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surplus was to be divided among the several States in
proportion to their representation in congress.

The amount to be divided was $37,468,859.97; Kew
York's portion was $4,014,520.71. This was considered
in the light of a deposit fund, and Xew York has
always so regarded her share. It has been kept invio-
late, it has been loaned out by commissioners appointed
for that purpose, and the income therefrom has been
annually applied to school purposes. It appears in our
reports as the " United States Deposit Fund ". In
many States it has through bad investments been
entirely lost.

The newspaper period. — The years from 1830 to
1835 may properly be called the " newspaper period ",

* About this time some copper medals were struck off
representing on one side a donkey with an iron-bound
safe marked " U. S. Bank" on his back, driven by
Andrew Jackson with a club. On the reverse side was
the legend " U. S. Bank Veto ", with the date. These
medals are n^^w very rare.

394 Rise of Great Newspapers [Period IX

as it was in these years they made their greatest devel-
opment, and came into prominence as political factors.
Until this time newspapers did not search for news ;
they waited for news to come to them. K^ow came in
the " reporter ", who sought news. Swift sailing
sloops and schooners went out to meet incoming ships,
and news from the old world was frequently in print
before the ships had anchored in the bay*.

This was no doubt due to the class of men then at
the head of metropolitan journals, and also to the in-
creased demand for news on account of the establish-
ment of post offices and mail routes.

The Evening Post was then published by William
CuUen Bryant and William
Leggett. James Watson
Webb began publishing the
Morning Courier and En-
quirer in 1830. Benjamin
H. Day issued the first num-
ber of the Sun in 1833. The
Albany Evening Journal was
established by Bryant in

William Cullen Brtant. 1794-1878 18 3 0, and JamOS GordoU

Bennett began publishing the Herald in 1835. The
Spirit of the Times, the first sporting paper, was pub-
lished in 1831, and the Staats Zeitung in 1834 f.

* The first newspaper to intercept incoming packets
for this purpose, was the Xew York Journal of Com-
merce in 1830.

f The New York Associated Press was organized in
1849, and newspapers were first stereotyped in 1857.

1835] A Period of Riots 395

The period of riots. — The years 1830 to 1835 were
also notable for the disturbances caused by the dis-
orderly elements in New York city. Police protection
was then entirely insufficient. The naturalization
laws were defective and almost any foreigner could
become a full-fledged citizen on short notice.

Such voters could easily be used by demagogues to
control elections, and in time they became an element
very difficult to manage. Elections were then held
for three days. Mobs of these "citizens" invaded
committee rooms and voting places, tore down banners
and election notices, and terrorized the officers of
the law. They even threatened the newspapers that
dared to condemn their acts, and once marched to the
office of the Courier and Enquirer on \Yall street with
the intent to demolish it. There they found a de-
termined man, Colonel Webb, in command of a well-
organized body of employes, prepared to defend the
place. Their discretion proving better than their
valor, the mob retired. They were not entirely quelled
until the mayor called out the "National Guard"
(7th regiment) when they dispersed.

The great fire, 1835.— On Dec. 16, 1835, the city
of Xew York was visited by its most disastrous fire.
In a few hours, property to the value of 20 millions
was laid in ashes. The night was bitterly cold, the
water supply insufficient, the fire apparatus antiquated.
Ice froze in the pipes ; the hose was useless. A violent
wind swept the fire northward, and "fire proof"
buildings melted before it. The only possible means
of saving any part of the city was at last resorted to.
Powder was obtained and whole blocks were mined and

396 The Panic of 1837 [Period IX

blown to atoms. Insurance companies were generally
ruined, and great distress followed. From such
scourges ultimate good usually comes. Protection to
life, health, and property now demanded adequate

The Croton aqueduct. — Immediately after the fire,
steps were taken to provide the city with an abundant
supply of pure water. A commission was appointed,
and surveys were at once begun. It took ten years to
complete the work, and when, on July 4, 1842, the
Croton river was turned into the reservoir, New York
city indulged in one of the greatest celebrations it had
ever known.

The panic of 1837.— When in 1832, President
Jackson vetoed the bill re-chartering the United States
bank, it became necessary to close up its affairs. The
old charter expired in 1836 and in preparation for this
the directors began to retrench and collect.

Times had been prosperous, and throughout the
country there had sprung up a wild spirit of specula-
tion. This was particularly true in Xew York, and
when the order from the bank went out to all parts
of the Union, " Pay up! " it fell with a special sever-
ity on our State. It is probably true that this sudden
curtailment was exercised the more stringently against
New York banks and business men, because of Mr.
Van Buren's ardent support of President Jackson.
The effect was felt throughout the State. The debtor
class was very large, and the distress became general.
Banks failed, business firms suspended operations,
and large numbers of men were thrown out of em-

1837] The Patriot War 397

The patriot war. — In 1837 an event occurred
which for a time threatened to disturb our peaceful
relations with England. There was an outbreak in
the Canadian provinces bordering on Xew York which
enlisted the sympathies of many Americans, and in
December, 1837, nearly 1,000 Xew Yorkers joined
their fortunes to those of the Canadian rebels.

They seized Navy Island in Niagara river, where
they were joined by Mackenzie, the Canadian leader.
Their camp was soon broken up by regular troops,
and Mackenzie fled to the United States.

The governor of Canada made requisition for his
surrender, but Governor Marcy refused to deliver him
up. Raids continued along the whole border until
President Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott with
troops to suppress them.


1. United States bank; pet banks.

2. Origin and use of " United States Deposit
Fund", 1832.

3. Growth of newspapers; prominent papers, 1830-

4. Riots of 1830 to 1835; causes of.

5. Great fire in Xew York city, 1835.

6. Croton aqueduct, 1842.

7. The panic of 1837.

8. The "patriot war'' of 1837.

Growth of Anti-Slavery Sentiment

"The irrepressible conflict", 1836-1860.—

The anti-slavery sentiment was now becoming more
pronounced in most of the northern and eastern States.
To succeed to the presidency, Mr. Van Buren seemed
to think it necessary to oppose all anti-slavery move-
ments, — virtually espousing the cause of slavery. In
this he was followed by Governor Marcy and the whole
democratic party of New York.

Here, we may say, began that great struggle between
freedom and slavery, which Mr. Seward a few years
later styled " the irrepressible conflict". The whigs,
under the leadership of Mr. Seward, dared not cham-
pion the cause of abolition, so they brought up other
issues. They charged the terrible financial condition
of the country to the democrats, and laid upon them
all the miseries of the "hard times" from which
people were suffering.

But "abolition societies" were already forming in
the State and the attitude
which Mr. Van Buren had
taken antagonized many old
time democrats. He secured
the presidency in 1836, but
^K' ^>^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ State went for the

whig ticket overwhelmingly
in 1837, and William H. Sew-
ard was elected governor of

William Henry Seward, 1801-1872 ^ew York by the Same party

Governor, 1839-1843 in 1838 and re-clectod in 1840.


1838] The Fugitive Slave Question 399

Mr. Seward on the development of New York.

— One paragraph in Seward's first message to the
legislature indicates so well the position of Xew York
among the States at this period that it may be quoted :

" History furnishes no parallel to the financial
achievements of this State. It surrendered (1T86) its
share in the national domain, and relinquished for the
general welfare all the revenues of its foreign com-
merce, eqiial generally to two-thirds of the entire expen-
diture of the federal government. It has nevertheless
sustained the expenses of its own administration,
founded and endowed a broad system of education,
charitable institutions for every class of the unfortun-
ate, and a penitentiary establishment which is adopted
as a model by civilized nations.

" It has increased four-fold the wealth of its citizens
and relieved them from direct taxation, and in addition
to all this, has carried forward a stupendous enterprise
of improvement, all the while diminishing its debts,
magnifying its credit, and augmenting its resources."

Conflict with the slave power. — During Governor
Seward's first term he had a long correspondence with
the governor of Virginia on the fugitive slave ques-
tion. This controversy well illustrates the divided
sentiment of our State at that time.

A slave escaped from Virginia and came to Xew
York. Three negroes were accused of " stealing "
him. The governor of Virginia demanded the sur-
render of the " fugitives from justice ". Mr. Seward
refused to surrender them on the ground that the laws
of New York did not recognize any such crime as
''stealing" men. He submitted the correspondence


" Tippecanoe and Tyler too " [Period IX

to the legislature. That body sustained the governor
of Virginia, and directed Mr. Seward to return the
fugitives. This he declined to do, and public senti-
ment sustained him in his course.

Mr. Seward's second term was chiefly notable for his
efforts in behalf of education. In this work he was
ably seconded by Mr. John C. Spencer, secretary of
state and ex-oflficio superintendent of schools.

Political parties of 1840. — In the campaign of
1840, the whig party swept the country and elected for
president AVilliam Henry Harrison, the "hero of Tip-



He died after he had been president a

month, and Vice-President Tyler succeeded him.

William Henry Harrison. 1773-1841
President. 1841 •

John '1'yleu. 1790-1862
President, 1841-45

* This was called the " hard cider " campaign, the
term originating as follows : General Harrison had once
lived in a log house in the west, and was noted for his
" hospitality ". In the campaign, particularly in Xew
York, log houses were built in which political meetings
were held, and in these hard cider was so freely dis-
pensed to old and young that often the meetings de-
generated into carousals.


Anti-Rent Troubles


William C. Bouck, 1786-1859
Governor, 1843-45

Whig government in ^ew York, however, ended as
suddenly as it began. In the
fall of 1842, that party was
completely routed, and Wil-
liam C. Bouck, the demo-
cratic candidate, was elected.
The " abolitionists " had
now become a distinct organ-
ization, and their candidate
received 7,000 votes.

The name " locofocos " was
given to the Van Buren wing
of the democracy because of their extravagant financial
doctrines. They were anti-monopolists, were hostile
to banks and all corporations, and talked much of
" equal rights "*.

The anti-rent troubles of 1839-1846 grew out
of conditions which had existed for many years.

In the western portion of the State the Holland
Land company had sold large tracts of land to indi-
vidual purchasers on long time, under mortgage.

In many cases the holders of the land had been
unable to pay, and when an attempt was made to collect
the principal and all accrued interest, resistance fol-

The chief troubles occurred in Rensselaer county

* At one of their meetings the opposition managed to
extinguish the gas. Matches had just come into use
and were called " lucifers " or "locofocos". The
Van Buren party were ready with these in their pockets
to re-light the hall, and from this incident were called
" locofocos ".

402 Parties split into Facttojs^s [Period IX

on the estates of the patroon, Van Rensselaer. In
1839 the heirs demanded, besides long arrears of
interest, their right to one-fourth of the produce.
To this the tenants objected.

Thousands of farmers formed themselves into anti-
rent associations. These secret bands committed so
many illegal acts that Governor Seward issued a procla-
mation against them and the sheriff called a posse of
some 700 men to assist him in serving papers.

The militia companies from Albany and Troy were
called out. These with the sheriff's posses were checked
for a while by the anti-renters, and several persons
were killed.

In 18'iO the governor advised legislative enactment
for the adjustment of the difficulties. To this the
tenants consented, but now the landlords refused to
agree to the settlement proposed. In 1845 violence
was repeated ; many arrests were made, but convictions
were difficult. No legal remedy was applied until the
constitutional revision of 1846, when the whole trouble
was permanently settled.

Party divisions. — The subject of slavery was now
entering more and more into New York politics, and
the great democratic party was split into two factions.

The term " barn-burners " was given to that wing of
the party which was opposed to slavery, and which
sympathized with the anti-renters, who had burned
barns. These were radicals. The "hunkers" were
old-time democrats, — unprogressive and conservative.
This division threatened the entire overthrow of the
party in this State.

The whigs were also divided by the formation of a

1846] Parties split into Factions 403

small faction known as the " native American party ".

This disintegration of the old parties was but one
step toward the process of re-organization, sure to
oome in a few years, when all political forces would
be arranged on opposite sides of the " slavery question ".

In 1844 Silas Wright was elected governor of New

James Kkox Polk. 1795-1849 Silas Wright, 1795-1847

President, 1845-49 Governor. 1845-47

York, and the same year James K. Polk was elected
president over Henry Clay.


1. The irrepressible conflict; leaders, parties and
their position.

2. Politics of 1836, 1837, 1838.

3. Mr. Seward on " development of Xew York ".

4. Seward's conflict with slave-power.

5. Hard cider campaign; locofocos.

6. Anti-rent troubles, east and west.

?. Partv divisions; " barn-burners " and "hunkers".

During the Mexican War

Constitutional revision of 1846. — During the
preceding twenty-five years, ten different proposals for
amendments to the constitution had been made. In
all of these the tendency had been away from the old
idea of " privileges" for the people and in the direc-
tion of "rights" for the masses. After many efforts
to secure these rights, the people now chose their own
presidential electors. The franchise had been ex-
tended and cities were allowed to elect their own
mayors, but there were yet many matters concerning
which the people differed radically from their rulers.

The patroon system which still existed was the source
of many difficulties. The annual expenditures of
large sums for internal improvements had produced
a heavy debt. It was necessary that extra safe guards
should be placed about appropriations, and provision
be made for extinguishing the aebt. The judicial sys-
tem was quite independent of the people and needed
radical reformation. When, therefore, the question
of revision was submitted, the vote was almost a unan-
imous one in its favor.

Important changes. — The covention met at Al-
bany, October 9, 1846, and was presided over by Ex-
Lieutenant Grovernor Tracy. The most important
changes made were as follows :


1846] Changes by the Constitution of 1846 405

1. Provision was made for the election of members
to both houses of the State legislature by separate

2. The court of errors was abolished and the court
of appeals was established.

3. The court of chancery was merged into the
supreme court.

4. All judges and justices of the peace were made
elective by the people.

5. All feudal tenures were abolished, and the title
to lands made " allodial ", i. e., freehold '^.

6. Sinking funds were provided for the canal and
general debts.

7. The loan of the credit of the State was forbidden.

8. The school and literature funds were declared

9. Provision was made for the creation of corpora-

10. The question of revision was required to be
submitted to the people once in every twenty years.

The amendments were adopted by a majority vote of
130,000. It is doubtful if the history of any other
State or country can show such rapid and successful
progress in the direction of turning the business of
the government over to the people, for whose benefit
all free governments are instituted.

The Mexican war, 1845-1847. — During Governor
Wright's administration the war with Mexico began.

* This settled the anti-rent troubles. Under the con-
stitutional provision agricultural lands could not be
leased for a longer term than twelve years, if any rent
or service was reserved.


The Mexican War [Period IX

New York furnished only 3,000 men, but kept on her
even way, developing her resources and making pub-
lic improvements.

With rare exceptions Kew York men of all parties
opposed the steps that resulted in the war with Mex-
ico. They were opposed to the admission of Texas as
being a scheme for the extension of slavery.

They opposed the president's action in the boundary
dispute as a plan to secure more slave territory, and
behind his war policy they saw a design to wrest from
Mexico additional slave States.

But true to their natural instincts, once the war
began, men condoned the
crime and gloried in the
success of our arms.

The war opened the eyes
of our people to the growing
demands of the slave power
and intensified the feeling
that already existed against

In the election of 1846,
the whigs and anti-renters
combined and elected John Young governor of New

The '^ woman's rights movement " had its origin
at Seneca Falls, July 19, 1848, when a party of ladies
and gentlemen met in that village and, for the first time,
brought the legal wrongs of woman before the public.
Present at that meeting were Mr. James Mott, who
presided, his wife, Mrs. Lucretia Mott, Mrs. Elizabeth
Cady Stanton, Mrs. Amelia Bloomer, Mr. Ansel Bas-

JOHN Young. 1802-1852
GovEKNOK. 1847-49

1848] " Woman's Rights Movement " 407

com, a lawyer of Seneca Falls, and a member of the
constitutional convention of 1846, Mr. Thomas Mc-
Clintock, a Quaker preacher, Frederick Douglas, the
colored orator, and many others. To Mr. Ansel Bas-
com and David Dudley Field must be given most credit
for those amendments to New York State laws, which
have given woman many of the rights which she now

Until near the middle of the present century, the
rights and responsibilities of married women, were in
nearly all the States governed by the practices and
customs of the " common law " of England. By
those laws, woman's rights were, at marriage, merged
in those of her husband. Apart from him she could
own no property, could make no contracts, could not
collect or use her own earnings, nor control her own
children. On the death of the husband, his personal
property went at once to his legal heirs, the wife being
entitled only to a life lease of one-third his real estate.
And this was true no matter how large the" wife's share
may have been in the accumulation of the property.

In her address before the Seneca Falls meeting, Mrs.
Stanton boldly declared in favor of the enactment of
such laws as should protect married women in their
property rights, and for this purpose demanded that
the ballot should be placed in their hands. This meet-
ing was followed by others, in all parts of the State.
Public sentiment was divided. Many ridiculed the
movement, but the earnestness of its advocates and
the justness of their cause soon won recognition.

408 The Free Soil Party [Period IX

Gradually laws were enacted which gave to woman the
full property rights which she now enjoys. She may
retain, hold and devise all property of which she was
possessed at marriage. She may make contracts and
conduct business in her own name; may collect, hold
and use her own earnings ; may sue and be sued and
confess judgment; and may retain at least a one-third
interest in all a deceased husband's property, personal
as well as real.

The effects of this movement have been wide-spread.
In 27 States woman suffrage is now recognized in some
form. In 20 of these, women have school suffrage ; in
one, Kansas, full municipal suffrage; while four,
Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and, Idaho, grant full suff-
rage and the right to hold office.

Free soilers. — The first " free soil " convention in
the State was held in 1848. The Polk faction of the
democratic party chose delegates to the national con-
vention to meet at Baltimore in May, and they put an
electoral ticket in nomination. There was in Xew
York a large wing of the par+y which opposed their
action. These not only chose a delegation to the Bal-
timore convention, but issued a call for a convention
to meet at TJtica, in February. They were known as
"free soilers", "radicals", or "barn-burners", and
were opposed to the further extension of slavery.

The Baltimore convention attempted to divide the
two delegations and admit one-half of each. To this
proposition the free soil delegates objected. They
withdrew and went to New York city, where they held

1848] The Buffalo Coi^vention 409

a great meeting in city hall park, — the scene of so
many stirring events in our history.

They condemned the cowardice of the delegation
which had voted with the pro-slavery party of the
south, and issued to the democracy of the State a
warning address written by Samuel J. Tilden, in which
they called for independent action.

The Buffalo convention. — The result was the call
for a national free soil convention to meet at Buffalo
in August, 1848, over which Charles Francis Adams

Benjamin Franklin Butler*, of New York, pre-
sented the resolutions, which contained these remark-
able words : ' ' Congress has no more poiver to make a slave
than to make a king,^^ and also gave to the country that
great anti-slavery war-cry: " We inscribe on our banner
free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men. ' '

This convention nominated Martin Van Buren for
the presidency, and Charles Francis Adams for the

Thus Xew York took the lead in the movement that
at last swept slavery from the whole country.

Of the men who participated in this convention,
many became conspicuous leaders in the great anti-
slavery uprising of 1856.

The campaign of 1848 came on, and it is doubtful if
a more exciting one ever occurred. The result was a
victory for the whigs, and the election of Zachary Tay-

* A lineal descendant of Oliver Cromwell, born 1795,
died 1858. He must be distinguished from Gen. But-
ler of Massachusetts of the same name, born 1818,
died 1893.



[Period IX

Zachary Taylor. 1784-1850 Millard Fillmore, 1800-1874

President. 1849-50 President. 1850-53

lor to the presidency. Millard Fillmore, a distinguished
citizen of Xow ^^ork became vice-president, and Ham-

Hamilton I-'ISH, 1809-1893
Governor, 1849-50

Washington Hunt, 1811-1867
Governor, 1851-2

ilton Fish was elected governor of the State. In 1850,
Washington Hunt, also a whig, was elected to the
governor's office.


1. Constitutional revision of 1846.

2. The Mexican war.

3. The woman's rights movement.

4. The free soil party.

5. Election of Taylor and Fillmore.


Prohibitory Legislation

New York again democratic. — In 1852 Horatio
^„,.,^rr-^^,^ Seymour, a prominent

democrat, was elected gov-
, ernor of Xew York.
.^ ^ \ Two events of this ad-

% minstration should be not-

ed. One was the transfer in
^^^^^J 1853 of the schools of Xew

^^B/^MSf^i York city, which had been

^W^M^ ^te"^ under the management of

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 34)