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its only source of revenue; that it would lead to smug-
gling and that it was dangerous to entrust congress
with any further powers.

The other party argued, justly, that since the State
must help to support the general government, it might
as well be done in this way as in any other; that duties
in all American ports should be uniform, and that
there was no other way in which this could be accom-
plished; that congress could as easily prevent smug-
gling as could the State ; and they laughed, as well


1786] GoYERN^MENT WITHOUT Central Authority 315

they might, at the danger of congressional powers*.

The Xew York chamber of commerce sent in a
memorial, showing the folly of a system which gave
to congress the power of making treaties, but took
from it the power to carry out those treaties.

The merchants favored the measure ; the farmers and
mechanics opposed it. The "request" was never
granted; and fortunately, for its failure made still
more apparent the necessity for a stronger national
government and led to the adopton of the new con-

GoYernment during- the revolution. — It is diffi-
cult to conceive of a more shadowy and unsatisfactory
form of government (if government it can be called
where there was no authority) than that under which
the colonies existed during the whole period of the
revolution. So early as 1754 a union had been pro-
posed, but in 1773 the feeling that the colonies must
unite became general, and in 1774 this took form in
the first continental congress. See page 217.

In 1775, Benjamin Franklin, who had long been an
advocate of colonial union, laid before congress a plan
for a " perpetual confederation" of the States.

Congress was engrossed with other affairs and took
no action. In the absence of any actual authority,
that body began to exercise legislative functions ; yet
any of its acts could be and frequently were absolutely
ignored by the various State legislatures.

In June, 1776, a committee was appointed to prepare

* See McMaster's History of the People of the
United States.

31G Articles of Confederation^ [Period VIII

a plan for confederation. This committee reported
but no immediate action was taken. Meanwhile the
power of Great Britain had been overthrown in all the
colonies, and they had adopted independent State con-
stitutions; this rendered the proposed union much
easier of accomplishment.

Articles of conl^deratioii. — Finally, on November
loth, 1777, congress adopted the proposed " articles of
confederation ", and sent them out to the States for
ratification. Xew York adopted them in the following
February, 1778; but it was not until July that they
were accepted by a requisite number of States*.

These " articles " recognized the independence of
the several States, except in the matter of declaring
war or making peace; the regulation of foreign inter-
course; receiving and sending ambassadors; the coin-
age of money; the settlement of boundaries, and the
care of the public domain.

There was no chief magistrate, no national judiciary;
and the consent of nine States was necessary to every
act of legislation, — each State having une vote.

In congress there was but one house; and to this
each State could send as many " delegates "as it
chose; it could also fix the time of their election and
term of service. The time had come when, if ever,
the form of government must be changed.

* The chief controversy was over the surrender of
title to western lands. New York had bought Indian
titles to lands in the Ohio valley. She was the first
State to make this surrender (see McMaster's U. S.

1786] The Philadelphia Coxstitution 317

The Annapolis convention, 1786. — At the request
of Washington, a convention met at Annapolis in Sep-
tember, 1786, to consider amendments to the articles
of confederation. Five States only responded. Xothing
came of this convention except the call for another to
meet at Philadelphia in May, 1787. To this conven-
tion, 80 famous in our national history, NewYork sent
Robert Yates, John Lansing, Jr., and Alexander Ham-
ilton. But thirty years of age, Hamilton quickly be-
came prominent in the convention over which Wash-
ington presided, and he was foremost among those
who advocated the adoption of the new constitution.
The session lasted from May until September, 1787,
when the articles of confederation had been abandoned
and a permanent constitution prepared.

Objections to the constitution. — From the first it
was evident that the federal constitution could not be
carried without a struggle. Among its advocates in
New York, besides Alexander Hamilton, were Chief-
Justice Jay, Eichard Morris, Chancellor Robert R.
Livingston, and Mayor James Duane of Xew York
city. Its opponents included Governor Clinton, Rob-
ert Yates, John Lansing, jr., and Melancthon Smith;
all were of great ability and of wide influence.

Through the '* Federalist " Hamilton, Jay, and
Madison placed before the people what their prophetic
eyes could see as the future of Xew York, when she
should become a part of a strong, federal union. What
then seemed a dim prophecy, we can now see was un-
alterable destiny.

The chief objections to the constitution were these:

(1) The enormous powers it gave to the president.

318 New York accepts Constitution [Period VIII

(2) The length of his term of office.

(3) The equal representation of the States, large
and small, in the senate.

(4) The surrender of New York's import duties to
the national treasury. N

(5) The absorption of many former functions of
State government by congress, and the danger that a
government with such wide powers might destroy the
very liberties which had just been acquired.

The advocates of the new constitution argued that
the weakness of the present government had been
demonstrated; that only a strong federation could
stand. They ridiculed the supposed dangers of a gov-
ernment, every member of which was elected by the
people and answerable to them for a faithful per-
formance of duty.

Federalists and anti-federalists.— With the ques-
tion of adopting or rejecting the proposed constitu-
tion came a political revolution.

Old parties disappeared. One question absorbed
public attention: "Shall New York adopt the pro-
posed constitution?" Those who favored it were
"federalists"; those who opposed it became "anti-
federalists". These two parties remained and strove
with each other years after the new constitution had
justified the wisdom of the men who framed it.

New York accepts the constitution. — In the New

York legislature, January, 1788, Egbert Benson moved
a State convention to consider the new national con-
stitution. This convention met at Poughkeepsie, June

1?88] New York accepts Coi^stitution 319

17, 1788. It coutained 64 delegates*, and was pre-
sided over by Governor Clinton.

The debate lasted until July 11, when, just as a vote
was to be taken with the probability of failure, news
was received that enough States had already ratified
the constitution to make its adoption certain.

This produced a sensation. The question now was,
*' Shall Xew York adopt or secede from the confedera-
tion?" The resolution was changed to read, "Re-
solved that the constitution be ratified, in full confi-
dence that the amendments proposed by this conven-
tion will be adopted." On this resolution, Alexander
Hamilton made the greatest speech of his life, and on
July 26 the vote was taken. The result was very
close; 30 for and 27 against, seven not voting. In his
address to the legislature in December, Governor Clin-
ton used the following language in regard to the action
of Xew York :

" It (the constitution) was assented to in the express
confidence that the exercise of different powers would
be suspended until it should undergo a revision by a
general convention of the States."

At the first session of the first congress, amendments
were proposed which substantially removed the objec-
tions raised by the Xew York convention.

Ten of these amendments were ratified by the New
York legislature, March 27, 1790, and the eleventh,
Sept. 21, 1791, thus apparently justifying New York's
objection f.

* See New York Civil List, 1881.
t See amendments to the constitution, I-XI, North-
am's Civil Government, pp. 146-148.

320 Summary [Period VIII

With the gravest questions it ever had to meet wisely-
settled, New York was now ready to undertake matters
more immediately pertaining to her own future growth
and development.


1. Question of surrendering the revenues; argu-
ments for and against.

2. Government during the revolution; Franklin's

3. Articles of confederation.

4. New York adoption of the articles of confedera-

5. The convention of 1787; New York's delegation.

6. Leading advocates of new constitution.

7. Leading opponents of new constitution.

8. Writers of " The Federalist".

9. Objections to constitution.

10. Arguments for adoption.

11. The two parties; federalists and anti-federalists.

12. The constitution before the New York legisla-
ture, 1788.


The New Government, 1788

Election of representatives.— Having accepted
the new national constitu-
tion, New York's next step
was to carry out' its provis-
ions. Accordingly, on Dec.
8, 1788, the State legislature
directed the election, by the
people', of representatives to

These first representatives
were Egbert Benson, William

Egbert Benson. 1746-1833 r-^, n x i i-r ; i t

-bloyd, John Hathorn, Jere-
miah Van Rensselaer, and Peter Sylvester.

New York was not represented in the national senate
during the first session of the
first congress. In a special
session of the legislature con-
vened July 19th, General
Philip Schuyler and Rufus
King were chosen as New
York's first senators. The
State's delegation in each
house was a strong one.
Benson had been New York's
Rurus KINO, 1755-1827 ^^^^ attomcy-general, a mem-

ber of the revolutionary ''committee of safety", and


322 The pikst Congeess [Period VIII

subsequently a member of the State legislature, and
member of the continental congress.

William Floyd had been one of New York's signers
of the Declaration of Independence. John Hathorn
had done distinguished service in the revolution, and
Van Rensselaer was of the patroon's family and had
been lieutenant-governor of the State.

The first president of the United States.—

©There had been but one man
named for the first president
of the United States, that
was " The first man of his
times" — General George
Washington. John Adams
was chosen vice-president.
The first congress. —The
old continental congress had

George Washington. 1732-1799 decided that XCW York city
President, 1789^1797 should be the first SCat of the

new national government*. For this there were abun-
dant reasons, but the one which had greatest weight
was its central position in the new republic.

Congress was to meet on March 4, 1789, in the city
hall on Wall street. New Yorkers for a time, forgot
all their differences in an effort to give the new govern-
ment a royal welcome.

Owing to the dreadful condition of the roads at that
time of year, only a few members were present at the

* In 1790 congress removed to Philadelphia, and in
1799 to Washington.

1789] Inauguration of Washington 323

time set for the meeting of congress. Days, even
weeks, passed while they straggled in.

The vice-president, coming only from Massachusetts,
was able to reach New York on April 21, but "Washing-
ton did not arrive until the 23d. His journey had been
hindered, not only by the almost impassable roads, but
by the ovations which met him at every town through
which he passed.

Imagine the Father of his Country, the president of
the United States, riding on horseback a large part of
the distance from the Potomac to Xew York city in
the month of x4pril!

Inauguration of Washington. — On April 30,
1789 religious services were held in all the churches.

Washington was escorted from the presidential man-
sion on Cherry street to the city hall, where, in full
view of a great throng, Robert R. Livingston, first chan-
cellor of the State of New York, administered the oath
of office to the first president of the United States.
Then, entering the senate chamber, Washington read
his inaugural address, after which the whole assembly
went on foot to St. Paul's chapel, Broadway, where
prayers for the new government were read by the chap-
lain. So becomingly simple were the ceremonies which
ushered in the republic of the United States of America.

It was auspicious that this ceremony should take
place within the bounds of a State destined to lead all
the others in wealth, in population, in commerce, and
in national influence.

Naturally, General Schuyler, John Jay, and Alexan-
der Hamilton had great influence with Washington,
and New York was well represented in the govern-

324 Internal Improvemekts [Period VIII

ment. John Jay was made chief justice, and Alexan-
der Hamilton became secretary of the treasury.

Internal improvements. — New roads now began
to be opened through the State in every direction;
some of them at the expense of the State; many
by land proprietors, others by emigrants that they
might reach lands which they had selected. The
difficulty of getting the products of far away settle-
ments to the markets of Xew York and other sea-port
towns, and of taking to these settlements in return the
supplies they needed, turned men's thoughts toward
improved methods of communication through the State.

Internal navigation. — In 1784 Christopher Colles *
brought before the State
legislature a proposition to
improve the navigation of
the Mohawk, but the matter
excited very little interest.
Later, Elkanah Watson
visited many sections of
the State and studied the
problem. The result was
the chartering in 1792 of
CHRISTOPHER COLLES, 1738-1816 ^^^ * ' Inlaud LockNaviga-

tion " companies. These organizations actually began
work at Little Falls and Stillwater in the spring of
1793, and in 1796 boats passed from the Mohawk river

* Christopher Colles, born in Ireland in 1738, was an
engineer, and the first to propose a plan to supply Xew
York with pure water. See Magazine of American

1788] Summary 335

to Oneida lake. Such was the beginning which, six-
teen years later, led to the construction of the Erie


1. Xew York's first delegation in congress.

2. First presidential election, L788.

3. Inauguration of Washington, 1789.

4. Xeed of internal improvements.

5. First movements toward canals.


X^Ew York makes Substantial Growth

Re-election of Clinton and Washington. — X^ew
York politics are frequently murky in our times; they
were not less so in 1792. The opposing candidates
for governor were George Clinton and John Jay. The
contest was bitter. Decent men would now cry out
against the obloquy heaped upon both candidates, and
the methods resorted to by the adherents of each would
invalidate any election of to-day. The vote of whole
counties was thrown out with no investigation. Gov-
ernor Clinton was declared re-elected by a bare major-
ity of 103.

In the same year recurred the presidential election.
Washington was again the unanimous choice of the
people. Xew York came forward with two candidates
in opposition to Mr. Adams; these were Governor
Clinton and Aaron Burr Mr. Adams was re-elected.

New Yorli politics in 179*2. — The anti-federalists
had now become republicans, and the French revolu-
tion was to be an issue in Xew York. Xaturally sym-
pathy for France, our faithful ally, was intense, but
when the Jacobins resorted to shocking excesses, and
finally drove La Fayette from his country, the eyes of
many Americans were opened.

They saw that what in France was called a republic,


1793] The French Eevolutiox 327

was really anarchy, and they withdrew their support.
This was the attitude of most of the federalists.

The republicans or anti-federalists as a rule, warmly
espoused the cause of the French revolutionists for
two reasons: they had, it was claimed, set up a repub-
lic ; and they had gone to war with England. It mat-
tered not that complete and terrible disorder had taken
the place of all government, nor that the guillotine
daily claimed a hundred victims. That France was at
war with England was accepted as proof that France
was in the right.

Washington had promptly issued a proclamation of
neutrality, and was condemned for it in unmeasured
terms by the republicans.

'^Citizen" Genet.— In the spring of 1793 there
came to the United States a representative from this
"reign of terror" calling itself a government, one
Edmund Genet, — " Citizen" Genet he was called, out
of respect to the fanatacism which he represented.
He landed at Charleston, S. C. He did not wait to
present his credentials to Washington, but began at
once to fit out privateers against England. As he
travelled toward the seat of government, he was every-
where received with all the honors of a potentate, and
he did not fail to use these occasions to stir up a feel-
ing against both Washington and Great Britain.

At last he reached Philadelphia and tardily presented
his credentials to the president. Even in that day of
slow-traveling news, his reputation had preceded him.

The reception Genet received from Washington can
easily be imagined. He retired from that dignified

328 Feeling toward E;n"Gland [Period VIII

presence with much less assurance than he had borne
to it. He had received the rebuke he deserved.
Genet's mission would not be worth our mention, had
he not succeeded in exciting a quarrel in New York
which rankled for many years, and very nearly involved
the United States in another war with England.

John Jay elected governor of New York^ 1795.

— George Clinton had now
served his State as governor
continuously since 1777,
and in 1795 both he and
Lieutenant-Governor Van
Cortlandt declined to be
candidates for re-election.
The federalists were in
control of the State gov-
ernment, and John Jay was

John Jay. 1745-1829 i i. A

Governor, 1795-1701 elected.

The English treaty. — When the election for gov-
ernor took place, Mr. Jay was absent from the country.
England had never fulfilled all the stipulations of the
treaty of 1783, and on this ground the republicans
were doing what lay in their power to bring about a
rupture in the interests of France. In the hope that
a peaceful solution of the difficulty might be found,
the president had sent John Jay to England to negoti-
ate a new treaty. A month after his election as gov-
ernor, Mr. Jay returned, bearing the treaty. Immedi-
ately, even before its nature was known, he became the
object of most outrageous attacks. He was denouncerd

1795] The Bowling Green Meeting 329

as "traitor", and, what was by the republicans ac-
counted an equal crime, he was called an aristocrat.

Mr. Jay was even accused of selling his country, and
was hanged and burned in effigy by his fellow citizens.

The Bowling Green meeting^ 1795. — One of the

most shameful scenes that ever disgraced New York
politics occurred at Bowling Green in 1795. A notice
was circulated asking " all good citizens " to assemble
at Federal hall. A copy of the treaty so recently
secured by Mr. Jay had been obtained. The federal-
ists saw no treason in it; the republicans denounced it
as " a most shameful concession to England." "No
time" they said "must be lost. The president may
sign it any hour."

One citizen suggested that a public meeting was
hardly the place to discuss a treaty. He was allowed
to proceed no farther. Alexander Hamilton attempted
to speak but was stoned. With his face streaming
with blood, he called upon his friends to leave the

The assembly was now in the hands of the republi-
cans, led by Burr and the Livingstons. It soon became
a roaring mob, and adjourned to Bowling Green, where
they burned the treaty and shouted themselves hoarse
with epithets directed at Mr. Jay and his work. These
troubles were the direct fruit of the intrigues of Citi-
zen Genet, whom all finally came to see in his true
character, the representative of an attempt to throw
off all government.

Adams and Jefferson^ 1797-1801.— Washington,
having determined to retire from public life declined a

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1801] Continental and State Money 331

re-nomination. Xew York decided the election for

John Adams, 1735-1826 Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826

President. 1797-1801 President, 1801-1809

president by casting her vote for Mr. Adams, while
Thomas Jefferson (republican) became vice-president*.

The State legislature at Albany. — With its
twentieth session, the legislature removed to Albany
at its second meeting. The business of managing the
State finances had now became so important that the
office of comptroller was created, and Samuel Jones,
a State senator, was placed in that office by the coun-
cil of appointment.

Paper money and State banks. — Since the revolu-
tion the finances of the State had been in a deplorable
condition. Each State had its own standard of value,
and the greatest confusion resulted. A shilling in
Xew England was not the same as a shilling in Xew
York. English coins, — guineas, crowns, shillings, and
pence, were in circulation, as were the coins of Spain,

* Under the constitution at that time the candidate
receiving the highest number of votes became president,
and the second highest was vice-president.

332 Continental A.ND State Money [Period VIII
France, and Holland. Continental money was prac-


No, i5^r4J

Six ^0££m^§^

, Bearer to Teccivf

DOLLARS, or the

"ValuAtTiereof imGOLD
or SILVER,- occoTduw to
aRezolution of COAT^
CRESS pJbliMai Phi-
ladelphia Nov-Z- \'J/Q'



tically valueless. The national government had done
nothing toward the establishment of a fixed standard
of value, and trade suffered in consequence.

Now, in many of the States, the advocates of paper
money came forward. New Jersey had made a large
issue of this fiat money. The legislature of New York
was urged to do the same, and in 1786, a bill was
passed creating an issue of £200,000 in paper. Eight
shillings of this made a dollar. In July, 1786, the
notes came out. At first they were taken at par in
New York. Then the notes of other States began to
come into New York and were refused by the mer-
chants. In turn, the notes of New Y^ork were refused
in other States.

In this way all were soon depreciated in value, and
the coin of the country was gradually exported*.

* McMaster, Vol. I.

1798] Prospect of AVar with France 333

The first State bank.—" The bank of ]Vew York "
— the first State bank — was chartered in 1791. Un-
fortunately the stock was chiefly owned by federalists,
and the majority of the legislature were of the same
party. The republicans accused them of using the
funds of the bank for political purposes, so Aaron
Burr devised a plan for the establishment of another

The Manhattan bank fraud. — The city of Xew
York had no good water supply. Yellow fever and
other contagious diseases had visited the city, and had
been properly attributed to the bad sanitary conditions.

Aaron Burr introduced a bill in the State legislature
which provided $2,000,000 to be used in the construc-
tion of a system of water works, ^' and for any other
purpose not inconsibtent with the constitution ^\

The bill looked innocent and was hurried through
the legislature near the close of the session, few hav-
ing any suspicion of its real import. Under the last
clause of the act was established " the Manhattan
State bank " — a most powerful rival to the bank al-
ready in existence. The water works were constructed,
but were entirely insufficient for the use of the city.
This measure aided in bringing to grief the ambitions
of Aaron Burr.

The '^ French scare '% 1798. — The administration
of President John Adams was a stormy one. Eng-
land and France were at war. John Jay's treaty with
the former power had still further angered France.
Genet was recalled by request of our government, and
our minister to France, Mr. Pinckney, was dismissed by

334 " Not a Cent for Tribute " [Period VIII

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