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From an Old Print

Property of New York Public Library



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United Historical and Patriotic Societies
and Associations of New York


DR. GEORGE F. KUNZ, Chairman




December, 1915



Printed and Bound by Harper & Brothers
Franklin Square, New York


'HE growth of interest in the history of this nation and the progress
' of historical studies make it necessary that a wider and more
intelligent interest should be taken in the history of the State
of New York. It is certainly one of the leading states of the
Union, and as a province, during the Colonial period, its promi-
nence was almost as fully recognized as it is at the present time.
Its location is central. For all military purposes it was the
strategic center of the Colonies along the Atlantic seaboard. Owing to its relation
with the Five Nations, it always bore a leading part in Indian affairs. As a result
of this and also of its location it always had intimate relations of a diplomatic
character with the French in Canada. It early became a commercial center, and
gradually assumed the leading position in trade among the Thirteen Colonies.
From an early date also it was a royal province, and so was brought into close
relations with the British Government. When the Revolution came it stood for
the accepted principles of British liberty, without that appeal to natural rights
which was so pronounced in New England. The development of a strong loyalist
spirit opposed to the Declaration of Independence gives a peculiar interest to
the history of New York during the Revolution. Because also of its strategic
importance the British Government made New York during much of the Revolu-
tionary War the center of its military operations, thus giving to it a peculiar
importance in the history of the War for Independence. Burgoyne was defeated
on its soil. His surrender proved to be the turning-point in the Revolution be-
cause it led to the French alliance and to the series of events which culminated
in the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. New York was settled by the Dutch
in 1613, less than a decade subsequent to the settlement of the French in Acadia
and of the English at Jamestown. At that time no permanent settlement had
been planted in New England. The Dutch have always been a prominent com-
ponent of its population. To them the English were added by early immigration
from New England, and by slow growth and additions after the conquest in 1664.
French Huguenots also came after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In
the early eighteenth century considerable bodies of Palatines came as refugees
from Germany and settled at points on the middle Hudson and Mohawk Valley.
As a result of these settlements the population of New York has always been
cosmopolitan. It is made up of people from many nationalities, with traditions
and religious beliefs as varied as their origin. In this regard New York, in common
with the Middle States in general, is typical of the entire country. The mass
immigration of recent times has made us a meeting of the nations, and this New
York has always been and is today.



II RICE during the early history of our State the fate of the
nation has hung in the balance within its border. First in the
contention between Holland and England so interestingly told
in "The American Colonies in the 17th Century," by Professor
Herbert L. Osgood: then throughout the French and English
Wars, 1 745-1 759, for the Niagara frontier and control of the
_ Hudson River and Lake Champlain. Had France been successful
we should have been a French colony and our Revolution a matter of doubtful
conjecture. In 1777 the struggle for the Hudson was the critical moment of our
independence. Indeed, the Hudson River was the " keystone of the arch that held
New England to the Southern States." In our city, the "Sons of Liberty" and
later the Committee of Correspondence moulded the events that brought about
the first Continental Congress of the Colonies at Philadelphia in 1774. New York
holds also the honor of being "the only colony who lived up to their non-importation
agreement" of October 31, 1765.

John Peter Zenger's Trial.

Again, how little is told in general histories about the most important trial
ever held in our country! — that of John Peter Zenger, the printer, in whose ac-
quittal the freedom of the press was established in America for all time. This
dramatic event took place on August 4, 1735, in the old City Hall, which stood on
the site of the present Sub-Treasury building, at the corner of Wall and Nassau
Streets. The following account is taken largely from "John Peter Zenger," by
Livingston Rutherfurd.

In the second number of The New-York Weekly Journal (the first issue of
which appeared November 5,-1733) there appeared an article on the Liberty of the
Press which was filled with direct allusions to Governor Cosby and his conduct.
Bradford's Gazette took sides with Cosby and the Crown. The Journal printed
several articles against the Crown prior to the election for Aldermen and Common
Councilmen, which was carried against the Government's interest. Two ballads
entitled "A Song made upon the Election of new Magistrates for this City" and
"A Song made upon the foregoing Occasion" were published, both making fun of
the Administration. On November 2, 1734, the papers and request were returned
to Council, and on the fifth the Sheriff delivered the following order of Council
to the Court of Quarter Sessions directed to Robert Lurting, Esq., Mayor of the
City of New York and the Rest of the Magistrates for said City and County.

"Whereas by an Order of this Board of this Day, some of John Peter Zenger's
Journals entitled, The New-York Weekly Journal, containing the freshest Advices,
foreign and domestick, No. 7, 47, 48, 49, were ordered to be burnt, by the Hands
of the Common Hangman or Whipper, near the Pillory in this City [about in front
of the present Stock Exchange], on Wednesday the 6th instant, between the
Hours of Eleven and Twelve in the Forenoon, as containing in them many Things
tending to Sedition and Faction, to bring His Majesty's Government into Con-
tempt, and to disturb the Peace thereof, and containing in them likewise, not only
Reflections upon His Excellency the Governour in particular, the Legislature in
general, but also upon the most considerable Persons in the most distinguished
Stations in the Province. It is therefore ordered that the Mayor, and Magistrates
of this City, do attend at the Burning of the several Papers or Journals aforesaid,
Numbered as above mentioned."

Upon reading the order, the Court forbade its entry in the records at that
time, and some said if it was entered they would at the same time enter their
protest against it.


Zenger says: "Soon after which the Court adjourned and. did not attend the
Burning of the papers. Afterwards about Noon the Sheriff after reading the
Numbers of the several Papers which were ordered to be burnt, delivered them
into the Hands of his own Negroe and ordered him to put them into the Fire,
which he did, at which Mr. Recorder, Jeremiah Dunbar, Esq; and several of the
Officers of the Garrison attended." On Sunday, November 17th, Zenger was
arrested under a warrant of the Council "for printing and publishing several
Seditious Libels dispersed throughout his Journals or News Papers, entitled,
The New-York Weekly Journal.'" Zenger was refused "Pen, Ink or Paper or to
see or speak with People," until the following Wednesday, and then through
"the Hole of the Door." The bail was fixed at four hundred pounds, which
amount being more than he could obtain he remained in prison. On the fifteenth
of April, his counsel, James Alexander and William Smith, offered exceptions
in behalf of Zenger. The Chief Justice, James DeLancey, refused to hear the
exceptions: "For," said he, "you thought to have gained a great Deal of Applause
and Popularity by opposing this Court, as you did, the Court of Exchequer; but
you have brought it to that Point, That either, We must go from the Bench or
you from the Barr: Therefore We exclude you and Mr. Alexander from the Barr."
It was therefore ordered that the said James Alexander and William Smith be
excluded from any further practise in the "Supream Court of Judicature of the
Province of New York," and that "their Na.mes be struck out of the Roll of At-
torneys of this Court." Andrew Hamilton of Philadelphia was retained to defend
Zenger. Hamilton was born in Scotland in 1656, being then about 80. He was
a very prominent man in Pennsylvania affairs, having held many public offices.
He had the reputation of being the best advocate in North America and the only
American who had been admitted a bencher of Gray's Inn. The day appointed
for the trial was August 4, 1735, tne pl ace the City Hall, corner of Nassau and
Wall Streets, the finest building in the city. The Jury (after Hamilton's eloquent
address) "withdrew and in a small Time returned and being asked by the Clerk
whether they were agreed of their Verdict, and whether John Peter Zenger was
guilty of Printing and Publishing the Libels in the Information mentioned? They
answered by Thomas Hunt, their Foremen, Not Guilty, upon which there were three
Hazzas in the Hall which was crowded with People, and the next Day I was dis-
charged from my Imprisonment."

A dinner was given to Hamilton in the evening at the Black Horse Tavern
in Smith Street (now William Street). At a meeting of the Common Council
held on September 16, 1735, it was ordered that Hamilton be presented with the
Freedom of the Corporation. Its minutes for that date add "that Sundry of the
members of this Corporation and Gentlemen of this City have voluntarily Con-
tributed sufficient for a Gold Box of five Ounces and a half Inclosing the Seal
of said Freedom; Upon the Lid of which we are of Opinion should be engraved
the Arms of the City of New-York."

The trial of Zenger established in North America the principle that in prose-
cution for libel the jury were the judges of both the law and the facts. The Liberty
of the Press was secured from assault, and the People became equipped with that
most powerful weapon for successfully contesting arbitrary power, the right of
freely criticizing the conduct of public men. Thus was established here in New
York as a matter of law that the printing of facts did not constitute libel, more
than fifty years before the celebrated trial of "Junus" gave the same privilege
to the people of England. Gouverneur Morris has well said: "The trial of Zenger
in 1735 was the germ of American freedom, the morning star of that liberty which
subsequently revolutionized America."

The Jury in the John Peter Zenger Case.

Thomas Hunt, Foreman.
Samuel Weaver Harmanus Rutgers


Stanly Holmes Benjamin Hildreth

John Bell Edward Man

Egbert Van Borsom Andries Marschalk

John Goelet Abraham Keteltas

Hercules Wendover.

The World's Greatest War Path.

The distance between the head of Lake Champlain and Albany is about one
hundred miles, yet the path between these points has been the scene of more im-
portant battles than any other "path" of the same distance in the world, — im-
portant not on account of the great numbers taking part, not for the casualties,
but from the consequences that have developed. Referring to the map, you will
notice there are but two "carries" between New York City and Lake Champlain.
These are the short carry, between Lake Champlain and Lake George at Ticon-
deroga, and what was known as the "Great Carry," between Lake George and the
Hudson River at Fort Edward. This route divided New England or the Eastern
States from the West and South. Its great importance was appreciated by the
Indians, and later by the Dutch and French. From 1683 there was almost con-
tinuous warfare between the English Colonies and New France.

England and France in America.

As early as 1692 the struggle for supremacy along the border of Lake Champlain
commenced, gradually increasing until 1744. In July, 1744, war was formally de-
clared between England and France. "The French had always, as a rule, been
the more successful of the rivals in enlisting Indian allies, and the conflict was em-
bittered by Indian massacres at the more exposed English settlements, which,
rightly or wrongly, were believed to have been in many cases instigated and some-
times shared by the French " (" The War Path," by E. T. Gillespie, in " Proceedings
ot the New York State Historical Association," Vol. X). From the borders of
our State the conflict by degrees extended to Europe, becoming world-wide known
as the "Seven Years' War." It was in America a struggle for existence. "For a
quarter of a century the French had occupied a post at Crown Point where Lake
Champlain narrows into river-like proportions, and thus held a firm grip on the
route from the Hudson to the St. Lawrence." "Earlier the French had built
a fort at Niagara, which gave them control of the Lake route to Montreal." The
English had many years held a post at Oswego at the southwestern corner of
Lake Ontario.

Sir William Johnson, Bart.

The following is largely taken from "Life and Times of Sir William Johnson,
Bart.," by W. L. Stone:

One of the most remarkable characters in American history was Sir William
Johnson, Bart., born in Warrentown, County of Down, Ireland, in 1715. He
came to America by request of his uncle, Sir Peter Warren, in 1735, to take charge
of his estate in the Mohawk Valley, called Warrensbush. He became very friendly
with the Indians and was called War-ragh-i-ya-gry, meaning "Superintendent of
Affairs." About 1746 he assumed the title of Colonel. Governor Clinton and
Colonel Schuyler with Johnson succeeded in retaining many of the Indian tribes
loyal to the English during the French and English War of 1747. Johnson in
1748 became Commander of the New York Colonial troops for the defense of the
frontiers. Peace was declared in 1750. Johnson was a warm friend of King
Hendrik of the Mohawks, and through him won the favor of the Six Nations.


In 1754 war had begun again; a Council of the Six Nations was called in Albany
at which King Hendrik delivered his famous speech. "One of the most eloquent
Indian speeches ever uttered, containing strains of eloquence which might have
done honor to Tully or Demosthenes," it "will ever stand among the finest pas-
sages of rhetoric in either ancient or modern history." "In 1775 Johnson became
Superintendent of Indian Affairs, with full power to treat with the Confederate
Nations and to secure their aid for the British interests."

Johnson's appeal to the Council of Indians held at Mount Johnson, June 21-24,
was fitting to the occasion and dramatic in the extreme. "The following day the
speech of General Braddock was delivered to the Indians by Johnson, and the
latter threw into its delivery all the fire and energy of which he was master and at
its conclusion flung down in the general's name the War Belt."

It was immediately picked up by an Oneida Sachem, and at the same time Arent
Stevens, the interpreter, began the war dance; in the chorus he was joined by the
Sachems present. "A large tub of punch was thereupon brought forward for the
Indians to drink the King's health, and the Council broke up for the Day."

In 1755 General Braddock met with a most disastrous defeat at Fort Duquesne
by the French. "The prestige of British troops among the Indians was gone,
and, taking advantage of this, the French prevailed on several of the Indian tribes
to take up the hatchet against the English."

Johnson set out from Fort Lyman (Fort Edward) on the twenty-sixth of Au-
gust, 1755, for Lake St. Sacrament. His first act on his arrival was to change the
name of this lake to Lake George. He was most disappointed in the few Indians
that joined him. On September 8, 1755, occurred the battle of Lake George
between the English under Johnson and the French commanded by Gen. Dieskau.
Joseph Brant (an Indian chief, although a mere boy) took part in this engagement.
Johnson's friend King Hendrik was killed early in the battle. The losses were
heavy on both sides. Dieskau, badly wounded, was made prisoner; the French
retreated. The loss of the Six Nations was nearly forty braves. The French were
said by Surgeon Williams to have used poisoned bullets. Johnson had built a fort
at. the head of the Lake which he named William Henry. For his services during
this campaign he was created a baronet of Great Britain and was greeted on his ar-
rival at New York, the last of December, with a triumphal procession and illumina-
tion. The battle of Lake George was important in preventing the French from
advancing to Albany and then down the Hudson to New York, and like that of
Saratoga decided a great War. "The American Victory of Lake George was
not an isolated item of one campaign. It was more than a simple battle in an
unbroken wilderness; it was a military achievement of the New England and New
York yeomanry which saved themselves from destruction." In July, 1756, Johnson
received from England a commission as Colonel, Agent and Sole Superintendent
of all the afFairs of the Six Nations and other Northern Indians, accompanied
with a salary of six hundred pounds per annum.

In 1757 the Six Nations threatened to join with the French in Canada. John-
son's great influence alone prevented this. At the close of July Montcalm reached
the foot of Lake George and captured Fort William Henry on August 9th. The
next day many of the English troops were massacred by the Indians of Mont-
calm's command. The unfortunate affair completely destroyed the morale of
the English troops. In 1759 Johnson succeeded in winning over a large number
of the Indians. After the fall of Quebec, 1761, the Indians deserted the French,
and Sir William Johnson " maintained a good understanding between the Governors
and the Confederates."

In 1760 the Mohawks of Canajoharie presented Johnson with a large tract
of land, about sixty-six thousand acres, for which Johnson insisted that the Indians
should receive from him the sum of $12,000. The King granted the land to Johnson
in June, 1769.

On July 7, 1774, nearly six hundred Indians met in council. On the nth,
after Johnson's speech, he was taken ill, and died early in the evening. The


funeral took place on Wednesday the 13th, attended by over two thousand. The
next morning a most impressive service was held by " The Chiefs of the Six Na-
tions." "Thus closed this affecting ceremonial, affecting because the last and
only tribute which the faithful Iroquois had it in their power to pay to the memory
of him who for upwards of forty years had been their steadfast friend and bene-

"A man who from a humble origin could rise by his own exertions to a position
in which from the backwoods of America he controlled the British Parliament was
of no ordinary mould." Perhaps to no man did the Colony of New York owe
more than to Sir William Johnson. His control of the Six Nations allowed the
development of the Colony to proceed, and aided the British Crown toward its
success against the French.

Extinction of the French Empire in North America.

On July 6, 1758, the English under General Abercrombie assembled an army
of over fifteen thousand at Fort William Henry, Lake George. The French
under General Montcalm held Fort Ticonderoga at the lower end of the lake.
July 15th Abercrombie's army under command of Lord Howe attempted to capture
the French. The battle took place the following day, when the English met
with a most disastrous defeat. Lord Howe was killed early in the engagement.
The soldiers from lack of proper guides became lost in the wilderness, where many
were either killed or captured. The English were successful on the St. Lawrence,
and General Gage was sent to take command of Oswego and Niagara.

On September 13, 1759, was fought the battle of the "Plains of Abraham,"
the French under command of Montcalm and the English under General Wolfe.
Both commanders were mortally wounded and an empire passed from the Frertch
to the English. On September 8, 1760, articles of capitulation were signed by
which Canada and all its dependencies passed into the hands of England, and
Canada became the fourteenth colony.

"On the 10th of February, 1763, at Paris was signed the treaty that recog-
nized the extinction of the French Empire in the North America." This treaty
marks an epoch in the history of America as well as in that of England and France.
To the latter it was a period of humiliation, not only in the loss of colonies upon
which for nearly a century she had expended vast sums without any adequate
return, but also in the frustration of her purpose of gaining sole possession of the
Continent." — William Chamberlain.


*HE French and Indian War was indirectly the cause of our Revo-
' lution. England rightly considered the Colonies had been most
benefited; therefore they should assist in defraying a part of the
great expense the war had caused. It was proposed the same
should be collected by a tax. The total amount expended by
England was £72,110,000, and charged against the Colonies as
_ follows: pounds sterling, Massachusetts, 818,000; Rhode Island,
80,000; New Hampshire, 18,000; Connecticut, 259,000; New York, 291,000; New
Jersey, 204,000; Pennsylvania, 313,000; Maryland, 39,000; Virginia, 385,000;
North Carolina, 30,000; South Carolina, 90,000; Georgia, 1,000; or a total of about
£25,280,000, a very small percentage of the vast amount expended. Numerous
acts of Parliament were passed, only to meet with strong opposition by the Colonies,
especially Massachusetts and New York, culminating in the demonstration against
the Stamp Act of 1765, and resulting in its repeal.

From an Old Print

Property of New York Public Library



In New York a Society called "Sons of Liberty," composed of many of our
best citizens, was formed about 1764, devoted to the cause of liberty. A con-
troversy arose between the soldiers stationed in the city and the citizens over
the right of establishing a Liberty Pole on the Common (now City Hall Park),
the "Sons of Liberty" espousing the cause of the citizens. Between 1766 and
1770 numerous Liberty Poles were erected, only to be cut down by the soldiers.
On January 18 and 19, 1770, occurred a riot on Golden Hill, covering the inter-
section of William and John Streets, during which a number were badly wounded.
(While it is claimed one citizen was killed, we can find no authority for the state-
ment.) The "Sons of Liberty" were successful in driving off the soldiers and
protecting the pole. This was the so-called " Battle of Golden Hill, — the first
bloodshed of the Revolution, — and it antedated the famous "Boston Massacre"
by more than six weeks!


'T has been truthfully said: "As a starting-point we may take
November 2, 1772, and say that for all practical purposes the
Committee of Correspondence began its life as a local institution
of the Revolution." To the town of Boston belongs the honor of
first calling for the Colonies to form Committees of Correspon-
dence, "To state the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province
in Particular as men, as Christians, and as subjects, and to com-
municate and publish the same to the several Towns in this Province and to the
World as the sense of this Town, with the infringements and violations thereof,
requesting of each Town a free Communication of their sentiments on these

The great importance of these Committees of Correspondence has been over-
looked by historians, and yet as "a piece of revolutionary machinery their value
can hardly be overestimated." Their meetings were held almost daily, at times
lasting well into the night; their members served without compensation, knowing
that should the Revolution be unsuccessful their property and perhaps their lives

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Online LibraryUnited historical and patriotic societies and assoThe need of a history of New York → online text (page 1 of 8)