state 
senate, the mayor of Albany, and various other men of im- 
portance. A contemporary account of it, from the Albany 
Argus, September 26, 183 1 reads: 

Owing to a defect in one of the supply pipes of the English locomo- 
tive [the John Bull brought over by Jervis from the other side of the 
Atlantic] that powerful and effective engine was not brought into the 
line, and the party, having been delayed in consequence, did not leave 
the head of Lydius Street until nearly 12 o'clock. They then started 
with a train of ten cars, three drawn by the American locomotive, 
the De Witt Clinton and seven by a single horse each. The appearance 
of this fine cavalcade, if it may be so called, was highly imposing. The 
trip was performed by the locomotive in 46 minutes and by the cars 
drawn by horses in about an hour and a quarter. 


The practical effect of this second pubUc trip to Schenectady 
— much more successful in every way than its predecessor — was 
to make a good point for the nascent New York and Har- 
lem, which at that very time was endeavoring to gain a right 
of way for itself through Fourth Avenue, New York City. 
The solons of the metropolis at the mouth of the Hudson, hav- 
ing ridden for the first time behind the iron horse, became 
convinced at once of its feasibility and practicability from al- 
most every point of view, and so withdrew their opposition 
to the operaton of a new-born railroad over a thoroughfare 

The "John Bull" (erroneously referred to by the Argus in 
its account of the excursion of September 24, as the " Brother 
Jonathan") was built, it will be recalled, by the famous loco- 
motive works of Robert Stephenson and Company, at New- 
castle upon Tyne. It arrived at Albany soon after the first trip 
of the "DeWitt Clinton." These two locomotives were fol- 
lowed, in quick succession, by three others -the "Experiment" 
(soon after, called the "Brother Jonathan"), the "Mohawk" 
and the "Hudson." With four practical engines, the "DeWitt 
Clinton" soon being deemed impractical, horses were retired 
as motive power upon the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad. The 
first coaches, made by placing old-fashioned stagecoach bodies 
upon flanged-wheeled running frames that were capable of be- 
ing coupled together, were also found to be highly inefficient; 
and these were replaced quickly by new railroad coaches, which 
were described by the Schenectady Whig as being 

of a square form, fifteen feet long, with the separate compartments, 
and will contain eighteen persons with ease. We consider them a great 
improvement upon the kind heretofore used -as passengers, at the 
same time they have more room, will be protected from the smoke and 
coals of the engine. One of these carriages bears the name of our new 
sister city, Utica - a compliment which the citizens of that place will 


undoubtedly return by a frequent resort to its soft cushions, and pan- 
elled walls, and thus find themselves in " Utica," though a hundred 
miles from home. 

The Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad 

For sixteen more years, or until 1847, the Mohawk and 
Hudson continued to operate and to thrive under its original 
name and incorporation. In 1832, it established connection, at 
Schenectady, with the early Saratoga and Schenectady, which 
led directly northward twenty-five miles, to the great spa just 
then coming into the first flush of its tremendous national suc- 
cess as a fashionable watering place. The trains of the Mohawk 
and Hudson made direct connections in the same depot at 
Schenectady with those of the Saratoga road, and time was al- 
lowed for substantial meals while the baggage and the mails were 
transferred. That was not a day when traveling folk thought 
hurry necessary. 

The Saratoga and Schenectady had its corporate existence 
even before the " De Witt Clinton " led that first momentous 
trip across the Albany plateau. On January 8, 1831, a petition 
had come into the Assembly, begging leave to incorporate the 
new road; eleven days later, a bill had been reported to consum- 
mate the incorporation; and on February 16 it became statute 

By this act of incorporation, the Saratoga and Schenectady 
Company was authorized to carry goods and persons "by the 
power and force of steam, of animals or any other mechanical 
power." In fact, horses were first employed on the line, when 
it was opened for business, on July 12, 1832. At that time, the 
road, which also had been built under the immediate direction 
of John B. Jervis, and the general supervision of C. C. Cam- 
breleng, the first president of the company, was not quite 


finished over the valley of the Kayaderosseras at Ballston Spa, 
a deep gulch which the railroad to this day continues to span 
by means of a long high embankment built upon a horseshoe 
curve. For the better part of a year, passengers were transferred 
around this gap in coaches. What was done with the freight is 
not stated. 

The passenger traffic of this little road thrived from the very 
beginning. Yet even before that, one finds the American Rail- 
road Journal, of June 16, 1832, quoting the Ballston Spa Ga- 
zette, to the effect that the company's stock has just risen 17 
per cent and " it has already been demonstrated that income 
will be 3 5 per cent net yearly." A few weeks later, that same 
Journal contained a schedule showing the arrangements for 
through passenger travel between Albany and Saratoga for 
the summer of 1832. It took four and a half hours to make 
the trip in either direction. The road, according to the Diary of 
that indefatigable traveler, Philip Hone, was " traveled by horse 

Yet, assuredly, this could not be for long. The success of the 
locomotives of the Mohawk and Hudson, despite all their limita- 
tions and obvious faults, was not lost upon the promoters of 
the Saratoga and Schenectady and, of course, not upon Mr. 
Jervis. In the small shop of the Mohawk and Hudson, at Albany, 
he caused to be set up the first locomotive for the Saratoga 
road, the " Davy Crockett," which also had been built by the 
Stephenson Works in England. It had a bogie or " lead " truck, 
to enable it better to travel the sharp curves of the new road. 

This new locomotive went into active service upon the Sara- 
toga and Schenectady in the spring of 1833, at about the same 
time that the long embankment at Ballston Spa finally was com- 
pleted and track laid over it. But even then the locomotive 
could not penetrate into Schenectady Itself. To bridge the Mo- 
hawk was out of the question for the little railroad. So its first 


rails were laid through the long spans of the old covered bridge 
between that city and Scotia, on the north side of the river. 
Five years later when the Utica and Schenectady had been com- 
pleted, the Saratoga road arranged to run its trains, and, of 
course, its locomotives, across the Mohawk bridge of that road 
into the heart of the busy town. At a still later time ( 1 870) , the 
Saratoga road built its own Mohawk bridge, a mile or more 
down the river from the others. 

The completion of the railroad into the famous Springs spelled 
quick success for them, as well as for the pathway that led up 
to them from the south. 

In summer the road was crowded with pleasure seekers en route to 
and from Saratoga Springs and with others intent upon satisfying idle 
curiosity. In Winter, to travel by horse and cutter from one end of 
the route to the other was an exhilarating experience. The people of 
Schenectady and Saratoga Springs for over a year after the road was 
built were so intent upon these excitements that almost no freight was 
carried over the line. . . . Although the close of the year 1833 was a 
time of slow and uncertain business in the large financial centers, the 
Spring and Summer of 1833 were buoyant seasons for Saratoga 
Springs. In April 1240 visitors traveled over the road, which, accord- 
ing to a Saratoga newspaper, was more than four times the usual vol- 
ume of travel between Saratoga Springs and the South in the early 

The railroad to Schenectady was not long to be left as the 
sole rail egress to the south from the Springs. The citizens of 
Troy, always jealous of the pride and prestige of their town, 
felt that they, too, must be in this new railroad picture, and 
accordingly, with much eclat, they finished, in 1835, their 
Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad into Ballston Spa and a con- 
nection with the older road, with such success that before that 
year was finished it was absorbing the pioneer. And so was the 
seemingly unending process of consolidating railroads within the 
state of New York begun. 


The New York and Hareem 

The third railroad to come into existence within the state 
was the New York and Harlem, a much more pretentious 
enterprise than either of the two others. It was chartered 
in the summer of 183 1, and very early in the spring of the fol- 
lowing year it began the construction of its line, at the corner 
of Prince and Center Streets, in what was then the very heart 
of the business activity of New York City. The immediate 
destination of this new road was well indicated by its name; 
its promoters, however, held far higher hopes for it. In the 
back of their heads, Albany was the ultimate goal. But in the 
thirties and forties, the fear of the powerful steamboat interests 
upon the Hudson held them back from proclaiming their pur- 
pose too loudly. Yet upon the occasion of turning the first 
shovelful of earth for the construction of the new road, on 
February 24, 1832, John Mason, the vice president of the new 
company, predicted that the railroad would be "Connected 
. . . shortly with a much greater work, embracing in its gen- 
eral outline, the interests and convenience of at least one-half 
the population of this great state and the like interest and ac- 
commodation of our sister states, Connecticut and Massachu- 
setts." There were many in the assemblage who caught the full 
drift of his meaning. 

In that early day, the growth of the young metropolis was 
being fairly throttled by its own difficult contours. A long, 
narrow island, bounded on all sides by broad rivers, very ex- 
pensive and most difficult to bridge, it presented its own size- 
able problems. New York had but one way to grow -north. 
But that created great embarrassments. It meant, in that single 
direction, a city of immensely long distances. And the only 
remedy for such long distances was good and swift transporta- 
tion. The Harlem road was to bring New York the first real 


By the end of November, 1832, the first of its jingUng httle 
horse cars, one named the " John Mason " after the vice president 
and moving force of the company and boasting of three com- 
partments each seating ten persons, in addition to seats on the 
roof behind the driver, were in regular service betvv^een Prince 
Street and Union Square. A Httle later, the line was extended 
south to the City Hall and north to Twenty-third Street. There 
for a time it halted. North of Twenty-third Street, the hard 
and rocky island of Manhattan offered many difficulties for the 
early railroad builders. In those days, its contour was most un- 
even. There had to be much cutting through rock, a slow 
process with the gunpowder blasting then used. To dip down 
into the Harlem plain, a tunnel became necessary -from 
Ninety-second Street to Ninety-fourth. It was one of the first 
railroad tunnels in the United States, and New Yorkers drove 
up in their carriages just to look at it. The Evening Post wrote: 

The tunnel through which the line passes is the most costly portion 
as well as the most attractive feature of the road. Among the thou- 
sands who are daily conveyed through it, a vast majority is impelled 
by a desire to examine the " tunnel " which, though excavated at im- 
mense cost, contributes in no small degree to increase the revenues of 
the company. 

So slow was all this construction work, and so costly, that it 
was not until the fall of 1837 that the railroad actually reached 
Harlem. It was at once greeted with such a flow of traffic that 
a second track was needed, and was immediately added. The 
road pushed its rails up to the brink of the Harlem River, and 
finally crossed that stream at 135th Street on Gouverneur 
Morris' ancient toll bridge, which a little later it was to buy. 
In the latter part of 1840, its trains were running to Fordham; 
two years later, to Williamsbridge ; and, after another two years, 
to White Plains. Here it paused for a short time. Albany now 


became the announced goal of the New York and Harlem. 
The state legislature authorized its extension north from West- 
chester County, through the counties of Putnam, Dutchess, 
Columbia and Rensselaer, to a point on the Hudson opposite 
Albany or, at the option of the railroad company, to a junction 
with any other railroad leading to a similar point, meaning, of 
course, the Boston and Albany, which had been built in 1 840-41. 

Work went ahead once more upon the road. It reached 
Croton Falls on June i, 1847; Dover Plains, December 31, 
1848; and on January 10, 1852, it was completed through to 
Chatham and the rail connection was made on to Greenbush, 
opposite Albany. Yet, after all this energy, the Harlem actually 
was beaten into Greenbush by a few short months; the success- 
ful competitor was the Hudson River Railroad from New 
York City, along a more direct route, of which more in due 

Horses did not long remain the principal motive power of 
the Harlem road, although they did continue for many years on 
its tracks in down-town New York. They brought its cars, 
singly, up to the chief passenger terminal of the road, on the 
west side of Fourth Avenue, between Twenty-sixth and Twenty- 
seventh Streets. Here they were grouped into trains which were 
hauled north by the steam locomotives. Later, this locomotive 
terminal was moved up to Forty-second Street, the site of the 
present Grand Central Terminal. The railroad to New Haven 
was completed in 1848, and it acquired running rights over the 
Harlem, in and out of New York, from a junction point just 
north of Williamsbridge. The suburban, or commuter, pas- 
senger business over both of these roads was born. 


The Tonawanda Railroad 

To find the next early railroad, one must go from the ex- 
treme easterly edge of the state toward its western border. The 
Tonawanda Railroad Company (spelled "Tonnewanta" in 
those early days) was incorporated on April 24, 1832. It pro- 
posed to build, safely away from the Erie Canal, from Rochester 
to Attica and, a little later, to Black Rock or Buffalo. The capi- 
tal stock, which was sold very largely in the city of Rochester, 
was fixed at $500,000, and a group of men, very largely 
Rochesterians, were made directors, with David E. Evans as 
president; Jonathan Child, vice president; Frederick Whittlesey, 
secretary; and David Scott, superintendent. Work upon the 
new railroad was immediately begun and three locomotives, 
built by the Baldwin works in Philadelphia, were shipped to 
Rochester by canal and there placed upon the rails of the new 
road. There was not then, or for a number of years thereafter, 
rail connection between it and the group of early roads at the 
east end of the state. 

The level country traversed by the Tonawanda road lent it- 
self easily to quick and inexpensive railroad construction, and 
it reached Batavia, 34 miles distant from Rochester, in May, 
1837. It had cost, with its single track, its three locomotives and 
its fleet of passenger and freight cars, about $10,000 a mile, 
a most reasonable figure, even for those days. No wonder that 
the completion of its first link was made the occasion of con- 
siderable public celebration. A contemporary account in the 
Rochester Daily Democrat of May 12, 1837, says: 

The morning was delightful and at the hour designated for the de- 
parture of the cars, they were thronged with our citizens desirous of 
participating in an event so important to the interests of our city. 

When we reached the Depot the engine was snorting like an impa- 
tient war horse; and at a given signal, it sped forward "like a thing 


of life." Hearty cheers from the multitude scattered along the line of 
road greeted its magic progress, and gave a thrilling animation to the 

Upon its arrival at Batavia, the first train was greeted by 
cannon, and its passengers celebrated by an elaborate midday 
dinner at the Eagle Hotel. In due time, the party returned to 
Rochester, and the road settled down to regular business. Five 
years later, it was continued on eleven miles to Attica, where it 
made connection with the new Attica and Buffalo Railroad. 
This latter was a Buffalo enterprise, which, although incorpo- 
rated in 1836, did not begin construction until 1840 or 1841, 
for in the meantime panic had come upon the country. Over- 
building of railroads, which had led to a flood of these en- 
terprises, oftentimes poorly planned, financed and built, had 
brought on one of the first serious financial crises that the 
United States had ever known, and, in turn, this caused a sharp 
cessation of railroad building. After the country had regained 
its equilibrium, the laying down of railroads began again, but in 
a moderated and more conservative form. 

Then it was that the chain of railroads all the way across the 
state of New York, from Albany, close to the head of navi- 
gation upon the Hudson, to Buffalo, at the foot of navigation 
upon the four upper Great Lakes, began with zest and earnest. 
Between the Tonawanda Railroad in the west and the Utica 
and Schenectady and the Mohawk and Hudson roads in the east, 
there was now to be forged a chain of great iron links. 

Forging the Railroad Chain across the State 

The fear with which the early railroad builders viewed the 
political strength of the waterways across the state - chiefly the 
Hudson River and the Erie Canal -has been shown already. But, 
as the earliest railroads gained strength and popularity, this 


fear waned. The railroads also acquired financial strength. Suc- 
cess begets success. And soon these first roads, no longer weak 
and trembling, became powerful and, to a degree at least, 

Then it was that the " railroad idea," spreading like wildfire 
across the nation, began to take a substantial form within its 
chief state. After all, there were severe limitations upon the uses 
of the inland waterways. For one thing they were, at the best, 
very slow carriers, and for another, the dead hand of winter 
annually made them ice-filled and useless for at least four 
months out of each year. Then, too, people were beginning to 
like to ride on the cars - in increasing numbers and with an in- 
creasing liking -and so began to ask why they could not go 
farther upon them, and alongside rivers or canals, frozen or 
open, and at their own pleasure and with greater convenience. 

The answer to all of which was the inevitable paralleling of 
the waterways by the railroad. In fact, the Mohawk and Hudson 
was hardly in full operation before an extension west to Utica, 
seventy-eight miles, was being projected, under the name of 
the Utica and Schenectady. This company was incorporated on 
April 29, 1833, and elaborate provisions were made by the state 
legislature in its charter to protect the traffic of the Erie Canal. 

Owing to its paralleling the Erie Canal [says F. W. Stevens, in his 
Beginnings of the New York Central], the charter peremptorily de- 
clared " no property of any description except the ordinary baggage 
of passengers shall be transported or carried on said road." Owing to 
assumed injury to the business of the Mohawk Turnpike Company, 
owning a turnpike road paralleling along the Mohawk River, the char- 
ter also provided the railroad company should pay $22.50 per share for 
the stock of the turnpike company before commencing the transpor- 
tation of passengers. 

A number of years were to elapse before the Utica and 
Schenectady Railroad was finally to be released from this hand. 


gripping at its throat. In the meantime, the road had been con- 
structed and opened through to Utica, by August i, 1836; and, 
under the energy and abiUty of its first superintendent, Wiiham 
C. Young, an outstanding man, had so prospered that a second, 
or double, track was almost immediately necessary. 

At Utica, there soon was connection with a railroad on to 
Syracuse, by way of Rome, fifty-three miles more. This was 
the Syracuse and Utica Railroad, incorporated on May 11, 1836, 
quickly and easily financed (the railroad fever was in the very 
air in those days) , and opened to traffic on July 3, 1839. As usual 
upon such occasions, a special party of dignitaries journeyed 
from one village to the other. The American Railway Journal 
of August, 1839, tells of the formal opening of this road: 

The Utica and Syracuse Railroad has been pushed vigorously for- 
ward. It has been constructed by the stockholders, without either the 
aid of the State or a resort to loans. ... It is worthy of remark that 
this Road has been completed within the time fixed and has cost less 
than the sum estimated. . . . Syracuse, already a large, enterprising, 
enlightened village, is destined to become a great inland city. It pos- 
sesses in its soil and its mines the potentiality for acquiring wealth 
" beyond the dreams of avarice." . . . Syracuse is now within nine 
hours (150 miles) of Albany, and within 19 hours (300 miles) of 
New York. The rapidity with which we pass between two places is 
amazing. We left Albany at half-past two P.M. on Tuesday, went to 
Utica in the afternoon, where we remained until five o'clock next 
morning. Was at Syracuse at half-past eight o'clock yesterday morn- 
ing, remained until four o'clock and was at home this morning, 
breakfasting on a salmon taken from Lake Ontario night before 
last, having travelled 300 miles, passing a night at Utica, nearly a 
whole day at Syracuse and being absent only 42 hours. 

The next step in the westward progress of the iron horse 
across the state of New York was, obviously, from Syracuse to 
Rochester. Here the route of the Erie Canal was avoided, delib- 


erately. The iron trail bent well to the south, taking in a group 
of fine villages- Auburn, Geneva and Canandaigua chief among 
them -which had grown up in highway days and which had 
been avoided by the new canal, to their temporary annoyance. 
By this roundabout course, the railroad added a full twenty 
miles to the distance between Syracuse and Rochester and took 
two separate companies to make the link, but it was felt that 
this was very much for the best. The Auburn and Syracuse 
Railroad Company was incorporated and, after some bitter 
struggles against financial obstacles, construction was begun in 
the hard summer of 1837 and carried on through the still harder 
winter that followed. There apparently is no record of a formal 
opening of the road, but it probably was sometime in the sum- 
mer of 1839. 

This road [said the American Rail Road Journal of September 5, 
1835] in addition to being part of the line of the great thoroughfare 
will have the advantage not only of carrying goods and produce as 
part of the great western trade but also of the local transportation 
from Auburn and its vicinity and intermediate country to the canal 
at Syracuse. The amount of the business is almost incalculable. It em- 
braces the merchandise and country produce of the inexhaustible stone 
quarries and lime at Auburn; the raw materials and manufactures 
at the State Prison which employ constantly 700 hands; the trade 
through Owasco Lake from Homer and its surrounding country; the 
trade from Skaneateles, Camillus, Marcellus, &c., and also the great 
manufacturing power of the village. To these sources of revenue which 
must make it one of the most profitable railroads in the state, may be 
added the great travel which the business between the two places must 
necessarily create. 

Its continuation as the Auburn and Rochester, incorporated 
on May 13, 1836, had less difiiculties in its construction. It was 
built eastward from Rochester, where a station site had been 
located on the west side of the town, just at the great falls of 


the Genesee, and was finally completed through to Auburn on 
November 4, 1841. When this had been done -and the Attica 
and Buffalo also completed, on November 24, 1842 -there was 
a through railroad, such as it was, from Albany to Buffalo. But, 
with eight separate railroad companies involved, there was any- 
thing but through service. The Auburn and Rochester might 
have been one of the final links in this chain, but seemingly 
it was not quite the best, at least according to the Canandai- 
gua Republican of May, 1847, which, however, defends the 

This road having been made the special object of attack by the 
Buffalo Express it has been promptly vindicated by the Rochester 
papers. The Express had charged that it was the worst managed road 
on the line and the mail failures west were mainly attributable to it. 
The Rochester Democrat furnishes a table of the time of departure 
and arrivals of trains between Auburn and that place for 9 days from 
which it appears that the train has started from Auburn but once at 
the regular hour and then it arrived at Rochester on time. . . . The 
trains fromx Rochester to this place run with such precision that some 
of our citizens set their clocks by it and so far from being a badly man- 
aged road we doubt if there is a better one in the country. 

But even under the most favorable conditions, in the early 
forties, the through traveler had a hard time of it. With all the 
trains on time -and they rarely were -it took twenty-five 
hours to go from Albany to Buffalo, and there were at least 
three changes of cars: at Utica, at Syracuse, and at Rochester. 
And the Rochester change, for a long time, was complicated 
by the fact that the depots of the Auburn and Tonawanda 
roads were half a mile apart and one must take a bus or a hack to 
go from the one to the other. When the two roads finally con- 
solidated these station facilities, to the great relief of all through 
travelers, it was against the bitterest opposition on the part of 
the Rochester hackmen. 


Out of all this rather chaotic condition, there was now to be 
evolved rather swiftly a through single railroad from Albany to 
Buffalo. It actually was preceded by the coming of through 
train service. In November, 1 842, the Syracuse and Utica made 
overtures to the other roads across the state for such a service. 
This was followed two months later by a " railroad convention " 
of most of the companies at Syracuse, and by one at Albany in 
which all of these companies were represented. Two through 
daily trains, making the run between Albany and Troy and 
Buffalo in twenty-five hours were arranged for, with a stand- 
ard rate of fare of 3 cents a mile. A little later, a third train was 
added at 2 ^ cents " for one description of cars " and i Yz cents 
a mile for riding in the emigrant cars. Eventually, a crude form 
of sleeping cars was to be added, which continued to and after 
1853, when the first New York Central Railroad was incor- 
porated. Dining cars were not to come until a much later day. 
The dining rooms in the station houses in the chief points along 
the line were used by travelers, and some of these had more than 
a local reputation for the excellence of their fare. 

The First New York Central - The Hudson River Road 

It was in 1853 that the first New York Central, as differen- 
tiated from the present one which was not organized until 19 14, 
was incorporated with Erastus Corning, of Albany, as its first 
president. Mr. Corning had been a director of the Utica and 
Schenectady, which had absorbed the early Mohawk and Hud- 
son, since its inception, and had been its only president. An 
Albany merchant of great wealth, prestige and no small politi- 
cal power, he was felt to lend great distinction to the new-born, 
consolidated company. 

That company had, at the outset, in addition to the lines 
already described, several branches: from Rochester to Lock- 

Tow Boat 


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iOA'I' iVl.\V V<(KK, 183 .■ 




port and Niagara Falls; from Buffalo to Lockport; from Troy 
to Schenectady; and, in many ways the most important of all, 
the so-called Direct Road between Syracuse and Rochester, 
which had been finished in 1852, and which, following the line 
of the Erie Canal, cut twenty miles off the distance between 
the two cities. 

Here at last was a definite and well-planned railroad system. 
With connections at both Albany and Troy with railroads from 
New York and Boston, as well as with the Hudson River boats 
(except in winter) , it met, at Buffalo, a rapidly expanding rail- 
road along the south shore of Lake Erie, already reaching Cleve- 
land, Toledo, Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis and other 
points; it met, at Suspension Bridge, over the fine structure 
which the genius of John A. Roebling had just completed over 
the gorge of Niagara, the ambitious new Great Western Rail- 
way, which led to Detroit, with connections there with the 
Michigan Central and other lines. The New York Central, 
already a well-traveled route, had now become a most strategic 
one. It was enabled to do battle with the Erie, the Pennsylvania, 
and the Baltimore and Ohio roads, now well established to the 
south, for competitive traffic; as well as with the Grand Trunk 
Railway, just being completed through Canada, well to the 
north. No wonder that the Central became, from the outset, 
a very prosperous property. As such, it invited the interest 
of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a prominent steamboat operator who 
lived in New York City. 

Commodore Vanderbilt, as he was almost universally called, 
had at first scorned the railroads as business enterprises, but in 
the latter years of his Hfe had become tremendously interested 
in them. In the early sixties, he had come into the struggling 
New York and Harlem and had acquired control of it. But the 
road that he really wanted was the newer and better Hudson 
River Railroad, completed in 1 8 5 1 from New York up the east 


bank of the Hudson, through Poughkeepsie to Greenbush, op- 
posite Albany. Here was a railroad. 

It had been built at greater cost than any other road in the 
United States up to that time, and with great care to make a 
direct through route between the chief city of the state and its 
capital. John B. Jervis had been the first of the engineers to 
plan the line, and he regarded it as the greatest monument to 
his abilities. W. J. Young was brought from the Utica and 
Schenectady to supplant Mr. Jervis, when the latter's health 
had begun to fail under the strain of building the new road and 
with the weight of increasing years. 

The Hudson River Railroad had had its inception in a mass 
meeting of the citizens of Poughkeepsie, in the late fall of 1 845. 
Three years before, there had been talk of such a road and an 
engineer of local reputation, R. P. Morgan, had been engaged 
to make preliminary surveys. He planned to put the road in- 
land; parallel to the river of course, but a considerable distance 
from it. Gradually this plan was abandoned. The fact that the 
new railroad, by following the edge of the river, could estab- 
lish a practically gradeless route from New York to Albany 
weighed heavily. 

And so it was that when Jervis went to work with his surveys, 
he followed this latter plan. While his men toiled in the open, the 
promoters of the new company labored indoors, chiefly at New 
York and at Albany. They fought successfully the hostile steam- 
boat interests, as well as those of the Harlem road and of the 
conservative landowners on the river brink; and on March i, 
1 847, they complied with their charter conditions, showed sub- 
scriptions of three millions of dollars, and incorporated them- 
selves with William Chamberlain as president and Jervis as 
chief engineer. 

The plans for the construction of the new road went ahead 
with a rush. By July, 1847, contracts were being placed for 


the first fifty-three miles of the Hne, all the way from Thirty- 
second Street, New York City, to Breakneck Hill; and in the 
following September men, horses and wagons were being moved 
upon the actual scene of construction. The flinty nose of that 
same Breakneck Hill, sticking right out into the Hudson, 
was a source of much trouble, but was finally pierced by a 
tunnel, through which the road was pushed forward so that, 
on the very last day of 1849, regular train service was begun 
between New York and Poughkeepsie. The upper half of the 
line was put through with similar vigor, and, on the first day 
of October, was completed through to Greenbush, and a little 
later, to Troy. Mr. Young became president of the road, and it 
became a competitor for the traffic between the two chief cities 
of the state. 

Yet the facilities for reaching Albany were much Impaired, 
in those days, by the necessity for alighting from the cars at 
Greenbush and there crossing the river. In summer time, this 
was done In a comparatively easy fashion by ferryboat, but in 
the winter, when the river became choked with ice and recourse 
must be had to sleighs, the crossing was not always pleasant. But 
it so continued until 1866, when the first railroad bridge over 
the Hudson at that point was completed and opened to traffic. 

Enter Commodore Vanderbilt 

Once he had made up his mind that he wished to get into the 
railroad business, this already wealthy Commodore Vanderbilt 
did not stop until his great enterprise and vision had created 
what was practically a single railroad system which did not 
really end at Buffalo, but reached, by two different routes, 
Chicago, Cincinnati and St. Louis, while his interest and con- 
trol in outstanding roads west of Chicago were both strong 
and dominant. By shrewd maneuvering, Vanderbilt gradu- 


ally had managed to gain control of the Hudson River road. 
That road, magnificently planned and extravagantly built, 
had been, for the first few years of its operation, run at a heavy 
loss. Young, like Jervis, went down under the burden of ill 
health and the strain imposed upon him. He was succeeded as 
president by the outstanding figure of Edwin D. Morgan, then 
prominent in state politics and afterward to become war gover- 
nor of New York and Senator at Washington. Morgan brought 
the road much distinction, but he was far from being a rail- 
road genius. It took a born railroad man, in the person of one 
Samuel Sloan, who was to leave a great impress upon the rail- 
roads of the state, and who finally became president of the Hud- 
son River, to put it upon a paying basis. 

The New York Central was a much harder problem for Com- 
modore Vanderbilt than ever the Harlem or the Hudson River 
had been. The commanding figure of Erastus Corning loomed 
like a Gibraltar against the plans and progress of the New 
Yorker. The Central had extremely irritating practices, from 
the Commodore's point of view, at least. In the winter time, 
when the Hudson River was filled with ice and closed to navi- 
gation, it would give its freight, in huge quantities, to his rail- 
road. But when spring came and the river was opened, the New 
York Central used to show a shrewd favoritism for the various 
boats from Albany southward. The Commodore knew that the 
only way to stop this practice would be to buy and control the 
New York Central. 

This was easier said than done. When, in 1864, Erastus Corn- 
ing went down under the increasing infirmity of advancing 
years, he was at once succeeded as president of that road by 
another man of even greater wit and power, Dean Richmond, 
of Batavia. Now it was that fate intervened in favor of the 
Commodore. At a political convention in Philadelphia two years 
later. Dean Richmond was stricken by illness and died a few 
days later in the house of his friend, Samuel J. Tilden, in 


Gramercy Park, New York. His sudden going left the " New- 
York Central crowd," at its headquarters at Albany, all but 
panic-stricken. Vanderbilt watched his opportunities and played 
all his cards well. In a few months, he had control of the Central; 
on December 11, 1867, he was elected president of that road, 
and began at once his plans to consolidate it with the roads that 
he already controlled to the south and to the east. 

This last step was accomplished, as far as the Hudson River 
road was concerned, on November i, 1869, when the New York 
Central and Hudson River was given its official birth. The 
Harlem did not come into the consolidated company until four 
years afterward. This done, the Commodore set out at once to 
make his a real railroad property. He had already completed a 
huge new freight terminal on the lower west side of Manhattan 
Island, then and now known as St. Johns Park, and he deter- 
mined to build in East Forty-second Street the largest and hand- 
somest passenger station, not only in America, but in all the 
world. This was the Grand Central Depot, the first of three 
outstanding stations that have occupied the site. When it was 
first opened on October 9, 1871, America sat up and rubbed its 
eyes in astonishment at this architectural achievement. 

Yet these were hardly more than beginnings of the new Van- 
derbilt policy. The Commodore next announced that he pro- 
posed to build four main-line tracks all the way from Albany to 
Rochester (a little later, to Buffalo) -an almost unheard-of 
thing for those days. The Albany bridge, so long promised, 
already had been built, and had been gayly acclaimed by all- 
except perhaps the citizens of Troy, who already had a good 
railroad and highway bridge over the Hudson, and who rather 
welcomed traffic delays at Albany. The first Albany bridge, on 
the site of the present north bridge of the two railroad struc- 
tures over the river, was finished and opened to the public on 
February 22, 1866. After this, train passengers from New York 
or Boston no longer had to use ferryboats or sleighs to get across 


the Hudson into Albany. A new railroad station was built, 
adjacent to the famous Delavan House, and the New York and 
Boston trains backed in and out of the station until 1872, when 
the second, or south, bridge was built at Albany, permitting a 
through movement of passenger trains. 

The Central of those days was a rather simple and old- 
fashioned road, albeit one handling a vast amount of traffic at 
all seasons of the year. Its actual operations were conducted by 
its three great superintendents- John M. Toucey, at New York; 
Zenas Priest, at Albany and Utica; and George H. Burrows, at 
Rochester. Each man possessed, though different from his two 
fellows, many of the qualities of a general. Yet each in his way 
was simple enough. For years, two of them lived in the station 
houses along the line: Major Priest in the upper floor of the 
depot at Little Falls, and Burrows in similar quarters in the old 
stone station at Niagara Falls. Yet they managed to keep the 
traffic moving, and Cornelius Vanderbilt looked upon them 
with high approval as he sought new worlds to conquer. 

These new worlds were never to be conquered. The Commo- 
dore was coming to be an old man. Yet he kept actively in the 
saddle up to that day in January, 1877, when he died in his 
home off Washington Square, New York, at the advanced age 
of eighty-three years. He was immediately succeeded by his 
son, William H. Vanderbilt, in whose abilities he put great trust. 
The younger Vanderbilt also continued as president of New 
York Central up to the day of his sudden death in the spring of 
1885. Thereafter the actual control of New York Central by 
the Vanderbilt family ceased, although its influence in the road, 
even up to this day, is no inconsiderable factor. 

Select Bibliography 

The bibliographies for Chapters V and VI have been combined and follow 
Chapter VI. 

^ VI w, 


Edward Hungerford 

Author of The Story of 
the Rome, Watertown and 
Ogdensburgh Railroad, etc. 
Watertown, New York 


The Beginnings of the Erie 

/^ |f ^HE chief route of transportation across the state was, 
I and still is, through the valleys of the Hudson and of 

J_L the Mohawk, and then parallel to the southern rim of 
Lake Ontario to Buffalo, thence along the south bank of Lake 
Erie to the extreme westerly boundary of the state. Nature 
made this route for man. Yet the folk of the extreme northern 
and southern counties have always felt, rightly, that they should 
not be neglected in this matter of transport facilities. This has 
been particularly true in regard to the southern tier of counties 
most closely adjoining the Pennsylvania line. Consider the real 
apprehension with which the southern tier of counties regarded 
the swift development of the central belt across the state - 
favored first by crude forms of river and lake transport, then 
by highways, then by the trunk Erie Canal, and finally by the 
coming of the railroad. Nature, most generous to that central 
belt, had not been equally so to the southern tier, but had inter- 
posed high ranges of steep hills, practically mountains, and be- 
tween these, deep valleys. Man, to build an artificial highway 
over and across these, would have to use his ingenuity. 

Yet that very ingenuity is forever the habit of man. The 
little towns in that southern tier-Binghamton and Elmira chief 
among them, the pioneers of the Delaware, the Susquehanna and 
the Cohocton Valleys -may have lacked political power, but 
they were ambitious. They found an unexpected ally in the rich 
and powerful Eleazar Lord, of New York City, who had been 
interested as far back as 1826 in a plan to build a state highway, 
or even a canal, across the southern tier from the Hudson to 
Lake Erie, saving many miles over the Mohawk Valley route, 


but at what cost, no man might then dare to estimate. To turn 
this early dream into the more practical reality of a railroad 
was the endeavor of William C. Redfield, of New York, who in 
1829 brought out a pamphlet entitled, A Sketch of the Geo- 
graphical Route of a Great Railway, by Which It Is Proposed 
to Connect the Canals and Navigable Waters of New York, 
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and 
the Adjacent States and Territories, Opening Thereby a Free 
Communication at All Seasons of the Year between the Atlantic 
States and the Great Valleys of the Mississippi. The route that 
Redfield proposed was from the bank of the Hudson 

in the vicinity of the city of New York, at a point accessible at all 
seasons to steam ferryboats and from thence proceeds through a fa- 
vorable and productive country to the valley of the Delaware River 
near the northwest corner of the County of Sullivan. From thence 
the route ascends along the Delaware to a point that affords the near- 
est and most favorable crossing to the valley of the Susquehanna, 
which it enters at or near the great bend of that river. 

Redfield's route then followed the valleys of the Susquehanna 
and the Tioga, intersecting the terminations of the Ithaca and 
Owego Railroad, and the Chenango and Chemung Canals, the 
upper Genesee River, the outlet of Lake Chautauqua, to the 
Pennsylvania state line. 

Here was, in large measure, the route of the present Erie Rail- 
road, which, after a number of preliminary meetings at Monti- 
cello, Angelica, Jamestown, Owego and elsewhere, came into 
legal existence on May 9, 1832, at a meeting held in New York 
City, at which Philip Church presided and Redfield was secre- 
tary. Much enthusiasm was shown. But the legislature, passing 
the act that authorized the New York and Erie Company on 
April 24, 1832, had stipulated that the capital stock of the 
company should be $10,000,000, and that $500,000 should be 


actually paid in before the company could be organized. This 
proved to be a thing far easier said than done. It was hard to 
raise the money to make even a preliminary survey of the pro- 
posed road. The War Department, having received the approval 
of President Andrew Jackson, volunteered Col. De Witt Clin- 
ton, the nephew and namesake of the late governor, for the task, 
without cost to the Erie promoters. Later this tender was with- 
drawn and the survey abandoned for a time. 

It was not until a group of Erie enthusiasts had paid $9,880 
out of their own pockets to the Federal government, as the 
actual cost of making the survey, that Clinton and his men 
started their work. The New York and Erie elected Eleazar 
Lord as its first president, subscriptions began to come in very 
slowly, and the enterprise was launched. It was a long time, 
however, in making any real headway. At the time of this 
original survey, there was not a town on the whole route 
whose population exceeded three thousand. But Lord and his 
associates persisted, the surveys were pushed steadily ahead, and 
ground was actually broken at sunrise on the morning of 
November 7, 1 83 5, at a point on the bank of the Delaware near 
Deposit. The monument which marks this important step in 
the railroad progress of the state of New York was unveiled, 
with ceremonies, at that precise point, seventy years later, to the 
day. James G. King, who had succeeded Lord as president of the 
railroad company, turned the first earth, and said: 

What now appears a beautiful meadow will in a few years present 
a far different aspect - a track of rails with cars passing and repassing, 
loaded with merchandise and the products of the country. The freight 
will amount to $200,000 per annum in a very few years. 

According to Edward Harold Mott, in his Between the Ocean 
and the Lakes; the Story of Erie (New York, 1901) , the latter 
declaration "being received with great incredulity by those 


present, the speaker concluded his prediction with the modify- 
ing expression-' at least, eventually.' " 

King did not live to see the road even completed to its first 
announced western terminus, at Dunkirk, on Lake Erie. This 
was not to come to pass until the spring of 18 51, when on 
May 14 a special train, filled with distinguished guests and 
friends of the management, started on its way from Piermont- 
on-Hudson to Dunkirk, 460 miles distant. In this group were 
President Millard Fillmore and Daniel Webster, in addition to 
President Benjamin Loder, of the Erie, and Charles Minot its 
superintendent, who was to gain fame as the first man to send 
a train order by telegraph. This was in the early autumn of 1 8 5 1 . 
Up to that time it was railroad practice almost everywhere in 
the United States to let trains bound in opposite directions pro- 
ceed against each other by the so-called " time interval system," 
under which the ruling train always had the right of one hour 
against the opposing train of the same class. When, under this 
crude plan, for any reasons, trains began to lose time, it was 
almost impossible for them to regain it. According to Mott, in 
his Story of Erie, 

W. H. Stewart was running the west-bound express train on the 
day when Supt. Minot made his astounding innovation in railroading, 
he happening to be going over the road on that train. The train . . . 
was to wait for an east-bound express to pass it at Turner's. . . . That 
train had not arrived and the west-bound train would be unable to 
proceed until an hour had expired. . . . There was a telegraph office 
at Turner's and Supt. Minot telegraphed to the operator at Goshen 
. . . and asked him whether the east-bound train had left that station. 
The reply was that the train had not yet arrived at Goshen, showing 
that it was much behind its time. 

Minot immediately took the situation in his own hands and 
wired the agent at Goshen to hold the east-bound train until 
further orders; he also gave a written order to the train on 


which he was a passenger to proceed west without waiting for 
the lapsed hour. The train crew demurred. This was radicahsm, 
with a vengeance. But they finally proceeded, and the business 
of train dispatching by telegraph in this country was formally 

To return to the opening of the road from Piermont through 
to Dunkirk, four days were taken for the trip. There was a 
vast amount of enthusiasm and entertainment shown. Webster 
seemed to be the outstanding figure. He made many speeches 
and, over at least a part of the way, he rode in a rocking-chair 
which had been fastened to the top of a flat car, in order better 
to survey the passing scene. 

Serious Problems of the Erie 

Yet, when all the tumult and the shouting of the inaugural 
were past, the officers of the Erie found themselves facing many 
serious problems. The country through which the road passed 
was far from developed, to put it very mildly. The author of 
Harper's New York and Erie Rail Road Giiide, 1855, tells, in a 
paragraph, something of the wildness of the southern tier of 
that day: 

The writer of this well remembers the strange scene presented along 
the line of the road on that memorable evening of the 27th of Decem- 
ber, 1848, when was celebrated the opening as far as Binghamton. To 
him the country had long been familiar as hunting ground and it was 
a sort of sacrilege in his view to build a rail-road through the haunts 
of the deer. Old hunters that he had known stood at Deposit, in the 
snow storm, lit up by the tar-barrels, leaning on their rifles, and watch- 
ing with curious eyes the apparition of the iron steed and his splendid 
train. Troops of girls entered at one end and walked through the whole 
row of cars, gazing with astonishment at the velvet seats and the 
cloaked citizens, who were no less astonished at the bright eyes and 
rosy cheeks that Delaware county could turn out in a winter storm 


to welcome strangers. It was a new era in the southern part of the 
State and men said that it was folly to build an iron road through 
Sullivan, Delaware and Broome counties. 

Another serious handicap that the New York and Erie faced 
was its lack of a proper terminus at New York. Owing to a 
provision of its first charter from the state of New York, by 
which it was compelled to lay its line entirely within the bound- 
aries of that state, it had placed its eastern beginning at Tap- 
pan Slote or Piermont, just above the New Jersey boundary. 
It then had stretched itself across Rockland and Orange Coun- 
ties, and down the sharp slope of the Shawangunk Mountains 
to the Delaware River at Port Jervis. Later it had been com- 
pelled, by topographical exigencies, to change this policy, cross- 
ing the river and running for a number of miles along the ex- 
treme northerly edge of Pennsylvania. Still farther to the west, 
at the great bend of the Susquehanna, for a few miles it again 
dipped into Pennsylvania. Within those few miles, it built what 
remains to this day one of the finest stone bridges in America, 
the Starrucca Viaduct; and, at the newly-created village of 
Susquehanna, it erected very large shops and roundhouses, 
placed there to escape the high taxes of New York State. There- 
after the road bent back into New York, and remained entirely 
within this state all the way to Dunkirk. 

Gradually the New York terminal situation was remedied. 
The thirty-mile trip by steamboat from the wharves of New 
York City to Piermont was soon found to be a tedious and, in 
winter, a somewhat hazardous business. The Paterson and Hud- 
son River Railroad was planned and built from Suffern, New 
York, through northern New Jersey to the waterside terminal 
of the United Railroads of New Jersey (now the Pennsylvania 
Railroad) in Jersey City. 

For a time, the management of the Erie opposed this short 
cut into New York. It refused to issue through tickets, to pro- 


vide baggage arrangements with it, or to make its trains connect 
with it at Suffern. It fell back upon provisions of that remark- 
able charter which forbade it to make connections with any 
other railroads whatsoever. Because of this early determination 
that the Erie should walk alone in the family of railroads, its 
track was laid at a different gauge -6 feet -from the standard 
gauge prevailing elsewhere throughout the state (4 feet, SYz 
inches). This absurdity continued for a number of years. The 
line was not changed to standard gauge until some fifty years 
later, when the job was done in one day, not without a good deal 
of confusion. 

Gradually common sense broke down the Erie's stubborn re- 
sistance and not only were connections made for Paterson, 
Passaic and Jersey City, but through trains were sent that way 
into the New York metropolitan district and through-train 
service by the Piermont route gradually abandoned, which 
occasioned no little protest from the folk living on the Erie 
between Piermont and Suffern. But all to no avail. 

The bad judgment which had resulted in a poorly located ter- 
minus at the east end of the road was reflected in equally bad 
judgment at the west end. Trains had not been running in and 
out of Dunkirk for many months before the Erie management 
realized that it had made a mistake in not choosing the rapidly 
rising city of Buffalo as the western terminus of the road in New 
York State. That mistake, too, was soon rectified. 

From the inception of the enterprise, the people of the Cohoc- 
ton and the Genesee Valleys had hoped that the new road 
would go to Buffalo, instead of to Dunkirk, and go by their 
way. When they found that the main line would pass them by, 
they moved to build their own branch lines south to connect 
with it. Then it was that the Attica and Hornellsville Railroad 
was first organized, to connect at Attica with the extension of 
the Tonawanda Railroad, already mentioned, and so form a 


through route with it into Buffalo. Upon its heels, on July 25, 
1850, came the Buffalo and Cohocton Valley Railroad, after- 
wards the Buffalo, Corning and New York. The promoters of 
each road glared at the other in faint hopes that the opposition 
would desist. But all to no avail. Each road eventually was 
built; the one going from Painted Post, just west of Corning, 
up the Cohocton Valley to Bath and on to Avon, then a famous 
spa upon the Genesee, and so to Batavia and Attica; and the 
other, in a straighter path, from Hornellsville direct to Attica. 
The first of these roads made connections at Avon with the 
Genesee Valley Railroad, which it absorbed a little later, south 
to Mount Morris, and north to Rochester; and the second of 
them spanned the deep and exquisitely beautiful gorge of the 
Genesee at Portage, by a mammoth timber bridge which, when 
it was built, was looked upon almost as one of the seven won- 
ders of the world. 

This first Portage bridge, which was completed in 1852, rose, 
tier upon tier of timber, 234 feet above the level of the Genesee. 
The narrowness of the gorge is shown by the fact that the length 
of the structure was but 800 feet. It was so built that any tim- 
ber could be removed from it without disturbing the rest of 
the structure. For twenty-three years this staunch bridge bore 
the weight of steadily increasing traffic. In the spring of 1875, 
it caught fire and was completely destroyed. It is a matter of 
record that it was then replaced, by a stout iron bridge, in just 
forty-seven days. 

The line quickly became known, officially, as the Buffalo and 
New York City Railroad; it passed on through Warsaw to 
Attica, where it connected with the Erie route from Avon and 
used the original extension of the Tonawanda road on into 
Buffalo. The Central, in the meantime, had built its present 
direct route from Batavia to Buffalo, so an exchange of tracks 
was arranged. 


But there was little friendliness between these two chief roads 
of the state. They fought for east-bound traffic at Buffalo, and 
fought bitterly. Rates were slashed, innuendoes exchanged, until 
the situation became so bad that a truce had to be patched up, 
which never lasted more than a few months. It was not until 
governmental regulation began to get a firm hand on things that 
this and other aggravated and continual " rate-wars " were 
abolished. Homer Ramsdell, of Newburgh, came to the presi- 
dency of the road, and gave it a conservative and constructive 
administration. He not only developed its Newburgh termini, 
but, by boring a notable tunnel under Jersey City, gave the 
Erie its own ample and valuable waterside terminus at that 

From the beginning, Ramsdell had been hampered by the 
increasing financial difficulties of the road. Mortgage upon 
mortgage had been piled upon it to permit its completion to 
Dunkirk, and immediately after that President Benjamin Loder, 
a man tired and broken with his responsibilities, had been glad 
to retire from his office, and to let Ramsdell's broad shoulders 
take the burden. Ramsdell had four years of it -four years of 
great conflict and strife, not only with the New York Central 
for the valuable traffic east out of Buffalo, but with his own 
directors. He, too, was glad to retire, in the summer of 1857, 
in favor of Charles Moran, who demanded, and received, the 
unheard-of salary of $25,000 a year. 

The still increasing financial load of the property quickly led 
Moran into Wall Street for aid. He found it in the person of a 
shrewd money lender there, one Daniel Drew, who had been a 
cattle trader and a steamboat man, and who had had financial 
dealings already with railroads, notably the Harlem. Drew 
came into the Erie, Moran went out (1859), and Nathaniel 
Marsh came in as receiver and as president of the Erie Railway 
Company. This company came into existence in December, 


iS6i, as the successor to the New York and Erie Railroad which, 
after thirty hard years of vicissitudes, had been forced into a 
receivership three years before. Nathaniel Marsh completed the 
Bergen tunnel, began to develop the tremendous present-day 
coal trade of the Erie, took over the branches into Buffalo and 
made them part of the main line of the road and, most important 
of all, prepared to amalgamate the new broad-gauge Atlantic 
and Great Western Railway, leading from Salamanca southwest 
through Meadville, Pennsylvania, to Akron, to Dayton and to 
the important railroad center of Cincinnati, where it enjoyed 
working connections over the broad-gauge Ohio and Missis- 
sippi Railroad, on to St. Louis. All of which having been accom- 
plished, Nathaniel Marsh died in 1864 and chaos began in the 
offices of the newborn Erie Railway Company. 

The student of railroad history who would go into the details 
of the Erie during the next dozen years, is recommended to that 
remarkable book by Charles Francis Adams, A Chapter of 
Erie. It is the story of constant battlings between Drew and 
Commodore Vanderbilt, James Fisk and Jay Gould. It is the 
story of midnight intrigues, of politics drawing a dirty hand 
across railroad finance, of printing presses running night and 
day to produce so-called " securities," of final court interference 
and of legal complications of every sort. 

Vanderbilt, always a constructionist, was soon glad to get out 
of it all. He wanted the Erie for but one purpose - to ally it with 
the great railroad system that he steadily was upbuilding to the 
north and to the west of it. When the Commodore found that 
this was out of the question, he was glad to withdraw from the 
Erie, once and for all time. He preferred to beat it at its own 
game - getting the traffic through the service - and this he now 
prepared to do by four-tracking his own line, bridging the 
Hudson at Albany and giving it adequate rail terminals on 
Manhattan Island in the City of New York. 


Out of the wreckage of those dark days of the sixties and 
the seventies, there gradually was to arise a new Erie. There was 
first to be a quick succession of presidents- Jay Gould, Gen. 
John A. Dix (another war-time governor of New York), 
Peter H. Watson, and Hugh J. Jewett- with varying records of 
success and achievement. Over the heads of all these men, there 
hovered a fearful and increasing financial menace. Twice again 
the ill-fated road was to undergo the strain of receiverships. 
The Erie Railway Company was to be succeeded, for seventeen 
years, by the New York, Lake Erie and Western; and it, in 
turn, on November 14, 1895, by the present Erie Railroad, 
which at the time of its organization took over the former 
New York, Lake Erie and Western property, the old Atlantic 
and Great Western - known latterly as the "Nypano," the 
New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio -the extension of this last 
road into Chicago, the Buffalo and Southwestern, and some 
lesser properties. 

The Erie, up to but a few years before, had also served as a 
trunk line, particularly into the Buffalo gateway, for the Dela- 
ware, Lackawanna and Western from Great Bend and the Lehigh 
Valley Railroad from Waverly. It was fated to lose both these 
roads, as it had lost the Canandaigua Branch to the Pennsylvania. 
In 1882, the Lackawanna management, tired of bickerings 
with successive Erie administrations, decided to build its own 
line through Binghamton to Owego. It already owned the very 
early Ithaca and Owego Railroad, thirty-four miles long, and 
built in 1838 to cross a summit and connect the navigable 
waters of Cayuga Lake with those of the Susquehanna River. 
The new extension of the Lackawanna connected with this 
short railroad, then continued through Waverly and Elmira to 
Buffalo. It took the route of the Cohocton Valley northwest 
from Corning, and for many miles paralleled the old single- 
track line of the Erie through that valley, leaving it at Wayland 


and moving directly across country through Dansville and 
Mount Morris to Buffalo. 

This severe blow to Erie prestige and traffic was followed 
ten years later by the withdrawal of the Lehigh Valley. In the 
early nineties, it had growing pains and made the branch from 
Waverly (Sayre) north to Geneva, through Ithaca, its main 
line and extended it from Geneva through Batavia to Buffalo. 
A short branch linked it to Rochester; other branches to Au- 
burn, to Cortland, Cazenovia, Camden, Naples, Hemlock Lake 
and Niagara Falls. This extension of the Lehigh was the last 
important piece of new railroad construction to be accom- 
plished in the state of New York. 

The Erie Railroad started with Eben B. Thomas as its first 
president. After establishing a good record as an operator, he 
was succeeded, in 1 901, by Frederick D. Underwood, who re- 
mained as president for twenty-six years and became known 
as the most outstanding constructive figure in the whole history 
of that property. It was Underwood, aided by Daniel Willard, 
now president of Baltimore and Ohio, who almost rebuilt the 
Erie. He corrected the grades and eased the curves; he built new 
low-grade freight lines from Harriman to Port Jervis, and from 
Hornell to Cuba. He gave the road new and adequate rolling 
stock. In short, he accomplished a complete regeneration of the 
property. It cost much money, but provided efficiencies in 
railroad property that made the Erie, for the first time in its 
history, a profitable railroad. A few years ago, Mr. Underwood 
relinquished the active presidency, and was succeeded by J. J. 
Bernet, who was in turn followed by C. E. Denney, of the Van 
Sweringen interests, who had acquired control of the road as 
part of large consolidation plans covering much of the country 
east of the Mississippi. 


The Foundations of the Delaware and Hudson 

One chapter of Erie history remains to be told. To build a 
railroad from Albany southwest, to connect with the Erie, 
early became a logical thing. Such a road, the Albany and 
Susquehanna, was incorporated on April 19, 185 1, and, after 
extraordinary delays, opened from Albany to Oneonta on Au- 
gust 28, 1865; four years later, after the completion of a rather 
costly tunnel, it was extended to a connection with the Erie at 
Binghamton. In the meantime, a branch of the Erie, known 
as the Jefferson Railroad, had been built south from that road 
at Susquehanna to Carbondale, Pennsylvania, in the anthracite 
districts. In 1871, the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company 
built a short-cut line passing under the Starrucca Viaduct to the 
Albany and Susquehanna, at the village of Nineveh. The Albany 
road was, unquestionably, a key line to the rapidly increasing 
anthracite traffic from Pennsylvania to northeastern New York 
and northern New England. As such, it was coveted both by 
Erie and the long-established Delaware and Hudson Canal Com- 
pany, which handled a lively coal traffic itself. A good deal of 
stock of the new Albany and Susquehanna was owned by the 
towns along the line. Jay Gould, representing the Erie, tried to 
get hold of this. The " Albany interests," friendly to the Canal 
Company, made every effort to checkmate him. Judge Joseph 
H. Barnard, never unfriendly to the Gould and Fisk interests, 
threw the Albany and Susquehanna into a receivership. The 
" Albany interests " checkmated by having the straightforward 
Judge Rufus H. Peckham appoint Robert H. Pruyn of that 
city a receiver. Rival receivers, all endeavoring to exert their 
authority, led to great legal complications, which led, in turn, 
to what virtually amounted to civil war. Force was used, rails 
were torn up and bridges were burned. On August 11, 1869, 


the Barnard receivers appealed to Governor Hoffman, who 
placed the road in the hands of the militia under Colonel Banks. 
From that time on, violence ceased, but it was months before 
the courts were cleared of the mass of ensuing litigation. When 
it all was over, the " Albany interests " and the Delaware and 
Hudson Canal Company were in control of the property. 

In this way it became one of the foundation stones of the 
present Delaware and Hudson Railroad. The Delaware and 
Hudson Canal was completely abandoned in 1899, but its own- 
ing company continued its existence thereafter as a successful 
operator of railroads. It extended its lines south from Susque- 
hanna to Carbondale, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, in Penn- 
sylvania, and north from Albany to Plattsburg, Rouses 
Point and, by a connection, to Montreal. The foundations of 
this route north from Albany and Troy were formed by the 
Rensselaer and Saratoga Rail Road Company, with which were 
merged, on June 15, 1865, the Saratoga and Whitehall, and 
the Troy, Salem and Rutland roads, also established very early. 
This combined company was leased, in 1871, to the Delaware 
and Hudson Company, which immediately prepared to push it 
farther north. This was done in slow and difficult installments. 
In 1868, a road had been built from Rogers, on the Ausable 
River, to Plattsburg by the Whitehall and Plattsburg, which 
two years later built from Ticonderoga to Port Henry; in 1873, 
these roads and the old Montreal and Plattsburg were merged 
into the New York and Canada Railroad. A highly difficult 
terrain intervened between the sections. Efforts to overcome this 
difficulty and to join the lines were opposed by existing through 
roads in Vermont. 

It finally took the efforts and leadership of Smith M. Weed, 
of Plattsburg, to complete the New York and Canada. Despite 
the severe physical obstacles attending the building of a rail- 
road along the steep rocky shore of the west bank of Lake 


Champlain, the road was opened from Whitehall to Port Henry 
in 1874, and to Plattsburg on November 29 of the following 
year. At Plattsburg, it made connection with the early Montreal 
and Plattsburg, built in 1852, and torn up and abandoned a few 
years ago, which led to Mooers Junction, upon the Ogdensburgh 
and Lake Champlain. The present direct route from Platts- 
burg through Rouses Point to the Canada line and Montreal 
was not opened until November 27, 1876. 

To this main stem north were added the Glens Falls Railroad, 
from Fort Edward to Glens Falls, built in 1869 and extended 
through to Lake George in 1882; the Adirondack branch from 
Saratoga Springs to North Creek, a part of the ambitious Sara- 
toga and Sacketts Harbor, which was started in the early fifties 
as one link of a through route from Boston, across the Adiron- 
dacks to Lake Ontario; and branches from Plattsburg to Ausable 
Forks, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, this last an extension of an 
early narrow-gauge road from Plattsburg to the lonely state 
prison at Dannemora, in the town of Bloomingdale. 

The Delaware and Hudson built cut-off lines from Duanes- 
burgh through Schenectady, over the former Saratoga and 
Schenectady to its main line at Mechanicville and at Ballston 
Spa. At Mechanicville, connection was to be made at a later 
time through Johnsonville with the Troy and Boston, after- 
ward the Fitchburg, and today the Boston and Maine, through 
the Hoosac Tunnel to the port of Boston; and at Rutland, 
with the Rutland and Vermont Central railroads leading north 
through the entire length of the state of Vermont to Burling- 
ton, St. Albans and Montreal. The Hoosac Tunnel, one of the 
most ambitious railroad engineering enterprises, was, after 
many delays and no little loss of life, finished and opened to 
through traffic in 1876. It at once provided the shortest low 
grade route between Boston and the Hudson River. Owing 
partly to the fact that it intersected no large cities, it was never 


able to compete very successfully with the Boston and Albany 
to the south of it. 

Here was, and still is, decidedly a key road. In addition to its 
network of branches north of Albany, it acquired branch lines 
from the former Albany and Susquehanna to the beautiful 
village of Cooperstown, also to Sharon Springs and Cherry 
Valley. Its coal traffic, always large, continued to expand. In 
some cases it became necessary to put down a third main track 
to accommodate this heavy business, and its present president, 
Leonor F. Loree, sometimes speaks of one particular part of 
the road as the busiest stretch of double-track railroad in the 
entire land. What is, in some ways, a practical extension of this 
network of coal-carrying railroads is the Ulster and Delaware, 
running east from Oneonta, over the Catskills, to Kingston and 
Rondout on the Hudson, 108 miles away. This road was first 
known as the New York, Kingston and Syracuse, and was in- 
corporated in 1875 as the Ulster and Delaware, with a branch 
line from Phoenicia to Hunters and the Hotel Kaaterskill. Re- 
cently, in accordance with the consolidation plans of the In- 
terstate Commerce Commission, it has been merged with the 
New York Central and made a branch of the West Shore divi- 
sion of that railroad, which also has a branch, the one-time Wal- 
kill Valley Railroad, running southwest from Kingston to 

North-Country Railroading 

The Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain, which the Delaware 
and Hudson eventually met and intersected, both at Rouses 
Point and at Mooers, was an outcome of an early effort to build 
a railroad nearly due west across the extreme northerly portion 
of the state of New York. This effort, which gained force as 
far back as the early thirties, finally was promoted chiefly in 


the interest of the city of Boston, which dreamed of this north- 
erly pathway to the inland commerce of the Great Lakes. Yet 
even before she had taken overt steps to accomplish that end, 
the people of the north were awake to the possibilities of such a 
railroad. It began to be discussed as early as 1829. Citizens of 
Montpelier, Vermont, met on February 17, 1830, to promote 
such a road, definitely, from Lake Champlain, where it would 
connect with the new Central Vermont road then building, 
across to Ogdensburg, just above the rapids of the Saint Law- 
rence and at the foot of navigation upon Lake Ontario, and by 
the Welland Canal to the upper Lakes. Of that meeting Frank- 
lin B. Hough wrote: 

A committee previously appointed reported favorably on the plan 
and its advantages and estimated that passengers and heavy freight 
could be taken over the entire route [Boston to Ogdensburg] in thirty- 
five hours. They further predicted that fifteen miles an hour would 
hereafter be performed by locomotives. 

The new project moved slowly. A railroad convention to dis- 
cuss it was held at Malone, but it was not until May 21, 1836, 
that the Lake Champlain and Ogdensburgh Railroad was in- 
corporated, with a capital of $800,000. At that time, a direct 
road from Ogdensburg to Albany also was discussed. More 
delays ensued. The Lake Champlain and Ogdensburgh, like a 
good many other early roads, passed into obscurity, and from it 
emerged the Northern Railroad, incorporated May 14, 1845, 
with $2,000,000 capital stock, this being organized in June, 
1846, at Ogdensburg, with George Parish, an outstanding 
citizen of that town, as its first president. Contracts were let 
soon after, and in March, 1848, work began at both ends of 
the road and was pushed through so that it was finished and 
opened in October, 1850. It had cost to build $5,022,121.31, 
which was a considerable sum of money for northern New York 


in those days. It was a first-class road, with an elaborate pas- 
senger station and shops at Malone, all still standing, and exten- 
sive termini by the river side at Ogdensburg. 

All the Northern road ever lacked was sufficient traffic to 
make it profitable. After certain difficulties with the Federal 
authorities at Washington, in regard to bridging Lake Cham- 
plain, so close to the international boundary and its military 
defenses, it was ready for through business. But little came. 
The road passed through many vicissitudes. It was repeatedly 
reorganized. It became the Ogdensburgh Railroad, then the 
Ogdensburgh and Lake Champlain, then a branch of the Central 
Vermont, and finally what it is today, a branch of the Rutland 

It was in this roundabout way that the iron horse first en- 
tered the north country. The long gap between Ogdensburg and 
the main line of the New York Central was bound to be filled; 
in fact long before the first train passed over the Northern 
line, active steps were in progress to bring a road up from 
central New York to the north country. On April 17, 1832, 
the Watertown and Rome Railroad was incorporated, under 
an act which provided that its capital should be $1,000,000, 
that the road should be begun within three years, and finished 
within five. 

None of these things was done. In those days, the north 
country was indeed much of a wilderness. But it had ambition 
and it had persistence. So the act that authorized the Water- 
town and Rome road never was permitted to expire. A few 
enthusiasts kept the railroad project very much alive. William 
Dewey made a survey on horseback of the proposed road, from 
Rome to Watertown, passing through Pulaski. Soon afterward, 
he issued copies of a small pamphlet, enthusiastically urging the 
completion of the road. It did not fall upon entirely deaf ears. 
The folk of the brisk little Saint Lawrence River port of Cape 


Vincent felt that the Watertown road should be extended to 
their entrepot, and promptly organized a little road, with 
$50,000 capital, to achieve that end. Their enterprise was ab- 
sorbed a little later in the larger one, which was not permitted 
to die. Many meetings were held in favor of it. One of the most 
important was described in this fashion in the Northern State 
Journal of Watertown, on March 29, 1848: 

Seldom has any meeting been held in this county [Jefferson] where 
more unanimity and enthusiastic devotion to a great public object 
have been displayed, than was evidenced in the character and conduct 
of the assemblage that filled the Court House. ... Go ahead, and 
that immediately, was the ruling motto in the speeches and resolutions 
and the whole meeting sympathized in the sentiment. And indeed, it 
is time to go ahead. It is now about sixteen years since a charter was 
first obtained and yet the first blow is not struck. . . . 

We trust that none but efficient men, firm friends of the Railroad, 
will be put in the Direction. The Stockholders should look to this and 
vote for no man that they do not know to be warmly in favor of an 
active prosecution of the work to an early completion. . . . With a 
Board of Directors such as can be found, the autumn of 1849 should 
be signalized by the opening of the entire road from the Cape to 

These words had their effect. At any rate, on the following 
April 6, the Watertown and Rome Railroad was formally or- 
ganized, at the old American Hotel in Watertown, with Orville 
Hungerford as its first president and a rather distinguished 
roster of "Watertown citizens as other officers and directors. 
Resurveys of the road had been made, omitting Pulaski, to 
the great distress of the residents of that village, contracts 
were let for the building of the road, and locomotives and 
cars ordered. No time was lost. Construction, which began by 
the side of the Utica and Syracuse track at Rome, was pushed 
forward and the iron horse first entered the smart village of 


Watertown on an October evening in 1 8 5 1 . The following year, 
the road was extended to Cape Vincent. Before that, however, 
Mr. Hungerford died and was succeeded as president by an- 
other outstanding citizen of northern New York, William C. 
Pierrepont, of Brooklyn and of Pierrepont Manor. It was he 
who carefully watched the development of the road through its 
first years of steady growth. 

For from the beginning, the Watertown and Rome pros- 
pered greatly. Another group of north-country citizens, headed 
by Edwin Dodge, of Gouverneur, as president, incorporated 
themselves in January, 1852, as the Potsdam and Watertown 
Railroad, and from it built a connecting link north to the North- 
ern Railroad, at a point just beyond the village of Potsdam, now 
known as Norwood. From De Kalb, on this last road, a branch 
was also built to Ogdensburg, and the entire road was opened 
in 1857. Four years later, it was merged with the older road as 
the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh, which for the next 
thirty years continued a career of widely varying success. It 
built a line from Richland west through Pulaski to Oswego, 
and purchased the Syracuse Northern, finished in 1871, extend- 
ing from Syracuse to Pulaski and to Sandy Creek. If it had 
stopped its progress then and there, it would have been well. 
The road was earning and paying its lo-per-cent dividends, and 
was one of the most prosperous in the state, if not in the land. 

But the Watertown group sought new fields to conquer. 
In those early days of the seventies, another group, largely resi- 
dents of Oswego, was occupying itself in extending a road due 
west from that town, then at the height of its prosperity as a 
lake port, along the southern rim of Lake Ontario to Suspension 
Bridge and the connecting roads west from that point. This, 
from the outset, was an ill-advised scheme. Ten miles or so south 
of the lake ran the main line and branches of the New York 
Central, and there was not enough traffic to support a railroad 


in the narrow strip between. But the promoters of the Lake 
Ontario Shore Railroad went ahead bHthely. 

And what a hne we shall have, [they argued.] Seventy-three out 
of our seventy-six miles west of the Genesee River as straight as the 
proverbial ruler-edge; and a maximum gradient of but twenty-six feet 
to the mile! What opportunities for fast -and efficient - operation. 

And what a line they did have! Nearly enough to wreck the 
Watertown road, when it attempted to absorb it and extend it 
through to " the Bridge " and Niagara Falls. The men who had 
operated the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh successfully 
for years past went down to defeat. Samuel Sloan, a Vander- 
bilt protege, came over from Oswego and assumed the presi- 
dency of the road. Under his leadership, it made very little 
headway. Sloan's first love was his Lackawanna Railroad, and 
one of his first steps was to put anthracite grates in the locomo- 
tives of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh so as to make 
traffic for his own road. The stock of the Watertown road sank 
to great depths. Just how far it would have gone will never be 
known, for in 1883 an astonishing change came to the property. 

A shrewd Yankee trader, one Charles Parsons, came up to 
Watertown of a spring day, produced votes and proxies at the 
annual meeting of the road, and emerged as its president and 
guiding force. Samuel Sloan at once dropped out of the picture. 
Parsons was a constructive force. With the aid of another New 
Englander, Henry M. Britton, whom he engaged as his general 
manager at Oswego, he began the process of upbuilding the 
Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh. He extended it into Mas- 
sena, where there was a connection with the Grand Trunk to 
Montreal, and into the very heart of the prosperous city of 
Rochester. And, as a final stroke, he acquired his only rival in 
the north country, the Utica and Black River, always a well- 
run and successful railroad. The Utica and Black River was the 


outgrowth of a determined attempt to build a railroad north 
from either Rome or Utica to and through the Black River 
Valley. Utica finally won the distinction of being its southern 
terminus, but for many years the road, which was begun in 
1855, reached only as far as Boonville, the summit of the old 
Black River Canal. In the seventies, it was extended to Carth- 
age, Watertown and Sacketts Harbor on the one hand, and 
to Clayton, Morristown and Ogdensburg upon the other. 

This done. Parsons had a railroad to be reckoned with, with 
some six hundred miles of main line, which ran through a pro- 
ductive and largely noncompetitive territory. Days of pros- 
perity quickly returned to it. He sought other fields to conquer. 
By building a comparatively short stretch of line east from 
Utica to Mechanicville, and another, far shorter, one from Utica 
to Rome, he would possess a route all the way across the state of 
New York that might easily prove to be a serious competitor of 
the powerful New York Central. Already the Central was not 
only threatened with serious rivalry of this sort, but was begin- 
ning to receive it. A railroad, first known as the New York, 
West Shore and Buffalo, was being built, at no little cost, up 
the west bank of the Hudson from Weehawken, opposite the 
city of New York, to a point a few miles south of Albany, 
which was reached by a branch; from here it turned abruptly 
west, to proceed through the valley of the Mohawk and in a 
line, closely paralleling the Central, all the way to Utica, Syra- 
cuse, Rochester and Buffalo. 

William H. Vanderbilt, in 1884, in the last year of his life, 
was still in active control of New York Central, when the West 
Shore finally was opened all the way from New York (Wee- 
hawken) through to Buffalo. An epoch-making rate war, both 
freight and passenger, ensued; but it was short-lived. The West 
Shore itself was short-lived. It lacked the financial resources 
for a fight of that kind. It was in the hands of receivers before t 


it had even finished its Hne into Buffalo. It was glad to capitu- 
late in 1885 to the Central, which then purchased it and made 
it a secondary or relief line for its heavy traffic all the way across 
the state. 

With the West Shore out of the way, the Central turned its 
attention to its vexing new competitor to the north. It made 
active threats to build its own line up to Watertown, a sugges- 
tion that was received with great acclaim by the north country. 
It already was preparing to strike a line across the heart of the 
Adirondacks to Malone and thence to Montreal. This Adiron- 
dack railroad was the pet child of Dr. W. Seward Webb, a son- 
in-law of William H. Vanderbilt, who acquired the small Herki- 
mer, Newport and Poland, a narrow-gauge line extending north 
seventeen miles from Herkimer. He changed its gauge to stand- 
ard, and prepared to thrust it to the north. This was completed 
in 1892, and the operation of through trains was begun between 
New York, Utica and Montreal. The railroad which John Hurd 
had built between 1882 and 1889, from Moira south to Tupper 
Lake, also was acquired and it was extended, over a bridge across 
the Saint Lawrence at Cornwall, through to Ottawa. 

The projected New York Central branch to Watertown was 
never built. On March 14, 1891, it was announced that the 
Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh had passed into the hands 
of the Central, which by this stroke had added 643 route miles 
of line to its already-existing 1,420 route miles. Parsons had 
achieved a rare coup. Only Watertown was disappointed. And 
it gradually was appeased, by the return of the general offices of 
its railroad to it, and by the improved service which the larger 
road was able to give. For a number of years thereafter, the 
Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh continued to be operated 
practically as a separate railroad. 


Other New York State Railroads 

Here then were the chief factors in the railroad development 
of this state. There were others relatively lesser, yet not lacking 
in importance. Some of these were tragic, such as the Oswego 
Midland, an enterprise of the late sixties and the early seventies, 
which endeavored to thrust an extremely tenuous and difficult 
link of single-track railroad all the way from Jersey City across 
northern New Jersey, through Middletown, Liberty, Sidney, 
Norwich and Oneida, to the lake port of Oswego. It also had 
branches to Rome and to Utica, and at Earlville it connected 
with the Chenango Valley, now a part of the West Shore divi- 
sion of the Central, for Syracuse. 

This road was a nearly impossible project. From the begin- 
ning, it was doomed. It was used as a medium by promoters to 
secure subscriptions from towns and from private citizens. Its 
inevitable failure was a calamity. Yet from all the wreckage, a 
capable railroad -the New York, Ontario and Western -was 
developed. The line from Middletown to Jersey City was lopped 
off, becoming the New York, Susquehanna and Western, with 
its tracks almost entirely outside of New York State, and a con- 
nection and ownership agreement was made with the new West 
Shore, by which the tracks of that line were used from Wee- 
hawken to Cornwall-on-Hudson, whence a new, direct, double- 
track line was built across the country to Middletown. A valu- 
able coal branch was sent down into the Scranton fields from 
Hancock, and branch connections made into Port Jervis, Mon- 
ticello and Kingston. With a rail connection over the first 
Poughkeepsie bridge from Campbell Hall into New England, 
the Ontario and Western gradually became an efficient and 
fairly profitable railroad. 

From Rochester there also was built, in the seventies, a rail- 
road toward the southwest, also destined to become efficient and 


profitable. This was the Rochester and State Line, which for 
many years was content to extend from Rochester through 
Leroy, first reached in September, 1874, and Warsaw to Sala- 
manca, where it enjoyed excellent connections with the Erie. 
This road was extended, in August, 1883, when the oil boom 
first came to western Pennsylvania, to and through Bradford to 
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. At that same time, it was ex- 
tended to Buffalo and the name of the company changed to the 
Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh. It retained this name for 
many years, although it was not until 1899 that Pittsburgh was 
reached over the tracks of the Baltimore and Ohio from Butler. 

One of the most interesting developments of this small but 
prosperous railroad was the establishment, in 1907, of a car 
ferry from Charlotte, now the port of Rochester, across Lake 
Ontario, fifty-eight miles, to Coburg, Ontario, on the north 
shore. The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh, having established 
itself primarily as a heavy carrier of soft coal, found this ferry 
of great help in the development of an export market in Canada 
for its bituminous coal. For a quarter of a century, this car 
ferry, with its two huge ships, has been in steady operation, 
summer and winter. Lake Ontario is subject to many heavy ice 
floes in winter, but there are few days when the great white 
ships, which are especially designed to meet this condition, do 
not succeed in making their way from the one side of the lake 
to the other. On the last day of December, 193 1, the Buffalo, 
Rochester and Pittsburgh lost its separate identity, as an operat- 
ing railroad at least. On that day, the Baltimore and Ohio, 
which previously had acquired it as a part of the so-called " four- 
system" plan of consolidation for the railroads east of the 
Mississippi and north of the Ohio and the Potomac, made it part 
and parcel of the parent road, although retaining most of its 
offices at Rochester. 

Another road out of the Rochester and Buffalo of a quarter 


century ago was the old Western New York and Pennsylvania, 
which gradually had been built up of a line reaching down from 
Buffalo to Olean, with another from Rochester to Olean (uti- 
lizing for many miles the bed of the old Genesee Valley Canal) , 
and some lesser lines. This property, in 1902, passed into the 
hands of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which at a still earlier date 
had acquired the railroad leading north from Elmira through 
Watkins to Canandaigua, with a branch from Stanley through 
Newark to Sodus Bay. 

Of even more interest was the acquisition by the Pennsyl- 
vania, at about this time, of the historic Long Island Railroad. 
Long Island, although politically very much a part of the state 
of New York, geographically is separated from it. In some 
ways, it is more like a portion of New England. It developed 
railroad enterprise at a very early date. The Brooklyn and Ja- 
maica Railroad, horse-operated, was completed for the ten miles 
between those places in 1 834. In that same year, the Long Island 
Railroad Company was incorporated. Its promoters had large 
plans - particularly for those days. They aimed not only to build 
a railroad the entire length of Long Island, but to make it a 
link of a through rail route up the Atlantic seaboard from 
Charleston to Boston. 

In 1836, it began building its line east from Jamaica, and ac- 
quired its first steam locomotives, being the seventh road in the 
United States to adopt the iron horse for its uses. In 1837, the 
road was completed to Hicksville, and in 1844 to Greenport, 
where ferry connections were made to the Connecticut shore. 
There was no railroad along that shore east of New Haven until 
1850, and so the Long Island at an early day became a link of an 
important rail-and-water route between New York and Boston, 
and so continued for a number of years thereafter. 

It continued steadily to expand, building branches and main 
stems along both the north and the south shores of the island. 


In 1 869, for the one time in its life, it was threatened with serious 
competition. FeUx E. Reifschneider, in his history of the road, 

In the year 1869 A. T. Stewart, the famous New York merchant, 
bought from the town of Hempstead, 7000 acres of land on that vast 
level tract known as Hempstead Plains, for the sum of $400,000. This 
money was known as the " Plains Fund " and was used for the support 
of the poor and of the schools by the town. In the midst of these 
plains, just north of the village of Hempstead, Stewart laid out Gar- 
den City, destined to be one of the best planned and most beautiful 
places in America. His first thought was for railroad facilities for 
Garden City. Accordingly he organized the Central Railroad Com- 
pany of Long Island in 1871. 

This " Stewart Line," as it was generally called, was built in 
1872. It used the tracks of the old north side line from Long 
Island City to Flushing, then struck across the center of the 
island, intersecting the Long Island road at Creedmoor and, 
passing Garden City, continued on to Bethpage and to Babylon. 
It was, from the first, a steady and consistent loser. Eventually 
the Long Island took it over and abandoned the stretches be- 
tween Flushing and Creedmoor and for a time those between 
Garden City and Babylon. 

Under the egis of the Pennsylvania, the Long Island has been 
built into a high-class small railroad, which specializes in short- 
haul freight and passenger traffic. It provided, from the first, 
an eastern outlet from the great new Pennsylvania Station in 
New York, which was opened in 1907; and so, once the greater 
portion of its strictly suburban lines had been electrified, the 
Long Island was provided with a splendid passenger terminus 
in the very heart of Manhattan, with the result that in recent 
years the resources of even this great terminus have been taxed 
to provide facilities for the steadily increasing tides of Long 
Island travel. 


Here then are presented the chief factors in the tremendous 
railroad development of this great state during the past hundred 
years. There have been smaller lines, some of which, like the 
Sacketts Harbor and Ellisburg, the Buffalo and Susquehanna, 
the Poughkeepsie and Eastern, and one or two others, have dis- 
appeared. There has been no large new railroad construction 
since 1892, when the Lehigh Valley put its main line from 
Geneva through to Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. At the 
turn of the century, there was considerable interurban elec- 
tric railroad construction - from Buffalo through Lockport to 
Rochester; and, continuing eastward from Rochester, to Geneva 
and to Syracuse, Utica and Little Falls -much of which has 
since been abandoned and torn up. This last was a sad chapter 
in the rail development of the state; but, to a large extent, an 
unrelated development. Most of the lines -either steam or elec- 
tric -that have been torn up should never have been put down 
in the first instance. They were the results of false zeal and en- 
thusiasm. They are gone, and already practically forgotten. 

But the main routes through the state have remained and, for 
the most part, have enjoyed a fair degree of prosperity. For a 
hundred years now, they have been, and they still remain, the 
veritable backbone of the transport of the chief commonwealth 
of the Union. The additions to the main-line running tracks, 
the great interchange and terminal yards, the building of huge 
terminal structures, both freight and passenger, have all added 
to the efficiency of these essential carriers. They never have been 
better prepared for the handling of the heavy traffic of a great 
state than they are at this moment. Their task is by no means 
done. It is hardly more than well begun. 


Select Bibliography 

Adams, C. F., A Chapter of Erie (Boston, 1869). 

Railroads; Their Origin and Problems (New York, 1878). 

American Railroad Journal. Began publication in 1832. 

Brown, W. H., History of the First Locomotives in America (New York, 

1 871). Revised ed., 1874. 
Buffalo Express. Files of the newspaper. 

Carter, C. F., When Railroads Were New (New York, 1926). Originally- 
published in 1909, 
Delaware and Hudson Company, A Century of Progress, a History of the 

Delaware and Hudson Company (Albany, 1925). 
Hadley, A. T., Railroad Transportation, Its History and Its Laws (New York, 

1885). Chaps. I and II. 
Harper's New York and Erie Railroad Guide Book (New York, 185 i). Also 

later editions. 
Holland, R. S., Historic Railroads (Philadelphia, 1927). 
Hone, Philip, Diary, 1828-18 51. 2 vols. (New York, 1889). 
Hungerford, Edward, The Story of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh 

Railroad (New York, 1922). 
Johnson, E. R., American Railway Transportation (New York, 1908). Also 

later editions. 
Mott, E. H., Between the Ocean and the Lakes; the Story of Erie (New York, 

Munsell, Joel, The Origin, Progress and Vicissitudes of the Mohawk and Hud- 
son Rail Road and the First Excursion on It (Albany, 1875). 
New York Central Railroad. Reports and other documents in the files of the 

offices in New York City. 
New York Evening Post. Files of the newspaper. 
New York (state). Laws. From 1826, when the Mohawk and Hudson was 

chartered by Chap. 253, incorporation of railroads was by special acts 

which can be followed in the annual session laws. 
Reif Schneider, F. E., History of Long Island Railroading. In the Long Island 

Railroad Information Bulletin, 1921-24. 
Rochester Advertiser. Files of the newspaper. 
Rochester Express. Files of the newspaper. 
Rochester Union. Files of the newspaper. 


Schotter, H. W., The Growth and Development of the Pennsylvania Railroad 

Company (Philadelphia, 1927). 
Starr, J. W., One Hundred Years of Railroading (New York, 1928). 
Stevens, F. W., The Beginnings of the New York Central, 1826-18 53 (New 

York, 1926) . 
Tanner, H. S., A Description of the Canals and Railroads of the United 

States (New York, 1840). First published in 1834. 

Travellers' Handbook (New York, 1845). 

Thompson, Slason, A Short History of American Railways, Covering Ten 

Decades (New York, 1925). 

<^ VII '-^ 


Harry J. Carman 

Professor of History 

Columbia University 


August Baer Gold 

Department of History 
Abraham Lincoln High School 
New York City 


The Textile Industries -Cotton, Wool, Flax 
AND Hemp 

Y OT even New England was more diversified indus- 
trially during the first half of the nineteenth century 
than New York State. The amazing gamut of its 
manufactured goods included textiles, hardware, cutlery, tools, 
stoves, brass and tinware, silverware, jewelry, copper, lead, 
leather and leather goods, glass, brick, hats, furniture, starch, 
sugar, chemicals, machinery, lumber and woodenware, wagons, 
carriages and omnibuses, pottery, tobacco, liquors, gristmill 
products, and musical instruments. 

According to the Federal census of 1840 -a not altogether 
reliable document -the state's manufacturing output of $95,- 
000,000 represented a gain of nearly 60 per cent over the figure 
reported by the even more inaccurate state census of 1835. The 
manufactures of New York City alone were valued at $23,- 
364,557, or 242 per cent of the former total. Of the 13,677 
enterprises reported in 1840, iii were cotton factories, 234 
woolen factories, 293 iron works, 337 distilleries, and 412 tan- 
neries. In proportion to population. New York City, even in 
1840, was producing more than its share of the state's manu- 
factures. In that year, the city contained but 1 3 per cent of the 
total inhabitants of the state and only 9 per cent of the persons 
gainfully employed. Yet (>y per cent of those gainfully em- 
ployed in the city were engaged in some form of manufacture, 
while only 25 per cent of those employed in the whole state 
gained their livelihood in such wise. With these figures in mind, 
it is interesting to note that while the city produced large 
quantities of metal ware, sugar, musical instruments, ships and 
furniture, its output in other lines was exceedingly small. Its 


textile manufactures, for example, amounted to only 5 per cent 
of the state's total; hardware, 8 per cent; brick, 2 per cent; car- 
riages and wagons, 9 per cent; paper, 6 per cent; cordage, 3 per 
cent; and earthenware, 9 per cent. For the large proportion of 
grist, saw and paper mills, textile factories, iron works, distil- 
leries, breweries, tanneries and brick-making establishments, of 
course, one had to seek outside New York City. 

Of New York's many manufactures, the textiles occupied 
preeminent rank. Household manufacture of textiles appears 
to have been undiminished prior to 1830. Indeed, the large 
number of carding machines in use in the state is evidence of 
this fact; in 1820, Dutchess County alone had 1 17 of these ma- 
chines in operation. The amount and variety of the goods made 
in the home during these years are remarkable. Itemized state- 
ments of such products awarded premiums by the Ontario 
County Agricultural Society for 1822 indicate both the extent 
and variety of such household production. One example will 

In the family of Seth Jones, Bristol: 319 yards of linen cloth, 25 of 
kersey for bags, 32 of shirting, 35 of diaper, 52 of cotton and linen, 
199 of woolen cloth, 16 of kersey for blankets, 24 of plain flannel for 
blankets, 28 of cotton and wool, 34 of cotton, 22 of worsted, 30 pairs 
of socks, 7 pairs of stockings, 3 pairs of mittens, 5 bed quilts, i carpet, 
27 pairs of pantaloons, 23 frocks, 2 surtouts, 4 coats, 4 sailor coats, 
12 aprons, i bed tick, 7 blankets, 10 flannel sheets, 20 linen sheets, 
30 shirts, 5 vests and 12 kersey bags. 

In all probability, approximately 10,000,000 yards of cloth were 
manufactured in New York State homes in 1820. After 1830, 
however, household textile production declined sharply, giving 
way rapidly to the factory system. 

Although hard hit by conditions immediately following the 
War of 1 8 12, some of the textile factories managed to survive, 
and after the financial crisis of 1 818-19 the industry as a whole 


slowly gained ground. In 18 19, John Given (sometimes spelled 
Gibbons) erected a stone cotton factory at Wappingers Falls. 
The next year, in company with George Everson, he purchased 
a cotton establishment at Pleasant Valley. About the same time, 
new concerns commenced production at Kinderhook and Stock- 
port, in Columbia County. Despite complaints concerning 
losses during the depression and discouragingly low prices, the 
cotton manufacturing business in Oneida and other counties 
was distinctly on the up grade. Factory production of woolens 
increased less rapidly than that of cotton; nevertheless, in 1822 
three " extensive " woolen manufactories were opened in Oneida 
County. The following year, Jesse Scofield and Dr. Capron es- 
tablished the Franklin Company at Walden, in Orange County, 
with a capital of $100,000. A list of incorporated companies 
manufacturing textiles in the state in 1823, printed in the 
Albany Argus, states that there were 36 cotton concerns and 
61 engaged in cotton and woolen fabrication. 

Not only did textile establishments increase in number, but 
also in efficiency. Soon after the close of the Napoleonic wars, 
Mowry, who had set up the first successful textile mill in the 
state, and Wild, manager of the Columbia Manufacturing So- 
ciety's mill just outside of Hudson, went to England. Refused 
entrance to factories there, they entered a door marked " Posi- 
tively No Admittance " and succeeded in inspecting a newly- 
invented machine for cotton spinning, known as the double 
spreader. Upon their return, they constructed a duplicate of 
the machine. About the same time, William Copley, a machinist 
in the employ of Benjamin Walcott, set up the first power loom 
in the Oneida Manufacturing Society's mill at Whitestown. Its 
use became general within a few years. In 1822, the manufac- 
ture of textile machinery was undertaken at Matteawan (now 
Beacon) , in Dutchess County. Production of finer fabrics on 
a considerable scale was first undertaken by Benjamin Marshall, 


a native of Scotland who came to New York in 1803. After 
twenty years' experience as an importing-exporting merchant, 
Marshall decided to turn to textile manufacture, and purchased 
Walcott's Whitestown properties, which he renamed the " New 
York Mills." Shortly after, he established the Ida Mills at Troy; 
here also, in 1826, he built the Hudson River Print Works. This 
was the first example in New York State of a concern under- 
taking, on a large scale, the complete production and distribu- 
tion of cotton textiles. Simon Dexter of Oriskany, testifying 
before the House Committee on Manufactures in 1828, stated 
that he knew of no other factory in the United States weaving 
cottons as fine as those of the New York Mills. Their cloth was 
said to be the standard for fine fabrics wherever produced. 

After 1830, the factory system of textile production ex- 
panded amazingly. Although cotton manufactures were con- 
centrated in Oneida, Dutchess, Rensselaer, Otsego and Colum- 
bia Counties, the industry was by no means confined to these 
regions. Cohoes, for example, developed into an important 
textile town. After several futile attempts to establish factories 
there, a group of New York City capitalists headed by Peter 
Harmony and including H. J. Wyckoff, P. H. Schenck and 
others, incorporated the Harmony Cotton Manufacturing Com- 
pany in 1836. Although for some years it made no profit, it was, 
by 1 840, the largest cotton concern in the state. While its textile 
production has never been exceptionally large. New York City 
was not without its cotton factories in 1840. Among the more 
important metropolitan mills was that of Alexander Knox, 
which used a hundred thousand yards of yarn annually in the 
production of some fifty varieties of cloth. There was also the 
Eagle Manufacturing Company, located in Greenwich Village, 
for the " manufacture of cotton, woolen and linen goods." 

It is difficult to estimate the progress of the factory system in 
the field of woolens. Census enumerators were certainly too 




liberal in their use of the word " factory." Undoubtedly many 
establishments enumerated were very small concerns, supple- 
menting local household production by custom work. Andrew 
W. Young, in his History of Chautauqua County, records the 
setting up of many such shops, established first for carding and 
fulling, and extended presently to other manufacturing opera- 
tions. It would be a mistake, however, to regard these small 
manufactories as insignificant, for they performed a very im- 
portant function with reference to rural woolen manufacture. 
But the state was not without extensive woolen mills. In 1 83 1, 
the Oriskany Manufacturing Company had 147 employees, 
and Peter Schenck's Glenham Company had almost as many. 
The following table affords a comparison of the seven larger 
mills in 183 1, with the total returns from thirty-three factories 
comprising, according to McLane's report, almost all the larger 
woolen factories of the state. 




ber of 


Value of 

Value of 

Number of 




and Lagrange 

Franklin Co 

McNamara Co. . . 













$ 2.7,000 


$ 61,500 







New York State 







By 1840, woolen manufacture on a factory basis was well ad- 
vanced. It must be remembered, however, that, even at that 
date, the large majority of the mills were small, and that family 
production of woolens, while decreasing, was still a significant 
factor in the state's textile economy. The following table shows 


the status, in 1840, of woolen manufacture in the five counties 
outstanding in that industry, as compared with the state as a 


Nufnber of 


Number of 

Value of 

Number of 
Fulling Mills 














New York State . . 






It should be noted that Dutchess, the leading county, had in 
operation only 6 mills. Even more indicative of change is the 
number of fulling mills, 1 5 in this county, where there had been 
117 in 1821. Another significant detail shown by the table is the 
continuance in a less urban region, Oneida, of smaller factories 
and a considerable number of fulling mills. 

Silk, Knit Goods, Carpets and Clothing 

Little interest was taken in the culture of silkworms and the 
fabrication of silk in the state prior to 1825. In 1801, Peter 
Delabigarre, in addressing the New York State Agricultural 
Society, enthusiastically declared: 

Gentlemen, you have in your hands all the means requisite for success, 
and for enriching yourselves by the culture of silk. It remains with 
you to compare and judge your many attempts in it, and discover 
wherein they have been defective. 

Some little effort was made to verify this prediction; here and 
there a farmer produced a small quantity, sometimes peddling it 
about the countryside. Samuel Chidsey, who had several years 


previously introduced the culture of silkworms in Cayuga 
County, is reported to have sold sewing silk to the value of $600 
a year. The census, in 18 10, recorded one manufactory for the 
state, the value of the product of which was only $1,000. A 
decade later, two men were engaged in making silk in New 
York City. Another shop combined the fabrication of silk with 
that of linen and cotton. 

Interest in silk increased in the decade of the twenties, how- 
ever. Monographs were published on the means of reviving and 
extending silk culture. Committees of Congress listened to the 
testimony of foreign experts and native enthusiasts. In 1829, 
G. B. Clark, of New York, received a grant of 262 acres of gov- 
ernment land at Greenbush, on condition that he should set out 
100,000 mulberry trees. In Oneida County, several villagers 
were already reeling their first crop of cocoons and were opti- 
mistic about the future of the industry. John d'Homergue came 
from France and agreed, if Congress would provide the funds, 
to set up a complete power factory where young men might be 
trained in the technique of silk manufacture. The refusal of 
Congress to vote the money brought the scheme to naught. In 
his annual message of 1830, Governor Throop called attention 
to the adaptability of silk, and two years later a bill was intro- 
duced in the legislature to encourage propagation of mulberry 
trees and silk culture. 

The enthusiasm thus created for development of the silk 
industry continued for many years. In Oneida County, the 
manufacture of sewing silk was extended. Here, as elsewhere, 
attention was directed to the special advantages of silk produc- 
tion as a means of employment for the young and the feeble, 
and especially for the inmates of poorhouses. Societies for pro- 
moting the industry were formed in various communities, and 
in all parts of the state individuals engaged with spirit in the 
culture, and they pressed for legislative support of what seemed 


to give promise of becoming a great industry. At the fair spon- 
sored by the American Institute, prizes were awarded to 
New York exhibitors, several of whom raised two crops of 
cocoons a year. These exhibits were the product of domestic 
manufacture. The silk was reeled, and oftentimes very inex- 
pertly, by hand, spun on an ordinary wool wheel, dyed, 
doubled and twisted into thread, or fashioned into woven 

A number of concerns were also organized to undertake silk 
manufacture. The first of these establishments of which we find 
mention was located in New York City. In 1830, John McRae 
opened a factory at 410 Hudson Street for the manufacture of 
plush, ribbon, fringes, tassels and braids. George Elliott made 
silk fringe; John Morrison, of 168 Sixteenth Street, made silk 
handkerchiefs; Daniel Sparks, of 165 Elm Street, and John 
Mabbett, of 177 Grand Street, produced sewing silk. Inven- 
tions were devised to improve the technique of manufacture. 
Gamaliel Gay, of Poughkeepsie, in 1835 patented improved de- 
vices for reeling silk, and a power loom reported to have been 
more rapid than cotton looms on material of equal fineness. 
That year, a factory, elaborate for those days, was erected by 
the Poughkeepsie Silk Company, to manufacture silk produced 
on several farms it had purchased in the vicinity. An exhibition 
of ten or twelve varieties of silk fabric, woven at Providence on 
Gay's looms, induced groups of business men at Troy, Albany 
and New York to form companies devoted to silk husbandry 
and fabrication. Although hard hit by the financial panic of 
1837, which forced nine- tenths of eastern silk factories, includ- 
ing the Poughkeepsie Silk Company, to suspend operations, the 
industry survived. True, the state census of 1840 reported a 
total of only slightly over $8,000 as being devoted to silk manu- 
facture, and the production of raw silk as amounting to 1,735 
pounds. These figures, however, are incorrect, and therefore 


misleading. Auburn Prison alone is said to have produced, in 
1 841, sewing silk worth approximately $13,000. Moreover, 
letters to the National Convention of Silk Growers and Silk 
Manufacturers, held in New York City in 1843, indicate pretty 
conclusively that silk growing among the farmers of the state 
had not diminished, although there was much diversity and 
crudity, both of culture and fabrication. Cocooneries were 
maintained in barns, in hen houses, in garrets and in sheds. A 
Brooklynite even advocated the efficacy of hatching silkworm 
eggs by the simple expedient of taking them to bed with one at 
night. Books were studied and practical information exchanged 
among growers, in an attempt to arrive at a proper technique. 
James Underbill, of Orange County, informed the convention 
that, within a mile of his village, several persons were engaged in 
silk raising, and several more intended " to do something at feed- 
ing next season." In Chautauqua County, considerable quanti- 
ties of sewing silk were also being produced. 

By 1 8 50, it was evident that the optimism evinced in the early 
literature on silk growing was unwarranted. Cocoons could be 
grown but, on the whole, not at a profit. The worms were subject 
to various diseases; in 1844 a blight seriously affected the mul- 
berry trees; ignorance of basic processes made manufacture 
crude and expensive; manufacturers preferred the better-reeled 
European silk, and only by hours of tedious labor could any 
money be made. The small shops in New York to which we have 
alluded continued to operate, using imported silk, but no or- 
ganization undertook again to combine culture and manufac- 
ture. In 1846, the New York State Register reported that dur- 
ing the previous year no less than 1,600 persons in the state were 
engaged in silk growing. Expectations of lucrative returns, 
however, were apparently blasted. Thereafter, silk culture 

Vastly more significant in the state's industrial history than 


silk was the manufacture of flax and hemp. The fiber of flax 
and hemp, like that of long staple wool, was combed, not carded. 
This fundamental operation was more difficult mechanically 
than carding, and remained manual in America until i860. 
Linen manufacture was retarded because the highly skilled labor 
required made it unprofitable. In the field of household fabrica- 
tion, flaxen cloth was soon replaced by cheap cottons. A very 
careful search reveals the existence of only two factories for the 
weaving of linen in the state before 1850. One, the Schaghticoke 
Linen Mills, organized about 1800 by Benjamin and Charles Joy 
of Rensselaer County, was reported in 1820 to be operating 
two-thirds of its 228 spindles. In 1840, it was capitalized at 
$1 5,000 and employed 90 persons, and was at that time the only 
linen establishment in the state. The other factory was started 
by ambitious persons on a rather pretentious scale in New York 
City in 1827, but it did not prosper. Another metropolitan con- 
cern, the Linen Company, incorporated in 18 15, was still exist- 
ent in 1830. Despite this poor showing, considerable interest 
was taken in flax production. Indeed, in the annual messages of 
1828 and 1830, the state executive emphasized the possibilities 
of improving and maintaining flax as well as hemp culture. In 
1826, W. Hunt and W. Hoskins of Martinsburg, Lewis County, 
patented a spinning machine that was intended to revolutionize 
flax manufacture. Two years later, a legislative committee re- 
ported on the petition of Joseph Hines, of Rensselaer County, 
for a loan to enable him to build a machine devised by him for 
the dressing of flax and hemp, which would prevent the dete- 
rioration caused by dew rotting. 

Hemp culture and manufacture also received attention. In 
1830, the legislative committee on agriculture presented a re- 
port on the practicability of raising and manufacturing hemp, 
and asked leave to introduce a bill for a bounty. That year, the 
New Berlin Hemp Company was incorporated. In 1840, New 


York raised hemp valued at $212,440, principally in Chenango, 
Montgomery, Rensselaer and Westchester Counties. 

The manufacture of hemp and flaxen cordage was rather ex- 
tensively carried on in the state. A spinning machine, introduced 
by John Westerman in 1834, was opposed by workmen because 
its labor-saving features threw men out of work. The census 
of 1840 listed nearly 50 hemp manufacturing establishments. 
Moreover, the value of rope produced had advanced from 
$602,594 ii^ 1835 to $792,910 five years later, when there were 
597 men employed in the cordage trade. 

Three other manufactures, which in reality are part of the 
textile industry, deserve brief mention, namely, carpets, knit 
goods and clothing. Prior to 1845, carpets were not only woven 
by hand, but were considered as a luxury to be found only in 
the homes of the well-to-do. Nevertheless, in 1821, John and 
Nicholas Haight were said to be making large quantities of 
carpeting in New York City. At Great Falls, Saratoga County, 
according to McLane's Report, 6,000 yards were manufactured 
in 183 1. Several other establishments are reported to have been 
engaged in its manufacture during the next few years at Hud- 
son, Schenectady, Cohoes and Poughkeepsie. 

In the latter city, Henry Winfield's Ingrain Carpet Factory 
turned out in 1836 no less than 100,000 yards three-ply, super- 
fine, fine and common ingrain carpeting and twilled Venetian 
stair carpets. Prior to 1850, carpet manufacture in the state 
was comparatively small. Beginning about the middle of the 
century, however, the industry gathered momentum. By the 
eve of the Civil War, the village of Amsterdam, owing to the ef- 
forts of W. K. Greene and Stephen Sanford and son, had become 
a thriving carpet-manufacturing center. 

The development, about 1 830, of a successful power-operated 
knitting machine by Timothy Bailey, of Albany, and by Egbert 
Egberts and Joshua Bailey, at Cohoes, marked the beginning of 


a very important industry. Egberts and Bailey began manu- 
facturing with two remodeled machines; Bailey peddled the 
products about the countryside, taking return orders for goods, 
the proceeds of which he paid over to female operatives. In 
1836, they enlarged their plant in Cohoes and installed cards 
and mules; but the sale of knit goods moved slowly, and by 
1 841 the entire output of the Egberts and Bailey plant did not 
exceed $40,000 in value. In this connection, C. H. Adams stated 
in 1866, before the National Association of Knit Goods Manu- 
facturers, that he remembered Egberts going about New York 
City and actually begging merchants to permit him to leave 
a sample. 

The manufacture of clothing during these years was largely 
confined to New York City. Although custom-made garments 
remained more popular than the ready-made article for a sur- 
prisingly long time, the manufacture and sale of the latter 
showed considerable increase by 1 850. The gain was in a measure 
due to the demand of the growing middle class for a cheaper 
grade of dignified clothing. In order to lower prices, the tailors 
found it necessary to turn out large quantities of standard sizes 
and shapes. Consequently, custom tailors began to employ their 
journeymen in slack times in the making up of left-over suiting. 
Gradually they extended their operations until soon they were 
purchasing raw materials to be used especially in the manufac- 
ture of ready-made clothes in dull seasons. To many of the 
masters, this line became as important as the made-to-order 
trade. By 1840, the new industry was firmly intrenched and 
establishments were appearing which gave it their whole atten- 
tion, though most tailors continued their custom-made line. 

The organization of the new clothing manufacture followed 
closely the custom-made system. In both, the master provided 
the capital and brains, and organized the technical and com- 
mercial processes. The preparation and cutting of the cloth 


were done in the master's shop; then the material was worked 
up by journeymen either in their homes, or in shops which they 
hired jointly, or in the master's own establishment. As the need 
for lowering wages in order to reduce prices became more ap- 
parent, the tailor began to tap the vast supply of female labor. 
At first women performed only the simple unskilled processes, 
but the introduction of the sewing machine in the late forties 
quickly widened the scope of their work until they could per- 
form practically all of the tasks. 

New York City's clothing establishments were many. By 
1830, some of them were employing from three to five hundred 
hands, chiefly women. Among the custom tailors were Allen 
W. Hardie, of 196 Fulton Street; and Richard Calrow, of 10 
and subsequently of 4 Wall Street. A few of the clothing makers 
catered especially to the ladies. Thus M. Jefferys, 287 Broadway, 
boasted that he made riding habits and pelisses " warranted to 
fit in a beautiful style; not in curves or creases, as is very com- 
monly seen, and sometimes altogether spoiling the figure of the 
wearer." Farther up the main thoroughfare, at ^i^Yz Broad- 
way, was located the establishment of John Thomas, where 
dresses were manufactured for sale to a feminine community 
which up to this time had depended almost entirely upon its 
own initiative for creation of its apparel. 

The Metallurgical Industries 

In variety and value, the metallurgical industries were no less 
important than the textiles. Of these, iron and steel ranked first. 
Even more fortunate than its sister state, Pennsylvania, in iron- 
ore resources. New York, prior to 1850, produced considerable 
quantities of iron. Most of the ore was found in two locali- 
ties, namely, in the southern highlands, particularly in Orange 
County, and in the Champlain area. In 1828, the latter region 


produced about three thousand tons of bar iron. Pig-iron pro- 
duction for the entire state during this year totaled 135,000 
tons. By the middle of the nineteenth century, furnaces and 
rolling mills were numerous in the Hudson River-Lake Cham- 
plain Valleys and in Saint Lawrence and Jefferson Counties. 
The hematite ores of the Clinton formation were mined in 
Oneida and Wayne Counties. A few furnaces and mills were 
also to be found in the central and western portions of the 

All of the state's ore before 1830 was smelted in exactly the 
same manner as was employed at the close of the Revolution. 
Although several attempts were made to discover a more ef- 
ficient fuel than charcoal, it was not until 1830 that a workable 
furnace, which would burn anthracite, was developed by Fred- 
erick Geissenhaimer, a Lutheran clergyman of New York City. 
Three years later, he patented the process and commenced the 
manufacture of iron. Utilization of coal along with other new 
processes, such as hot blasts, rolling and puddling for refining, 
increased furnace capacity, and economized labor, made pos- 
sible the physical expansion of establishments, and led to reor- 
ganization of the industry. 

Two urban communities, Troy and New York City, early 
became the leaders in the fabrication of iron and steel products. 
The germ of what ultimately became the Troy Steel and Iron 
Company was the Troy Iron and Nail Company. In 1824, the 
property of this concern included a rolling and slitting mill, a 
nail factory and " sundry shops for other mechanical business." 
Already it had plans for expansion. Under the leadership of 
Henry Burden, a Scotch engineer who in 1822 became superin- 
tendent of the plant, new and more efficient machines were in- 
troduced, many of them being of Burden's own invention. 
Among them were the wrought-iron and spike machine, pat- 
ented in 1825, and the horseshoe-nail machine invented in 1830. 


Five years later, Burden patented a remarkable device which, 
subsequently improved, shaped a piece of bar iron into a horse- 
shoe in four seconds. In 1836, he furnished the company with 
a machine for production of hook-headed spikes to fasten T 
and H railroad rails, then beginning to supersede flat rails. In 
1839, he added to his reputation by devising what became 
known as " Burden's rotary concentric squeezer," for the com- 
pression of balls of puddled iron into blooms. This invention, 
in the opinion of the commissioner of patents, was " the first 
truly original and most important invention known at that 
time for the manufacture of iron." In 1848, Burden acquired 
complete ownership of the Troy Iron and Nail Factory. 

If the prints of Troy's horseshoes marked the highways of the 
globe, as one of her chroniclers asserted, it is no less true that her 
other iron manufactures were extensive and far-famed. These 
included stoves, bells, passenger and freight cars, carriages and 
wagons, and surveyors' instruments. The casting of stove plates 
began in Troy in 1821, under the leadership of Charles and 
Nathaniel Starbuck. By 1855, the city had seven foundries 
which turned out stoves to the value of $1,000,000 per year. 
The city's first bell factory was built in 1825 by Julius Hanks, 
who with his son Oscar was soon to become Troy's leading 
manufacturer of surveyors' instruments. In 1841, another 
Troy firm, Eaton and Gilbert, began making passenger 
and freight cars. It was this firm which built the first eight- 
wheeled passenger cars used on the Schenectady and Troy 

The manufacture of vehicles was one of Troy's earliest in- 
dustries. The firm of Veazie and Barnard was well known for its 
coaches and carriages during the War of 1 8 1 2 ; Eaton and Gil- 
bert, mentioned above, was founded in 1831 for the manufac- 
ture of carriages and stagecoaches. Under date of May 8, 1827, 
the Troy Sentinel, with considerable pride, remarked: 


The improvement in tLe mode of conveyance in this country is not 
confined to steamboats and water, as those may well testify who recol- 
lect the difference between our light, elegant and convenient stage- 
coaches with their springy seats and easy motion, and the lumbering 
vehicles which were in use for the purpose some twelve or fifteen 
years ago. We are happy to know that the public are indebted to the 
ingenuity and enterprise of citizens of Troy for some of the addi- 
tional conveniences. The valuable improvement of fixing a seat over 
the baggage and a railing round the top of the carriage was first intro- 
duced, we believe, by Mr. Charles Veazie of this city; and in one of 
the elegant stage-coaches lately turned out from the shop of O. Eaton, 
we notice a still further improvement of a similar kind. 

In 1850, 100 stagecoaches, 50 omnibuses, 30 passenger cars and 
150 freight cars were made at the extensive works of Eaton, 
Gilbert and Company. 

New York City's claim to distinction as an iron manufactur- 
ing center really dates from Geissenhaimer's invention. As late as 
1830, the city had only nine furnacis which together produced 
slightly more than 3,160 tons of pig metal. Within five years, 
five additional works had been established and the production of 
iron had become the city's most important industry. By 1840, 
the value of its iron and steel products totaled $2,373,100 and 
required the services of 2,362 persons for their fabrication. 
These products may be conveniently grouped into three cate- 
gories: machinery, including locomotives; hardware and cut- 
lery; and miscellaneous. 

Of all the city's ironmasters, James Peter Allaire was probably 
best known. Beginning as a bronze caster in 1813, he soon ac- 
quired by purchase Robert Fulton's Jersey City iron business, 
which he removed to his foundry in Cherry Street. Here he 
began the manufacture of steam engines, which at once won 
him fame. His factories were also well known for their produc- 
tion of hollow ware, sadirons, wood screws and other ferrous 


fixtures. Outstanding among his competitors was Henry War- 
rail, who operated a foundry at 26 Elm Street, where he special- 
ized in light castings. Warrall's hollow ware won him a pre- 
mium at the fair of the American Institute in 1829. The 
Columbian Foundry, at ji Duane Street, operated by Robert 
McQueen, at this time the oldest in the city, was probably the 
first to engage in the production of stationary engines as a 
specialty. Another of some years' standing was the Sterling Iron 
Company, incorporated in 18 14. William Kimball's plant on 
the North River, at the foot of Beach Street, was connected 
with the West Point Foundry at Cold Spring, which built the 
locomotives " Phoenix " and " West Point " for the South Caro- 
lina Railroad, and the "De Witt Chnton " for the Mohawk and 
Hudson Railroad. Two other water-front concerns -Edward 
Dunscomb's rolling and slitting mill on Corlaer's Hook near 
Walnut Street, and the Peru Iron Company at 32 South Street - 
should also be mentioned. 

During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, steel pro- 
duction in the United States trailed that of England. In the 
thirties, however, two steel plants, one in New York City and 
the other in Pittsburgh, began to rival the English plants in 
quality of product made from ore mined in the region along 
the border between New York and Connecticut. Altogether 
there were forty steel furnaces operating in various parts of 
the country in 183 1. Of these, fourteen were located in New 
York, one of them being the establishment of Oliver L. Clark 
on West Street. The refined iron and steel was cast into a variety 
of articles -locomotives, saws, jackscrews, plows, cutlery, locks 
and tools of various kinds. 

Like Troy, the metropolis of the state boasted a number of 
stove manufactures. Stoves were not very popular until the 
late twenties, when Jordan L. Mott adapted them to the burn- 
ing of anthracite coal. To ignite and utilize this form of fuel, 


Mott- after whom Mott Haven is named - found that it was 
necessary to construct stoves made of very thin, curved plates 
and of iron of fine grade. Mott's plant adjoined the Harlem 
Bridge on the Morrisania, or Bronx, side of the Harlem River. 
So well thought of were his products that at the 1834 exposi- 
tion of the American Institute he received diplomas for an- 
thracite cooking and office stoves. One of his specialties was a 
self-feeding base burner, supplied with chestnut coal by an at- 
tached magazine. Mott was not without competitors, his rivals 
including James Wilson and Company, 206-8 Water Street; 
H. Nott and Company, who manufactured the stove patterned 
by Dr. Eliphalet Nott, president of Union College; and Wil- 
liam Naylor and Company, 5 Chatham Square. 

Albany and Ulster Counties, as well as Buffalo and Amster- 
dam and a number of other localities, were lesser centers of iron 
and steel manufacture. Among the early nineteenth-century 
Albany concerns was the Albany Rolling and Slitting Mill. 
Built by John Brinkerhoff and Company in 1807, it passed, in 
1826, into the hands of Erastus Corning, who gave it the name 
of the Albany Nail Factory. In 1830, this factory alone pro- 
duced 825 tons of rolled iron, of which 450 tons were cut into 
nails. Eight years later, the concern again changed ownership 
and became the Albany Iron Works. In 1 839, the first puddling, 
or conversion of pig iron into wrought iron, was undertaken by 
this concern. The manufacture of wrought iron by this process 
had not been successfully undertaken elsewhere in the state, ex- 
cept at the Ulster Iron Works, in Ulster County. Iron castings 
made at Albany were noted for their excellence, and were con- 
sidered equal to any in the world. Moreover, the hollow ware of 
Bartlett, Bent and Company was preferred to the best produced 
in Scottish foundries. As early as 18 14, the firm of S. and A. 
Waters, of Amsterdam, had a $6,000 plant which turned out 
annually about 1,000 scythes, as well as mill saws and irons. In 


1825, the Buffalo Steam Engine Works was incorporated for the 
manufacture of steam engines, mill gears and other castings. 

The gateway to the United States, the city of New York was 
the focal point of the transportation lines of land and sea. It 
was natural, therefore, that the manufacture of coaches and 
omnibuses should early gain a foothold in the metropolis. For 
a time it was apparently only a foothold, as but one manufac- 
tory of coaches and gigs was reported for the city to the United 
States Senate Committee on Manufactures in 1824. Ten years 
later, the industry seems to have become more firmly estab- 
lished, for we find the American Institute awarding a silver 
medal to Isaac Mix and Sons for a " handsome Stanhope," and 
another to I. Cooke and Sons for a double-seated phaeton which 
could be transformed into a barouche. Meanwhile, James 
Brewster, a New Haven capitalist, had established a warehouse 
and repair shop in New York in 1827. 

Early in the eighteen-thirties, when travel was on the in- 
crease, John Stephenson turned to the building of omnibuses. 
Almost at once he began construction, at his Elizabeth Street 
shops, of what was reported to be the first street car in the 
United States. Named the "John Mason," it was designed to 
run on the Harlem Railroad from Prince Street to the Harlem 
Flats. As railway and street mileage increased, Stephenson found 
an even larger market for his products. In 1 843, his business had 
so expanded that he found it advisable to move to a four-story 
building on Twenty-seventh Street near Fourth Avenue. 

While iron and steel fabrication overshadowed the other 
metallurgical industries, the latter were by no means neglected. 
Work in the precious metals was chiefly confined to the jewelry 
trade, which was concentrated largely at Philadelphia, Newark, 
New York and Providence. In New York the leading firm was 
Stebbins and Howe, who specialized in watches and silverware. 
At 30 Wall Street, S. W. Benedict cut diamond necklaces and 


made gold watch dials from American gold. In the same region 
were MuUer and Ackerman, also makers of gold watch dials 
and earrings; and near Stebbins and Howe, at 142 Chatham 
Street, was Jared Moore, famous in his day for his gold and 
silver-mounted spectacles. 

Items in silver are more numerous: embossed soup tureens, 
chased cake baskets, waiters and embossed and plain pitchers 
were made by Baldwin Gardner, 146 Broadway; chased and 
carved silver waiters by "William Thompson, of 109 William 
Street; japanned tea trays by J. Smith, 217 Water Street; 
pitchers, spoons and forks by Marquand and Company; more 
pitchers by James Thompson. Stebbins and Howe, in their 
capacity as clock and watchmakers, had to compete with Uriah 
Emmons, whose shop on Division Street was moved to Hester 
Street in 1830; and with Whitney and Hoyt, of 380 Pearl 
Street. Farther down, at 266 Pearl Street, was the home of clock 
regulators, owned by J. S. Mott. 

While Connecticut gave more attention to the brass industry 
than any other state. New York City was an important brass- 
foundry center. Here D. E. Delaven, of 489 Broadway, shaped 
brass into fire sets, shovels, stair rods, hods, teakettles and 
stands. Francis Smith, at 96 Center Street, specialized in tongs 
and shovels; and Peter Bissell, at Sixteenth Street and Ninth 
Avenue, in brass nails. 

New York, Baltimore and Boston, shipbuilding ports, prac- 
tically monopolized the refining and rolling of copper, as well 
as its manufacture into commercial shape. Most of the primary 
raw material had to be imported. In 18 13, the plant of Robert 
R. Livingston was capable of turning out 100 tons of sheet 
copper per year. On April 9, 18 14, the New York Copper 
Manufacturing Company was incorporated for the purpose 
of "carrying on and perfecting the manufacture of copper 
and brass, and the construction of large copper work in gen- 


eral." Capitalized at $250,000, it continued to function at least 
till 1830. 

Tin, and metals plated with tin, served as material for a 
variety of table ware. James Woodhall, of King Street, manu- 
factured plated casters and other plated ware. William Naylor 
and Company, the stove makers, also produced tinware; and 
James Grant, 315 Broadway, turned out dish covers, coffee 
urns and other table appurtenances. Little seems to have been 
done with lead manufacture in New York City, although in 
1 8 14 a charter was granted to "The Mining, Smelting and Re- 
fining Company," which planned, among other things, to erect 
a tower for the manufacture of shot. In the northern part of 
the state, however, considerable interest was manifested in the 
production of graphite, or black lead, large deposits of which, 
near Ticonderoga, early attracted attention. In 1832, William 
Stuart and Nathan Delano began to mine it for market. Meet- 
ing with success Stuart, in collaboration with his sons, expanded 
operations. During the decade of the fifties, the business passed 
into the hands of the American Graphite Company. On the eve 
of the Civil War, about 500 tons of graphite were being taken 
from the Ticonderoga area annually. The Rossie Lead Company, 
chartered in 1837 for lead production near the village of Rossie, 
Saint Lawrence County, ceased operations in 1839 because of 
foreign competition. At the time it suspended work, this con- 
cern had mined and sold approximately 3,250,691 pounds of 

New York City virtually monopolized the manufacture of 
New York State musical instruments. A wide-open market and 
the absence of established producers attracted skilled artisans 
from the Old World, and particularly from the British Isles. 
A large proportion of these settled in New York City. By 
the end of the second decade of the nineteenth century, the 
pianoforte had become an important item of manufacture in 


the city; 800 pianos were built in the year 1829. Ten years 
later, the city was producing 3 8 per cent of the entire national 

The names of New York piano manufacturers are numerous. 
Certain persons, however, stand out. Until 1830, JohnKearsing 
and Sons, in business since the opening of the century, occu- 
pied the premier position. They trained the brothers Robert, 
William and John Nunns. The Nunns brothers opened their 
factory at 96 Broadway in 1824. Largely aided by Charles 
Sackmeister, an itinerant inventor who was shabbily treated 
and abominably paid by the profit-seeking manufacturers, the 
Nunns made revolutionary improvements in their instruments, 
which were awarded several medals and diplomas at the fairs 
of the American Institute. Quite unexpectedly they faced op- 
position and loss of prestige in 1833, when a new-comer, John 
Osborn, was acknowledged " the best maker " in the city. Com- 
ing from Albany three years previously, Osborn had set up shop 
at 184 Chambers Street, but was soon compelled to seek larger 
quarters at Third Avenue and Fourteenth Street. Of irascible 
temperament and belligerent in attitude, Osborn in one of his 
outbursts committed suicide. Luckily, he left a worthy disciple 
in Jonas Chickering, who migrated to Boston, there to carry on 
the manufacture of superior instruments. 

Of the other musical instruments, the building of organs de- 
serves at least passing notice. The accepted master was Henry 
Erben, who pursued his calling for sixty years. When he died 
in 1884, he had built 146 organs for New York churches, most 
famous among them being the instruments in Trinity, Saint 
Stephen's Roman Catholic, Saint Peter's, and the Mott Street 
Cathedral. On a cheaper scale were the products of Hall and 
Labagh, who built the organs of the Baltimore Cathedral, Saint 
Thomas, the Church of the Strangers, Temple Emanu-El, and 
the Fifth Avenue Collegiate Church. Two other builders. 


Richard Ferris and George Jardine, also deserve praise. Prac- 
tically one-half of the total number of the miscellaneous musical 
instruments of the country, such as harmonicas, ^eolians, cal- 
liopes, accordions, dulcimers, violins and violincellos, harps, 
guitars, banjos, flutes, drums, and brass and silver horns, were 
manufactured in New York State. 

Leather and Leather Goods 

The manufacture of leather and leather goods employed a 
larger number of persons than any other single industry with the 
possible exception of textiles. Not only was the leather business 
important in itself, but it had a very direct bearing upon both 
agriculture and lumbering. Like so many of the other industries 
of the state, the tanning of skins was carried on both as a regular 
business and as an incidental family manufacture. While tan- 
neries were to be found in all parts of the state, by far the greater 
number were located in the Catskill Mountain region and in the 
valley of the Hudson, where there were abundant forests of hem- 
lock. Shortly after the close of the War of 1 8 1 2, the New York 
Tannery Company was organized. Establishing its plant at 
Hunter, in Greene County, it marketed its first leather in 1818. 
In 1822, its property passed into the hands of WiUiam Edwards 
and Jacob Lorillard, both prominent in the leather trade at that 
time; under their supervision, the plant was greatly enlarged 
and improved. 

Meanwhile, other large tanneries were being erected in the 
Catskill area, which was already becoming the principal source 
of leather for the New York City market. Of these, the plant 
established by Zadock Pratt, in Greene County, overshadowed all 
others. Situated in the midst of a dense growth of hemlock, it 
housed over 300 vats requiring the annual consumption of 
1,500 cords of wood and 6,000 cords of hemlock bark. For a 


period of twenty years, the annual output was 6,000 sides of 
sole leather. At this time, Pratt's tannery was probably the 
largest in the world. To Pratt's enterprise and public spirit, the 
village named after him (Prattsville) owed its growth, and 
the Catskill territory much of its prominence as the principal 
leather-producing district of the United States during the first 
half of the nineteenth century. This region alone produced one- 
third of all the sole leather made in the Union in 1850, and a 
larger amount of upper leather than any other state. Localities 
north of Albany, such as Ballston Spa, secured their wood and 
bark from the foothills of the Adirondacks. 

New York City, which, before the middle of the century, 
had become the largest emporium of foreign hides in the world, 
also housed a large number of enterprising tanners. These in- 
cluded a goodly number of men of influence and dignity in 
the community, among whom was John Bloodgood, whose 
father, Abraham, had been a manufacturer of upper leather. 
Gideon Lee, a Tammany man, like Bloodgood, agent for the 
Hampshire Leather Manufactory and one of the organizers of 
the New York Tannery Company, served as mayor and con- 
gressman. Israel Corse, a Hicksite Quaker who led the fight 
against lotteries, took his son-in-law, Jonathan Thorne, into 
his leather business in 1828. Thorne later became a landed pro- 
prietor by virtue of the inheritance of a farm in Washington, 
Dutchess County, and the acquisition of a number of adjoining 
acres which he stocked with choice cattle and christened 
"Thornedale." William Kumbel, the only maker of leather 
belts in the United States at this time, was a colonel of the 
Eleventh Regiment, New York Volunteers. From Poughkeepsie, 
in 1827, came Morgan L. Smith and Abraham L Schultz, to 
open a tannery at the corner of Jacob and Ferry Streets. Smith 
also was a colonel, an accepted leader of urban society, and he 
became the only United States consul to the Republic of Texas. 


David Moffat, a Scottish immigrant in 1827, soon became a 
successful harness maker and achieved universal respect. 

By 1850, numerous chemical and mechanical changes had 
been made in the art of tanning, whereby both the quality and 
quantity were improved. Two citizens of New York State, 
among others, contributed to these improvements. The first, 
A. H. Beschorman, patented a device in 1846 by which hides, 
stretched together in an endless belt or apron, could be passed 
over a series of rollers, thereby enabling the manufacturer to 
transform raw materials more easily into the finished product. 
The second device, that of L. C. England, of Tioga County, 
patented in 1847 and improved during the fifties, was more 
simple and consisted of a paddle-wheel arrangement for stirring 
the vat liquors, which proved to be a great labor saver. By 1850, 
the value of common and Morocco leather made in New York 
State alone exceeded $22,000,000. 

With an abundance of raw materials, it was but natural that 
a thriving leather-goods industry should come into being. Ac- 
cording to the 1840 census. New York City had over two hun- 
dred leather manufactories. At 165 Water Street, for example, 
Richard Yeo fashioned leather undergarments ''much more 
conducive to health as well as more pleasant to wear than 
flannel." Leather shirts, buckskin gloves, mittens, parchment 
and drumheads rounded out his stock of merchandise. For 
pocketbooks and reticules, the ladies were invited to patronize 
Edward C. Chantry, at 9 Maiden Lane; T. Bussing, of -/() Wil- 
liam Street; and Earless and Gopsill, 116 William Street, who 
made " every article in the Morocco line, of every pattern and 

Manufactories of saddlery, boots and shoes and trunks were 
to be found in every town of any considerable importance. 
Certain communities, notably Albany, Gloversville, Johnstown, 
Newburgh and New York City were outstanding. Indeed, be- 


fore the middle of the century, the latter had achieved promi- 
nence as a shoe-manufacturing center. Inasmuch as the boot 
and shoe business was still on a handicraft basis, it employed 
a larger number of persons than any other branch of the leather 
industry. The manufacture of dressed deerskins for gloves, 
money belts and underclothing, was started in the village of 
Gloversville by Ezekiel Case, in 1803. Subsequently, under the 
leadership of W. T. Mills and James Burr, who became noted 
glove manufacturers, the business extended to the neighboring 
community of Johnstown. 

The Lumber Industry and Its Allies 

No less extensive in their ramifications than the fabrication 
of leather goods were the lumber industry and its allies - potash, 
charcoal, woodenware, furniture, and wood pulp and paper. 
With extensive forest areas, a desire for additional cleared land, 
and a ready market for timber products, it was inevitable that 
from the first this group of industries should assume prime im- 
portance. Every stream of any size had its sawmill, and the use 
of steam made possible the erection of plants not operated by 
water power. As in colonial times, Albany was the center of the 
lumber industry. 

Ogdensburg, Watertown, Buffalo, Glens Falls, Newburgh, as 
well as many towns along the route of the Erie Canal, had 
large mills. " Asheries " for the manufacture of potash, and pits 
for charcoal production were also numerous. Both of these in- 
dustries were carried on in primitive fashion, as in colonial days. 
Much of the potash produced in the northern part of the state 
was marketed in Montreal. By the middle of the nineteenth 
century, potash manufacture, as a business, was largely a thing 
of the past. The use of charcoal was also on the decline. 

In the shaping of wood into articles of practical value, the 


State was in the forefront. Kitchen utensils, cabinet ware and 
furniture of all styles and varieties were made, for both the 
domestic and the foreign market. Much of it was homemade, 
or produced in small shops on a handicraft basis. Particularly 
was this true of the city of New York; clustered along the 
lower West Side, along Greenwich and Broad Streets and dotting 
Broadway, the Bowery, Chatham, Beekman and Hudson Streets, 
were dozens of small shops where artisans sharply competed for 
business. Of them all, Duncan Phyfe, Scottish immigrant, was 
most famous; for twenty-five years he set the standards in 
funiture making. His restraining influence held the heavy, 
awkward Empire modes at bay, and only succumbed when 
financial straits demanded compliance with vulgar standards. 
While ranking behind New England in the production of 
paper. New York, with its favorable metropolitan market for 
paper products, rated as a leader in paper manufacture. In 1 8 10, 
official reports credited the state with twelve mills, located in 
the Hudson Valley from Troy southward. By the close of the 
War of 1 8 12, Troy was forging ahead as a paper-producing 
center; from 1830 to 1850, owing largely to the efforts of 
Joseph, Thomas and Peleg Howland, it was the leading paper- 
manufacturing city in the state. Prior to 1850, rags consti- 
tuted the principal raw material for this industry. Henceforth 
numerous experiments with straw, corn husks and wood fiber 
were made, with the ultimate result that spruce and balsam 
wood gradually came into use. Stripped of its bark and ground 
into pulp, this wood filled a need of long standing. With the in- 
creased use of spruce and balsam, it was only natural that the 
pulp and paper business should locate where there was an 
abundance of water power and of these forests. Consequently, 
Watertown, Ticonderoga, Glens Falls, Palmer Falls (Corinth), 
Sandy Hill (Hudson Falls), Fort Edward, Mechanicville, 
Schuylerville, the towns along the Ausable River and the 


Kayaderroseras and Battenkill, tributaries of the Hudson 
River, soon gained renown for their pulp and paper production. 

The Importance of Shipbuilding 

Shipbuilding was largely confined to the Hudson and East 
River fronts, Buffalo, and the Lake Champlain towns of West- 
port and Port Henry. In this industry, New York City over- 
shadowed all others. In 1840, the value of the ships produced 
there exceeded the total of the vessels built in every other ship- 
building community in the country. Truly Manhattan Island 
was " the headquarters of the shipbuilding of the world." De- 
spite recurring depressions during the long period from the 
close of the Revolution to the Civil War, the water-front streets 
of the metropolis almost continuously resounded with the blows 
of the carpenter's ax, the tapping of the caulker's hammer and 
the buzz of the timber saw. The East Side, from Jefferson Street 
for a mile and a half north to Thirteenth Street, was covered 
with piles of white oak, hackmatack and locust, destined to be 
converted into ribs; with yellow pine for keelsons and ceiling 
timbers, white pine for floors, and live oak for " aprons." 

New York had participated in the wide-scale building of 
merchantmen and privateers during the Napoleonic wars; yet 
it was not till the close of the second war of the United States 
against Britain that East River ship craftsmen began to set the 
national fashions. These enterprising builders ushered in the era 
of packets, those sailing vessels which cleared from port to port 
at regular intervals and, barring acts of God, maintained a pre- 
determined schedule. They ran between specially selected points 
only, and were equipped to carry six hundred to a thousand 
passengers and a thousand tons of freight. The unrelenting 
rivalry of shipyard against shipyard called forth the highest de- 
gree of skill in designing and constructing. In order to hold their 


own, builders were forced to study the scientific principles 
of design and sparring. They imported books on the subject; 
took lessons from United States naval constructors; experi- 
mented with models; and cut up and analyzed the denizens 
of the sea. As a result, New York acquired a group of the most 
highly-qualified builders in the world. They gave their brigs and 
ships strength, speed, stability, ease of handling, beauty and 
comfortable accommodations. At the height of their business, 
six thousand men were employed in the naval construction 
going on at twenty yards. 

Constant improvement resulted in a decidedly superior brand 
of ocean carrier. Foreign nations, realizing New York's pre- 
eminence in this line, placed order after order with one or an- 
other of the firms. The South American governments, newly 
free, rushed to provide themselves with naval defense. In re- 
sponse to orders from Mexico and Colombia, two line-of -battle 
ships, two frigates and two sloops of war were placed on the 
stocks in the summer of 1825. One frigate " of the largest class, 
pierced for sixty-four guns," was launched at Eckford's yard 
in September. Another ship, the *' Bolivar," with a similar com- 
plement of cannon, took its maiden plunge in November. A 
month later, the Colombian frigate, "South America," was 
ready for the sea. This latter vessel attracted special notice be- 
cause of its size and fine fittings; built of live oak and red cedar 
and finished with brass, she was 180 feet long and carried 
60 32-pound guns. When the new year opened, four more 
southward-bound ships were in process of construction. By 
spring, several of these were on the water, among them the 
Mexican brig, " America," a 600-ton specimen of New York's 
highest-grade handiwork. Henry Eckford found most favor 
with foreign governments; it was he who supplied a large por- 
tion of the navies of Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile. 

Europeans also recognized the worth of the New Yorkers. 


Eckford built a corvette for Turkey and sailed in 1831 to re- 
organize the navy of that country, but unfortunately died be- 
fore he had completed a year at his task. William H. Webb 
provided the French with their first steam ram, the " Dunder- 
berg." Several Spanish frigates took shape on the stocks in the 
yard of John Englis. The pride of the Czar's navy, the 2,282- 
ton steam man-of-war, " Kamchatka," was also made in Amer- 
ica, in 1838, by William H. Brown. To aid in the valiant struggle 
against Turkish oppression, the Greek revolutionaries placed 
orders through their committee in America for three frigates. 
One, the "Hellas," built by Christian Bergh, reached them 
without much difficulty. But the other two were long delayed 
by the machinations of the grafters, who did much harm in 
this, as in many another righteous movement. Construction 
had been started as early as June, 1825, but one of the vessels, 
the " Hope," did not leave the yard of Smith and Dimon till 
October of the following year. And the departure of this vessel 
was made possible only by the purchase of its sister ship by the 
United States government, at a price of $233,000. When the 
devious transactions had been terminated, the Greeks found 
that they had spent $750,000 for a ship worth considerably 
less than $300,000. The committee on arrangements was, of 
course, suspected, but the cloud of dishonesty, at least of gross 
profiteering, passed over to the firm of builders; John Dimon's 
house at the corner of Columbia and Rivington Streets was long 
called the " Greek " house, the reference being to the huge sum 
which had been received from the revolting Greeks and pre- 
sumably expended on the new home. 

Despite this seemingly continuous prosperity, the shipbuild- 
ing industry experienced ups and downs more exaggerated in 
the contrasts between peaks and troughs than the general aver- 
age of all manufactures. The period opened on a high note. The 
April I, 1825, issue of the Evening Post reported 30 steamboats 


built or placed on the stocks within the twelve months immedi- 
ately preceding. In addition, " a number of other vessels of 
large size have been launched during the same period, and others 
are in considerable forwardness." In June, there were 7 frigates 
and gun ships and 2 corvettes in process of building. By July, 
this number had jumped to 10 battleships, 12 merchant ships 
and 8 steamboats. The score for the twelve months following 
March 31, 1826, was: 23 ships, 3 brigs, 49 schooners, 68 sloops, 
12 steamboats, 15 towboats and 19 canal boats. The total of 
29,137 tons marked a high spot which was not even approached 
during the ensuing half decade. An issue of the Evening Post 
in May, 183 1, remarked on the amazing activity of the ship- 
yards, a phenomenon which had been absent for the past five 
years. Only one year before, these same yards had been silent; 
but a single ship could be found on the stocks and a scant 
couple were in process of repair. Now, the report runs, 

One first rate ship was launched a day or two since and contracts have 
been entered to build ten others, six of which are already on the stocks 
... a greater number than has been under contract since 1826. Be- 
sides these, great numbers of small craft and steamboats are construct- 
ing all along the shores and vessels of all burdens are being repaired. 

And so the builders throve. But the story which has now be- 
come so old was repeated again in 1834. Depression returned 
to camp on the doorstep of a "prosperous" nation. The 
maestros of the shipyards found that the launching of two 
vessels on May 1 3 left them without a single order to be filled. 
This flurry in 1834, however, was but a zephyr in comparison 
to the gale they were forced to weather three years later. The 
effects of the 1837 disruption continued for six slowly bright- 
ening years. In the middle of the gloom, specifically at the time 
of the taking of the sixth decennial United States census, Webb, 
Bergh, Westervelt, ef al., found a few rays of encouragement 


in the form of a sadly curtailed building program. The value of 
naval construction for 1840 came to $354,000, one-fourth of 
the total for the gala year, 1826. Each of ten firms limped along 
with a ship or two to occupy its attention, the sum of their 
endeavors being only a tonnage of 8,315. 

Despite the relative paucity of New York's production in this 
year, its $354,000 exceeded the total of any other community 
in the country. Because city and village boundary lines are 
economically meaningless, the only fair method of comparison 
is on the basis of entire port regions, such as Philadelphia County, 
Pennsylvania, which included the shipbuilding centers of Ken- 
sington and Southwark, near Philadelphia. Here again, the lead 
was taken by New York City and contiguous localities, Suffolk, 
Kings, Queens and Richmond Counties and points along the 
Hudson- all comprising the " Southern District " of New York. 
The total of $554,667 produced by this section far outstripped 
even that of the Massachusetts shipbuilding hives. 

The types of seagoing vessels constructed on the west bank 
of the southern reaches of the East River can be roughly divided 
according to makers: Liverpool packets by Smith and Dimon, 
Isaac Webb, Brown and Bell; London and Havre ships by 
Christian Bergh, Thomas Carnely, Jacob H. Westervelt, Wil- 
liam H. Webb; barks, brigs, schooners and sloops by Ficket 
and Crockett, Westervelt and Mackay, Eckford, Webb, Per- 
rine, Patterson and Stack, and George Steers; steamers by 
Lawrence and Folkes, Devine Burtiss, Bishop and Simonson, 
William Collyer, Thomas CoUyer, and Capes and Allison. 

The smaller boats, the sloops, schooners, barks and brigs, 
never exceeded 350 tons in burden, a good many of the first- 
named running considerably under 100. But the ships and 
steamers showed a steady increase in size, as the builders learned 
more about the principles of weight, strength, speed and endur- 
ance. Several famous vessels well illustrate this advance in ton- 



age. When the '* Mary Rowland " left the stocks of Smith and 
Dimon in 1825, crowds thronged the wharves to see one of the 
biggest ships of the day, burden, 500 tons. Given nine years 
of experience, these same builders were able to present the " In- 
dependence," 140 feet long, 32 feet wide, 20 feet deep, with a 
registered tonnage of 734. Unsatisfied, they and their com- 
petitors kept constantly enlarging and improving: as a result, 
the "Liverpool," launched in 1843 by David Brown, had a 
carrying capacity of 1,174 tons. Most of the packets of the 
latter part of this period ranged a little below the burden of the 
"Liverpool," registering anywhere from 900 to 1,100 tons. 

These packets were, until 1849, either one or two-decked, 
with a poop deck aft and a topgallant forecastle forward. They 
were so arranged that the cargo could be stored in the lower 
hold and light freight stacked between the decks. In the after 
portion, the space between decks was divided into cabins. The 
middle section held the kitchens and pantries. Crew bunks 
and steerage were " for'rd " and officers' houses on deck. Three- 
decked packets were introduced in 1849, but by that time clip- 
per ships were beginning to displace all other forms of large 
seagoing vessels. The era of the picturesque monarch of the 
waves did not come until after the close of the period under 
consideration here. So only passing mention may be given to 
that noblest development of the art of the builder of the sailing 
ship, the full-rigged, sharp-prowed, long-lined clipper. 

The clipper lived but a few decades. But two other innova- 
tions of the day have had lasting effects. One was the use of iron 
as a framework. The signs pointed to the elimination of the 
huge lumberstacks which lined the water front, and to their 
replacement by shipments of metal. Iron ships were the sub- 
ject of a meeting at the Mechanics Institute in the city, in 1840. 
Attention was called to the fact that their comparative cost in 
England was less than that of wooden ships, and that a similar 


condition seemed to prevail in the United States. Specifically, 
the minutes reported " for an iron steamboat built by the West 
Point Foundry Association in this city in 1838, the additional 
charge over and above an estimate for building the boat in 
England, was only so much as it would have cost the owners to 
get the hull from thence into our waters." In 1839, New York 
was the site of another venture in the use of iron for ships, when 
a steamboat was constructed from such material for use in 
Louisiana waters. 

The other newcomer to shipbuilding was the vessel propelled 
by steam. This had, of course, been perfected for practical use 
by Robert Fulton as far back as 1807. Within a decade, the 
country had begun to adopt steam as a means of propulsion on 
rivers and ocean inlets, where the land was always within easy 
reach. But American mariners persisted in the belief that sail 
would prove superior on long voyages. This contention was gen- 
erally accepted because the vessels of the time did not seem 
capable of carrying sufficient coal to bring them safely through 
an ocean trip. The " Savannah " utilized both sail and steam 
power, and consequently was no criterion of the lasting powers 
of the steamship. The prevailing dubiousness made the builders 
wary of utilizing steam power in ocean liners. However, the 
merits of the river steamboat were certain. Thirty were built or 
placed on the stocks of Manhattan in the twelve months pre- 
ceding April I, 1825. By 1832, steam was found to be a prac- 
tical form of power for coasting vessels, and New York plunged 
into the construction of these. They were side-wheelers with 
deep hulls and razor bottoms like sailing ships, and bows and 
sterns somewhat sharper than the canvas-carrying boats. Their 
engines were the same in principle as those of the river boats, but 
the weight of the machinery was brought nearer to the bottom 
of the hull. 

John Englis achieved the greatest distinction in the making of 


coasting steamers. After eight years as foreman for Bishop and 
Simonson and an interlude building lake steamers at Buffalo, 
he returned to New York to open a yard at the foot of East 
Tenth Street. Here he had 140,000 square feet of property, in 
the confines of which he employed as many as 450 men. Hudson 
River and Long Island Sound steamers of exceptional length 
were his specialties, some of the most famous being the " St. 
John " and the " Dean Richmond " of the People's Line to Al- 
bany, and the "Newport" and "Old Colony" running to 
points in New England. Chief competitors in the production 
of Sound boats were Lawrence and Sneden, whose noblest bids 
for maritime fame were the "President," the "Boston," the 
"Empire State," "Granite State" and "Bay State." 

The old hesitancy with regard to ocean steamers was swept 
away in 1838, when English-built vessels reached New York 
after crossings in which the sole dependence had been upon 
steam power. Ship tonnages were running well above 1,000; 
such size betokened plenty of room for coal supplies. The fear 
of fuel exhaustion gone, the "Lion" and the "Eagle" were 
started on the stocks, and in 1840 slid into the East River, the 
first of a long line of steamships that plowed the seven seas. 

The Eleventh Ward, in the southeast section of Manhattan 
Island, was the exclusive home of shipbuilding during these 
years. The sea was king from Jefferson Street north for a couple 
of miles to Thirteenth Street, and from the water front inland 
for three or four blocks. Within the limits of this area, 
scarcely a man was occupied in anything but the primary job 
of shipbuilding or in an ancillary pursuit, such as ship chan- 
dlering, sailmaking or ropewalking. In 1835, a comparatively 
short stroll would take the inquisitive visitor past every one of 
the metropolitan shipyards. Starting with Joseph Martin's be- 
tween Jefferson and Pike Streets and walking in a northeasterly 
direction, he would skirt in succession the establishments of 


James Morgan and Son at the foot of Rutgers Street; Carpenter 
and Bishop, and Picket and Tomes at CHnton Street; Stephen 
Thorn and Jabez WiHiams at Montgomery Street; Christian 
Bergh at Scammel Street; and Sneden and Lawrence at Corlaers 
Street. Rounding the Hook, he would find himself at Grand 
Street, immediately facing the yard of Samuel Harnard. Con- 
tinuing thence almost due north, he would pass the establish- 
ment of Brown and Bell, which extended from Stanton to 
Houston Street; and above that. Smith and Dimon, Fourth to 
Fifth Street; Webb and Allen, Fifth to Seventh Street; Bishop 
and Simonson, Seventh to Eighth Street; and yet higher, James 
and George Steers, William H. Brown and Thomas Collyer. 

Outstanding among the proprietors of these yards were Chris- 
tian Bergh, Henry Eckford, Jacob Bell, Jacob Westervelt, John 
Englis, Isaac Webb and Stephen Smith. Bergh was probably 
the most colorful man in the district. Six feet and four inches 
in height, he commanded all with whom he came in contact. 
His mastery of the shipbuilder's art was demonstrated during 
the War of 1812, when the United States frigate, "President," 
which he had constructed, was captured by the British and used 
by them as a model of naval architecture. During the war, he 
suspended personal activities and built vessels for the govern- 
ment on Lake Ontario. His sailing ships were considered by 
many to have been unsurpassed in design or technique of con- 
struction. One of his London packets excelled even the steam- 
ships in speed, making the passage to England in fourteen days 
and ten hours. Swiftness and the " close rudder," a personally 
devised innovation, were the distinguishing characteristics of 
all Bergh creations. 

Henry Eckford, Bergh's closest friend, was his most vigorous 
competitor. Starting in 1800, contemporaneously with Bergh, 
he also suspended private business to build ships for the govern- 
ment on Lake Ontario. His work in the war won him the post 


of naval constructor at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he 
built six battleships in the three years from 18 17 to 1820. Too 
zealous devotion to reform and an incapacity for adjusting him- 
self to the constituted authority of the yard officers forced his 
resignation. Thereafter, he made personal capital out of his 
undoubted abilities. Strength, speed and constant improve- 
ment were the keynotes of his work. Consultation with the 
captains of the vessels he had built readily revealed strong points 
and faults, and led to constant changes in the design of frames 
and the details of rigging. 

Jacob Bell and David Brown, whose partnership lasted from 
1820 to 1848, achieved prominence as pioneers in the building 
of ocean steamships and first-class clippers. It was this firm 
which built the " Lion " and the " Eagle," first New York ves- 
sels to make the Atlantic crossing without the aid of sails. And 
it was these doughty exponents of slender lines and broad can- 
vas who furnished their former pupil, Donald McKay, the chief 
rivalry in the construction of clipper ships. In 1820, they had 
taken over the yard of Adam and Noah Brown at the foot of 
Houston Street, and the following year they launched their 
maiden ships, the " William Tell " and the " Orbit." The forma- 
tion of a close business relationship with Edward K. Collins, or- 
ganizer of the Dramatic Line of packets to England, netted 
the firm contracts for the " Garrick," " Roscius," " Sheridan " 
and " Siddons." The excellence of design of these and others of 
their vessels elicited special commendation from Dr. William 
A. Dod, lecturer on architecture at the College of New Jersey. 

Bergh took one of his former apprentices, Jacob Westervelt, 
into partnership in his eminently successful business, enabling 
the latter to retire with a considerable fortune on the dissolu- 
tion of the firm in 1835. In the fifteen years prior to that date, 
Westervelt had supervised the construction of 7 1 vessels, nearly 
all ranging between 450 and 600 tons. The lure of the sea front, 


and of the gain to be derived therefrom, brought Westervelt 
back to active building on his return from a voyage abroad. 
His prize vessels in the second period were the ocean steamers, 
"Washington" and "Sherman," and the clippers, "Sweep- 
stakes," " N. B. Palmer " and " Contest." Another late entrant 
into the field was John Englis, who founded the only shipyard 
of the day that survived into the twentieth century. He aided 
the prosecution of wars by supplying gunboats for the Span- 
iards, and later several types of vessels for the Union navy. 

Still another noted outfit -and this one also a big money- 
maker-was the combination of Stephen Smith, the builder, 
and John Dimon, the business manager. Their products were 
exceedingly varied: the packets "Mary Howland," "Roscoe" 
and "Independence," each exceptionally large for the time; 
steamboats for the navigation of the North River; the first 
" true " clippers, " Rainbow " and " Sea Witch," characterized 
by their long hollow water line and the sharpening of the for- 
ward body and the stern; and the pair of Greek frigates whose 
costliness has clouded the name of Smith and Dimon. 

The most notable achievement of James and George Steers 
was the construction of the original cup contender, the yacht 
" America." The name of Steers, however, attaches more signifi- 
cantly, in the history of shipping, to the railway used for draw- 
ing vessels out of the water. It was the father, Henry Steers, 
and his partner, John Thomas, who devised the first ship rail- 
way and set it up in 1825, at the foot of East Tenth Street, on 
the northern edge of the shipbuilding district. The rails were laid 
on an inclined plane, the lower edge of which was submerged in 
the water. A cradle, fitted to the rails, carried the ship high and 
dry, where it could easily undergo repairs. This innovation was 
hailed with delight as a substitute for the costly and arduous 
process of mounting a vessel in dry dock. The New York Ameri- 
can voiced the general satisfaction: 


On Thomas' principle of the ship railway, there will probably be no 
difficulty in hauling out the largest ship in the navy for repairs; be- 
cause she will receive a general and ample support before she leaves 
her buoyant element. Dry docks are extremely expensive; and there 
can be no doubt this invention . . . will be a complete substitute for 

This prophecy was well advised. In March of the following 
year, the steamer "Oliver Wolcott," weighing 250 tons, was 
drawn on the ways by the power of a single horse in one hour 
and 38 minutes. In the autumn, a 49 6- ton ship rode lightly into 
place with the aid of the same contrivance; and by October the 
dock was in daily use, vessels being hauled up easily without 

This was the heyday of American shipping. The first half 
of the nineteenth century, especially the second quarter thereof, 
saw the United States at its highest point in the mercantile 
scale. After the Civil War, the merchant marine became woe- 
fully anemic, but until that conflict Americans moved the 
goods of the world. Such commercial activity required con- 
stantly new supplies of ships. And so, despite occasional lacunae, 
the New York builders were kept almost continuously busy. 
Naturally, their pocketbooks grew fatter and fatter and every 
one of them, with the exception of Isaac Webb, retired or died 
a wealthy man. 

Flour, Sugar, Liquor, Salt and Glass 

No account of New York's manufactures during this period, 
when certain processes of industrial production were under- 
going revolutionary change, would be complete without some 
mention of food and drink, such as the manufacture of flour, 
the refining of sugar, the making of candy, meat packing, and 
the distilling and brewing of intoxicating beverages. 


Flour milling, like lumbering, was chiefly a rural industry. 
Every town in the state had at least one gristmill. The bolting 
monopoly enjoyed by New York City, the earliest flour center 
in the state, was broken when wheat from the great valleys of 
the Susquehanna, the Shenandoah and the James began to pour 
into Baltimore and Richmond. After 1800, however, the flour- 
milling supremacy returned to New York State, but this time 
Rochester, in the Genesee Valley, and not New York City, be- 
came the great milling center. 

The first mill in western New York was probably erected on 
the site of what is now Rochester, in 1789, by a notorious char- 
acter named " Indian " Allan. During the next quarter century, 
other mills were erected in the newlyrising towns and villages 
of the western part of the state. But the water power of the 
Genesee River and the building of the Genesee Valley Canal 
to the south and the Erie Canal to the west, thus tapping an 
important wheat area, gave Rochester preeminence. The War 
of 1 8 12, with the need for flour for the troops on the Canadian 
frontier, stimulated milling in Rochester. Ely's famous Red 
Mill was built in 18 14. Five additional mills were built between 
1 8 17 and 1821, one in 1826, 4 in 1827, and 7 between 1827 and 
1835; by 1851 there were 22 mills with 100 run of stones capa- 
ble of producing over 500,000 barrels of flour annually. So 
profitable was the business that, despite western competition, 
the Rochester millers could afford to import Canadian wheat 
on which a duty of 20 per cent was levied. New York City 
was the principal market for Rochester flour. 

Rochester, however, was not the only milling center of the 
state. Oswego, with a situation which in many respects rivaled 
that of Rochester, imported grain from Canada and the West. 
In 1840, its mills had 42 run of stones, as compared with Roch- 
ester's 90. By 1859, Oswego's mills had a capacity of 9,000 
barrels daily. Including the mills of the vicinity, it was claimed 


that the city could produce 1,000,000 barrels annually. Much 
of its flour went to Canadian markets. Large shipments to 
Boston were also made after the opening of the Boston and Al- 
bany Railroad in 1842. 

Albany and Troy were two other flour-milling towns. The 
lower end of the Mohawk Valley had long been famous for its 
wheat, which was manufactured into flour and then sent down 
the Hudson to New York City. 

The wheat flour from Albany [reported the Swedish traveler, Kalm], 
is reckoned the best in all North America, except that from Sopus 
or Kingstown, a place between Albany and New York. ... At New 
York they pay the Albany flour with several shiUings more per 
hundredweight than from other places. 

In both size and output, the Albany and Troy mills were dis- 
tinctly smaller than those of Rochester or Oswego. The founda- 
tion for Buffalo's reputation as a milling center was laid during 
the decade of the fifties. Flour milling in New York City 
gained a new foothold when, in 1842, John Hecker built a 
small mill, which was the beginning of the Hecker-Jones-Jewell 
Company, one of the outstanding present-day milling concerns. 
In 1853, he built another and larger mill in the city. By i860, 
there were 6 mills with a capital of $272,800, turning out a 
product valued at $2,612,500. 

In the refining of sugar, the state was preeminent. The 
Friends of Domestic Industry reported, in 1831, that 1 1 of the 
3 8 refineries of the country were located in New York City. By 
the close of the Civil War, the value of the products of the city's 
refining industry totaled $35,000,000, exceeding in this respect 
all metropolitan manufactures. This tremendous expansion was 
made possible in part by new processes, especially the intro- 
duction of steam, by the firm of Robert and Alexander Stuart 
in 1832. Prior to this date, primitive methods had limited both 


quality and quantity. Through the efforts of the Stuarts, cane 
sugar was made a utihzable table commodity. So rapidly did 
their business grow that it became necessary for them, in 
1835, to replace their small frame building, at the corner of 
Greenwich and Chambers Streets, with a six-story brick factory 
having a capacity of 12,000 pounds a day. But consumption 
kept increasing, and in little more than a decade a nine-story 
building was added, making it possible to refine from 40,000,000 
to 45,000,000 pounds annually. Until 1856, the Stuarts also 
engaged in an allied industry, the manufacture of confectionery. 
This had been the vocation of their father, Kimloch, who 
brought his knowledge of candy making from Edinburgh to 
New York in 1805. 

Rivaling the Stuarts in their success in sugar refining was 
another prominent New York family, the Havemeyers. Wil- 
liam Havemeyer, who learned his trade in England, emigrated 
to the United States in 1799 and shortly thereafter established 
a refinery in a small building on Van Dam Street. His business 
prospered with passing years, and he found himself able to send 
his son, William Frederick, to Columbia College, from which 
he was graduated in 1823. The youngster, after spending a brief 
period at the study of the law, discovered what seemed to him to 
be its insuflSciencies and betook himself to his father's sugar 
house. In 1828, in partnership with his cousin, Frederick Chris- 
tian Havemeyer, he set up an independent refinery. Fourteen 
years later, his fortune had assumed such proportions that he 
was able to sell out his share to his brother Albert and retire. 
It remained for Frederick's son, toward the end of the nine- 
teenth century, to organize the Sugar Refineries Company, the 
famous "Sugar Trust." 

The sugar-refining business should not be permitted to over- 
shadow the production of maple sugar. Five counties of the 
state -Albany, Montgomery, Otsego, Tioga and Ontario- 


competed with Vermont for the maple-sugar market. Indeed, 
as early as 1790, a sloop bearing forty hogsheads of maple sugar 
arrived in Philadelphia from Albany. This sugar had been pro- 
duced on the property of Judge William Cooper, of Coopers- 
town, Otsego County. 

All of the larger urban centers of the state had slaughtering 
establishments. By 1850, two of these, Buffalo and New York 
City, had outstripped the others. Meats that were not con- 
sumed fresh were salted, dried or smoked. Refrigeration and 
canning were still in the future, although shortly after the War 
of 1812a start in canning was made by the immigrant English- 
man, Ezra Daggett, and his son-in-law, Thomas Kensett. Dag- 
gett had worked with Peter Durand in England and brought 
the secret of hermetic sealing with him to New York. Setting 
up in business with the aid of Kensett, he commenced the can- 
ning of meats, gravies and soups in 18 19. The firm's advertise- 
ments carried a warrant that the foods would " keep fresh for 
long periods, especially during protracted sea voyages." Cus- 
tomers were informed that spoiled tins could be detected by 
a bulging at the head of the " case," as the containers were then 
called. Daggett and Kensett for a time specialized in the pre- 
serving of oysters, lobsters, and salmon, but subsequently 
branched out to include many foods. 

The distilling and brewery industries ranked high among the 
state's manufactures. Indeed, temperance movements found 
little sympathy with the producers of beer and spirituous liquors. 
In 1840, Albany, Troy, Hudson and New York City together 
produced nearly one-tenth of all the whisky, beer, ale and 
porter manufactured by the nation. In that year, the metro- 
pohtan distilleries alone accounted for nearly 3,000,000 gallons 
of liquor. At the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth 
century, Albany had five extensive breweries; that of Fiddler 
and Taylor, reputed to be the largest in the United States, was 


capable of manufacturing two hundred fifty barrels of beer 
a day. In New York City, the brewery business in 1840 ranked 
fifth industrially, being exceeded only by those of iron, distil- 
ling, glass and lumber. 

Perhaps most prominent among the brewers of the state, 
during the period under consideration, were the Milbanks, 
Samuel, Sr., and Samuel, Jr. The father had been in business 
at 58 Madison Street before the War of 18 12, and his son car- 
ried on until 1865, when he was succeeded by his three children. 
These three generations made Milbanks ale and porter, the 
standard which all competitors sought to attain. 

Rum manufacture, so important in the colonial period, 
steadily declined. When, in 1828, the House Committee on 
Manufactures sought an explanation, Jeromus Johnson, a dis- 
tillery operator of Hudson, ascribed the decrease to the inroads 
of whisky, which had supplanted rum as the hard drink of 
laborers and the bourgeoisie. Undoubtedly the passing of the 
old slave trade and the small financial return accounted in part 
for the declining market for the once-popular beverage. Not- 
withstanding these handicaps, distillers in New York, Hudson, 
Albany and intermediate points were, in the twenties, still able 
to find buyers for 350,000 gallons of rum per year. 

Space forbids even a curtailed consideration of many of the 
state's other industrial enterprises. Mention, however, should 
be made of two in particular, namely, salt and glass. In 
1795, the state purchased of the Onondaga Indians, for $500 
and the annual payment of 100 bushels of salt, Onondaga Lake 
with a strip of land one mile in width extending entirely around 
it, with exclusive right to all the salt springs. Instead of dis- 
posing of the springs in perpetuity, the state in 1797 entered 
into leasing agreements with those who desired to engage in 
salt manufacture. By this arrangement, the state fixed a maxi- 
mum price for the salt and required all lessees to pay a duty 


to the state of four cents per bushel. As a means of securing 
additional revenue for the building of the Erie Canal, the duty 
was raised to a York shilling a pound, but was subsequently re- 
duced to one cent. So rich was the salt content in this territory 
that 45 gallons of brine would, in 1827, yield 56 pounds of salt. 
In that year, the New York salines, by solar evaporation, pro- 
duced 1,104,^42 bushels of salt, or one-fourth of the amount 
produced in the United States. Cayuga and Genesee Counties 
also yielded small quantities. 

Glass of various kinds was manufactured in a number of 
localities. Between 1797, when the Hamilton Manufacturing 
Company, proprietor of extensive glass works ten miles west 
of Albany, was incorporated, and the taking of the state census 
of 1835, numerous companies for glass manufacture were char- 
tered. Among these were the Rensselaer Glass Factory, the 
Madison and Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Associations, the 
Geneva Glass Company, the Manlius Glass and Iron Works, 
the Crown Glass Company of New York, and the Glass Globe 
Manufacturing Company of Albany. Stained glass of fine finish 
and design was being manufactured in the vicinity of New 
York City in the late twenties. 

Workers and Industrialists 

Prior to 1825, practically all of the state's industrial estab- 
lishments were small concerns competing with household manu- 
factures. As elsewhere in America, they were shaped in large 
measure by environment, climate, available capital, character 
and accessibility of raw materials, means of transportation, labor 
and markets. In comparison with those of western Europe, 
they were crude and practical, rather than artistic. To make 
up for this shortcoming, some manufacturers resorted to the 
subterfuge of labeling their products as " imported " and selling 


them to retailers as German, Parisian and Manchester creations. 
Fine prints made in Hudson, for example, were marketed in 
New York City as foreign fabrics. "What artistic patterns we 
had for textile and other manufactures came almost entirely 
from abroad. 

Most of the early mills were owned by individuals, families, 
partners, or joint-stock companies. The corporate form of con- 
trol did not become general until after 1825. Shares in the joint- 
stock companies were usually in small denominations. After 
1825, however, stock ownership tended to concentrate in the 
hands of a few, and there was a marked tendency for larger 
concerns to swallow up their lesser rivals. In addition to these 
amalgamations, numerous alliances existed not unlike the 
" gentleman's agreements " after the Civil War. The move- 
ment in this direction did not become very effective before 

The rise of the factory system in America profoundly af- 
fected society. In New York this was strikingly evident. Simul- 
taneously with the gradual shift of interest on the part of many 
from farm and wharf to mine and waterfall, there emerged 
two new social groups -manufacturing capitalists and factory 
laborers. Before the introduction of the machine, the state's 
manufacturing had been organized almost entirely on either a 
handicraft or a domestic basis. Small-scale production had been 
the rule. The artisan, whether master or journeyman, enjoyed 
almost complete economic independence. He was his own capi- 
talist, the cost of his tools and buildings was small, he manu- 
factured for a limited or local market, and in consequence his 
supply of raw materials and of finished products was meas- 
ured by immediate needs. Moreover, no wide social gap existed 
between master owner and journeyman worker. Often work- 
ing side by side, they knew and had mutual respect for each 
other; likewise their families usually mingled, A social gather- 


ing at the worker's home, for example, would be attended by 
the master and his family. 

Great was the change, however, by 1840. The older methods 
of production, still widespread in many communities, were 
being gradually, and in some industries rapidly, supplanted by 
the factory system. For the laborer, whether drawn from native 
stock or from the increasing stream of foreign immigrants, and 
whether young or old, this change meant in many cases hard- 
ship. In the mechanized industries, particularly the textiles, it 
meant long hours of narrow, blighting routine for a wage 
which ranged from one to six dollars a week. Except in rare 
instances, the laborer under the new state of affairs had no 
ownership in the plant or its equipment. Frequently the abode 
which sheltered him was owned by his employer. If by the use 
of modern industrial methods he sought to better his condition, 
he was liable under the transplanted English common law to 
arrest and punishment for conspiracy. Without capital reserve 
or extended credit, he was easily reduced to the margin of sub- 
sistence. His only asset was his labor and he sold this to an em- 
ployer in order that he might buy food, clothing and shelter or 
help to " lift " a mortgage. He experienced few of the pleasures 
and privileges enjoyed by those for whom he worked. It was 
this condition that was in part responsible for the rise in the 
state, in the eighteen twenties, of a vigorous labor movement. 
By recourse to both economic and political action, the workers 
were able to secure better educational advantages for workers' 
children, a mechanics' lien law, abolition of imprisonment for 
debt, reform of the militia system, and in some industries better 
working conditions. 

Far different was the lot of the industriaUsts. They, too, had 
their problems, but they were not usually of a bread-and-butter 
kind. Many of the early industrial establishments of the state 
were managed or supervised directly by their entrepreneur own- 


ers. As plants expanded and as the owners acquired wealth, there 
was an increasing tendency on their part to retire from immedi- 
ate supervision. Henceforth the owner's connection was repre- 
sented by his investment, usually in the form of stocks and 
bonds. Often he had little or no knowledge of conditions in 
his plant. As a shareholder and a business man, he was pri- 
marily interested in dividends and profits. Of course there were 
many exceptions. Notable among these were Henry Burden, 
of the Troy Iron and Nail Company, and Judge Samuel Wil- 
kinson, who laid the foundation of the iron business in Buffalo 
and was the principal organizer of the Buffalo Steam Engine 

In New York, as elsewhere in America, the industrialists came 
from all walks of life. Jacob Bell, the shipbuilder, dated his 
Connecticut ancestry back to one of the original settlers of 
1 64 1. Peter Cooper, who made millions out of glue, iron, teleg- 
raphy and railroads, could trace his American lineage to his 
great-great-grandfather, who settled in Fishkill in 1662. James 
Allaire's forebears were French Huguenots, who had settled in 
New Rochelle in 1680. Christian Bergh's ancestors had first 
taken up their residence in Rhinebeck, about 1700. Some of 
the industrialists had been craftsmen, thrifty farmers, small 
merchants, retired skippers or sons of skippers. Others were 
recent immigrants from Europe. Thus William Colgate, soap 
manufacturer, came from Kent, England, whence his father 
had fled in fear of arrest for support of the French Revolution. 
Robert Hoe, producer of printing presses, had been enabled to 
come to America only by the purchase of his apprenticeship 
to a Leicestershire joiner. From Scotland came the young ap- 
prentices, Henry Eckford, shipbuilder, and George Bruce, type 
founder. Innate ability, training, contacts and luck, rather than 
origin, counted most. Formal education played little part in the 
battle for financial success. Few had the advantages of academic 


Not all those who turned to industrial pursuits succeeded. 
The records show that in every industrial community in the 
state, new concerns came into being only to continue for a year 
or two and then to disappear. On the other hand, what for the 
first half of the nineteenth century were great fortunes were 
amassed. Occasionally, a wealthy industrialist was philanthrop- 
ically minded. The Stuart brothers, Robert Leighton and Alex- 
ander, for example, became systematic patrons of education, 
religion, and the healing art, devoting a definite minimum of 
their income to these causes. Their largest donations included 
$1,000,000 to Princeton College, and $55,000 to the Presby- 
terian Hospital of New York City. William Colgate set aside 
from 10 to 30 per cent of his yearly income for what he con- 
sidered worthy projects. Thus the Colgate millions helped to 
enlarge and transform Hamilton Literary and Theological Semi- 
nary into Madison University (Colgate University since 1890) ; 
aided in the organization successively of the New York Bible 
Society and the American and Foreign Bible Society; and finally 
provided a foundation for the Broadway Tabernacle. George 
Bruce, the immigrant type founder, employed his wealth in the 
encouragement and training of mechanics and printers. The 
Mechanics Institute, the New York Type-Founders Associa- 
tion, the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, the 
New York Typographical Society, the Apprentices Library, 
the Printers Library, the New York Historical Society, the 
Saint Andrews Society, all benefited through his liberality. 

Although a minority, these pushing captains of industry, like 
their English compeers, challenged the political leadership and 
social prestige of the commercial and landed aristocracy. It was 
a challenge by the "new rich" to the "old rich." The latter, 
patrician in attitude, based their exclusiveness on family fortune 
dating back at least to the beginning of the eighteenth century. 
They had cordially welcomed to their ranks those leaders who 
had fought valiantly for the independence of the United States. 


With some exceptions, they frowned upon the aspirations of 
the " new rich " to social equahty. Gradually, however, the bars 
were let down, and the Havemeyers, the Stuarts, the Colgates, 
the Allaires, and the Hoes mingled in the drawing-rooms with 
the Livingstons, the Schuylers, the Fishes, the Van Cortlandts 
and the Stuyvesants. 

Select Bibliography 

primary sources 

Government Documents 
Cowen, Esek, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court 

and in the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of 

Errors of the State of New York. 8 vols. (Albany, 1845-54). 
New York (state), Assembly Documents, Vol. Ill, 53d Sess., No. j6 (1830) ; 

Vol. Ill, 55th Sess., No. 205 (1832); Vol. Ill, 58th Sess., No. 135 

(1835); Vol. IV, 61 st Sess., No. 329 (1838) ; Vol. V, 62d Sess., No. 134 

(1839); Vol. VI, 63d Sess., No. 234 (1840). 
Census of the State of New York for the Years 1821 and 1825, in 

Journal of the Assembly of New York, 45th Session (Albany, 1822), 

and Senate Journal, 49th Session (Albany, 1826). 
Census of New York for 1835, 1845, 1855 (Albany, 1835, 1846, 

Journals of the Assembly of the State of New York, particularly 36th 

Session (Albany, 1790-1860). 
Journals of the Senate of the State of New York, particularly 34th, 

49th and 51st Sessions (Albany, 1790-1860). 
Laws of the State of New York, 31st Sess. (1808); 33d Sess. (1810); 

34th Sess. (1811) ; 35th Sess. (1812) ; 40th Sess. ( 18 16-17) ; 41st Sess. 

(1818) ; 44th Sess. (1821) ; and 46th Sess. (1823). 
Messages from the Governor, ed. by C. Z. Lincoln. 11 vols. (Albany, 


Revised Statutes of the State of New York. 3 vols. (Albany, 1829). 

Senate Documents, 58th Session, Vol. II, No. 8 8 (1835). 

O'Callaghan, E. B., ed., The Documentary History of the State of New York. 

4 vols. (Albany, 1849-51). 


United States, American State Papers, Vol. 5, Finance (Washington, 


Fifth Census, as corrected at Department of State (Washington, 1830). 

Sixth Census, as corrected by Secretary of State (Washington, 1840). 

Tenth Census (Washington, 1880). 

Cowdin, E. C, Report on Silk and Silk Manufactures. Paris Universal 

Exposition, 1867 (Washington, 1868). 
Executive Documents, zid Congress, ist Session, No. 308. McLane's 

Report Relative to the Manufactures in the United States (1833). 
House Documents, 20th Congress, ist Session, No. 159. Growth and 

Manufacture of Silk (1828). 
Flouse Documents, 21st Congress, ist Session, No. 126. Report of the 

Committee on Agriculture on the Growth and Manufacture of Silk 

Nudge, E. R., and Hayes, J. L., Report upon Wool and Manufactures 

of Wool. Paris Universal Exposition, 1867 (Washington, 1868). 

Senate Documents, i8th Congress, ist Session, No. 45 (1824). 

Wendell, J. L., Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court 

of Judicature and in the Court for the Correction of Errors of the State 

of New York. 26 vols. (Albany, 1829-42). 

Contemporary Accounts 

Albany Institute, Transactions, Vols. I-IV (Albany, 1864). 

American Repertory of Arts, Science and Manufactures, Vol. I (New York, 

Benton, C, and Barry, S. F., A Statistical View (Cambridge, 1826). 

Friends of Domestic Industry, Journal of Proceedings of the New York Con- 
vention, 183 I (Baltimore, 183 i). 

Hazard's United States Commercial and Statistical Register, Vols. I-VI 
(Philadelphia, 1839-42). 

Hunt's Merchants Magazine, Vols. 1-63 (New York, 1839-69). 

Johnston, J. F. W., Notes on North America, Agricultural, Economical, and 
Social. 2 vols. (London, 185 i). 

MacGregor, John, Commercial Tariffs and Regulations, Resources and Trade 
of the Several States of Europe and America. 3 vols. (London, 1846). 

Munsell, Joel, Collections on the History of Albany, from Its Discovery to 
the Present Time, Vol. Ill (Albany, 1870). 

New York State Register, especially the volumes for 1830-50. 


Niles Weekly Register. 75 vols. (Baltimore, 181 1-49). Especially Volumes 

Pitkin, Timothy, A Statistical View of the Commerce of the United States 
of America (New Haven, 1835). 

Stuart, James, Three Years in North America. 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1833). 

Valentine, D. T., Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York (New 
York, 1842-43). 

Monographs and Special Articles 

Albion, R. G,, The New York Port and Its Disappointed Rivals, 1815-1860. 
Journal of Economic and Business History, III, 602-29 (August, 193 i ) . 

Allen, F. J., The Shoe Industry (Boston, 19 16). 

Batchelder, Samuel, Introduction and Early Progress of the Cotton Manufac- 
ture in the United States (Boston, 1863). 

Clarke, J. A., A Treatise on the Mulberry Tree and Silkworm and on the 
Production and Manufacture of Silk (Philadelphia, 1839). 

Cole, A. H., The American Wool Manufacture. 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1926). 

Donovan, J. L., Textile Manufacture in New York before 1840. Unpublished 
master's thesis in Library of Columbia University, 1932. Contains many 
useful tables. 

Felkin, William, History of Machine- wrought Hosiery (London, 1867). 

Gold, A. B., A History of Manufacturing in New York City, 1 825-1 840. 
Unpublished master's thesis in Library of Columbia University, 1932. 
Section on shipbuilding incorporated in this chapter. 

Hall, Henry, Report on the Shipbuilding Industry in the United States; 
Tenth Census. Vol. 8 (Washington, 1824). 

Montgomery, James, A Practical Detail of the Cotton Manufacture of the 
United States of America (Glasgow, 1840). 

Norcross, F. W., A History of the New York Swamp (New York, 1901) . 

Pope, J. E., The Clothing Industry in New York (Columbia, Missouri, 1905 ) . 

Proudfit, M. B., Henry Burden, His Life and a History of His Inventions 
(Troy, 1904). 

Rezneck, Samuel, The Rise and Early Development of Industrial Conscious- 
ness in the United States, 1760-1830. Journal of Economic and Business 
History, IV, 784-811. 

Secrist, Horace, The Anti-Auction Movement and the Workingmen's Party 
of 1829. Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Transac- 
tions, XVII, 149-66 (Madison, Wis., 19 14). 


Sheldon, G. W., The Old Ship-builders of New York. Harpers New Monthly 

Magazine, LXV, 223 (July, 1882). 
Tryon, R. M., Household Manufactures in the United States, 1640-18 60 

(Chicago, 19 17). 
"Webber, Samuel, Manual of Power for Machines, Shafts and Belts, with the 

History of Cotton Manufacture in the United States (New York, 

Weber, A. F., The Growth of Industry in New York. Department of Labor 

Monograph ( 1 9 04 ) . 
Wyckoff, W. C, The Silk Goods of America (New York, 1879). 

General Secondary Works 
Bishop, J. L., A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to i860. 

3 vols. (Philadelphia, 1866). 
Bolles, A. S., The Industrial History of the United States (Norwich, Conn., 

Bonner, W. T., New York, the World's Metropohs, 1623/4-1923/4 (New 

York, 1924). 
Clark, V. S., History of Manufactures in the United States. 3 vols. (New 

York, 1929). 
Depew, C. M., Ed., One Hundred Years of American Commerce. 2 vols. 

(New York, 1895). 
Dyer, W. A., Early American Craftsmen (New York, 191 5). 
Flint, C. L., and others. Eighty Years of Progress of the United States. 2 vols. 

(Hartford, 1868). 
Spillane, Daniel, A History of the American Pianoforte; Its Technical Devel- 
opment and the Trade (New York, 1890). 
Stokes, I. N. P., The Iconography of Manhattan Island. 6 vols. (New York, 

Taussig, F. W., Tariff History of the United States. 7th ed. (New York, 


^ VIII '-^ 

W. Freeman Galpin 

Professor of Economic History 
Syracuse University 


Early Efforts to Mitigate Slavery 

NINETEENTH-CENTURY America witnessed the 
growth and development of a renaissance in humani- 
tarian activities. In the main, this was due to a deep- 
seated reaction on the part of many against the narrowing and 
hmiting ideas and forces of the previous age. Calvinism slowly- 
retreated before the insistent attacks of the English rationalists. 
Fierce and exacting humanistic inquiries by the liberals, who 
had adopted French ideas, silenced those who had accepted 
the teachings of Jonathan Edwards. The silent but effective 
appeal of the Friends, and the tolerant influence of frontier 
life, helped to usher in a new order that was replete with as- 
surances for the future. Although much of this centered in 
New England, considerable agitation and progress took place 
in New York, particularly as its cosmopolitan life and far-flung 
empire offered an easy channel for the spread of these reforming 
movements. Nor should one be unmindful of the fact that 
many a New Yorker who embraced these various causes was 
possessed of considerable property. 

Among the numerous reforms that attracted attention in 
New York, none gathered greater strength during the period 
covered by this chapter than that which concerned the institu- 
tion of slavery. Doubtless the religious attitude of the Friends, 
who viewed slavery as an evil, had much to do with the incep- 
tion of this movement. Then again, the American Revolution, 
with all of its emphasis upon the rights of man, must have given 
a strong and wholesome stimulus. In any event, religious and 
social forces of much strength most certainly paved the way 
for what was to follow. Definite progress was registered in the 
spring of 1785, when the state legislature passed a measure pro- 


hibiting the future sale of slaves within New York. Three years 
later, this act was amended so as to prevent the import of slaves 
for sale. Neither of these laws concerned themselves with the 
status of slaves already within the state. The legality of holding 
persons in bondage was clearly recognized, by both state and 
national law. Opportunity did exist, however, for the manu- 
mission of all such persons, a practice that the Friends had fol- 
lowed for a long time. Others not of that faith also urged the 
freeing of slaves in this manner. The defect in this procedure, 
namely that it would take a number of years to bring about the 
extinction of slavery, was apparent to all. To overcome this 
diflSculty became the object of a number of liberals throughout 
the state. Consequently, there was formed in New York City, 
in 1785, a state abolition society with John Jay as its president 
and Alexander Hamilton as secretary. This organization gained 
the aid and approval of many. Its funds, though limited, per- 
mitted the publication and distribution of antislavery tracts, 
which found their way into the homes of prominent citizens 
and public officials. Further, this society sponsored petitions 
to the state legislature calling for the gradual abolition of slavery. 
This latter point is significant, as it reflects the ideas of no radical 
group, but rather of a more conservative element that was most 
jealous of property rights. It did not seek the compulsory eman- 
cipation of a single slave. Rather did these reformers desire to 
free the future children of slaves, who in 1790 numbered 21,324 
in the state. Agitation along these lines continued for more than 
a decade. Ultimately, however, in 1799, an act was passed 
which provided that all females born after July 4, 1799, were 
to be free on reaching the age of twenty-five; while all males 
became free at twenty-eight. 

Definite advance had been made by the friends of the colored 
man. This very growth, moreover, argued for increased efforts, 
with the result that in 1 808, when the number of slaves had been 


reduced to 1 5,000, a state manumission society was incorporated 
for the express purpose of speeding the eHmination of slavery 
within New York. It is evident that this body took itself seri- 
ously and was able to accomplish some good, as its life was ex- 
tended in 1824 for a number of years, and then again in 1844. 
In the meantime, the principal features of the law of 1799 were 
renewed, while the importation of all slaves was forbidden after 
May, 1 8 10, subject to certain minor exceptions; a law of 18 17 
provided for general abolition within the state in 1827. These 
various laws had done much toward limiting the scope and evils 
of slavery. Supplementing these influences were the activities of 
a number of societies that were interested in different phases 
of the colored man's life. The New York African Society for 
Mutual Relief, the Brooklyn African Woolman Benefit Society, 
the Albany School of Colored People, and the Schenectady 
African School Society are typical examples of these organiza- 
tions. Property rights in slaves, brought into the state by 
travellers or by temporary residents, continued to be respected 
within New York until 1841, when all privileges of slave own- 
ers, and all ownership in slaves, ceased. 

Laudable as these efforts were, there still existed in the state 
many who viewed the entire problem of slavery from a different 
angle. In brief, these individuals recognized that slavery was 
a national as well as a state affair, and that the institution had 
far-reaching social and economic implications, to say nothing of 
its political possibilities. New York might do ever so much, even 
to the extent of abolishing slavery within its boundaries, but 
until the problem had been met along national lines no satis- 
factory solution was possible. Opinion of this kind existed in 
other states, and many different suggestions were made in the 
hope of finding some idea that would receive nation-wide ap- 
proval. One of these, which secured rather general indorsement 
among those opposed to slavery, was the so-called colonization 


movement. Those who advanced this idea intended to further 
the transportation of freed slaves from America to Africa. 
Continued thought along this line at last bore fruit in the 
formation, in 1 8 1 6, of the American Colonization Society. The 
headquarters of this group was located at Washington. Branch 
organizations were planted in all parts of the country; one be- 
ing located in New York City as early as 18 18. Among reform- 
ers, the reception accorded this endeavor was highly favorable, 
and must have greatly pleased its founders. Local auxiliaries 
were established at Albany, Troy, Geneva, Buffalo, Waterford 
and Brooklyn. A number of county organizations were also 
started. Foremost among those who supported colonization 
were Arthur Tappan, of New York City, and Gerrit Smith, of 
Peterboro. Both of these men joined the state society early in 
the 1 820s, and gave most liberally of their time and money for 
the extension of its ideals and purposes. A study of the Gerrit 
Smith papers reveals how interested this prominent philanthro- 
pist became in the cause of the slave. Others who assisted in 
furthering colonization were Anson G. Phelps, Hugh Maxwell, 
Loring D. Dewey, Col. Henry Rutgers, Benjamin F. Butler, 
Dr. Alexander Proudfit and President Duer of Columbia Col- 
lege. For the next ten or twelve years, interest in colonization 
grew by leaps and bounds. New York was always well repre- 
sented at the national meetings of this society, and played a 
rather active role in its activities. Within the state, considerable 
effort was made to enlist the support of all liberal-minded 
persons. Petitions, moreover, concerning the aims of the so- 
ciety were presented at Albany. Public interest reached its 
height in the passage by the state legislature, in 1832, of a reso- 
lution which applauded the motives and objects of the Ameri- 
can Colonization Society, and commended it to all citizens of 
the state. Considerable publicity was given to this resolution by 
the friends of colonization. 


By this time, definite signs of internal dissension had arisen 
within the national organization. Some of its members seem 
to have challenged the administration and motive of those in 
control. At first it was only whispered, but in time it was quite 
loudly proclaimed, that the national officers had pursued a 
policy that was anti-Christian. The Negroes themselves roundly 
condemned it as a southern scheme to get rid of f reedmen, so that 
slavery could flourish undisturbed by their example. John B. 
Russwurm, whose Bowdoin College degree made him the first 
college graduate of his race and who edited the Freedom^s Jour- 
nal in New York City shortly after 1830, was reviled and 
ostracized by other men of color because, it was alleged, he had 
" sold out " to the colonizationists. Arthur Tappan was one of 
those who led this revolt against the general policy of the so- 
ciety. He declared that numbers of colored people were being 
sent out of this country without any reference to their moral 
fitness. And yet these undesirables were to undertake the difficult 
role of civilizing Africa. Further, Tappan expressed great con- 
cern over the practice employed of shipping on board vessels 
bound for Liberia not merely former slaves but rum, arms and 
ammunition. In doing this, Tappan declared, those responsible 
were committing an immoral act and violating the aims of the 
society. At first this prominent reformer and merchant of New 
York City sought to check these tendencies, but, meeting with 
no great success, ultimately severed his connections with the 
society. In a letter to his friend, Horace Greeley, Tappan stated 
that " The Colonization Society is a device of Satan and owes 
its existence to the single motive to perpetuate slavery." Gerrit 
Smith also withdrew from the society in 1835, when that body 
refused to embrace the more radical doctrine of abolition. 

In spite of these and other withdrawals, which seriously 
crippled the finances of the organization, the national society 
continued to function, though it was subjected to a constant 


flow of criticism both within and without its membership. 
Many of the complaints had their inception in the various 
state and local auxiliaries, of which none was more extreme 
than that of New York. Here the state society privately and 
publicly found fault with the parent organization. For a time 
it looked as though New York intended to capture the ma- 
chinery of the national body and place itself in control. To gain 
this end, a far-reaching reorganization of the existing society 
was judged necessary. And any sweeping changes, such as 
the New York group sponsored, were bound to gain the ill will 
of the southern states and the local branches. In other words, 
the society would become a sectional, rather than a national, 
affair. Many members, both northern and southern, questioned 
the expediency of the New York proposals, and threw their 
influence against what they thought would mean a disruption 
of the entire society. Consequently, the aims of the New York 
auxiliary were defeated, a result that tended to alienate many 
within this state. In time, however, the central office was able 
to overcome this defection, and to bring the New York branch 
back into the general colonization movement. By now, how- 
ever, colonization had lost its hold upon the American people, 
though both national and state societies continued to receive 
support in New York after the year 1850. 

Abolition and State Politics 

Internal strife and discord represent only one factor in the 
decline of the American Colonization Society. By itself, this 
disturbing influence would not have checked further growth, 
had the ideals of the organization been vital enough to com- 
mand the attention and respect of the liberal element. Coloniza- 
tion, with all its merits, was still only a compromise. Once it 
was granted that slavery was altogether evil, it became most evi- 


dent that colonization was an ineffective way of solving the 
problem. Left to itself and given a long time to operate, it 
might ultimately have won success. But, in the meantime, 
thousands of God's children would be born into slavery. Con- 
sequently those who reasoned in this manner demanded a speedier 
and more intelligent way out of the dilemma. Most of those 
who were asking for more drastic measures centered their hopes 
upon nothing short of total abolition. In directing this shifting 
sentiment, no one was more responsible than William Lloyd 
Garrison. Indeed it was largely as a result of this man's writ- 
ings and teachings that Tappan and Smith had deserted the 
colonization society. Tappan, it appears, had become a most 
devoted reader of Garrison's Liberator, in which abolition was 
praised and colonization condemned. Having accepted the 
tenets of abolition, Tappan sought to further the cause by 
establishing at New York, in March, 1833, the Emancipator, 
under the editorship of Rev. Charles Dennison. Friends of this 
paper multiplied rapidly throughout New York and neighbor- 
ing states. Considerable support was secured in the metropoli- 
tan area, and in time talk arose over the wisdom of forming a 
local antislavery society. A self-appointed committee, of which 
Joshua Leavitt was chairman, finally issued a call for a meeting 
of the friends of abolition in New York City. Some difficulty 
was met in the matter of obtaining a place for this gathering. 
Ultimately, permission was secured to hold the meeting at the 
Chatham Street Chapel, where, early in October of the same 
year, there was founded the New York City Abolition Society. 
Subsequent issues of certain papers, plus publications of the 
organization, set forth quite clearly the aims and objectives of 
this society. Over fifty persons signed the constitution of this 
body, of which Arthur Tappan, Charles Dennison, Joshua 
Leavitt, Isaac T. Hopper, Abraham L. Cox, Lewis Tappan and 
William Goodell were officers. 


Similar agitation and organization in other parts of the coun- 
try argued strongly for national action. As a result, a general 
convention of abolitionists gathered at Philadelphia in Decem- 
ber, 1833. Here a constitution and a declaration of sentiments 
were adopted, and the American Anti-Slavery Society came 
into being. In achieving this end, the friends of the slave in 
New York played a very important role. This fact is evidenced 
by the central organization of the society. Arthur Tappan and 
Elizur Wright were elected president and corresponding secre- 
tary, while Abraham L. Cox, William Greene, William Goodell 
and Beriah Green were important members. New York City, 
moreover, became the seat of the executive committee, and the 
Emancipator, with Goodell as editor, was voted to be the official 
publication of the society. Annual meetings were frequently 
held at New York City, not, however, unattended by stiff op- 
position on the part of those who denounced the abolitionists as 
dangerous radicals. Most prominent in this respect were the 
disturbances of May, 1834, at which time the home of Lewis 
Tappan was sacked and partly destroyed by a disgraceful crowd 
of rioters. 

Persecution only strengthened the determination of the local 
group, and added many to their membership rolls. Antislavery 
sentiment spread rapidly in all parts of the state. Much of this 
centered in Madison, Onondaga and Oneida Counties, where 
a demand arose for the founding of a state organization. Alvan 
Stuart, president of the local abolition group at Utica, led this 
movement and invited all those interested to gather at that 
town for the purpose of establishing a state society. Some six 
hundred persons met at Utica on October 21, 1835. A de- 
termined opposition, however, prevented these delegates from 
convening as planned at the courthouse. Accordingly, those 
present gathered at the Second Presbyterian Church, but even 
here the rioters appeared and succeeded in breaking up the 


meeting. At this point, the cause of abolition received most 
valuable aid by the timely suggestion of Gerrit Smith that the 
convention meet forthwith at Peterboro, a few miles away. 
This invitation was accepted, and at Peterboro was founded 
the New York State Anti-Slavery Society. Among those who 
were most prominent in the events of these October days were 
Alvan Stuart, Gerrit Smith, Lewis Tappan, Judge Brewster of 
Genesee County, Rev. M. Wetmore of Utica, and Rev. Samuel 
J. May, later of Syracuse. Annual meetings of this body were 
held at Rochester, Syracuse and other cities, while the cause of 
abolition received considerable publicity both in the press and 
in the pulpit. At Rochester, Myron Holley aided by founding 
the FreeTuan in 1839, while at Cazenovia there appeared a paper 
known as the Cazenovia Abolitionist. Holley 's interest in the 
movement was vital, especially as he pointed the way toward 
political action, for which he is frequently quoted as having 
been the founder of the Liberty party. His death, in 1841, was 
a distinct loss to the antislavery group, though his activities 
were carried on by the splendid work of Frederick Douglass, 
who came to Rochester in 1847. Douglass became the editor 
of the North Star, which paper was largely devoted to the cause 
of antislavery. 

Interest in abolition continued to grow, and that in spite of 
the ridicule that was poured upon its advocates. Not all of this 
opposition sprang from mere difference of opinion in respect to 
slavery. In some cases, it arose as a result of certain views which 
were not altogether vital to the success of abolition. Foremost 
was the question of political action. Some of the more radical 
members argued that a true abolitionist would have nothing to 
do with a government that continued to recognize the institu- 
tion of slavery. It was their belief that the society should for- 
mally declare itself opposed to the formation of a political party 
to gain their ends. In other words, nonpolitical action was the 


procedure urged by these more radical members. Many of these 
also had taken high ground on the disputed question of woman's 
rights, and sought to drag that into the sessions of the society. 
These topics will be considered separately. It is enough to point 
out here that, in general, the older and more conservative mem- 
bers were opposed to these views, at least to the extent of allow- 
ing them to become a part of the program of abolition. By 1 840, 
it was evident that some sort of decision would have to be made. 
Either the national antislavery society would embrace these 
ideas, or else the organization would split in two. Considerable 
thought was given to the matter, and many attempts were made 
to reconcile the differences between the two groups. At the 
annual meeting of 1840, the issue was squarely met with the 
result that the more conservative members severed their con- 
nection with the parent organization. In order to continue 
what they deemed to be the essential aims of abolition, these 
men then founded the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery So- 
ciety. Among those who were responsible for the establishment 
of the new organization were many prominent New Yorkers, 
notably, the Tappan brothers, Charles A. Dennison, Joshua 
Leavitt and Gerrit Smith. Indeed New York was largely cap- 
tured by these men for their society, although William Lloyd 
Garrison, Henry C. Wright and others did not cease to advocate 
their views with some success within the state. 

At the time of this disruption, antislavery agitation had risen 
to great heights throughout the nation. Admitting slavery to 
be an evil, considerable efforts had been made toward educating 
the public along the lines of abolition. No one can read the 
contemporary literature of that age and escape the conviction 
that the problem had been brought out into the open. In gen- 
eral, most thinking people knew enough, and felt deeply enough, 
to take sides on the question. Mere knowledge, while valuable in 
itself, was not sufficient. Ideas must be backed up by action. 


and for that reason certain of the friends of the slave argued 
that the issue should be brought into the field of American 
politics. Indeed, abolition had already become an issue, as is 
evidenced in New York by Van Buren's opposition, in 1835, 
to these so-called radical views. Governor Marcy in 1836 and 
again in 1837 took occasion to call the attention of the legis- 
lature to the dangers of these doctrines. During the elections of 
1838, the Whigs in New York were more than startled by the 
attitude of the abolitionists. Gerrit Smith, whose " conversion 
to abolitionism," one author states, "helped the Anti-Slavery 
cause much as the conversion of St. Paul benefited the Christian 
Church," declared that he and others of like mind would not 
support Seward, unless he gave them definite pledges in respect 
to slavery. Seward refused to do this, though his managers were 
more than worried until the November elections revealed how 
few abolitionists there were in the state. 

The governor of Virginia in July, 1839, asked Governor 
Seward to deliver three fugitives charged with having stolen 
a Negro in that state. Seward refused the request, because it 
had no constitutional authority. This decision by Seward was 
protested by the Virginia legislature, which threatened to re- 
sort to " the law of self preservation." Seward charged Virginia 
with " a menace of secession from the Union," and sent the 
correspondence to the New York legislature, which on May 14, 
1840, upheld his position. Virginia, later followed by South 
Carolina, then retaliated, in 1841, with a law to embarrass New 
York's commerce, but Seward refused to " renounce the prin- 
ciple that all men are born free and equal." On April 9, 1842, 
Seward urged New York citizens to resist legally all attempts by 
Virginia and South Carolina to molest them. The New York 
legislature, however, in 1842 passed a concurrent resolution 
asserting that stealing a slave in Virginia was a crime under the 
Federal Constitution (Art. IV, Sec. 2). In commenting on the 


action of the legislature, Seward expressed his disapproval of it 
and contended that slaves were men and not chattels, and hence 
were not subject to theft; and he refused to transmit the re- 
solve to the two southern states. 

A related case was presented, in 1841, by the governor of 
Georgia, who made a requisition on Governor Seward to sur- 
render a fugitive charged with stealing a Negro woman slave 
and some personal property. Seward refused the request, as in 
the Virginia case. Governor William C. Bouck, in his annual 
message of 1843, turned his back on Seward's position about 
extradition, and expressed a willingness to deliver up the fugi- 
ives to Virginia and Georgia. 

Failing to capture the machinery of the Whig party, the anti- 
slavery leaders determined to launch a party of their own. This 
was effected at Warsaw, New York, in December, 1838, when 
James G. Birney was nominated as candidate for president by 
the Liberty party. Later, in the year 1 840, this body nominated 
Gerrit Smith for governor. When the votes were counted, how- 
ever, neither Birney nor Smith got even three thousand votes 
in the state; but the movement was gaining force and Alvan 
Stuart, in 1842, received a little more than seven thousand votes 
in the contest for the governorship. Two years later, Birney ran 
again for president, this time gaining throughout the country 
62,300 votes, of which 15,000 came from New York. During 
the next few years, slavery continued to be an issue in each 
campaign, though at no time during the period covered by this 
chapter did its friends gain any victory within the state of 
New York. 

Antislavery sentiment was also expressed in the debates and 
acts of the New York State legislature, from 1840 to 1850. In 
1840, a measure was passed which provided for more effectual 
protection against the kidnaping, or reducing to slavery, of 
free citizens of the state. And in the same year, a joint resolution 


declared against the policy adopted by the national House of 
Representatives in respect to slavery petitions. Regret, more- 
over, was expressed at Albany over the fact that certain New 
York representatives at Washington had voted in favor of 
denying the right of petition. Again, when the United States 
went to war with Mexico in 1846, the state legislature resolved 
that slavery should not be allowed to exist in any territory that 
might be acquired as a result of that war. And when in January, 
1848, it was made known that Mexico had ceded to America 
extensive areas, this legislature again voiced its opposition to 
the further extension of slavery. 

The Rise of the Peace Movement 

The American Anti-Slavery Society, it will be recalled, had 
been split wide open over the question of political or nonpolitical 
action. By nonpolitical action was meant the refusal on the 
part of some to seek through the ballot a solution of the slavery 
issue. The more radical members, who followed this idea, argued 
that it was wrong for a Christian to participate in any election 
under a government that recognized the institution of slavery. 
The genesis of this attitude is not, however, to be found in 
slavery. Rather did it have its inception in the growth and de- 
velopment of the peace idea, which had appeared in New York 
and elsewhere early in the colonial era. The activities of the 
Friends, who existed in some numbers on Long Island, in New 
York City and in Dutchess County, did much to spread the 
tenets of their faith. Their testimony against war is evidenced 
by their conduct during the Revolution, reflected in their rec- 
ords preserved in New York City. A study of the contempo- 
rary literature of New York, during the eighteenth century, 
leads to the same general conclusion. The writings of Penn, 
Benezet, Franklin and sundry others which reflected an antiwar 


bias, appear to have been read in New York. The New York 
Friends were very active in spreading the ideas of these writers, 
as well as Mott's Lawftilness of War, Wells' Essay on War, and 
Heaton's War and Christianity Contrasted. 

Non-Quaker interest in New York, in respect to the evils 
of war, may be said to have started with the work of David 
Low Dodge, a prominent merchant and importer of Hartford 
and New York City. Early in 1809, he set forth his views on 
this subject in a tract entitled The Mediator's Kingdom, Not of 
This World. Although a thousand copies were printed, the sup- 
ply was soon exhausted. The author's reputation grew, and in 
a short time there were meetings and conversations about more 
publications, and, by 18 12, about the foundation of a peace 
society. Other tracts had been issued in the meantime by Dodge, 
but the advent of the War of 18 12 checked all further effort 
for the time being. After this contest had been ended. Dodge 
revived the interest of his friends, with the result that in August, 
18 1 5, there was formed the New York Peace Society. Dodge 
himself was almost a pure nonresister, though he did admit the 
right of personal self-defense. War, according to him, was waged 
to defend honor, which was nothing more than an "empty 
bubble," a standard of " right and wrong without form or 
dimension." The New York Peace Society, however, elected to 
follow a more catholic position. It threw its doors open quite 
generally to all who were willing to " discourage war and pro- 
mote peace." Within a few years, the society numbered some 
seventy members, of whom the more important were Anson G. 
Phelps, Walter Phelps, P. W. Gallaudet, Eleazar Lord and Her- 
man Averill. All of these men were prominent in New York 
humanitarian circles. 

Annual meetings appear to have been held for most of the 
years from 1815 to 1828, during which time a number of tracts 
were published and distributed, and contacts established with 


kindred societies in other parts of the country. An examination 
of the Neiu York Observer, the Journal of Commerce and the 
New York Evening Post reveals that pubhcity was given to the 
society and that, in the main, these papers were not entirely 
unfriendly. Interest outside of New York City is evidenced by 
the founding of peace societies at Cayuga, Albany, Andover, 
Schenectady and Ballston Spa. At this last-named town, one 
Matthew Simpson gave generously of his time and money to 
spread the gospel of peace in Saratoga, Washington and Mont- 
gomery Counties. Each of these local efforts was but a reflec- 
tion of the growing peace sentiment that had appeared through- 
out the East, notably in New England. Here a number of 
organizations had been founded, largely as a result of the en- 
ergies of Noah Worcester, who, in 181 5, led the movement, 
which at once gained many converts. State societies had been 
formed which led in time to a demand for a national organiza- 
tion. Thanks to the tireless energy of William Ladd, who by 
1826 had become the foremost peace advocate in the country, 
such a society was finally established at New York, on May 8, 
1828. The president of this new group, which was known as 
the American Peace Society and which is still in existence, was 
David Low Dodge. 

From 1828 to 1836, the headquarters of this organization was 
in New York City, after which it was moved to Hartford and 
from there to Boston, where it remained for some time after 
the Civil War. While at New York, annual meetings were held 
during that great outpouring of religious and humanitarian 
feeling which occurred each year in May. This event was known 
as " Anniversary Week," at which time all of the various philan- 
thropic and reforming groups held their meetings. The sessions 
of the Peace Society seldom lasted for more than a day, and 
were usually held at one of the local churches such as the 
Chatham Street Chapel. With the removal of the headquar- 


ters from New York, interest within the state in the peace 
movement decUned to some extent. One of the most notable 
converts to the cause of peace during these years was Gerrit 
Smith, who became vice president of the American Peace So- 
ciety, an office which he held to the time of his death in 1874. 

Prior to 1837, the American Peace Society had adhered to a 
very conservative policy. War, and by that was meant inter- 
national war, was officially frowned upon, but only offensive 
warfare was condemned. The right and duty of a nation to take 
up arms in self-defense was admitted. Individual members of 
the society might hold whatever views they wished, even to the 
extent of denying the right of personal self-defense. By 1837, 
however, those sponsoring more radical concepts became suffi- 
cient in numbers to put through a change of policy. Thence- 
forth all international contests, offensive and defensive, were 
condemned. While this was a distinct concession to the more 
liberal following, it failed to satisfy those who wanted noth- 
ing short of complete national and personal nonresistance. This 
more radical group included a number who accepted the leader- 
ship of William Lloyd Garrison, Henry C. Wright and Adin 
Ballou, who in 1838 founded the New England Non-Resistance 

Public opinion in general seems to have been hostile to this new 
organization. The New York Observer, in reporting the events 
incident to the founding of this society, called them " Religious 
Jacobinism Run Mad," while a local New York City peace 
society passed resolutions condemning nonresistance. On the 
other hand, some sympathy was expressed in New York, chiefly 
in certain upstate towns like Utica, Peterboro and Syracuse. 
To these and other places had come Henry C. Wright, who was 
able to convince a number of people of the merits of a " non- 
killing " philosophy. Wright visited Peterboro and spent several 
days attempting to convince Gerrit Smith that it was his Chris- 


tian duty to join the Non-Resistance Society. Although Smith 
was most kindly disposed and generously supplied the Boston 
office with pecuniary aid, he never could convince himself 
that he should become a member. The failure on the part of 
Wright and others to enlist the moral support of Smith was 
duplicated in a number of other cases, and, after several years 
of uncertainty, the New England Non-Resistance Society un- 
derwent a rapid decline. By 1846, the organization had spent its 
force. Doubtless the growing interest in slavery sapped much 
of the strength of this society, particularly as many of its mem- 
bers were numbered among the most bitter opponents of slav- 
ery. Again, their denial of the right to participate in any elec- 
tion conducted by a government that recognized the use of 
force must have alienated many who otherwise might have 
supported the movement. Finally, one should note that the 
American Peace Society offered what might be termed a more 
conservative and respectable method of ending war. 

Indeed, within New York, this society continued to spread 
its ideas, and gained the support and good will of a number 
of prominent persons. Much of this was due to the tireless 
energy of William Ladd, who in the fall of 1840 undertook 
an extensive speaking tour in upstate New York. Citizens of 
Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Auburn, Rochester, Lockport, Niagara 
Falls and Buffalo listened to this man, who thoroughly con- 
demned the entire war system. In lieu of international conflict 
as a means of settling disputes between nations, he advocated 
the establishment of an international tribunal and a world con- 
gress of nations. Various local branches of the national peace 
society were founded, and at times a state organization func- 
tioned to some extent. James O. Pond and Origen Bacheler seem 
to have been the prime movers in New York City. These and 
other friends of the movement sponsored the sending of peti- 
tions to Congress, advocating a league of nations and a world 


court. Stipulated arbitration was also brought to the attention 
of Congress. This later concept, although long a plank in the 
program of the peace advocates, became its chief objective after 
1842, largely because of the views advanced by one of its mem- 
bers, William Jay, in his celebrated tract entitled War and Peace. 
The hopes and aims of the peace enthusiasts received a sharp 
rebuff as the United States drifted into a war with Mexico. A 
number of antiwar meetings were held during the winter of 
1845-46, while Congress received many petitions protesting 
against the possibility of war. After the outbreak of hostilities 
in the spring of 1 846, it became the patriotic duty of all citizens 
to support the government. Accordingly a number of the 
former members of the peace societies, in New York and else- 
where, swung over to a war basis. Here and there, loyal peace 
men voiced their opposition. Most notable in this respect was 
the effort put forward by the antiwar group in Syracuse. Part 
of this opposition was due to the influence of the abolitionists, 
who saw in this contest a desire on the part of the South to ex- 
tend the limits of slavery. Others, however, denounced the war 
on the ground that all war was an evil. Foremost among those 
who held to these views was Rev. Samuel J. May, pastor of the 
Syracuse Unitarian Church. May was a member of the national 
peace society, a close friend of Gerrit Smith, and at one time 
had cooperated with Garrison in founding the New England 
Non-Resistance Society, but, for undiscovered reasons, May 
never fully accepted the tenets of this organization. At Syra- 
cuse, it would appear, he made the Unitarian Church a center 
for all of the reforming movements, especially those that con- 
cerned war and slavery. When news of the outbreak of the 
Mexican War reached Syracuse, May voiced his opposition, and 
persuaded a number of his friends to hold an antiwar meeting 
at the Empire Hotel. A group of war advocates, however, also 
appeared and were able so to control matters that May and his 


friends were forced to retire to the Congregational Church. 
Even here, within a temple dedicated to the Prince of Peace, a 
riot was staged and the peace group was compelled to halt its 
activities. Actually, nothing was accomplished by those opposed 
to the war, as militaristic public opinion at Syracuse and else- 
where completely dominated matters. Peace ideals, however, 
had been sown throughout the state and, though the move- 
ment was checked by the Mexican War, it made continued 
progress after that contest was ended. 

The Woman Suffrage Question 

Samuel J. May's interest in humanitarian activities knew no 
bounds. In many respects he and Gerrit Smith represented up- 
state New York in every important social reform advocated 
during the first half of the nineteenth century. Both of these 
men were most devoted to the cause of woman suffrage, and the 
generous support furnished by Gerrit Smith, who was a near 
relative of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, has never been forgotten by 
the women of the state. May's assistance was evidenced by his 
sermons and addresses, in one of which he declared that women 
could not expect " to have their wrongs fully redressed until 
they themselves have a voice and a hand in the enactment and 
administration of the laws." Sentiment of this type was ex- 
pressed elsewhere and, as early as 1836, the legislature of the state 
was petitioned to remove certain common law disabilities against 
women and to give them equal property rights. For the next 
twelve years, a number of such memorials were introduced to 
grant women these rights. None of these gained much con- 
sideration until after the general constitutional convention of 
1846, at which time sober thinkers gave more attention to the 
position of women than they had previously done. As a result 
of this quickening of thought and interest, the New York State 


legislature in 1848, under the leadership of John Fine, passed a 
law which greatly encouraged those who had advocated woman's 
rights. According to this measure, the property of a married 
woman was protected against any and all claims of her husband. 
Nor could he assume any control over the same or use it to meet 
any debts or obligations that he had contracted. In passing this 
law, New York became the first state to recognize equal rights 
of married women in property. 

In the meantime, those interested in the cause of woman suf- 
frage had been busy. The passage of Judge Fine's law encouraged 
them to hope that better days were in store. Accordingly, a 
number of central New York women gathered at Seneca Falls, 
July 14, 1848, and discussed the entire problem. It was their 
opinion that the time was ripe for a state convention. Seneca 
Falls was agreed upon as the place of this meeting, which was set 
for the nineteenth and twentieth of the same month. This call 
was sent out over the signatures of Martha C. Wright, Mary A. 
McClintock and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. A number of men and 
women indicated their interest by attending the meeting, which 
was held at the Wesleyan Church. At this gathering, several 
able addresses were delivered, which encouraged those present 
to adopt, in imitation of the Declaration of Independence, a 
statement setting forth the various limitations that had been 
imposed upon women in the past. A series of resolutions were 
also passed providing for equal rights for women in universities, 
trades and professions; the exercise of suffrage; equality in mar- 
riage, personal freedom, and hours of work and wages; the legal 
right to make contracts; the privilege of sharing in all political 
honors, offices and emoluments; the right to sue and be sued; and 
the freedom of testifying in all courts of justice. In general, 
public opinion, as expressed by the press and the pulpit, was not 
favorable to these ideas and to those who had sponsored the 
same. Undaunted, however, by these attacks, its advocates held 


another meeting at Rochester, early in August of the same year. 
Similar resolutions were passed, and some ground was gained for 
further growth and expansion. Most of this development took 
place after 1850, and is treated elsewhere in this work. 

Present as a spectator at the Seneca Falls meeting, in 1848, 
was Amelia Jenks Bloomer, who in 1849 started the Lily, pos- 
sibly the first journal published by a woman. For six years, it 
urged reforms in education, marriage laws and woman's suf- 
frage. Mrs. Stanton contributed under the name of "Sun- 
flower." The subscribers numbered more than 4,000 in 1853. 
Although ardent in temperance and suffrage reform, Mrs. 
Bloomer's name is associated with dress reform. Wearing an 
ordinary bodice, short skirt and full trousers, ridiculed by the 
press as " bloomers," she drew large crowds to her lectures in 
1853, in company with Susan B. Anthony and Rev. Antoinette 
L. Brown. It was said that Horace Greeley went to hear her, and 
her address was reported favorably in the Tribune. Although 
Mrs. Bloomer removed from New York to Iowa, her dress re- 
form was adopted by not a few women, among the first being 
the daughter of Gerrit Smith. 

Temperance Reform 

Among the various topics that interested the advocates of 
woman's rights was the question of temperance. Individual op- 
position to the evils of drinking existed long before any or- 
ganized effort demonstrated itself. The Methodists and the 
Society of Friends for some time had "viewed them as con- 
traband articles to the pure laws of the Gospel," but it remained 
for Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia to arouse people to the 
need for action in his celebrated tract Inquiry into the Effects 
of Ardent Spirits on the Human Body and Mind. This article 
appears to have been widely read throughout the country, and 


it did much to stimulate further thought and led, in time, to 
action. The earliest known temperance society was that founded 
at Moreau, New York, on April 20, 1808, under the guidance 
of Dr. B. J. Clark. Each one who signed the constitution of this 
organization pledged himself to refrain from the use of ardent 
spirits and wine, except for reasons of health, religion and social 
contacts. By the latter was meant that the drinking of wine at 
public dinners was permissible. Those who violated these pledges 
were subject to a 2 5 -cent fine, while a tax of 50 cents was levied 
for actual intoxication. 

Similar interest appeared about the same time in New Eng- 
land, which resulted in the formation, in 1 8 1 3 , of the Massachu- 
setts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance. This body, as 
well as that at Moreau, sought to improve matters by preaching 
the evils of drinking and the merits of moderation. And while 
these efforts were valuable in themselves and commanded the 
respect of many, there were others who felt that no lasting re- 
sult could be expected until absolute abstinence was practiced. 
A gesture in this direction was made in the founding of the 
American Society for the Promotion of Temperance at Boston, 
in 1826. Branches of this organization were planted in New 
York, but neither the parent nor its offspring dared to come 
out openly in favor of total abstinence, even though its members 
accepted this concept in principle. Definite expression of this 
more radical idea appeared in the constitutions of several tem- 
perance societies in New York between 1826 and 1830. Most 
important in this respect were the efforts of the group at Hector, 
New York, which had been formed as early as 1 8 1 8, and which, 
in 1826, elected to allow its members to accept one of two 
pledges. One of these called for abstinence from distilled spirits; 
the other, for complete abstinence. In recording the attitude 
of the members, the secretary of the society placed a " T " be- 
fore the name of each one who signed the more extreme pledge. 


And for this reason, so tradition has it, those who were so marked 
became known as " T-Totalers." Other societies in time adopted 
this more extreme position. 

The expansion of this concept, however, was of mixed benefit. 
Prior to the appearance of T-TotaHsm, the cause of temperance 
had gained a number of converts. In 1829, there were over 
seventy-eight societies in the state, and by 1833 over a quarter 
of a milhon people were enrolled as members. Albany alone had, 
in 1832, fourteen societies, with an enrollment of 4,164 mem- 
bers. The effect of this widespread enthusiasm for temperance, 
according to Doctor Krout, was seen in the closing down of 
many distilleries and in the refusal of many tavern keepers to 
sell intoxicating drinks. Moderation, as argued for by most of 
the local advocates, was quite a different thing from that in- 
sisted upon by the followers of the Hector plan. Total absti- 
nence was the accepted view of E. C. Delevan, Benjamin Joy, 
and others who were high in the counsels of the state society 
which had been formed in 1829. These men advanced this posi- 
tion at the state convention which was held at Utica in 1833; 
they were able to gain the passing of a resolution commending 
total abstinence, but not requiring it as a qualification for 
membership. The following year, a stronger resolution was 
passed, and in 1835 the Temperance Recorder, the official publi- 
cation of the state society, came out with the statement that its 
columns would in the future advocate entire abstinence " from 
all that can intoxicate." Later in the same year, at a conven- 
tion held at Buffalo, complete indorsement of this position was 
voted by those present. 

The effect of this more radical stand was to alienate the sup- 
port of many throughout the state, so much so that the various 
societies within the state reported only a little over 130,000 
members by 1839. Most of these, moreover, formed a solid block 
in the southern tier of counties. This relative drop in numbers 


did not check the spread of the idea of total abstinence. The 
idea was discussed generally throughout the state and nation, 
and became an important topic of debate at the national con- 
vention in 1833. Furthermore, at the convention held at Sara- 
toga Springs on August 4, 1836, the national society accepted 
the principle of total abstinence, and from that time on it be- 
came the basic concept of the temperance leaders. 

Similar views were advanced by other societies, notably the 
Washington Temperance Society, which had been founded at 
the national capital in 1840. Branches of this organization were 
formed in a number of places throughout New York, and 
gained the support of many people. Female groups, known as 
Martha Washington Societies, were also founded, but by 1843 
interest in this organization waned. Its place was taken by the 
Order of the Sons of Temperance, which had been founded at 
New York City on September 29, 1 842. Auxiliaries were planted 
throughout the state, especially in Broome, Yates, Columbia 
and Onondaga Counties. A weekly paper called the Organ was 
issued by this organization as a means to further its cause and its 
ideals. So successful was this society that in 1844 it became 
nation-wide in its organization. The following year there was 
formed another society, the Templars of Honor and Temper- 
ance, which felt that for greater success, the antiliquor advocates 
should undertake more educational work. To insure this objec- 
tive and at the same time to enlist a greater number of members, 
an air of secrecy was given to the organization. Grips, signs and 
a regalia were adopted, and a number of temples were scattered 
throughout New York and other states. 

About the same time that the Templars of Honor and Tem- 
perance were started, the grand division of the Sons of Tem- 
perance in New York attempted to foster an organization that 
would enlist the interest of the youth of the country. The idea 
did not receive much support at that time, but in 1845 the 


Pennsylvania division embraced the idea and aided in the foun- 
dation of the Cadets. Within two years, this society, now 
known as the Cadets of Temperance, became a national affair 
with branches in New York. Other organizations that existed 
before 1850 were the Father Mathew Societies, which made 
headway among Roman CathoHcs, and the Cold Water Armies. 
These and the others mentioned above were pledged to a pro- 
gram of total abstinence, a feature which characterized the 
temperance movement from 1826, when the Hector Society 
adopted a T-Totaler pledge. 

All of these societies sought to increase their influence by 
personal solicitation, propaganda and education; by persuading 
individuals to sign the pledge; and by petitioning the state legis- 
lature to pass suitable resolutions and laws. By 1841, public 
sentiment had reached a point where a state committee was able 
to report favorably upon the idea of local option. The legisla- 
ture, however, did not accept their findings, but in 1845 a meas- 
ure was passed providing for a statewide election on the ques- 
tion of local option. In May, 1846, the electorate of the state, 
except in New York City which was not subject to the terms 
of this law, went to the polls to vote on license or no license. 
Out of the 856 towns that voted on this question, 528 were 
won by the temperance forces. The victory, however, was 
shortlived, as the state legislature repealed the law in 1847. 
Seven years later, however, a prohibition act was passed, which 
Governor Seymour vetoed as unconstitutional. He was de- 
nounced from the pulpit and in the press and defeated for re- 
election by Myron H. Clark, who ran on a fusion ticket with 
prohibition as the main issue. The prohibition act of 1855 was 
pronounced unconstitutional by the court of appeals, and was 
followed, in 1 8 57, by strict license laws which were indifferently 
enforced. The temperance societies, however, had ample reason 
to feel satisfied with their position. Opinion throughout the 


State was clearly swinging their way. Effective spade work had 
been done, and the way was paved for extensive gains later in 
the century. 

Hostility to Secret Societies 

About the same time that temperance became an issue, con- 
siderable feeling was aroused over the activities of secret so- 
cieties. To many people, secret organizations were both anti- 
Christian and un-American, while others argued that these 
societies exerted an unwholesome influence on political life. 
This hostile feeling was greatly increased as a result of the 
Morgan episode. William Morgan, it appears, at one time had 
been a member of the Batavia Lodge of the Masonic order, as 
well as of the Royal Arch Masons of Le Roy. For reasons that 
are not altogether clear, Morgan's relations with these organiza- 
tions do not seem to have been happy. Pinched by poverty and 
disheartened by the treatment that he considered he was receiv- 
ing from his fellow Masons, Morgan conceived the idea of pub- 
lishing an expose of Masonry and in this way recouping his 
fallen fortunes. Gaining the ear of several others, notably one 
David C. Miller, plans were laid for the printing of a book 
which it was hoped would have a nation-wide sale. Dissensions, 
it seems, arose between these two men; dissensions which, ac- 
cording to the view of Batavia Masons, led Miller to take steps 
toward robbing Morgan of his share of the profit. To gain this 
end, so the argument ran, Miller broke with Morgan, who in 
desperation accepted the offer of the local lodge to move over 
into Canada. In accordance with this agreement, Morgan was 
arrested and lodged in a jail at Canandaigua on a charge of petit 
larceny. Late Monday night, September ii, 1826, Morgan was 
released from custody and, according to the version of the 
Batavia Masons, was taken, more or less with his own consent, 


to old Fort Niagara and then, after confinement there for a time, 
released into Canada. 

The Masons claimed that they never saw him again. On 
the other hand, Morgan's disappearance was declared by Miller 
and those who hated Masonry, to have been a case of forcible 
abduction. And when later the badly decomposed body of a 
man was found in Lake Ontario, north of Albion which was 
less than twenty-five miles from Batavia, Miller and his group 
raised the cry that Morgan had been murdered because of his 
having revealed the secrets of Masonry. Although the identifica- 
tion of the body was made by Morgan's wife, one Mrs. Timothy 
Munroe, of Upper Canada, claimed the body as that of her 
husband, who had disappeared from home some time previously. 

The evidence in the entire affair was most uncertain. Each 
side insisted on the merits of its case, and called upon public 
opinion to indorse its position. In general, the Masons appear 
to have received the brunt of the attack, which rapidly swept 
all before it. By February, 1828, feeling demonstrated itself so 
intensely that steps were taken toward the formation of an Anti- 
masonic party. The movement spread rapidly into other coun- 
ties and, before the year was over, had become both a state and 
a national issue. In the campaign of 1828, Antimasonic prin- 
ciples became an outstanding topic within New York, with the 
result that the electoral vote of the state was split between 
Jackson and Adams. Two years later, a national Antimasonic 
party was formed at Philadelphia, and at Baltimore in Septem- 
ber, 183 1, nominated William Wirt for president. In New 
York, the state convention of this party was held at Utica. By 
the time of the November elections, however, interest in the 
evils of Masonry had diminished to a marked degree; so much 
so that the actual vote of this party was practically negligible, 
Jackson gaining the entire New York electoral vote. Thereafter, 
the Antimasonic movement gradually disappeared, its adherents 


slowly joining the recently formed National Republican party. 
Opposition to secrecy, on the ground that it was un-American, 
continued to influence a number of people for some time. Some 
of this feeling doubtless spread into college circles, where cer- 
tain Greek-letter secret fraternities had existed since about 
1825. In opposition to the ideals and practices of these col- 
lege societies, there developed at Williams College an antisecret 
society that became, in time, the mother chapter of the modern 
college fraternity, Delta Upsilon. Chapters of this fraternity 
were founded at Union and Hamilton Colleges. A study of the 
early records of Delta Upsilon fails to show any connection be- 
tween the Morgan affair and the growth of antisecrecy in col- 
lege life. It is, of course, possible that Antimasonry may have 
influenced some of the founders of this fraternity, but of this 
there is no tangible evidence. 

In addition to the Antimasonic movement, slavery, peace, 
temperance and woman's rights, there existed a number of 
movements concerning which very little is known. Among these, 
the most important were the National Tract Society, which 
was founded in New York City in 1825, and financed in part 
by Arthur Tappan; the American Bible Society, established in 
1 8 16; the New York Bible and Common Prayer Book Society, 
incorporated in 1841; and the American and Foreign Bible 
Society, founded in 1837. Then again, there were organizations 
against dueling, swearing, violation of the Sabbath, and scores 
of societies that concerned themselves with particular humani- 
tarian activities. For example, there was the Albany Society of 
Brotherly Love, incorporated in 1844; the Association for Relief 
of Aged Females in New York City; and the founding of the 
New York City Charitable Organization, in 18 10. Concerning 
these and many other bodies interested in medical, educational 
and intellectual development, very little investigation has as yet 
been made. There is a definite need for more intensive research 


into the activities of these reforming organizations that appealed 
so generally to the people of New York during the first half of 
the nineteenth century. 

Manifestation of a discontent with the old order was revealed 
in the appearance of novel religious sects. The Shakers were 
founded by Mother Ann Lee, at Watervliet, during the Revo- 
lution, and societies were planted at Lebanon and elsewhere. 
Members wore a distinctive costume, owned property in com- 
mon, practiced celibacy and advocated nonresistence. Jemima 
Wilkinson, " the Universal Friend," with a few followers set- 
tled at Jerusalem, in what is now Yates County, in 1789, where 
she died in 18 19. In doctrines and religious service her colony 
resembled the Shakers. Mormonism had its origin at Fayette, 
Seneca County, where in 1830 Joseph Smith, as the prophet 
of a new dispensation, organized the church. 

The Millerites were the followers of William Miller, a farmer 
preacher of Low Hampton, Washington County, who in 1833 
foretold the second coming of Christ and the destruction of the 
world in 1843. His converts numbered thousands. Modern 
spiritualism had its origin at Hydesville, near Rochester, where 
in 1848 the Fox sisters first heard the rappings of spirits on the 
walls and furniture, and professed ability to converse with the 
dead. Soon " circles " were formed throughout the nation. 

Several attempts were made to establish societies in New York 
to demonstrate the practicability of an improved group living, 
such as was being advocated in Europe. Albert Brisbane, a social 
reformer born in Batavia, New York, in 1809, at the age of 
eighteen left this state for study in Paris and Berlin. He re- 
turned to New York in 1834, a disciple of Fourier. Five years 
later, he organized a society and published his Social Destiny 
of Man, which induced Horace Greeley to help him establish 
the short-lived newspaper, the Future. Through the Tribune, 
the Chronicle, the Plebeian, the Phalanx and the Dial, Brisbane 


succeeded in starting about forty experimental stations in 
Fourierism, none of which prospered. His later years were de- 
voted to a new system of burial, and a method of transporta- 
tion by hurling hollow balls through pneumatic tubes. To 
promulgate Fourierism, the American Union of Associationists 
was organized, with Greeley as its president. A large convention 
of its members was held, in 1844, in New York; the Brook 
Farm paper. The Harbinger, was transferred to the Empire 
State in 1847-49, and by 1850 the movement had come to 
an end. 

The Oneida Community was established at Oneida, in 1847, 
by John H. Noyes, a graduate of Dartmouth College. The 
members lived and labored in common, and for years lived in 
peace. At length public sentiment, led by the clergy, turned 
against them, and in 1879 forced the community to abandon 
certain objectionable social features. The property was divided 
and a joint stock company organized in 188 1. Under these 
changes, the Community still continues. 

Select Bibliography 

Allen, Devere, The Fight for Peace (New York, 1930) . A good survey of the 

peace movement. 
Andrews, C. C, History of the New York African Free Schools (New York, 

Birney, "William, James G. Birney and His Times (New York, 1890) . 
Bloomer, D. C, Life and Writings of Amelia Bloomer (Boston, 1895). 
Bowen, C. W., Arthur and Lewis Tappan (New York, 1893). 
Curti, M. E,, The American Peace Crusade, 18 15-1860 (Durham, N. C, 

1929). Originally a doctor's dissertation at Harvard University. 
Delta Upsilon Fraternity records and pubHcations. Reflect student opinion 

on reforms. 
De Witt, C. J., Crusading for Peace in Syracuse during the War with 

Mexico. New York History, XIV, 1 00-112 (April, 1933). 
Dyson, Z., Gerrit Smith's Efforts in Behalf of the Negro in New York. 

Journal of Negro History, III, 354-60 (191 8). 


Fehlandt, A, F., A Century of Drink Reform in the United States (New 

York, 1904). A sympathetic account. 
Fox, E. C, The American Colonization Society, 18 17-1840 (Baltimore, 

Frothingham, O. B., Gerrit Smith, a Biography (New York, 1878). 
Harper, I. H., Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony. 3 vols. (Indianapohs, 

1 89 8-1 908). A course book on the suffrage movement. 
Hone, Philip, Diary, ed. by Allan Nevins. 2 vols. (New York, 1927) . 
Ingraham, C. A., The Birth at Moreau of Temperance Reformation. Pro- 
ceedings of the New York State Historical Association, VI, 115-33 

Knight, T. A., The Strange Disappearance of "William Morgan (Brecksville, 

O., 193^). 
Krout, J. A., The Genesis and Development of the Early Temperance Move- 
ment in New York State. Proceedings of the New York State Historical 

Association, XXI, 78-98 (1923). 
Lindsay, A. G., Economic Condition of the Negroes of New York prior to 

1 86 1. Journal of Negro History, VI, 190—200 (1921). 
Miller, Gerrit Smith, Collection of letters and manuscripts in Syracuse Uni- 
versity Library. A storehouse of information for the topics discussed in 

this chapter. 
Mock, S. U., The Morgan Episode in American Free Masonry (East Aurora, 

1930). An interesting but biased account. 
Payne, A. H., The Negro in New York prior to i860. Howard University 

Series, I, No. i (1923). 
Sherwood, H. N., Formation of the American Colonization Society. Journal 

of Negro History, II, 209-29 (19 17). 
Smith, Gerrit, Address to the Three Thousand Colored Citizens of New 

York . . . (New York, 1846). 
Smith, R. B., Political and Governmental History of the State of New York. 

6 vols. (Syracuse, 1922). Written in collaboration with W. F. Johnson. 
Southall, E. P., Arthur Tappan and the Anti-Slavery Movement. Journal of 

Negro History, XV, 162-98 (1930). 
Stanton, E. C, Ed., History of Woman Suffrage. 6 vols. (Rochester, 1881- 

1922). Invaluable for this topic. 
Whitney, E. L., The American Peace Society (Washington, 1928). 
Wilson, Henry, Rise and Fall of Slave Power in America. 3 vols. (Boston, 

1872-77). Though needing revision, still a convenient outline. 

^ IX ^ 


Edward P. Cheyney 

Professor of History 
University of Pcnnsylvatiia 


Opposition to the Landed Aristocracy 

A S the middle of the century approached, it became ob- 
/-a\ vious that the constitution under which the state was 
.A- )V governed was, in the minds of a great part of the 
people, antiquated. The constitution of 1821 did not give that 
immediate and complete control over their own affairs that 
the plain people of the state felt to be their due, and it permitted 
institutions and practices to survive which bore the stamp of 
an earlier and narrower conception of individual rights. There 
were many evidences of this changing sentiment. 

It was increasingly difficult to hold the old parties together. 
In 1836, the Friends of Equal Rights, organized within though 
in sharp criticism of the old Democratic party, at a convention 
drew up a declaration of natural rights and of opposition to 
monopolies and corporations. United with them were a Work- 
ingmen's party and, under the nickname Locofocos, they ex- 
ercised a subversive influence on the old parties for several elec- 
tions. They declared, according to the New York Evening Post 
of July 23, 1836, that "the leaders of the aristocracy of both 
the great political parties of the state . . . have deceived the 
workingmen by false pretenses of political honesty and justice." 
The Native American party, organized in New York City in 
1844, was formed not so much to wrest the American govern- 
ment from the classes which had heretofore exercised so much 
control over it, as to retain for the plain men already on the 
ground the offices and influences threatened by the early in- 
flux of Irish and other foreign immigrants. The Hunkers were 
the aristocratic section of the Democratic party. 


The slavery question was already interpenetrating all political 
thought in the United States, and the decade after 1830 saw 
the antiabolition riots in New York and Utica, and the forma- 
tion, in opposition, of antislavery societies in every county in 
the state. Although the Barnburners, as a distinct faction op- 
posing the extension of slavery, did not emerge till later, the 
cleft in the old Democratic party, of which they were repre- 
sentative, had been long widening. The slavery controversy 
was only one of the many influences, material and moral, that 
were weakening the habit of accepting the opinion and the 
guidance of those who had been described in the past as " the 
natural leaders of society." The controversies connected with 
the financing of the Erie Canal gave abundant opportunities, 
on a somewhat different plane, for a division of the people ac- 
cording to natural temperament or supposed self-interest into 
radicals and conservatives. 

There was, at the same time, much criticism of existing eco- 
nomic, as well as political and social, privilege. The class strug- 
gle, the tyranny of monopolies, the indefensible character of 
the inheritance of capital, were the subjects of books, lectures, 
political platforms and campaign speeches. Nor was it the old 
Democratic party alone which was breaking up; the Whigs who 
fought the campaign of 1840, in the state as in the nation, were 
a new party, rejecting Webster, partially at least, on the ground 
that he was aristocratic, and declaring for the plain farmers 
and mechanics whom Harrison was supposed to represent. 

From the somewhat incoherent and negative criticism of the 
time, certain proposals of change gradually emerged: more 
popular elections, a reformed judiciary, more direct legislative 
control over finances, and a modernization of the law for the 
ownership and tenure of land. It is curious to note that in a 
supposititious new constitution for the state, drawn up in 1837 
as a declaration of their principles by one of the radical political 



organizations, this last proposal, the reform of land tenure, is 
not mentioned. Yet within a few months began the so-called 
antirent riots which quite convulsed a large part of the state, 
led to long and widespread controversy and furnished the most 
conspicuous immediate occasion for the calling of a convention 
and the adoption of the constitution of 1846. 

The land history of New York has been different in many 
respects from that of all other American colonies and states. 
It was a system of ownership of large tracts, not held and 
utilized as large farms, as in the South, but disposed of to ac- 
tual settlers and to farmers of the usual type of the northern 
states, except that the sale was an incomplete transfer which 
left certain claims in the hands of the original owner. 

The earliest tract, the largest, and, as a matter of fact, that 
where the most serious difficulties eventually arose, was the so- 
called manor of Rensselaerswyck, lying about Albany on both 
sides of the Hudson. It was a survival from the earliest period 
of Dutch settlement, although at the time of which we are treat- 
ing its population was largely English, or Americans descended 
from English ancestry. The grant had been made originally by 
the Dutch "West India Company to one of its members, Kiliaen 
Van Rensselaer, a merchant of Amsterdam, who completed its 
acquisition by purchases from the Indians. It extended twenty- 
four miles along the river and twenty- four miles back from 
the river in each direction. It was therefore a lordly domain 
twenty-four by forty-eight miles in extent, covering almost 
all of the present counties of Albany and Rensselaer and part 
of Columbia. Its possession, coming down from father to son, 
was acknowledged by the English conquerors of New Nether- 
land and confirmed by a charter granted by the English gover- 
nor in 1685, and by the crown in 1704. These grants trans- 
formed the old Dutch patroonship into an English manor, 
having manorial jurisdiction and paying to the crown, as 


acknowledgment of tenure, fifty bushels of wheat a year. Its 
possession was similarly acknowledged by the state government 
at the time of the Revolution, the estate being then in the hands 
of Stephen Van Rensselaer, fifth descendant in a direct line 
from the original patroon. 

The Dutch practice of making large grants was followed by 
that of the EngHsh governors representing the crown. One of 
the earliest and largest was the Livingston grant, occupying 
what is at present the southern half of Columbia County, the 
region surrounding the town of Hudson. In 1680, Robert 
Livingston, a government official in the colony, son of a Scotch 
clergyman, received from Governor Dongan permission to buy 
from the Indians certain lands supposed to amount to about 
2,000 acres. Successive purchases and grants were so managed 
that in some way these eventually extended ten miles in length 
along the river and eighteen miles in breadth eastward back 
from the river, containing more than 160,000 acres. These 
lands were erected into a manor with the usual manorial juris- 
dictions, including in addition the right of sending a repre- 
sentative to the colonial Assembly. It was known as the manor of 
Livingston; and, like Rensselaerswyck, it descended from father 
to son until in 1792, primogeniture having ceased, it was be- 
queathed to the four sons of the third Robert Livingston. Simi- 
larly Scarsdale, Pelham, Cortlandt, Morrisania, Fordham and 
Philipsburgh were manors covering most of Westchester 
County. As one went eastward on Long Island, one crossed the 
manor of Queen's Village and then the noble area of Saint 
George, and finally the similar grants of Shelter Island and 
Gardiners Island. The counties lying east of the Hudson were, 
for the most part, granted in large tracts although not organized 
as manors. 

These early grants were originally, or soon became, the seats 
of a landed aristocracy, a class which played a large part in the 


early history of the state. There were other large tracts which 
were merely a matter of financial speculation. Johannes Har- 
denberg and others of Kingston, Ulster County, purchased 
from the Indians and secured by grant from the crown a vast 
tract covering about one-half of each of the present counties of 
Delaware, Ulster, Sullivan and Greene. In 1749, the Harden- 
berg patent was divided and disposed of in forty-two great 
tracts, such as the Desbrosses tract of 60,000 acres, the Ver- 
planck tract of 50,000 acres, the Morgan Lewis estate of 20,000 
acres, and others. In Schoharie County were the Blenheim pat- 
ent of 40,000 acres, Scott's patent of 56,000 acres, and others, 
covering almost the whole of that county; to the northwest- 
ward John Harper, In 1768, bought 250,000 acres. Of all these, 
the Indian titles were extinguished by the purchasers. To call 
the considerations '* nominal " payments is probably an exagger- 
ated expression. Some slight sum and some still smaller quit- 
rents were paid to the crown. 

To these quitrents and to the land remaining unsold the state 
government fell heir at the Revolution. Its policy in disposing 
of them remained much the same, the extent of the grants be- 
ing even greater, though the price obtained by the state gov- 
ernment was, in the excitement of speculation just after the 
Revolution, somewhat larger. In 1791, the commissioners of 
the land office sold 5,500,000 acres In tracts of over 2,000 acres 
each, realizing almost a million dollars from the sale. In this 
way, the great central and northwestern lands of the state were 
put in the hands of speculators. The Macomb purchase com- 
prised 3,635,000 acres; the Smith purchase, covering ten town- 
ships, included 270,000 acres. A kaleidoscopic series of negotia- 
tions placed the soil of the fourteen western counties of the 
state in the hands, contemporaneously or successively, of Phelps 
and Gorham of Massachusetts, Robert Morris of Philadelphia, 
William Pulteney of England, and a group of Dutch owners 


of the Holland Purchase, the last sale including the land of 
eight counties. 

Thus, in the colonial and the early modern period, an ex- 
tent of potentially arable land equal to something more than 
one-half the surface of England had been disposed of, not, in- 
deed, exactly as William the Conqueror had disposed of that 
soil to his followers, but nevertheless to men who might remain 
intermediaries between the government and the actual farmer. 
But all the influences of time and place were against the per- 
manence of such an arrangement. The hundreds of millions of 
acres of land available in New England, the Middle States, the 
South and the beckoning West, much of it obtainable on the 
easiest of terms and under the most favorable political and 
social conditions, deprived the holders of large tracts in New 
York of the opportunity of driving too hard a bargain, so that 
when buyers appeared with ready money, land was sold them 
outright and they became landowning farmers of the usual 
American type. When the farmer had little or no capital, land 
was nevertheless sold him on very long terms, guaranteed by 
a written contract. This was characteristic of the center of the 
state and of the Holland Purchase of the six western counties. 
There remained the curious system of nominal ownership lim- 
ited by money rents, semifeudal services, restrictions on sales, 
and the possibility of seizure characteristic of the counties along 
the Hudson and of much of the southeastern third of the 
state. Both of these forms of tenure were apt to be spoken of as 
" leasehold." 

Evils of the Leasehold System 

The varieties of leasehold were numerous. Sometimes the 
conditions were undeniably burdensome, derogatory to the ten- 
ant and medieval in suggestion. For instance, a lease of eighty 


acres given by Robert Livingston, February 28, 1772, to Jacob 
Rosman and bis wife for their two lives called for a yearly pay- 
ment of thirty "schipples" of wheat, four fat hens and the 
performance with an able man and a pair of horses or oxen with 
a wagon, plow or sled of two days labor, or else a payment of 
twelve shillings for each day. He must in addition clear and 
fit for cultivation two acres each year, sow at least twelve bush- 
els of seed wheat, spread on the farm all manures made on the 
farm, plant an orchard of one hundred apple and pear trees, 
build within five years a barn at least thirty by twenty feet 
and a hayrack, and keep these and the fences in good order, 
besides paying all taxes. He had his grain ground at one of the 
Livingston mills, paying one-tenth as toll; he paid six shil- 
lings a year for the support of the minister of the parish church; 
and he agreed not to keep a tavern or carry on a trade, or to en- 
tertain strangers on the farm. To " sell " his farm before the ex- 
piration of the lease, he must obtain the consent of the Living- 
ston lord of the manor and pay him one-third of what he received 
from it. This was, of course, a far more drastic requirement than 
existed in the case of most lands, but there was one provision or 
intimation in it that was practically universal in such leases, 
yet was essentially indefensible. The owner or tenant, which- 
ever he may be called, received only the title to rough land; he 
had to create his farm for himself, clearing the trees, draining, 
fencing, building the barn and in most cases the house. This was 
of especially questionable justice, when, as in the case just given 
and as was generally the case in the Livingston lands, possession 
came to an end with the death of the two or three persons named 
in the deed or at the end of some period, even a long one, the 
farm then reverting to the grantor. Even when the grant was 
perpetual, as was usually the provision in the Blenheim, Kort- 
right, Rensselaer and Great Hardenberg leases, the long 
continuance of payments on farms that were, except for a some- 


what visionary and antiquated claim, the product of the farm- 
er's own efforts, seemed abnormal. This was especially true of 
the fine to the original owner on alienation by the holder. Most 
leases required, as did the one just described, payments to the 
landlord of one-third or one-fourth of what the seller received 
for his farm. This was a substantial amount, especially after 
New Englanders began to migrate to the more fertile soil of 
New York, and the local population increased and shifted. 
Eight contiguous farms in Rensselaer County, covering about 
150 acres each, of which the statistical record happens to have 
been preserved, had paid on such sales, from the time of their 
settlement to 1850, $5,237.49, or an average of $660 apiece. 
One farm of 196 acres had been sold six times since its settlement 
in 1790, and had paid to the owner $1,162.64, that is, about $200 
in each sale. One farm of 69 acres gave to the landlord at one 
sale $528. 

The straight annual payments were less anomalous, though 
it must always be remembered that the farmer broke in his own 
land and that the payments ran on forever, or at least as long 
as the tenant retained his farm. They were, in perpetual leases, 
an irredeemable ground rent. On the other hand, the farmer 
usually obtained this land without any initial payment; it was 
for him a golden opportunity to begin life under as favorable 
conditions as the pioneer ever enjoys and without the need for 
any serious amount of capital. The payment was not usually 
heavy. It was apt to be from 10 to 15 bushels of wheat per 
100 acres, or from 15 to 35 bushels for an average farm of 160 
acres. The wheat was in some cases commuted at $1 a bushel. 
In addition, in all the earlier leases there was a payment of " four 
fat hens," a traditional requirement that may be found in 
manorial extents back to the twelfth century, and on widely 
separated lands. Those, with the one or more days' service, 
equally traditional, were often commuted at $1 or $2 for the 


hens and the same for the day's work. The actual yearly rent for 
a farm therefore was seldom more than $2 5- sometimes less. It 
was frequently remarked by apologists for the system that the 
yearly produce of one acre, or at most of an acre and a half, 
would pay the yearly rent of the whole farm -an estimate some- 
what liberal as to produce and somewhat skimped as to pay- 
ments, and fallacious in some other respects, but not altogether 
wide of the mark. The landlord of course had the usual claim 
of distraint from the tenant's goods for unpaid rent and, in 
case of long-continued arrears, might resume possession of the 
property. This system of land tenure was early subjected to criti- 
cism. The surveyor-general of the royal province, Cadwallader 
Golden, an observant official, noted most of its bad qualities in 
a report to the newly appointed governor in 1732. He spoke of 
the universal grants to favorites by earlier governors, at nomi- 
nal quitrents, by which the crown was deprived of its proper 
revenue, then complained of the effect of their policy of grants 
on lease to tenants, in place of outright sales. 

Though this country was settled many years before Pennsylvania and 
some of the neighboring colonies, and has many advantages over them 
as to . . . convenience of trade, it is not nearly so well cultivated 
nor are there near such a number of inhabitants as in the others in 
proportion to the quantity of land. . . . Every year the young people 
go from this province and purchase lands in the neighboring colonies 
. . . for one great reason of people's (the better sort especially) leav- 
ing their country was to avoid the dependence on landlords and enjoy 
lands in fee to descend to their posterity, that their children may reap 
the benefit of their labor and industry. There is the more reason for 
this because the first purchase of unimproved land is but a trifle to 
the charge of improving it. 

This criticism bore little if any fruit, and the same was true 
of an appeal by tenants themselves sixty years later. Although 
the law of July 12, 1782, abolished the system of entail and 


permitted certain tenants to hold land in fee simple, it did not 
solve the problem of manorial leases. In 1795, 214 inhabitants 
of the town of Livingston, Columbia County, the very center of 
the old Livingston grant, sent a petition to the state legislature 
asking for an investigation of the Livingston title to their land. 
They added, " a great part of your petitioners are tenants hold- 
ing under the descendants of Robert Livingston upon terms 
and conditions oppressive and burdensome to the last degree, 
unfriendly to all great exertions of industry and tending to de- 
grade your petitioners from the rank the God of nature destined 
all mankind to move in to be slaves and vassals." This claim 
of being, through their leases, put in a humiliating and un- 
American position, seems to have been not only put forward, 
but felt, with all sincerity. " Tribute," " serfdom," " vassalage " 
are the terms constantly used by the tenants to describe their 
position, and however inflated and exaggerated, they seem to 
have been heartfelt and taken seriously. A missionary traveler, 
Rev. John Taylor, in an account of his observations in Oneida 
County in the center of the state, speaking of the fact that the 
lands there are usually held on lease, remarks, " The Americans 
never can flourish when on leased lands; they have too much 
enterprise to work for others or to remain tenants, and where 
they are under the necessity of living on such lands, I find 
that they are greatly depressed in mind and are losing their 

The Outbreak of Land Riots 

Agrarian discontent was not unknown in New York in the 
eighteenth century. In 175 1, some tenants of Robert Living- 
ston, Jr., were warned off the Livingston Manor for failing to pay 
their rent. They refused either to pay or to leave, asserting that 
they held their grants in fee simple from Massachusetts. Fifty- 
eight of the Livingston and Van Rensselaer tenants petitioned 


the general court of Massachusetts for protection. Livingston 
protested to the governor of Massachusetts, and seems to have 
put an obstreperous tenant in jail, after burning his home. In 
1753, 60 armed men were sent by him to destroy the crops of 
another trouble-making tenant. The angered tenants retaliated 
by cutting dov^^n 1,100 trees on the manor. Arrests, seizures and 
proclamations failed to quiet the rioters. The land disputes were 
mixed up with the intercolonial boundary altercation, and the 
trouble did not die down until 1762. The revival of the revolt 
in 1766, associated with the Levelers' uprising, spread to West- 
chester County, where Van Cortlandt was threatened with 
death and the destruction of his manor house if he did not grant 
his tenants free titles. At Poughkeepsie, 1,700 armed Levelers 
appeared. Lives were lost in rioting on the Van Rensselaer Manor 
and troops had to be called out. After the Revolution, anti- 
renters revived their attack on the Livingston and Van Rens- 
selaer titles and a sheriff was killed in 1791. From this time, for 
the next half century, the issue was kept alive by discussion and 
occasional disorders. 

Further appeals to the legislature to investigate the title to 
the great estates, made by the inhabitants of various counties 
in 181 1 and accompanied with a certain amount of disorder, 
were favorably received by the legislators, but no immediate 
action was taken. The petitioners did, however, request a com- 
mission, then employed in a revision of state laws, to include 
those relating to landlord and tenant in their consideration and 
to make any recommendations they saw fit. Their condem- 
nation of the leasehold system was so severe and their pro- 
posals of a change in the law so far-reaching, that the legislation 
of 1846 might well have been made a full generation earlier, had 
the pressure of democratic opinion been as strong then as at 
the later date. The commissioners, made up of three judges 
of the supreme court of the state, declare that " restraints in the 


nature of fines or quarter-sale against alienation are exceedingly- 
objectionable and constitute rigid and unreasonable burdens 
upon the tenants, . . . are opposed to sound policy and the 
genius of our constitution." They recommended the with- 
drawal from the landlords of the right to forfeit leases, restrict- 
ing them, in cases of violation of their leases by tenants, to 
damages sued for in a court of equity. They proposed that " the 
proprietors of great landed estates should thereafter be inhibited 
from granting leasehold tenures." A bill recommending these 
changes was brought into the Senate and passed its first and 
second readings, but got no further. Once more effective pres- 
sure was evidently needed to displace so deeply founded and 
widely extended an institution. This was provided by the series 
of sporadic disorders and the active agitation that began with 
the later thirties and had so much to do with the adoption of 
the constitution of 1846. 

Land riots began earlier, but they were at first detached 
and ineffective. In Ulster, Delaware and Sullivan Counties, in 
1825, in the Great Hardenberg Patent, conflicts broke out, 
partly between rival landowning families, and partly between 
tenants and their landlords. Capt. Gerardus Hardenberg, of 
Revolutionary fame, one of the landlords, was found by the 
roadside with a bullet through his heart. A local ballad tells 
how " They shot Gross Hardenbergh off of his horse," and an 
evicted tenant is said to have boasted that " he had shot a fat 

Other disorders occurred in the year 1836, when, on February 
6, a mob at Mayville broke into the local office for Chautauqua 
County of the successors of the Holland Land Company, 
seized the books and papers of the company, took them into the 
middle of the road and burned them. This was the culmination 
of a long series of disputes concerning renewals of leases. It was 
followed by another riot in May, when a crowd, said to consist 


of 700 men, marched on Batavia, in Genesee County, where 
the main office of the company was located, but found the 
agent fortified in his office and guarded by some 50 armed men. 
The mihtia was called out, and 50 or 60 of the ringleaders ar- 
rested. There were sympathetic stirrings at the same time in 
the other western counties, but the disputes were compromised, 
the prosecutions dropped, prisoners released, and the excite- 
ment, so far as that part of the state was concerned, subsided. 
The final movement began in the old leasehold region along 
the Hudson. It was from this center that disorders broke out, 
spreading widely and stirring the country deeply, until the 
whole matter reached the courts, the legislature, and finally 
the constitutional convention. The trouble first appeared on the 
Van Rensselaer tract, the lands to the west and east of Albany. 
The fuel there had long been collecting, and the death, on 
January 26, 1839, of Stephen Van Rensselaer, ''the old pa- 
troon," " the good patroon," " the last of the patroons," as he 
had been variously called, and the bequest of his lands to his 
two sons, set the spark. In early colonial times, there was little 
more settlement of the lordship than required by the conditions 
of the grant, and when the " last of the patroons " became of 
age, in 1785, great regions in his possession were still largely 
wilderness. In those restless days immediately after the Revolu- 
tion, however, he set to work with great energy to populate his 
lands. Within ten years, surveys had been made, townships laid 
out and a large part of the remaining open land disposed of to 
working farmers. The leasehold system was universal. Neither 
then nor later would Stephen Van Rensselaer sell any of his 
land without reservation. Within a few years, there were 1,397 
farms in Albany County, and 1,600 in Rensselaer County. The 
terms of the leases were much the same as those which have 
been already described. With the exception of a few farms 
leased for sixty years, the leases were all perpetual. The payment 


reserved varied from 10 to 14 bushels of wheat per 100 acres, 
but always included the " four fat hens " and the service of a 
man with horse and wagon for one day a year. By early custom, 
the fowls and labor were commuted for a load of wood de- 
livered at the manor house, or $2 in money. As late as the latter 
part of the nineteenth century, there were people who remem- 
bered seeing the roads near the manor house in Albany blocked 
with wagons, bringing wood, wheat and poultry in payment of 
the farmers' rent in kind. " Quarter sales," that is the required 
payment to the landlord of the fourth of the amount received 
in each sale of land, were provided in every lease. The grantor 
also reserved the right to all water power and valuable minerals 
found on the land. 

During his long life, Stephen Van Rensselaer ruled his enor- 
mous domain with a light and generous hand. Rents were not 
collected rigorously, many exemptions were granted and pay- 
ments allowed to be postponed. Nevertheless, account was kept 
of all and when the death of the old patroon occurred, the ten- 
ants were some $400,000 in his debt. His will was a great dis- 
appointment. He bequeathed his lands to his two sons. The 
arrears of rent were to be utilized to pay his own debts, which 
were very extensive. Tenants actually destitute, however, or 
victims of serious misfortune, were to have their back rents 
remitted. There was the deepest interest among the people as 
to what action the executors and heirs would take. As has been 
intimated, a feeling had long been growing among the people 
that the rents and other burdens were unjust. To contemplate 
not only their continuance but the collection of the long arrear- 
ages, was too much for the patience of the farmers. The western 
towns of Albany County lie on a long ridge, known as the 
Helderberg Hills, a northern extension of the Catskill Moun- 
tains. Mountaineers are always freemen, and here, at Berne, the 
most rugged and remote of the towns, a mass meeting was 


called as soon as the provisions of the will were known and a 
committee of the most respectable men of the community ap- 
pointed to wait upon young Stephen Van Rensselaer, the heir 
to the lands west of the river. Their reception was unsatisfac- 
tory. On May 22, 1839, they went to the manor office in Al- 
bany, but Van Rensselaer, himself no doubt troubled by the 
problem of his father's debts and the uncertainties of the situa- 
tion, refused to see them, passing through their midst, as they 
reported, without speaking to them, and going into conference 
with his agent in an inner office. His answer came to them in 
a letter addressed to the chairman of the committee re- 
fusing any special terms. Anger spread among the farmers, 
while the executors of the old patroon secured writs of eject- 
ment and scire facias from the supreme court of the state 
against those long in arrears, and placed them in the hands of 
the sheriffs for service. 

Thereupon followed what is known locally as the " Helder- 
berg War." Deputies of the sheriff, and finally the sheriff him- 
self, penetrated with their writs into the back country, only to 
be met by disorderly crowds of farmers, amounting sometimes 
to 75 or 100 men, and eventually to many more, summoned 
together by the blowing of horns when any one learned that 
the "patroon's men" were out serving writs. They called the 
patroon's men " scoundrels," " traitors," " villains," blocked the 
roads, threatening and shaking their fists in the faces of the 
officers, seizing their horses' bridles and turning them back, 
setting tar barrels afire in the middle of the road, and for a 
long time effectually preventing any legal service. The sheriff, 
Michael Archer, who was a determined man, swore in a posse 
of 500 men early in the morning of December 2, set out from 
Albany with his somewhat motley company, all unarmed, for 
the hills, only to be met by still larger crowds mostly mounted 
and armed with clubs, who filled the roads, peremptorily for- 


bade them to pass or to serve their writs, and made it impossible 
for them to proceed. The sheriff hastened back to Albany, made 
his way to Governor Seward, although it was eight o'clock at 
night, and demanded military support. The governor was in a 
difficult position. He had long been opposed to the leasehold 
system, yet his duty to suppress disorder was clear. He secured 
corroboration of the sheriff's account of conditions, took advice 
from his staff, advised the sheriff to secure warrants of arrest 
for those who had opposed him both from the supreme court 
for their contempt in resisting its writs and from a justice 
of the peace for their disorder, and promised his adequate sup- 
port in making the arrests. 

The sheriff was given the uniformed and armed military 
corps of the city of Albany and military companies from New 
York City and from other counties were ordered to be in readi- 
ness. This was a more serious effort than the civilian posse and, 
although as they approached the district they met great num- 
bers of the local populace, many on horseback, armed with clubs 
and defiant in their attitude, they suffered no interference in 
their march beyond the discomforts of a bitter snowstorm and 
difficulty in obtaining any accommodations from hostile tavern 
keepers and householders, whose rooms, barns, and sheds were 
already occupied by the gathering farmers. The sheriff, con- 
vinced that he would be attacked if he undertook to make ar- 
rests, sent further appeals to the governor. Governor Seward 
now called several militia companies to Albany, provided them 
with two field pieces, put them at the disposal of the sheriff, 
and ordered him to proceed with the arrests and seizures of 
property against which he had attachments. At the same time, 
the governor issued a grave proclamation to the people of the 
county, calling their attention to the seriousness of their action 
and urging them to allow the officers to perform their duty. 
This combination of a show of armed force and appeal to their 


orderliness sobered the rioters, who were, after all, only the 
plain farming population of the county. The sheriff's officers 
were allowed to make arrests, levy on property and clear barns 
and sheds of the crowds, so that they could secure protection for 

Some men of local influence quietly communicated with the 
governor at Albany, assuring him there would be no further 
resistance or disorder if the militia were removed, and after a 
week's service they trudged the twelve miles back to Albany 
through deep snow, and were met and thanked for their services 
by the governor. The authority of settled government had, for 
the time, been successfully asserted. The expenses of the militia 
for transportation, board, lodging, and supplies was $5,316.07. 
Even a show of military force comes high. 

The next month, January, 1840, the governor, who had 
shown great discretion in his annual message, and again in March, 
in answer to resolutions of inquiry from the Senate, gave an 
account of the disturbances and his action concerning them, 
and at the same time recommended that some legislative action 
be taken to " assimilate the tenures in question to those which 
experience has proved to be more accordant with the principles 
of republican government and more conducive to the general 
prosperity and the peace and harmony of society." At the same 
time, a flood of petitions to the same effect came from groups 
of tenants in the lately disturbed districts. These popular peti- 
tions to the legislature were a characteristic part of the whole 
movement. In one year, the petitions bore the signatures of 
some 25,000 persons and came from fifteen counties. In answer 
to these recommendations and petitions, the legislature provided 
for the appointment of a commission to try to settle the diffi- 
culties. These commissioners had interviews with Van Rens- 
selaer and the tenants, and succeeded in bringing about a meet- 
ing attended by two delegates from the inhabitants of each of 


seven towns of the county and a representative of the land- 
lord. The latter, after explaining that the proposal was merely 
a matter of expediency on the part of Mr. Van Rensselaer to 
allay excitement, not an acknowledgment of the justice of the 
claims of the tenants, offered to dispose of all his rights to any 
farm for a payment of $4 per acre; or to cancel old rent in 
wheat, fowls and service on a farm formerly paying 22 bushels 
of wheat for a money rent of $30 a year, and to release quarter 
sales for $2 a year in addition. On the other hand, all arrears 
must be paid, with interest from the date of the death of the 
late proprietor, with the exception of sufferers from misfortune 
as defined in the will. These terms did not satisfy the tenants 
and their counter proposals of about half the price for farms 
sold and two-thirds the rent offered by the landlord, with some 
concession in arrears, did not satisfy the landlord; the negotia- 
tion therefore failed and the commissioners and the legislature 
suspended any other immediate action. The "interposition of 
the legislature between private parties to a contract " was much 
criticized by sympathizers with the landlords and others who 
approached the question from a legal point of view. 

But both sides had acknowledged the desirability of some 
kind of compromise, such as either out-and-out purchase or the 
establishment of a settled rent. So far as the Van Rensselaer 
estates were concerned, through several years, with consider- 
able litigation, amid much protest and bitterness of feeling, 
this was gradually attained. Their inheritance brought little 
enrichment to the heirs of the old patroon. Stephen Van Rens- 
selaer, some years afterward, disposed of all his landed and 
manorial claims to two purchasers, at a price less than half the 
value computed at the time of his father's death; and William 
Van Rensselaer had to make an assignment to his creditors at 
an estimated value of less than a quarter of that at the time 
the estate was conveyed. Later, there was much petty specula- 


tion in these claims, some of them being bought up locally at 
a few cents on the dollar. So far as the farmers were concerned, 
a better general offer, while Stephen Van Rensselaer was still 
owner of his estates, brought a transfer of almost 100 former 
tenants into the class of owners. According to a much later 
census, there were but 690 farms held on lease in Albany 
County, including not only the old Van Rensselaer leases but 
those of much more varied origin arising in later times. This 
would indicate that the old system had given way to what is 
practically the average throughout the country. 

Trouble in Other Counties 

The troubles on the Van Rensselaer estates and the legisla- 
tive reaction to them had marked the years 1839, 1840 and 
1 841. Scarcely was their settlement in sight when similar con- 
ditions, and a similar rising tide of opposition to the old lease- 
hold system and its accompaniments, spread through much of 
the leasehold region in other counties south of Albany. This 
movement was much more highly organized. The same old re- 
sistance to the serving of writs of distress and ejectment, the 
same old cry of " Down Rent," the same use of the farm horn 
to rouse the countryside, the same summons to the militia to the 
aid of the civil officers, appeared. But in addition, there was 
the use of disguise, the formation of associations, the entrance 
into politics, the pressure for legal, and eventually for constitu- 
tional, change. We hear of an " antirent war," an " antirent 
party," an " antirent newspaper." The echoes are heard in news- 
papers as far away and as provincial as the Philadelphia Ledger 
from July 27 to November 10, 1844, which followed its events 
step by step. The questions raised filled New York newspapers, 
magazines, debates, pamphlets and even sermons for three or 
four years, and the courts for many more. 


The '' Indian " disguise is an instance of the perennial fond- 
ness of mankind for mummery and its use for self-protection, 
especially in backward communities where life is monotonous, 
and where political or social disapproval can be obviated only 
by secrecy. The " Indian " costume seems to have been usually 
a sheepskin thrown over the head, with holes cut for eyes, nose 
and mouth, sometimes tricked out with feathers, a horse's tail 
or cow's horns, the rest of the body covered with a woman's 
calico dress and a belt. It was a poor enough travesty of even 
the moderate picturesqueness of the red men who had once 
hunted through the same region, and may have had something 
to do with the intense dislike for the wearers shown by Cooper 
in Sataustoe, The Chainbearer and The Redskins. 

The use of disguise was naturally conducive to violence. 
The country was still enough of a frontier for every man to be 
provided with a rifle or shotgun, and farm horses were always 
available as mounts when any distance was to be traversed. One 
of the first times the " Indians " were mentioned was in Colum- 
bia County in the summer of 1 844, when several times the sheriff 
and his deputies were assaulted, their papers taken away and 
burned, and eventually two men murdered. In July of the same 
year, at another place, a hundred " Indians " seized the sheriff 
and his two deputies on their way to serve a writ, tarred and 
feathered the latter two, overpowered the small posse with the 
sheriff and turned them all back to Troy. In another case, the 
sheriff himself was smeared with tar, his trousers pulled up and 
his ankles tarred and feathered; he was then tied in his wagon 
and he and the deputies ordered to drive home. The burning of 
tar barrels along the road in that pine-growing country, as a 
warning against farther progress, in the earlier period, had been 
succeeded by the practice of tarring and feathering. Sheriff 
Henry C. Miller, of Columbia County, on December 12, 1844, 
was prevented from selling a tenant's farm in the town of 


Copake, so learning of a meeting of "Calico Indians" at a 
place called Smoky Hollow near Claverack in that county, he 
gathered up a posse and raided it six days later, too late for the 
main meeting but in time to capture " Big Thunder," Smith A. 
Boughton, "Little Thunder," Mortimer C. Belden, and some 
others, and to carry them off to the county jail at Hudson on 
suspicion of some connection with a recent murder. Threats 
were made to rescue them and, at the sheriff's request to guard 
the jail, the governor called out a body of militia and ordered 
others to hold themselves in readiness. On their trials, which 
created much excitement through Columbia County, the jury 
at first disagreed but later convicted them; "Big Thunder" 
was sentenced to imprisonment for life, and two others to a 
term of two years. There were many other instances of out- 
rages by men in disguise. Accordingly, Governor Wright in 
his first annual message on January 7, 1 845, while, like his prede- 
cessor, Seward, sympathetic with the ultimate objects of the 
farmers, recommended the passage of a law against disguises, 
and this recommendation was accepted by the Assembly. Two 
bills were passed, one giving the sheriff greater general powers 
in keeping order, the other punishing appearance in disguise 
with arms or for any unlawful object. The " Calico Indians " 
still appeared, however, from time to time. 

Disturbances in Delaware County 

Delaware County was at this time perhaps the most disorderly 
section of the whole disturbed region. After the passage of the 
act against disguises, there were several encounters between the 
sheriff and parties of Indians, in one of which, when the sheriff 
was especially strongly supported, he attacked a party of over 
a hundred, all in Indian costume, and captured twelve of them, 
one of whom proved to be the town constable. There were 


many threats of rescue of the prisoners, blowing of horns and 
firing of shots on the mountain opposite the county jail where 
they were imprisoned, and the militia were again called out to 
prevent possible attack. Four prisoners of this group were 
eventually tried, convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary 
for two years. 

Much local feeling was by this time growing up in opposition 
to the riotous element, especially in the towns. This was intensi- 
fied by an unfortunate encounter that occurred in the county 
of Delaware a year later than the events just described. In 
August, 1845, the sheriff with two deputies, one of whom, 
Steele, had been particularly active in all the difficulties, and 
with a warrant of distress sworn out by the agent of the owner, 
Charlotte D. Verplanck, to seize property on a certain farm in 
the town of Andes to the value of $64 arrears of rent, tried 
to attach some cattle and hold a sale. No bidders appeared, 
but a body of 200 men, disguised and armed, soon came up and 
formed themselves into a semicircle facing the sheriff and his 
two deputies on horseback. As the officers were about to proceed 
with the sale, the leader of the Indians gave the command 
"Shoot the horses! Shoot the horses!" Two successive volleys 
were fired, two of the horses fell dead and Steele dropped to the 
ground with three balls through his body and died some hours 
later in the farmhouse into which he had been carried by his 

This deplorable occurrence led to the greatest excitement. 
Governor Wright immediately proclaimed the county of Dela- 
ware in a state of insurrection, called 300 militia from various 
regiments into service, ordered the adjutant general to take 
command and, no resistance showing itself, the civil officers 
proceeded to make a large number of arrests. The trials were 
held in September, 1845, and sixty men in all were convicted 
of various offenses and given sentences ranging from fines of 


$20 to imprisonment at hard labor for periods of two years and 
more; in the case of two men convicted of murder and sentenced 
to be hanged, the sentence later was commuted to imprisonment 
for life. This brought the violence, though not the agitation, to 
an end. Popular songs or doggerel are seldom poetic, but always 
interesting and doubtless representative of the time. One might 
cite as an example " Sweet Jeannette," a ballad sung widely 
through two counties narrating misfortunes which had befallen 
the bride of a convicted rioter. But lines like 

Steele is dead and gone to hell 

And Warren Scudder is in a dangerous cell 

represent a dying cause. The antirenters themselves had been 
turning against disorderly action, and the murder of Steele 
marked its end. The use of disguise gradually died out, there was 
no more resistance to legal action and, by the close of the year 
1845, the "antirent war," so far as it was a violent movement, 
was over. 

Distinguishable from those disorders, though probably not 
always entirely unconnected with them, was the formation of 
antirent secret societies. They were first heard of in Columbia 
and Delaware Counties, in 1844. They spread rapidly and were 
bound together by a loose bond. In some places, they included 
practically the whole population, and wherever they were 
formed, which was of course in the old leasehold districts, they 
included many substantial and moderate men. Many men who 
were not themselves directly affected by the leasehold system, 
yet either because of sympathy with those subjected to it, from 
desire to see it remedied, or from the opportunity the societies 
offered of attaining prominence, became active in this move- 
ment. The custom arose of members paying an assessment, usu- 
ally two cents an acre on their lands, to form a fund for expenses 
of the association and for propaganda. They established in Dela- 


ware County a newpaper called The Voice of the 'People to serve 
as their organ. 

They soon entered pohtics, both locally and in state elections. 
They were sufficiently well organized to require candidates to 
state their attitude to the questions of landholding in which they 
were interested, and thus practically controlled the elections in 
seven counties, and guaranteed membership in the next Assem- 
bly of a considerable number of men pledged to vote for their 

Their political ambitions rose and in January, 1845, they held 
a state convention of antirent associations at Berne, in Albany 
County, the birthplace of the whole organized antirent move- 
ment. Eleven counties, the whole southeastern portion of the 
state, were represented. They passed resolutions deprecating the 
prevalent disorders, but upholding the cause of reform in land 
tenure, and in February appointed a committee to carry peti- 
tions to the legislature at Albany, and to remain there as long 
as there was a prospect of anything being accomplished. 

Before tracing the effects of the agitation on legislation and 
its ultimate influence on the adoption and provisions of the con- 
stitution of 1846, it is necessary to stop for a moment to follow 
the question as it appeared in the courts. There were, of course, 
a multitude of special suits involving the validity of leases or the 
responsibility of the tenant-owner for the stipulated payments 
or the right of ejectment by the landlord. These were prac- 
tically all decided in favor of the grantor, who was usually the 
plaintiff. The disorders that have been described occurred most 
frequently when writs of ejectment, distraint or eviction were 
authorized by the court. Refusal to carry out a signed agree- 
ment to make certain payments or to conform to certain con- 
ditions can hardly be permitted by a court, though there were 
suggestions that the agreements were against public policy and 
should not therefore be enforced. But the courts did not take 


this view. There was also some effort to declare invalid at least 
some of the landlords' titles. But a tenant could not make this 
plea, because he had already acknowledged the grantor's title 
by agreeing to hold from him. Even if the holder of the land 
were construed, as apologists for the system declared, to be an 
owner, holding in fee simple, and subject only to certain agree- 
ments of purchase or possible return to the grantor, his title had 
nevertheless been acknowledged. Appeals were made to the 
state legal authorities to bring suit to test the validity of the 
landlords' titles, and one of the results of the agitation was to 
bring about a joint resolution of the two houses of the legis- 
lature, ordering the attorney general of the state to bring such 
suits. In 1 849, he brought eleven suits for the recovery of land 
lying in four counties. Two years later, the supreme court gave 
a decision favorable to the state, but this was reversed by the 
court of appeals under the statute of limitations, and the titles 
of most of the great proprietors, whether individual or corpo- 
rate, remained inviolate till they lost their importance by the 
attrition of voluntary sales, or perhaps in some cases they may 
still remain. There was much difference of opinion among law- 
yers as to the correctness of the decision of the courts on these 
questions. Indeed one writer, unusually familiar with consti- 
tutional and legal history, questions whether the law quia emp- 
tores perhaps did not bring all holders of leasehold lands 
immediately under the state, and render payments due to the 
crown or the state government, not to the grantor; but the 
judges did not generally share the tendency of the legislators to 
stretch precedent in favor of social advantage, and cases were 
generally decided on a narrow legalistic basis. 

One decision, however, was of a distinctly liberal nature. This 
was in the De Peyster case. It declared the illegality of the 
''quarter sales." A law had been passed, in 1787, abolishing 
feudal tenures. The court of appeals now decided a condition 


in leases in perpetuity requiring a payment on alienation was a 
restraint upon such an alienation and therefore feudal in char- 
acter and consequently illegal. This diminished the value of the 
interest of proprietors in their leasehold lands, and did its part 
in bringing about those more amicable settlements which closed 
the majority of leasehold accounts. 

Call for a Constitutional Convention 

It was not in the courts, however, but in the legislature and 
in a constitutional convention that the fundamental questions 
brought up in the agitation were to be settled. For it v/as the 
antirent agitation that gave the final push to the pressure for 
the calling of a constitutional convention and the adoption of 
the constitution of 1846. 

The first constitution of the state, adopted in 1777, made 
no provision for either its amendment or replacement, and both 
the convention of 1801, relative to the governor's powers in the 
Council of Appointment, and the adoption of a new constitu- 
tion in 1 82 1 had been by an exercise of the power of the people 
to do whatever they felt to be for their good. The legislature 
suggested and made plans for the meeting of a convention, and 
the document it drew up was accepted at a popular election. 
The constitution of 1821, however, made provision for its own 
amendment, by a process of adoption of changes by two meet- 
ings of the legislature and approval at a regular election. It 
might seem, therefore, and indeed it was strenuously contended 
at this time, that any changes felt to be needed in the funda- 
mental law could be made only in this way. 

Attempts were made in the legislature, every year from 1841 
to 1846, to place such amendments before the people, but they 
failed in every case but one. The air was full of desire for change. 
Restriction of the power of the legislature to create state debts 


without the special approval of the people, more popular elec- 
tions, reorganization of the judiciary, and, after 1844, some re- 
form of land tenures, were only the most conspicuous proposals 
for changes which it was felt by their advocates must be placed 
in the constitution if they were to be effective. These and others 
were proposed in successive legislatures, in some cases reaching 
that body with the recommendation of the governor. In 1844, 
this had become so frequent an occurrence that it was proposed 
to make a new standing committee on amendments to the con- 
stitution. This, however, was defeated in one of the frequent 
party conflicts in the house, and instead a select committee was 
appointed in each case of a governor's recommendation or a 
member's motion for a constitutional amendment. In fact, in 
1844, six non-contentious amendments were referred to this 
committee, recommended by it, passed by the two houses and 
approved at a general election. Four of these, however, were 
defeated on their second presentation in the Assembly. It is 
characteristic of the democratic tendencies of the time that the 
two amendments which went through without contest, by 
general acceptance, were one to remove the property qualifica- 
tion for holding office, another to forbid the removal of judges 
without cause given. In cases of a more contentious nature, 
however, partisanship, delay, differences between the two houses, 
and conservative fear stood in the way of the entrance of 
amendments upon their road to adoption. The session of 1844 
was largely given up to disputes on two proposed amendments 
to the constitution. Though they were not of party signifi- 
cance, neither party was sufficiently homogeneous or sufficiently 
free from fear of consequences to force through either of the 

The impression gradually grew, especially outside of the 
legislature, that the process of gradual amendment by initiation 
in the legislature was hopeless, and that it would be necessary to 


summon a convention for the formation of an entirely new 
constitution. A call for a meeting on the subject was issued in 
November, 1843, by some liberal and prominent citizens of 
Albany. It met on November 21. Among its resolutions was 
the following: 

Resolved. That we believe the constitution of this state needs revision 
and vital and elemental modifications, both in the extent of the power 
to be delegated by the people and in the manner of its administra- 
tion. . . . Resolved. That we seek these changes through the agency 
of a convention, constituted by law, and representing the whole 
people, etc. 

This was, of course, a purely voluntary proceeding, but among 
the speakers were prominent politicians, and echoes of the meet- 
ing were soon heard in the legislature. Solomon S. Hall, a Whig 
member from Chenango County, tried to induce the legislature 
to initiate a constitutional amendment for a division of the 
state into single elective districts. The select committee on 
amendments, to which it was referred, declined to report it 
out. Mr. Hall then introduced a bill submitting to the people 
the question of holding a constitutional convention. This was 
similarly pigeonholed by the amendments committee, although 
it was known that the governor himself was in favor of the 
proposal. An unsuccessful effort was then made to force the 
committee to report out the bill, with or without favorable 
recommendation. Later, a similar bill, introduced by a member 
representing the opposite party, was more successful, receiving 
a first-reading vote of 58 to 46, but the session closed without 
its passage. As a matter of fact, the radicals of both parties 
wanted a convention, while the conservatives of both feared it. 
Nevertheless, after the close of the session, thirty Whig mem- 
bers signed an address to the people claiming the calling of a 
constitutional convention as one of the objects of that party. 


The later months of 1844 and the period covered by the 
legislative session of 1845 saw added to the pressure for a con- 
stitutional convention the antirent agitation, which now for the 
first time became a political force. The antirent associations ap- 
peared, as already described, in the November elections of 1844, 
throwing their vote, as a political party, in favor of whichever 
candidate was most favorable to their cause. In this way, they 
controlled the choice of assemblymen in seven counties. One 
member of the Whig party, Ira Harris of Albany, was absent in 
the West at the time, but was favored by the antirenters because 
of his reputation for liberalism, and placed on their ticket with- 
out his knowledge. He was elected, and in the legislative sessions 
of 1845 and 1846 and in the constitutional convention of 1846 
was one of their staunchest and most influential friends. Michael 
Hoffman, of Herkimer County, who had spoken at the conven- 
tion meeting in Albany, was elected to the Assembly by the 
antirenters' interest, as he was later to the convention. Though 
far from a majority, yet the members of the legislature pledged 
to the reform of land tenure through a constitutional conven- 
tion were sufficiently numerous to strengthen materially the 
convention sentiment already existing. 

The legislature which gathered at Albany in January, 1845, 
was therefore under two strong influences: first, exasperation 
at the recent outrages by the disorderly element among the anti- 
renters; and second, a rising demand for the meeting of a con- 
stitutional convention at which their legitimate demands, as 
well as other current desires for reform, could be considered 
and, if possible, settled once for all. The former received, natu- 
rally, first consideration. Governor Silas Wright, an enlight- 
ened and liberal, but independent and determined man, in his 
message gave, as other governors before him had given, a sym- 
pathetic statement of the grievances of the antirenters, and a 
thoughtful criticism of the leasehold system. He followed this, 


however, with a bitter denunciation of their violation of the law, 
their attacks on sheriffs and other officers, and their practice of 
using disguises. He refused to consider an amelioration of the 
system while the outrages continued, and recommended laws 
against disguises and the strengthening of the hands of sheriffs, 
the passage of which - as well as their ineffectiveness in putting 
an end to riots — has already been described. Governor Wright 
did not favor a constitutional convention, believing that all 
necessary changes could be made by amendment, or by legisla- 
tive enactment. 

Notwithstanding the objections of the governor and not- 
withstanding the continuance of lawlessness in Delaware and 
Schoharie Counties and indeed in other counties, a bill was soon 
introduced by a radical member of the majority party, as in the 
previous year, calling for the election of delegates to a constitu- 
tional convention. There was a long struggle; the debates were 
made the occasion for much discussion of fundamental princi- 
ples of government, as well as for party pleading and personal 
recrimination. The bill was referred to the usual special com- 
mittee on amendments to the constitution, a majority of which 
was, as usual, opposed to the holding of a convention, on the 
familiar grounds: fear of injury to the dominant party, and 
the danger of radicalism. The committee refused to report it 
until, after several caucuses of the majority, the long debates 
referred to above and some shrewd political dealing, most of its 
old opponents reluctantly yielded, and the bill was ordered out 
of the committee and carried in the Assembly by a vote of 83 
to 33 and in the Senate by 1 8 to 14. It was approved at the regu- 
lar election of November, 1 84 j, by a popular majority of almost 
200,000. There was no doubt that the mass of the people felt 
that the state was ready for a new constitution. 

Before the legislature met again, the antirent disorders had 
reached their culmination, the tragic events in Delaware County 


had occurred, and the perpetrators of that crime had been sent 
to prison. On December 18, the governor issued a proclamation 
declaring that the insurrection had been repressed and order 
restored, withdrawing his former proclamation and discharging 
the militia. From this time forward, efforts for the removal of 
the evils of the leasehold system took on almost the appearance 
of a race between the passage of laws for the alleviation of lease- 
hold abuses in the legislature, and prohibitions of undesirable 
forms of tenure for the future in the new constitution. At the 
same time, private negotiations for better relations between 
the landlords and the tenants were in progress; and although, 
as already stated, this was slow and inconspicuous in its working, 
it was the principal route from the old restrictions to general 
complete ownership. So far as legislation was concerned. Gov- 
ernor Wright recommended at the next meeting of the legisla- 
ture the passage of three appropriate measures: the abolition of 
distress for rent in all new leases; the restriction of the length of 
all leases of agricultural land to a period not longer than five or 
ten years; and the taxing of all income derived from rent. These 
laws were passed early in 1846. 

The Constitutional Convention of 1846 

Members of the convention had been chosen at a special elec- 
tion in April and met on the first day of June, 1846, at Albany. 
There were the same number of delegates as in the Assembly, 
128. It was a competent group of men, elected on party tickets, 
but with recognition of the necessity for ability and high stand- 
ing in the community if its labors were to win acceptance. The 
majority were of course Democrats of one or the other faction, 
the minority, Whigs; 11 drawn from both these parties were 
claimed as distinctive antirenters, either on their former record 
or because of the influence of that party on their election. Yet as 


no patronage was at the disposal of the convention and as the 
questions involved were not party questions, but little partisan- 
ship was likely to show itself, as was indeed markedly the case. 
It was largely a group of lawyers, 45, somewhat more than a 
third, being members of the bar. On the other hand, it con- 
tained 43 farmers, 8 physicians, and a scattering of business 
men and mechanics. Among the more conspicuous members 
were former Governor Bouck; Samuel J. Tilden, just beginning 
his famous political career; Ira Harris, the Albany lawyer espe- 
cially chosen by the antirenters; C. C. Cambreleng, a member 
of Congress and former United States minister to Russia; Judge 
Ruggles, of the state supreme court; Judge Nelson, recently 
appointed to the United States Supreme Court. But on the 
whole, the convention was made up of plain men, some of the 
more brilliant men of the time, Seward, Greeley, Weed, Marcy, 
Van Buren and others being, for one reason or another, not 
chosen. The drawing up of a political constitution, intended 
to endure permanently or for a long period and to serve as a 
basis and standard for political life, is perhaps the most dignified 
service which free men can perform, and bodies chosen to per- 
form this duty have in almost all cases risen to the requirements 
of their task. In this convention, discussions were in the main 
thoughtful and deliberate, committees were industrious, and 
decisions were reached in almost all cases by good majorities, 
sometimes so large as to approach unanimity. One of the first 
actions of the convention was an effort to supply itself with 
copies of the earlier constitutions of New York State, and 
other state constitutions, including those recently framed, and 
the Constitution of the United States. 

It is true there was, especially in the early days of the conven- 
tion, a good deal of mere speech-making and instances of old- 
fashioned eloquence, even of bathos, such as the warning at the 
close of a long speech, " Let those gentlemen who mounted the 


dappled hobby to run the race of popularity, take care lest they 
receive a fall," or the description of the leasehold tenants as 
" groaning under the chains forged by this blistering system," 
or the charge against a handsome member that he wanted to 
change his seat so that he might be more easily seen by the ladies 
in the gallery; and there was as usual much contention over 
points of small distinction, about which their constituents prob- 
ably cared little. It could hardly be expected that the 1,124 pages 
of fine print in which the proceedings of the convention are 
recorded should all be filled with words of wisdom. But, in the 
main, the debates and their conclusions were sensible enough. 
The sessions continued from June i to October 9, just short of 
five months of continuous labor. 

On the second day of meeting, two questions were brought up 
incidentally that indicated two of the main preoccupations of 
the convention — a change in the organization of the judiciary, 
and the appointments by the governor and the Senate. In addi- 
tion to these were three other main subjects of constitutional in- 
terest-representation, finance, and land. Each was the subject 
of committee reference, report and general discussion. The final 
action alone can be stated here. The reorganization of the judicial 
system of the state was recommended in an elaborate report of 
a strong committee, of which Judge Ruggles was the chairman. 
As might have been expected in a group of lawyers whose ex- 
periences had led them to different plans of reform, there was 
much difference of opinion and several minority reports. That 
of the majority was, however, accepted, with slight changes. 

It made four important provisions, largely new. All judges 
were to be elected by the people, like other officers, and no 
longer appointed by governor and Senate. Cases in law and 
equity were to be settled by the same courts, not separate courts 
as before. There were to be thirty-two judges of a supreme 
court, sitting in eight judicial districts. There was to be a 


court of appeals consisting of eight judges, four of them chosen 
directly, four selected from the supreme court justices. The 
Senate no longer should have appellate jurisdiction as the court 
for the correction of errors. There was to be one local judge in 
each county. No judicial officers, except justices of the peace, 
could receive any fees. 

Election instead of appointment of judges was typical of the 
general action. All officers, state and local, with the fewest ex- 
ceptions, were now to be chosen by popular election. It was the 
" people's constitution " and the intention was to extend popu- 
lar control as far as was in any way possible. The grandiose 
project of the Erie Canal, with all its implications, had largely 
dominated legislation, administration, politics and finances for 
a whole generation, and the adoption of a new constitution had 
necessarily to take cognizance of it. It was therefore so linked 
with the general finances of the state as to preclude excessive 
legislative grants and to provide for the payment of state debts 
so as, in the words of the chairman of the committee, Michael 
Hoffman, quite unaware of the foreign derelictions of a distant 
future, " to remove from representative government the re- 
proaches cast upon us on the other side of the water." 

" Representative government," so far as New York was con- 
cerned, was to be more representative than in the past. Senators 
and Assemblymen were to be elected each for his own single 
district, Senators for two years only. Assemblymen for one year. 
Suffrage was to be universal for white men above twenty-one 
years of age; the question of extending the suffrage to all 
Negroes was referred to the people to be decided by a special 
subsequent vote, by which, it may be said, it was denied them. 

The question of land tenures was not brought up till within 
a week of the close of the convention. This was not so much 
that it was either feared or disregarded as that it had ceased to 
be a contentious question. The legal decisions that had been 


given, the adverse laws that had been passed, the disintegration 
of the leasehold system under the influence of general criticism 
and disapproval and of abundant opportunity to obtain land 
on more favorable terms, had left the question one of minor 
significance. When a series of resolutions tending to prevent its 
extension or reestablishment was introduced by the chairman of 
the committee that had been appointed " On the creation and 
division of estates in lands," some delegates argued that these 
were unnecessary and that they might interfere with town 
leases; but none had a word to say in favor of the old tenures or 
of the social system of which they were a part. After some 
amendments, the proposed clauses were adopted and appear as 
sections eleven to fifteen of Article I, the " Bill of Rights " of 
the constitution. 

All lands in the state were allodial, the constitution now 
stated, the absolute property of their owners, except that the 
state has an ultimate right of escheat in case of failure of heirs. 
All feudal tenures of every description, with all their incidents, 
are abolished, except for rents and services already lawfully 
created or reserved. No lease of agricultural ground hereafter, 
made for a longer period than twelve years, in which any rent 
or service is reserved will be valid. All fines, quarter sales or other 
restraints on alienation in leases hereafter made shall be void. 
Then there are certain clauses forbidding purchases from In- 
dians and declaring invalid any grants in the state made by the 
king of England since October 14, 1775. Notwithstanding 
some debate and protest from lawyers, the land clauses of the 
constitution were carried by large majorities. They do not seem 
very significant. They prohibited action for the future, they 
did not invalidate any agreements made in the past; they indi- 
cated that the leasehold system had passed or was passing away, 
rather than themselves helping seriously to bring about its de- 
struction. Nevertheless, they were evidently a satisfaction to 


the antirenters. Their representatives in the convention argued 
and pleaded for their passage, and ehcited judgments condem- 
natory of the leasehold system, even from those who doubted 
the propriety of including these provisions in the new consti- 
tution. The real significance of the antirent agitation for the 
constitutional history of the state is to be found in the added 
pressure it furnished for holding the convention, rather than in 
the influence it exerted on its course of action. 

The constitution made provision for its own easy amend- 
ment, and also provided that every twenty years the people 
should vote on the question of whether they wished a conven- 
tion to be called to draw up a new constitution, to be submitted 
to popular vote. The new constitution declared inviolate the 
funds already established for the support of the common and 
higher schools; it provided a method for granting incorporation 
under general law, to obviate the scandals formerly arising from 
private grants; it took steps "to render the business of bank- 
ing more safe and responsible." Finally it provided for a vote of 
approval or disapproval of its labors by the people, and, in 
anticipation of that vote, on the last day of its sitting issued a 
list of its achievements and an appeal for their acceptance. This 
acceptance was given in the election of November 3, 1846, by a 
favorable vote of 221,528 to 92,436. The constitution of 1846 
made many alterations in the old system; few essential changes 
have been made since. 

Select Bibliography 

Albany Argus. A very influential Democratic newspaper. 

Albany Evening Journal. The organ of the Whig party, edited by Thurlow 

Albany Freeholder. An antirent weekly issued from 1845 to 1854. All copies 

of this journal, so far as known, are now lost. It was used in contempo- 


rary general accounts and by Cheyney and Murray before the file in the 

State Library was destroyed by the fire of 191 1. 
Alexander, D. S., A Political History of the State of New York. 3 vols. 

(New York, 1906-9). A good modern account of the political aspects 

of the antirent controversy and of the work of the Constitutional Con- 
vention of 1846. 
Anti-Keuter. A weekly which began publication at Albany in 1845; 12 num- 
bers from the years 1845 and 1846 are in the State Library. 
Barnard, D. D., The Anti-Rent Movement and Outbreak in New York. 

American Whig Review (Dec, 1845), H, 577-98. Reprinted. Strongly 

opposed to the antirent agitation. 
Discourse on the Life, Services and Character of Stephen Van Rensselaer 

(Albany, 1839). 
Bishop, W. G., and W. H. Attree, Report of the Debates and Proceedings of 

the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State of New 

York (Albany, 1846). 
Chester, Alden, Courts and Lawyers of New York. 3 vols. (New York, 

Cheyney, E. P., Anti-Rent Agitation in the State of New York, 1 839-1 846 

(Philadelphia, 1887). The first study of the movement from a historical 

Colvin, A. J., and Anson Bingham, Slavery, or Involuntary Servitude: Does 

It Legally Exist in the State of New York? (Albany, 1864). 
Cooper, J. F., The Redskins, or Indian and Injin (New York, 1845). A novel 

dealing with the antirent situation. The lengthy preface by Cooper is 

an argument against the antirenters. 
Croswell, S., and R. Sutton, Debates and Proceedings in the New York State 

Convention for the Revision of the Constitution (Albany, 1846). A 

full account. 
Delaware Gazette. A weekly published at Delhi covering the entire antirent 

period. Only a few odd numbers and series are known to survive. 
Ellis, Franklin, History of Columbia County, New York (Philadelphia, 

1878). Gives a picture of the outbreaks in that region. 
Fox, D. R., The Decline of Aristocracy in the Politics of New York (New 

York, 19 19). Although this work does not cover the period of this 

chapter, it gives much of the setting for its events. 
Gould, Jay, History of Delaware County (Roxbury, N. Y., 1856). An old 

work but still of value. 


Hammond, J. D., A Political History of the State of New York. 3 vols, 

(Syracuse, 1852). Volume III covers the period 1841-47 and includes 

a life of Silas Wright. The author was a contemporary of the events of 

which he writes. 
Harrington, H. F., The Responsibleness of American Citizenship: a Sermon 

Preached on Occasion of the Anti-Rent Disturbances, December 22, 

1844 (Albany, 1845). 
Hayner, Rutherford, Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, A History 

(New York, 1925). Refers to the troubles in Rensselaer County. 
Howell, G. R., and Jonathan Tenney, History of the County of Albany, 

1 609-1 8 86 (New York, 1886). Good on the Helderberg War, and has 

a section, pages 277—85, on antirentism in Albany County, by Andrew 

J. Colvin. 
Jenkins, J. S., History of Political Parties in the State of New York (Auburn, 

1846). Presents the political results. 
Life of Silas Wright (Auburn, 1847) . Gives Governor Wright's attitude 

and acts. 
Lincoln, C. Z., Messages from the Governors. 11 vols. (Albany, 1909). 

Discussion of the antirent troubles and the constitution of 1846 in the 

messages of Governors Bouck, Seward, Wright and Young. 
McMaster, J. B., History of the People of the United States (New York, 

18 83-1913). Volume VII, Chapter LXXIV, is a suggestive account of 

constitution making in the forties. 
Mayham, A. C, The Anti-Rent War on Blenheim Hill, an Episode of the 

40's (Jeflferson, N. Y., 1906). Detailed history of events in one district 

of Schoharie County. 
Murray, David, The Antirent Episode in the State of New York. American 

Historical Association, Report for 1896, 1, 139-73 (Washington, 1897). 

An excellent modern account with much information from contempo- 
rary and private sources. 
New York (state). Assembly Documents, 1835: 83; 1840: ()j\ 1842: -/(>', 

1846: 92, 107, 115, 135; 1850: 26, 84; 1851: 9, 27, <)(,. 

Laws, 1845, 1846. 

Senate Documents, 1840: 175, 271; 1844: 183, 189; 1845: 22, 247; 

1846: 12, 156, 157, 225; 1847: 162, 261, 263; 1850: 80; 1851: 132, 

133, 139; 1852: 92; 1853: 59; 1855: 87. 
New York Reports [opinions of the court of appeals]: IX, 291, 301; XXVI, 

580; XXXV, 393; LXV, 28. 


Niven, A. C, A Chapter of Anti-Rent History. Albany Law Journal ( 1 8 8 i ) , 
XXIV, 125-27. 

Pepper, Calvin, Manor of Rcnsselaerwyck; published by the Albany and 
Rensselaer antirent associations (Albany, 1846). 

Philadelphia Public Ledger, 1844. 

Rosendale, S. W., Closing Phases of the Manorial System in Albany. Proceed- 
ings of the New York State Historical Association, VIII, 2 3 4-4 5 (1909). 
Excellent presentation, though a somewhat narrow interpretation of the 
legal side of the leases; cites numerous decisions. Author was attorney 
general of the state of New York and connected with the liquidation of 
the Rensselaerswyck estate. 

Tilden, S. J., Report of the Select Committee [of the Assembly, on the anti- 
rent difficulties]. Assembly Document, 1846, 156. A report based on 
a careful study of the history and the equity of the land system. 


James G. Riggs 

Former Principal of the Osivego 
State Normal School 

Ralph M. Faust 

Principal of Kingsford Park School 


Evolution of State Boundaries 

/" If ^HE natural advantages of New York State, which 
I marked this commonwealth for greatness as the abode 

)\ of a resourceful and self-reliant people, have been set 
forth in previous chapters where the trends during the colonial 
and early statehood periods have been discussed. The purpose 
of this chapter is to explain how the inhabitants of this region, 
by utilizing the favorable contributions of geography and 
climate and by exercising their capacity for human progress, 
gradually developed a social, cultural and economic organiza- 
tion deserving the designation of the Empire State. To sum- 
marize the tendencies and patterns which reveal the evolution 
of the primacy of New York State from the conclusion of the 
Revolution to the middle of the nineteenth century, it has 
seemed desirable to reinterpret in general terms the ground 
covered in Volumes V and VI. This explanation will be preceded 
by an account of the manner in which New York's physical 
extent was fashioned. 

The determination of the boundaries of this state was not an 
accident, but was due in part to limitations set by rivers, large 
lakes and the ocean, and in part to certain historical influences. 
The present boundaries, covering 1,245 miles, are derived from 
the Dutch claims, the English grant to the Duke of York, the 
submission of the Iroquois to the English crown, the defeat of 
the French in 1763 and the recognition of independence in 1783. 
The designation of definite lines involved factors of geographic 
and historical importance, and resulted from a series of com- 
promises of conflicting claims. 

The States General in Holland, in 1614, set forth a claim to 
a vast tract of North America called New Netherland, extend- 


ing from the forty-fifth down to the fortieth degree, " between 
New France and Virginia." New England settlements soon 
pushed the eastern boundary of New Netherland back to the 
Connecticut River, so that in 1656 Van der Donck described 
the boundaries as Virginia, the Atlantic, the Fresh River and 
the Saint Lawrence. 

The region granted to the Duke of York in 1664 embraced 
all the mainland from the Connecticut to Delaware Bay, to- 
gether with a large part of Maine and certain islands. The duke 
in turn granted what is now New Jersey to Lord John Berkeley 
and Sir George Carteret. Connecticut relinquished to the duke 
all claim to Long Island, but at the same time contended that 
New York's eastern boundary on the coast ended " about twelve 
miles east of Westchester." In 1664 the line was fixed from the 
mouth of the Mamaroneck River northward to the Massa- 
chusetts line. In the organization of counties in 1683, while 
Dutchess extended "eastward into the woods twenty miles," 
Westchester and Albany Counties' eastern boundaries were un- 
defined. This same year commissioners of New York and Con- 
necticut agreed that the interprovincial line should run ap- 
proximately as it does today -it was more clearly defined in 
1 700 -and the king confirmed the arrangement. For conceding 
to Connecticut a rectangular strip along the Sound west of the 
line, New York was to receive as compensation the " Oblong " 
of 64,440 acres to the northward. Between 171 8 and 173 1, 
surveyors proceeded to designate the boundary, which remained 
undisturbed until 1855, when a controversy arose over a strip 
of 2,600 acres which after much bickering was finally settled in 

Meanwhile, in 1691, a second charter to Massachusetts Bay 
extended its bounds westward as far as those of Connecticut. 
Seven years before, the English court of chancery had adjudged 
the first Massachusetts charter void, and in 1685 James II had 


extended the patent of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck twenty- 
four miles east and west of the Hudson. Westenhook, granted 
in 1705, reached thirty miles east of the Hudson and the grant 
of Hoosick ran even farther to the east. Massachusetts, in 
1719, appointed three commissioners to join with New York 
representatives to determine the line, but New York refused 
to act and the disputed line continued. Not until 1754 did 
New York name commissioners to negotiate with Massachusetts 
delegates, and they were instructed to insist at first upon the 
Connecticut River as New York's eastern boundary. If that 
failed, they were to compromise on some line eastward of all 
New York grants. As a last resort, a " temporary line " might 
be proposed. But failing to agree, Massachusetts proposed arbi- 
tration, while New York offered a line that cut through the 
Westenhook patent, and negotiations were deadlocked until 
the Lords of Trade, in 1757, proposed as a compromise a line 
running northward from the western boundary of Connecticut. 
A sort of border warfare arose between the Livingstons and en- 
croachers from Massachusetts, but ten years later New York 
consented to have such a line surveyed. The matter was not 
settled, however, until 1786 when United States commissioners 
designated the line. Governor Clinton, in 1788, announced that 
the long dispute had been adjusted. 

Relying on the grant to the Duke of York in 1664, New 
York claimed the Connecticut as the boundary between its ter- 
ritory and New Hampshire. This claim seemed to be upheld a 
century later by an Order in Council, and by the organization 
of Cumberland County in 1766 and of Gloucester County in 
1770 as political divisions of New York. The recognition of 
Vermont as a state fixed the boundary as it is today, although 
no permanent monuments were erected until 18 12-14. 

In 1737, Governor Clarke described the southern boundary 
of New York as being the Atlantic from Sandy Hook to the 


Hudson, up that river to the forty-first degree, then north- 
westerly to the Delaware River and up that stream to the forty- 
second degree, and then westward to Lake Erie. This is approxi- 
mately the southern boundary of the state today. Governor 
Tryon, in 1774, made further claims which included all of the 
present Ontario as far northward as the forty-fifth degree. In 
1785-87, New York and Pennsylvania surveyed the boundary 
line and set markers. A small triangular tract, with a shore line 
of thirty miles on Lake Erie, which New York had ceded to 
Congress, was transferred by that body in 1788 to Pennsylvania. 
The Dutch had maintained, as early as 16 14, that the northern 
line of their province was on the forty-fifth degree, but for a 
century and a half the line was in dispute. Governor Clinton, in 
1749, wrote that it would have to be settled "by occupancy or 
force." After the defeat of the French, a royal proclamation 
designated the forty-fifth degree as the New York-Quebec 
boundary. Governor Moore, in 1766, was interested in deter- 
mining the exact line, and had the assistance of Robert Harpur 
of King's College; and the line was surveyed from the Connecti- 
cut River to the Saint Lawrence in 1771-74. Governor Tryon, 
in describing New York's boundaries, ran the northern line 
along the forty-fifth degree westward across the Saint Law- 
rence, through the present province of Ontario to a line extend- 
ing northward from Pennsylvania's western boundary. The 
Quebec Act, however, fixed the line along the rivers and the 
Great Lakes. The Continental Congress, in 1779, accepted Gov- 
ernor Tryon's interpretation, and this boundary was actually 
in the preliminary articles of peace in 1782, but was changed 
on November 25 to follow the line given in the Quebec Act. 
Following the War of 18 12, New York's northern boundary 
was resurveyed, in 18 18-19, when it was found that the line of 
1774 did not follow the forty-fifth degree to the Saint Law- 
rence. For instance, at Rouses Point, the line of 1774 was 4,576 


feet north of the forty-fifth degree. Furthermore, the United 
States, accepting the early Hne in good faith, built a fort on 
what appeared, by the new line, to be British territory. After a 
good deal of discussion, the question was submitted to arbitra- 
tion. The decision of the King of Holland, in 183 1, proving 
unsatisfactory to the United States, the controversy was settled 
in 1842 by the Webster- Ashburton treaty, which recognized 
the line of 1774 as the true boundary, and thus saved "Fort 
Blunder" to the United States. From the 1774 line on the 
Saint Lawrence River, the boundary ran up the middle of that 
stream, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie. This line 
was run in 1822 to settle the jurisdiction over the islands. 

The act of 1829 set forth the boundaries of New York State 
as they exist today, with the exception of a few minor changes. 
A treaty with New Jersey in 1833 amicably adjusted a few 
problems relating to the Hudson River; Massachusetts ceded 
"Boston Corner," with 1,018 acres, to New York in 1853; 
and the Connecticut line was defined satisfactorily in 1880. 
Thus the geographic extent of New York was the product 
of many forces stretching back through the Revolution and 
through colonial days. The difficult disputes were compromised 
without armed conflict, though the " Rye Rebellion " came near 
to violence in the last years of the seventeenth century. Areas 
of friction were adjusted by reason and law, and backward 
regions were obtained by wise concessions. 

Population Growth and Counties 

At the outbreak of the Revolution, the settlement of New 
York was restricted to the Hudson and the Mohawk Valleys, 
and a few outlying settlements. Yet in 1790, when the first 
census was taken. New York State had 340,120 inhabitants - 
about double the number in 1776 -and was outranked only 


by Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. 
In the succeeding decade, the settlement of the region north- 
ward from Albany and of the central part of the state, to the 
south and west of the Mohawk Valley, proceeded rapidly. With 
a decennial increase of 73 per cent. New York passed Massa- 
chusetts and North Carolina, and gained considerably upon 
her other two rivals. By 18 10, the New York settlements had 
reached Lake Ontario and Lake Erie; and Pennsylvania with 
its 810,000 people had been passed, and Virginia almost over- 
taken. During the decade of 18 10-1820, New York's popula- 
tion reached 1,372,812, when it wrested the leading place from 
Virginia and has since held it without dispute from any other 

Compared with New England, New York and Pennsylvania 
were rapidly growing sections, and during this period became 
the most populous states of the Union. By 1830, New York 
alone balanced all New England in the number of people. 
Virginia and Massachusetts, which in 1790 stood first and 
fourth in population, had now fallen to third and eighth places 
respectively. The ascendancy of New York was observed with 
little satisfaction by sister states, which had hoped to attain 
the power and influence brought by an expanding population 
and commerce. In 1829 a member of the Virginia constitu- 
tional convention asked: 

Do gentlemen really believe that it is owing to any diversity in the 
principles of the State Governments of the two states, that New York 
has advanced to be the first state in the Union, and that Virginia, from 
being the first, is now the third in wealth and in population? Virginia 
ceded away her Kentucky to form a new state; and New York has 
retained her Genesee - there lies the whole secret. 

In the two decades of 1830-18 50, New York added 1,178,000 
people to its population, which represented a greater increase 


than the gain of Pennsylvania and Virginia combined. By the 
middle of the century, its population had passed the 3,000,000 
mark, equaling in number the entire population of the nation 
at the time of the Revolution. The Federal census gave it 
3,097,394 inhabitants, while Pennsylvania had 2,311,786 and 
Virginia only 1,421,661. 

The opening of New York's frontiers directly after the 
Revolution afforded the primary impetus for the vast develop- 
ment that followed. Partly because of the method of land- 
holding previous to the war, settlers had avoided the colony of 
New York, and hence thousands of acres of fertile lands were 
in readiness when they were once made accessible. The breaking 
up of large estates and the sale and gift of over 7,000,000 acres 
of lands at the close of the Revolution brought a population 
movement that swept across the state, hard on the heels of the 
departing Indians. In the quarter century following the Revo- 
lution, the New York wild lands, from the New England border 
westward beyond the sources of the Mohawk, had been taken 
up by colonists characteristically western. Settlers from eastern 
New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, 
but mainly New England farmers, swarmed into the region, 
felled and burned the forest, built little towns and erected mills. 
Coming from less fertile lands, the settlers found the area rich in 
agricultural opportunities. 

An increase in migration and economic development, how- 
ever, waited upon better facilities than were afforded by natural 
streams, valuable as these had been in the peopling of the state. 
The prosperity of the remoter parts of New York, as well as 
of the interior of the country, depended on the ability to market 
surplus products. Some of the surplus lumber and flour found 
their way to the Gulf of Mexico, some through the Great Lakes 
and the Saint Lawrence River to Montreal, and some down the 
Susquehanna to Baltimore. But these routes were expensive. The 


development of its waterways into a great canal system was 
New York's bid for the commerce of the interior. The canals 
afforded an easy means of transportation that worked a revolu- 
tion in the economic life of the state. In the wake of commerce 
came industry and growth in population. 

The ancestry of the sixty-two counties into which New York 
State is divided runs back more than two centuries and a half. 
Under the Dutch, there were only cities, towns and patroon- 
ships. With the English conquest, there was created, in 1665, 
the shire of Yorkshire with its three ridings, which may be re- 
garded as the earliest attempt at county organization. The cities, 
towns and patroonships were continued, being supplemented by 
manors and parishes. Then followed, in 1683, the act to divide 
the province into ten counties -New York, Westchester, Ulster, 
Albany, Dutchess, Orange, Richmond, Kings, Queens and Suf- 
folk, to name them in the order followed in the act, besides 
Cornwall and Dukes, now outside the state. Four years later, 
the area covered by each county was more clearly defined. The 
creation of counties received the royal confirmation in 1708. 
The counties remained unchanged for the greater part of a 
century, except for an act in 17 17 which annexed to Albany 
County a part of Livingston Manor, then in Dutchess County. 
A glance at the map on page 112, of Volume II, will show the 
vast extent of Albany County, which embraced the upper Hud- 
son and Mohawk Valleys. 

With the successful conclusion of the French and Indian 
War, as a result of the strong migration northward and west- 
ward out of Albany County there were created Cumberland 
in 1766, Gloucester in 1770, and Charlotte and Tryon Counties 
in 1772, making fourteen counties during the Revolution. The 
War for Independence brought two changes in names -Tryon 
became Montgomery and Charlotte became Washington in 
1784. Following the Revolution, as the population spread out 


along the expanding frontiers, new counties were formed reach- 
ing farther and farther westward and northward. Between 
1786 and 1800, seventeen new counties were formed; and from 
1800 to 1825, twenty-eight. By that date, the county organi- 
zation was practically complete; for only Chemung (1836), 
Fulton (1838), Wyoming (1841), Schuyler (1854), Nassau 
(1899), and Bronx (1914), have been created since. Of the 
340,120 people in the state in 1790, over three-fourths lived in 
what are now the Hudson River counties, and a great majority 
occupied the lands of the original ten counties. While the east- 
ern portion of the state was destined to be the most heavily 
populated, it was not the fastest growing section during the first 
quarter of the nineteenth century. The eastern counties, that 
had three-fourths of the population in 1790, had only 54 per 
cent in 18 10. Between 18 10 and 1830, the fastest growing part 
of the entire state was the region west of Oneida Lake. Accorded 
191,000 people in 18 10, these western areas had over 712,000 
people twenty years later, representing an increase of 272 per 
cent, while the populous eastern counties gained only 46 per 
cent. By 1830, the population of the western counties almost 
equaled the population of the eastern counties. During the next 
two decades, however, the eastern half of the state made rapid 
increases in population, as it adjusted itself to manufacturing 
enterprises. Yet by 1850, the western counties boasted a popu- 
lation of 1,106,000 people, which represented about 36 per cent 
of the total. 

In the early part of the period, population centered largely 
along the Hudson Valley, particularly around New York City 
and Albany. Only five cities had been chartered before the 
construction of the Erie Canal in 18 17: New York, Albany, 
Hudson, Schenectady and Troy, the last three of no great size 
at the time. By 1850, there were twelve cities, containing 28 
per cent of the total population, about two hundred incor- 


porated villages, and over eight hundred other unincorporated 
communities. A conspicuous line of changing community life 
across the state was the area immediately along the waterways 
between Buffalo and New York City. From New York City 
to Utica, the Erie Canal had less effect on population change 
than was found along its course from Utica to Buffalo. Nor 
should it be forgotten that the railroad brought an increase in 
population to the southern and northern tiers of counties, much 
as did the canal. Most of these communities were built to serve 
as distributing points to the agricultural population, and, on 
account of their advantageous location for assembling materials 
and marketing products, they developed into manufacturing 
centers. Thus it was that Buffalo, Syracuse, Oswego, Auburn, 
Utica and Rochester became cities of importance. After De 
Witt Clinton visited the site of Rochester in 1810, he stated 
that there was not a single house there at the time. Statistics 
show that of the towns having 10,000 inhabitants or more in 
1840, there was none in the United States which during the 
decade of 1 820-1 830 increased as did Rochester. It gained 421 
per cent of its initial population during the period, and Buf- 
falo followed second in rate of increase, with 314 per cent. Syra- 
cuse seems to have been third in the nation, with 282 per cent, 
while Utica was fourth, showing a gain of 243 per cent. Even 
Troy was exceeded in percentage growth only by the west- 
ern cities, Louisville and Cincinnati. As the western terminus 
of the Erie Canal and the transfer point between it and Lake 
Erie, Buffalo increased its population from over 5,000 in 
1825 to 19,000 ten years later. By 1855, it had nearly 75,000 
inhabitants and during that decade took the place of Albany 
as the second city in the state. Closely joined with the canal 
traffic was the lake commerce, which made Buffalo a great port, 
a lumber center and a seat of manufacturing. 

One of the most significant results of the canal system was 


the development of New York City, which rose from a market 
town for the Hudson River to be the metropohs of the North. 
Between the years 1800 and 1850, its population doubled itself 
once every sixteen years, while that of Boston doubled only 
every twenty-five years, and Philadelphia every twenty years. 
At the middle of the century, New York City's population 
passed the 500,000 mark. It was the center of commerce and 
wealth of the country. Its steady growth had placed it at 
the head of all cities in the Western World in population, com- 
merce and wealth. 


With the occupation of the fertile valleys of central and 
western New York, agriculture attained a remarkable develop- 
ment. For at least fifty years, New York held the leadership 
of the American commonwealths in the extraction of wealth 
from the soil until finally the westward movement of popula- 
tion brought under cultivation the vast wheat and cornfields 
of Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and the other states of the central West. 

Between 1820 and 1840, agriculture reached its peak, as far 
as total production and number of individuals occupied are 
concerned. In 1820, there were 250,000 people wholly depend- 
ent upon the land for support, and the number increased stead- 
ily during the next two decades until it reached over 455,000. 
More people were thus engaged in farming in New York State 
than in any other state in the Union. The increase in improved 
land from 5,500,000 acres in 1821 to 12,500,000 acres in 1850, 
indicates the remarkable development of the industry. New 
York led all the states in the value of its farms and farm 

It was the era of improved machinery and of changed methods 
in transportation which gave the state its brief but glorious 
agricultural ascendancy. The Erie Canal supplied a tremendous 


impetus to the production of wheat. Lacking earHer statistics 
on wheat production, some idea of this may be obtained from 
the amount of flour shipped by canal. In the year 1823, the 
amount sent from the western portion of New York equaled 
the whole amount which reached New Orleans from the Missis- 
sippi Valley. Flour shipments passing Utica on the canal, in- 
creased from 44, 700 barrels in 1 8 2 1 to 1,15 0,000 barrels in 1 8 3 4, 
while wheat shipments increased from 43,000 bushels to over 
1,190,000 bushels for the same period. The production of wheat 
formed a principal phase of New York's agriculture, and its 
high point was reached in 1844, when over 1,000,000 acres 
were put to seed and 13,400,000 bushels harvested. From then 
on, production of wheat dropped rapidly, as New York farmers 
felt the full effects of the wheat growing in Ohio and the west- 
ern states, which were sending their products to the great market 
at New York City. 

While wheat production slumped, the production of corn 
increased. In the majority of the states, corn was the most 
popular crop, for it was less liable to failure than any other 
and it was applied to a greater variety of useful purposes. The 
600,000 acres planted in New York in 1 844 rose to 900,000 acres 
in a decade, when it surpassed wheat, but several states out- 
ranked New York in corn production. In the cultivation of 
oats and barley, New York led the country, the former in- 
creasing from 20,000,000 bushels in 1840 to 26,000,000 bushels 
in 1850, while the latter increased over 1,000,000 bushels. 
Ohio, producing only a tenth as much barley, followed. New 
York was first in buckwheat production in 1850, and was a 
close second to Pennsylvania in the growing of rye. Grains 
reached the topmost limits in the state between 1840 and 1850. 
New York had early grasped its opportunity and reaped wealth 
from grain production before the West had been fully opened 
and made ready. Meanwhile, the number of farms and the acres 


in farms steadily increased for some thirty years after the middle 
of the century. 

From 1 840 on, New York's agriculture became more diversi- 
fied, and after the middle of the century it was centered largely 
in dairying, live-stock raising and horticulture. In 1821, there 
were some 1,200,000 neat cattle in the state, which number 
increased until it reached 2,105,000 in 1855, half of these being 
cows. In the number and value of its live stock, which reached 
$75,000,000 as compared with Ohio's $44,000,000, New York 
was well in the lead of other states, as it was in the value of ani- 
mals slaughtered. Hay necessarily formed a valued product of 
the farmer, for which nearly 4,000,000 acres were used in 1844; 
and New York produced three times as much as Pennsylvania, 
which ranked second. While the country as a whole was back- 
ward in sheep raising. New York early recognized its value. The 
number of sheep increased rapidly from 2,1 50,000 in 1821 until 
1845, when the peak of nearly 6,500,000 was reached. But after 
1840, both sheep and hogs were gradually crowded out by 
dairy cows, which were beginning to bring farmers better 

In the production of butter and cheese, New York stood at 
the top. In 1850, it produced more than twice as much as Ohio, 
its nearest rival. Likewise in dairy products it led the country 
with an estimated value of $10,500,000, while Pennsylvania 
ranked second with only $3,000,000 worth. Of vegetables, some 
404,500 acres were planted in 1844, which represented a high 
year. Potatoes were planted on over 200,000 acres, and the pro- 
duction of over 30,000,000 bushels in 1840 was three times as 
much as was harvested in any other state that year. In the total 
value of its market produce, New York was well in the lead. 

That New York gave fruits great consideration for quantity 
production is evidenced by the value given them in 1850- 
over $1,750,000, which was $1,000,000 dollars greater than that 


of Pennsylvania. In the production of beeswax and honey, and 
in the value of poultry, the state led, at the middle of the cen- 
tury. Between 1840 and 1850, the growth of hops received 
a tremendous impetus, when its production rose from 447,000 
pounds to 2,500,000 pounds, representing two-thirds of the 
total hops production of the country. It was estimated that 
the aggregate value of New York's agricultural products in the 
year 1840 alone was over $110,000,000, while the estimated 
value of manufactured products was only $90,000,000. 

Transportation and Communication 

Closely woven into the fabric of New York's changing eco- 
nomic life before the fifties was its deep interest in the means 
and instruments of communication. The need of the hour 
throughout our vast national domain was expansion and, sub- 
sidiary to it, communication — some means by which easy ac- 
cess could be had into the interior. The isolation between East 
and West was partially broken down by the coming of the 
steamboat in 1807. When Robert Fulton's side-wheeler "Cler- 
rhont " steamed 150 miles from New York City to Albany in 
32 hours, it inaugurated a new era in water transportation. 
The principal value of this new means of transportation, how- 
ever, was the development of river traffic from north and south. 
The steamboats multiplied rapidly, and western trade found its 
way down the " Father of Waters " to New Orleans. As yet no 
adequate means had been found to provide an easy movement 
from east and west to connect the interior with Atlantic tide- 
waters. This condition made manufacturers, agriculturalists 
and statesmen of the East consider some way to bring this about. 
Turnpikes had helped, but they were no real solution, and in- 
terest turned to canals. 

From 1817 to 1837, the country entered into a mad canal 


era and, in this new field of transportation, New York State 
took the leadership with the building of the Erie Canal, con- 
necting the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, as given in 
detail in Chapter IX of Volume V. Its effects, within both the 
state and the nation, were so far-reaching that its construction 
is looked upon as the greatest event in the history of American 
transportation. The cost of shipping goods from the Hudson to 
Lake Erie was lowered from $ioo a ton to $5, while the time of 
movement dropped from 20 days to an average of 9 days. The 
decrease in transportation costs brought prosperity and in- 
creased population. Lateral canals, connecting with the Erie, 
were spread across the state. Land values doubled and, in many 
cases near the canal, quadrupled; farm produce more than 
doubled in value. The raw products of the disappearing forests 
of western New York -lumber, staves, pot and pearlashes and 
the surplus agricultural products - began to flow in increasing 
volume down the Hudson to New York City. In 1836, about 
420,000 tons of products reached tidewater by way of the Erie 
Canal, of which 87 per cent came from within the state. Tolls 
from the canals brought an increasing revenue. Immediately 
upon the completion of the Erie and Champlain Canals, over 
$500,000 were collected. Five years later (1830), tolls were 
over $1,000,000, and by 1850 the income from all the canals in 
the state was over $3,200,000. The revenues from the Erie dur- 
ing its first ten years of operation more than repaid the initial 
cost of construction, an amount over $7,000,000. 

But it was not in New York State alone that the canals were 
effecting their revolution. Their value in opening up the border 
country of the Great Lakes is incalculable. In the magnitude of 
participation in the business and benefits of the Erie, it is prob- 
able that Ohio led the western states. In population, Ohio rose 
from the seventeenth place in 1 800 to the third in 1 840. Indiana 
rose from the twentieth to the tenth place. Cleveland increased 


in population 464 per cent between 1820 and 1830, while De- 
troit gained 313 per cent during the same period. The canal 
became the main artery to the West for thousands of immi- 
grants, as they faced a new opportunity. The success of the 
Erie stimulated canal building in Ohio and rendered a large 
area of that state tributary to New York. Great Lakes naviga- 
tion was given a new impetus, and soon the West was turning 
its stream of commerce into this channel. By 1836, the western 
states were sending 54,000 tons of commodities to the Hudson; 
and, by 185 1, over 1,000,000 tons came. While the products 
reaching tidewater from New York State during the period in- 
creased 80 per cent, the commodities from the West and Canada, 
nearly half of which was in wheat and flour, increased over 
500 per cent. 

In return for the products from the West, the industrial 
East sent its merchandise. It is estimated that the total tonnage 
moved on all the canals of New York State in 1836 was over 
1,300,000, and that its total value was nearly $68,000,000. With 
few exceptions, the figures increased annually so that by the 
middle of the century over 3,000,000 tons were sent, aggregat- 
ing over $1 56,000,000 in value. It is interesting to observe that, 
during the same period, the number of miles run by freight 
boats doubled, while the miles run by packets decreased con- 
siderably, showing the effect of railroad passenger service, which 
had become a serious competitor to the canals. 

The fact that New York City was the first of the Atlantic 
ports to tap the resources of the West contributed as much as 
anything to its subsequent greatness. Its population climbed; 
its real and personal estate rose in value from about $70,000,000 
in 1820 to $320,000,000 in 1850, and increased at a rapid rate 
thereafter. The prophecy of De Witt Clinton that the canal 
would make the city " the emporium of commerce, the seat of 


manufactures, the focus of great money operations," was more 
than reahzed. Previous to the opening of the canal, the trade of 
the West was chiefly carried on through the cities of Baltimore 
and Philadelphia, particularly the latter, which was at the time 
the first city of the country in population and wealth, and in 
the amount of its internal commerce. Much of what the port 
of New York gained was the loss of these cities. Needless to 
say, an increasing amount of the interior products found their 
way down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. In the absence of 
the Erie Canal, it is not improbable that this southerly route 
would have captured the trade carried over the easterly route. 
A commercial alliance between the Northwest and the South, 
with the probable growth of racial sympathy and political kin- 
ship, might have had a decided effect upon the prosperity of 
this state, as well as upon the issues that culminated in the Civil 
War. The opening of the Erie Canal, however, gave commerce 
its first decisive impulse to move east and west across the coun- 
try. Through this medium, New York State achieved economic 
unity and commercial supremacy. 

Meanwhile, changes were taking place in land transportation. 
The same legislature which, in 1826, received the felicitations of 
Governor De Witt Clinton on the " auspicious consummation " 
of the great canal enterprise, granted a charter to the Mohawk 
and Hudson Railroad Company. Work was begun on the road 
in 1830, and in the following year the first steam railroad in 
New York State was in operation. In the ten years after the 
granting of this charter, over a hundred railroad charters were 
authorized by the legislature. As early as 1833, New York had 
invested $17,500,000 in its railroads, although only thirty- 
six miles of road were then in operation. By 1850, short roads 
extended in many parts of the state, and a continuous line of 
these small roads followed the canal route to the Great Lakes 


and tidewater, from Buffalo to Albany. The subsequent de- 
velopment has been set forth fully in other chapters of this 

In 1850, the total expenditures for railroads alone in the state 
exceeded $60,500,000. Twenty-six lines were in operation, with 
over 1,500 miles of tracks, and other lines were under con- 
struction. Earnings for the year reached the enormous figure of 
nearly $5,650,000, which represented the income from 4,500,- 
000 passengers and 750,000 tons of freight carried. It is quite 
probable that the average loads on the Hudson River road, and 
on the main line from Albany to Buffalo, were greater than on 
any other roads in this country or in Europe, England not ex- 
cepted, and that the cost of transport was less. Thus New York 
assumed, from the start, the foremost place as a railroad state 
and continued to hold the primacy over competing states in 
transportation to and from the seaboard, which had been se- 
cured by the canals. 

To add to the efficiency of the railroads, the growth of the 
press and the development of big business, came the invention 
of the telegraph by Samuel F. B. Morse, of New York City. It 
was not until 1844 that he was able to convince the country 
that his invention was of commercial significance. The original 
line between Washington and Baltimore was extended to New 
York, and chartered the following year under the name of the 
Magnetic Telegraph Company. Its success was so rapid that 
its annual receipts increased from $4,228 in 1846 to %Gj^y>yy 
in 1 8 5 1 . Nearly seven hundred messages, exclusive of those for 
the press, were sent in one day over the Morse Albany line, in 
the latter year. By 1852, hundreds of miles of lines were in 
use in the state. Ezra Cornell, a capitalist, later the founder of 
Cornell University, devoted much of his time to the organiza- 
tion of telegraph companies, and through his efforts the West- 
ern Union Telegraph Company came into existence in 1856. 


Commerce and Trade 

The value of New York's waterways was vastly enhanced 
by the position the Erie Canal occupied between the ocean and 
the Great Lakes. Possessing the finest harbor on the Atlantic 
coast - commodious and well protected, furnished with deep 
water to the very shore line of the great city, and giving into a 
great navigable river -the state was from the first destined to 
share in the foreign trade that inevitably developed upon the 
ocean highways to Europe, while its western entrepot, at the 
foot of Lake Erie, was likewise certain of rapid growth as soon 
as the almost unlimited commercial possibilities of those vast 
inland seas began to be realized. In ten years following 1791, 
the value of New York's exports rose from $2,500,000 to nearly 
$20,000,000. The nation's trade in general advanced until the 
War of 18 12, but the following period was a critical one for 
New York's trade. Its exports wavered, fell, and did not re- 
cover for some ten years. 

Corresponding with this period of stagnation, there was 
taking place a fundamental change in the character of the na- 
tion's commerce. The carrying trade of the world, which had 
been almost an American monopoly, passed rapidly from our 
grasp. Thrifty ports along the coast of New England became 
largely decadent and our foreign trade diminished; but our 
coastwise and internal trade steadily grew larger. With its ample 
port and direct connection with the interior. New York won 
much of the new trade. Slowly but surely, facilities for the 
internal trade came to govern the entire commercial status of 
the principal states. 

The story of the export trade of the principal commercial 
states up to 1845 is one of intense rivalry. In 1791, Pennsylvania 
stood at the top, while New York rated fifth. But of all the 
rivals which the state and its metropolis met upon the sea, 


none put forth more strenuous efforts to secure the mastery 
than New England, or more particularly maritime Massachu- 
setts. New York and Massachusetts were regarded as principal 
competitors for the export trade of the nation. In 1811, the 
two states were substantially on a par in this respect. Ten years 
later, New York was slightly in the lead of Massachusetts, han- 
dling about a quarter of the country's export trade. Louisiana 
at this time had barely 4 per cent of this trade. The products of 
the newly opened West, however, were descending the Missis- 
sippi in increasing volume and, from 1834 to 1843, Louisiana 
became the chief exporting state in the Union. But it was this 
period that marked the rapid growth of New York's internal 
trade and made possible the upbuilding of its export commerce. 
The value of shipments brought to tidewater on its canals was, 
by 1846, greater than the whole export trade of the state, and 
more than half the combined trade of New York, Massachusetts, 
Pennsylvania, Maryland and Louisiana. In 1850, receipts of 
wheat and flour alone were 3,250,000 bushels of the former and 
2,600,000 barrels of the latter, while corresponding receipts at 
New Orleans for the same period were 57,000 bushels and 
592,000 barrels respectively. 

By 185 1, New York's commercial supremacy was uncon- 
tested. It exported 41 per cent of the foreign trade of the prin- 
cipal commercial states, amounting to $86,000,000, while Louisi- 
ana stood second and Massachusetts third. In the country's 
import business, New York was far in the lead of its sister states. 
The value of its imports had risen 570 per cent from 1821, 
totaling $141,000,000 in 185 1, which represented over 60 per 
cent of the nation's import trade. Custom receipts of New York 
into the United States Treasury increased from $5,500,000 in 
1820 to nearly $25,000,000 in 1850. While other eastern ports, 
like Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, had made rapid in- 
creases in population, their foreign commerce had remained 


nearly stationary for a long period of years, proving that a 
large foreign commerce could be maintained only by a city that 
was able to make itself the depot of the domestic products of the 

An important link in the internal commerce of the country 
was, of course, the Great Lakes waterway which the Erie Canal 
connected with New York's metropolis. Western produce in 
large quantities did not find its way to eastern markets by this 
route much before 1835, but from then on lake trade formed 
a large part of our entire domestic commerce. A chief char- 
acteristic of the lake commerce was the movement of wheat 
and flour, which also characterized the nation's export trade 
to Europe. Commencing at an early period with the scant 
products of the Atlantic states, the grain trade gradually as- 
cended the Hudson River as far as navigation would permit; 
and where that ceased, the Erie Canal commenced and carried 
it to the lakes. Grain and flour receipts at Buffalo increased 
from over 1,000,000 bushels in 1836 to 17,700,000 bushels in 
185 1. The activity stimulated by the grain trade formed an 
important part of the state's commerce through its eight up- 
state collection districts, comprising Champlain, on Lake Cham- 
plain; Oswegatchie, Cape Vincent, Sackett's Harbor, Oswego 
and Genesee, on Lake Ontario; and Niagara and Buffalo, on 
Lake Erie. By 185 1, the value of the traffic on all the Great 
Lakes amounted to over $326,000,000, of which 45 per cent, 
amounting to $145,000,000, passed through New York State 
ports. About 63 per cent of the entire domestic exports of the 
Lakes and 90 per cent of the exports to Canada were listed in 
the state. Buffalo alone handled $88,000,000 worth of the coast- 
ing imports and exports, and the port of Oswego shipped half 
the state's exports to Canada. Tolls to the amount of $361,000 
were collected on this trade, with the largest collections in 
Buffalo and Oswego; and 42 per cent of the tonnage on the lakes 


was enrolled in New York ports. Still another phase of the 
nation's commerce which New York captured was the coasting 
trade. From 1790 to 18 10, Massachusetts held the largest en- 
rolled tonnage of this trade, but thereafter New York took the 
lead. In 1850, over 6,500 vessels, with a total tonnage of 1,500,- 
000 tons, entered and cleared the port of New York. Thus by 
the middle of the nineteenth century, the commercial primacy 
of New York State was established and has been held ever since. 

Industrial Development and Wealth 

In spite of the tremendous interest in agriculture and com- 
merce. New York was not slow to realize that these interests 
were not the only profitable pursuits of its people. The unsettled 
conditions in Europe and the War of 18 12, with the resulting 
decline in the productiveness of commerce, sent capital into 
manufacturing. Comparatively retarded at first, the rapid in- 
dustrial development of the state waited upon the improved 
means of transportation afforded by the canals and railroads. 
In this development, its natural resources, so significant in the 
rise of agriculture and commerce, were of supreme importance. 
New York had easy access to sources of raw materials, such as, 
wheat, wool, lumber, iron and coal. It had the great market of 
the metropolis, with its rapidly increasing population; and, with 
the building of the canals and railroads, it captured the vast 
markets of the West. The abundance of streams and rivers, sup- 
plemented by a canal system, furnished not only a means of 
cheap transportation but a source of power for factories and 

One of the earliest industries to return considerable wealth to 
the state for a long period of years was the manufacture of 
products from grains, which exceeded in value those derived 
from any other raw material. The settlement of the Genesee 


Valley and other sections brought a great wheat area under 
cultivation, which found its outlet in a group of mills at 
Rochester and Oswego. In 1840, the coast states from New 
York to Virginia raised 47 per cent of the wheat and made 
65 per cent of the flour produced in the country. Ten years 
later, they raised 46 per cent of the wheat and made 57 per cent 
of the flour. New York's share of lumber and salt production 
was also very large. 

While the products of agriculture were of considerable value 
in the development of manufacturing in the state, they did not 
of themselves control its development. When the country 
turned to manufacturing, New York was prepared to welcome 
foreign mechanical inventions and to adopt and improve them 
for its own industry. Thus the Arkwright machinery. Watt's 
steam engine and Whitney's cotton gin were ready when New 
York entered the textile field, which marks the beginning of 
modern manufacturing. The industry was slow to develop in 
the country, but during the embargo and the war period, from 
1807 to 181 5, American industry boomed and New York, as 
Professor Carman has shown in other chapters of this work, had 
a fair share of it. In 1 8 1 1, the state passed 66 acts of incorpora- 
tion for manufacturing and industrial purposes, 47 of which 
had capital listed at $9,000,000 -mostly in cotton, woolen, iron, 
glass and paper manufactories. During the single year 1813, 15 
textile companies were charted in the state. By 183 1, there were 
112 cotton factories turning 157,316 spindles, and producing 
21,000,000 yards of cloth valued at over $2,600,000. In the 
same year, there were 202 woolen establishments manufactur- 
ing materials valued at over $2,500,000. By 1850, the product 
of cotton manufactories had increased $1,000,000 in value, 
while that of woolen materials nearly trebled. In the production 
of woolen goods New York was surpassed only by Massachu- 
setts, and in cotton goods by New England and Pennsylvania. 


But the strength of its industry was not in its preeminence in 
any one phase, but rather in its prominence in all fields. 

If New York was particularly outstanding in any one field 
during this period, it was in that of mechanical invention and 
machinery construction. In ranking the states by the measure 
of ingenuity of their citizens, New York stood first, Pennsyl- 
vania second, and Massachusetts third. As early as 1830, New 
York was credited with over a third of the 544 patents granted 
by the United States Patent Office. Twenty years later, the same 
relative proportion still held. Most of the inventions consisted 
of labor-saving devices and the application of machinery to 
industrial processes, which simplified methods and reduced cost. 
Such, for example, was the invention in 1846 of Robert Hoe's 
rotary " lightning " press, a machine that not only revolution- 
ized the art of printing but also led to the manufacture of 
paper in quantities never before known. Another instance was 
the invention of the sewing machine in the same year by Elias 
Howe, a Boston mechanic, although the first really practical 
machine was not produced until 1850, by Isaac Singer, who 
established his plant in New York. Factory production of sew- 
ing machines began in 1852, but perhaps of more importance to 
the state was the impetus the invention gave to the clothing 
industry, which even in 1850 produced most of the factory- 
made clothes used in the nation. Improvements were made in 
farm implements and machinery, of which some $22,000,000 
worth was owned by New York farmers in 1850, and which 
had its part in the revolution of the nation's agriculture. The 
value of machinery made in the whole country, in the year 
1850, was estimated at $11,000,000, of which New York State 
produced more than a fourth, and Pennsylvania and Massachu- 
setts together only a third. 

But the inventions of this period were not merely of new 
machinery; they were largely of a utilitarian character and in- 


eluded many of the devices which have raised the general stand- 
ard of comfort in this country. They consisted of improvements 
in looms for producing figured fabrics; air-heating stoves, cook- 
ing stoves, and furnaces; hat, boot and shoe machinery, rubber 
goods, floor coverings, etc. Within twenty years, the principal 
seat of the sole-leather manufacturing had been transferred 
from neighboring states to the hemlock region of the Catskill 
Mountains, which, in the decade of 1840-50, produced more 
than a third of all the sole leather made in the country, and a 
far larger amount of upper leather than any other state. 

In 1835, the value of New York's manufactures amounted 
to $58,000,000, apart from domestic articles made in families. 
By 1850, New York had taken on the air of a manufacturing 
state. There were 24,000 establishments, capitalized at $100,- 
000,000, employing 200,000 hands, and turning out products 
to the value of $238,000,000. This was far ahead of any other 
state. The chief articles made were farming implements, $3,000,- 
000; cloth, $20,000,000; chemicals, $62,000,000; steam engines 
and ships, $13,000,000; gristmills, $52,000,000; lumber mills, 
$24,000,000; pottery and glass, $10,000,000; leather, $28,000,- 
000; household goods, $9,000,000; fine arts, $8,000,000; and 
clothing, $22,000,000. This represented 23 per cent of the total 
value of the nation's manufactures, while Massachusetts and 
Pennsylvania ranked next with 1 5 per cent. 

The rapid progress in manufacturing brought significant 
changes in the type of business organization. During this period, 
a regular corporation system of manufactures was growing up, 
beside the individual enterprises and partnerships of earlier days. 
New York was a pioneer in this field when it passed a general 
incorporation act in 18 11, under which most associations were 
organized. But the capital of these early companies was small, 
and they could maintain only a low margin of safety. During 
the 1 840s the idea came home to manufacturers that their 


safety lay in a smaller number of companies with a larger capi- 
tal. The idea developed slowly, but the advantages of such con- 
solidation were evident. The state constitution of 1846 made 
general incorporation obligatory, inaugurating an era of ever- 
expanding ownership for industry, and enabling the smallest 
investor to participate in the control of the greatest corpora- 
tions. The facilities and advantages of conducting business under 
this method of organization were largely responsible for the 
rapid development of our manufacturing industries. 

The effect of the state's internal improvements, its growing 
industry and its extensive commerce was a rapid increase in 
wealth. Acknowledged the commercial center of the western 
hemisphere by 1850, even more decisively New York had won 
the distinction of being its financial center. Already Wall Street 
was synonymous with the moneyed class. Men of brains and 
ideas were drawn to the metropolis by an almost irresistible im- 
pulse. One of the best evidences of the prosperity and general 
accumulation of wealth is the increased aggregate capital of its 
banks. The number of banks in 1850 was more than double that 
in 183 1, and their capital had increased to nearly $50,000,000. 
Bank loans doubled during the period, to reach the enormous 
figure of $107,000,000, while deposits trebled to $50,000,000. 
To facilitate the labor incident to the proportions that the 
banking business had attained by 1853, New York City devised 
a clearing house whose transactions amounted to over $5,000,- 
000,000 the following year. 

Another evidence of wealth was the progress of insurance 
companies. The growth of commerce after 1820 brought an 
expansion in marine insurance, for, as commodities increased in 
quantity and value, the amount to be covered by insurance ex- 
panded in the same proportion. In 1835, there were 13 marine 
insurance companies in New York City, with a capital of 
$4,500,000, and 29 fire insurance companies capitalized at $10,- 


250,000. Life insurance was of more recent origin in New York 
State, but in that year its one company had life KabiHties 
amounting to nearly $2,000,000. By 1850, there were 4 life 
insurance companies and 5 5 stock and mutual companies, capi- 
talized at $15,500,000, incorporated in the state and doing a 
fire and marine business. In addition, there were some 577 
agencies of 39 foreign insurance companies doing business in the 
state, 207 of which represented 10 life insurance companies. It 
was estimated by the state comptroller that the people of the 
state paid over $500,000 in premiums that year to foreign life in- 
surance companies. This extension of life insurance throughout 
the state gives ample evidence of the thrift of its people. 

The increase in the value of property gives still another evi- 
dence of the increase in wealth. In 1842, the assessed valuation 
of real estate in New York State was estimated at $504,000,000, 
or double what it was in 1828; and in New York City it more 
than doubled. Personal property also increased at the same ratio. 
The increase in wealth was so extensive that by 1850 New York 
possessed one-seventh of the true valuation of the property of 
the whole country, a figure over $1,080,000,000, which was 48 
per cent greater than that of Pennsylvania and 88 per cent 
greater than that of Massachusetts. Its per capita wealth was 
nearly $350, as against $312 for Pennsylvania. This period saw 
the accumulation of great fortunes; in 1820, there were only 
102 men in New York City whose personal property assessment 
was over $20,000, while twenty-five years later the list of prop- 
erty owners contained several hundred names whose resources 
were valued at over $100,000. John J. Astor led the list, with a 
fortune estimated at between $25,000,000 and $50,000,000. 

The state's investments in internal improvements had put it 
heavily in debt, but it maintained sound credit both at home 
and abroad. In 1842, the debt had grown to $25,000,000, 
nearly four-fifths of which represented its interest in canals; 


although in the same year the canals were so productive that 
they yielded an amount more than the interest of the whole 
debt of the state. During the next decade, New York reduced 
its debt by over $2,000,000. Pennsylvania's debt at the same 
time was double that of New York. 

Social Advance 

The growth of the state in material welfare was supplemented 
by a broadening in its social and cultural development. Gradu- 
ally a higher plane of thought and living had been advocated, 
and, by the middle of the century, the majority of the people 
were better housed and had many domestic conveniences. For 
the average family, living was decidedly above what was neces- 
sary to existence. Food was plentiful, and on festive occasions 
it was choice in quality. But in the matter of food and clothes, 
changes were rather in the nature of fashions than in methods. 
Dress had become less distinguishing as a class indication, though 
it still marked city or country origin. The women of the larger 
cities followed closely the changes of fashion, for which they 
looked to Europe. To a more considerable degree, the men could 
be more easily classed socially by the attention given to their 
toilet. In the country areas, dress was adequate for service and 
protection, and included a " best " outfit for Sunday use. 

Class distinctions during the period became less obvious than 
in earlier days, but did not entirely disappear. The aristocracy of 
old families had been severely shaken and, with the spread of 
democracy, it became to some extent amalgamated with the 
rising money class. In fact, aristocracy became an open caste, 
and, like the presidency and a fortune, it was theoretically 
within everyone's reach. The period had seen the rise of a per- 
manent wage-earning class, which already had made itself felt 
in its demand for social and political rights. 


One of the very marked changes was evidenced in the con- 
struction of houses and in their conveniences. Temporary struc- 
tures in the country had given way in general to comfortable 
frame houses. In the larger cities, brick and stone buildings, 
closely set together, were being constructed in rows. Fifth 
Avenue, in New York City, was becoming the fashionable street, 
and on it were built the brownstone-front houses, all alike on 
the outside. Inside city houses, new comforts were enjoyed. By 
1842, water from the Croton River project had been intro- 
duced into New York City. The running of water out of 
faucets from city mains and the drainage of sewage into cen- 
tral systems were among the most important changes in living 
conditions. For those who could afford it, came the blessings of 
indoor toilets and baths. Gas had been first introduced in the 
metropolis in 1823, and by 1850 its use was common inside 
buildings and for street lighting. In the country, oil lamps 
furnished illumination. Brimstone matches had come into use 
in 1836, affording a great convenience over primitive methods 
of striking a light, and very soon they were in almost universal 
use. Changes had taken place in kitchen utensils, with the adop- 
tion of tin goods. Carpets became more and more common as 
they were substituted for rag rugs in homes and public rooms. 
A basic change occurred with regard to domestic heating. Iron 
ranges took the place of fireplaces for cooking, and many varie- 
ties of heating stoves were created. In churches and public 
buildings, large stoves were employed, and soon these began to 
be transferred to the cellars, thus heating the auditoriums in- 
directly. By 1850, practicable furnaces were on the market, and 
some of the wealthy began to install them in their houses. 

The improvement in transportation methods had made travel 
common. Roads of all kinds had improved remarkably, and 
canal packets and stagecoaches had given way to the faster serv- 
ice of the railroad. Over 4,500,000 passengers were carried on 


the railroads within the state in the single year 1850. The fare 
from Buffalo to Albany was reduced from $20 to $6.15 in 1853, 
and similarly on other routes. Excellent travel accommoda- 
tions were available on river, lake and ocean steamers. The effect 
of this easier communication between the communities of the 
state was the breaking down of provincialism. About the mid- 
dle of the forties, foreign travel for pleasure began for the 
well-to-do. By 1850, vacation resorts, such as Saratoga and 
fashionable places along the Hudson River, were frequented by 
no inconsiderable portion of the population, and summer out- 
ings, with trunks of increasing number and size, had become a 
feature of travel and a spectacular display of fashions. 

Another significant advance during the period was in the 
perfection of the post office. Up to 1845, there had been little 
change in rates. It cost 6 cents to send a letter of one sheet 30 
miles, 10 cents up to 80 miles, and 25 cents for 400 miles. If 
the letter had two, three or four sheets the price was doubled, 
trebled, or quadrupled. Drop letters and newspapers in the 
state cost one cent. In 1845, a great change came. Letters of 
half an ounce were carried 300 miles for 5 cents, and beyond that 
the cost was doubled. Newspapers were carried free 30 miles, 
100 miles for one cent, and beyond that for Yz cent more. In 
1 85 1, the rate for a letter was reduced to 3 cents for 3,000 miles. 
By 1847, postage stamps had come into use. 

The recreations of the people depended largely on the locality 
and on their position in life. In the country, the logrolling and 
the barn-raising began to disappear, though the party and the 
dance which had accompanied them remained. Church socials 
and annual fairs were important occasions of social intercourse. 
On the whole, there was less disapproval of amusement. Through 
the rich farming districts traveled not only more peddlers, but 
more circuses. By 1850, P. T. Barnum was riding the crest of 
the wave as the showman of the age. His museum in New York 


City was as successful and infinitely more amusing than the 
decorous museum of Madame Tussaud in London. By many, 
the theater was still frowned upon, but on the whole it gained 
in standing. Yachting was a pastime for some of the wealthy, 
and horse racing attracted much attention. During the forties, 
society resorted increasingly to display, and the balls held in 
New York City created a sensation. 

Increased wealth, a higher intelligence, and a better social 
plane had their moral effects. In 1 8 50, there were 5,000 churches 
and about 4,500 ministers. The Roman Catholics had the larg- 
est number of the 703,000 church members, and then in order 
came Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Episcopalians, Re- 
formed Protestants, and Dutch Reformed, with a number of 
smaller sects. These organizations, with their private schools 
and institutions of charity, were a powerful factor in the ad- 
vance of the people. Homes for the sick, orphaned, blind, deaf 
and dumb, insane, aged, and other unfortunates had been built 
in various sections and endowed by the benevolent rich. In 1850, 
there were 10,280 criminals and 60,000 paupers supported at 
an annual cost of $818,000. New York State was a leader in 
prison reform, and county poorhouses were reorganized and 
conducted on improved principles. 

Cultural Progress 

During the period, definite trends were evidenced in the 
cultural development of the people. With regard to popular 
education. New York was entitled to primacy in two respects - 
the genesis of its common schools, and their supervision by 
the state. Under Gideon Hawley, superintendent of common 
schools until 1821, when for the next thirty years the office was 
merged with that of secretary of state, the schools had been 
brought under a responsible head. From 1813 to 1821, the 


number of pupils had increased from 140,000 to 304,000, and 
the aid furnished by the state had defrayed the expenses of the 
schools for about three months in the year. There had been an 
earnest effort to make the schools free to all children, but the 
matter was a source of bitter controversy in the legislature for 
some years. In 1848, about a quarter of all the schools were free 
and these were mostly in large communities. By 1850, the school 
districts numbered 13,842, over twice as many as were reported 
in 1821; and 726,291 pupils were given instruction. The wages 
paid teachers amounted to $1,240,258, of which only $136,949 
was from rate bills, while the total amount expended for schools 
by the state was $1,600,000. The following year, a free-school 
law was passed by the legislature, but this proved difficult to 
enforce. Education by the state, however, had become a clear 
duty, and not a begrudged act of charity. But the extension of 
the free public school, up through the high school to the college, 
was yet to be worked out. The middle of the century saw the 
operation of a normal school by the state, the functioning of 
teacher-training departments in designated academies, and the 
establishment of teachers' institutes. A few years later, the 
schools of New York City came under the general school act. 
Under the Regents of the University of the State of New York, 
academies and colleges had been nourished. From 8 in 1800, 
academies were multiplied to 30 in 1820, to 127 in 1840, and to 
204 in 1850. In the latter year, the attendance was 31,580, while 
ten years before it had been only 10,881. Aid to the academies 
was not comparable with that given to common schools, for be- 
tween 1835 and 1850 the state granted only $42,441, a sum 
equal to the amount raised by the academies. Even then, the aid 
given by New York was more generous than that given by any 
other state. A large number of private schools were also in exist- 
ence, with thousands of pupils in attendance. At the same time, 
New York had 8 colleges, 7 theological schools, 4 medical schools, 


and one law school, instructing a total of 1,832 students. The 
largest number of students was in attendance at the colleges, and 
the next largest at the medical schools. Only one other state, 
Pennsylvania, registered more students in these institutions of 
higher learning. 

One of the evidences of progress in general intelligence is seen 
in the increase of reading matter and the rise of the early literary 
masters. These were the days when the Knickerbocker school 
brought independence and reputation to our literature, when 
Irving worked the rich mine of Hudson River traditions, and 
Cooper utilized his early experience on the frontier to write his 
" Leatherstocking Tales." Among the poets who lived and wrote 
in New York were Paulding, Halleck, Willis and Woodworth. 
Some of Poe's best work had been done here, and William Cullen 
Bryant had made New York his home, as editor of the New 
York Evening Post. Surely these representatives of New York's 
writers contributed much to the literary glory of their native 
land, and for a time more than their New England contempo- 

In the field of the newspaper and periodical press, Pennsyl- 
vania outdistanced New York until well past the first quarter of 
the century. But by 1840, the publications of this state num- 
bered far more than those of any other. In 1850, there were 428 
newspapers and periodicals, with an aggregate annual circula- 
tion of over 115,000,000 copies, while Pennsylvania had 310 
news establishments with a total yearly circulation of 84,000,- 
000 copies. The character of New York's press may be classified 
as political, independent, literary, religious and scientific -pub- 
lications being most numerous in that order. In each of these 
types, the publications of New York were more numerous than 
those of any other state, with the exception of the scientific 
press, which in Massachusetts was slightly in the lead. Of the 
total annual press circulation in the entire country. New York 


State had a fourth. Out of the "tinselly beginning" which 
characterized the field of our hghter Hterature came the pro- 
duction of a serious Hterary magazine in New York City, when 
Harper's Magazine was offered to the pubhc in 1847. This peri- 
odical began to publish a good class of literary work, which was 
to stand the test of time. The market for good literature was 
much larger, more varied and active than previously, although 
not sufficient to support many authors in more than moderate 
comfort. Whereas the preceding generation had, for the most 
part, ordered its books from England and France, American 
publishers, such as Harper and Brothers and D. Appleton, were 
now publishing not only American but foreign works. 

Libraries furnish still another evidence of the state's en- 
lightenment. By 1850, there were 11,013 libraries of all kinds, 
with 1,760,000 volumes, representing 1,000,000 more volumes 
than the libraries of Massachusetts. It was the 10,802 school 
district libraries, containing over 1,300,000 volumes, that gave 
New York its ascendancy. There were only 43 public libraries 
in the state, but their total number of volumes was surpassed 
only by those of the public libraries of Massachusetts. There 
were also 25 college libraries, 137 Sunday school libraries, and 
6 church libraries. The State Library, founded in 18 18, de- 
veloped rapidly after 1844, when Dr. T. Romeyn Beck took 
over its supervision under the direction of the Regents. In 1 844, 
it contained 10,000 volumes, which number was increased to 
53,000 during the next fifteen years. In 1850, there existed also 
many private libraries, and about this time rich men began 
to devote large sums to founding libraries and to erecting 

By the middle of the century. New York City had succeeded 
in establishing itself as the principal art center of the nation. 
As early as 1 828, its growing interest in painting was attested by 
the formation of the National Academy of Design. Character- 


istic of the period was the group of painters known as the 
"Hudson River School," who sought to put on canvas the 
beauties of the American landscape, then appreciated for 
the first time. 

In 1847, New York City society sought to consolidate its 
position as the metropolitan aristocracy of a democratic country 
by organizing opera on rather an elaborate scale. While the ven- 
ture failed, it proved to be an important step in naturalizing 
this expensive art. Previous to this attempt, foreign and English 
operas intermittently entertained New York society with vary- 
ing success. Choral associations, however, developed success- 
fully during the period, and in 1 8 50 several of them were united 
to form the New York Harmonic Society, which presented 
oratorios with great success. Its rendition of the " Messiah " in 
1850, when Jenny Lind sang the soprano solos, was an event 
long to be remembered. 

Political Changes 

Politically, New York had traveled far along the road to 
democracy. Reform had been the slogan of the times, and its 
stronghold was in the new counties of the western and northern 
parts of the state. The agitation for the extension of the fran- 
chise was particularly significant during the period, culminat- 
ing in the inclusion of all adult white males in the twenties. 
A source of bitter feeling throughout the period was evidenced 
in the fight to abolish feudal tenures. From the dawn of state- 
hood to the year 1 846, many tenant farmers could get no title 
to their land, but had to pay rent or its equivalent to the pro- 
prietor. Several times during the period, efforts were made to 
relieve the difficulty, but with little success. With the adoption 
of the constitution of 1846, the great landholders lost control, 
and provisions as to the land law became clear and wholesome. 


Another significant democratic change was in the election of 
officials. A first step had been made in the abolition of the Coun- 
cil of Appointment and the Council of Revision, by the consti- 
tution of 1 82 1. While the "Albany Regency" acquired much 
the same power, the move, nevertheless, contributed to the trans- 
fer of the appointing power to the people. The revision of the 
constitution again in 1846 made the principal executive and 
judicial officers elective by popular vote. To extend the govern- 
ment more directly to the people, the legislators were chosen by 
separate districts, so that each district could have direct repre- 
sentation. The new constitution also restricted the power of the 
legislature by forbidding it to pass special legislation of various 
kinds. That the people of the state were pleased with the solution 
of these problems embodied in the constitution of 1846, is 
shown by the majority of more than two to one which it re- 
ceived when submitted to popular vote. It remained in effect 
nearly half a century. 

If Virginia in early days was " the mother of Presidents," 
New York became, by the strong character of its political lead- 
ers and by its large population, " the pivotal state " in presidential 
elections, and so remained almost without interruption from 
the days of Jackson. After the termination of the Virginia 
regency, both political parties constantly turned to New York 
for the selection of candidates on the presidential and vice- 
presidential tickets. By 1850, two of its sons had been seated in 
the presidential chair, five had been vice presidents, and many 
of the most important cabinet officers, from the time of Hamil- 
ton, had been New Yorkers. Its senators and representatives 
were leaders of intelligence and patriotism. 

At the middle of the nineteenth century. New York had be- 
come the Empire State in name and in fact. Its primacy in 
agriculture and in manufacturing was uncontested. It handled 
over half the nation's commerce. It possessed a seventh of the 


wealth of the entire country. The achievements wrought within 
its bounds were those of a definite growing human group work- 
ing out its own destinies. Its people had a higher standard of 
living; methods of transportation and communication had im- 
proved remarkably; luxuries had been turned into necessities; 
public institutions had multiplied; and government had been 
brought closer to the people. The material and cultural inherit- 
ance now represented a substantial accumulation. 

As early as 1819, New York had been referred to as the Em- 
pire State, when it wrested the leadership in point of population 
from Virginia. And on January 8, 1822, the editor of the New 
York Spectator remarked: "The internal concerns of New 
York extensive as it is in its territory, and with new re- 
sources unfolding themselves to public view, appear like those 
of a mighty and flourishing empire." Washington, with pro- 
phetic vision, had so characterized the prospects of the state 
forty years before, when he referred to the area as " the Seat 
of Empire." By the time the Grand Canal had demonstrated its 
effectiveness in tapping the resources of the West and bringing 
them to New York, the name Empire State was universally 
acknowledged and accepted. 

Select Bibliography 
primary sources 

Andrews, I. D., Report ... on the Trade and Commerce of the Great Lakes 
and Rivers, 1852, Sen. Doc. No, 112, 32 Cong, ist Sess. (Washington, 
1853). A careful and authoritative contemporary study. 

De Bow, J. D. B., Statistical View o£ the U. S. (Washington, 1854) . A com- 
pendium of the Seventh Census, containing a mass of statistical infor- 

Gazetteers of New York State: Gordon, T, H. (Philadelphia, 1836) ; Distur- 
nell, J. (Albany, 1842, New York, 1876); Mather, J. H. (Hartford, 
1847); French, J. H. (Syracuse, i860); F. B. Hough (Albany, 1872). 


Haswell, Charles H., Reminiscences of an Octogenarian (New York, 1887). 

Holley, O. L,, Ed., New York State Register, 1843 (Albany, 1843). 

Kennedy, J. C. G., Preliminary Report on the Eighth Census, i860, Ex. Doc. 
No. 116, 37 Cong. 2d Sess. (Washington, 1862). 

Agricultural Returns of the Eighth Census, i860 (Washington, 1864). 

New York (state) Census, 1855 (Albany, 18J7). Contains summaries of 
previous enumerations, both state and Federal, regarding population, 
agriculture, and manufacturing. 

Armual Report of the Board of Regents, 1850, Sen. Doc. No. 72 (Al- 
bany, 185 1). 

Annual Report of the State Auditor on Canals, 1875, Ass. Doc. No. 133 

(Albany, 1876). 

Annual Report of the State Comptroller on Insurance (1830-53) (Al- 
bany, 1873). 

Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor on Railroads, 1850, 

Sen. Doc. No. 1 2 (Albany, 1 8 5 1 ) . 

United States, Abstract of the Seventh Census, 1850 (Washington, 1853). 

William's Annual Register of New York State (New York, 1836). Contains 
much valuable material on the political, civil, and financial life of the 


Alexander, D. S., A Political History of the State of N. Y. (New York, 
1906). Volumes I and II present a well written and intimate source of 
the politics of the period. 

Anderson, J. J., and A. C. Fhck, A Short History of the State of New York 
(New York, 1902). A good short history, with a generous supply of 
factual material. 

Baldwin, E. B., Data relating to the Organization of the Several Counties of 
New York State. New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 
LIV, 18-19 (1923). 

Bishop, J. L., A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to i860. 
3 vols. (Philadelphia, 1866). Volume II gives a chronological study of 
manufacturing events with much information about particular indus- 
tries, although it is diflScult to use. 

Clark, V. S., History of Manufactures in the U. S., 1607-18 60 (Washington, 
19 1 6). An excellent treatise and readily used. 


Fish, C. R., The Rise of the Common Man (New York, 1927). A very good 

handbook of social changes between 1830 and 1850, for the country as 

a whole. Many references for New York are to be found. 
Fitch, Charles E., A History of the Common Schools of New York (Albany, 

1904). A publication of the Department of Public Instruction 1902-03. 
MacGregor, S., Commercial Statistics of America (London, 1847). Vol- 
ume II contains a mass of statistics for New York, including figures for 

commerce, trade, banking, education, etc. 
McMaster, J. B., The History of the People of the U. S. Vol. V (New York, 

1900). A standard history with good details of the changing life in the 

state during the twenties and thirties. 
Pitkin, Timothy, Statistical View of the Commerce of the U. S. (Boston, 

1 8 17). Gives early figures on the nation's trade. 
Roosevelt, Theodore, New York (New York, 1891). 
Sowers, D. C, Financial History of New York State, 1789-1912 (New York, 

1 9 14). A valuable treatise, in the Columbia University Studies. 
Tucker, George, Progress of the U. S. in Population and Wealth in Fifty 

Years (New York, 1843). Exhibits decennial census from 1790 to 1840, 

with conservative conclusions as to population and wealth. 
Turner, F. J., Rise of the New West (New York, 1906) . An excellent picture 

of the westward movement and its effects in New York State between 

1820 and 1830. 
"Whitford, N. E., History of the Canal System of the State of New York, 

A Supplement of the Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor, 1905 

(Albany, 1906) . An authentic history of the canals. 
"Wilson, J. G., Ed., The Memorial History of the City of New York (New 

York, 1893). Volume IV presents a picture of the cultural life of the 





Abolition, see Slavery 

Abolitionists, 74, 75, 77, 80-83, 259 

Academies, 356 

Academy of Fine Arts, 41, 53 

Adams, C. H., 204 

Adams, Charles Francis, 80, 170 

Adams, John, President, 43, 48, 97, 98 

Adams, John Quincy: convention of sup- 
porters, 63; Missouri Compromise, 106; 
President, 57, 59, 107, 120; slavery ques- 
tion, 114 

Adams men, 63, 64, 67. See also National 

Adirondack branch, 175 

Adirondack Railroad, 183 

Advocate, 6y 

African colonization, 252, 253 

Agrarian (Skidmore's) party, 68 

Agrarian principle, 64 

Agriculture, 335-38 

Albany: flour mills, 233; leather manufac- 
tures, 217, 218; railroad bridges, 157, 158, 
170; railroads, 127-57, i7}' '74' ^77'^ 
temperance societies, 271; troop of horse, 

Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, 173, 176 

Albany Argus, 16, 54, 70, 138, 139, 195 

Albany Convention of Workies, 66 

Albany County: boundaries, 326; distilling 
and brewing, 235; glass, 237; leather, 217; 
maple sugar, 234; metal industry, 210; 
organized, 332; textile production, 196, 
200. See also Rensselaerswyck 

Albany Evening Journal, 71, 115 

Albany Independent Artillery Company, 42 

Albany Iron Works, 210 

Albany Post Road, 127 

Albany Regency, 54-59, 63, 66, 68, 71, 72, 
83, 360 

Albany School of Colored People, 2 5 1 

Albany Society of Brotherly Love, 276 

Alien and Sedition Laws, 43, 98 

Allaire, James Peter, 208, 240 

Allan, " Indian," 232 

Allen, Horatio, 128 

American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 

American and Foreign Bible Society, 276 

American Anti-Slavery Society, 256, 258, 

American Bible Society, 276 

American Colonization Society, 252—54 

American Graphite Company, 213 

American Institute, 200, 209—11, 214 

American Peace Society, 263-65 

American Railroad Journal, 141, 149, 150 

American Revolution: effect on slavery, 249; 
movement of nationalism, 4 

American seamen, 95 

American Society for the Promotion of 
Temperance, 270 

American Union of Associationists, 278 

Amsterdam, 128, 203, 210 

Ancient Druids, Society of, 9 

Andes, 304 

Angelica, 162 

Anthony, Susan B., 269 

Anti-Clintonians, 38, 53 

Antifederalists, 38, 39. See also Republi- 

Antimasonic party, 59, 60, 67, 69, 72, 75, 

Antirenters, 76, 77, 82, 306, 311, 313, 318 

Antirent movement: Constitutional Conven- 
tion (1846), 313-18; court decisions, 306- 
8; demand for new Constitution, 308-13; 
leasehold evils, 288-94, 3i3> 5 18; lease- 
hold system, 285-88; opposition to landed 
aristocracy, 283-85; organization, 301; 
petitions to legislature, 293, 299, 306; 

368 INDEX 

riots — (before 1800) 292, (Columbia 
County) 302—3, (Delaware County) 303- 
5, 312, (Hardenberg Patent) 294, (Rens- 
selaerswyck) 295-99, (western New York) 
294; societies, 305—6, 310, 311; use of 
disguises, 302-5; Van Rensselaer heirs of- 
fer compromise, 299—301 

Antislavery sentiment, 106, 11 4-1 6. See 
also Slavery 

Antiwar sentiments, see Peace movement 

Appeals, Court of, established, 316 

Appleton, D., 358 

Archer, Michael, 297 

Aristocracy: in politics ended, 30-33; oppo- 
sition of antirenters, 283-85 

Armstrong, John, 44, 104, 120 

Art, 358 

Association for Relief of Aged Females, 276 

Astor, John Jacob, 133, 351 

Atlantic and Great Western Railway, 170, 

Attica, 146, 147, 167, 168 

Attica and Buffalo Railroad, 147, 151 

Attica and Hornellsville Railroad, 167 

Auburn, 132, 150, 151, 172, 334 

Auburn and Rochester Railroad, 150, 151 

Auburn and Syracuse Railroad, 150 

Auburn Prison, silk production, 201 

Ausable Forks, 175 

Averill, Herman, 262 

Avon, 168 

Babylon, 187 

Bacheler, Origen, 265 

Bacon, Ezekiel, 19, 27, 29 

Bailey, Joshua, 203 

Bailey, Theodorus, 100 

Bailey, Timothy, 203 

Baldwin Works, Philadelphia, 146 

Ballou, Adin, 264 

Ballston Spa, 141, 142, 175, 216 

Ballston Spa Gazette, 141 

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, 128, 130, 153, 

172, 185 
Baltimore Republican, 73 
Bancroft, George, 18 

Bank Democrats, 71 

Bankers control Tammany Hall, 70 

Bank of America, 49, 63 

Bank of the United States: first, 93, 104; 

second, 66, 6^, 73, 104, iii, 112 
Bank party (Whigs), 70 
Banks, 350 

Banks, Robert Lenox, 174 
Bardin's Tavern, 39 
Barnard, Joseph H., 173, 174 
Barnburners (Soft Shells, Van Burenites), 

76-79, 284 
Barnum, P. T., 354 
Barstow, Gamaliel H., 70 
Bartlett, Bent and Company, 210 
Batavia, 146, 147, 168, 172, 295 
Batavia Lodge of Masons, 274, 275 
Bath, 168 
Beacon, 195 
Beck, T. Romeyn, 358 
Belden, Mortimer C, 303 
Bell, Jacob, 228, 229, 240 
Benedict, S. W., 211 
Benson, Egbert, 7, 18 
Bentham, Jeremy, 20 
Bergen tunnel, 170 

Bergh, Christian, 222, 224, 228, 229, 240 
Berkeley, Lord John, 326 
Berne, 296, 306 
Bernet, J. J., 172 
Beschorman, A. H., 217 
"Best Friend of Charleston," 130 
Bethpage, 187 
Biddle, Nicholas, 73 
Binghamton, 161, 165, 171, 173 
Birney, James G., 74, 75, 116, 260 
Bishop and Simonson, 224, 227, 228 
Bissell, Peter, 212 
Black River Canal, 182 
Black River Valley, railroads, 127, 182 
Black Rock, 146 
Blenheim patent, 287, 289 
Bloodgood, Abraham and John, 216 
Bloomer, Amelia Jenks, Lily, 269 
Boonville, 182 
Boots and shoes, 217 

Boston, IJ3, 157, i/j, 177, 186 

Boston and Albany Railroad, 145, 176 

Boston and Maine Railroad, 175 

Boston Corner, 329 

Bouck, William C, governor of New York, 
72, 74, 260, 314 

Boughton, Smith A., 303 

Boundaries, 325-29 

Bradford, Pa., 185 

Bradish, Luther, 71, 74 

Bradley, Henry, J7 

Brasher, Philip, 7 

Breakneck Hill, 155 

Brewing, 235 

Brewster, Judge, 257 

Brewster, James, 211 

Bribery of voters, 10 

Bridges, railroad: Albany, 155, 157, 158, 
170; Cornwall, 183; Lake Champlain, 178; 
Portage, 168; Poughkeepsie, 184; Sche- 
nectady, 142, 144; Starrucca Viaduct, 166, 
173; Suspension Bridge, 153 

Brinkerhoff, John, and Company, 210 

Brisbane, Albert, 277, 278 

Britton, Henry M., 181 

Bronx County, organized, 333 

Brook Farm paper, 278 

Brooklyn African Woolman Benefit Society, 

Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad, 186 

Broome, John, 45, 48 

Broome County: railroad, 166; temperance 
societies, 272 

"Brother Jonathan," 139 

Brown, Adam and Noah, 229 

Brown, Antoinette L., 269 

Brown, David, 225, 229 

Brown, Jacob, 104 

Brown, William H., 136-38, 222, 228 

Brown and Bell, 224, 228, 229 

Bruce, George, 240, 241 

Bryant, Gridley, 128 

Bryant, William Cullen, 357 

Buckiail Bards, 53 

Bucktails, 51-57. See also Albany Regency 

Buel, Jesse, 70 

INDEX 369 

Buffalo: commerce and trade, 345; growth, 
334; manufactures, 210, 211, 218, 220, 
233, 235, 240; railroads, 146, 147, 151- 
57, 182-88; transportation terminal, 161, 

Buffalo and Cohocton Valley Railroad, 168 

Buffalo and New York City Railroad, 168 

Buffalo and Southwestern Railroad, 171 

Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad, 188 

Buffalo, Corning and New York Railroad, 

Buffalo Express, i 5 i 

Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad, 

Buffalo Steam Engine Works, 211 

Burden, Henry, 206, 240 

Burlington, Vt., 175 

Burr, Aaron: advocate of democracy, 8; aids 
Jeffersonians, 10; assembly ticket, 43; at- 
torney general, 40; candidate for gover- 
nor, 100; combines with Hamilton, 39; 
contest for presidency, 99; duel, 45, 100; 
elected to Assembly, 42; election of 1804, 
45; fagot voting, 47; independent in poli- 
tics, 6; intrigues, 43; opposes Jay Treaty, 
96; organizes voters, 99; plan to eliminate, 
44; revealed letters of Hamilton, 98; 
United States Senator, 40, 42; Vice Presi- 
dent, 43, 100, loi, 120; western in- 
trigues and Richmond trial, 10 1 

Burr, James, 218 

Burrites, 44—46 

Burrows, George H., 158 

Burtiss, Devine, 224 

Bussing, T., 217 

Butler, Benjamin F., 53, 54, 75, 77, 120, 

Butler, W. C, 79 

Butler, William O., 118 

Cadets of Temperance, 273 
Calhoun, John C, 57, 105, no 
" Calico Indians," 303 
California, admission, 118 
Calrow, Richard, 205 
Calvinism, 249 



Cambreleng, Churchill C, 66, 75, yy, 140, 

Camden, 172 
Camillus, 150 
Campbell Hall, 184 
Canaan, 8 
Canal Commission: Clinton removed, 58; 

controlled by Bucktails, 52; newly cre- 
ated, 49 
Canal system: commerce, 332; era of canals, 

338—42; paves way for railroads, 128. 

See also Erie Canal 
Canandaigua, 60, 132, 150, 186 
Canandaigua Branch, 171 
Canandaigua Republican, 151 
Canning of foods, 235 
Capes and Allison, 224 
Cape Vincent, 179, 180 
Capitalists, created by factory system, 238- 

Capron, Dr., 195 
Carbondale, Pa., 173, 174 
Carman, Harry J., and Gold, August Baer, 

The Rise of the Factory System, 19 1-24 j 
Carnely, Thomas, 224 
"Caroline" (ship), 113 
Carpenter and Bishop, 228 
Carpets, 203 

Carteret, Sir George, 326 
Carthage, 182 
Case, Ezekiel, 218 
Cass, Lewis, 79, 81, 118 
Catholic votes, bid for, 72, 74 
Catskill Mountains, tanneries, 215 
Catskill Recorder, 54 
Cayuga County, silk production, 199 
Cayuga Lake, 171 
Cazenovia, 172 
Cazenovia Abolitionist, 257 
Central Railroad Company of Long Island, 

Central Vermont Railroad, 175, 177, 178 
Chamberlain, William, 154 
Champlain Valley: metal industries, 205; 

railroads, 174, 175; shipbuilding, 220 
Chantry, Edward C, 217 

Chaplin, William L., 81 

Charcoal, 218 

Charleston, S. C, 186 

Charlotte, 185 

Charlotte County, see Washington County 

Chase, Salmon P., 68, 80 

Chatham, 14J 

Chautauqua County: land riots, 294; tex- 
tile production, 197, 201 

Cheetham, James, 44 

Chemung Canal, 162 

Chemung County, organized, 333 

Chenango Canal, 162 

Chenango County, textile production, 203 

Chenango Valley Railroad, 184 

Cherry Valley, 176 

Chesebro, Nicholas G., 60 

Cheyney, Edward P., The Antirent Move- 
ment and the Constitution of 1846, 281- 

Chicago, 153, 155, 171 

Chickering, Jonas, 214 

Chidsey, Samuel, 198 

Child, Jonathan, 146 

Chronicle, 278 

Church, Philip, 162 

Church, Sanford E., 81, 83 

Churches, 355 

Cincinnati, Ohio, 153, 155, 170 

Cities, growth, 333-35 

Clark, B. J., 270 

Clark, G. B., 199 

Clark, John T., 137, 138 

Clark, Myron H., 273 

Clark; Oliver L., 209 

Clarke, George, governor of New York, 327 

Clarkson, David M., 7 

Class distinctions, 352 

Claverack, 303 

Clay, Henry: candidate for president, 69, 75, 
107, 115, 116; compromise, 81; favored 
by Bucktails, 57; Missouri Compromise, 
105; tariff views, 67, 109, iii 

Clayton, 182 

"Clermont" (steamboat), 338 

Cleveland, Ohio, 153, 339 



Clinton, De Witt, governor of New York: 
active in the War of 18 12, 104; attacked 
by Bucktails, J3; calls state nominating 
convention, 51; canal commissioner, 49, 
y8; candidate for president, 49, 50; char- 
acter, 52, 103; Council of Appointment, 
13, 14, 46; defeated by Pennsylvania, 50; 
died in office, 60; Erie Canal completed, 
341; governor, 51, 53, 58, 59; lieutenant 
governor, 49; mayor of New York City, 
44, 4j, 47, 48, 50; member of Assembly, 
42; offers reward for conviction of Mor- 
gan captors, 60; opposed by Antimasons, 
58, 60; opposes Constitutional Convention, 
57; plays into hands of Regency, 56; 
prophecy as to New York City, 340; 
quoted, 83; removes Van Buren, 52; state 
senator, 45; suggested for foreign mission, 
52; Thanksgiving Day appointed, 9; 
United States senator, 44, 100; visit to 
Rochester, 334; works against Madison, 

Clinton, De Witt, namesake of governor, 163 

Clinton, George, colonial governor of New 
York, 328 

Clinton, George, governor of New York: de- 
feats recharter of national bank, 104; 
death, 49, 103; governorship, 37-43; 
Massachusetts boundary settled, 327; mem- 
ber of Assembly, 43; power limited, 15; 
receives New York vote for President, 48; 
Vice President, 45, 47, 97, loi, 120 

Clinton County, election fraud, 41 

Clintonians, 38, 41, 44-50, 57, 99. See also 

Clinton regime, 37, 43, 83 

Clippers, 225, 229 

Clothing, 204, 348 

Coachmaking, 139, 207, 211 

Coal traffic, 128, 173, 176, 184, 185 

Coburg, Ont., 185 

Cohocton Valley, 167, 168, 171 

Cohoes, 196, 203 

Colden, Cadwallader, 291 

Colden, Cadwallader D., 7 

Cold Spring, 130 

Cold Water Armies, 273 

Coleman, William, 44 

Colgate, William, 240, 241 

Colleges: free, 64; in the state, 356 

Collins, Edward K., 229 

Collyer, Thomas, 224, 228 

Collyer, William, 224 

Colonization movement, freedmen, 2ji— yy 

Columbia College, 9 

Columbia County: land grants, 302, 303, 
305; temperance societies, 272; textile pro- 
duction, 195, 196. See also Livingston 
Manor; Rensselaerswyck 

Columbia Manufacturing Society, 195 

Columbian Foundry, 209 

Commerce and trade, 343-46 

Commercial Advertiser, 68 

Commercial Whigs, 78 

Committees of correspondence, 39 

Commuters, 145 

Compromise of 1850, 119, 121 

Confectionery, 234 

Confiscation Act, first party division, 37 

Connecticut: boundary, 329; early claims, 

Connecticut River, boundary, 326, 327 

Connecticut shore, 186 

Conscience Whigs, 78, 80 

Conservatives (Whigs), 82 

Conservatives, in politics, 5-8, 10, 22-33 

Constitution (1777), 308 

Constitution (1821): amendment, 308-10; 
Convention, 14-32, 56; not sufficiently 
democratic, 283, 360 

Constitution (1837) proposed, 284 

Constitution (1846): Convention, 77, 308, 
318; courts reorganized, 315; incorpora- 
tion, 318, 350; judges to be elected, 315; 
land tenures, 31J-18; legislature to be 
elected by individual districts, 315, 360; 
provision for amendment, 318; state 
finances, 315; suffrage, 316; woman's 
rights, 267 

Constitutional Convention (1801), 13, 308 

Constitutional Convention (Poughkeepsie, 
1788), 38 



Goodies, JO, ji 

Goody, Abimalech, jo 

Gooke, I., and Sons, 211 

Gooper, James Fenimore, 302, 357 

Gooper, Peter, 129, 240 

Gooper, William, 8, 235 

Gooperstown, 176 

Gopake, 303 

Copley, William, 195 

Gopper and brass, 212 

Gordage, 203 

Gorinth, 219 

Gornell, Ezra, 342 

Gornell, George J., 82 

Gorning, 168, 171 

Gorning, Erastus, 152, 156, 210 

Gornwall, 183, 184 

Gornwall Gounty, 332 

Gorporations: in industry, 238, 347, 349; 

incorporation under general law, 318, 350 
Gorse, Israel, 216 
Gortland, 172 

Gortlandt Manor, 286, 293 
Gotton, 195, 196 
Gotten Whigs, 78 
Council of Appointment, 12—16, 19, 21, 39, 

40, 43, 44, 46-48, 53, 57 
Council of Revision, 14-16, 19, 20, 57 
County judges, 316 
County organization, 326, 332, 333 
Court decisions, antirent cases, 306-8 
Cox, Abraham L., 255, 256 
Crary, John, 63 
Crawford, William H., 57, 107 
Creedmoor, 187 
Croswell, Edwin, 54, 72 
Croton Falls, 145 
Grown Glass Company, 237 
Cuba, 172 

Cultural progress, 355— J9 
Cumberland Gounty: organized, 327, 332 

Daggett, Ezra, 235 
Daily Advertiser, 42 
Dannemora state prison, 175 
Dansville, 172 

D'Arusmont, M., 68 

Davis, Matthew L., 47 

"Davy Crockett," 141 

Deists, 9 

De Kalb, 180 

Delabigarre, Peter, 198 

Delafield, John, 7 

Delano, Nathan, 213 

Delaven, D. E., 212 

Delaware and Hudson Canal, 135, 174 

Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, 173, 

Delaware and Hudson Railroad: coal mines 
in Pennsylvania, 128; foundations, 173- 

Delaware County: land grants, 287; rail- 
road, 165; riots, y6, 294, 303-5, 312, 313 

Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Rail- 
road, 171, 181 

Delaware Valley, 162 

Delevan, E. C, 271 

Delta Upsilon, 276 

Democracy established in New York politics: 
aristocracy ended, 30-33; conservatives, 
5—8, 10, 18, 19, 22-33; Convention 
(1821), 14—32; Council of Appointment, 
12—16, 19, 21; Council of Revision, 14— 
16, 19, 20; dominant issue for half cen- 
tury, 3-5; forces of democracy, 8-1 1; 
reform movement, 12-16; slavery abol- 
ished, 11; suffrage, 4, 14, 16, 22—33; ^ri" 
umphant, 121, 352, 359 

Democrats (Democratic Republicans), 64, 
69-81, 100, 117, 118, 283, 284, 313 

Denney, G. E., 172 

Dennison, Charles, 255, 258 

De Peyster, Frederic, 7 

De Peyster case, antirent, 307 

Deposit, 163, 165 

Desbrosses patent, 287 

Detroit, 153, 340 

Dewey, Loring D., 252 

Dewey, William, 178 

"" De Witt Clinton," 130, 131, 136-40 

Dexter, Simon, 196 

D'Homergue, John, 199 



Dial, 278 

Dimon, John, 211, 230 

Dining cars, 152 

Direct Road, 153 

Disguises, in antirent movement, 302-5 

Distilling, 235, 271 

Distress for rent, abolished, 3 1 3 

Dix, John A., governor of New York, 80, 
81, 171 

Dod, William A., 229 

Dodge, David Low: Mediator's Kingdom, 
262; president of American Peace Society, 

Dodge, Edwin, 180 

Dodge, Henry, 79, 80 

Donck, Adriaen Cornelissen van der, 326 

Dongan, Thomas, governor of New York, 

Douglass, Frederick, 257 

Dover Plains, 145 

Dress reform, 269 

Drew, Daniel, 169, 170 

Drinking, see Temperance 

Duane, James, 133 

Duanesburg, 134, 175 

Duer, John, 23, 29, 53 

Duer, "William Alexander, 252 

Dukes County, 332 

Dunkirk, 164—67, 169 

Dunscomb, Edward, 209 

Dutchess County: boundaries, 326; organ- 
ized, 332; textile production, 194—98, 200 

Dwight, Timothy, 6, 9 

Dyde's hotel. New York City, 46 

Eagle Manufacturing Company, 196 

Earlville, 184 

Eaton and Gilbert, 207 

Eckford, Henry, 221, 224, 228, 240 

Education, universal, 64, 70 

Edwards, Jonathan, 249 

Edwards, Ogden, 13, 17, 29, 30, yy 

Edwards, William, 215 

Egberts, Egbert, 203 

Election frauds, 41 

Elliott, George, 200 

Ellmaker, Amos, 69 

Elmira, 161, 171, 186 

Emancipator, 255, 2j6 

Embargo Act, 10, 48, 102 

Emmons, Uriah, 212 

Empire State, 360 

England, L. C, 217 

Englis, John, 222, 226, 228, 230 

Entail, 291 

Equal Rights party (Locofocos), 70, 71, 

Equity, separate courts abolished, 3 i 5 
Erben, Henry, 214 
Erie Canal: effects, 334, 339—41; freight, 

359, 340; influence on state finance, 316; 

paved way for railroads, 128; railroads 

parallel, 131, 146, 153; tolls, 339; traffic 

protected by law, 146-49 
Erie Railroad: beginnings, 161—65; connects 

with Rochester and State Line, 185; 

Delaware and Hudson connection with, 

173; problems of, 153, 165-72 
Essex County, mineral industry, 213 
Evans, David E., 146 
Evans, George H., 65, 66 
Everson, George, 195 
Excise law (1791), Federal, 93 

Factory system: distilling and brewing, 235; 
food stuffs, 231-36; glass, 237; industrial 
development, 346—50; leather, 215—18; 
lumber, 218—20; metals, 205—15; output, 
193; shipbuilding, 220-31; social effects, 
238-42; tendency to combination, 238; 
textiles, 193-205; workers and industrial- 
ists, 193, 237-42 

Fagot voting, 47 

Earless and Gopsill, 217 

Farm machinery, 348 

Farm products, 336-38, 347. See also Flour; 

Father Mathew Societies, 273 

Faust, Ralph M., joint author. New York 
Becomes the Empire State, 323-63 

Fayette, Seneca County, 277 

Featherstonhaugh, George W., 132-34 

374 INDEX 

Federal government, New York's participa- 
tion: Federalist period, 89-99; Virginia 
dynasty and Adams, 100-8; Jackson and 
Van Buren, 108—14; Texas and slavery 
questions, 114— 19; summary, 11 9-21 

Federalists (Federals), 38-43, 45-52, 37-99, 
103, 106. See also High Minded party 

Federal policies: assumption of state debts, 
91-93; attitude toward French Revolution, 
94-95; Compromise of 1850, 119, 121; 
excise on liquors, 93; funding of the debt, 
91, 92, 104; internal improvements, 105, 
108; Louisiana purchase, 100; Mexican 
War, 117; Missouri Compromise (1820), 
105-6, 120; national bank, 91, 93, 11 1; 
" patriot " uprising in Canada, 113; pro- 
tective tariff, 104, 109; relations with 
Great Britain, 94, 102, no; revenue sys- 
tem, 91, 93; sinking fund established, 93; 
slavery issues, 105—6, 112, 114, 116— 21; 
spoils system, no; Texas question, 11 2-17; 
territorial organization, 118; War of 
1812, 103-5; Wilmot Proviso, 117, 121 

Ferries, railroad, 155, 157, 162, 185, 186 

Ferris, Richard, 215 

Feudal tenures, 307, 317. See also Leasehold 

Ficket and Crockett, 224 

Ficket and Tomes, 228 

Fiddler and Taylor, 235 

Field, Dudley W., 78 

Fillmore, Millard, President: candidate for 
governor, 75; compromise of 1850, 119; 
party treachery, 82; President, 82, 119; 
trip on Erie Railroad, 164; Vice President, 
80, 117 

Fine, John, 268 

Fish, Hamilton, governor of New York: 
candidate for lieutenant governor, y6; 
elected governor, 80, 81 

Fish, Nicholas, 49, 133 

Fisk, James, 170, 173 

Fitchburg Railroad, 175 

Flagg, Azariah Cutting, 54, 75 

Flax and linen, 202 

Floridas, acquisition of, 105 

Flour, 232, 336, 340, 345, 347 

Flushing, 187 

Food stuffs, 231-37 

Ford, Ebenezer, 65, 67 

Fordham, 144 

Fordham Manor, 286 

Fort Blunder, 329 

Fort Edward, 175, 219 

Fort Niagara, Morgan imprisoned, 60 

Fourierism, 277, 278 

Fox, Dixon Ryan, New York Becomes a 
Democracy, 1-34 

Fox sisters, 277 

Franklin Company, 195, 197 

Fraternities, Greek letter, 276 

Freedom's Journal, 253 

tree Enquirer, 65 

Freeman, i^j 

Free Soil party, 79-81, 118 

Freight, canal, 339, 340 

Freight, railroad: Boston to Ogdensburg, 177; 
Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Rail- 
road, 185; central New York, 150; coal, 
128, 173, 176, 184, 185; Delaware and 
Hudson Railroad, 173, 176, 184; Erie 
Railroad, 163, 170, 172; Hudson River, 
156; revenue, 133; terminal on Manhat- 
tan, 157 

French Revolution, effect in United States, 

Friends, Society of: peace movement, 261, 
262; slavery, 249, 250; temperance, 269 

Friends of Domestic Industry, 233 

Frontiers: opened to settlement, 331; tolerant 
influence, 249 

Fugitive slaves, 259, 260 

Fulton, Robert, 338 

Fulton County, organized, 333 

Furniture, 219 

Future, zyy 

Gallaudet, P. W., 262 

Galpin, W. Freeman, Reform Movements, 

Garden City, 187 
Gardiner, Addison, 76, 77 



Gardiners Island (Manor), 286 

Gardner, Baldwin, 212 

Garrison, William Lloyd, 2J5, 258, 264, 

Gas, illuminating, 353 
Gates, Horatio, 43 
Gates, Seth, 80 
Gay, Gamaliel, 200 
Geissenhaimer, Frederick, 206, 208 
Genesee County: antimasonic feeling, 59, 60; 

land riots, 295 
Genesee River, 162, 232 
Genesee Valley, 167 
Genesee Valley Canal, 186 
Genesee Valley Railroad, 168 
Genet, Edmond Charles, 94 
Geneva, 150, 172, 188 
Geneva Glass Company, 237 
Georgia, conflict with New York, 260 
Gerrymander, 31 
Given, John, 19 j 
Glass, 237 

Glass Globe Manufacturing Company, 237 
Glenham Company, 197 
Glens Falls, 175, 218, 219 
Glens Falls Railroad, 175 
Gloucester County, organized, 327, 332 
Gloversville, 217, 218 
Gloves, 218 
Gold, August Baer, joint author. The Rise of 

the Factory System, 191-245 
Gold and silver, 211 
Goodell, William, 2jj, 256 
Goshen, 164 
Gould, Jay, 170-72 
Governor: powers, 12, 13, 20, 21; term 

shortened to two years, 57 
Grand Central Terminal, 145, 157 
Grand Trunk Railway, IJ3, 181 
Granger, Francis, 60, 63, 67, 69, 82, iij, 

Grant, James, 213 
Graphite, 213 
Great Bend, Pa., 171 
Great Britain: foe of France, 94; relations 

with the United States, 95, 102; treaty 

of 1 8 18, 105; West Indian trade dispute, 

Great Falls, 203 
Great Western Railway, 153 
Great Western Turnpike, 127 
Greeley, Horace, 73, 253, 269, 277, 278 
Green, Beriah, 2j6 
Greenbush, 145, IJ4, 155, 199 
Greene, W. K., 203 
Greene, William, 256 
Greene County: land grants, 287; tanneries. 

Green port, 186 
Griswold, Gaylord, 100 

Hackworth, Timothy, 129 

Haight, John and Nicholas, 203 

Hale, John P., 80 

Hall, Nathan K., 120 

Hall, Solomon, 310 

Hall and Lebagh, 214 

Halleck, Fitz-Greene, 357 

Hamilton, Alexander: against Burr, 45; 
appointed general, 97; anti-Clintonian 
leader, 38; Assembly ticket, 43; attitude 
toward French Revolution, 94-95; char- 
acter, 90, 97, 120, 121; combines with 
Burr, 39; domestic policies as Secretary of 
the Treasury, 90-94; favors Jefferson over 
Burr, 99; Federalist leader, 40; feeling 
toward Great Britain, 94-96; intrigues, 43, 
97. 99; killed by Burr, 45, 100; opposed 
to slavery, 11, 250; political theories, 5; 
stoned, 42, 96; urges political society, 10 

Hamilton, Philip, 44 

Hamilton College, 276 

Hamiltonians, see Federalists 

Hamilton Manufacturing Company, 237 

Hammett, William H., 74 

Hammond, George, 95 

Hammond, J. D., 32 

Hancock, 184 

Hanks, Julius and Oscar, 207 

Harbinger, 278 

Hardenberg, Gerardus, 294 

Hardenberg, Johannes, 287 



Hardenberg patent, 287, 289, 294 

Hardie, Allen W., 205 

Hard Shells, see Hunkers 

Harison, Richard, 7 

Harlem River, 144 

Harlem Road, see New York and Harlem 

Harmony, Peter, 196 
Harmony Cotton Manufacturing Company, 

Harnard, Samuel, 228 
Harper, James, yy 
Harper, John, purchase, 287 • 
Harper and Bros., 358 
Harper's Magazine, 3j8 
Harper's New York and Erie Rail Road 

Guide, 16$ 
Harpur, Robert, 328 
Harriman, 172 
Harris, Ira, 311, 314 
Harrison, William Henry, President, 73, 114, 

iij, 284 
Hartford Convention, 51 
Havemeyer family, 234 
Hawley, Gideon, 355 
Heating of buildings, 353 
Heaton, War and Christianity Contrasted, 

Hecker, John, 233 
Hector, 270, 271, 273 
Helderberg War, 296-99 
Hemlock Lake, 172 
Hemp, 202 

Hempstead Plains, 187 
Herkimer, 183 
Herkimer, Newport and Poland Railroad, 

Hicksville, 186 

High Minded (Federalist), 52, 53, 57 
Highways, early, 127-29 
Hines, Joseph, 202 
Hoboken, N. J., 129 
Hoe, Robert, 240, 348 
Hoffman, 174 
Hoffman, Josiah Ogden, 7 
Hoffman, Michael, 55, 311, 316 

Holland, king of, 329 

Holland Land Company, 12, 288, 294 

Holley, Myron, 257 

Homer, 150 

Homes for unfortunates, 355 

Hone, Philip, 141 

Honesdale, Pa., 128, 130 

Hoosac Tunnel, 175 

Hopper, Isaac T., 25 j 

Hornell, 172 

Hornellsville, 168 

Horse power, on early railroads, 128, 129, 
136, 139, 140, 144, 145, 186 

Hoskins, W., 202 

Hough, Franklin B., 177 

House construction, 353 

Household manufactures, textiles, 194, 202, 

Howe, Elias, 348 

Howland, Joseph, Thomas and Peleg, 219 

Hoyt, Jesse, 64, 66, 69, 70 

Hudson, 195, 203, 235, 238 

Hudson Falls, 219 

Hudson River Print Works, 196 

Hudson River Railroad, 14 j, 153-57 

" Hudson River School," of painters, 359 

Hudson Valley: metal industries, 206; paper 
mills, 219; transportation, 161 

Hughes, John, 72 

Humanitarian activities, 249, 262, 263 

Hungerford, Edward: The Neil' York Cen- 
tral Railroad, 125-58; The Railway Sys- 
tems of New York, 159-90 

Hungerford, Orville, 179, 180 

Hunkers (Hard Shells, Marcy faction), 75- 
81, 283 

Hunt, W., 202 

Hunt, Washington, elected governor, 82, 83 

Hunter, 176, 215 

Huntington, Henry, 59 

Hurd, John, 183 

Hydesville, 277 

Ida Mills, 196 

Imprisonment for debt, 64, 68, 239 

Incorporation, under general law, 318, 350 



" Indian " disguises, 302— j 

Industrial development, 346-50. See also 

Factory system 
Industrial workers, excluded from suffrage, 

Ingersoll, Jared, 50 
Insurance companies, 350 
Internal improvements, 105, 108 
Interstate Commerce Commission, 176 
Interurban electric railroads, 188 
Inventions, mechanical, 348 
Iron and steel, 20J-11 
Iron ships, 225 
Irving, Washington, 357 
Ithaca, 172 
Ithaca and Owego Railroad, 162, 171 

Jackson, Andrew, President: authorizes Erie 
Railroad survey, 163; cabinet, 54; cam- 
paign, 63; candidacy, 59; elected Presi- 
dent, 107-11; fights national bank, 66; 
government deposits, 69; rise to power, 
120; War of 1812, 104 

Jacksonians, 63, 70, 108, 109 

Jacques, Moses, 70 

Jamaica, 186 

James II, king of England, 326 

Jamestown, 162 

Jardine, George, 21 j 

Jay, John, governor of New York: candi- 
date for governor, 37; chief justice of su- 
preme court, 90, 119; curbs Council of 
Appointment, 13; defrauded of governor- 
ship, 41; denounced for treaty, 42, 96; 
elected governor, 42; neutrality proclama- 
tion, 94; opposed to slavery, 11; opposes 
political trickery, 43, 99; political the- 
ories, 5; president of abolition society, 
2jo; proclaims Thanksgiving Day, 9; spe- 
cial envoy to Great Britain, 95 

Jay, Peter A., 19, 30, 133 

Jay, William, War and Peace, z66 

Jay Treaty, 9j, 96 

Jefferson, Thomas, President: asks recall of 
Genet, 95; deprecates war, 94; embargo, 
102; orders arrest of Burr, loi; Presi- 

dency, 43, 45, 47, 98-100; role of New 

York in election, 120; Secretary of State, 

92; Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, 

98; Vice President, 97 
Jefferson County: textile production, 198; 

metal industry, 206 
Jeffersonian victory, 10 
Jefferson Railroad, 173 
Jefferys, M., 205 
Jenkins, Elisha, 46 
Jersey City, 166, 167, 169, 184 
Jerusalem, Yates County, 277 
Jervis, John B., 135, 136, 138, 140, 141, 

154, 156 
Jewett, Hugh J., 171 
"John Bull," 131, 138, 139 
Johnson, Jeromus, 236 
Johnsonville, 175 
Johnstown, 217 
Jones, Seth, 194 
Journal of Commerce, 26} 
Joy, Benjamin, 202, 271 
Joy, Charles, 202 
Judges: direct election, 315, 316; removal, 

Judicial system, 19, 21, 30, 32, 315 

Kearsing, John, and Sons, 214 

Kensett, Thomas, 235 

Kent, James, 15, 18, 21-23, 30> 54 

Kentucky resolutions, 98 

Kimball, William, 209 

Kinderhook, 195 

King, James G., 163, 164 

King, Preston, yy 

King, Rufus: character, 6; defeated for 
governor, 51; discourages intrigue, 100; 
in opposition to national bank, 104; on 
suffrage, 29; opposed to slavery, 11, 106; 
opposes De Witt Clinton, 103; political 
party tendencies, 17; supports Hamilton 
policies, 93; United States Senator, 42, 45, 
52, 89, 120 

Kings County, organized, 332 

Kingston, 176, 184, 233 

Knit goods, 203 



Knower, Benjamin, 53, 54 
Knox, Alexander, 196 
Kortright patent, 289 
Kumbel, William, 216 

Laborers, factory, 193, 238-39 

Labor movement, 239 

Lackawanna Railroad, see Delaware, Lacka- 
wanna and Western Railroad 

Ladd, William, 263, 26j 

Lake Champlain: railroad bridge, 178; rail- 
roads, 175, 177; smuggling, 102 

Lake Champlain and Ogdensburgh Railroad, 
see Ogdensburgh and Lake Champlain 

Lake Chautauqua, 162 

Lake commerce, 334, 340, 343, 345 

Lake Erie, railroad parallel, IJ3, 161 

Lake George, 175 

Lake Ontario: ferry, 185; railroads parallel, 
180; transportation route, 161 

Lake Ontario Shore Railroad, 181 

Lake Placid, 175 

Land riots: before 1800, 292; Columbia 
County, 302-3; Delaware County, 303-5, 
312; Hardenberg Patent, 294; Rensselaers- 
wyck, 295—99; western New York, 294 

Land tenure, Constitution (1846), 315—18. 
See also Antirent movement; Leasehold 

Lansing, John, 45 

Lansingburg, 42 

Lawrence and Folkes, 224 

Lawrence and Sneden, 227, 228 

Lawyers, in politics, 6 

Lead, 213 

League of Nations, 265 

Leasehold system: character, 285-88; delays 
settlement, 291; evils, 288-94, 3i3> 3i8, 
359; typical lease, 289. See also Anti- 
rent movement 

Leases, agricultural, 313, 317 

Leather, 215-18, 349 

Leavitt, Joshua, 255, 258 

Lebanon, 277 

Lee, Ann, 277 

Lee, Gideon, 216 

Leggett, William, 54 

Legislature, members elected by individual 

districts, 310, 316 
Lehigh Valley Railroad, 171, 172, 188 
Leroy, 185 

Levelers' uprising, 293 
Lewis, Morgan, 44-47, 287 
Lewis County, textile production, 202 
Lewis' tavern, meeting of Federalists, 45 
Liberator, 255 
Liberia, 253 
Liberty, 184 
Liberty League, 1 1 8 

Liberty party, 74, 75, 80, 116, 257, 260 
Libraries, 358 
Lieutenant governor, term shortened to two 

years, 57 
Lily, 269 

Lincoln, Abraham, letter from Owen, 68 
Lind, Jenny, 359 
Linen, 202 
Linn, William, 9 

Literary and Philosophical Society, 53 
Literature, 357 
Little Falls, 188 

Liverpool and Manchester Railway, 129 
Livingston, Brockholst, 43, 44, loi, 121 
Livingston, Edward, 40, 44 
Livingston, Edward P., 67 
Livingston, Maturln, 46 
Livingston, Peter R., 17, 20, 21 
Livingston, Robert R., 40, 42, 53, 212, 286, 

Livingston family, 6, 40, 41 
Livingston (town), 292 
Livingstonians, 40, 41, 44-47, 99 
Livingston Manor, 286, 292, 293, 327, 332 
Local option, 273 
Lockport, 128, 152, 188 
Locofocos (Equal Rights party), 70, 71, 283 
Loder, Benjamin, 164, 169 
Log Cabin, 73 
Long Island: distinct area, 186; manors, 286; 

railroads, 186-87 
Long Island City, 187 



Long Island Railroad, 186 

Lord, Eleazar, 161, 163, 262 

Loree, Leonor F., 176 

Lorillard, Jacob, 215 

Louisiana, foreign trade, 344 

Louisiana Purchase, 100 

Low, Nicholas, 7 

Low Hampton, Washington County, 277 

Lumber, 218-20, 347 

Lynch, Denis Tilden: The Growth of Politi- 
cal Parties, IJ7J-1S2S, 35-60; Party 
Struggles, 182S-1850, 61-85 

Mabbett, John, 200 

McClintock, Mary A., 268 

McKay, Donald, 229 

McLane, Louis, Secretary of the Treasury, 
Report on Manufactures (1833), 197, 203 

McNamara Company, 197 

Macomb Purchase, 12, 287 

McQueen, Robert, 209 

McRae, John, 200 

Madison, James, President: administration, 
103, 104; commercial retaliation, 95; 
nominated for President, 47; opposes fund- 
ing of the debt, 92; strength of Madisoni- 
ans, 50; Virginia and Kentucky resolu- 
tions, 98 

Madison County: antislavery sentiment, 256; 
textile production, 198 

Madison Glass Manufacturing Association, 

Magnetic Telegraph Company, 342 

Maine; admission of, 106; part of New 
York, 326 

Malone, 177, 178, 183 

Mamaroneck River, 326 

Man, The, 65 

Manlius Glass and Iron Works, 237 

Manorial system, 285-88 

Manufacturing, see Factory system 

Manumission of slaves, 250, 251 

Manumission Society, 11 

Maple sugar, 234 

Marcellus, 150 

Marcy, William Learned, governor of New 

York: Albany Regency, 53-55; defeated 
for governor, 71; elected governor, 69, 70; 
Hunkers party leader, 75; in Polk's cabi- 
net, 75; opposes abolition, 259; Republi- 
can leader, 52; Secretary of War, 117, 120, 
121; spoils system, 52, 56, 83 

Marquand and Company, 212 

Marsh, Nathaniel, 169, 170 

Marshall, Benjamin, 195, 196 

Martha Washington Societies, 272 

Martling, Abraham, 46 

Martling Men, 46, 49. See also Goodies 

Martling's Long Room, 49 

Martin, Joseph, 227 

Martinsburg, 202 

Mason, John, 143 

Masonry, 274, 275. See also Antimasonic 

Massachusetts: boundary, 329; early claims, 
326; encroachments, 292, 327; foreign 
trade, 344 

Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of 
Intemperance, 270 

Massena, 181 

Matches, brimstone, 353 

Matteawan, 195 

Mauch Chunk, Pa., 128 

Maxwell, Hugh, 252 

May, Samuel J., 257, 266, 267 

Mayor, office made elective, 32 

Mayville, 294 

Meadville, Pa., 170 

Meat, 235 

Mechanics Institute, 225 

Mechanics lien law, 64, 68, 239 

Mechanicville, 175, 182, 219 

Merchant class, favorable to Great Britain, 

Metallurgical manufactures, 205—15 

Methodists, on temperance, 269 

Mexican War, 117, 261, 266, 267 

Mexico, Texan question, 11 2-14, 117 

Michigan Central Railroad, 153 

Middletown, 184 

Milbanks, Samuel, 236 

Military Road, 127 



Militia: called out in antirent troubles, 298, 
299, 301, 304; in charge of railroad, 174 

Militia system reform, 239 

Miller, David C, 274, 275 

Miller, Henry C, 302 

Miller, Sylvanus, 44 

Miller, William, 277 

Millerites, 277 

Milling, 347 

Mills, W. T., 218 

Mining, Smelting and Refining Company, 

Minot, Charles, 164 

Minthorne, Mangle, 49 

Missouri Compromise, 105, 106 

Mix, Isaac, and Sons, 211 

Moffat, David, 217 

Mohawk and Hudson Railroad: absorbed by 
the Utica and Schenectady Railroad, 152; 
construction, 131—40; first trip, 130; horse 
power, 136, 139; incorporated, 127, 341; 
steam locomotives, 141 
Mohawk Turnpike Company, 148 
Moira, 183 

Monroe, James, President, 51-53, 105 
Monroe County, antimasonic feeling, 59, 60 
Monroe Doctrine, 105 
Monster party (Whigs), 70 
Montgomery, 176 
Montgomery, Ulster County, 8 
Montgomery (Tryon) County: organized, 
332; maple sugar, 234; textile production, 
Monticello, 162, 184 
Montpelier, Vt., 177 
Montreal, 174, 175, 181, 183 
Montreal and Plattsburg Railroad, 174, 175 
Mooers Junction, 175, 176 
Moore, Sir Henry, colonial governor of New 

York, 328 
Moore, Jared, 212 
Moran, Charles, 169 
Moreau, 270 
Morgan, Edwin D., 156 
Morgan, James, and Son, 228 
Morgan, R. P., 154 

Morgan, William, 59, 274-76 

Morgan, Mrs. William, 275 

Mormonism, 277 

Mor?ting Courier and New York Enquirer, 

Morris, Gouverneur, 6, 7, 11, 94, 144 
Morris, Richard, 40 
Morris, Robert, 7 
Morris, Robert H., 78 
Morrisania Manor, 286 
Morris Purchase, 287 
Morrison, John, 200 
Morristown, 182 
Morse, Samuel F. B., 342 
Mott, Lawfulness of War, 262 
Mott, Edward Harold, 163, 164 
Mott, J. S., 212 
Mott, Jordan L., 209 
Mount Morris, 168, 172 

Mowry, , 195 

Muller and Ackerman, 212 
Munro, Peter Jay, 3 i 
Munroe, Mrs. Timothy, 275 
Music, 359 
Musical instruments, 213—15 

Naples, 172 

Napoleonic decrees, 48 

Nassau County, organized, 333 

National Academy of Design, 358 

National bank, see Bank of the United States 

Nationalism, 4, 104, 105 

National Republicans, 63, 64, 67, 69, 276 

National Tract Society, 276 

National unity, effect of Erie Canal, 341 

Native Americans, jy, 283 

Naturalization, 98 

Naylor, William, and Company, 210, 213 

Negroes: suffrage, 57, 316; voters, 12, 15, 
30. See also Slavery 

Nelson, Samuel, 314 

Neutrality: difficult problems, 10;; procla- 
mation (1793), 94 

Newark, 186 

New Berlin Hemp Company, 202 

Newburgh, 9, 169, 217, 218 



New England, interest in temperance, 270 

New England Non-Resistance Society, 264- 

New Harmony colony, 64, 68 

New Haven Railroad, see New York, New 
Haven and Hartford Railroad 

New Jersey: part of New York, 326; bound- 
ary, 329 

New Netherland, 325, 328 

New York (city): antislavery meeting, 106; 
Federal capital, 89; growth, 335; manu- 
factures, 193, 196, 199-219, 232, 233, 
235; peace sentiment, 264; political im- 
portance, 28—31, 43; public utilities, 353; 
railroads, 132, 143-45, 153-5J. I57. 166, 
167, 182, 183, 186; reception of Jay 
Treaty, 96; ship-building, 220-31; Work- 
ies convention, 66 

New York (state): agriculture, 335-38; 
boundaries, 325-29; commerce and trade, 
343—46; conflict with southern states, 
259, 260; county organization, 332—33; 
cultural progress, 355—59; the Empire 
State, 360; industrial development, 346- 
50; pivotal state in politics, 360; political 
changes, 359-61; population growth, 329- 
35; social advance, 352-55; transportation 
and communication, 338-42; urban de- 
velopment, 333-35; wealth, 350-52. See 
also subjects in main alphabet 

New York African Society for Mutual Re- 
lief, 251 

New York American, 29, 230 

New York and Canada Railroad, 174 

New York and Erie Railroad, see Erie Rail- 

New York and Harlem Railroad, 132, 139, 
M3-45, 153. 154. 157. 169 

New York Bible and Common Prayer Book 
Society, 276 

New York Central Railroad: Batavia-Buflfalo 
line, 168; conflict with the Erie, 169; 
" De Witt Clinton," 136-40; four track 
line, 157; first New York Central, 152- 
53; first vision, 127-29; Hudson River 
Railroad, 145, 153-57; Mohawk and Hud- 

son Railroad, 131-36; New York Central 
and Hudson River Railroad, 157, 158; 
north country, 178; railroad chain across 
the state, 147-52; Rome, "Watertown and 
Ogdensburgh Railroad, 180-83; steam lo- 
comotives, 129-30; Ulster and Delaware 
Railroad merged, 176; Vanderbilt family, 
155-58; West Shore Railroad, 183. See 
also New York and Harlem Railroad; 
Tonawanda Railroad 

New York City Abolition Society, 255 

New York City Charitable Organization, 

New York Copper Manufacturing Company, 

New York County, organized, 332 

New York Daily Advertiser, 6 

New York Evening Post, 44, 58, 78, 144, 
222, 223, 263, 283, 357 

New York Harmonic Society, 359 

New York Historical Society, 53 

New York Journal and Weekly Register, 38 

New York, Kingston and Syracuse Railroad, 

New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad, 
see Erie Railroad 

New York Mills, Whitestown, 196 

New York, New Haven and Hartford Rail- 
road, 145 

New York Observer, z6}, 264 

New York, Ontario and Western Railroad, 184 

New York Peace Society, 262 

New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad, 

New York Spectator, 361 

New York State Agricultural Society, 198 

New York State Anti-Slavery Society, 257, 

New York State Register, 201 

New York, Susquehanna and Western Rail- 
road, 184 

New York Tannery Company, 215, 216 

New York Tribune, 269, 277 

New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railroad, 
see West Shore Railroad 

Niagara Falls, 127, 153, 172, 181, 188 



Nineveh, 173 

Nonimportation, 102 

North Country: railroading, 176-83; Road, 

North Creek, 175 

Northern New York, excluded from suffrage, 

Northern Railroad, 177, 178, 180 
Northertt State Journal, 179 
North Star, 257 
Norwich, 184 
Norwood, 180 
Nott, Eliphalet, 210 
Nott, H., and Company, 210 
Noyes, John H., 278 
Nullification, iii 
Nunns, Robert, William and John, 214 

Oakley, Thomas J., 48 

Oblong, 326 

O'Conor, Charles, 80 

Ogdensburg: lumber mills, 218; railroads, 
177, 178, 180, 182 

Ogdensburgh and Lake Champlain Railroad, 

Ogdensburgh Railroad, 178 

Ohio and Mississippi Railroads, 170 

Oil boom, 18 J 

Olean, 186 

Oneida, 184 

Oneida Community, 278 

Oneida County: antislavery sentiment, 256; 
leaseholds, 292; metal industry, 206; tex- 
tile production, 195—99 

Oneida Manufacturing Society, 195 

Oneonta, 173, 176 

Onondaga County: antislavery sentiment, 
256; temperance societies, 272 

Onondaga salt springs, 236 

Ontario, province of Canada, 328 

Ontario County: maple sugar, 234; textile 
production, 194 

Ontario County Agricultural Society, 194 

Orange County: manufactures, 195, 197, 
198, 201, 205, 217; organized, 332; rail- 
roads, 166 

Organ, 272 

Organs, 214 

Oriskany, 196 

Oriskany Manufacturing Company, 197 

Osborn, John, 214 

Osgood, Samuel, 43 

Oswego: Canadian trade, 345; flour milling, 

232, 347; growth, 334; railroads, 180, 

Oswego Midland Railroad, 184 
Otsego County: election fraud, 41; maple 

sugar, 234; textile production, 196 
Ottawa, 183 
Owasco Lake, ijo 
Owego, 162, 171 
Owen, Robert Dale, 64, 65, 67, 68, 70 

Packets, 225, 229 

Paine, Ephraim, 38 

Paine, Thomas, 9 

Painted Post, 168 

Palmer, Elihu, 9 

Panic of 1837, 73, 113, 114, 200, 223 

Paper and pulp, 219 

Paper money, 73 

Parish, George, 177 

Parish family, 8 

Parsons, Charles, 181-83 

Passaic, N. J., 167 

Patents, for inventions, 348 

Paterson, N. J., 167 

Paterson and Hudson River Railroad, 166 

Patriot "War, New Yorkers in, 1 1 3 

Patterson, George W., 80 

Patterson and Stack, 224 

Paulding, James K., 120, 357 

Peace Movement, 261—67 

Peck, Jedediah, 9, 98 

Peckham, Rufus H., 173 

Pelham Manor, 286 

Pennsylvania: boundary, 328; prevents elec- 
tion of Clinton, JO 

Pennsylvania Railroad, 153, 166, 186, 

Pennsylvania Station, 187 

People's party, 57, 58 

Perkins, Dexter, New York's Participation 
in the federal Government, 87-123 

Perkins, James, 72 

Peru Iron Company, 209 

Peterboro, 257, 264 

Petitions, antirenters, 293, 299, 306 

Phalanx, 278 

Phelps, Anson G., 2j2, 262 

Phelps, Walter, 262 

Phelps and Gorham Purchase, 287 

Philadelphia, Pa., 134 

Philadelphia Ledger, 301 

Philipsburgh (Philipse Manor), 286 

Phoenicia, 176 

Phyfe, Duncan, 219 

Pianos, 213 

Pickering, Timothy, 100 

Pierce, Franklin, 56 

Piermont, 164-67 

Pierrepont, William C., 180 

Pitcher, Nathaniel, 59, 67 

Pittsburgh, Pa., 185 

Piatt, Jonas, 15, 19, 21, 48 

Plattsburg, 127, 174, 175 

Plattsburg Republican, 55 

Piatt's inn, 42 

Pleasant Valley, 195 

Plebeian, 278 

Plumb, Joseph, 81 

Poe, Edgar Allan, 357 

Political changes, 359-61 

Political parties: Abolitionists, 74, 75, yy, 
80—83, 259; Adams men, 63, 64, 67; 
Agrarian party, 68; Albany Regency, 54- 
59, 63, 66, 68, 71, 72, 83; Anti-Clinto- 
nians, 38, 53; Anti-Federalists, 38, 39; 
Antimasonic party, J9, 60, 67, 69, 72, 75, 
275; Antirenters, 76, 77, 82; Bank Demo- 
crats, 71; Bank party, 70; Barnburners, 
76-79, 284; Bucktails, 51-J7; Burrites, 
44-46; Clintonians, 38, 41, 44-50, 57, 99; 
Commercial Whigs, 78; Conscience Whigs, 
78, 80; Conservatives, 82; Coodies, 50, 51; 
Cotton Whigs, 78; Democrats, 64, 69-81, 
100, 117, 118, 283, 284, 313; Equal 
Rights party, 70, 71, 283; Federalists, 38- 

INDEX 383 

43, 45-52, 97-99, 103, 106; Free Soil 
party, 79-81, ir8; Hamiltonians, see Fed- 
eralists; Hard Shells, see Hunkers; High 
Minded, 52, 53, 57; Hunkers, 75-81, 283; 
Jacksonians, 63, 70, 108, 109; Liberty 
League, 118; Liberty party, 74, 75, 80, 
116, 257, 260; Livingstonians, 40, 41, 44- 
47, 99; Locofocos, 70, 71, 283; Martling 
Men, 46, 49; Monster party, 70; National 
Republicans, 63, 64, 67, 69, 276; Native 
Americans, 77, 283; People's party, 57, 
58; Quids, 46, 47; Radicals, 81, 82; Re- 
publicans, 39, 41, 48-52, 97-99, 103, 
106; Schuyler party, 38; Silver Grays, 82; 
Skidmore's party, 68; Soft Shells, see 
Barnburners; Tammanies, 49-51, 68; Tory 
party, 70; Van Burenites, see Barnburners; 
Whig Working Men's party, 33, 68; 
Whigs, 69-82, III, 1 14-19, 259, 260, 284, 
310, 313; Wooly Heads, 82; Working- 
men's party, 33, 64-68, 283 

Politics: influence of secret societies, 274; 
railroad finance, 170; slave question, 257- 

Polk, James K., President, 56, 75, 116, 117 

Pond, James O., 265 

Poor, care for, 355 

Population growth, 329-35 

Portage, 168 

Porter, Peter B., 46, 51, 103, 120 

Port Henry, 174, 175, 220 

Port Jervis, 166, 172, 184 

Post oflSce, rates, 354 

Potash, 218 

Potsdam and Watertown Railroad, 180 

Poughkeepsie: address, 15; Levelers' upris- 
ing, 293; railroad bridge, 184; railroads, 
154, 155; textile production, 200, 203 

Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroad, 188 

Poughkeepsie Silk Company, 200 

Pratt, Zadock, 215 

Presidential electors, 43 

Press: newspaper and periodical, 357; print- 
ing, 348 

Priest, Zenas, 158 

Prison reform, 355 

384 INDEX 

Prohibition laws, 273 

Property qualification: Negroes, 57; ofSce, 

309; suffrage, 32 
Property rights: real estate, 24-27; slaves, 

250, 251; women's, 267, 268 
Property valuation, 3 5 i 
Proudfit, Alexander, 252 
Pruyn, Robert H., 173 
Pulaski, 178-80 
Pulteney Purchase, 12, 287 

Quakers, see Friends, Society of 

Quarter sales, 289, 290, 294, 296, 308, 317 

Quebec, boundaries, 328 

Quebec Act, 328 

Queens County, organized, 332 

Queen's Village Manor, 286 

Quids (Livingstonians) , 46, 47 

Quincy, Mass., 128 

Quit rents, 286, 287 

Radcliffe, Jacob, 25 

Radicals (>57higs), 81, 82 

Railroad system: beginnings in New York, 
127—29, 334, 341; coaches, 139; Delaware 
and Hudson Railroad, 173—76; Erie Rail- 
road, 161-72; legislation, 133, 134, 140, 
145; New York Central Railroad, 127-58; 
North country railroading, 176-83; other 
New York state railroads, 184-88; over- 
building, 147; politics in its finance, 170; 
relation to waterways, 131, 147; tunnels, 
144, lyj, 170. See also Bridges; Ferries; 
and names of individual railroads 

Ramsdell, Homer, 169 

Recreations, 354 

Redfield, William C, 162 

Reform movements: humanitarian organiza- 
tions, 276; in politics, 12-16; peace move- 
ment, 261-67; religious sects, 277; secret 
societies, 274-76; slavery, 249-61; strong 
in northern and western New York, 359, 
360; temperance, 269-74; woman suf- 
frage, 267-69 

Reifschneider, Felix E., 187 

Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad, 142, 174 

Rensselaer County: textile production, 196, 
197, 200, 202, 203. See also Rensselaers- 

Rensselaer Glass Factory, 237 

Rensselaerswyck: antirent troubles, 285, 293, 
295—99; boundaries, 327; leases, 289, 290; 
titles settled, 300, 301 

Republicans, 39, 41, 48-52, 97-99, 103, 106 

Richland, 180 

Richmond, Dean, 156 

Richmond County, organized, 332 

Ridge Road, 127 

Riggs, James G., and Faust, Ralph M., New 
York Becomes the Empire State, 323—63 

Riots, see Land riots 

Rochester, William B., 59 

Rochester: flour milling, 232, 347; growth, 
334; on early highway, 127; on Erie 
Canal, 128; railroads, 132, 146-53, 157, 
168, 172, 181-88 

Rochester and State Line Railroad, 185 

Rochester Democrat, 146, 151 

Rock Island Railroad, 135 

Rockland County, railroads, 166 

Roebling, John A., 153 

Rogers, 174 

Rome: on Erie Canal, 128; railroads, 149, 
178, 179, 182, 184 

Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburgh Rail- 
road, 180-83 

Root, Erastus: candidate for governor, 16, 
66-68; Council of Revision, 14; powers of 
governor, 20, 21; suffrage, 14, 28, 29 

Rosman, Jacob, 289 

Ross, John Z., 28 

Rossie Lead Company, 213 

Rotation in office, no 

Rouses Point, 174, 175, 176, 328 

Ruggles, Charles H., 314, 315 

Rum, 236 

Rush, Benjamin, 269 

Russwurm, John B., 253 

Rutgers, Henry, 252 

Rutland, Vt., railroad, 174 

Rutland Railroad, 175, 178 

Rye Rebellion, 329 



Sackett's Harbor, 127, i/j, 182 

Sackett's Harbor and Ellisburg Railroad, 188 

Sackmeister, Charles, 214 

Saint Albans, Vt., 175 

Saint George Manor, 286 

Saint Lawrence County: landowners, 7; 
metal industry, 206, 213 

Saint Louis, Mo., 153, 155, 170 

Salamanca, 170, 18 j 

Salem, railroad, 174 

Salt, 236, 347 

Sandy Creek, 180 

Sanford, Nathan, 22 

Sanford, Stephen, 203 

Saranac Lake, 175 

Saratoga and Sackett's Harbor Railroad, 

Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad, 136, 
140-42, I7J 

Saratoga and Whitehall Railroad, 174 

Saratoga County: tanneries, 216; textile pro- 
duction, 203 

Saratoga Springs, 141, 142, 175, 354 

Scarsdale Manor, 286 

Schaghticoke Linen Mills, 202 

Schenck, P. H., 196 

Schenck, Peter, 197 

Schenectady: railroad bridge, 142; railroads, 
127, 130, 132, 135, 136, 139-42. 153, 
175; textile production, 203. See also 
Mohawk and Hudson Railroad 

Schenectady African School Society, 251 

Schenectady and Troy Railroad, 207 

Schenectady Cabinet, 133 

Schenectady Whig, 139 

Schoharie County: land grants, 287; riots, 

Schools, 72, 74, 318, 35 J 

Schultz, Abraham L, 216 

Schuyler, Philip: against Jefferson, 43; can- 
didate for governor, 37, 38; land specula- 
tion, 7; supports Hamilton policies, 93; 
United States Senator, 40, 90 

Schuyler County, organized, 333 

Schuyler party, 38 

Schuylerville, 219 

Scofield, Jesse, 195 

Scott, David, 146 

Scott, John Morin, candidate for governor, 

Scott, Winfield, 104, 115, 117 

Scott's patent, 287 

Scranton, Pa., 174, 184 

Scudder, Warren, 305 

Sebring, Isaac, 10 

Secession of northern states threatened, 92 

Secret societies: Greek letter fraternities, 
276; Masonic, 274-75 

Senate, appellate jurisdiction abolished, 316 

Seneca Falls, meeting of women, 268, 269 

Settlement, delayed by leasehold system, 291 

Seward, William H., governor of New York: 
antirent troubles, 298, 299; charged with 
bidding for Catholic votes, 72, 74; con- 
flict with southern states, 260; defeated 
for governor, Gi), 70; elected governor, 
71, 74; fugitive slave law, 82; opposes 
slavery, 81, 82; refuses pledge to Aboli- 
tionists, 259; United States Senator, iij, 
118, 121 

Sewing machines, 205, 348 

Seymour, Horatio, governor of New York, 
81, 82, 273 

Shakers, 277 

Sharon Springs, 176 

Sharpe, Peter, 28 

Shawangunk Mountains, 166 

Shipbuilding, 220-31 

Sidney, 184 

Silk, 198-201 

Silver Grays (Whigs, Granger faction), 82 

Simpson, Matthew, 263 

Singer, Isaac, 348 

Skaneateles, 150 

Skidmore, Thomas, 64, 68 

Skidmore's (Agrarian) party, 68 

Skinner, Roger, 53, 54, 59 

Slavery: abolished in New York, 11; aboli- 
tion and politics, 81, 250-61, 266, 284; 
affects peace societies, 265; antislavery 
sentiment, 106, 1 14-16; assaults, 65, 7$; 
efforts to mitigate, 249-54; excluded from 

386 INDEX 

new territory, 117, 118; freedmen, 2j2, 
253; fugitive slaves, 74, 82, 259, 260; 
manumission, 2yo; Missouri Compromise, 
loj, 106; policy, 112, 120, 121; sale and 
import prohibited, 250 

Sleeping cars, 152 

Sloan, Samuel, 156, 181 

Smith, Francis, 212 

Smith, Gerrit: abolitionist, 252—59; advocate 
of woman suffrage, 267; candidate for 
president, 118; friend of May, 266; nomi- 
nated for governor, 260; urged to become 
nonresister, 265; vice president of Ameri- 
can Peace Society, 264 

Smith, Isaac S., 67, 70 

Smith, J., 212 

Smith, Joseph, 277 

Smith, Morgan L., 216 

Smith, Stephen, 228, 230 

Smith and Dimon, 222, 224, 225, 228, 230 

Smith Purchase, 287 

Smuggling, 102 

Social advance, 352—55 

Social Destiny of Man, 277 

Sodus Bay, 186 

Soft Shells, see Barnburners 

Sons of Temperance, 272 

Sound money fight, 73 

South Carolina: conflict with New York, 
259; nullification, iii 

South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Com- 
pany, 130 

Southern tier of counties, 161, 165 

Southwick, Solomon, 57, 63 

Spain, relations with the United States, 10 1 

Sparks, Daniel, 200 

Spaulding, E. Wilder, 4 

Spencer, Ambrose, 15, 18, 21, 23 

Spencer, John C, 120 

Spiritualism, 277 

Spoils system: defended, 52, 56; extended 
to militia, 47; relation to Albany Regency, 
83, 108, no 

Stanley, 186 

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 267-69 

Starbuck, Charles and Nathaniel, 207 

Starrucca Viaduct, 166, 173 

State abolition society, 250 

State banks, 113 

State debts, 91—93, 351 

State finances, 316 

State Library, 358 

State manumission society, 251 

State nominating convention, 51 

State officers, direct election, 316, 360 

State printers, 54, 71, 72 

Steamboats, Erie connection, 166 

Steam locomotives: built in New York, 130, 

209; built in Philadelphia, 146; the " De 

Witt Clinton," 136—40; introduction of, 

129-30; "Stourbridge Lion," first in 

America, 128; use of, 145, 186 
Steamships, 226, 229 
Stebbins and Howe, 211, 212 
Steele, Osman N., 304, 305 
Steers, George and James, 224, 230 
Steers, Henry, 230 
Stephenson, George, 129 
Stephenson, John, 211 
Stephenson, Robert, and Company, 131, 139, 

Sterling Iron Company, 209 
Stevens, F. W., Beginnings of the New 

York Central, 148 
Stevens, John, 129 
Stevens, Samuel, 67, 69 
Stewart, A. T., 187 
Stewart, Alvan, 75, 256, 257, 260 
Stewart, W. H., 164 
Stewart, William, 44 
Stillwell, Silas M., 69 
Stockbridge, 195 
"Stourbridge Lion," 128, 130 
Stuart, Alvan, 75, 256, 257, 260 
Stuart, Robert Leighton and Alexander, 2331 

Stuart, William, 213 
Subtreasury, 73, 113 
Suflfern, 166, 167 
Suffolk County: organized, 332 
Suffrage, 4, 12, 14, 16, 22-33, 3 16, 359 
Sugar, 233 



Sullivan County: land grants, 287; rail- 
road, 166; riots, 294 

Suspension Bridge, 153, 180 

Susquehanna, Pa., 166, 173, 174 

Swartwout, John, 44 

Syracuse: growth, 334; on Erie Canal, 128; 
peace sentiment, 264-67; railroads, 132, 
149-J3, 180, 182, 184, 188 

Syracuse and Utica Railroad, 149, 152 

Syracuse Northern Railroad, 180 

Talcott, Samuel A., 53, 54 

Tallmadge, James, 58 

Tallmadge, James, Jr., 105, 106 

Tallmadge, Nathaniel P., 71 

Tammanies, 49-51, 68. See also Coodies; 

, Martling Men 

Tammany Hall, 8, 10, 13, 14, 17, 46, 70, 

Tanneries, 215-17 
Tappan, Arthur, 252, 253, 255, 256, 258, 

Tappan, Lewis, 255-58 
Tariffs, 104, 109, III 
Tavern keepers, 271 
Taxation, of income from rents, 313 
Tayler, John, 50, 51 
Taylor, John, 292 

Taylor, Zachary, President, 80, 8r, 1 17-19 
Telegraph, 342 

Telegraph train dispatching, 164 
Temperance Recorder, 271 
Temperance reform, 269-74 
Templars of Honor and Temperance, 272 
Territorial organization, 118 
Texas policy, 74-75, 112-14, 116, 117 
Textiles, 193-205, 347 
Thanksgiving Day, 9 
Thomas, Eben B., 172 
Thomas, John, 205, 230 
Thompson, Captain, 44 
Thompson, James, 212 
Thompson, Smith, 63, 105, 120 
Thompson, William, 212 
Thorn, Stephen, 228 
Thorne, Jonathan, 216 

Throop, Enos T., governor of New York, 
63, 6y, 68, 199 

Ticonderoga, 174, 213, 219 

Tilden, Samuel J., j^, 156, 314 

Tillotson, Thomas, 44, 46 

Tin, 213 

Tioga, election fraud, 4 1 

Tioga County, maple sugar, 234 

Tioga River Valley, 162 

Toledo, 153 

Tompkins, Daniel D., governor of New 
York: defeated for governor, 53; elected 
governor, 47, 48, 50, 51; intrigue, 49; 
nominated for governor, 52; president of 
Convention (1821), 16, 17, 20, 28; Vice 
President, 51, 105, 120 

"Tom Thumb," 129 

Tonawanda Railroad, 146-47, 151, 167, 168 

Tory party (Democrats), 70 

Total abstinence, 270-73 

Toucey, John M., 158 

Tracy, John, 69, 70 

Transportation and communication, 127, 
161, 338-42 

Travel, 353 

Troup, Robert, 7 

Troy: growth, 334; Jay at, 42; manufac- 
tures, 196, 206—8, 233, 235; railroads, 142, 
153. 155. IJ7. 174 

Troy and Boston Railroad, 175 

Troy Budget, 56 

Troy Company, 197 

Troy Sentinel, 207 

Troy Steel and Iron Company, 206 

Tryon, William, governor of New York, 328 

Tryon County, see Montgomery County 

T-Totalers, 271, 273 

Tupper Lake, 183 

Turner's, 164 

Tyler, Comfort, 10 1 

Tyler, John, 115 

Ulster and Delaware Railroad, 176 
Ulster County: land grants, 287; metal in- 
dustry, 210; organized, 332; riots, 294 
Ulster Iron Works, 210 



Underhill, James, 201 

Underwood, Frederick D., 172 

Union College, 9, 276 

Union Hotel, 49 

United Railroads of New Jersey, 166 

United States: Constitution, adoption, 38, 

89; fifteenth amendment, 30; financial 

crisis, 147. See also Federal policies 
University of the State of New York, 356 
Utica: flour shipments, 336; growth, 334; 

on early highway, 127; on Erie Canal, 128; 

peace sentiment, 264; railroads, 148, 149, 

151, 182-84, 188 
Utica and Black River Railroad, 181 
Utica and Schenectady Railroad, 142, 147- 

49, 152, 154 
Utica Convention, 58 

Van Buren, John, 77, 79, 81 

Van Buren, Martin, President of the United 
States, governor of New York: Albany 
Regency, 54; Bucktail leader, 52; charac- 
ter, 17, no, 112; Constitutional Conven- 
tion (1821), 56; defeat (1840), 73, 114; 
defense of Barnburners, 79; elected gover- 
nor, 63; favored Crawford for president, 
107; Federalist practices criticised, 10; 
gerrymander, 31; Jacksonian leader, 59, 
108; letters, jj, 64, 70; minister to Great 
Britain, 59, 63, no; political changes 
during life, 83; President, 70, 120; presi- 
dential candidate of Free Soil party, 80, 81, 
118; relations with Clinton, 13, 52, 103; 
relations with Polk, 75; Secretary of State, 
64, 109; state senator, 50; subtreasury 
urged, 113; surrogate, 47; Vice President, 
69, in; views on political issues, 20, 21, 
27, 29, 74, 108, 109, 259 

Van Burenites, see Barnburners 

Van Cortlandt, Pierre, lieutenant governor, 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 153, 155-58, 170 

Vanderbilt, William H., 158, 182, 183 

Van Home, Garrett, 7 

Van Ness, William P., 44 

Van Ness, William W., 15, 18, 21, 25, 27--3I 

Van Rensselaer, J. R., 19, 21, 22, 25-27 

Van Rensselaer, Kiliaen, 285 

Van Rensselaer, Stephen: candidate for lieu- 
tenant governor, 41; Convention (1821), 
18; death, 76, 295; defeated by Tomp- 
kins, 50; interested in the Mohawk and 
Hudson Railroad, 132-34; landlord, 7; 
leaseholds, 295, 296; nominated for gov- 
ernor, 43 ; property qualifications for 
voters, 27; quit rents, 286; votes for 
three year term for governor, 21; votes 
for Adams, 108 

Van Rensselaer, Stephen, the younger, 297, 

Van Rensselaer, William, 300 

Van Sweringen interests, 172 

Van Vechten, Abraham, 19, 21, 25, 27—29 

Van Wyck, Pierre C, 46 

Varick, Richard, 7, 10 

Veazie and Barnard, 207 

Vermont: influence on northern railroads, 
174, 175; recognition, 327 

Verplanck, Charlotte D., 304 

Verplanck, Gulian Crommelin, 10, 50, 53 

Verplanck tract, 287 

Virginia: conflict with New York, 259, 260; 
population, 330; resolutions, 98 

Voice of the People, 306 

Voters: bribery, 10; test, n. See also Suf- 

Wadsworth, James S., 60, 77, 78 

Wadsworth family, 8 

Walcott, Benjamin, 195, 196 

Walden, 195 

Wallkill Valley Railroad, 176 

Walworth, Reuben H., 80, 81 

Wappingers Falls, 195 

War, see Peace movement 

War Hawks, 15 

War of 1812, 103, 262 

Warrall, Henry, 209 

Warsaw, 168, 185 

Washington, George: calls New York State 

the Seat of Empire, 361; Farewell Address, 




Washington, established as capital, 92 

Washington and Lagrange Company, 197 

Washington Benevolent Society, 10 

Washington (Charlotte) County: organized, 

Washington Temperance Society, 272 

Water supplies, 35} 

Waters, S. and A., 210 

Watertown, 178-83, 218, 219 

Watertown and Rome Railroad, 178-80 

Waterways: competition with railroads, 131, 
143, 147, 153; early, 127; limitations, 

Watkins, 186 

Watson, Peter H., 171 

Waverly, 171, 172 

Wayland, 171 

Wayne County, metal production, 206 

Wealth, growth, 340, 350-52 

Webb, Isaac, 224, 228, 231 

Webb, W. Seward, 183 

Webb, William H., 222, 224 

Webb and Allen, 228 

Webster, Daniel, 73, 82, 115, 164, 165, 284 

Webster-Ashburton Treaty, 329 

Weed, Smith M., 174 

Weed, Thurlow: aids nomination of Tay- 
lor, 118; antimasonry, 60; promise to 
Clay, 107; relations with Croswell, 72; 
state printer, 71; Whig boss, 115 

Weehawken, 182, 184 

Welland Canal, 177 

Wells, Essay on War, 262 

Wells, John, 7 

Westchester County: boundaries, 326; man- 
ors, 286, 293; organized, 332; textile pro- 
duction, 203 

Westenhook, 327 

Westerman, John, 203 

Western New York: excluded from suf- 
frage, 12; population, 333; railroads, 131, 

Western New York and Pennsylvania Rail- 
road, 186 

Western Union Telegraph Company, 342 

Westervelt, Jacob H., 224, 228, 229 

Wester velt and Mackay, 224 

West Point Foundry, in New York City, 130, 

Westport, 220 
West Shore (New York, West Shore and 

Buffalo) Railroad, 176, 182-84 
Wetmore, M., 257 
Wheat, 232, 336, 340, 345, 347 
Wheeler, Melancthon, 29 
Whig Working Men's party, 33, 68 
Whigs, 69-82, III, 114-19, 259, 260, 284, 

310, 313 
White, H. L., 115 
Whitehall, 175 

Whitehall and Plattsburg Railroad, 174 
White Plains, 144 
Whitestown, 195, 196 
Whitney and Hoyt, 212 
Whittlesey, Frederick, 146 
Wild; 195 

Wilkes-Barre, Pa., 174 
Wilkinson, Jemima, 2yj 
Wilkinson, Samuel, 240 
Willard, Daniel, 172 
Willett, Marinus, 47, 49 
Williams, Elisha, 18, 21, 22, 25, 27, 29, 31 
Williams, Ezekiel, 67 
Williams, Jabez, 228 
Williams, Robert, 48 
Williamsbridge, 144, 145 
Williams College, 276 
Willis, Nathaniel P., 357 
Wilmot Proviso, jy, 78, 117, 121 
Wilson, James, and Company, 210 
Winfield, Henry, 203 
Wirt, William, 69, 275 
Wolcott, Oliver, 97 
Woman, first political leader, 68 
Woman's rights, 258, 267—69 
Woman suffrage, 65, 267—69 
Wood, John, 44 
Wooden ware, 219 
Woodhall, James, 213 
Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Association, 

Woodworth, Solomon, 357 



Wooly Heads (Whigs), 82 

Worcester, Noah, 263 

Working Man's Advocate, 66 

Workingmen's party (Workies), 33, 64-68, 
283. See also Whig Workingmen's party 

World court, 265 

Wright, Elizur, 256 

Wright, Fanny, 65-68 

Wright, Henry C, 258, 264, 265 

Wright, Martha C, 268 

Wright, Silas, governor of New York: anti- 
rent troubles, 303, 304, 311-13; death, 
77; declines Vice Presidency, 75; defeated 
for governor, 76, yy; elected governor, 
75; member of Congress, 120 

Wyckoff, H. J., 196 

Wyoming County, organized, 333 

Yates, Joseph C, 57, 58 

Yates, Robert: chief justice, 40; defeated 

for governor, 38, 42 
Yates County, temperance societies, 272 
Yeo, Richard, 217 
York, James, Duke of, 326, 327 
Yorkshire, 332 
Young, Andrew, 197 

Young, John, governor of New York, 76, 77 
Young, Samuel, 16, 21, 30, 58, 59 
Young, William C, 149, 154-56 


Columbia University 

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History of 




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