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A true history of the acquisition of Washington's headquarters at Newburgh, by the state of New York (Volume 2) online

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Jiff' A TRUE HISTORY



OF



THE ACQUISITION



OF



WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS



AT :!VEWBITR«II,



By the State of New York,




BY RICHARD CALDWELL,

SALISBURY MILLS, N. Y.



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DUNCAN'S




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— A>JD —



RESTAURANT,



Corner Water and First Streets,



iiiTEWBURCiH, :n^. y.



Within three iiiiiiiite!!»' walk of all 4lei>ot!>» and steam-
boat landing's aiie appointed by
the Commissioners who shall put a value on the property,
when it is, after a prescribed time, to be again offered for
sale; if no l)id is received equal to the appraised value, the
Commissioners are to ])id that sum, and the ])roperty
becomes the State's absolutely. This they did. It should be
said, however, that the mortgagor had the right to redeem
the property at the appraised value and costs of sale. Old



10



Washington's Headquarters.




Mr. Plasbrouck in tlie interim was trying to raise tlie money

to pay off the claims, but
never succeeded. The Com-
missioners, who were Andrew
J. Caldwell, of Blooming
Grove, and Alexander Camp-
V)ell, of Monroe, were made
custodians of the property
after the sale, l)y the then
Comptroller of the State,
Hon. Washington Hunt, and
it was l)y them put in charge
^' ' of a keeper. It was at this
time that efforts were made
l)y private parties, both by
letters and through personal
interview with the Commis-
sioners or rather Commissioner (for Mr. Caldwell was,
by the acquiesence of " Father Camp1)ell," the prominent
man in tlie transaction) to
induce him to use his influ-
ence Avith the Comptroller to
sell the property to them,
which he would have done
if the Commissioners had so
advised, and the recollection
is (which, however, may not
be correct) that a less sum
was offered than the amoimt
of ' appraisal and interest to
time of the offer. Mr. Cald-
well declined, as he had other ^^^xander Campbell.

plans and purposes. [From a Ukeness taken lu 1S52.]



ANDREW J. CALDWELL.

[Taken when 80 years of age.]




* TTow Acquired. 11

EFFORTS TO INDITE RESIDENTS OF NEWBURGH TO BUY TIIE

PROPERTY.

First lie tried to induce private parties in Newburgh to
su1)scril:)e a sum sufficient to liquidate the Deposit Fund
claim. In this eifort he was heartily seconded by the late
Enoch Carter, Esq., who, as far as his desires and pecimiary
ability went, was as public-spirited a man as Newbui-gh ever
possessed. But love of money was greater among the men of
means of Newburgh at the time, than love of patriotism, or at
least of Washington's Headquarters. Mr. Carter was much
disappointed and out of patience at the action, or rather
non-action, of his fellow townsmen, and gave expression to
his opinion of them in words which those who rememl)er him
well can very w^ell imagine were much more emphatic than
Scriptual.

'PLANS PROPOSED.

Then Mr. Caldwell entered into correspondence with Hon.
Hamilton Fish, the then Governor of the State, proposing
two plans. One was for the Legislature of New York to
memorialize Congress to remit its claim on the State of
New York for the amount due the United States Deposit
Fund to a sum equal to the amount of the morgage, $2,000,
with accrued interest and expenses. This is the plan which
Mr. Caldwell favored, as in case they did, it would not
cost the State any money. The other plan was for the Leg-
islatiu'e to appropriate a sum sufficient to discharge all the
amount due to the Fund, the law requiring that the principal
of the Fund should always be kept intact.

THE governor's WISDOM.

The Governor chose the latter course as being more direct
and expeditious, and in this he imdoubtedly showed his



12 Washington's Headquarters. *

wisdom, for if application liad been made to Congress, action
would perhaps liave been delayed through opposition of in-
terested parties who had their o^vn private schemes and
purposes to carry out. Governor Fish in his first annual
message, after his attention had been called to the subject,
asked or recommended that the Legislature appropriate the
sum required, which they did, and so the property became
the State's, absolutely and forever. The Deposit Fund was
fully reimbursed, and private parties who wanted to make a
big speculation out of the old historic spot were foiled in
their purpose. Tiie correspondence l^etween Mr. Caldwell
and Governor Fish, which was placed ^before the Board
of Trustees by George Cornwall, Esq., once a Trustee of the
Village of Newburgh, and up to his death President of the
Highland Bank of that place, is here given, transcribed from
the puljlic records of the then Village of Newburgh,''as well
as the resolution of the Trustees of that village on the
subject :

Newburgh, May 8, 1850.
Andrew J. Caldwell, Es(i. :

Dear Sir :— It affords me great pleasure to be enabled to
lay your correspondence with Gov. Fish l)efore the Commit-
tee on Washington's Headquarters, and subsequently, before
om* Board of Trustees. The action of the latter body upon ,
the subject you Avill find enclosed, together with the papers
sent me. I remain very respectfully yours, etc.,

GEORGE CORNWALL.

The above Committee was probably the one appointed to
make aiTano:ements for and take charge of the dedication
ceremonies, July 4th, 1850.

THE CORRESPONDENCE.

At a special meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Vil-
lage of Newl)urgh, held at the United States Hotel, on



How Acquired. 13

Wednesday, April 24th, 1850, the following resolutions
were unanimously ado})ted :

Kesolved, That on behalf of the citizens of Newburgh,
and the public generally, the thanks of this Board be
tendered to Andrew J. Caldwell, Esq., Commissioner of
Loans, lor his early and efficient exertions to obtain the pas-
sage of the act by the Legislature to j'ttain the title to the
grounds known as Washington's Headquarters, and making
them forever public grounds, and that his correspondence
with Gov. Fish upon the subject be entered npon the minutes
of the Board, and that a copy of this resolution be for-
warded to ]\lr. Caldwell.

Signed, JACKSON OAKLEY,

Newbm;gh, May 8, 1850. Clerk.

ANDREW J. CALDWELL TO GOV. FISH I

Salisbury Mills, Orange County, 1st Oct., 1849.

Sir — T beg leave to l:)iiiig to your notice a Transaction in
which I have been concerned, in the discharge of official
duty, and which I venture to presume will not be considered
unw^orthy the Chief Magistrate of the State of New York.

The Commissioners of the United States Deposit Fund
of the County of Orange, in pursuance of law% have exposed
to pu])lic sale the premises in the Village of New^biu'gh, con-
taining the old stone house knowai as " Washington's Head-
quarters," and have bid in the same on behalf of the State.

The place consecrated by so many interesting associations
has become the property of the State, and in the ordinaiy
course is to be sold l>y the Commissioners of the Land Office,
for the T)enefit of the United States Deposit Fund. I need
not remind you sir, that the old stone house was the resi-
dence of Washington's family for the last two years of tlie
war ; that there he received the news of peace, there he dis-
banded the iVi*my of the Kevolution, and when that army,
goaded almost to desperation in vieAV of their wrongs as set
forth in the famous " Newburgh Letters," were pi'epaiing to
enforce theii' claims at the point of the bayonet, then and



14 Washington's Headquarters.

there it was he achieved the crowning glory of his miHtary
career, issued his imcomparaljle address to the army, soothed
the angry passions of the excited soldiery, averted the
theateued storm, and thus once moke saved the Republic. I
venture sir, to sul )mit to you whether it would be creditable
for the State of New York to sell this veneral)le and
hallowed spot which has now come into its possession, or
whether on the other hand it would not ])e more to the
honor of the State, and in accordance with puljlic sentiment,
to hand it down to posterity as a monument to the memory
of its former revered and illustrious occupant, and an endur-
inai; memorial of the interestins; transactions of which it was
the scene. Should the authorities of the State concm* in
these views, it would not he difficult to devise a plan, by
which, under sanction of law, the ^^reservation of the prem-
ises as a public ground might be effectually secured. It
must be ])orne in mind that these premises have cost the
State nothing, and if the, competent authorities should see
fit to transfer the charge to any ]:>ul)lic body, for pul:>lic uses,
there can be no doubt that the United States woidd release
forever their interest in the Deposit Fund to that amount.
In taking this liberty, I feel the greater confidence, in that
the appeal is to one whose name and family are so intimately
connected with the times, and transactions to which it refers.
I have the honor to be. Sir

Your most ob't servant,

ANDREW J. CALDWELL.



New York, Oct. 0th, 1849.
Andrew J. Caldwell, Esq.,

Salisbury Mills, Orange County.
* Sir : — I am this day favored with your letter of 1st inst.
(forwarded to me from Albany) referring to the sale, by the
Commissioners in your County for loaning certain monies of
the U. S., of the old House kno^^ni as " Washington's Head-
quarters." I concur entirely in the views which you have




HON. HAMILTON FISH.

[Engraved by Leon Banitt, Midtlletown, N. Y., from a photograph taken in 1875.]



16 Washington's Headquarters.-

expressed of tlie propriety of securing this hallowed spot for
some public object suitable and appropriate to its history,
and I should be most happy to give any aid within the
sphere of my duties, which will ensure this end. It will
give me pleasure to hear from you on the subject as to any
jpemorial ^vhich may he made l)y the citizens in the neigh-
borhood. Witli very great regards,

Your ob't servant,

HAMILTON FISH.

There was other correspondence between Gov. Fish and
Mr. Caldwell, and other parties, in relation to the best coui'se
to take to secure the property, which cannot now V)e found.
Fjom a memorandum in Mr. Caldwell's hand-writing, found
among his papers, it is shown that on August 2(3, 1859, "a
bimdle " of letters were sent to a gentleman residing in New-
burgh accompanied l)y a letter in which he says " I wish it
understood that I do not wish my name brought forward
prominently in your work, and not more than the history of
the case requii-es."

7S.CTI0N BOARD SUPERVISORS OF ORANGE COUNTY.

On page 321, Proceedings of Board Supervisors on Thurs-
day, Nov. 22, 1819, appears the foUomng:

"Andrew J. Caldwell, Esq., appeared before the Board
and stated that certain premises in Newburgh had been sold
by the Loan Commissioners and bought in by them for the
State ; said premises are known by the name of Washington's
Head Quarters. And also by request read a correspondence
between himself and the Governor of the State on the subject
of,presei'\dng the said premises for a public groulid. And
h'e also asked the co-operation of the Board in accomplishing
that sul^ject. On motion of Mr. Fullerton it was resolved
that a Committee of three be appointed to take the subject
in consideration, and report to the Board. Whereupon,



How ACQTJIEED. 17

Daniel Fullei-ton, O. S. Hatliaway and L. M. Ferris were
appointed said Committee. It was o"n motion, Ilesolved that
the Chairman of the Board be added to the Committee."

On page 335, Proceedings Board Supervisors, on Wednes-
day, Nov. 28th, of same year, is found as follows :

PETITION BOARD OF SUPEEVISORS TO LEGISLATURE.

To the Legislature of the State of New York. The under-
signed the Board of Supervisors of the County of Orange
Respectfully represent :

That a portion of the monies deposited by the United
States with the State of New York were loaned under the
direction of tlie said State on secmity of certain premises
known as Washington's Head Quarters, located in the vil-
lage of Newburgh in the said County of Orange. And that
on default of payment the said premises have been sold and
bought in for and on behalf of the State.

That it is now the duty of the Loan Office of the said
County under the existing la^v to dispose of said premises,
and to restore the proceeds thereof to the fund from whence
the same was derived. •

That the stone l)uilding now standing on the said premises
is on the Bank of the Hudson River in full view of the
multitudes daily passing on its waters from all parts of the
world and that it still remains unimpaired as when it was
honored by the residence of Washington and LaFayette.

That the said mansion ^vas the head-quarters of Washing-
ton for the last two years of the Revolutionary War, and
was the last he occupied in the character of Commander-
in-Cliief, and was also the scene of his most glorious triumphs
over the fearful designs of tlie celeljrated " Newburgh Let-
ters,"* and where he closed a military career unexampled in
the histoiy of the world.

That the people of Orange County could not witness with-
out the deepest mortification the demolition or desecration
of an edifice, endeared to them and to their fellow citizens



18 Washington's Headquarters.

throughout the Union by so many Patriotic associations and
so intimately connected with the History of the Revohition.
While Forts Montgomery and Putnam, in its immediate
neigh) )orhood, are mouldering in decay, your petitioners
desire that this venerable edifice may be spared, and every
possi1)le exertion used to preserve and maintain it inviolate
under the ownership and protection of the Empire State.

Your Memorialists therefore in the name and in behalf of
the People of the County of Orange Respectfully pray that
your Honora1)le body will cause to be repaid to the United
States Deposit Fund the amount that appears from the last
annual report of the Commissioners of Loans of the County
of Orange to have been loaned upon the said premises and
retain the title of the same in the Government of this State,
and that you will further provide by necessary laws for its
preservation for all time to come.

And your petitioners will ever pray.

David H. Moffatt, Chairman, Blooming Grove.

Daniel Fullerton, Minisink.

LiNDLY MiTRRY Ferris, IMoiitgomeiy.

William V. B. Armstrong, Warwick.

Odell S. Hathaway, Newburgh.

A. P. Thompson, Mount Hope.

Daniel Swartwoi t, Deerpark.

R. M. Vail, Goshen.

William Jackson, Hamptonburgh.

Morgan Shuit, Monroe.

Hezekiaii H. Moffatt, Chester.

John Denniston, Cornwall.

Abram Vail, Jr., Wailkill.

Augustus Thompson, Crawford.

The towns are not appended to the names as they appear
on the record ; they have l)een affixed l)y the authoi', to indi-
cal^te where they belonged. All are dead it ig Ijelieved l^ut
the Super \dsor from Mt. Hope, A. P. Thompson, now
Casliier of the Port Jer\ds National Bank.

It will be noticed that there are but foiu^teen towns repre-



IIow Acquired. 19

sented, J. K. Dickson, the Supervisor of the only other
town in the county, not })eing present.

The Committee to whom the foregoing subject of Wash-


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Online LibraryRichard CaldwellA true history of the acquisition of Washington's headquarters at Newburgh, by the state of New York (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 4)