Published in 1883 by Harriet A. Weed, his daughter
Transcribed by Dianne Schnettler from copies from the original book at the State Library at Albany
This transcription is only the first eight chapters from a two volume set on this fascinating man.
SANTA CRUZ, February 15, 1845.
Since I came to this island, in December, for the benefit of a daughter’s health, the idea of occupying some leisure hours in recording the events of my life has frequently occurred to me; and as such a record may at some future day interest my children, I have concluded to undertake it.
1797. – I was born at a small place called Acra, in the town of Cairo, Greene County, New York, on the 15th of November, 1797. My parents were natives of Connecticut. My father, Joel Weed, was the son of Nathan Weed, a soldier of the Revolution, who removed with a large family from Stamford, Conn., immediately after the close of that struggle, first to Dutchess and then to Greene County, New York. My mother, Mary Ellis, was a native of New Haven. I am the eldest of three brothers and two sisters, of whom only one (Osborn) is now living. My sisters died early, one at Catskill and the other in Onondaga. My brother Orrin, in September, 1823, died of yellow fever in the city of New York. He was apprenticed to Henry Eckford, an eminent shipbuilder.
My father was a hard-working man, with a kind heart, and an earnest desire to do the best he could for his children. He was withal a strictly honest man. But he was doomed to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, in its most literal sense. He was bred a farmer, but in 1799 removed from Cairo to Catskill, and became a carman. But everything went wrong with him. Constant and hard labor failed to better his condition. If at times he succeeded in getting a little ahead, those for whom he worked would fail to pay him, or his horse would get lame, or fall sick, or back off the docks into the river. The consequence was that we were always poor, sometimes very poor. This, however, was the misfortune rather than the fault of my parents; for they were always struggling to promote the welfare of their children. They were very anxious that I should enjoy the advantages of education. I cannot ascertain how much schooling I got at Catskill, probably less than a year, certainly not a year and a half, and this when I was not more than five or six years old.
I felt the necessity, at an early age, of trying to do something for my own support.
My first employment, when about eight years old, was in blowing a blacksmith’s bellows for a Mr. Reeves, who gave me six cents per day, which contributed so much towards the support of the family. I stood upon a box to enable me to reach the handle of the bellows. My next service was in the capacity of boy of all work, at a tavern in the village of Jefferson, two miles from Catskill, kept by a Captain Baker, who had, I remember, made a great mistake in exchanging the command of a ship for a tavern. After the sheriff took possession of Captain Baker’s wrecked hotel, I got a situation as cabin boy on board the sloop Ranger, Captain Grant. This gratified a desire I had to see the city of New York. I was then (1806) in my ninth year. I remember, as if it were but yesterday, after carrying the small hair trunk of a passenger from Coenties Slip to Broad Street, finding myself in possession of the first shilling that I could call my own. I remember, too, how joyfully I purchased with that shilling three two-penny cakes and three oranges for my brother and sister, how carefully I watched them on the passage back, and how much happiness they conferred. While on board the Ranger, we encountered a severe gale in Haverstraw Bay. The sloop’s sails were blown to pieces. The captain then let go the anchor, which was dragged a long way, but though much damage was done to other vessels, we rode it out. After the Ranger was either condemned or laid up (I don’t know which), I went as cabin boy on board the sloop Jefferson, Captain Jacobus Bogardus. I believe I went one trip with Captain Bogardus in the old sloop Washington before the Jefferson was finished.
What a change has since come over the city of New York! Then it consisted mainly of what are now the first seven wards. The City Hall Park was well up town. What are now the ninth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth wards were either waste lands, gardens, or pasturage. And what is now the twelfth ward was then “in the country.” I remember that Broad Street was then built almost entirely of old-fashioned Dutch houses, with their gable ends to the street. The State Prison, now I believe a hospital for strangers, and in the heart of the city, was then out of town, and by the side of the river. There are now half a dozen streets between this old prison and the docks.
1806. – I greatly enjoyed life as a sloop’s cabin boy. The trip between Catskill and New York averaged from four to ten days. When becalmed we would go ashore in a small boat to obtain vegetables, fruit, etc. I was soon familiar with all the villages and all the points of historical interest along the river. I became during that time much attached to a sailor named James Van Dervoort, a tall, handsome man, who sang “Cease, rude Boreas,” and other nautical songs, with great effect. Van Dervoort, when navigation closed, shipped for a winter voyage to China, or the East Indies. In the “yarns” he used to “spin” about the wonders of the East I was greatly interested, and but for the circumstance that I could not go aloft without becoming dizzy-headed, I should have gone to sea with my friend Van Dervoort.
Thus, but for an infirmity which incapacitated me for the most essential part of a sailor’s duty, my occupation would have been that of a seaman instead of a printer. Years afterwards, when a journeyman at Albany, I learned that nothing had been heard from him since the autumn of 1809, when he sailed from New York on a voyage to China. Ten years afterwards, at Rochester, I learned from Captain Trowbridge, who had been master of a vessel from New Haven, Conn., and taken prisoner at the commencement of the war of 1812, that he became well acquainted with James Van Dervoort in Dartmoor prison. He had been impressed from a merchant ship by a British man-of-war, on board of which he served as a seaman between two and three years. When our government declared war against England, mainly because six thousand of our seamen had been thus impressed, and his frigate was ordered to America, he refused to fight against his country, and with other American sailors on board the same ship was sent to Dartmoor prison, where, after enduring many hardships, he died.
About this time Catskill people were waiting with equal anxiety and incredulity for Mr. Fulton’s first steamboat, that was to astonish the world by going through the water without oars or sails, and against wind and tide! There was then no wharf connecting the land at Catskill with the island in the Hudson River which is now the Landing.
I remember to have gone with other boys to the Point, where we packed our clothes in our hats, and our hats upon boards, which we pushed before us, thus swimming out to the island, where we dressed, and passed two days in succession waiting for the steamboat, which finally came, vomiting smoke and fire, and looking more like a visitor from the infernal regions than the beautiful steamers that now glide through the waters.
1807. – Governor Morgan Lewis was the first officially great man I ever saw. He came in the fall of 1807 to review a brigade of militia, as commander-in-chief, at the village of Madison, about four miles west of Catskill. It was a cold, raw, drizzling day, but I walked barefooted out and back, so happy in the privilege as not to envy the more fortunate urchins who, by holding officers’ horses, were enabled to buy gingerbread.
About this time I became precociously a politician! Party lines were drawn very close. The people were much excited ass Republicans or Federalists. The latter wore black cockades, with which the former were greatly exasperated, so much so, indeed, that upon one occasion, at the close of a militia review in Catskill, there was a political outbreak which threatened the most serious consequences, the belligerents having deadly weapons in their hands, which many of them were inclined to use. My remembrance of Mr. Haight, our late State Treasurer, goes back to this period, when he was in command of a light infantry company. He was then a staunch Republican. James Powers, who is now high in the confidence of the Democratic party (as our opponents claim to be), was then a Federalist. Thomas P. Grosvenor was then a resident of Catskill, and a leading Federalist.
Among the events which made the strongest impression upon my mind were the duel between Colonel Burr and Alexander Hamilton, and the first election of Daniel D. Tompkins as Governor.
The following letter, called out, as will be seen, in 1865, by a paragraph in the Catskill paper, gives additional incidents of my Catskill life: –
ALBANY, March 29, 1865.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE “RECORDER AND DEMOCRAT.”
In your “Recorder” of the 24th inst. (which I received this morning), a writer, who recalls and describes some of the early inhabitants of your village, “remembers, as among the earliest draymen of Catskill, the two Joe Weeds (Joel and Joseph), one of whom, I do not know which, was the progenitor of Thurlow Weed. Though in humble life, both were esteemed, I believe, as honest, industrious men.”
Though a matter of no possible interest to any but myself, allow me to say that Joel Weed, the younger brother, was my father. They were honest, industrious cartmen, my uncle Joseph being the more prosperous. Indeed, he owned a house, still standing about half-way between “Chandler’s” and the bridge; while he moved annually at least, renting apartments in the “Stone Jug,” “No. 8” (I can’t remember why No. 8), Gullen’s barber shop, etc., etc.
My uncle Joseph had one son, George L. Weed, a very worthy man and well-known Christian missionary. I had two brothers. One (Orrin) died in New York, and the other (Osborn) in Tennessee, in March 1851. My father died in Onondaga, forty-six years ago; my mother in Tennessee, in 1841. This is all – perhaps more than anybody will care to learn of my origin. But your correspondent has turned my thoughts back to the Catskill that I remember during the first seven years of the present century, and some of its “oldest inhabitants” may be interested in reminiscences of that period. I am not as much mistaken, probably, in the impression that Catskill was a place of more business enterprise and activity then than at present, as I was, after an absence of nearly twenty years, in the width of the creek, the height of the Hop-o-Nose, and the distance from Donnelly’s to the court-house. At any rate, however, the Catskill of my youth was a bustling, thrifty, pleasant village, with considerable commerce, two shipyards, and in the winter a large slaughtering and packing business.
Among its inhabitants were men of decided ability; men who, in any community, would stand out prominently upon the canvas. Such, for example, were Thomas P.Grosvenor, Jacob and Samuel Haight, the Days, the Croswells, the Cookes, the Hills, etc. etc. But my mind retains most vividly incidents, rather than individuals. In those days, hard as it may seem now, poor men, however honest, lived in dread of imprisonment! My father was one of a class whom ill-fortune tracked through life. He worked hard, but never prospered. The debtor’s prison, therefore, was ever staring us in the face. But there was one blessed mitigation of the horrors of a debtor’s prison. There were “liberties” connected with the prison, of which a debtor with a reputation for honesty, and a wealthy friend who would sign his bond to remain upon the “limits” might avail himself. The limits, accurately defined, extended to business parts of the village, so that a poor man stood some chance of keeping the wolf from devouring his wife and children. This, however, was not the full measure of the law’s humanity. On Sunday the debtor was free! And on these days of jubilee I used to roam with my enfranchised father down to the Point, over to the shad fishery, or up to Jefferson, with a deep sense of gratitude that he was permitted, one day in the week, to walk God’s earth and breath his atmosphere unrestrained. Creditors were always on the watch for truant debtors, who sometimes failed to return to the limits before twelve o’clock on Sunday night.
I do not remember the “Mammy Kane,” whom your correspondent chronicles as the depository of boys’ sixpences.
The gingerbread and spruce-beer house most resorted to sixty years ago was kept quite at the upper end of the village, near Brushingham’s. There were three hotels. Donnelly’s, Chandler’s, and Bottsford’s, in Catskill then, each, I am sure, more extensively known than any of your present hotels. The late gallant Colonel Donnelly, of Niagara County, was a grandson of the keeper of the hotel I refer to.
Among the events that impressed themselves upon my memory indelibly was the drowning of a daughter of Mr. Hill by a freshet, and the loss of a son of Mr. Donnelly, by skating into an air-hole on Moose Creek (I believe that was the name), a mile or two below the mouth of the Catskill Creek. Skating, so much the fashion now, was a favorite exercise of the grandfathers of those who so enjoy it now, though ladies did not then share the excitement.
An incident, remembered of course by but very few, was then a “nine days’ wonder.” This was a personal combat between two young gentlemen, rivals for the hand of an accomplished lady; but, as at least one of the parties survive (eminent and honored), perhaps even this reference to the circumstance may be ill-timed.
The first military funeral I ever witnessed was that of Major Hale. This was in 1803 or 1804. It was very impressive, especially in the led horse, with the holster, boots, etc., of the deceased revolutionary officer.
In those days there was a delusion among poor but credulous people about the buried treasure of Captain Kidd. I remember to have been as a boy permitted to accompany a party on the expedition which was supposed to be pregnant with golden results. Upon reaching the mysterious locality, the throat of a black cat was cut, and the precise spot was indicated by the direction the blood spurted. And there the digging commenced with an energy worthy of Dousterswivel, in the “Antiquary,” but it was not rewarded by even so much as the discovery of “Search No. 1.”
As boys, we used to go down to the magnificent (but even then dilapidated and long since demolished) Livingston Manor House, at the mouth of Johnston’s Creek, to pick barberries, and get frightened by the screeching of an insane lady confined in her apartment in the white house upon the hill.
The great event, and one that excited Catskill for many months, was a murder!
A body was discovered early one Sunday morning, on the west shore of the creek, near Dubois farm. I forget whether the name of the murdered man was Scott, or whether that was the name of the murderer. Soon it was ascertained that the man was last seen at Nance McFall’s, a disreputable house out of the village, but near the spot where the body was found.
Circumstances came out which satisfied the inhabitants that he had been murdered. Toward evening groups were seen at corners, growing more and more excited, until, Justice not yet having drawn on her boots, the multitude pressed through the main street, strengthening in numbers and enthusiasm, down to the dwelling of the doomed Nance, which was demolished and scattered to the winds and waves.
Subsequently the murderer was tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged; but on the day of execution, and only an hour from the fatal moment, when an immense concourse of people were assembled, came a reprieve.
I wonder if any of the half dozen boys, who each, with myself, put his clothes in his hat, and placing the hats upon a board, pushing it ahead, swam off to the island (now steamboat landing) to await the approach of the first steamboat, still survive?
My river experience, as cabin boy and cook, was with Captains Grant and Bogardus, in the sloops Ranger and Jefferson. My inclination for the life of a sailor was always subordinate to my desire to become a printer. My great ambition was to get apprenticed to Mr. Mackay Croswell, who then (1808) published the “Recorder,” but the realization of that object was postponed, though I lingered about the printing office a good deal, doing chores, and learning what I could learn as an interloper.
Your correspondent kindly refers to the circumstance that Mr. Edwin Croswell and myself “were boys together at Catskill.” Though of the same age, we were not intimate as boys. He had the advantage of me in position, education, etc. Nor had he, like Jack Graham and Gil Frost, a taste for sports and adventures in which I remember to have participated. Mr. Croswell, as a boy, was noticeable for the same quiet, studious, refined habits and associations which have characterized his whole life. I left Catskill in 1808, and did not again meet Mr. Croswell for nearly twenty years.
In 1830, as editor of the “Evening Journal” (Mr. Croswell having been for several years editor of the “Argus”) I came into sharp collision with him. Albany was then, and for years before and after that period, a political centre for both the State and nation. Each party confided the duty of organization and discipline to its respective editors. A sense of responsibility stimulated both. Long years of earnest controversy and intense feeling ensured. The warfare, unhappily, assumed not only political but personal and social aspects.
The leading men of the Democratic party possessed talents, experience, and tact. The “Albany Regency,” consisting as it did of such men as Van Buren, Governor Marcy, Mr. Knower, Silas Wright, Mr. Flagg, John A. Dix, S. A. Talcott, T. W. Olcott, Charles E. Dudley, James Porter, Roger Skinner, etc., etc., found in Mr. Croswell, their colleague and editor, sound judgment, untiring industry, great devotion, and rare ability.
Governor Marcy, Mr. Wright, and General Dix, distinguished for legislative and executive ability, were very able contributors to the columns of the “Argus.” Mr. Flagg, himself and editor, was also a power in the “Argus.” Against such men, with General Jackson as their chief, it was my privilege to contend; and now, all the bitterness engendered by such conflicts having been soothed by time, it is pleasant to remember that before the curtain fell at the closing scene of that political drama, agreeable personal relations grew up between most of those eminent men and myself.
I was introduced to Mr. Van Buren at the funeral of my intimate friend, the late Governor Marcy. This was my first and last meeting with the then ex-President.
For several years before the death of Silas Wright, we were friends. With Mr. Flagg, who survives like Belisarius with lost vision but bright intellect, I have long enjoyed common sentiments and sympathy, and my relations with General Dix, political, personal, and social, are most pleasant.
With Mr. Olcott, the able financier of the “Regency” in its palmy days, peculiar relations have ever existed. He never refused me a pecuniary favor, and for the first twenty years of my residence here I had to ask for myself and other poor politicians very many. He has discounted scores of notes whose maker and indorser were equally good (for nothing). Protests, “plenty as blackberries,” never injured my credit at the “Little Belt.”
I remember to have formed a high estimate of the usefulness of three citizens of Catskill, namely, Dr. Croswell, the Rev. Dr. Porter, and Jacob Haight. Perhaps I only shared the common sentiment of the village; but at any rate those gentlemen came up to my ideal of model men. Later in life, while serving with Major Haight in the legislature, my early impressions of his worth were confirmed. Your correspondent is quite right in assuming that I “cherish fond recollections” of Catskill.
In the first years of my banishment – for Catskill was an Eden to my youthful memory – my chief happiness consisted in anticipating, at some future day, a return to that charmed locality. And only last summer, moved by something like the instinct which brings “chickens home to roost,” I explored the village in search of what was not to be found, a mansion with pleasant surroundings and “for sale.”
The length of this letter admonishes me that it must close. In speaking or writing of things which occurred threescore years ago, old men are pretty sure to be prolix if not prosy.
In the fall and winter of 1808, I was equivocally attached to the office of the “Catskill Recorder.” I say equivocally, because I was not regularly apprenticed, and yet I carried the paper to the village subscribers, and id “chores” about the office, with a strong desire and hope that I should be received as an apprentice. But the hope was disappointed by the removal of my father, with his family, to the town of Cincinnatus, Cortland County, in March 1808. My father had a brother residing in Cincinnatus, and three sisters, in the town of Greene, Chenango County, at whose invitation he was induced to remove inot the country with the hope of “bettering his condition,” – a hope, however, that, go where he would, and do all in his power, was never to be realized. I bitterly lamented this change, because it cut off my cherished design of becoming either a sailor or a printer.
My uncle came with a sleigh-load of produce to Catskill, the main object being to take us back with him. Some idea of the value of our effects may be formed from the fact that a family of five, and such scanty articles of furniture as we possessed, found accommodation in an ordinary two-horse sleigh. The weather was clear and cold, and the sleighing fine. I found intense enjoyment in the novelty of new scenes and strange views. The mountains, rivers, villages, interspersed upon our route through Delaware, Otsego, and Chenango Counties, are vivid in my memory. Cincinnatus was then almost in a state of nature. Its few inhabitants were generally beginning life, with strong hands and light hearts only to rely on. Each of the families residing within a range of four or five miles from my uncle, had taken up its fifty or a hundred acres of wild land, cleared away space sufficient for a log-house, and then commenced its farming operations.
The land thereabouts was heavily timbered, so much so that but for the ashes, which were then valuable for pot and pearling, the forests could not have been subdued. Indeed, for the first two or three years in Cortland County, ashes were silver and gold to the young or poor farmer. The first business, after getting into a log-house, was to make a clearing, in which to plant corn and potatoes.
When the trees were chopped down and into logs, and the brush piled, a “logging bee” was called. This bee was attended by all the neighboring farmers, a requisite number of whom brought their ox teams. These bees were very exciting, the more so as whiskey was in those days an indispensable beverage.
But work was never neglected. The log-heaps were then burned. The ashes were gathered, leached, and boiled into “black salts.” The salts were sold to the merchant, by whom they were converted into pot or pearl ashes. With the proceeds of his “black salts,” the farmer was enabled to support his family until his first crops came in. “Going to the store” was then not only a great privilege, but an affair of a high holiday and solemn responsibility.
The store was about seven miles down the river, in the town of Lisle. It was a branch of the establishment of General Ransom Rathbun, of Oxford, Chenango County, and was kept by his brother, a young man whose fine person and fashionable style of dress were the subject of remark and admiration among his wondering rural customers. Whenever a rustic matron returned from the store, her family and the nearest neighbors would assemble to listen with absorbing interest to her recital of the marvelous things she had seen and heard.
The young merchant became in after years an historical personage, being the Benjamin Rathbun whose enormous forgeries at Buffalo occasioned startling excitement throughout the State. After his conviction, a movement was made for a pardon. The feeling in his favor was so strong, that besides thousands of respectable men of Western New York who signed petitions to Governor Seward, seven distinguished citizens of Buffalo whose names had been forged as indorsers to Rathbun’s notes, wrote letters asking for the pardon. But the Governor was inflexible, and Rathbun served out his term. He was subsequently the keeper of a hotel in the city of New York. His life in all other respects was a useful and honorable one.
In 1867, Mr. Rathbun, then about eighty years old, kept the hotel corner of Broadway and Forty-second Street, where, on my way to and from the Park, I occasionally called on him. In referring, as he did without embarrassment, to the unfortunate termination of his Buffalo speculations, he commended Governor Seward warmly for his firmness in denying the strong appeal made for his (Rathbun’s) pardon. Anxious as he then was to be released, time and reflection, he said, had shown him not only that his punishment was just, but that the Governor would have done wrong in showing a leniency to him which was refused to hundreds whose offenses were much lighter.
My uncle had a small clearing, with an extra log-house, into which we moved. My first employment was in sugar making, an occupation to which I became much attached. I now look with great pleasure upon the days and nights passed in the sap-bush. The want of shoes (which, as the snow was deep, was no small privation) was the only drawback upon my happiness. I used, however, to tie an old rag carpet around my feet, and get along chopping wood and gathering sap pretty well.
1809. – But when the spring advanced, and large ground appeared in spots, I threw off the old carpet encumbrance and did my work barefooted. There is much leisure time for boys who are making maple sugar. I devoted this time to reading, when I could obtain books. But the farmers of that period had few or no books, save their Bible, for that inestimable blessing, the District School Library (in the adoption of which by the State I had some humble agency), had not then been thought of.
I borrowed books whenever and wherever I could. I remember to have heard that a neighbor, some three miles off, had borrowed from a still more distant neighbor a book of great interest, and after this book had been read by those better entitled to the privilege, I started off, barefooted, in the snow, to obtain the treasure. There were spots of bare ground upon which I would stop to warm my feet. And there were also, along the road, occasional lengths of log fence from which the snow had melted, and upon which it was a luxury to walk. The book was at home, and the good people consented, upon my promise that it should be neither torn nor soiled, to lend it to me. In returning with the prize, I was too happy to think of the snow or my naked feet. Candles were then among the luxuries, not the necessities, of life. If boys, instead of going to bed after dark, wanted to read, they supplied themselves with pine knots, by the light of which (in a horizontal position) they pursued their studies.
In this manner, with my body in the sugar-house, and my head out of doors where the fat pine was blazing, I read with intense interest a “History of the French Revolution.”
When the sap had done running, and the other spring work commenced, I was initiated step by step into the mysteries of farming, but in its wildest and rudest state. While some of my duties were pleasant, I soon grew weary of the vocation; and while swinging an axe or plying the hoe, my heart was upon the Hudson River. The spring, summer, and autumn passed without the occurrence of anything of particular interest. My father worked hard and continued poor, as usual. He did not take up land for himself because he had nothing to begin with! And yet, in looking back, I can see that others equally poor did purchase wild land and became independent farmers.
The experience of a young man who commences life in a wild, new country, shows how very little of the world’s wealth is necessary to secure happiness. I remember a young man (Herring) who, on coming of age, married the daughter of a neighbor, and took up fifty acres of land. His entire wealth consisted of an axe and a hoe. He first cleared away a spot for a log-cabin by felling the trees outward, and then made a bee for the purpose of putting up his cabin. His wife’s outfit consisted of a bed, table, two chairs, and a few pieces of crockery-ware. He then chopped two acres, and made a small logging-bee. From the ashes of the log-heaps he made black salt enough to enable him to purchase boards , nails, etc., to make a door, shelves, etc., etc., for his house. He then worked out a few days, in order to get a team to prepare his two acres for corn and potatoes. After his planting was over, he worked out again, to pay for a cow he had purchased on credit. After his corn and potatoes were hoed, he went to “slashing” for a fall crop. Slashing is a process which brings the tops of fallen trees together, so that they may be burned without the labor of cutting and piling the brush.
When the trees are slashed in the spring or summer, they get dry enough to burn early in the fall for a wheat crop. In harvest time, he worked out again, for seed-wheat, and such other things as were most needed. After harvest, he prepared his own small clearing for wheat sowing, and then gathered his corn and dug his potatoes.
His wife in the mean time had borrowed a wheel, and “took in spinning,” I believe, “to the halves.” She was industrious, tidy, and cheerful. He was sober, honest, and affectionate. This cabin was more than a mile from any neighbor. I have seen something of the world, and its wealth and luxuries, since that period; but I have rarely, if ever, witnessed more of its real happiness than was enjoyed by that rustic pair.
I never read Moore’s poem, commencing: –
“I know by the smoke, that so gracefully curl’d
Above the green elms, that a cottage was near,
And I said, ‘If there’s peace to be found in the world,
A heart that was humble might hope for it here.’”
without thinking how truthfully and beautifully the log-cabin in the then wilderness-town of Cincinnatus was described by the sweetest of poets.
In December, a school opened for the winter about a mile from our home. I had formed high hopes of improvement from this source. The privilege, however, was only of brief duration, for in February, some six weeks after, my father moved from Cincinnatus to Onondaga, where he had great hopes of doing better.
A letter written fifty years after my removal from Cincinnatus to the author of a “History of Cortland County” will furnish the present generation with some idea of the labors, privations, and compensations of wilderness life in the early part of the present century.
ALBANY, May 16, 1858
H. C. GOODWIN, Esq.
My Dear Sir, – Your letter of the 30th of April has remained quite too long unanswered, partly on account of severe illness in my family, but mainly because your kind and not unusual request embarrassed me. Several applications similar in character from book-makers I have simply declined, because, first, there is nothing in my life entitled to historic attention; and second, if any of its events were worthy of such attention, it is neither proper nor becoming in me to furnish the materials.
So strong are my convictions of propriety in this regard, that many years ago, after refusing to furnish information relating to myself, asked for by the late Jabez D. Hammond, I declined also to read in manuscript what he had prepared. The consequence of that refusal is, that I go down to posterity, if Hammond’s “Political History” outlives the present generation, as a “drummer in the war of 1812.”
Now I am entitled to no such distinction; for I never learned and never could learn a note or stave of music. I remember to have gone, when a boy, once or twice, to an evening singing-school, but after unavailing attempts at quavers and semi-quavers, the teacher snatched the gamut from my hand and turned me out of the class. I will, however, in this instance, depart so far from my usual practice as to furnish you the dates you desire, – though, in doing so, I feel as I suppose one should feel in robbing a hen-roost.
In the winter of 1808 we were settled in a log-cabin upon a small clearing about a mile from the Onondaga River, or, for the purpose of fixing our locality, I had better say about that distance from Brink’s tavern. Cincinnatus then, whatever maybe its present condition, was in its almost wilderness state. I have not been there in a half century, and am told that there are no forests or landmarks or monuments by which I could recall or identify localities of which my mind retains familiar and distinct impressions. Inhabitants were then “few and far between.” Our nearest neighbor was Mr. Gridley, a farmer rather well-to-do in the world, who would work hard through planting or hoeing or harvesting, and then seek indemnity in a week or ten days’ “spree” on new raw whiskey.
The most “fore-handed” family in the neighborhood was that of Captain Carley (one member of which, Alanson, then a boy of my own age, was some years since a respected member of the legislature), among whose luxuries, as I remember, was a young apple orchard, and the only bearing orchard within a circuit of several miles.
My first employment was in attendance upon an ashery. The process of extracting lye from ashes, and of boiling the lye into black salts, was commonplace enough; but when the melting down into potash came, all was bustle and excitement. This labor was succeeded, when the spring had advanced far enough, by the duties of the “sap-bush.”
This is a season to which the farmers’ sons and daughters look forward with agreeable anticipations. In that employment toil is more than figuratively sweetened. The occupation and its associations are healthful and beneficial.
When your troughs were dug out of bass-wood (for there were no buckets in those days) your trees tapped, your sap gathered, your wood cut, and your fires fed, there was leisure either for reading or “sparking.” And what youthful denizens of the sap-bush will ever forget their share in the transparent and delicious streaks of candy congealed and cooled in snow while “sugaring-off”? Many a farmer’s son has found his best opportunity for mental improvement in his intervals of leisure while tending sap-bush. Such, at any rate, was my own experience. At night you had only to feed the kettles and keep up your fires, the sap having been gathered and the wood cut before dark. During the day we would also lay in a good stock of “fat pine,” by the light of which, blazing brightly in front of the sugar-house, in the posture the serpent was condemned to assume as a penalty for tempting our great first grandmother, I have passed many and many a delightful night in reading. I remember in this way to have read a “History of the French Revolution,” and to have obtained from it a better and more enduring knowledge of the events and horrors, and of the actors in that great national tragedy, than I have received from all subsequent readings.
I remember, also, how happy I was in being able to borrow the book of a Mr. Keyes, after a two-mile tramp through the snow, shoeless.
Though but a boy, I was large, healthy, strong, not lazy, and therefore ambitious to keep up my row in planting, hilling, and hoeing potatoes and corn. The principal employment of the farmers of Cincinnatus fifty years ago was in clearing their land.
Cattle, during the winter, for want of fodder, were turned out to browse in the slashings.
As the work of clearing the land was too heavy for men single-handed, chopping and logging “bees” were modes resorted to for aggregating labor. These seasons of hard work were rendered exciting and festive by the indispensable gallon bottle of whiskey.
There were bees also for log-house raising. After the loggings and as the spring opened came the burning of the log and brush-heaps, and the gathering of the ashes.
But little wheat was grown there then, and that little was harvested with the sickle, the ground being too rough and stumpy for cradling.
Our first acquisition in the way of live stock was a rooster and four hens; and I remember with what a gush of gladness I was awakened at break of day the next morning by the loud, defiant voice of chanticleer; and when, several days afterwards, I found a real hen’s nest in a brush-heap, with eggs in it, I cackled almost as boisterously as the feathered mother whom I had surprised in the feat of parturition.
The settlers employed in clearing and bettering their land raised just enough to live on from hand to mouth. Their principal, and indeed only reliance for the purchase of necessaries from the store was upon their “black salts.” For these the merchants always paid the highest price in cash or goods.
I remember the stir which a new store, established in Lisle (some seven or eight miles down the river) by the Rathbuns, from Oxford, created in our neighborhood. It was “all the talk” for several weeks, and until a party of housewives, by clubbing together their products, fitted out an expedition; vehicles and horses were scarce, but it was finally arranged; A furnishing a wagon, B a horse, C a man, and D a boy to drive.
Four matrons, with a commodity of black salts, tow cloth, flax, and maple sugar, went their way rejoicing, and returned triumphantly at sunset with fragrant bohea for themselves, plug tobacco for their husbands, flashy calico for the children, gay ribbons for the girls, jack-knives for the boys, crockery for the cupboard, and snuff for “granny.”
This expedition was a theme for much gossip. The wonders of the new store were described to staring eyes and open mouths. The merchant and his clerk were criticized in their deportment, manners, and dress. The former wore shiny boots with tassels, the latter a ruffle shirt, and both smelt of pomatum! I do not believe that the word “dandy” had then been invented, or it certainly would have come in play on that occasion. Thirty years afterwards I laughed over all this with my old friend General Ransom Rathbun, one of the veritable proprietors of that new store.
The grinding for our neighborhood was done at Hunt’s Mill, which on one occasion was disabled by some defect in the flume or dam, and then we were compelled to go with our grist either to Homer or to Chenango Forks.
I recollect that on more than one occasion I saw boys riding with a bushel of corn (bareback, with a tow halter) to the distillery, and returning with the gallon bottle of whiskey, balanced by a stone in the other end of the bag.
In the autumn, following our removal to Cincinnatus I had “worked out,” and earned leather (sole and upper) enough for a pair of shoes, which were to be made by a son of Crispin (Deacon Badger, if I remember rightly) who lived on the river a mile and a half away. The deacon, I doubt not, has gone to his rest, and I forgive him the fibs he told, and the dozen journeys I made barefooted over the frozen and “hubby” road in December before the shoes were done.
I attended one regimental review, or general training, as it was called. It was an eminently primitive one. Among the officers two had chapeaux, to which Captain Carley, one of the two, added a sword and sash; four feathers stood erect upon felt hats; there were fifteen or twenty muskets, half a dozen rifles, two hoarse drums, and as many “spirit-stirring fifes.” Of rank and file there were about two hundred and fifty. In the way of refreshments there was gingerbread, blackberry pie, and whiskey. But there were neither “sweat leather,” “little joker,” nor other institutions of that character upon the ground. Having, before leaving Catskill, seen with my own eyes a live Governor (Morgan Lewis) review a whole brigade, I regarded that training as a decided failure.
There were no events at all startling during my residence at Cincinnatus; no murders, no suicides, no drownings, no robberies, no elopements, “no babies in the woods,” occurred to astonish the natives. A recruiting sergeant came along (it was in embargo times), and three or four idle fellows (Herring and Wilder by name, I think) ‘listed and marched off.
There were neither churches nor “stated preachers” in town. A Methodist minister came occasionally and held meetings in private houses, or at the school-house.
In the winter there was a school on the river, and the master, who “boarded round,” must have had a good time of it on johnny-cake for breakfast, lean salt part for dinner; and samp and milk for supper.
There were but few amusements in those days, and but little of leisure or disposition to indulge in them. Those that I remember as most pleasant and exciting were corn huskings and coon-hunts. There was fun, too, in smoking woodchucks our of their holes.
During my residence there, Mr. Wattles and family moved into the neighborhood. He came, I think, from what was then called the “Triangle,” somewhere in Chenango County, and was a sub-land-agent. They were, for that region, rather stylish people, and became the subjects of a good deal of remark; one thing that excited especial indignation was, that persons going to the house were asked to clean their shoes at the door, a scraper having been placed there for that purpose.
A maiden lady (Miss Theodosia Wattles) rendered herself especially obnoxious to the spinster neighbors by “dressing up” week-day afternoons. They all agreed in saying she was “a proud, stuck-up thing,” as in those days “go-to-meeting clothes” were reserved for Sundays.
Leeks were the bane of my life in Cincinnatus; they tainted everything, but especially the milk and butter. Such was my aversion to “leeky” milk, that to this day I cannot endure milk in any form.
In the fall and winter, corn-shelling furnished evening occupation. The ears were shelled either with a cob, or upon the handle of a frying pan. There have been improvements since in that, as in other departments of agriculture.
Such are, in a crude form, some of my recollections of life in Cincinnatus half a century ago. That town, then very large, has since been subdivided into three or four towns. Upon the farm of my old friends, the Carleys, the large and flourishing village of Marathon has grown up. And there, too, a substantial bridge has taken the place of the “dug-out,” in which we used to cross the river. Of the sprinkling of inhabitants who had then just commenced subduing the forests, and insinuating scanty deposits of seed between the stumps and roots, but few, of course, survive. The settlers were industrious, honest, law-abiding, and, with few exceptions, temperate citizens. The friendly neighborhood relations, so necessary in a new country, existed there.
All tried not only to take care of themselves, but to help their neighbors. Farming implements and household articles were pretty much enjoyed in common. Everybody lent what they possessed, and borrowed whatever they wanted.
You must judge whether these hastily written recollections of Cincinnatus would at all interest the few old inhabitants remaining there; and having so judged, you are at liberty to put them in your book or into the fire.
Very truly yours,
1809 – 1813.
Our removal from Cincinnatus was in 1809. I was then in my twelfth year. We moved into a small log-house near Mickle’s Furnace, about one mile from Onondaga Hollow, an equal distance from Onondaga West-Hill, where the court-house was situated, and three miles from Onondaga Salt Springs, or “Salt Point,” as they were then called. My father found immediate employment in cutting cord-wood for the salt works, in which employment I shared, and soon prided myself in doing half a man’s day’s work. When the spring opened, we worked out by the day among the farmers until July, when we were brought down with fever and ague, remaining in a very helpless situation until September. During this season of illness my sister Mehitable, then in her seventh year, died. In the fall, when the furnace was put in blast, I got a situation there. My business was, after a casting, to temper and prepare the sand for the moulders; and I soon rose to the dignity of moulding “dogs” (hand-irons) myself. This was night and day work. We ate salt-pork and rye and Indian bread three times a day, and slept on straw in bunks. I liked the excitement of furnace life. My labor there enabled me to purchase my first fur hat, and encouraged me to hope that I should enjoy the further happiness of standing in boots and tassels; I was disappointed. The hat was bought of Reuben West, of Onondaga, West Hill, on a furnace order. In returning with it, when no person was in sight I frequently drew off the slouching, rimless apology for a hat that I had worn a long time, to try on my new one, the possession of which afforded me great happiness. When the furnace “blew out,” as was usual in warm weather, I again renewed agricultural employment with my father, who was working as usual by the day. Soon, however, I heard that Jasper Hopper, Esq., of Onondaga Hollow, who was then county clerk and postmaster, wanted a boy to work in his garden, take care of his horse, etc., etc., for which he would receive his board and schooling. I eagerly sought and obtained this situation, and it proved both an agreeable and useful one. Mr. Hopper’s household consisted of himself and wife, a clerk, his son, and a colored woman servant and her son, a boy of three or four years old, who some twenty years afterwards was sent to the state prison for life, having been convicted of manslaughter. This mulatto was the natural son of a lawyer residing in a neighboring county, who lived to see his illegitimate offspring arraigned for murder.
Among my school-fellows, Asher Tyler, a retired lawyer residing at Elmira, is, as far as I am informed, the only survivor. I learned much more during these few months than I had acquired in earlier life, and upon leaving Dr. Alexander’s Academy (for that was its name) my school experience ended. I lived very pleasantly with Mr. Hopper about six months, when, the furnace going into blast again, I returned to my situation there, not, however to remain long, for late that autumn I was rejoiced with the information that printing materials had arrived at Onondaga Hollow, where a newspaper was to be published. My father, anxious to see me in the way of learning a trade, gratified my own wishes by making an application in my behalf as an apprentice. But my spirit was crushed on his return, with an answer that no apprentice was wanted, one having been already engaged. I applied to Mr. Hopper, who was a leading patron of the embryo paper, for his interposition with its proprietor, who finally consented to take me on trial, remarking in no encouraging tone and manner that I was too big and clumsy for a printer, but that I could cut wood and make fires. This ungracious reception, however, did not discourage me. The ambition to be a printer was irrepressible.
My first employment as an apprentice, beside cutting wood and making fires in the printing-office, was in “treading pelts,” a duty of which the present generation of printers is growing up in ignorance.
The balls, which have been succeeded by rollers, were made of green sheepskins, which had to undergo a sort of tanning process between your feet and the floor. It was a long and tedious operation, as every printer whose apprenticeship commenced previous to 1812 will attest.
In 1814 dressed deerskin began to be used, instead of pelts, but it required time to induce old printers to become reconciled to this innovation.
1811. – Thomas Chittenden Fay was the name in which the editor and publisher of the “Lynx” rejoiced. He was a strange, eccentric man. The “Lynx” was established in 1811 as an organ of the Republican party. There was then one other paper in the county; this was the “Manlius Times,” a Federal journal published by Mr. Kellogg. There were then but five newspapers published west of Onondaga. There was the “Auburn Gazette,” a Federal paper published by H. & J. Pace, the “Geneva Gazette,” by James Bogart, also a Federalist, the “Ontario Repository,” by James D. Bemis, a Federalist, the “Ontario Messenger” (Republican), by John A. Stevens, and the “Batavia Advocate,” by Miller & Blodget.
In those days the mail from Albany to Buffalo passed three times a week, Its arrival by stage every other evening in our village (where passengers lodged) was quite an event, and its driver, who blew as he approached a long tin horn with the air of a man-of-war boatswain, was the tavern oracle and wag. The stage of that day was a heavy, lumbering vehicle without springs. It was five of six days going between Albany and Batavia, for that was then the end of the stage route.
It was, however, extended to Buffalo in 1812. There was then no Syracuse and no Rochester. I have frequently passed through the swamp which now constitutes a large part of Syracuse when it contained but one house.
At the creek, in the western border of the village, there was a small grist-mill and two small houses. I found the printing business all that I expected, and soon made myself useful. Every moment that could be saved I employed in reading newspapers, than which nothing afforded me more happiness.
I kept regular files of every exchange paper, with the contents of which I was perfectly familiar. I imbibed, from reading the discussions in Congress and the newspapers about the impressment of American seamen, and the Indian barbarities excited by British agents upon our western border, a deadly hatred towards England.
1812. – In the spring of 1812, when Governor Tompkins, to prevent the charter by bribery and corruption of the “Six Million Bank” (afterwards chartered as the Bank of America) prorogued the legislature, I warmly espoused the cause of the governor, though Mr. Fay, to my great grief, sustained Mr. Humphries (then in the senate from Onondaga) and other Republican members of the legislature in their votes for the bank and their denunciation of the governor. Time and the trials for bribery which ensued fully vindicated Governor Tompkins. In about a year after I came to Mr. Fay his other apprentice, Ananias Adams, left him, and I became both the oldest and youngest apprentice.
Mr. Fay was a coarse, vulgar man, who used to swear and storm about the office, but, on the whole, treated me well, and rather prided himself in making a printer out of such a blockhead. By his wife, who was a patient, industrious, tidy woman, I was treated with great kindness, for which I remember her with gratitude.
In July, 1812, we were startled with the intelligence that war had been declared against England, soon after which the din of busy preparation was heard all around us. The stage came filled with officers repairing to the frontier.
My fellow apprentice had gone to live with his uncle John Adams, who kept the stage house, and had the cleaning of the passengers’ boots. I went regularly evenings to assist Ananias in his boot cleaning, that I might see and perchance hear some of the epauletted gentlemen speak of the war, etc.
There was a battalion of riflemen in our county whose services had been volunteered just before the war was declared, and which was ordered into service immediately after the declaration. I was very anxious to go as a substitute for some one of the many who did not want to go, but Mr. Fay could not spare me, would not consent, and I should, they say, be rejected as too young if I obtained his consent. But the war fever was raging in my veins and heart. Soon after the rifles marched, I heard that troops were coming from the east. I finished my “stent” by working most of a night, and then started off to meet the soldiers. I reached Manlius Square (ten miles) just after sunrise, in season to see two regiments (Colonel Thompson Mead of Chenango, and Colonel Farrand Stranahan of Otsego) strike their tents. With these troops I trudged back to Onondaga where, instead of marching on with them, I was required to go back into the printing-office. Soon after this, however, I was made truly happy by the arrival of the Thirteenth Regiment of the United States Infantry, whose tents were pitched in a meadow near by, where the regiment lay two days. This regiment was in a good state of discipline, had a fine band, and made a very martial appearance. One battalion proceeded by land to Niagara while the other marched to Oswego to embark on Lake Ontario. One battalion (that which proceeded by land, I believe) reached the frontier in time to distinguish itself in the battle of Queenstown. Among the officers in that regiment “whose frown,” as Counselor Phillips said of Napoleon, “terrified the glance their magnificence attracted,” there were several whom I have known intimately since. The present General John E. wool was then a captain.
In September, 1812, Mr. Fay, who had on account of his violence of temper and in consequence of his opposition to Governor Tompkins become embroiled with his patrons and friends, some of whom, and especially Mr. Hopper, he abused in the “Lynx,” took a single shirt, walked deliberately out of the office through the garden into a meadow, and never returned, either to his family or his printing-office. The creditors who took possession of the establishment directed me to publish a half-sheet for five or six weeks until a number of legal advertisements should run out, and then the “Lynx” closed its eyes and doors.
I was now a half-made printer out of place. A few weeks previous one Royal T. Chamberlin had established a paper called the “Tocsin” at Union Springs, Cayuga County. In that paper I saw that “a boy who has worked some at the business is wanted as an apprentice at this office.” I therefore started on foot for Union Springs, and was received by Mr. Royal T. Chamberlin as the boy who had worked some at the business. His office was in the old town of Scipio, some nine miles above the Cayuga bridge. We boarded with the editor and publisher’s father, who lived on a farm about two miles from the office. We took an early breakfast, brought our dinner with us, and returned to supper in the evening. I enjoyed this very much, especially as it was in peach season and Mr. Chamberlin’s father had the fruit in great abundance and perfection.
But these joys were of brief duration. Mr. Royal T. Chamberlin was desperately in love, without having, however, been so fortunate as to have kindled a reciprocal flame in the heart of Miss Southwick, who lived some quarter of a mile from the printing office. The swain grew melancholy, and passed whole days sitting on a log, looking at the house, to catch occasional glimpses of the object of his idolatry. Business was entirely neglected, and the “Tocsin” soon ceased to sound its alarms.
I was again out of employment, and footed it back to Onondaga, where, though it was in October, I found the furnace in blast, Joshua Forman (who afterwards suggested the Safety Fund Banking System to Mr. Van Buren) having obtained from the Secretary of War a contract for casting cannon balls.
One of the jokes of that day was an order from the Navy Department to Lieutenant Woolsey to repair with the United States Brig Oneida from Oswego to Onondaga to receive these balls, overlooking the circumstance that the Oswego Fall presented a somewhat formidable obstruction to the passage of a ship of war.
I went to work again in the furnace until December, when, having earned some clothes and finding myself with three dollars in cash, I started on foot for Utica, where I had the good fortune to get employment in the printing-office of Messrs. Seward and Williams.
To my application for a situation Mr. Williams, after looking me over somewhat deliberately, replied that he had no work for me; but as I was leaving the office, evidently depressed and as evidently in need of employment, he called me back, and inquired where I had come from, how old I was, and why I had not served out my apprenticeship. My answers proving satisfactory, he put a composing stick in my hand, placed some copy before me, and in an encouraging way remarked that he would see what I could do. When he returned two or three hours afterwards, he read over the matter that I had been “setting up,” and remarked kindly that I could go with the other boys to supper. I was therefore at work in the office and domiciled in the house of a gentleman (William Williams) who became and ever remained my warm friend, and for whose memory I cherish a grateful remembrance.
In February following, an attack was apprehended from the British on Sackett’s Harbor. It was supposed that the enemy would cross from Kingston on the ice. Volunteers were called for. Utica, then a small but thriving village, was strongly Federal, but though opposed to the war, the Federalists would turn out to repel invasions. Mr. Williams, one of my employers, volunteered himself and consented to my leaving the office with him. We left Utica in sleighs, and arrived at Adams – some eighty miles, and twelve miles from Sackett’s Harbor – in two days. The snow was deep and the weather severe. We had good quarters, however, and passed our time pleasantly waiting until the alarm was over, when we were discharged. My company was commanded by Captain Nathan Seward, a soldier of the Revolution, and the father of one of my employers. On my return to Utica I obtained a situation in the office of the “Columbian Gazette,” a Republican paper published by Thomas Walker, Esq., whose kindness and friendship during more than thirty years I hold in grateful recollection. I was much pleased with the situation, and worked hard and cheerfully until June or July, when the desire to get into the army returned with such force that I could not resist it. Every time the recruiting sergeant with drum, fife, and ragamuffins passed the office, my heart warmed and my blood coursed freely. I passed my leisure hours among the recruits and about their quarters. My first overtures to enlist were rejected on the ground of my age (I was sixteen), but my importunity finally prevailed, and I one day found myself in Uncle Sam’s uniform, on my way with two other recruits to be sworn in, when it occurred to me that Mr. Walker, my employer, was the magistrate before whom I was to appear.
Feeling, however, that it was too late for advice or admonition, I brushed up in the rear of my compatriots, and pulling my cap over my face placed my hand upon the book. “Take off your cap, sir,” said the magistrate. This revealed to him the face of his whilom apprentice. “Are you going to enlist?” “I have enlisted, sir.” “But you had better reflect.” “It is too late, sir. I have got my bounty.” “Never mind that; I will see Lieutenant Hickox upon the subject. You had better change your clothes and go to your work.” I had too much respect for my employer to disregard his advice, and most reluctantly doffed the blue coat with martial buttons and returned to the “space box.” Captain Thomas M. Skinner’s company of artillery was ordered to the frontier. Of this company, Mr. Clark, our foreman, was a member. Mr. Walker could better spare his apprentice than his foreman, and as the former did and the latter did not want to go, I was soon dressed in Clark’s uniform, though the legs of his pantaloons and the sleeves of his coat were sadly disproportioned to the limbs of their new occupant. But I was far too happy to regard such things. Indeed, I have never been fastidious in matters of dress. We were soon on our march to the lines. Captain Skinner not going, the company was commanded by its First Lieutenant Ells of Whitesboro. The Second Lieutenant Rease, who has since been sheriff of Oneida County, became and has ever since continued my warm friend. Our regiment was commanded by Colonel Elijah H. Metcalf of Cooperstown. During that campaign, I first saw General Amos P. Granger and Joshua Spencer, Esq., who had just commenced the practice of the law at Lenox, Madison County.
NEW YORK, January 1, 1869.
I HAD written thus far in 1845, when, for some reason that I have forgotten, it was suspended. Within the last few years I have been urged by friends, whose opinions and wishes are entitled to consideration, to resume, and if permitted, to complete it. Among the prominent and most earnest of those referred to were the late General Winfield Scott and Sir Henry Holland. I therefore, after entering upon my seventy-second year, with impaired and uncertain health, the narrative resume.
Joshua A. Spencer, with whose name I closed the Santa Cruz manuscript in 1845, was a Cornet in Captain Jenning’s Company of Light Artillery. That company was composed of the most reputable young men of Madison County. Mr. Spencer subsequently became one of the most prominent lawyers in the State, and was a member of the State Senate, residing for many years in Utica. The late Dr. Thomas Spencer, an eminent physician at Geneva, was a brother. And Julius A. Spencer, for many years and still usefully connected with the New York Central Railroad, was a nephew. An incident connected with the equipment of the above-named company occasioned much merriment among them and to the citizens of Albany.
When about to enter the service, the officers met for the purpose of addressing a letter to Governor Tompkins for field-pieces. The requisition made by Captain Jennings did not suit the other officers, who in turn tried their hands at composition. But they failed to satisfy each other or even themselves; and they finally agreed to submit their productions to a village lawyer, the father of Luther R. Marsh a prominent member of the New York Bar, asking for his corrections, or if he saw fit, to prepare a letter himself for them. In due time he submitted the following: --
“Great Daniel D., we send to thee
For two great guns and trimmings!
Send them to hand, or you’ll be damed,
By order of Captain Jennings.”
This was adopted and immediately despatched to Albany, and accomplished its purpose. Governor Tompkins used to amuse his guests at dinners and parties with this remarkable requisition for ordnance.
Our regiment was quartered at Brownville, a few miles from Sackett’s Harbor, for three months. Nothing out of the ordinary routine of camp life occurred.
Brownville derived its name from a family who owned the farm upon which the village grew up. Jacob Brown, a descendant of William Penn, removed from Pennsylvania to Jefferson County during the closing years of the last century. His sons were intelligent and enterprising merchants. The seniors were strict Quakers, educating their children in the faith and habits of that sect. But their eldest son, Jacob, developed early a strong military taste, so strong, indeed, that in disregard of the remonstrance of his father he became a militia officer, and was in consequence “read out of meeting.” At the commencement of the war Jacob Brown was a brigadier-general of militia, and residing upon the frontier, was soon called into active service, where he displayed so much ability that he was transferred with the same rank into the service of the United States, and was subsequently distinguished as a commanding general at the battles of Chippewa, Bridgewater, and Fort Erie in Canada. He was now (1813) in command at Sackett’s Harbor, from which post he was summoned to the funeral of his father. That funeral was largely attended by Friends, attired in plain, simple drab, who were sitting in silent meditation when General Brown in full military costume dismounted at the door of the meeting-house, and striding through the middle aisle, with the scabbard of his heavy broadsword dangling upon the floor, took his seat with the family. That sudden appearance of a military chieftain amid a congregation of demure and peaceful Quakers, to my mind, added impressiveness to the scene. General Brown, after accompanying the remains of his father to the burying-ground, took leave of his relatives (including his wife and children), mounted his horse and rode back to Sackett’s Harbor.
When the term of service expired I returned to Utica, and to the printing-office of my friend, Mr. Walker, devoting all my leisure hours to newspaper and other reading. Utica, though then in its infancy, was a thrifty village. Its elements of prosperity were found in the remarkable intelligence, enterprise, and integrity of its mechanics. Its painters, its builders, its hatters, its shoemakers, etc., etc., were just the men a “pent-up Utica” then required. William Williams and Thomas Walker, Samuel Stocking, the Danas, the Hoyts, etc., etc., are, I doubt not, still remembered for their enterprise, public spirit, and integrity. A daughter of one of the Hoyts subsequently became the wife of the late Friend Humphrey, of Albany, once mayor of that city, a member of the senate, and one of the very best men I ever knew. Among the merchants of Utica then prominent were John C. and Nicholas Devereux, Jeremiah and James Van Rensselaer. The two accomplished daughters of the latter became the wives of Francis Granger and Charles H. Carroll. James Hooker and Abram Van Santvoord, Messrs. Williams, Walker, and Devereux, subsequently became and to the end of their lives remained my true and sincere friends. They were most estimable men. Mr. Van Santvoord was especially so, being endowed and imbued with all the qualities of head and heart that exalt and adorn mankind. John Williams, then a clerk for James Hooker, was afterward a distinguished merchant, and was the father of Mrs. E. T. Throop Martin, of Willow Brook, Cayuga County. Oneida County had at that time a strong Bar, though its most eminent lawyers (Jonas Platt, Thomas R. Gold, Theodore Sill, Henry R. Storrs, etc., etc.) resided at Whitesboro. General Joseph Kirkland, Nathan Williams, Francis A. Bloodgood, Morris S. Miller, and David W. Childs, were then the leading lawyers residing in Utica. Greene C. Bronson, who grew up to eminence in his profession and became Attorney-General and a distinguished judge, was then a law student. Rome, then a small village, owed its prosperity in a great measure to the intelligence and enterprise of the Huntingtons (Henry and George) and the Braytons, both families of remarkable enterprise and of great public and social worth. There was also a family by the name of Hart, at Clinton, four or five of whom subsequently attained position and wealth in different parts of the State. Eli Hart, the eldest, was an eminent and wealthy flour merchant in New York. Ephraim Hart was a successful merchant and a popular politician residing at Utica. He represented that district in the Senate for four years, and was a warm political friend of Governor Clinton. Roswell Hart was a pioneer merchant in Rochester. His son was a representative in Congress from Rochester in 1866. Truman Hart, a lawyer, resides at Lyons, Wayne County, and represented that district in the State Senate in 1826. Thomas Hart was also a merchant at Rochester; he served with me in the army in 1813.
In October, 1813, I left Utica for Albany, and obtained employment in the office of Webster & Skinner, then publishers of the “Albany Gazette,” and, for that period, extensive book publishers and sellers. I then attended a theatre for the first time, my previous knowledge of evening entertainments having been limited to the exhibitions of Sickles, who, during the first twelve or fifteen years of the present century, furnished middle and western New York with their whole stock of scenic wonders; and who was as famous in his day as our friend Niblo, who he strongly resembled, became subsequently, and who was a prolific in “infant phenomena” as that inimitable provincial manager, Crummles. The war brought a large number of officers to Albany, and the theatre was consequently well attended. The company was strong, including Mr. Bernard the manager, an eminent comedian, and the Placides, the odor of whose name lingers pleasantly in the memory of old lovers of the drama.
Here and then Fanny Denny, the daughter of a revolutionary officer, made her debut, and became immediately popular. She soon afterwards joined a company under the management of Mr. Drake, to whom Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and other western cities were indebted for their first dramatic entertainments. Miss Denny married a son of the manager, and as Mrs. Drake became and remained a star for more than forty years in all our Western cities, dying at her residence in Kentucky greatly respected, in 1874, at the age of eighty-four.
I was constant in my attendance, and being then not on the free list, the theatre tickets and my board bill left me with nothing over; so that in December, when I found myself out of employment, I had but sixty-two cents left to bear my expenses back to Utica. Buoyant, however, with youth, health and hope, I started on foot. At Schenectady, where for eighteen cents I dined off pork and beans in a grocery, in exchange for a “fifty cent shin-plaster” I received a counterfeit “Calvin Cheeseman” for twenty-five cents. This left me with but eighteen cents to finish my journey. I traveled till late, stopping at Conine’s, a tavern well-known on the Mohawk in those days. Making a frank exhibit of my pecuniary condition, the landlord in the kindest manner ordered supper for me, and in the morning, although I was ready to start at day-dawn, he would not allow me to go without breakfast; and I remember to this day the exquisite flavor of his sausages, regretting profoundly that the process of making palatable sausages is numbered among the “lost arts.” Eleven years afterwards I again lodged, this time as a stage passenger, at Conine’s tavern, when, recalling the circumstances under which I had made his acquaintance, I tendered him with my best thanks payment for supper, lodging, and breakfast, with interest. This, however, was declined by Mr. Conine with a playful remark that it was outlawed, to which I replied that no human law could obliterate his kindness from my memory. In 1838 I again met Mr. Conine in a Whig State Convention at Utica, where I reminded him of the early and excellent flavor of his sausages. The second day’s journey brought me to East Canada Creek, where I was fortunate in meeting my friend Theodore S. Faxton, the stage driver, who not only provided me with supper and lodging, but took me to Herkimer on the box with him.
Often in later years, after the fortunes of both had changed, we have talked over this adventure. The history of Mr. Faxton shows what can be accomplished in our country by young men of industry, intelligence, and integrity. His good conduct as a driver for several years attracted the attention of Mr. Jason Parker, principal owner in the line of stages between Utica and Albany. Before Faxton was twenty-one he was appointed superintendent of the line of which he soon afterward became a proprietor. As new modes of travel were developed, Faxton became interested in canal packet boats, express companies, railroads, and telegraphs, from the legitimate profits of which he became wealthy, and is not in his old age devoting his large income to alleviate the condition of the unfortunate and infirm. At Herkimer I obtained employment in the office of the “American,” published by the late William L. Stone, then quite a young man, but subsequently prominently known as editor of the “Northern Whig,” in Hudson; the “Mirror,” of Hartford; the “Daily Advertiser,” in Albany; and the “Commercial Advertiser,” in New York. He was a zealous Federalist and I as zealous a Republican. But he was a kind-hearted, amiable man, to whom I became greatly attached. When the political campaign opened, there being no Republican press in the county, the Republican committee offered Mr. Stone the printing of their hand-bills, tickets, etc., etc., on condition that he allowed me to do their work privately. To this he assented; and I frequently, when confidentially occupied, turned the key upon my employer. When the election was over and the Republican ticket was elected, Aaron Hackley, chairman of the committee, presented me along with their thanks a five-dollar note, which at that day was munificent. Mr. Hackley, a young lawyer of much promise, was then elected to the Assembly, and four years afterwards to Congress. He was a popular man, of genial nature, who held various offices long enough to withdraw him from his profession and doom him to a fate that unhappily awaits too many successful politicians, -- an old age of poverty. He died in this city five days since in his eighty-sixth year. I have always remembered him with respect and affection, and it was in my power during the last few years of his life to be of some service to him.
In Herkimer I first met a young man who, after qualifying himself for a physician and giving one day to the practice of medicine, sold his horse, gave away his saddle-bags, pill-boxes, etc., etc., entered a law-office, and commenced the study of that profession. For the law, in debating societies and in justices’ courts he evinced much ability; and after his admission to the bar, had he not been drawn into public life, would have been as eminent a lawyer as he became a statesman. The gentleman to whom I refer was the late Michael Hoffman, who was for a long time equally distinguished in Congress for talents and integrity. It was to his enlightened statesmanship that New York is indebted for the financial article in the amended Constitution, which, by devoting $1,800,000 annually to the payment of the canal debt, has preserved the public credit and the public faith through every financial crisis. Here, also, I became acquainted with a bright, intelligent German boy, whose name, after a lapse of fifty-five years, is a universal household word, and whose face is familiar to every man, woman, and child in our country. He was the son of a German clergyman, who preached in that language to German congregations, and resided a couple of miles outside the village. The boy, then about twelve years old, attending an English school in the village, was very fond of newspaper reading, and came every day to the printing-office to read, and to borrow for night reading at home, our exchange papers. I was more particularly interested in him, perhaps, from the circumstance that in the mornings he brought notes from, and in the evening carried responses to, a young lady visiting a married sister who resided near his father’s house, and who subsequently became my wife. That German boy afterwards represented the Herkimer district in Congress, and is now the Treasurer of the United States, Francis E. Spinner.
There came to the village two young men who entered the office of Jabez Fox as students at law. They informed me that they had been studying law and teaching school at Cherry Valley, but having purchased the exclusive right for Herkimer County of a Patent Washing Machine, they intended to give up school keeping, and support themselves as students by the sale of their machines. They accordingly published an advertisement in the village paper and in hand-bills, celebrating the merits and felicities of the invention in poetry. The doggerel jingled so humorously that I preserved the verses, and twenty years afterwards, when the two young men had become well established as lawyers, one Ira Bellows, of Pittsfield, Monroe County, the other Alvan Stewart, of Utica, when we were attending a bar dinner at Rochester, I produced and read the patent-washing-machine poetry to the infinite enjoyment of the table, and most especially of the author, Mr. Stewart, who is remembered not only as a leading lawyer, but as the great abolitionist of his day.
In Herkimer I first became acquainted with Gerrit Smith, the handsomest, the most attractive, and most intellectual young man, I then thought and think now, I had ever met. He dressed a la Byron, and in taste and manners was instinctively perfect. He was attracted to Herkimer by Miss Wealthy Backus, daughter of Rev. Azel Backus, then President of Clinton College, a beautiful and accomplished young lady, who became his first wife. After her death Mr. Smith married a daughter of Colonel Fitzhugh, of Geneseo. Her sister was the wife of Dr. F. F. Backus (a son of President Backus), an eminent physician of Rochester, for long years our family physician and dearly loved friend.
There lived also at Herkimer a gentleman not then unknown to fame, although few I suppose will remember him. This was William Ray, who had been a prisoner in Algiers, and was released by an American fleet under the command of Commodore Preble. Mr. Ray was a poet of considerable temporary celebrity. He commemorated his sufferings in prison in a poem opening as follows: –
“Of Litchfield County, mud and clay,
Sprang the body of William Ray!”
Another poetical effusion from the same pen, familiar to children of that generation, found in juvenile picture-books, was a lament on the death of a canary bird, commencing –
“ ‘My bird is dead,’ said Nancy Ray,
‘My bird is dead, I cannot play.’”
Herkimer, though now obscure and dilapidated, was then a flourishing village with several prominent lawyers and enterprising merchants, only two of whom, so far as I know, survive. Lauren Ford, then a talented young lawyer, now in
“ – the sear, the yellow leaf of life,”
resides in Brooklyn, N. Y.
General George Petrie, then a clerk in Philo M. Hackley’s store, is now a clerk in the General Post Office at Washington.
In April, after the election, I packed my movables in a handkerchief, and started on foot for Cooperstown, where I obtained work in the office of H. & E. Phinney. Cooperstown was then a bright, active, growing and pleasant village. I boarded with Mrs. Ostrander, to whose daughter I became attached; but as I was only in my seventeenth year, and of unsettled and uncertain habits, and the young lady in her sixteenth year, her friends deemed it their duty to interpose, which they did strenuously. I did not think this unreasonable, having a distrust of my fitness for such responsibility. We agreed therefore to separate, with the understanding that if, after the lapse of three or four years, our affections remained unaltered, the engagement should be renewed.
During my residence in Cooperstown an incident occurred which, as it obtained considerable notoriety many years afterwards, requires notice here. In the company of four young men I attended a Sunday evening Methodist meeting, where, during the service, our attention was attracted to a group of girls who were by no means seriously impressed. At the close of the meeting we joined them and accompanied them to the tavern, where a conveyance awaited the party, as they resided several miles out of the village. The following day a man appeared in the village to identify the young men who, as he alleged, had committed a gross misdemeanor. And at the next session of the grand jury these young men, myself included, were indicted. The other young men, being natives of the village and reputably connected, readily obtained bail, while I, being a stranger, felt delicate about asking such a favor. While thus painfully embarrassed, my bond was unexpectedly signed by Mr. Israel W. Clark, editor of the “Watch Tower,” and Ambrose L. Jordan, then a young lawyer recently from Columbia, his native county, became my volunteer counsel. Many years afterwards I was informed by those gentlemen that they were prompted by the young lady to whom I have referred, and who requested them not to let me know to whose kind offices I was indebted for bondsman and counsel. Messrs. Clark and Jordan became my warm friends, and remained so to the end of their long and useful lives. It was my privilege and pleasure in after life to reciprocate the services they rendered me at a trying moment.
Early in July of that year Mr. Stone wrote requesting me to return to Herkimer. I immediately complied with this request, footing it again from Cooperstown to Herkimer, a distance of about thirty miles, which, being a good pedestrian, I accomplished in a day. I found myself again pleasantly situated with my old employer, who, in a few weeks after my arrival, started eastward, politically and matrimonially inclined. One of his purposes was to attend a sort of Hartford Convention at Albany, and the other to visit a young lady who subsequently became his wife. I was left in charge of his newspaper. In August I received a letter from a young friend in Utica, informing me that he had received a commission from General Peter B. Porter, who was organizing “year’s volunteers,” and requesting me to become his orderly sergeant. This appeal was irresistible. The letter was received on Thursday, and the company was to march from Whitesboro’ on the following Saturday. Mr. Stone was expected home on Wednesday. I worked night and day and up to two o’clock P. M. on Sunday to get the paper sufficiently advanced to enable Mr. Stone, on his return, to put it to press on the usual publication day. I then started on foot for Whitesboro’, some nineteen miles distant, on a scorching hot day. The company had started for the Niagara frontier on Saturday morning, but I found ten or twelve stragglers, mostly Oneida and Stockbridge Indians, then sufficiently sobered to march. Of these I took command, drawing three days’ rations to start with, and proceeded through Madison, Onondaga, and Cayuga counties, to Geneva, where, having no authority to draw rations, we were brought to a stand-still. My men had made sad havoc in vegetable gardens and poultry yards wherever we tarried, and they proposed to obtain further supplies by similar depredations; but this did not seem a proper or excusable mode of subsisting volunteers, and as I could find no person in Geneva to recognize me or my squad, I determined not “ – to march through Coventry” with them, and made my way as best I could back to Herkimer. Mr. Stone received me kindly, having in the interval avenged himself in a pleasant paragraph in his paper, saying he had left his office in charge of a young Democrat, who had followed off a strange fife and drum, leaving the paper to take care of itself.
In the following month of October my desire for military life was gratified in a more legitimate way. A brigade from Herkimer was ordered into service. Though not liable to military duty (being under eighteen years of age), I attached myself to Captain Bellinger’s company as a volunteer, and departed for Sackett’s Harbor. The march in fine weather, and with good roads, was full of pleasant excitement. Quite unexpectedly, on the first day’s march, Quartermaster George Petrie of our regiment (a merchant from Herkimer, subsequently a member of Congress, and now a clerk in the Post Office Department at Washington) handed me a warrant, appointing me his quartermaster-sergeant, which I still preserve, and of which the following is a copy: –
TO THURLOW WEED, GREETING: –
We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, valor, and good conduct, do hereby constitute and appoint you quartermaster-sergeant of the Fortieth Regiment N. Y. S. Militia, under my command.
You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of quartermaster-sergeant of said regiment , and you are required strictly to obey your superior officers, and all officers and soldiers under your command are hereby required to obey you as such quartermaster-sergeant, for which this shall be your sufficient warrant.
Given under my hand and seal, this fifth day of October, 1814.
MAJOR JACOB P. WEBER, Commandant.
This mark of confidence was very gratifying. On three occasions, in 1840, in 1848, and in 1860, when new Postmaster Generals were appointed who were my political friends, it afforded me much pleasure to introduce my friend Petrie to them as a veteran of 1812, a meritorious, capable, and honest public servant.
Our regiment, some eight hundred strong, on reaching Sackett’s Harbor was quartered in a large, vacant store in the centre of the village and directly opposite the navy yard, where several ships of war were in process of construction. Sackett’s Harbor, within and around the village, was an encampment. Troops were quartered, for want of tents, in dwelling houses, stores, shops, and barns. Here I first saw officers who afterwards became more or less distinguished, among whom were General Jacob Brown, General Wilkinson, General Winder (father of the Winders who were discreditably prominent as secessionists, or rebel officers), Commodore Chauncey, Captain Jacob Jones, Captain Downs, Major Thomas L. Smith, of the marine corps, and others. Here, too, I first met Lieutenant Gregory, then a dashing young officer, who rose, by long and faithful service, to be an Admiral. We were close friends, and in the later years of his life it afforded both much pleasure to recall the events of Sackett’s Harbor and Lake Ontario. The latter part of that season, the British, superior in naval force, commanded Lake Ontario. Twice, while we were there, Sir James Yeo appeared off the harbor with the British fleet, his purpose being, as was supposed, to land troops. This caused great excitement, and all our forces were hurried to the beach in readiness to receive the enemy. On the first occasion, after maneuvering his ships for two or three hours, he departed. On the second, he appeared as the day broke, and at an early hour sent a flag of truce demanding immediate surrender. General Brown sent Major Laval, an officer of dragoons, to meet the flag. Upon being informed that the officers in command of his Majesty’s army and navy demanded a surrender of Sackett’s Harbor, the major, in the strongest French accent, replied: “Sar, you return to you ship, and zay to your master if he wants Zackket’s Zarber he must come and take him! He no run away!” Then, turning his horse, he galloped back to headquarters. The flag-boat pulled off, and the fleet again made sail for Kingston.
General Wilkinson assembled a large army for a descent, through the St. Lawrence, upon Montreal. I endeavored to join, but as his army was wholly of regular troops, that was found impracticable. I remember an amusing incident which occurred at General Brown’s headquarters. Some of our men, who were on picket-guard duty, brought in a man who said he had escaped from Canada, where he had been for several months a prisoner. Acting that day as sergeant-major, the man was handed over to me to be taken to headquarters. General Brown, after becoming satisfied that the man gave a true account of himself, questioned him as to what were the intentions of the British army. He answered that it was well understood in Canada that an attack was soon to be made on Sackett’s Harbor; that their intention was to land troops at Gravelly Point, approaching Sackett’s Harbor in the rear, and not, as had been expected, in front. The general then asked him by what route they would move from Gravelly Point. He replied that he had heard they were to take Brown’s smuggling road. This closed the examination; and when we got out I alarmed the poor man by telling him that he had unconsciously hit the general between wind and water. During the embargo, the Browns, who were enterprising merchants, had carried on an extensive contraband traffic with Canada by a route which came to be generally known as “Brown’s smuggling road.”
Late in the autumn, apprehensions of an attack having subsided, the militia was mustered out of service. During three months’ service I had accumulated, as quartermaster-sergeant, a considerable amount of small rations, -- salt, pepper, soap, etc., etc., -- which the commissaries were frequently unable to deliver. I found myself, like other quartermasters, with fifty or sixty dollars, which, though properly belonging to the soldiers, there being no specie or small change, could not be distributed.
This, with my twelve dollars per month, enabled me to enjoy the luxury of a stage from Watertown to Utica. Among the passengers on that occasion I remember General Robert Swartwout, then a quartermaster-general in the United States Army, and the late Governor Yates, then a judge in the Supreme Court. At Lowville, where we slept, we met General Armstrong, then Secretary of War, who brought news of some success obtained by the allies over Bonaparte, which he regarded as diminishing the probability of peace with England.
When I arrived at Utica I learned that Samuel R. Brown, editor of a paper at Auburn, was about to publish a “History of the War,” and wanted a journeyman. I lost no time in making my way to Auburn, and became immediately an inmate of Mr. Brown’s printing-office and dwelling. Out of my seven weeks’ residence there Mr. Dickens would have found characters and incidents for a novel as rich and as original as that of “David Copperfield” or “Nicholas Nickleby.” Mr. Brown himself was an even-tempered, easy-going, good-natured man, who took no thought of what he should eat or what he should drink or wherewithal he should be clothed. He wrote his editorials and his “History of the War” upon his knee, with two or three children about him, playing or crying as the humor took them. Mrs. Brown was placid, emotionless, and slipshod. Both were imperturbable. Nothing disturbed either. There was no regular hour for breakfast or dinner, but meals were always under or over done. In short, like a household described by an early English author, “everything upon the table was sour, except the vinegar.” The printing sympathized with the housekeeping. We worked at intervals during the day; and while making a pretense of working in the evening, those hours were generally devoted to blind-man’s buff with two or three neighboring girls, or to juvenile concerts by Richard Oliphant, an amateur vocalist and type-setter, to whom I became much attached. He afterwards served his time as an apprentice to the “art preservative of all arts,” and for twenty or more years was an editor and publisher at Oswego, always sympathizing with me in politics, and remaining my warm friend to the end of his life.
I made few acquaintances then at Auburn, outside the printing house. I remember Judge Miller, -- many years afterwards father-in-law of Governor Seward, -- the present venerable ex-Governor Throop, John H. and Ebenezer S. Beach, as prominent citizens of an exceedingly muddy, rough-hewn, and straggling village.
Early in February it became necessary for me to reappear at Cooperstown. My trial, having been put over to the October term in consequence of my absence in the army, was to come on immediately. I therefore took leave of my good natured host and hostess, and departed on foot for Cooperstown, passing the first night with my parents, still residing at Onondaga. I stopped the following day at Cazenovia, and dined with Oran E. Baker, editor of “The Pilot.” From thence I rode in a sleigh to Morrisville, where I put up for the night. Hearing that a circuit court was being held there, I went over to the court house in the evening, where I found Judge William P. Van Ness presiding. The court was engaged upon what I found to be an exceedingly interesting ejectment suit. As the amount involved was large, and the question of title complex, the array of counsel on either side was formidable. Indeed, I have never, during the fifty-five years that have elapsed, with large opportunities, listened to the same number of really eminent lawyers. In addition to the attorneys in the suit, Daniel Cady, Elisha Williams, Thomas Addis Emmet, and Thomas J. Oakley appeared as counsel. I was so much interested as to remain there two days in attendance, when, lest I should be too late for my own trial, I started on my journey for the night, making a forced march to Cooperstown, which place I reached just in season, to the great disappointment of numbers who predicted that I would forfeit my bail, and who jeered Mr. Clark for the confidence he had reposed in me. In the long interval after the indictment, public sentiment had pretty much fixed upon me as the chief offender. The district attorney therefore decided to try me first and alone. Three of the girls were called as witnesses, none of whom recollected speaking with or seeing me after leaving the meeting-house. The fourth witness testified that she had been spinning at the house where I boarded for several weeks; that Saturday evenings she went to her home, three or four miles out of the village, and came in to church on Sunday evenings with the party; that in coming out of the church she took my arm, and walked with me through the village to the road which led to her residence, where we waited till the wagon with the other girls came up, when she bade me good-night, got into the wagon, and drove off. This being the testimony of one of their own witnesses, Mr. Jordan, my counsel, remarked that as the plaintiffs had failed entirely to sustain their case, he should call no witness, and was ready to submit the question to the jury without argument. The district attorney (General Kirkland, of Utica), father of Charles P. Kirkland, Esq., of New York, replied that if he had not relied upon the representations of local counsel he should not have subjected the defendant to the annoyance of a trial; adding that he would either move the court to quash the indictment, or accede to the proposition of his brother Jordan, allowing the case to go without argument to the jury. The judge remarked that, as a verdict of acquittal would probably be most satisfactory to the defendant, that course would be adopted; and the jury, without leaving their seats, rendered such a verdict. Discouraged at this unexpected result, the pettifogger who instituted the persecution abandoned the other indictments, so that an affair which had caused me some uneasiness terminated happily to my credit.
I was now out of employment, and uncertain which way to look for it. A night’s reflection resulted in a determination to enlist, as I did on the following morning; but before I had been sworn in the news of peace was received, and as the terms of my enlistment were “for during the war,” I was again afloat, whereupon I started for Albany. In the stage I made the acquaintance of Captain Aaron Ward, of the Twenty-fifth United States Infantry, subsequently General Ward, for many years a representative in Congress from Westchester County, of whom, should this narrative continue, I shall have further occasion to speak. I reached Albany early the following day, stopping at a hotel in South Market Street, then kept by Ellis Baker, an enterprising stage proprietor, who retired many years ago with an ample fortune. Between Mr. Baker and myself a friendship then began which has had no interval or ending. I obtained employment within two hours after my arrival at the office of the old “Albany Register,” then the organ of the Republican party, published by Henry C. Southwick, his brother Solomon being editor, and, until the previous year, State printer. Possessing great talents, popular manners, and munificent in his hospitalities and charities, he was a power in the State. He made and unmade governors, State and judicial officers. But in 1812 he differed with Governor Tompkins about the “Six Million Bank,” and quarreled with Judge Ambrose Spencer, whom he denounced bitterly as a “Tyburn Hill Dictator.” Governor Tompkins had prorogued the legislature to prevent the charter of the Six Million Bank, charging bribery and corruption in his message. Mr. Southwick defended the legislature and denounced the governor, who was, however, sustained by the people. The bank by another name, to wit, “The Bank of America,” was subsequently chartered. But the controversy led to the establishment, under the management of Jesse Buel, of the “Albany Argus,” to which the State printing was transferred; and the political sun, which had so long warmed and brightened the pathway of Mr. Southwick, was suddenly and forever eclipsed. In the hope of retrieving his fortunes he embarked largely in a wild real-estate speculation, which utterly ruined him. He bore up, and struggled on with indomitable industry and courage for more than twenty years, forgetting, as men will, that his misfortunes resulted from his own defective judgment and erroneous impulses, and complaining of the world’s injustice and ingratitude. I leave him for the present, working with great industry, zeal, and usefulness upon the “Ploughboy” and the “Christian Visitant,” sincerely believing himself to be both a practical farmer and a Christian, while in fact he was simply a theorist in agriculture and an enthusiast in religion.
And now, having passed my eighteenth birthday, my life as a journeyman printer was fairly inaugurated. I was received cordially by the old journeymen in the office, and soon established pleasant relations with them all. Among them were some of decided literary taste and acquirements, but in too many instances their chances of rising were lost by a habit which has so often doomed the brightest intellects to toil and poverty. During the seven years that I was a journeyman printer, I am compelled in sadness to record my belief that at least one quarter of all the journeymen printers whom I knew were habitually intemperate; while more than another quarter of the number, though not inebriates, drank enough daily to keep themselves impoverished.
Of all the printers whom I knew at Albany in 1815, my venerable and respected friends, John O. Cole and Samuel Williams of Rondout, are, I believe, the only survivors. Fortunately I then had no taste but a decided distaste for liquors and wines, and to this day I have never imbibed malted liquors. While in the army, I generally found thirsty soldiers, to whom I either gave my whiskey-rations, or allowed them to do my washing in exchange for them. It is proper to say that until I was twenty-two years old I drank nothing stronger than cider, but for nearly half a century I have been an habitual wine drinker. I have also been an occasional drinker of whiskey, though always fastidious about the quality.
For fifty-four years I was an inveterate cigar smoker, though never using tobacco in any other form. During that period I learn, by a somewhat careful computation, that I must have smoked or given to friends at least eighty thousand cigars.
1815 – 1816.
AIKEN, S.C., February 2, 1869
I resume the narrative which has been interrupted for a month, and the continuance of which is still dependent upon my health.
I was quite happy in my situation at Albany, animated by all the hopes that youth and health inspire. I worked diligently and cheerfully, earning from seven to nine dollars per week, as I was fully or partially employed, and boarding at two dollars and a half per week. My passion for the drama carried me almost every night into the pit of the old Green Street Theatre. This, at fifty cents a night, left but little of my earnings. That, however, caused me no anxiety. It was several years before I realized the importance of laying something by for sickness or a “rainy day.” Most of my leisure hours were passed at the theatre or in reading. I went to the legislature on two or three occasions towards the close of its session, more to see the prominent members of whom I had heard than to listen to the debates. Those then most distinguished in the Senate were Martin Van Buren, Erastus Root, and Nathan Sanford, and in the Assembly, Elisha Williams of Columbia, William A. Duer and James Emott of Dutchess, Samuel Young of Saratoga, and Peter J. Monroe of Westchester. None of the members of that legislature (1815), as far as I am informed, are now living. The venerable Aaron Hackley, then a member from Herkimer, died in January of the present year, aged eighty-six. I remember nothing during the summer of 1815 worthy of further notice. Mr. Southwick was working his brain with indomitable energy on his two weekly newspapers. Much ability and zeal were evinced in both journals,, but neither was adequately patronized, and in 1816 Mr. Southwick gave up both and became wholly absorbed in lotteries, opening an office for the sale of tickets, reserving numbers for himself which had been indicated in dreams or by fortune tellers, with whom he was in frequent consultation. I became an active member of the Albany Typographical Society, and lived on friendly terms with all the journeymen printers.
My health was good and I was never idle during business hours at the commencement of 1816. I obtained a situation from Jesse Buel, editor of the “Albany Argus” and state printer. This was an advantageous change, as the state printing gave “phat takes” to journeymen. By working hard, as I did, or rather by working from five A. M. till nine P. M., I earned from fifteen to seventeen dollars a week. Mr. Buel himself was an example for his employees. From January till April I uniformly reached the office before daylight, and seldom failed to find Mr. Buel at his case, setting type by a tallow candle and smoking a long pipe.
At the opening of that legislature there was a memorable struggle for Speaker, which delayed for several days the organization of the House of Assembly. The contest excited general interest, and as the legislative printing was thus kept back, I had leisure to attend the sittings of the Assembly, as I did until the contest for Speaker was over. Upon calling the list of members of Assembly sixty-five Republicans and sixty-three Federal members answered. When Peter Allen of Ontario presented himself to be sworn, objection was made, that although Mr. Allen had received the certificate, Henry Fellows, having received a majority of votes, was entitled to a seat; and hereupon an issue was made and an exciting and protracted debate ensued. The facts in the case were simple and undisputed. Six votes had been cast for “Hen.” Fellows instead of Henry Fellows. The county canvassers had rejected the six votes. This gave Mr. Allen a majority of one over Mr. Fellows. The ground taken by the Republicans was that no action could be had until the House was duly organized by the election of a speaker, when Mr. Fellows could present his claim, which would be referred to the appropriate standing committee. The Federalists maintained that as Mr. Fellows was clearly and undisputably the choice of the people, having received a majority of their votes, he could not be by an informal and unimportant abbreviation of his Christian name deprived of his seat. It was not simply who should be Speaker, but a question affecting all the political power and patronage of the State, that gave significance and intensity to the struggle. Then the Assembly named one Senator from each of the four Senate districts to constitute a “Council of Appointment,” by which, on the nomination of the Governor, all the offices in the State, judicial, civil, and military, were appointed. The Federalists were ably represented in the legislature; several of our then most distinguished men, namely, Thomas J. Oakley and William A. Duer of Dutchess, Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer and James Vanderpoel of Columbia, John I. Ostrander of Albany, James Powers of Greene, Peter A. Jay of Westchester, and Myron Holley of Ontario, were members. On the other hand, the Republicans were comparatively weak. Their speakers, feeble and inexperienced, were overwhelmed by the Federal orators, who for three days kept the question open, “making the worse appear the better reason.” Mr. Van Buren, then in the Senate, was constantly at the elbow of Mr. John H. Beach of Cayuga, Henry Leavenworth of Delaware, James Burt of Orange, and Dr. Barstow of Tioga suggesting and prompting, yet they were unable to cope with their more experienced adversaries. Finally, after three days’ resistance, when the Republicans were exhausted in argument and subdued in spirit, a modest-looking young man occupying an obscure seat, evidently quite unknown to his colleagues, rose and addressed the clerk. His manner was good, his voice clear, and the first sentences he uttered riveted the attention of the House and of the crowded galleries. He first stated the question pro and con with strict fairness, and then, while maintaining that the House could only be organized by admitting Mr. Allen to the seat to which his certificate entitled him, he frankly conceded that if the facts in favor of Mr. Fellows were authenticated before a committee, he should vote in favor of giving Mr. Fellows the seat instead of Mr. Allen. In the course of his speech this gentleman successfully rebutted the argument and triumphantly answered the declamation of the distinguished Federal members. That settled the question. His adversaries made an unsuccessful attempt to protract the struggle, but the question was demanded and taken.
Mr. Allen was sworn in. The eloquent member who had thus unexpectedly carried all before him was Henry B. Lee, a young lawyer from Putnam County, who was in April of that year elected to Congress, but died before his term of service expired. Daniel Cruger was elected Speaker, and a Republican Council of Appointment chosen. Mr. Fellows was admitted to the seat which Mr. Allen vacated on the 7th of February.
William C. Bouck, subsequently canal commissioner and Governor of the State, was a member of that Assembly, as was Herman Knickerbocker, a wit and wag who was subsequently a member of Congress, and best known as the “Prince of Schaghticoke.” I knew him well; he was an amiable man and a pleasant companion. When a law student at Albany with John V. Henry, in the early part of the present century, Captain Houdin, a Frenchman who came to this country to serve in our revolutionary army, was appointed to deliver an eulogium upon Washington, whom, next to Lafayette, he idolized. His oration completed, he submitted the manuscript to his friend Knickerbocker, in whose judgment and taste the Frenchman confided. After suggesting various unimportant corrections, Mr. Knickerbocker expressed his warm approval of the effort, but remarked that he thought the closing sentence should be made more effective and dramatic. Captain Houdin asked him to help him round out the sentence, which as written was as follows: “The immortal soldier and statesman, George Washington, expired at Mt. Vernon without a sigh or a groan.” Mr. Knickerbocker substituted for “a sigh or a groan” the words “a grunt or a growl,” with which the Frenchman was delighted. The eulogium was actually delivered in very bad English with this ludicrous conclusion.
Of the journeymen printers then employed by Mr. Buel, there are two survivors. Samuel Williams, now eighty-two or eighty-three years old, resides at Rondout, Ulster County. Though I have not seen him for more than fifty years, our friendly relations have been preserved. Gerrit W. Ryckman, then an apprentice, worked with me at press, and when out of his time I obtained a situation for him in New York, where we again worked at the same press, becoming warm friends. In 1830, when I established the “Albany Evening Journal,” Ryckman was one of the proprietors of the “Albany Daily Advertiser.” Rivalry in business aggravated the difference between us occasioned by the anti-Masonic question. Alienation ensued. Mr. Ryckman soon sold his interest in the “Advertiser” to embark in other enterprises, and from that day till the present time he has fought the battle of life with varying fortune. For the last twenty years he has resided in California. After a lapse of nearly forty years of alienation a mutual friend showed me a letter from Mr. Ryckman, in which he spoke of our early friendship so kindly that I wrote him a letter, which brought back a warm response, from which the following is an extract: --
SAN FRANCISCO, January 29, 1866..
THURLOW WEED, Esq.:
My very dear, good Friend, -- There is no language at my command that can begin to give you an idea of the agony of joy and happiness with which my heart was overwhelmed at the perusal of your kind, generous, and noble-hearted letter to me of December 9, 1865. God in his infinite mercy bless and prosper you and yours, Thurlow Weed, friend of my early boyhood, that I love and cherish with my whole heart and soul, and which love and affection was never obliterated for a moment, although I did, in the wild, mad, persecuting spirit of former days, act toward you “many a time and oft” in the most uncalled-for and unnatural manner, although the better feelings of my nature chided me at the time being for so doing. Heaven be praised that through your magnanimity I have been forgiven, so far at least as you are concerned, and that I have lived to see this day and to feel and know that you and I are now the same warm-hearted, confiding, true, and sincere friends that we were in the days of lang syne.
I well remember all the much respected names you mention in your letter. Some have risen to marked eminence and great wealth, whilst others are still tugging at the oar on the frail bark of fortune. Such is life.
You tell me that you are living in Beaver Street at the present time. So you were more than fifty years ago, when I frequently used to climb upon the shed to awaken you, after you had barricaded the door that led to the entrance of your sleeping-room. Many a good, hearty laugh have I had at the idea of your endeavoring to make me believe that the fastening of the door to the wood-house was the work of that good old gentleman, Dr. Packard….
The idea of your waiting, if you so please to term it, until the completion of the first great railway before you think of visiting California, looks to me most passing strange and wonderful. The man who has the daring to have crossed the Atlantic as frequently as you have done should not be allowed to enter so frail an excuse as the waiting of the completion of the railway…. It gives my soul great joy to think and know that such a thing as your early visit to this glorious young State is within the range of human probabilities. Please, my dear friend, write me as often as your convenience will permit, and believe me now and ever,
Yours from the heart of hearts,
G. W. RYCKMAN.
I witnessed a street rencontre at Albany, about this time, between two young men whose names subsequently became historical. Mr. Gorham A. Worth, for many years and until his death financial officer of the City Bank, was, in 1816, teller in the Mechanics and Farmers’ Bank at Albany. As in the case of Charles Lamb, Rogers, Halleck, etc., while other duties claimed his attention during the usual hours of business, his tastes were literary. All the time that could be snatched from office duties was given to the Muses. A good deal of local interest had been excited by the publication in pamphlet form of “Sketches,” delineating the salient points of character of several then most prominent citizens of Albany. Chief Justice Spencer, whose character presented many strong and noticeable features, was freely sketched and universally recognized as “Saint Ambrosio.” His son William, then a midshipman in the navy and at home on furlough, on learning that Mr. Worth wrote the “Sketches,” met him in the street and attempted to chastise him with a rattan. A sharp rencontre ensued, but before any decisive advantage was obtained by either the combatants were separated. Mr. Spencer subsequently rose to a post-captaincy in the navy, and having married an estimable lady (Miss Lorillard) in New York, inherited a large fortune.
Mr. Worth, soon after the charter of the Bank of the United States, was appointed cashier of its branch at Cincinnati, where he became favorably known both as a banker and a man of letters. The last thirty years of his life were pleasantly passed as President of the New York City Bank, and in the occasional indulgence of his literary tastes. His son, James L. Worth, is cashier of the Park Bank. I entertained all that time a sincere friendship for Mr. Worth, and had the happiness of knowing that the sentiment was reciprocated. He was a frequent contributor to the “Evening Journal,” and a familiar correspondence between us ran through his life.
During that winter, having had a good situation, I saved money enough to improve and enlarge my previously scanty wardrobe; and when, on the first of May, the legislative printing was finished, I started for New York, to gratify a long-cherished hope of revisiting that metropolis.
There were three steamboats then running between New York and Albany, namely, the Paragon, Car of Neptune, and the Richmond. We left Albany at five P. M., and were in the dock at the foot of Cortlandt Street at nine o’clock the next morning. I was delighted with the trip, remaining on deck nearly all night to catch glimpses of places and scenery which had interested me when navigating the river as a sloop’s cabin-boy in 1806 and 1807.
My first situation was as a compositor in the office of Van Winkle & Wiley, book printers, in Greenwich Street. I worked on “Cobbett’s Register,” and being anxious to see the great English radical who, when in this country in 1794, vilified Washington almost as bitterly as he was then denouncing George III., volunteered to carry his proof-sheets to him, at No. 8 or 10 in a basement in Wall Street, which he occupied as a publishing office. I found him quite affable, evincing in conversation, as in his writings, energy and will. He had served, when a young man, in Canada, as a British soldier. Fifty-three years afterwards, when introduced to his son in the House of Commons, I related this incident to him. The M. P., though bearing a physical resemblance to his father, was quiet in manner, and had evidently not inherited either the talent or the rancor of the elder Cobbett. And here I may insert my “Reminiscences of the City of New York Half a Century Ago, by a Journeyman Printer,” given to the public at another time and in another form: --
THE CITY OF NEW YORK FIFTY YEARS AGO.
RECOLLECTIONS OF A JOURNEYMAN PRINTER.
The New York of 1815, wonderful then as a city in eyes accustomed only to rural districts, has so changed, in aspect and habits, as to exist only in the memories of the “oldest inhabitants.” Geographically, it was a compact city (saving the Rutgers mansion and grounds) as far east as Corlears’ Hook. The Bowery was built up as far as Grand Street (though there was then no such street), while beyond it were pleasant country residences. About this time Eldridge and Christie streets took the names of officers of the Thirteenth United States Infantry, who distinguished themselves in the battle of Queenstown.
Brooklyn was an inconsiderable village. There was then a ferry from the Fly (now Fulton) Market, at the foot of Fair (now Fulton) Street, to Brooklyn, or rather to the navy yard, for Brooklyn was of little account; but the only mode of crossing was by row-boats. Staten Island was reached by “perryaugers” (periaguas), one of which was commanded by Captain Cornelius Vanderbilt, now a twenty-millionaire.
On the west side of Broadway, streets extended only to Lispenard, all north of which was either unsightly common or indifferently cultivated farms. There was, well out of the city, the nucleus of what became the village of Greenwich, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and below Fourteenth Street. When of a Sunday afternoon we wanted exercise and fresh air, we would walk up to the State Prison, then a prominent feature far away out of the city, but now standing, almost unobserved, near Christopher Street. It then looked directly upon the river; now, several streets intercept the view.
In 1815 or 1816, the common north of Canal Street (there was neither Erie Canal nor Canal Street then) was surveyed and laid out in streets, which took the names of revolutionary officers Green, Mercer, Sullivan, etc. I remember going, about this time, with a friend, the late George Mather, to a vacant lot situated near the now corner of Spring and Mercer streets, which he had purchased to erect an ink manufactory upon, assuming that the adjoining property would not be occupied for many years, and that he should never be disturbed by neighbors!
The erection of two basement brick dwelling-houses, the first of that class, I believe, on the east side of Broadway, between Franklin and Canal streets, caused a good deal of remark, and was regarded as gratifying evidence of architectural progress. These dwellings, considered magnificent then, were built by Messrs. Price & Simpson, managers of the Park Theatre. Whole streets of mansions, infinitely superior, go up now in a month without thought or observation.
The aristocracy of the city fifty years ago resided either in Broadway, adjacent to the Battery, or in the vicinity of Columbia College. The late Governor DeWitt Clinton resided in Cherry Street.
Of what was Cortlandt Street in 1815, the only house remaining as it stood is one then occupied by the late Philip Hone. All else has been rebuilt. Cortlandt Street was rather aristocratic then. Upper-tendom had no existence even in name then. Indeed, the wealthy classes had not commenced their West-End migration until nearly twenty years later. Broadway in the mean time has, to use a familiar phrase, entirely “shed its coat.” There are not, of what was Broadway in 1815, more than three or four spared monuments. The Prime House, opposite Bowling-Green, St. Paul’s Church, and one or two more buildings, remain as they were. All else has been demolished and rebuilt, and in many cases this process has been repeated and reiterated.
In those days Hoboken was known, not because the Elysian Fields were beautiful, but mainly because it was the dueling-ground of Hamilton and Burr, and as such was much visited. Jersey City was “no-where.”
In 1815 there were no omnibus lines, no railways, and, I believe, no hacks, or if any, only a few, and those stood in front of Trinity Church. How, then, did people get to distant parts of the city? Of course, the area of the city was circumscribed, or it would have been impossible to traverse it without conveyances. But we took our time in those days. Nobody was in such a hurry to get through the world. Nobody was “fast.” Business journeys to Buffalo would consume more days than hours are now required.
In 1815 the City Hotel was the only first-class public house. Washington Hall, where A. T. Stewart’s store is now, opened about that time, but all the others were second-rate. Hotel fare in those days, though substantial, was plain. The culinary art among us was in its infancy. There was, indeed, a general prejudice against French cooking. Port and brown sherry (pale sherry rarely seen) wines were good. The Madeira wines were gloriously delicious Champagne was just coming in, but comparatively little known, and was warmed before drinking! Ice, that now domestic necessity, was then rarely seen, and used only during the “heated terms.” Strawberries were never served upon hotel tables, or in private families, except at tea. The strawberry, as a hotel breakfast and dinner luxury, was first introduced by William Sykes, who opened a most luxurious “Bank Coffee-house” in William Street, on the corner of William and Pine, but who lived too fast to live long. Grapes, except those from Madeira, were wholly unknown. None were grown except the small, sour, wild grape. Nor was the tomato, a vegetable now found upon every table in the city, then cultivated, or known as the esculent now so universally appreciated. I doubt whether, in 1815, a tomato was sold or eaten in this city.
Fifty years ago, the customs and habits of New York were much more natural and simple than they are now. There was then infinitely less wealth, less luxury, less cultivation, and less refinement. There is, however, a cultivation and refinement in evil as in good, and their progress, in both senses, has been coincident. We grow better and worse. Refinement and demoralization keep about equal pace. Such are the inevitable fruits of great prosperity. In the aggregate, however, it is encouraging to know that there is a constantly increasing preponderance of good over evil.
There were comparatively few temptations in those days. There were no “hells,” or “gin palaces,” or “saloons.” There were no clubs, though, of course, I do not confound the latter with the former. But men lived at home in those days. Perhaps I cannot so well illustrate my meaning as to say that the Delmonico of fifty years ago was a colored man (“Billy”), who lived in William Street, east of Frankfort, where it was the custom of prominent merchants, lawyers, physicians, etc., to go, winter evenings, for buckwheat cakes. This was a general resort. I remember, among others, to have seen and listened to Dr. S. L. Mitchell, Richard Riker, Pierre C. Van Wyck, Isaac Carow, Jacob Barker, etc., taking their cakes and coffee there socially.
Even porter-houses, as now constituted, were almost unknown then. I believe the first introduction of newspapers for general reading was at a porter-house on the corner of Fulton and Nassau streets. The use of “all that intoxicates” had, of course, an earlier origin, but most of its compound virtues were undiscovered. The “cock-tail” and the “cobbler,” now in universal request, were not then invented, nor had the “julep” yet imparted its flavor and incense to Northern lip and nose. But, although these refinements in drinking had not reached us, men did not lack the means of quenching thirst. The “sling” was as potent in overthrowing Goliaths as in the days of David.
The great, the wonderful changes wrought in fifty years relate to daily journals. There were then two morning (the “Gazette” and the “Mercantile”) and two evening (the “Post” and the “Commercial”) daily papers. I am not sure that the “Columbian” was not a daily, though I believe it was only a semi-weekly. The “Gazette” was crowded with advertisements, rarely containing more than a column or a column and a half of reading matter. The “Mercantile” was not much better, -- both stupid and barren of all interest, except for their ship news and advertisements. The “Post” was edited with decided, and the “Commercial” with moderate ability.
The “Mercantile” had the largest circulation, which, if I remember right, was less than 2,500. At any rate, the circulation of all the New York dailies fifty years ago did not half equal that of the “Times” now; nor was there in the whole city, then, as much press power and capacity as is now operated subterraneously under the sidewalk in front of the “Times” office. And this vast power, which furnishes political, commercial, and general intelligence for the world, is operated while thousands who pass directly over it are unconscious of its whereabouts.
The dailies I have names were all Federal in politics. The “Columbian” was then the only Republican or Democratic journal in the city. The merchants were generally Federalists, as were most of the lawyers.
Richard M. Blatchford, Esq., now one of the solid men of New York, between whom and myself there as been a lifelong, unbroken, cherished friendship, came to New York in 1815 from Union College, to seek his fortune, like the late Luther Bradish, as a schoolmaster.
Mechanics and laborers were paid, in 1815, in Jacob Barker’s Washington and Warren Bank, twenty-five and fifty-cent “shinplasters.” Mechanics, clerks, etc., etc., paid three dollars per week for board.
There were then several officers of the Revolution, who had served with distinction, residing in New York. Among those I remember to have seen were Colonel Marinus Willett, Colonel Nicholas Fish (Governor Fish’s father), Colonel Varick, General Ebenezer Stevens, Major Z. Platt, Governor Morgan Lewis, Colonel Anthony Lamb, etc., etc. Colonel Aaron Burr, with whom I subsequently became acquainted, returned from Europe about that time.
New York was a more economically-governed city fifty years ago than it is now. There was a much higher sense of official responsibility. Municipal honors were conferred on men of high standing and character.
1816 – 1818
Retiring now from the “space box” to the “ink block,” in June I obtained a situation at press with Daniel Fanshawe, in Cliff Street, where I worked on some of the first tracts printed in this country, -- tract societies having then been recently organized. In a couple of months I changed to the office of George Lang, a book publisher in Pearl Street, near Coenties Slip. Here I worked at press with William E. Dean, who subsequently became a successful master printer, and is now among the few surviving friends with whom I was intimate at that early day, enjoying in retirement the fruits of early industry and frugality. I then worked a few weeks at the office of Samuel Wood & Sons, corner of Pearl and Frankfort Streets. They were Quakers, and their principal business was to print and sell juvenile school-books. They were as methodical and fastidious in their printing as in the cut of their coats, but excellent people and pleasant employers. I then took a situation on the “Courier,” a morning paper edited and published by Barent Gardenier, a prominent Federal lawyer, who represented the Ulster district in Congress during the war. The office was in Pearl Street, near Lang and Turner’s “Gazette” office in Hanover Square.
A comparative estimate between the commerce of that and the present day may be formed, from the circumstance that, as the “Courier” had no news boat, an intelligent boy went every half hour to Mr. Lang’s bulletin and brought in his memory the names of masters and consignees of all the arrivals both from foreign ports and coastwise. In this way Mr. Gardenier collected his ship news. But his paper was short-lived. It was started without capital and ran as long as it could run upon credit. Mr. Gardenier, who was practicing law, called his journeymen together and informed them that they should have their pay – requesting us to call frequently at his office in Maiden Lane and “dun” him. I, however, immediately obtained a good situation with Mr. Jonathan Seymour, a book printer, at No. 49 John Street. Not needing money as those did who had families, I concluded to wait until Mr. Gardenier should be better able to pay my bill, but in about six weeks, meeting him accidentally, he exclaimed, “Why the d___ haven’t you chased me up like the rest of the pack? I thought you had run away or were lost,” fumbling meanwhile in the cuffs of his coat, where he found between three and four dollars of Jacob Barker’s twenty-five and fifty cent paper currency, which he gave me, saying, “Keep dunning me till you get the balance.” I mention this otherwise unimportant incident as characteristic of a man who occupied a prominent public position in his day. My situation at the office of Mr. Seymour was a very pleasant one. My press partner was James Harper, the senior of the great publishing house of Harper & Brothers, who was subsequently elected mayor of the city. We were employed upon a quarto edition of “Scott’s Family Bible,” and worked with a will, earning from twelve to thirteen dollars a week. We were at the office in the morning as soon as it was light, doing, in the summer months, a third of our day’s work before breakfast. It was a well-regulated office and most of the journeymen were intelligent and temperate. My Seymour himself was a kind-hearted man, who had an encouraging word for us all, and it afforded him evident pleasure to find his journeymen coming to him on Saturday nights to receive their wages, especially if their bills were large ones.
When James and John Harper established a small office of their own, I reluctantly left Mr. Seymour’s office to take a situation in that of William A. Mercien, in Gold Street, that I might have Thomas Kennedy, who was considered the best pressman in New York, as a partner. Here, too, I found much enjoyment. I soon became a favorite with Mr. Mercien, and always had the best work in the office. Here “Captain Riley’s Narrative of a Remarkable Shipwreck on the Coast of Africa” was first printed. Making his acquaintance the day he brought the manuscript of his book to the office, and reading the first chapter, I ventured to suggest that it was carelessly written and needed revising, and although at first annoyed, he finally took it away and availed himself of the services of a school-teacher, who improved the whole narrative in its style and grammar. The work was a great success, keeping its author before the people for fifteen or twenty years.
I was elected a member of the New York Typographical Society soon after I reached the city, and attended its meetings regularly. These were occasions to me of rare interest, for among its members were men of intellectual, moral, and social worth. Its president was Peter Force, subsequently and for forty years an eminent printer in Washington. Others established themselves in neighboring cities and villages, and became influential and prosperous publishers or editors. These, however, were the exceptions, for much the largest number remained journeymen through life. Too many of them, I regret to say, were impoverished by habitual dram-drinking, more or less intemperately. The printing-house habits condemned by Dr. Franklin had not yet been reformed. Journeymen in most of the offices were required to pay “footing,” which meant a treat by the new comer, all the old journeymen and the masters were required to treat the hands whenever signature “0” was put to press. At eleven o’clock A. M. invariably, and too frequently afterwards, journeymen would “jeff” for beer. In this way a large share of their weekly earnings was mortgaged, each journeyman having a formidable “tick” at the grocery to be adjusted on Saturday evenings.
There was a marked difference between the journeymen who came from Boston, Hartford, and other New England towns, and those who came from Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc., etc., most of the former being temperate and frugal, while most of the latter were thriftless or dissipated. Among the journeymen from Boston was Thomas Tileston, who subsequently became a shipping merchant, and for thirty years, as a member of the house of Spofford & Tileston, was one of our most enterprising and estimable citizens. Fortunately for me, I disliked malt liquors and then drank no distilled spirits or wine. The extent of my indulgence was to repair on Saturday evenings to a porter-house in Fair (now Fulton Street) to read the newspapers and drink a glass of Newark cider. I have often reflected gratefully that my repugnance for beer and distaste for stimulating beverages in early life saved me from a fate to which different tastes and habits consigned hundreds of companions and acquaintances. But while I did not thus squander my earnings, my passion for drama increased “with what it fed upon.” I went regularly to the old Park Theatre, then in its palmy days, where I saw, with an enthusiasm that even yet fans the embers of memory, the best actors that ever graced our boards. Then the legitimate drama held possession of the stage. An occasional melodrama like the “Forty Thieves,” “Abolino,” “The Dog of Montargis,” “Tekeli,” etc., etc., was introduced. But the plays of Shakespeare and the sterling old English comedies, with an admirable English farce, brought out almost every night such actors as Hodgekinson, Incledon, Cooper, Mr. and Mrs. Darley, Mr. and Mrs. Barnes, Hilson, Placide, Simpson, Miss Rock, Ellen Tree, Maywood, Power, and Dwyer.
In those days there came to the Park Theatre, as regularly as the actors themselves, two or three hundred New York merchants, lawyers, physicians, etc., etc., with whose faces I was forever after familiar. Among these were M. M. Noah, John Pintard, Philip Home, Richard Hatfield, Hugh and W. H. Maxwell, G. C. Verplanck, Sylvanus Miller, Dr. Francis, and others. The omnipresence of “Old Hayes” was sufficient to preserve order.
As I had constant work and seldom lost a working hour, I knew but little of what was passing in the city outside of the printing-offices. I went occasionally to political meetings, where I heard Thomas Addis Emmet, William Samson, David B. Ogden, Peter A. Jay, Dr. S. L. Mitchell, Michael Ulshoeffer, P. C. Van Wyck, and others speak. I went also to the City Hall to see and hear the distinguished judges and lawyers of that day.
Soon after reaching New York I formed a plan of attending service at least once at all the churches of the city, commencing, I believe, with Trinity. I remember to have gone on consecutive Sundays to the Methodist churches in John and Duane streets, Rev. Dr. Phillips’ in Wall Street, the two churches in William Street (one of them now the Post Office), the church in Beekman Street, Dr. McMurray’s in Chambers Street, Dr. Mason’s in Murray Street, Rev. Mr. McClay’s in Mott Street, and from the latter I visited a little white, wooden meeting-house in Magazine (now Pearl Street), a few doors west of Chatham. The building stood modestly back from the street, making no pretension to church architecture, but when seated, and the first sentence of a prayer alike impressive and affectionate fell upon the ear, no one could doubt that he was in the house and presence of God. This feeling deepened as the services progressed, and at their conclusion I rose and left that place of worship wiser and better for its instructions and associations. That was a Universalist church under the Rev. Edward Mitchell, an eloquent man then about forty-five years of age, who labored there and in Duane Street some twenty years afterwards, dying as he had lived a devout Christian and greatly beloved pastor. Strong as the sectarian feeling then was, and much as the sect to with Mr. Mitchell belonged was disliked, all conceded piety and purity of life to that preacher, and his congregation, it was admitted, maintained a high moral character. I became a constant attendant of Dr. Mitchell’s church, and his teachings gave a direction to my thoughts and exerted an influence which tended to render my future life hopeful.
The following letter will give an idea of the character of that “good pastor:” –
NEW YORK, September 20, 1817.
DEAR SIR, -- Your letter of the 29th July, with its inclosure of the 27th, I received in due course, and can give no other sufficient reason why they have not been sooner answered by me than this: that when I intended to answer them I could not find them; I looked again and again, but to no purpose; this morning I laid my hands on them, and have read them with renewed pleasure; they appear to me to contain the warm effusions of an honest, zealous mind. I have made it a general rule to avoid hearing either the praise or censure of my official labors, lest I should be puffed up by the one, or prevented by the other from the discharge of a sacred duty.
Yet thus much I will own, that every instance I have that my labors are not in vain is to me an encouragement to persevere. And I acknowledge that this is to me an evidence of the weakness of human nature, for my understanding builds on an unexpressibly better foundation. I am perfectly convinced that when God sends his laborers to sow the good word of life, he never intends that they should labor in vain; and (to pursue the figure) though the seed may die, and rot in the ground, yet it shall produce the blade, the full ear, the glorious harvest. The pulpit advocate is not the only laborer in this great and good work; every believer to whom God is pleased to give the opportunity of advocating the truth, though it should be but to a single person, is then laboring for the glory of God and the happiness of man, and where is there a believer who has not this opportunity? I doubt if there is one so situated in the world. Now, if every believer is thus a laborer, whose labor shall not be in vain, how great his honor, how true his happiness! But to enjoy this happiness we must believe that our labor shall not be in vain. I can truly assure you that this conviction has very, very often been my great support when almost every other source of support has failed me.
You ask, Is there any impropriety in making extracts for the paper from the new hymn book? I see none; but I am very sure that if you tell your readers where you extract from they will not generally thank you for your pains, and yet these hymns are very generally written by those who did not believe with us. It is a fact, though a strange one, that people who do not believe the truth will frequently express it, and so in this case. The 468th hymn, beginning “Art Thou my Father,” etc., was handed to me last summer by a dying friend. He felt its full force, for he was the father of a numerous family who had no mother, and he himself loved God as his father. I think he told me it was copied from a Baltimore paper into one of this city.
I am respectfully your obedient servant,
There was another event and arrival with which I was intensely interested. Rev. Mr. Summerfield, a youthful Methodist clergyman, came from England, and commenced preaching in New York. He was wonderfully beautiful in the formation of his head and the features of his face, and that all these features were eloquently expressive of the purity of his life and the goodness of his nature, or the divinity of his mission, none who saw and heard him could doubt. His voice and manner harmonized with and gave effect to his personal accomplishments. He was followed from church to church by great numbers, charming and chastening all ears and all hearts. If any went to scoff, they inevitably “remained to pray.” If Rev. John Summerfield had announced himself as an inspired prophet or apostle, he would have had hosts of believers. But he was himself a simple, unostentatious, “meek and lowly” believer and follower of that Saviour to whom, in person and character, he bore such striking resemblance. There are, I doubt not, old citizens who heard Mr. Summerfield, and who share in the enthusiasm of my remembrance of him.
I had the satisfaction, one summer afternoon, to witness the reception of President Monroe, who was met on the Battery by a civic and military procession under the command of Major General Morton, and escorted to the City Hall. This was the first President of the United States I had ever seen. The only one of his successors whom I never saw was General Jackson. With all the other Presidents of the United States, from James Monroe to General Grant, except President Polk, I have been personally acquainted.
1817. – In June, 1817, I received a letter from Israel W. Clark, editor of the “Watch Tower,” Cooperstown, informing me that he had purchased the Albany “Register,” and offering me the situation of foreman in that office. Though most reluctant to leave New York, where I was living very happily, this offer seemed too advantageous to be lost. I therefore took passage in the sloop Commerce, Captain George Monteath, left New York with a fresh breeze in our favor, and was landed at Albany in thirty-six hours. I found my new situation an extremely pleasant one. Here I was permitted to try my “’prentice hand” on editorials. I first wrote brief paragraphs upon commonplace subjects, taking occasionally great liberties with the king’s English, for I was ignorant of the first principles of grammar; but Mr. Clark, the editor, would good-naturedly point to these blunders, and say encouragingly that I would improve by practice. It was not long, however, before one of my paragraphs involved Mr. Clark and myself in serious difficulty. An Irish boy, living in a garret directly opposite our office, had his leg badly injured by an explosion of powder. There came regularly to this boy’s bedside three or four students of medicine, who, as I believed, were treating him unskillfully; who, indeed, were experimenting upon a poor, friendless boy. My sympathies found indignant expression in a paragraph saying that a poor boy was in danger of losing a limb, if not his life, unless an experienced physician, instead of a tyro in medicine, could be induced to visit him. This raised a storm about our ears. The young men were students of Dr. William Bay, an eminent physician, who came much excited to the editor, demanding ample and public apologies. Upon learning who the offender was, I was arraigned before Mr. Verner, a police magistrate, and reprimanded, though I did not see then, and cannot see now, by what authority. Before the next publication day (the “Register” appearing only twice a week) the boy’s leg had to be amputated. This was my vindication, and the end of our trouble with the doctors. For twenty or more years afterwards the boy (Pat McAnnally), who went stumping about Albany with a wooden leg, served to remind the doctors and myself of the incident.
Soon after my arrival in Albany two events occurred which attracted general interest. On the 4th of July, the remains of General Montgomery, on their way from Quebec to New York, passed through the city. The procession, consisting of the military, civic societies, and citizens of Albany, Troy, and Schenectady, was imposing, impressive, and solemn. The Grand Marshall of the day was Major Benjamin Birdsall of the United States army, who had served gallantly in the war of 1812, and who appeared on that day for the first time without the dressing upon a severe wound in the face that he received in the sortie at Fort Erie, in 1814. On the 12th of the same month, as he was, on a Sunday afternoon, about to review his rifle battalion, he was shot by one of his soldiers. He had passed two hours of that afternoon in our office chatting with two or three friends. After he left the office, I went with a friend for a walk, and returning near sundown, between the patroon’s and the old arsenal, I heard a rifle shot, and saw a commotion in the cantonment which lay between North Pearl Street and what is now known as the Little Basin. I ran to the spot, and assisted in removing the major (who was my intimate friend) on a litter to his residence in North Pearl Street, where he soon expired.
The excitement against the soldier was so intense that it was difficult to prevent the populace from lynching him. He was committed to the jail, but the feeling ran so high that the civil authorities requested the officer in command at the Greenbush cantonment to receive and protect the prisoner.
Major Birdsall at the commencement of the war resided on a farm which he rented from the patroon, near the Shaker village. He went with a volunteer rifle company, of which he was an officer, to Plattsburgh, where, in the battle that ensued, his gallantry attracted the attention of General Macomb, on whose recommendation, along with that of Governor Tompkins, he was appointed an officer in the United States Rifle Corps, and served subsequently on the Niagara frontier, again distinguishing himself in several battles, until, at the close of the campaign of 1814, he received his desperate wound in leading, under General Peter B. Porter, the assault upon Fort Erie. He had risen, against adverse circumstances, by intelligence and energy, to position and fame, and was justly appreciated by Albanians.
The prisoner, Hamilton, was soon indicted, arraigned, tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged. The trial (which I reported for the “Register”) was in the Assembly Chamber, and although Hamilton himself always admitted the charge, and manifested no solicitude for the result of the trial, somebody (his father, it was supposed) employed counsel for him, who strenuously urged an acquittal on the ground of temporary insanity occasioned by liquor, but of course producing no effect.
After his conviction, at the request of Sheriff Hempsted, I went to Hamilton’s cell, with a strong feeling of repugnance, which, however, after two or three visits, was, by a revelation of all the circumstances, changed to a sorrowful sympathy. Hamilton was the natural son of a man engaged successfully in a business that ultimately made him wealthy in the city of New York. His mother, turned adrift in disgrace and destitution, struggled as well as she could for a few years, and then left him to the world’s charity.
At the commencement of the war of 1812, then about twenty years old, he enlisted, and it was shown on his trial that he served faithfully and gallantly, receiving at the close of the war an honorable discharge. He had known and greatly admired Major Birdsall during the war. After a year or two of irregularities, with uncertain and precarious employment, he sought Major Birdsall’s recruiting rendezvous and reenlisted. For more than a week before the fatal rifle was fire Hamilton had been intoxicated. On Saturday, a light-colored mulatto, a fine soldierly-looking young man, who had served during the war, also reenlisted, and was sent to camp to be mustered in; after which, the major intended to take him to his house as a waiter. At mid-day on Sunday Hamilton was told that a negro had been recruited, and as he was, like Hamilton, a tall fellow, was to be put into his platoon and mess. This, maddened as he already was with a mixture of bad whiskey and sour cider, exasperated him beyond control. He loaded his rifle, and went prowling about in search of the “negro,” who, informed of Hamilton’s threats, kept out of his way, -- until at six o’clock Hamilton, with rifle in hand, saw him dodge behind a tent, and started after him. At this moment the major, who was approaching, called, “Hamilton, take your place!” and the rifle, which was ready to be discharged at the soldier, was instantaneously aimed and fatally discharged at the major. In his sober senses, he would have defended Major Birdsall at the risk of his own life.
As a coincidence entitled to be remembered, it is proper to say that Major Birdsall, like the man who assassinated him, was an illegitimate child, unacknowledged until after he had distinguished himself in the war. His father, Colonel Benjamin Birdsall, an officer in the revolutionary army, and an influential citizen of Columbia County, then sent for the major and acknowledged him as a son.
After Hamilton was convicted and sentenced to execution, he requested me to write his “Life and Confession.” He told me that he was the natural son of a wealthy New Yorker, from whom he had received nothing, and whom he never saw; but although he owed him neither affection nor duty, he did not want his father’s name made public. The day before his execution he asked permission of the sheriff to walk to the gallows instead of riding, as was usual, on a cart with his coffin. His request was granted. He then asked me to walk near him and witness his execution, that I might see and say that he died like a soldier. It was more than a mile from the jail to the place of execution. The sheriff’s posse was escorted by a military company. I walked with the sheriff directly behind Hamilton, whose bearing was that of a soldier, proud of the attention he attracted. He ascended to the scaffold with a firm step, talked cheerfully with the clergyman for a few minutes, said good-bye to the multitude, and told the sheriff he was ready. At the fatal moment, when the drop fell, the rope parted, and, to the horror of all present, Hamilton lay stretched upon the ground. But instantly springing to his feet, he stood erect until the sheriff approached him and said, “This is hard, Hamilton.” “Yes,” he replied, “but it is my own fault; I asked you for too much slack.” The sheriff then took a cart-rope, and, handing it to Hamilton, inquired, “Do you think this strong enough?” Hamilton replied with a smile, ‘It is large enough to be strong.” It was then adjusted to his neck, when he re-ascended, and placed himself upon the drop with a firm foot. Again the fatal cord was cut, and in a few seconds all was over. That was the first and last execution I ever attended.
In 1818 there was a disastrous split in the Republican Party of the State, Governor Clinton heading one faction and Mr. Van Buren the other. A political and personal warfare of unusual virulence characterized the campaign of that year. Mr. Clinton, an able and vituperative writer, assailed the leaders of the opposite side through the columns of the New York “Columbian” and the Albany “Register.” William L. Marcy, then a young man, and others, replied through the columns of the Albany “Argus.” One morning a vehement article, highly denunciatory of Governor Clinton, provoked a note from the gentleman assailed to the editor of the “Argus,” demanding the name of the writer. Mr. Buel, the editor, handed the note to Mr. Van Buren, who invited Mr. Charles E. Dudley, Mr. William L. Marcy, Mr. Benjamin Knower, and Judge Roger Skinner to his house that evening. While they were discussing the embarrassing question which Governor Clinton’s note had raised, the servant brought Peter R. Livingston to the library. Mr. Clinton was at the time Governor of the State, while Messrs. Van Buren and Livingston were members of the Senate. The conversation, as Mr. Livingston discovered, was interrupted by his appearance. He said, in his usual brusque manner, “You are talking secrets here, and I have interrupted you.” Mr. Van Buren replied, “Governor Clinton has demanded the name of the writer of the article in this morning’s ‘Argus,’ and we were talking of the peculiar awkwardness of exposing the writer.” “There is nothing peculiar about it,” responded Mr. Livingston, “nor need there be any embarrassment. Send my name to Mr. Clinton.” Mr. Van Buren remarked, “This is no occasion for trifling, Mr. Livingston. You know what Mr. Clinton means by this demand.” “Yes, sir,” replied Mr. Livingston, “I do know, and it is just what I mean; I have long wanted a shot at the ____ rascal!” Persisting in the avowal that he was the writer, and in the request that his name should be given up, they finally yielded, and Mr. Buel was instructed accordingly. At a late hour the parties separated. Just as the day dawned the following morning Mr. Van Buren was awakened by a violent application of his knocker, and looking out of his bedroom window, a voice, which he recognized as Mr. Livingston’s, inquired, “Is that you, Van Buren?” On receiving a response in the affirmative, Livingston said, “Let me in.” Mr. Van Buren threw on a wrapper, opened the door, and showed his visitor into the cold parlor. Mr. Livingston said, “What the devil were you talking about last night when I came in?” Mr. Van Buren replied, “We were talking about your attack on Governor Clinton in the ‘Argus.’” Mr. Livingston, using a strong expletive, rejoined, “I won’t stand that! You can’t father your bantlings on me. I had been dining out, was drunk, and you took advantage of me.” This rendered it necessary to reassemble the council of the previous evening. The real embarrassment was this: the article had been written by James King, a young lawyer from Orange County, who had just obtained the consent of William James, a warm, personal and political friend of Governor Clinton’s, to marry his daughter, under a pledge to abstain from politics and devote himself exclusively to his profession. And now, before the marriage was celebrated, Mr. King had written a most abusive attack on his intended father-in-law’s intimate friend.
After much and anxious consideration, it was decided that Mr. Knower should call on Mr. Isaiah Townsend, a mutual friend of Mr. James and Governor Clinton, and endeavor, by stating some extenuating circumstances, to appease Mr. James. This, however, was no easy task, for Mr. James was of a stern and implacable disposition. But Mr. Townsend knew his man, drove him up to Waterford, drank two or three glasses of gin and water, and succeeded in smoothing over the difficulty. Mr. Townsend then proceeded to lay the whole matter frankly before Governor Clinton, whose sense of the humorous was touched by the awkward position in which Mr. Livingston’s sudden belligerency had placed his friends, and by the extreme delicacy of Mr. King’s domestic relations. He good-naturedly withdrew his note, and took no further notice of the subject.
In 1862, I asked the late John Van Buren if he had ever heard his father speak of this incident, which I commenced relating to him. He soon stopped me, saying that he had had many a hearty roar over the affair, and that he and his brother intended to make it the subject of a chapter in the forthcoming memoirs of his father. He expressed his surprise that I, a political opponent, should have learned the secrets of this memorable conclave. I had, however, received the accounts, more than thirty years before, from a son of Mr. James.
In 1818, the New York Typographical Society, taking advantage of my residence in Albany, applied to the legislature for a charter. I remember with what deference I then ventured into the presence of distinguished members of the legislature, and how sharply I was rebuked by two gentlemen, who were quite shocked at the idea of incorporating journeymen mechanics. The application, however, was successful, and the society was so much gratified with the result that I soon received the following manifestation of its sense of my services.
NEW YORK, May 9, 1818.
SIR, -- The committee appointed by the New York Typographical Society for the purpose of procuring an act of incorporation having in their report to that institution mentioned the great assistance they had received from you during the pending of that application, the following resolution was unanimously adopted, namely, --
Resolved, That the thanks of this society be presented to Mr. Thurlow Weed, a member, for the zeal and activity with which he has exerted himself in assisting to procure the act of incorporation. And that the committee appointed for that purpose, with the addition of two other members, be authorized to carry this resolution into effect.
In conformity to the above resolution we beg leave to present you, for and on behalf of the New York Typographical Society, their sincere thanks for your voluntary exertions in their cause; and to assure you that they shall always remember you with respect and esteem.
Permit us individually to reciprocate your congratulations, and to tender you our thanks.
We have the honor to be your much obliged brother members,
JAMES R. REYNOLDS,
A. P. SEARING.
Committee on behalf of the New York Typographical Society.
For the Committee,
JAMES R. REYNOLDS.
The remainder of that year was passed pleasantly. I worked with zealous industry, anxious for the success of my employer and friend, Mr. Clark. I acquired the habit of setting up matter without manuscript. At first, I confined myself to brief news paragraphs; but finding that I could work as fast in this way as from the manuscript, I soon began to perpetrate brief editorials; and I continued this habit in Chenango, Onondaga, and Monroe counties, as long as I worked “at case.” It gave simultaneous and agreeable mental and physical occupation.
Among my first elaborated articles was a defence of Pontius Pilate, who I then, as now, believed to have made earnest and fearless efforts to rescue our Saviour; and that instead of being held responsible for his crucifixion, he discharged an official duty with painful reluctance and under solemn protest. The evidence and argument in support of this view of Pilate’s conduct was drawn from the scriptural history of the transaction.
(Nearly sixty years afterwards, while in attendance at the hippodrome in New York, where Moody and Sankey drew tens of thousands of hearers, I listened with much interest to an eloquent sermon from Mr. Moody, in which he vindicated the conduct and character of Pilate, taking the same line and quoting the same Scripture that I had relied on in my juvenile effort.)
Another literary effort of that day was a pamphlet of eight pica pages, which was put in type without being written.
1818. – On the 4th of July of this year ground was broken at Rome for the construction of the Erie Canal. The ceremonies attracted a large concourse of wondering, if not incredulous citizens. The idea of a direct navigable communication between the Hudson River and Lake Erie was regarded by the masses, who had never heard of a canal, as preposterous. While the better informed were divided in opinion about its practicability, nearly all united in saying that the generation by which it was commenced would not witness its completion. I do not remember to have heard its most sanguine advocates fix upon less than twenty years, while the common remark was, “We shall never see it finished, but our children may.”
Among the distinguished people present were Governor De Witt Clinton (who removed the first shovelful of earth), Stephen Van Rensselaer, Joseph Ellicott, Samuel Young, and Myron Holley, the first commissioners, Benjamin Wright and James Geddes, the first engineers.
The first suggestion of a canal connecting the waters of Lake Erie with the Hudson River came from Joshua Forman, of Onondaga, who in 1808 introduced a resolution authorizing a survey, which passed the Assembly, but was either not acted upon or lost in the Senate. Mr. Forman, therefore, entitled himself to the credit of being, if not the original projector, at least the first mover in the enterprise which afterwards resulted so auspiciously to the State. Probably the first suggestion of such an improvement is contained in a letter written by General Washington on the occasion of his visit to Fort Schuyler, Ticonderoga, etc., in 1783. Nor was the enlightened vision of the Father of his Country limited to any one great improvement. He had even at that early day the wisdom to foresee and anticipate the connection by canals of the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, the Ohio and the Potomac, the Lakes and the Ohio River, and Lakes Erie and Ontario with the Hudson. After speaking of the vast natural advantages for inland navigation, in a letter to the Chevalier de Chastellux, he remarked: --
“Prompted by these actual observations, I could not help taking a more extensive view of the vast inland navigation of these United States, from maps and the information of others; and could not but be struck with the immense extent and importance of it, and with the goodness of that Providence which has dealt its favors to us with so profuse a hand. Would to God we may have wisdom enough to improve them!” – (Writings of Washington, vol. viii, p. 489.)
Legislative action in favor of the Erie Canal was first taken in 1810, when Gouveneur Morris, Stephen Van Rensselaer, De Witt Clinton, Simeon De Witt, William North, Thomas Eddy, and Peter B. Porter were appointed commissioners to explore a route for a canal to Lake Erie. In 1811, Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton were added to that commission.
One of the most remarkable features in this memorable enterprise was that the estimates for the completion of the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo, made by engineers wholly inexperienced, should have proven to be almost mathematically correct. The following is an extract from the commissioners’ first report to the Legislature of 1812.
“The commissioners beg leave to advert to a question which comes more properly within their sphere. What will this canal cost? An important question, but one to which they cannot give a satisfactory answer. They have taken pains to extend navigation, increased the numbers of surveyors, and accumulated the knowledge of facts. In proportion to the information acquired, is their conviction that the plan is practicable, and that the probable expense, compared with the advantage, is moderate, very moderate; for they persist in believing that it may be accomplished for five or six million of dollars.”
The actual cost of the Erie Canal, when completed in 1824, was within six million of dollars. It is an equally remarkable, but less gratifying fact, that years afterwards, with all the advantages of experience, and all the improvements and labor-saving machinery, our engineers signally failed in their estimates to approach the actual cost of the construction of the Oswego, Chenango, and Genesee Valley Canal.
These works, together with the enlargement of the Erie Canal, cost the State three or four times more than the estimates of the engineers and commissioners, upon which the several legislatures were induced to authorize their construction.
The bill authorizing the construction of the Erie and Champlain Canal, passed in 1816, was vehemently opposed by the members from the southern and middle districts of the State. It was saved in the Senate by the vote of William Ross, a senator from Orange County, whose friendship for Mr. Clinton, it was said, led him to disregard the wishes and supposed interests of his constituents. Its most violent opponent was General Erastus Root, who stigmatized the enterprise as “Clinton’s big ditch.” Simultaneously with the commencement of the work a warfare against it and its author, Governor Clinton, was waged, Tammany Hall and the “New York National Advocate,” edited by M. M. Noah, taking the lead. The Albany “Register” was the leading journal in favor of the canal. My own zealous support of Governor Clinton and his policy dates from 1817. As the battle waged warm during the session of 1818, when the New York city delegation attempted to repeal the law of 1816, and, as General Root expressed it, “to fill up the big ditch,” Governor Clinton himself entered the arena in a series of able but bitter articles, some of which were signed “Hibernicus,” and others “Heraclitus,” appearing in the Albany “Register” and the New York “Columbian.” As these articles strongly defended Governor Clinton’s measures, and were laudatory of his Excellency, their authorship was denied by his friends. The “Register” and “Columbian” endeavored, without explicitly denying the charge, to create an impression that they were written by a distinguished friend of the governor. The dispute served to perplex the public, but although the manuscript (of which I preserved and now possess several pages) was carefully disguised, it is unmistakably the handwriting of Governor Clinton.
It will surprise the present generation to learn that after several hundred thousand dollars had been expended upon the middle section of the Erie Canal, and while operations were progressing rapidly, an effort, prompted by Tammany Hall, was made to arrest the work, and that the delegation in the assembly from the city of New York, with three exceptions, voted for it. One of that minority of three, which thus asserted its independence and intelligence, and the only survivor of the delegation, is the venerable Michael Ulshoeffer, an honorable and respected member of the New York bar. This contest was soon terminated by the overwhelming popular sentiment in favor of the canal. Brief as it was, however, it marred the fortunes of many men then occupying prominent positions, and brought to the surface others who had not hitherto found an opportunity of signalizing themselves. It was a trying question and a critical emergency for Van Buren, who was just then assuming the leadership of the Republican Party. Although understood, by his votes in 1816, to be opposed to the canal, yet he had the sagacity at an early day to discover the danger of opposing himself to a strong current of public sentiment. And here originated the term “non-committal,” which for many years afterward was used to characterize his policy and action.
Governor Clinton staked his all upon the success of his canal policy, and yet, while that policy was signally vindicating itself, political power, from other causes, passed into the hands of his opponents, who took possession of and completed the work. In their day of triumph, and in the rash blindness of party animosity, they, in 1824, removed Mr. Clinton from the office of canal commissioner, -- an office which he had held from the commencement of the undertaking. This occasioned great popular indignation and an entire political revolution in the State, Mr. Clinton being again called to the executive office by an overwhelming majority.
On the 26th of April, 1818, I was married at Cooperstown, Otsego County, to Miss Catherine Ostrander of that place. The engagement was entered into in 1814, when we were both, in the judgment of her relatives, too young to comprehend the responsibilities of such a step. In fact, they doubted, not without reason, the propriety of confiding the welfare and happiness of their daughter to a comparative stranger, with unsettled and roving habits. We communed together on the subject, and mutually agreed to hold no intercourse either by word or letter for two or three years, when, if her mind was unchanged, she was to write to me. I immediately left Cooperstown, and neither saw nor heard from her for more than three years, when a letter came informing me that time had made no change in her affections, to which I replied in similar terms.
We married without regard to any of the prudential considerations which restrained many then, and which restrain many more now, from contracting a similar tie. I had, when the ceremony was over, just money enough to take my young wife to Albany, where, with good health, strong hands, and hopeful hearts, we both went earnestly to work to earn a living. The value of our household goods did not exceed two hundred dollars. To this fortunate marriage I am indebted for as much happiness as usually falls to the lot of man, and very largely for whatever of personal success and pecuniary prosperity I have since enjoyed. She more than divided our labors, cares, and responsibilities. But for her industry, frugality, and good management, I must have been shipwrecked during the first fifteen years of trial. When from our changed circumstances and condition it was no longer necessary for her to pursue her laborious habits, she still insisted on performing many duties ordinarily transferred to servants. Economy, order, and a well-regulated system in household affairs were virtues which I did not possess, and their presence in her saved us from disaster.
After a severe illness of several months, just as the sun was rising one morning, and I sat watching by her bedside, she reminded me that it was the fortieth anniversary of our marriage, and taking from her finger the ring which I had placed on it forty years before, she put it on mine, saying, “I shall not live through the day.” We had already lost our only son seven years previously, and three daughters remained to me after my wife had followed him.
1818 – 1820.
In the autumn of 1818 an opportunity of establishing myself in business occurred. Mr. John F. Hubbard, of Norwich, Chenango County, having differed seriously with several of his leading political friends, offered his printing establishment for sale.
It was purchased by Mr. James Birdsall, David G. Bright, Obadiah German, and Nathan Chamberlain, who sold the material to me on credit for about seven hundred dollars. With this material I established a new paper entitled the “Agriculturalist.”
1818. – The County of Chenango, during the war with England, was pretty equally divided between Republicans and Federalists. But as the Federal Party collapsed in 1815, the Republicans had for several years almost undisputed possession of the county. As yet, the Tompkins and Clinton split had not reached Chenango. But the appearance of my paper, warmly espousing the Erie and Champlain Canal project, was the signal for a “Bucktail” organization. And as Chenango was to be taxed to construct canals which it was alleged would injure rather than benefit its farmers, the movement resulted in the formation of a strong party, led by several young lawyers, who were impatient of the influence that their seniors had so long exerted. Mr. Hubbard, whose printing establishment I had purchased, was induced to sell partly on account of personal misunderstandings with leading political friends. He had intended, I believe, to abide by his agreement with me to leave the county; but the leaders of the new party applied to him to reestablish his paper and become their organ. To this he consented; and the consequence was that, while I had purchased his old press and type, Mr. Hubbard’s journal soon reappeared with new material, with the further disadvantage on my part of being a stranger in the county. Mr. Hubbard had previously obtained but a bare support for his paper, and now two journals were competing for patronage which had been found scarcely sufficient for one. A very bitter warfare, personal and political, ensued. The personal wrong to me was so manifest as to raise me up warm friends, both in the village and throughout the county. The earnest and unwavering friendship, wise counsel, and important assistance I received from Mr. James Birdsall have been remembered with gratitude throughout my whole life. I formed many other friendships there which were equally enduring. Hundreds of the subscribers to my “Agriculturalist” at Norwich followed me with their sympathies and their subscriptions to Onondaga, to Rochester, and to Albany.
The controversy with Mr. Hubbard and two or three of the men who induced him to violate his agreement engendered enmities which, in reference to two individuals, were quite as enduring, though between Mr. Hubbard and myself, while members of the legislature of 1830, friendly relations were reestablished. He is still living at Norwich. His son, a highly intelligent and upright man, succeeded him as editor of the “Journal” and as a member of the last and the present Senate.
Among my political and personal friends were several who had occupied prominent public positions. James Birdsall had been a member of the Fourteenth Congress; Obadiah German had been a United States Senator; Uri Tracy had been a Senator in Congress from the State of Connecticut, and a Representative from Chenango in the Ninth Congress.
General German was a farmer, with a common-school education. He was shrewd, active and energetic. He was elected to the Assembly in 1818, and aspired to the speakership. I took an active part in his favor. He was chosen Speaker; and although he had served as a member of the legislatures of 1798, 1801, 1804, 1807, and 1808, he was greatly embarrassed in taking the chair, and for several days discharged its duties in a confused and bungling manner.
In 1819 the Bucktails carried Chenango. In that year, Colonel William Munroe, a soldier of the Revolution, was a candidate for sheriff. All county officers were then appointed by the Governor and council. Colonel Munroe relied much for his success upon my acquaintance with Governor Clinton. Early in January, with good sleighing, the colonel took me into his cutter one morning before daybreak, and in this primitive mode of conveyance we started for Albany. In the box under the seat of the cutter was an ample store of baked beans and pork, bread, butter, and cheese, on which we dined sumptuously for three consecutive days. Our mission resulted in Colonel Munroe’s appointment. On taking leave of Governor Clinton, he inquired how I was getting along with my paper. I replied that, with industry and economy, I hoped to keep it alive. He then handed me a sealed letter, remarking that I might find it of some service. In that letter, when I reached the hotel, I found an appointment as commissioner to take the acknowledgment of deeds, etc., etc., which proved of essential service during my residence in Chenango; for the fees, amounting to two and sometimes three dollars a week, helped to support my small family. This was the first and last appointment from a Governor or President that I ever accepted.
And here I cannot but pause a moment to contrast my expenses then and now; rent for a small house and garden, one hundred dollars a year; butter, ten cents a pound, beefsteak, eight cents a pound; eggs, six cents a dozen, with other articles produced on farms in proportion, -- the whole amounting, at the close of the first year, to about five hundred dollars. Now, in 1869, we pay fifty-five cents a pound for butter, fifty-three cents a dozen for eggs, thirty cents a pound for beefsteak, and for almost everything else in proportion.
Agricultural societies were just being formed in our State, under the recommendation of Governor Clinton, in his message to the legislature in 1817. The question of scientific farming was introduced into the legislature, and elicited warm discussion. The proposition for legislative encouragement to agricultural societies was vehemently opposed by the farmers. A speech from Samuel Miles Hopkins, Esq., a distinguished lawyer, then a member of the Assembly from Ontario County, in support of the proposition, was denounced by some and ridiculed by other members, who, as farmers, scouted the idea that lawyers, doctors, or merchants could know anything about farming, or were capable of teaching others what they did not know themselves. Mr.Nye, of Madison County (father of the Honorable James W. Nye, now a Senator in Congress), closed a short but forcible speech by saying that as “a practical farmer he had witnessed a great many experiments, and heard of a great many more, intended as improvements and designed to benefit farmers, but that he never had seen or heard of a farmer who succeeded in raising a good crop of corn with a straight back!” But in spite of prejudices and ridicule agricultural societies and schools were established, and agricultural books were published, greatly to the improvement of agriculture and the advantage of farmers. The idea came from Berkshire, Mass., where a society was formed immediately after the war, whose annual cattle shows and fairs were occasions of great interest. Elkanah Watson, who removed from Berkshire to this State, came, apparently, to inaugurate agricultural societies. At any rate, he was the prominent feature in the earliest organizations. He claimed also to have projected the Erie and Champlain canals. He resided in Clinton County, but passed most of his time in Albany, where he is remembered by the oldest inhabitants for the tureens of oysters and the pyramids of ice cream which, as the agricultural philanthropist approached them, would disappear. General Aaron Ward, a captain in the army in the war of 1812, and for many years a member of Congress from Westchester County, married a daughter of Elkanah Watson.
Next to Mr. Birdsall, I found a warm, whole-hearted friend in David G. Bright, then clerk of the county. Mr. Bright was a German from Pennsylvania, having resided, before he came to Chenango, at Plattsburg, where, during the war, he was appointed by President Madison collector of the internal revenue. I passed many leisure hours pleasantly with Mr. Bright, who h ad seen a good deal of life, and was an intelligent, close observer of men and things. He resigned his office of clerk, and removed to the State of Indiana, where two of his sons became influential and prominent Democratic politicians; one of them, Jesse D. Bright, long a Senator in Congress, became during the Rebellion an active and malignant “copperhead,” betraying the government he had sworn to support, and false to the patriotic precepts and example of a father who was incapable of uttering or breathing a disloyal sentiment.
I frequently met the sons of my old friend, long years afterward, in New York and in Washington. They were highly intelligent and upright men. With the Senator, until his disloyalty became as unequivocal, if not as outspoken, as that of Vallandigham, I was intimate, but during and since the Rebellion we pass each other as strangers. After and interval of nearly thirty years I received the following letter from my old Chenango friend: --
JEFFERSONVILLE, INDIANA, July 26, 1848.
DEAR OLD FRIEND, -- How have you been getting along since I last saw you? Well, I do hope. How often I think of the gone-by days when we were living as neighbors and friends in old Chenango! For the last five years I have been Receiver and Depositary of public moneys at the Land Office, but I expect to resign both appointments erelong.
My children, three sons and three daughters, all in good circumstances, desire that I should retire to private life, and spend my days with them. I am now over seventy-three years of age; have been a widower for the last twelve years, and of course shall so die.
I really should be happy to hear from you. I want also to become a subscriber to your paper. That the richest of Heaven’s blessings attend you through this life, and in the world to come eternal happiness, is the heartfelt wish of your old friend,
D. G. BRIGHT.
There were, during my residence in Chenango, few occurrences of state or national importance. Nor do I remember occasions of any peculiar local interest. My life there was quiet, and, with more encouragement in my business, would have been pleasant. The Chenango County bar was then considered a strong one, but none of its members succeeded in making enduring reputations, although several were talented and ambitious. John C. Clark, then a young lawyer of much promise, subsequently became a highly respected and influential member of Congress. He was elected in 1827 as a Democrat. In 1837 he was elected as a Whig, and was reelected in 1839 and in 1841. During this period he was my warm friend. He was honest, zealous, and patriotic. He cooperated with me in several important matters, of which I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.
James Clapp, who stood at the head of the bar, was an eloquent advocate and accomplished gentleman. Simon G. Throop, a young lawyer of much social worth, with brilliant oratorical powers, was a popular member of the legislature of 1818, is now (in 1874), though more than eighty years old, a judge in one of the northern counties of Pennsylvania.
John Birdsall, a nephew of the friend I have already spoken of, was then a student at law. When admitted to practice, he established himself at Lockport, but subsequently removed to Chautauqua County, from whence he was elected to the Assembly and the Senate of this State. In 1826 he was appointed judge of the eighth judicial district. He resigned in 1829, and removed to Texas in 1836, where he soon afterward died. He was a capable, honest, estimable man. He also was an intimate friend, of whom I shall have occasion to speak in connection with two questions of public interest.
E. P. Pellet, a son of a farmer residing a mile out of the village, then about twelve years old, passed his time between school hours in my office, sometimes reading exchange newspapers and sometimes setting type. His desire to become a printer was so strong that his father, though unwilling to lose his services on the farm, yielded to his wishes, and, after learning his trade, he became my successor as editor of a Clintonian paper at Norwich, -- a paper which he conducted for many years with great ability and fidelity. A son who bears his name is now publishing a newspaper at Baranquilla, in South America.
There was, among the boys who were in the habit of visiting the printing office in Norwich, one then not more than nine or ten years old, of uncommon intellectual promise. He was advanced far beyond his years in reading, writing, arithmetic, etc. He had great fondness for printing, and for several consecutive weeks printed with his pen a newspaper almost equal in size and typography to the seven by nine sheets of that day. He was not only a bright but a good boy, and I felt assured that he would, if his life was spared, make his mark in some useful vocation. He finally turned his attention to the cause of education, and I had the satisfaction, more than thirty years afterward, of contributing to his election as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, an office for the duties of which he was, intellectually, morally, and socially, eminently qualified. He is now Superintendent of Public Instruction in the city of New York. It is almost superfluous to add that the precocious boy, whom I remember fifty years ago, is Samuel S. Randall.
1817 – 1820. – In 1817, by a favorable combination of circumstances, De Witt Clinton emerged from a political cloud which had darkened his fortunes since 1812, and was elected governor. Mr. Clinton, strong by the force of intellect and will, had a large following of party leaders, but was not popular with the people. Lacking the virtue of patience, he had committed the great error of running as an irregular candidate for President against Mr. Madison. That error was not easily condoned, for the Republicans were not inclined to forgive a man who allowed himself to be used by those who were endeavoring to embarrass and weaken the government during our war with England. Mr. Clinton’s defeat was a bitter mortification. He retired from the city to a farm at Newtown, on Long Island, where he lived not only in strict seclusion, but indulging, as was alleged, too freely in strong drink. In the winter of 1817, Pierre C. Van Wyck, Sylvanus Miller, and John W. Wyman, who were among his warmest friends, went to Newtown, and succeeded in arousing Mr. Clinton from an inactivity and weakness unworthy of himself and disastrous to his party. Mr. Clinton soon reappeared in political and social circles, and again became a power in the State. He ran for governor virtually unopposed, although 1479 votes were cast for General Peter B. Porter. The whole vote of the State in 1817 for governor was considerably less than half the number of votes for governor in 1868 in the city of New York. Mr. Clinton succeeded Governor Tompkins, who had been elected Vice-President in 1816.
In 1818, the comptroller, Archibald McIntyre, in preparing his annual report to the legislature, found, in closing up the accounts of Governor Tompkins with the State, a large deficiency. This was a startling revelation. Governor Tompkins had been and was a great favorite with the Republican party. The question elicited angry discussion in the legislature, in the press, and at public meetings. The comptroller was sustained by the friends of Governor Clinton, and denounced by those of Governor Tompkins. Previously, however, Mr. McIntyre had been long a capable and faithful public servant, and next to Governor Tompkins was the most popular man in the State. Many of the Republican friends of Governor Clinton believed and maintained that Governor Tompkins had honestly expended all the money he ever drew from the treasury, but that in the pressure of business during the war he had failed to protect himself with proper vouchers. With many Republicans, who only desired to be right, there was real embarrassment. We knew that Mr. McIntyre was an honest man, and ought not to be sacrificed for doing his duty, -- a painful duty, for he had been more especially the friend of Governor Tompkins than of Mr. Clinton. It was amusing also to see aspiring politicians, who were only anxious to know which would win, in a tight place. I remember a clever dodge on the part of Nathaniel Allen, of Ontario, a candidate for reelection to Congress, who was appealed to a Washington both by the friends of Governor Clinton and those of Governor Tompkins. He saw the danger of espousing the cause of either candidate, and contrived, by one pretext and another, to keep back his answer until it would be too late to have an effect upon the election.
The answer, when it came, was in substance that he had seriously, impartially, and honestly looked over the whole ground; that there was much due to Governor Clinton for his bold advocacy of the Erie Canal, an improvement of such vital importance to Western New York. On the other hand, also, much was due to Governor Tompkins for his devotion and patriotism during the war, and for his lifelong fidelity to the Republican party. But while he respected and honored both, and regretted the necessity which constrained him to decide in favor of one and against the other, he recognized the right of the electors to inquire, and of his duty to answer frankly, as he should. “I have,” he said, “made up my mind deliberately to vote for the old governor, and I hope my friends will do the same.” Before the electors had time to ascertain which of the two political Dromios was “the old governor,” the election was over, and Mr. Allen re-chosen for Congress.
Controlled by circumstances, and ardently in favor of a system of improvement, which, it was feared, would go down with Governor Clinton, I deemed it my duty to sustain the administration, though I never joined in or sympathized with those who abused Governor Tompkins. The canvass was exciting and acrimonious. It was “a free fight” between Republicans, the Federalists having no candidate. Many leading Federalists, such as Charles King, John Sudam, Morris S. Miller, etc., etc., went against Governor Clinton, while most of the rank and file Federalists either remained from the polls or voted for Clinton. Vice-President Tompkins, though then residing on Staten Island, made a visit to Albany in February, preceding the April election. His reception was alike imposing and enthusiastic. Streets were crowded with people awaiting his arrival. South Market Street, now Broadway, was thronged with demonstrative Republicans on their way to the ferry. In that street, Mistress McHarg, who kept a thread-and-needle store, stood leaning with her elbows on the half door, looking at the crowd, when Captain Barnum Whipple appeared, and in a jubilant voice exclaimed, “This is a proud day for Albany, Mrs. McHarg!” “Aye, aye, my mon,” the old lady replied; “but what is it all aboot?” “Why,” he said, “Governor Tompkins is coming, and he is to have a grand reception.” “Has n’t he ben comin’ and going these mony years, without ony grand reception?” “Oh, yes,” replied Captain Whipple; “but now, you know, he has stolen the hearts of the people!” “And their siller, too,” responded the old lady, offering the captain her snuff-box, which was declined with an imprecation.
1820. – Governor Clinton received 47,447 votes, while 45, 990 were cast for Governor Tompkins.
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