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Jon a Williams.

[176] *The following Report of the Committee, on the subject of
fortifying the Harbour of New York, was read and ordered to be
printed for the use of the Board.

The Committee that was appointed to earn- into effect the resolu-
tion of the Corporation dated the 13 th of July last, offering to cede
to the United States such part of the public ground as the Secretary
at "War may require for the purpose of erecting fortifications for the
defence of this city and also the resolution, dated the 4- h of August,
offering the aid of this Board to the Executive of this state, to enable
him more effectually to put in proper condition, for immediate service,
the arms and ordinance belonging to the State, and to procure such
military stores as the present exigencies may require also to devise

* Marginal note reads See. P. 590. ED.

546 CITY OF NEW YORK 24 Aug. 1 807

such other means of defence as may be in the power of this Board to
execute :


That the Secretary at War, with the other Commissioners of the
United States, have determined, not only to enlarge and make durable
the works on Governor's island, but [177] are now about erecting a
very strong and powerful marine battery, on the Northwest point of
that island, to extend on the reef, beyond low water mark, into the
river. The works on Ellis' island are to be extended, and the number
of guns and weight of metal greatly increased. It is also determined
by the general government to erect a strong fort, with two or three
tiers of guns, to extend beyond the present battery, in front of the
Flag staff: also to build a block in the North river, at the foot of
Duane Street, of 100. feet square, and to erect a battery thereon.
When these works are completed, it is understood they will be able to
bring 120 guns to bear upon any point in the bay, between Bedlow's
island and the city. The Commissioners have also fixed upon the old
Potters' field, as a proper place to erect laboratories and arsenals for
depositing and repairing arms and military stores. The several sites,
where these works are to be erected, and which are within the juris-
diction of this Board, your Committee have offered, on the part of the
Corporation, to cede their right, as soon as the[y] can be made to
designate the proper metes and bounds.

Although the works which are erecting under the direction of the
government of the United States are proper, and may be considered
very useful, as part of a general [178] system of defence, they are,
however, deemed not sufficient in themselves to afford that protection
against a maratime force, which will insure us safety in case of an
attack. Your Committee have deliberately considered the several
plans for the defence of the harbour that have been published, and
others that have been handed to them ; they have also caused several
soundings to be made of the harbour, from the Narrows to Bedlows
island, and find the shoalest water to be in a line between Red Hook
and a reef of rocks on the west Flat, about half a mile below Bedlows
island; and from the various information obtained, have thought it
most adviseable to recommend the following plan.

To begin at a reef of rocks that is bare at low water, about half a
mile to the South of Bedlows island, and run a course east by south to
the southerly point of Red Hook on Long island. The distance across,
on this line is about 3.000. yards, of which near 400 yards the water
is 60 feet deep at low water, and the remainder varies from 40 to 16


feet in depth. A considerable part of the distance, say about 700
yards, does not exceed 16 feet at low water.

To secure this place against the passage of ships, whose draft ot
water exceeds 16 or 18 feet, [179] it is proposed that blocks be
sunk, to consist of timber and stone, in the manner the piers of our
wharves are made, the size of which to be in proportion to the depth
of the water, and to secure their standing firm, to have the base al-
ways greater than the height. These blocks to be 50 feet wide in their
position across the river, and to approach within 10 feet of the surface
of the water at low tide, and to leave a space between each block of
50 feet. To commence sinking the blocks at Red Hook and to con-
tinue them until they come within 200 yards of the reef of rocks on
the Flat beforementioned. If it should be feared that Ships might
pass between the blocks, where the space left is 50 feet, that could
be remedied by projecting 3 or 4 large timbers obliquely on the upper
part of the blocks, with their points faced with iron, in the manner of
a chevaux de f rize : these might extend from each block 10 feet, which
would then leave the space but 30 feet. These obstructions, being
thus placed would compel all vessels, drawing more than 16 or 18
feet of water, to pass within the space of 200 yards, next the reef
of rocks. At that place a fort of such strength might be erected, with
two or three tiers of guns, as should be judged sufficient to defend
this passage against any hostile fleet. The fort could be erected
without difficulty at this place, there being several acres of ground
bare at low water which is hard and firm. But as [180] an additional
security against a fleet passing the fort, a number of chevaux de
frize might be made and at hand. In case of an hostile fleet appearing,
they could be placed in the passage in a short time. These might be
removed when the danger disappeared.

A further security against forcing this passage by an enemy, would
be placing in it a boom, constructed in an angular form A with the
point outwards, to be moored with a number of grapplings and
anchors. If, however, it should still be believed possible, that these
obstructions may be removed, and a fleet pass through the passage in-
tended to be left open, it is proposed, that at the distance of 200
yards to the Southward from the line of obstructions and the reef
beforementioned 4 or 5 Blocks be sunk, commencing from the flat
that borders the west side of the channel to extend into the channel
200 yards, so as to be parallel to the last block of the range extending
from Red Hook, and to connect the outward blocks or extremities of
each line of blocks with a strong boom or chain, which can here be

548 CITY OF NEW YORK 24 Aug. 1807

used with great effect, as it will ride parallel with the tide and not
across it. It will then be evident, that a ship coming to New York
must [181] change her course, and stand directly for the fort, and
it is almost certain, that her crossing the tide would so much impede
her way, that the chain would entirely arrest her progress when she
would be swept, by the current, directly on the blocks and left at the
mercy of the fort.

If it should be thought necessary, and admitting that this chain
might possibly be forced, a like range of blocks might be made 400
yards to the north of the last mentioned line, to extend into the
channel 200 yards, and be connected in the same manner as the first,
with a boom and chain ; this would again oblige a vessel to alter her
course and stand directly from the fort; her headway, by this time,
would be so impeded, that this second chain would certainly stand.

It may be said, that a fleet of ships would take the fort, and then
remove the obstructions. This is admitted to be possible ; but if the fort
be well defended and of suitable strength, with the aid of gun-boats,
which can here be used with great effect, it is reasonable to believe the
fleet would also be crippled and some of them destroyed. What then
would be their situation? They cannot hold the fort, for it is
entirely commanded by the works on Bedlow's island, [182] and it
cannot be supposed they would attempt to come to town in their dis-
abled state, to encounter other and more numerous and powerful

The plan of defending the city of New York, by submarine ob-
structions, has been objected to on several grounds. First, it has
been doubted by some, whether blocks can be sunk where water is
sixty feet deep, and if they can be sunk, whether they will stand the
force of the current and the storms.

Second, that by placing obstructions in the channel to such an
extent, it will have an injurious effect upon the current and probably
affect the ebb and flow of the tide. Third, that if they could be sunk
and made to stand, & would have no bad effect upon the tide, the worms
in a few years would destroy the timber, and the stones would fall out,
when it would require the same expence to renew them again. And
fourth, that Providence has given us one of the best harbours in the
world, and these obstructions would exceedingly injure the passage
of ships going out and coming in, and they would occasionally get on
these blocks, by which they might be injured or lost.

As to the first objection it is answered, that upon enquiry from
the most experienced dock builders, they assure us there is no diffi-


culty in sinking blocks where the water does [183] not exceed 60 feet
in depth, and they have no doubt of their resisting- the force of the
current. We see almost daily, blocks of only 30 feet square, sunk in
the East and North rivers opposite the city, where the water is
thirty five or forty feet deep, and the current opposite to the town,
is much stronger than it is in the bay, where the obstructions are
contemplated to be made. Old mariners assert, that the agitation of
water in a storm, is principally on the surface, and the bottom of
the sea is not disturbed in any proportion to the surface ; this being
the case, there can no danger arise from storms, as the blocks will
not be within ten feet of the surface of the water at low tide.

The second objection has more weight, as this is a new thing and
we have not experience to guide us. If it should, have the injurious
effect upon the tide to the extent that some suppose, the obstructions
ought certainly to be abandoned; as we have no guide to direct us,
every one must exercise his own judgment. Your Committee have,
however, made various calculations, that the public mind may have
some data to form an opinion.

It will be observed that the extent of the harbour from Red Hook,
on Long island to Cowan's Point on the Jersey shore, is near four
[184] miles; that the distance of the obstructions contemplated to be
made, is about one and a half miles ; that the blocks take up only half
the space as far as they go, and that they do not come within ten feet
of the surface at low water ; the whole column of water, flowing be-
tween Long island and the Jersey shore, at low water, amounts to
350.000 square feet, and the proposed obstructions amount to 77.000
square feet ; not one quarter of the whole column of the water will be
obstructed, and if the number of square feet be taken at half tide, the
obstructions will only be one sixth part of the whole space. It would
appear from these calculations, that the obstructions could have no
injurious effect upon the ebb and flow of the tide; the ground and
wharves made on the east side of this city, have contracted the river
more than one quarter of its original breadth, and our piers now are in
the deepest part of the river. It has not been observed that the tide
flows less at this time at Hell gate, than it did a century past. The
current no doubt, is stronger opposite the town, than it was formerly ;
but it is believed that the same quantity of water passes in the river
now, that did before the river was contracted.

[185] The third objection is against the durability of the blocks.
Your Committee have taken pains to examine some of the oldest
wharves in this city.

550 CITY OF NEW YORK 24 Aug. 1807

The Crane wharf, which has been built about sixteen years, has
been searched under water at low tide; the timber appears to be
perfectly sound and not the least decayed. We have examined an-
other wharf, which was said to have been built previous to the revo-
lution ; the timber of which appeared to be sound. There is no doubt
there are worms in the timber; they make small holes in the logs
where they enter, but do not entirely destroy the wood. From the
information of the dockbuilders, who have broken up old docks, that
have been built 50 years, the timber, some distance below low water
mark, has been little worm eaten, but such parts as the stones have
covered, has not been touched by the worms, and was as sound as
when put into the wharf.

To the fourth and last objection, that it will injure the navigation.
It is answered, that there will be water sufficient for nine-tenths of our
vessels to sail over the obstructions and such as require a larger draft
of water, at all times when the wind is fair, can pass through the space
of two hundred yards [186] intended to be left unobstructed; but it
may sometimes happen when the wind is a-head, the Ship will lose a
few tides before a suitable time offers to come up; and there is a
possibility of some being lost by getting on the blocks ; but considering
the great object of having the city safely protected from invasion,
these objections are of small moment.

The calculations of expence to make the obstructions in the chan-
nel, will not exceed 200.000 dollars, and to raise the flat sufficiently
high to erect a fort upon, of 1000 feet in length, and 100 feet in
breadth, will not be more than 100.000 Dollars; the cost of building
the fort, and its necessary appendages, Your Committee have not
military experience sufficient to determine.

If the Corporation should think proper to adopt this plan of de-
fence, and to proceed immediately to carry it into effect, the next
question is, in what manner the funds are to be raised. It is believed
from the patriotic zeal of our citizens, and from the general anxiety
expressed by all persons, that something should be done, without de-
lay, to put this city in a posture of defence; there would be no diffi-
culty in raising by [187] loan from the citizens, a sum sufficient to
effect this purpose, upon Corporation Bonds, redeemable at pleasure,
the interest to be paid half yearly. There can scarcely be a doubt, but
the Government of the United States will assume and pay this debt;
but in case they should not, and it should ultimately fall upon the
city to pay it, the debt and interest would be extinguished in three
years, by doubling the usual yearly taxes. Would it not be best even


to pay the debt ourselves, rather than remain in this exposed and de-
fenceless situation? Our interest clearly dictates the propriety of the

This is a work of great magnitude, and will take more than one
year to complete it. The materials are not to be had in sufficient
quantities at present, but we ought to make a beginning this year
with what materials can be procured, and the works may probably be
finished in the course of the next summer. If we should unfortu-
nately be involved in a war, in consequence of the present dispute
with England, it will most probably take place before any effectual
system of defence can be completed, and we must submit to our un-
happy situation. But if the storm should blow over, we ought not
to desist [188] from our determinations, to put the city in a state of
defence ; we cannot always promise ourselves an exemption from the
calamities of war: on the 20 th of June last, the country felt as secure
and as confident of the continuation of peace, a? it has felt for many
years past; but from the events that have recently taken place, it is
seen upon what an uncertain tenure the peace of nations depends.
The advice of our immortal Washington ought therefore to be con-
fided in, " that to preserve peace we ought always to be prepared
" for war."

All which is submitted.

New York Selah Strong

August 24 th 1807. Jacob Mott.

John D. Miller.

Resolved that the Attorney of this Board shall be authorized, after
the recovery and receipt of any penalty under and by virtue of the
Ordinance " to regulate the public markets in the City of New York,"
to pay over to the person, who shall give the said Attorney such in-
formation of any offence against the said Ordinance as shall enable the
said Attorney to prosecute the offender to judgment, such part
thereof, not exceeding one half part of the said penalty so recovered
and received, as in his [189] judgment he shall deem meet and proper.

The Comptroller reported that there is in the Treasury the sum of

Ordered that the Mayor issue his Warrants to pay
No 271 Capt Nicholas Lawrence, City Watch $237.16

272 " Will Van Wart do 237. 16

273 " John Farrington do 217.56

274 " John White do 217.56

275 " Jacob Hays do 188.16

276 " George Goodheart do 188.16



27 Aug. 1807

NO 277 James Vanderhoof & Ja Brooks carting earth to Brannon

Dock $37.

278 William Gowdy, carting earth to Collect 22.50

279 Alex r Morton, carting for Sup 1 of repairs 117.25

280 Thos Hazard, keeper of Bridewell, Salary for self & Turn-

keys 437.50

281 John E. Ciller, Marshals, executing Sunday law 60.

282 William Kay for Well in Orchard St 31.

283. Bartholemew Skaats, salary for self & Ass* 115.33

284 John H. Sickles, on Ace 1 of contract for Marble for New

City Hall 1000.

Adjourned to meet on Thursday next for the purpose of taking
into consideration the Report of the Committee on the subject of

[190] In Common Council, August 27 th 1807.

Present Marinus Willett, Esquire Mayor.

Maturine Livingston, Esquire Recorder.

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

Mess rs Robert Bogardus
John Hopper Jun r
Thomas Demarest

Esquires Gerardus Depeyster

Aldermen. Stephen Ludlam.

John W. Mulligan
Benjamin Haight
Samuel Torbert.


*The Report of the Committee on the subject of protecting and
fortifying the harbour of New York, was read; and after being de-

A Motion for adopting the same, was, on a division being called,
carried in the [191] affirmative as follows.


Alderman Van Zandt
Mess rs Mulligan
Torbert. 3


The Recorder. Mess rs Bogardus

Alderman Mott Hopper

R, Strong Demarest

Fish Depeyster.

Ritter Ludlam. 13

S. Strong

Ordered that copies of the Assessors tax Books be provided by
the Comptroller to be filed in his office.

* Marginal note reads See. P. 176. ED.


[192] In Common Council. August 31* : ISO,".

Present Marinas "\Yillett, Esquire Mayor.

Maturine Livingston. Esquire Recorder
Roger Strong,

Jacob Mott.

Dep. Mayor . Gerard Depeyster

Thomas Demarest .

Jacob Lerov. Oi

, ,'- , ^Esquires Stephen Ludlam .

Thurston \\ ood T> -LJ u* '-Assistants.

, Aldermen. Beniamm Haight

Selah Strong T " u T

_rf John Hopper Tun r

John P. Ritter ^ \v Ar ir

;. . .. . T Tonn \\ . Mulligan.
\\ ynant \ an Zandt Jun r

John D Miller

Roger Strong Esq r Alderman of the Fifth \Yard produced his
commission as Deputy Mayor of this city, with the approbation of the
Governor thereon : and in the presence of the Mayor of the said city
and named in the Commission of Dedimus potestatem for the city
and county of Xe\v York, took and subscribed the Oaths of Office
prescribed by law and the charter of this city.

[193] The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved.
A Report from the Police Office that Cap 1 Hays has suspended
Peter "VYaldron a second time for sleeping on his post : and that Cap 1
Farrington had also suspended Stephen Hall for the like offence, was
read and referred to the \Yatch Committee.

A Memorial of Thomas Hazard keeper of the County prison,
stating that a suit has been instituted against him by the Superin-
tendant of Streets, for not sweeping before the Bridewell and re-
questing that as he had no persons whom he could employ for the
purpose, that said Superintendant be directed to order his people to
do the same, was read, whereupon

Ordered that the suit be discontinued and that the Superintendant
provide hands for sweeping before the Bridewell.

*A Communication from Samuel Cowdrey Fsq r . late Attorney of
the Board, was read stating that he had received notice of trial in the
suit of Stephen Colver. for tuesday next, that M r Harrison Counsel-
lor of the Board is absent and will not return until the rising of the
Court, and as the cause is of very considerable importance, requesting
that additional [194] counsel may be retained: whereupon

Ordered that Mess rs Colden and Baldwin be retained, and that
Alderman R. Strong and M r Mulligan be a Committee to investigate
this subject.

* Marginal note roads S*t P. Jo". J'sl. 1$. P. _V.\ ED.

.5,54 CITY OF NEW YORK 31 Aug. 1807

An application of Gouverneur Morris Esq r for a further appro-
priation of money for the use of the Commissioners for laying out
streets and highways, was read.

Ordered that a warrant be issued in favour of the
Warr' N 297. Comptroller on account of said Commissioners for

A Letter from John Stevens Esq r of Hoboken, respecting the pro-
tection of the Harbour of New York by means of Chevaux de frize,
was read and referred to the Committee on Fortifications.

A Letter from Edward Telfair Esq r Chairman of the Citizens of
Savannah in Georgia to the Mayor, inclosing a copy of their resolu-
tions and proceedings " relative to the late insult and daring outrage
" on the United States Frigate the Chesapeake by a British Ship of
" war in sight of our coast." was read and ordered to be filed.

[195] A Communication from M r James Hardie to the City In-
spector on the subject of the vacant lots in Henry Street near the
Church for the filling of which an Ordinance has been passed but
not fulfilled, as the Owner or Owners cannot be found, and setting
forth that said Lots continue in a state of nuisance, was read and
referred to the Comptroller for his opinion on the law on this subject.

*A Petition of Waters Furman. of Waters Furman, John P.
Anthony and Job Furman, sureties for John Bussing late Collector
of assessments on Streets, relating to their suretyship, was read.

Ordered that the suits instituted against the petitioners be staid,
and that the petitions be referred to the Comptroller.

Ordered that the suits against John Bussing and David Cannon
upon the assessments for Third Street, Attorney Street and Gouver-
neur Street be also suspended, the said Bussing having rendered the
return thereof.

A Letter from the Superintendant of the Alms House to the
Mayor, stating the services and merits of Thomas Williams driver
[196] of the public Hearse, who formerly received a compensation
for his services, was read :

Ordered that he be allowed at the rate of Fifty Dollars a year,
commencing from the 1 st of January, last.

A representation of the Superintendant of the Alms House re-
specting the medical department of said House and Bridewell was
read and referred to Alderman Ritter, Mess rs Haight & Torbert.

A Petition of Jacob Wilkins & others inhabitants of Cortland

* Marginal note reads See P. 165. ED.


Street, praying that they may be permitted to advance their Lots on
the South side of said Street, between Washington and West Streets
on the same line and on the same principles as lately granted to Abra-
ham Bussing and others, was read and referred to the Alderman and
Assistant of the third ward and the Street Commiss r

An application of Charles Hewlitt to be allowed to transfer one
half of his lease at Brooklyne to his brother Henry Hewlitt was read
and granted.

*A Petition of Peter Ogilvie respecting the Ordinance for making
a bulkhead between Grand and Cherry Street, was read and [197]
referred to the Street Commissioner and Comptroller.

f A Petition of Peter Ogilvie respecting the Ordinance for making
a Bulkhead between Grand and Cherry Street was read and referred
to the Street Comm r & Compt r

A Petition of the Inhabitants in Spring Orange, and Elm Streets
for a Well & Pump was read and referred to the Alderman and
Assistant of the 8 th Ward

A Petition of the inhabitants of Rynder Hester and Pitt Streets,
to be provided with Lamps, was referred to the Lamp Committee.

A Petition of the inhabitants of Rynders Street praying for a regu-
lation of said Street, was read and referred to the Alderman and
Assistant of the 6 th Ward.

JA Petition of Thomas Gardner & John Gardner for water grants

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