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Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784-1831 (Volume 4) online

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the door of His Excellency Governor Tompkins, during his stay in
this city.

Resolved that the Assessment for Beekman Slip be set aside and
that a new Assessment be made. Isaac Burr, John Depeyster, Henry
TenBrook, Samuel Prince and John H. Sickles were appointed As-

* Marginal note reads See Report P. 167. ED. f Marginal note reads See
Report P. 96. ED. $ Marginal note reads See Vol. 16 P. 428 P. 67. 79. 86. ED.
|| Marginal note reads See Report P. 96. ED. Marginal note reads See P.
137. ED.

504 CITY OF NEW YORK 27 July 1807

*Resolved that the Report of the Attorney of this Board on the
22 d June, containing a verdict of the Jury for damages for opening
Cross Street from little Water Street to Magazine [86] Street be
confirmed and that the Street Commissioner be directed to present
an Ordinance for the purpose of raising the money mentioned in said

Resolved that the Committee, appointed to confer with the Secre-
tary at War, be authorized to call on Colonel Williams and to request
him to furnish with all possible despatch, a plan for fortifying the
Narrows, with an estimate of the probable expence.

fThe Report of the Committee on the Petition of William Thomas
was called up, and after discussion was confirmed.

M r Bogardus gave notice that he should, at the next meeting,
move for a reconsideration of the preceding subject.

The City Inspector reported Ordinances for the purpose of rais-
ing sunken lots and correcting other nuisances, from N 3460 to N
3494. inclusive.

Ordered that the same do pass.

The Comptroller reported that agreeably to the returns from the

Treasurer, there is now in the Treasury a ballance of [87] $4615.43

Received since report 1128.33

In the hands of the Collector.. 800.

Cash at Command 6543 . 76

Ordered that a warrant be issued in favour of Richard Furman
Superintendant of the Alms House for, One Thousand Dollars.

Ordered that a warrant be issued in favour of William Ray, on
account of Manhattan ville road for One hundred & Fifty Dollars.

The following persons were appointed Firemen, the Chief Engi-
neer certifying correspondent vacancies.

N 8.
Thomas Monilaws, Grocer, v. James Gillerd resign'd

N 9.

William B. Van Nortwick, Grocer, v. Jacob Bradford. d
Cornelius Van Cleef, d v. Alex r Saunders. d

* Marginal note reads See. P. 19. 97. ED.
t Marginal note reads See. P. 67. &c a ED.


N 10.

Cornelius Cisco, v. Joseph Clark, non attending

James Webster, v. John Brown. resigned

Abraham Cromb. v. William Simpson. d

Richard H. Kitchaner. v. Lodowick Harpel. d

Philip C. Terrel. v. George Lord. d

[88] Ordered that the Mayor issue his Warrants to pay.


196. Capt Nicholas Lawrence, City Watch $237. 16

197. " William Van Wart, d 237.16

198. " Magnus Beekman d 217.56

199. " John Farrington do 217.56

200 " Charles Van Orden do 178.36

201 " Jacob Hays d 178.36

202. Patrick Hamilton, stone for paving Corpor" dock 35.43

203. Joseph Boyd, for filling well in Broadway 21 .25

204. Peter Burtsell, tax books for Assessors 88.77

205. d Books for taking Census, & Stationary Ill . 7

206. John E. Ciller, Marshals executing Sunday law 72.

207. William Kay, repairing Well at Flymarket 9.

208. d do Wells and pumps 142.68

209. John Connor, allow 6 for well & pump in Spring S* 21.

210. Oliver Waldron. Work on public roads 534.68

211 James Myers. d d 309.

212. Henry White, making Index to Com. Coun. minutes 50.

213. B. C. Stevenson for taking Census, 8 th Ward 70.

214. Aquila Giles d do 70.

215 Richard Furman, Sup* of Alms House 1000.

216. William Ray, acct of Manhattan ville road 150.

[89] In Common Council. August 4. 1807.
Present Marinus Willett Esquire, Mayor.

Selah Strong
Roger Strong
John P. Ritter
John D. Miller
Wynant Van Zandt Jun r
Nicholas Fish.

Mess rs Stephen Ludlam
Samuel Torbert

Esquires. Benjamin Haight

Aldermen. Andrew Morris

Thomas Demarest
John Hopper Jun r


The Minutes of the last meeting were read and approved.

A Report from the Police Office that John Woodruff of Cap 1
Van Ordens Company and Paul Green of Cap 4 Farringtons Com-
pany were suspended for sleeping on their posts was referred to the
Watch Committee.

506 CITY OF NEW YORK 4 Aug. 1807

The death of Cap 1 Magnus Beekman on the 28 th Ult of the 2 d
district City Watch was also reported.

[90] A Memorial of William Wilcocks stating that he had been
assessed, for more ground than what he owned, for regulating Grand
Street, was referred to the Street Commissioner

*A Petition of the inhabitants in Vesey Street, praying that Auc-
tioneers may be prohibited from holding sales at Auction in said
Street was read and referred to the Attorney of the Board with in-
structions to attend to the execution of the Law regulating Sales at

f A Claim of Potts and Moore for a ballance due them for regu-
lating Mulberry Street from Broome to Prince Street was read and
referred to the Street Commissioner.

Petitions of John White Captain

Abraham Hart d

Allison Platt Foreman

James Snow Captain

|| William Dennis and Foreman

Charles Field d

severally, to be appointed Captains and Assistants of the 2 d District
Watch were read and ordered to lie for consideration.

A Petition of Abraham Childs [91] and others, praying that cer-
tain monies paid by them on account of the Assessment for opening
Canal Street, which has been set aside, may be refunded ; was read
and referred to the Street Commissioner.

flA Petition of Lewis Moore, to compel the Proprietors to carry
out a pier at Beekman Slip, was read and referred to the Committee
on this subject of which Alderman S. Strong is chairman.

**A Petition of William Badeau and others Contractors for dig-
ging out Montgomerry Street, complaining of delays of payment for
their labour was read and referred to the Street Commissioner.

A Petition of William Gibson for a butchers licence was read and
referred to the Market Committee.

ft A Petition of Daniel Huestis for a water grant, was read and
referred to the Comptroller.

* Marginal note reads See Report P. 167. ED. f Marginal note reads See.
Report P 123. ED. $ Marginal note reads See P. 127. ED. || Marginal note
reads See. P. 131. ED. Marginal note reads See Report P. 137. ED.
fi Marginal note reads See Report P. 121. ED. ** Marginal note reads See
Report P. 124. ED. ft Marginal note reads See Report. P. 209 ED.


*A Petition of John Ferris to be allowed additional compensation
for sweeping the Oswego and Hudson Markets, was referred to the
Market Committee.

A Petition of Patrick M c Kay and others for a pump and Well in
the vicinity of Old [92] Potters Field was read and ordered to lie on
the table.

An application of Abel W. Hardenbrook for payment on account
of making Fire Engines was read.

Warr 1 Ordered that a warrant be issued in his favour for Five
N 242. Hundred Dollars.

An Invitation was presented from the President and Professors
of Columbia College to the Corporation to attend their annual Com-
mencement on Wednesday the 5 th instant.

The following Report was read

fThe Committee to whom was referred the petition of Peter A
Schenck Report that in their opinion it is proper that the Common
Council should provide a suitable place for the accomodation of the
Custom House Boats ; The Committee therefore recommend that Peter
A Schenck should occupy a part of the easterly side of the Southerly
pier at the Battery at the head of said pier, as will be sufficient to
accommodate the Boats belonging to the Custom House and that this
permission continue [93] during the pleasure of the Common Council.

All which is submitted.

Aug 4 4. 1807. Wynant Van Zandt, Jun r

Andrew Morris

Ordered that the same be confirmed.

The following Report was read

$The Committee to whom was referred the Memorial of Thomas
Ten Eyck

Report that M r Ten eyck as stated in his Memorial has, at con-
siderable expence run out a Pier on the East side of Coenties Slip the
wharfage of the interior of which is received exclusively by the Cor-
poration, and is of very considerable amount. That it appears highly
probable to your Committee that the wharfage of that part of the Pier
which M r Ten Eyck is entitled to receive, is, as represented by him,
rendered of less value by the constant use which is made of the Pier
by the vessels lying within the Bason. In addition to this, as the
Legislature by their Act passed in 1806. seem to be of opinion that

* Marginal note reads See Report 167. ED.

t Marginal note reads See P. 39. ED.

$ Marginal note reads See. P. 19. 225. 267. ED.

508 CITY or NEW YORK 4 Aug. 1807

where Piers are to be run out the intention of which are to form
Basons whose wharfage is to belong to the Corporation that in such
cases it is reasonable the Cor- [94] poration should bear one third of
the expence ; Your Committee would submit to the Board whether it
would not be equitable in this case, that some allowance should be
made to M r Ten Eyck to reimburse him for part of the expences of
the Pier.

All which is submitted

Aug 1 4. 1807 Wynant Van Zandt Jun r

Jacob Morton.

Ordered that this Report lie over for consideration.

The following Report was read

*The Committee to whom it was referred to consider and report
upon the Petition of Abraham Cannon respecting the situation of the
ground in Broome Street opposite his property, having viewed the
premises have the honour to Report

That the whole of Broome Street to the present wharf of the said
Cannon and Marinus Willett has been regulated, except a sunken
space through the center of the street of various widths and depths,
more particularly described on the map and profile herewith [95]
presented ; which hollow or sunken space is conceded on all sides to
be a great nuisance inasmuch as the water ebbs and flows into it
through the wharf and is a receptacle for filth.

Ordinances passed this Board in 1805 as stated in the memorial
as well as others of a recent date, directing this ground to be regu-
lated, but owing to the difficulty of ascertaining the precise quantity
of earth to be deposited by the opposite proprietors, nothing effectual
has been done.

The remark of Your Memorialist that he has a claim on M r
Willett for damages, Your Committee are of opinion is irrelevant to
the present subject and upon which they have no opinion to advance;
the reference to them being, as they conceive, intended to point out
the best method of correcting the present evil, and to render justice to
the contending parties.

Your Committee deem it hardly necessary to remark that if either
of the parties commence filling their side of the Street without the
other, that the earth so filled in would soon glide over upon the
opposite line and that therefore it would be continuing the present
opposition to insist upon their doing it [96] individually.

* Marginal note reads See P. 63. ED.


Your Committee are therefore of opinion that it will be most
adviseable to direct the Street Commissioner to advertise for pro-
posals for filling up the space to the level of the Streets, and that
he together with one or more of the City Surveyors cause a correct
survey thereof to be made and apportion the expence thereof between
the several proprietors in such manner as they may think just and

All which is respectfully submitted.

Aug 1 4 th 1807. Samuel Torbert

John S. Hunn.

Ordered that the same be confirmed.

*A Report of the Street Commissioner in favour of permitting the
proprietors of Lots in Sixth Street, between Rivington and Delancey
Streets, to regulate the same without the usual formality of assess-
ment was confirmed; And an Ordinance was passed in conformity.

fA Report of the Street Commissioner in favour of the petitions
referred to him for regulating Bedlow and Lewis Streets was read
and confirmed, an Ordinance [97] passed in conformity, and William
Huestis Whitehead Hicks, Ezekiel Bishop, John Youle and Benjamin
Thurston, were appointed Assessors.

tThe Street Commissioner reported an Ordinance to assess the
monies awarded to sundry persons for opening and widening Cross
Street, between Magazine Street and Little Water Street, and John
Crolius Jun r Oliver Drake, Peter Van Zandt, Matthew Bolmer and
Alexander Clark, were appointed Assessors.

The Street Commissioner represented the propriety of digging out
David Street, for the purpose of draining the water from Broadway,
to the full extent of 50 feet in width, agreeably to the conditions re-
quired by M r Anthony L. Bleecker, which was confirmed.

1 1 The Street Commissioner represented a claim of Peter Dob, for
the Ballance due him on account of the bulkhead at Beekman Slip:
which was ordered to lie on the table.

The Street Commissioner recommended that $250 be paid

Mess rs Stagg and Anson on account of their engagement to

Warr l 243. dig out 350 feet of Broadway above Jones Street [98]

which was agreed to, and a warrant ordered to be issued

in their favour on the Treasurer for that amount.

The Street Commissioner presented a return of delinquents on
the Assessment for repaving Gold and Ferry Streets

* Marginal note reads Sec P. 84. ED. t Marginal note reads See Vol. 16.
p. 350. Vol. 17. P. 85. 331. ED. t Marginal note reads See P. 85. ED.
|| Marginal note reads See P. 132. ED.

510 CITY OF NEW YORK 4 Aug. 1807

Ordered that a warrant to compel payment be issued against them.

*The Street Commissioner represented objections on the part of
Mess" Miller and Baker respecting the order of the Board to give
them a Bond for the amount of damages due them for opening Canal
Street, subject to the condition of abating such assessment as may
be made for the payment of said damages.

Ordered that several bonds be given to Mess rs Miller and Baker
for the amount of said damages and that the condition for securing
the Assessment aforesaid be expressed in one particular Bond

The Street Commissioner represented that I. Boucker & C had
applied to have the extra wall built by them last summer at Post's
Bridge on the Manhattan avenue [99] valued ;

Ordered that John M c Comb Jun r be appointed on the part of this
Board to estimate the expence.

The City Inspector reported drafts of Ordinances for the pur-
pose of raising sunken Lots and correcting other nuisances from N
3695. to N 3705. inclusive.

Ordered that the same do pass.

The following Report was presented and Read.

The Committee that was appointed to call on his Excellency the
Governor for information respecting the State of the Ordinance and
Military Stores in this City and to offer him the aid of the Corpora-
tion in putting such in compleat repair as are at present unfit for

Report That there are Forty 32. Pounders Iron Cannon at the
Ordinance Yard, Also Twenty eight 24. Pounders Iron pieces at the
same place : these Cannon have carriages provided for them, but they
are not mounted nor fixed to the carriages.

[100] There are also Thirteen 24 Pounders Iron pieces on Ellis'
island, these are on carriages which however are of bad construction
and so much decayed that they may be considered unfit for service.
The above mentioned Cannon all belong to the State of New York.
The Governor also informed the Committee that he has employed
men to fit the carriages to the Guns for immediate service.

In addition to the above there are
5 18. pounders ~|

8. 12. do

2 9 Ho * Brass Ordinance

10. 6. d

2. 9 inch Howitzers and

2. 8. inch Mortars,

* Marginal note reads See. P. 44. 135. ED.


in the new Arsenal near the Gaol. These pieces are on travelling
carriages and in compleat order.

The United States have lately sent from Philadelphia Twelve 24
Pounders Iron Cannon fixed on travelling carriages which are now in
the Arsenal at the Battery and in compleat order. Independent of
these there are a number of 2. 3. & 4 Pounders Brass Field Ordinance
in the Arsenal in good [101] order.

There are about Three thousand Stands of English muskets in good
order, and about the same number of Hamburgh muskets unfit for
service. A considerable quantity of Cartridges for the small Arms, are
made up and filled in the Arsenal, but there are none of any kind
made up for the cannon, there is a large quantity of Powder in the
Magazine belonging to the State, also a sufficient quantity of wadding
and Ball fitted to the different Calibres of the Cannon.

The Committee further report, that they have received from
Colonel Jonathan Williams Engineer to the United States, a report
for fortifying the Harbour of New York at the Narrows, with an esti-
mate of the probable expence which is hereby submitted.

Selah Strong 1

John D. Miller

Robert Bogardus |

J. Morton j

August. 4 th . 1807.

[102] Recapitulation.

40. 32 Pounders 1 Iron Ordnance

41. 24 d J belonging to State of N. York.
12. 24. d do d to TJd States.

93. Pieces Iron Ordnance

5. 18. Pounders. Brass. U<1 States

8. 12. do do do

2 9. do do New York.

10. 6. do do do

2. 9 inch Howitz Ud States

1 8 inch Mortar d

1. 8. do do New York.

512 CITY OF NEW YORK 4. Aug. 1807


Colonel Jonathan Williams

Fortifying the Narrows


Long and Staten Islands.

Selah Strong Esq r Chairman of a Committee of the Corporation
of New York.

Fort Columbus. July 20 th 1807.

I have received your favour of yesterday, inclosing a resolution
of the Corporation [103] dated 27 th inst. requesting me "to furnisti
with all possible dispatch a plan for fortifying the Narrows, with
an estimate of the probable expence."

Although my official station will not permit me to enter into any
engagements respecting plans of defence, without the authority of
the Government of the United States, yet I shall with the utmost
freedom communicate to you, and through you to the Corporation,
every idea that can in my mind relate to a permanent and effectual
defence against a maratime force ; leaving the execution of the plans,
and the means of raising the necessary supplies, to their good judg-
ment and patriotic zeal. In stating the principles upon which as
perfect a defence as the nature of the case requires should be founded,
I must necessarily include those which influenced the orders I am
now acting under, and, believing as I do that to form a correct judg-
ment of the whole, the adopted plan should be known, as well as the
reasons for its adoption, I shall go into some detail which, however
irrelevant in appearance, is too much connected with your object, and
too dependent upon it, to be omitted, consistent with a due regard to

[104] In the late conference between the *Vice-President of the
United States, the fSecretary of War and myself, there has been
but one sentiment respecting the mode of applying the means in our
power, with the best effect : but nothing has been said against a de-
fence at the Narrows, provided we had equivalent funds to depend
upon; yet it has been uniformly a settled opinion, that a defence of

" Marginal note reads George Clinton Esg r ED.

f Marginal note reads Colonel Henry Dearborne. ED.


the Narrows only, would be putting all upon one stake, and probably
wasting the zealous and laudable efforts of our citizens, without af-
fording them more than a momentary and perhaps an ideal security.

The propriety of a defence at the Narrows in conjunction with an
interior force, is in a striking manner indicated, by the introductory
words of my orders. " It being the intention of the general govern-
" ment so to fortify the harbour of New York, as will, with the aid
" of gunboats, afford a reasonable defence to the citizens and their
" property against Ships of War, unaccompanied with any formidable
" armament, such as can only be opposed by a superior army ; the
'following system has been [105] deemed most expedient at present,
" with such additions hereafter, as may be thought adviseable, farther
" in advance.

The Narrows offer a passage of more than twelve hundred yards
in width for any ship that could come over the bar at Sandy Hook ;
now, every Sailor knows that a dozen ships of the line could, upon an
emergency, sail abreast through that passage, with fair wind and
tide, and allowing one on each side to be destroyed, ten might surely
pass unhurt, in as many minutes, and if there were nothing to en-
counter afterwards, they would indemnify their losses by the contribu-
tions they would exact from the city ; hence an ineffectual defence at
the Narrows, would only serve to increase these contributions.

Seeing therefore the magnitude of this object, and comparing it
with the means provided ; also considering the confidence placed in
their judgment, the above named Officers naturally reverted to a very
plain principle which comes home to all our domestic feelings : let
us secure our house first, and then according to our ability, defend
our courtyard.

In looking around, it was perceived that the prominent rocks on
Governor's island, the [106] point of the Bastion of the old City Bat-
tery, and Ellis's island, forming nearly an equilateral triangle ; and that
the centre of this, offered an intersecting point, which, at the great-
est distance from each, would only be about one thousand yards, while
it would be difficult to go into either the North or East river, without
passing within point blank shot, or between four or five hundred
yards, of some one of them. It was also seen that former adminis-
trations before, and since the revolution, so highly valued these points,
that fortifications have been erected upon or near every one, although
time, the great destroyer of all things, has obliterated some of them.
It was further considered that the modern improvements of marine
batteries, which give double the number of guns on the same horizontal

CITY OF NEW YORK 4 Aug. 1807

base, and by multiplying the tiers may give six times the number of the
heaviest metal with a bomb-proof security above, rendered the ques-
tion of combat, a question of floating wooden walls, against impreg-
nable stone walls on shore, with equal power as to celerity of action,
number of guns within the same space, and weight of metal.

[107] It is not a very bold assertion to say that no ship that sails
on the Ocean would engage on such terms.

In combining all these circumstances it was a matter of great con-
sideration, and of the most consoling confidence to reflect, that we
should be aided by gunboats, commanded by brave and experienced
Officers. No man of professional knowledge has hitherto ventured an
opinion against the efficacy of gun boats in harbour, in shoal water.
and on a smooth surface ; not one of these conditions have been at-
tended to whenever they have failed, and with these conditions, they
have been, and ever will be, formidable. Fifty gun boats scattered
along the flats on each side of the channel, would all of them attack
an advancing ship forward the fore chains, and if she passed the
nearest pair, they might slip their cables and keep in their wake; all
this time the advancing ship, instead of escaping, would be just coming
into a still more prompt, powerful and intersecting fire, during which
she could not attack more than the boat on each side, while all the
others would rake her fore and aft.

But the certainty of passage is the great [108] objection, for it
seems to be in the opinion of the world almost a settled axiom, that
ships will pass batteries in spite of all their force. Why would they
pass them? There must surely be a strong motive to encounter such
danger? Doubtless to attack more vulnerable points. And this is
precisely the reason they would pass the Narrows to attack the de-
fenceless city of New York ; as Admiral Duckworth passed the
Dardanelles to attack Constantinople, and certainly if there had been
no interior defence, the capital of the Sublime Port would have been

But merely passing the city cannot be an important object, for to
put it under contribution, ships must lie there, either at anchor or
with the main topsail to the mast ; now that, when the proposed bat-
teries shall be completed, cannot be done, and we do not find that it is
generally thought advantageous to run the gauntlet for the purpose of
running it back again.

Before I close this part of my subject, permit me to notice an
objection to these batteries which seems to have made some impres-

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