Asa Greene.

A glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. online

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 5 of 11)
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she may be said to have been almost under
the constant influence of the mob ; which,
through her, ruled all France.

All the principal cities of the United States
have had their mobs. The most famous of
these, and the most worthy of the dignity of
history — both on account of the cause, the
character of the persons engaged, and the
consequences that ensued — was the cele-
brated tea-mob of Boston, in the year 1773,
commonly called the " Boston Tea Party."
Three years before that the British soldiers
were mobbed, and assailed with stones and
brickbats ; when they fired upon the Bosto-

MOBS. 97

nians, and killed five on the spot. In later
times, the Boston mobs have been compara-
tively trivial affairs. But it must be confessed,
that the citizens of that sober metropolis,
when once sufficiently vv^rought up to enact
the mob, do the business in the most effectual
manner of any people of the United States.

Baltimore has been emphatically called the
" Mob-City ;" and in the year 1812 certain of
her people did their best, or their v^orst, to
vi'in for her that appellation. On that occa-
sion fell several persons, among whom was
General Lingan, a revolutionary officer, who
was murdered in the jail where he had been
placed for security against the violence of the
mob, whose animosity he had excited by his
efforts in defending the house of Mr. Hanson
the editor of the Federal Republican. Han-
son was opposed to the war, then recently
declared, which was a favorite with the mob.

In 1835 — a year, as was likewise that of

'34, infamous for mobs — Baltimore renewed

her claim to be called the " mob-city," by

pulling down, or suffering to be pulled down,

98 Mobs.

in a riot, the houses of some of her most dis-
tinguished citizens.

Philadelphia — the " city of brotherly love"
— 'had her mobs in 1834, when some blood
v/as spilt. In fact the spirit of violenc-e and
misrule prevailed throughout the United
States, in the years '34 and '35 ; and it would
have been strange indeed, if Philadelphia had
entirely escaped the epidemic.

The first mob of any great notoriety in
New York, was called the " Doctors'' Mob"-—
not because it was got up by the doctors, but
against them. This happened in the winter
of 1787. Some medical students were im-
prudent enough to let it be known that they
were engaged in the offices of dissection — ^ac-
tually dismembering the bodies of men who
had not died the death of felons. And as it
is ever considered, by the populace, a greater
crime to exhume and dissect a dead man,
than to kill a live one, so the populace of this
city determined to make an example of these
sons of ^sculapius. They rushed to the Hos-
pital and destroyed a number of anatomical



preparations ; and would have done the same
by the students, if they had not been rescued
by the interference of the mayor, the sheriff,
and some of the most intelligent citizens, who
lodged them in jail for safe keeping. The
mob then attacked the jail, and in attempting
to disperse them, John Jay was severely
wounded in the head. Hamilton and others,
used their exertions in defence of the jail.
The militia were at length called out ; and the
mob were finally dispersed by killing five and
wounding seven or eight of their number.

The year '34 was famous, in New York, for
the anti-abolition mob. Commencing on the
Fourth of July, at an anti-slavery meeting in
Chatham-street Chapel, it was not completely
suppressed for several days. The abolition-
ists—relying upon the Constitution, thought
they had a right to express their opinions
freely on all subjects, and among the rest on
the subject of slavery. Relying on the De^
claration of Independence, they deemed that
all men were born free and equal ; and that
the blacks not only had a right to their liberty's

100 MOBS.

but that they were also entitled to an equal
seat in public, with their white brethren.

In the practical enjoyment of this idea,
they were not molested either by the philoso-
pher or the christian ; neither of whom at-
tempted to disturb a union in which they
were not compelled to join, and which was
left equally free to all, either to choose or to

But others were not so inclined to peace.
In spite of the Declaration of Independence
and the U. S. Constitution, they determined
that all men were not born equal, and that
there was one subject, at least, on which, in
a free country, no man should publicly open
his mouth. They resolved, therefore, nem.con.,
that the abolitionists should be routed. Where-
fore, attacking them from the boxes, they
hurled down upon their heads, in the pit,*

* The Chatham-street Chapel was formerly the Chat-
ham Theatre. It is but a few years since it was captured
from the Arch Enemy ; and it still bears evidence of its
profane origin : for the boxes, tier above tier, remain pre-
cisely as in the days of its theatrical glory ; the pit and the
stage only being changed into something more of a church-
like appearance.



the benches, and whatever they could con-
veniently lay their hands on ; and at last suc-
ceeded in driving them, with their colored
friends, from the house.

The next exploit of the mob was the attack
on the house of Lewis Tappan, the leader of
the abolitionists. Having broken in the doors
and windows, they contented themselves with
making a bonfire of all his furniture — valued
at about $1500 — and then, with great mod-
eration, dispersed, to assemble again the next
evening for further mischief. Their next
achievement was the demolition of the win-
dows and pews of the churches of the Rev.
Dr. Cox and the Rev. Mr. Ludlow ; both of
which gentlemen were accused of being fa-
vorable to immediate abolition. The mob
also, attacked the church of the Rev. Peter
Williams, a respectable colored clergyman,
who happened to be of opinion that slavery

was not the best possible condition for his
African brethren.

Such were the principal proceedings of the

anti-abolition mob of '34. How much longer

102 MOBS.

they would have continued their outrages,
had they not been wearied with the business —
or had they not begun, after about three days,
to meet with some decided symptoms of oppo-
sition from the police, we know not.

To do justice to our worthy mayor and
corporation, it must be acknowledged that, in
almost all cases of outbreaks against the
peace, they begin to bestir themselves very
lustily after the mischief is fairly done. When
the city is threatened with a riot, they stren-
uously keep their own peace, until the mob is
completely organized, the work of destruc-
tion commenced, and, in general, pretty well
finished. It has been so in all the riots that
have happened here within our recollection.

The last of these was the flour-riot, which
happened in the month of February of the
present year. In consequence of the high
price of bread, growing out of the monopoly
of flour by a few speculators in that article,
the papers for several weeks had spoken in
terms of indignation of the base avarice — the
grinding cruelty — of those merchants, who



were said to be coining money, as it were,
out of the very heart's blood of the people

At length a great meeting was'assembled in
the Park, to devise means for the cure of so
great a grievance. Warm harangues were
pronounced, and spirited resolutions were
passed. Whether these roused the feehngs of
the half-starved auditors, and first suggest-
ed to their minds the idea of taking ven-
geance on the flour monopolists, or whether
the mob had been previously organized, as the
conservators of the peace had been some
hours before, informed : certain it is, that im-
mediately after the dismission of the meeting
in the Park, a band of rioters proceeded to the
store of Eli Hart &Co., the most obnoxious
of all the flour monopolists ; and demolishing
their windows and doors, threw out and de-
stroyed two or three hundred barrels of flour,
and nearly the like quantity of wheat. Wheth-
er they expected to make the remainder of
those articles cheaper by destroying a part, is
not specified ; but so rapidly did they work
for two or three hours, in rolling out and sta-

104 MOBS.

ving in the casks of flour and wheat, that
their contents lay mingled together, from one
side of the street to the other, to the depth of
two or three feet.

The worthy mayor was, by this time, on the
ground before the mob had more than half
completed the work in hand. The constables
were also there, with their long pine sticks.
The mayor — like a man of peace, as he is
known to be — first began to make a speech.
But the rioters, who had just been hearing a
much finer oration in the Park, refused to
listen ; and even proceeded so far as to stop
the flow of His Honor's eloquence, with a
handful of flour. They treated the constables
and their staves of office with quite as little re-
spect J for they broke the staves over the
constables' backs.

The mayor and his posse were driven from
the ground ; but returning, after a while with
a larger force, they finally proved victorious.
Another flour store was broken open by this
piob ; but nothing worthy of note achieved.

TJieatrical rows occasionally grace New



York, as well as other cities ; blit histor}? can
scarcely raise these to the dignity of mobs —
at least such as we have seen in this city.
The principal of these v/ere the anti-Anderson
and the anti-Wood rows at the Park theatre ;
the first, we think, was in 1831 ; the last was
in 1836. They were each occasioned by im-
ported singers. The first, while on board
the ship crossing the Atlantic, was so imprud-
ent as to " damn the Yankees'' — meaning
thereby Americans, in general. And as the
Americans, though they may abuse one anoth-
er pretty heartily, will not allow foreigners
to take the same liberty : so they determined,
at least in New York — that Mr. Anderson
should never raise a note on their boards ;
and they effectually executed their determina^
tion ; besides smashing the windows and
lamps in front of the theatre.

The anti-Wood row originated chiefly in a
private quarrel between the Courier and En-
quirer and Wood, the singer. The Courier
had made a statement respecting the rather
uncorteous refusal of Mr. Wood to play at



Mrs. Conduit's benefit ; which statement ha{3-
pening to be true, was taken in very high
dudgeon by Mr. Wood. He insisted upon
its being contradicted ; and as the Courier
did not choose upon that occasion, to eat its
own words, he brought the matter publicly
upon the stage — accusing the editor of false-
hood and ungentlemanly conduct. This
roused the ire of the editor, who invited the
sovereign people to attend at the Park, at
Wood's next appearance, and put him down ;
at the same time warning the police not to
interfere. The people — alias the mob — did
more than they were invited to. They burst
jn the doors of the theatre, and filled the house
more perfectly than it was ever filled before.
They however did little or no mischief; and
only insisted, when High Constable Hays at-
tempted to interfere, that that grave function-
ary should make them a speech from the
stage. Wood challenged Webb, the editor
of the Courier, who refused to meet him, on
the ground that he was not a gentleman.
The former shortly after sailed for England.

MOBS. 107

Much has been said, in the newspapers, of
the prevalence of the mob in this city ; and
we have thought it necessary, in taking a
glance at things in general, to give also a
chapter on mobs. But, on a careful review
of the subject, we cannot find that New York
is entitled to any great pre-eminence in the
mob line : especially, when the vast number
and various character of her population is
considered : and still more especially, when
the kindly forbearance of the city authorities
allows such remarkable scope for the free
exercise of the spirit of mobocracy.



" And greedy Avarice by him did ride,

Upon a camel laden all with gold ;

Two iron coffers hung on either side,

With precious metal, full as they might hold;

And in his lap a heap of coin he told ;

For of his wicked pelf his god he made,

And unto hell himself for money sold." — Spencer,

We now come to a grievance of a very diffe-
rent, but of a not less odious and injurious,
character than that which formed the subject
of our last chapter. Much as mobs are to
be deprecated, and much as every friend to
good order and security should set his face
against them : so much and so strenuously
should every lover of his country set himself
in opposition to the abuse of monopolies. By
which we mean the granting of exclusive


privileges to any man or set of men, save only,
for the public good ; or for the security of the
right of authors, inventors, &c., to the pro-
ductions of their own toil and study.

The monopolies, against which every good
man should firmly strive, are those which are
devised and granted solely for the benefit of
individuals or companies. Such monopolies
convert a general right into an exclusive one.
They take from the many to give to the few.
They rob Peter, James, and John, only to
bestow the plunder on Philip.

Here is a direct injury to all the individuals
of the community, except the favored one —
the monopolist — because their rights are taken
away and conferred upon him. But this is
not the greatest of the evil. An indirect, but
more wide-spread injury is inflicted on the
community. The monopolist, having the sole
command and disposal of any article of gen-
eral use or necessity, compels the public to
pay twice or thrice as much for it as would be
the price, if left where nature and the general



rights of man had placed it, open and free to

In bringing into comparison the two evils
of mobs and monopolies, we ought to bear in
mind that the former, being unlawful, require
only the execution of the law to suppress
them. This, the magistrates, with a due de-
gree of vigor and firmness can effect, and
every good citizen will lend his aid in restor-
ing and keeping the peace. The grievance
is capable of prompt redress. Not so with
monopolies ; because, being a lawful evil, the
magistrates cannot interfere with them. They
cannot command the aid of the posse to put
them down ; they cannot call out the
military to suppress them. There is no-
thing in general, to be done, but to wait for
the slow operation of time. Even the le-
gislature cannot mend the mischief it ha&
made. It has no power to uncharter what
it has once chartered. The community,
whatever burdens it is suffering under, must
wait for a given term of years, if not foreverj
for their removal.


Contrasted as monopolies are with mobs,
there is nevertheless, in many cases, a pretty
close connection between them — namely, that
of cause and effect — ^the oppression of the
monopoly leading to the outrage of the mob.
This is verified by history. The principal
discontents, during the reign of Queen Eliza-
beth, rose from the great number and oppres-
sive nature of the monopolies granted by that
princess ; and had it not been for her per-
sonal popularity and the remarkable vigor of her
administration, in all probability, would have
exhibited themselves in a more alarming shape
than that of mere murmurs and complaints.

Among the articles, for which patents of
monopoly were granted by Elizabeth, were,
according to Hume, "currants, salt, iron,
powder, cards, calfskins, fells, pouldavies, ox-
shin-bones, train oil, lists of cloth, potashes,
anniseeds, vinegar, sea coals, steel, aquavitae,
brushes, pots, bottles, saltpetre, lead, acci-
dence, oil, calamine-stone, oil of blubber,
glasses, paper, starch, tin, sulphur, new
drapery, dried pilchards," &c &c. The


monopolists of saltpetre had the power of
entering any house, and of committing what
havoc they pleased in stables, cellars, or where-
ever they suspected saltpetre might be gather-
ed. The last parliament of James I. abolished
monopolies, with an exception in favor of
new inventions. But they were revived by
Charles I., who sold to a company the exclu-
sive privilege of manufacturing soap; and
laid restrictions on a great many other com-
modities, even down to linen rags. These
monopolies, which almost ruined the industry
of the country during two or three successive
reigns, were among the various causes of
complaint which finally brought the unhappy
Charles to the block.

Elizabeth rewarded her public servants and
gratified her favorites by the grant of exclusive
privileges. She gave to the celebrated earl
of Essex the monopoly of sweet wines. Our
legislators also reward their favorites and par-
tisans by a gift of monopolies. If they do not
confer upon them the exclusive privilege of
dealing in "shin-bones," "lists of cloth,"


" dried pilchards," and such Hke trifling mat-
ters, they grant them other and more weighty
monopolies, which doubtless please them quite
as well : such as bank charters, insurance
charters, gas-light charters, and the " sole use
and behoof" of various other rights and privi-
leges, which they take from their constituents
in general, to bestow on their partisans and
friends in particular.

The mayor and corporation of New York,
so far as their legislative capacity admits, imi-
tate their superiors in the state legislature : so
that, between the general assembly and the
common council, a restriction is laid upon
many of the most important pursuits, and
many of the most necessary articles of com-
fort and convenience.

Banking is a monopoly ; the sale of butch-
er's meat is a monopoly ; the disposal of
o-oods at auction is a monopoly ; the ferries
are a monopoly; the piloting of vessels is a
monopoly ; and gas-lights are a monopoly.

By the monopoly of banking, commercial

operations are fettered ; by the monopoly of


butcher's meat, the price is excessively in-
creased, and many a poor man deprived of a
piece ; by the monopoly of sales at auction,
the advantages which should accrue to the
pockets of the many are confined to the pock-
ets of the few ; by the monopoly of ferries, a
hundred per cent more is paid for crossing the
river, than would otherwise be demanded ; by
the monopoly of gas-lights, the city is left in
darkness ; and by the monopoly of pilotage,
vessels are lost and human life destroyed,
which would be saved if the business were left
open to competition.

Of the injurious operation of the pilot laws
of New York instances are almost too numer-
ous to require particular mention. But we
cannot pass over those very disastrous cases
which have occurred within a few months —
we mean the wreck of the ships Bristol and
Mexico, on the Rockaway beach ; when
nearly two hundred lives were lost. These
ships were in sight of the harbor, standing off
and on for several days, with a signal flying for
a pilot ; but no pilot would budge an inch, be-


cause the few to whom the law gives a mo-
nopoly of the business, had grown too fat, too
luxurious, too careless of gain, to expose
themselves to a rude wind and a rough sea,
however much property and however many
lives might be lost by their negligence.*

* Since the above was written, a law has been passed by
Congress, which makes the waters of New York and New
Jersey common to the pilots of both states. Our own le-
gislature has also attempted something in the way of
amendment of our pilot system. But whatever is done, or
neglected to be done, on this subject at Albany, the act of
Congress will open a road to competition ; and it is hoped
no future disasters like the above may occur, from a mere
want of exertion on the part of the pilots.



Hard has he toiled and richly earned liis gains
Ruined his fingers and spun out his brains. — Echo.

The Italian word magazzino, from which our
EngUsh word magazine is derived, signifies a
warehouse. Rightly named therefore are
those publications, which come to us monthly,
two-monthly, and half-monthly, stitched in
colored paper, and containing a heap of things
They are truly warehouses, filled with a variety
of wares, manufactured by the joint labor of
various heads and hands. These wares are
of divers character, and made of divers mate-
rials. There is the wooden ware, the iron
ware, the leaden ware, and even the silver
and the golden wares.

Again, if we take the leading definition of
the word, in our English dictionaries, we shall
find a magazine to be a store of arms, ammu-


nition, or provisions. Some of our magazines,
indeed, notwithstanding their pacific exterior,
are well filled with arms, with weapons offen-
sive and defensive. Of ammunition too they
have a plentiful store. They abound in pow-
der — at least if we may judge by occasional
explosions. Lead, too, they have in very
considerable store. And in materials for
wadding — or that whereof wadding may be
created — they are most abundant. As to the
article of provisions, we believe they are
usually victualled for a longer or a shorter
period, according as the public, on which
they are dependent for supplies, chooses to
furnish them forth. We have here no particu-
lar reference to the New York magazines.
We shall come to them by and by.

The Gentleman's Magazine published in
London and we believe the most venerable
periodical extant, w^as commenced in the year
1731 ;* having now attained to the age of one

* We have here followed Thomas's History of Printing.
Grant, in his Great Metropolis, has detracted two years
from the age of the Gentleman's Magazine, by fijcing its
birth in the year 1733.


hundred and six, and still in a healthy and
vigorous condition. In its pages Dr. Johnson
first saw himself in print, after coming, a needy
adv^enturer to the great metropolis ; and for
several years subsisted on the small pay he
received from Cave, its publisher.*

So long a life in a magazine is little less
than miraculous. Short has been the date of
all similar publications in our own country.
Whether their lives have been merry as well
as short, their editors and publishers best can
tell. The career of some two or three — now
defunct — was at least brilliant, if not merry.
Such was that of the Port Folio, under the
management of Dennie, who died in Philadel-
phia, about the year 1813. Next flourished
for a short period, in the same city, the Ana-
lectic Magazine- — bright while it lasted. In
our city Bryant published the United States

* What remuneration Johnson got for his contributions,
does not appear. It was probably — considering the differ-
ence in the price of hterature in that day and the present —
not one fourth of what is now paid by the London maga-
zines, which, Grant informs us, varies from ten to sixteen
^uiaeas a sheet.


Review. But even his fine talents could not
sustain it, because on the other hand, it would
jiot sustain him ; and he therefore car-
red his talents to, a more profitable market,
in the columns of a daily paper.

The first magazine, published in this coun-
try, was in the year 1741, in Philadelphia.
Boston followed two years after. In both
these places several magazines w^ere started
and died previous to the revolution. In New-
York there was no publication either called,
or deserving the name of, a magazine, before
that event.

The number of magazines, at present in this
city, may be nine or ten : the principal of
which are, the Knickerbocker, published by
Wiley & Long, Clark & Edson proprietors ;
the American Monthly Magazine, George
Dearborn ; the Mechanic's Magazine, D. K.
Minor ; the New York Farmer and American
Gardener's Magazine, Minor & Schaefer'; the
Anti-Slavery Magazine, Elizur Wright ; the
Ladies' Companion, William W. Snowden ;
the Journal of the American Institute, T. B.


Wakeman ; and the Naval Magazine, John
S. Taylor. All these are monthly publica-
tions, with the exception of the last, which is
published once in two months ; and the Anti-
Slavery Magazine which is published quar-

The Knickerbocker and the American
Monthly are devoted to subjects of general
literature ; and are made up entirely of origi-
nal matter : consisting of poetry, prose, es-
sa3^s on scientific and literary themes, histori-

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Online LibraryAsa GreeneA glance at New York: embracing the city government, theatres, hotels, churches, mobs, monopolies, learned professions, newspapers, rogues, dandies, fires and firemen, water and other liquids, & c., & c. .. → online text (page 5 of 11)