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^^^— *^^ the "public school soci-

HoRATio Seymour, 1810-1886 ety ", iuto the COntrol of a

Governor. 1853-54: 1863-64 ^^^^^ ^f cducatiou. The

second was the re-establishment of the ofifice of State
superintendent of schools.

Riglits and duties.— So far, in the history of the
State, "the people" had been largely interested in
securing their rights. These they had now obtained,
and with the spirit born of free institutions, they be-
gan to turn their attention to what they considered
their duties; matters which then seemed to demand
reformation. Chief among these were slavery and the
liquor traffic.

Anti-slavery sentiment. — When slavery was abol-
ished in the State (1827) no particular moral considera-



Anti-Slayery Sentimein^t [Period IX

tions entered into the question. But with the lapse
of years came a new generation that remembered
nothing of slaYery in Xew York, and each time a
slave escaped from a southern plantation and entered
the State their sympathies were stirred.

The " Dred Scott decision", the passage of the
"fugitive slave law", the
repeal of the " Missouri com-
promise ", Mr. Seward's " ir-
repressible conflict"
speeches, and, especially,
the appearance of Mrs.
Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cab-
in", had all created a senti-
ment against slavery which
politicians could not control.

Harriet Beecher Stowe.

1812-1896 As a consequence, the aboli-

tion, or at least the restriction of slavery was counted
among the "duties" about which every candidate for
office was severely catechised.

The Lemon case. — The feeling in Xew York
against slavery had been greatly intensified by a case
which occurred in 1852. One Jonathan Lemon from
Virginia brought eight slaves to Xew York city, in-
tending to ship them to Texas.

On application by some members of an abolition
society, Judge Paine of the supreme court granted a
writ of habnas corpus. They were brought before him,
and, under a law forbidding slavery in the State, were
set free and helped to escape to Canada.

Other cases followed. The opinions of the people
were not all one way. Many declared that slaves must

1853] The Crystal Palace Exposition 413

be given up, bat very few when called upon would
assist in catching a runaway.

One judge who had been particularly severe in open
court, actually hid some fugitives in his barn, and
shortly the " underground railroad" was in operation
all over the State.

The crystal palace exhibition of 1858.— An ex-
hibition had been held in London in 1851 which aroused
a genuine spirit of emulation in America. The result
was a similar exhibit in K"ew York city in 1853-54.
This was the first concerted plan to exhibit to the
world the products of America. It has been com-
pletely eclipsed by many others since, yet probably none
of its successors have done more to make the United
States known to the old world.

Until that time it was not supposed that America
contained anything to interest Europeans, except her
scenery and her big game, and newspapers gravely told
stories of the surprise of Englishmen at "seeing so
large a town and no Indians". There was genuine
surprise at the extent and quality of American manu-
factures. This fair was the beginning of American
competition in European markets, especially in agri-
cultural implements.

Temperance movements. — From the administra-
tion of Governor Sloughter to the time of Governor
Seymour, men had deplored the evils of intemperance,
but not until this decade had temperance societies been
formed with the distinct idea of taking a hand in the
politics of the State.

Governor Seymour's position on these issues prevent-

414 Prohibitory Legislation [Period IX

ed his re-election. He was

v^^ defeated by the combined

^^ 'l|ip|^ vote of the abolitionists and

/ * the temperance party, and

i '^ - Myron H. Clark was elected

governor, with a whig majori-
ty in both branches of the leg-
islature. Governor Seymour
was entirely sincere in his
MYRON H. CLARK, 1806-1892 pinion that slavery was rec-
GovERNOR, 1855-56 ognized by the constitution

and should not be interfered with, and, himself a man
of the purest personal character, he did not believe that
the evils of intemperance could be cured by legislation.
He had failed to gauge correctly the trend of pub-
lic sentiment in the country, and was remanded to pri-
vate life, to be called up again when the re-action
should set in.

Administration of Governor Clark. — Myron H.
Clark was a man who from personal conviction had
early taken strong ground in favor of temperance legis-
lation, as he had also in regard to what in those days
was called "the encroachment of the slave power".
In his first message he called attention to the con-
troversy with Virginia. This had begun several years
before over the operations of the " fugitive slave law ",
which practically carried slavery into every State in
the union.

Several States had already passed what were known
as " personal liberty bills ", which were, in reality, in-
tended to nullify an act of congress.

Prohibitory legislation. — Governor Clark kept
his pledges to the temperance people. The " Maine

1855] Declared Unconstitutional 415

law", as it was called, had been passed in that State
in 1851, and the temperance people of New York had
since that year clamored for "prohibition". A pro-
hibitory law had indeed passed the legislature and had
been vetoed by Governor Seymour in 1854; but in
1855 the legislature passed a stringent prohibitory law
by a vote of 80 to 45 in the assembly and by 21 to 11
in the senate, which Governor Clark promptly signed.
The law went into effect July 4, 1855, and outside the
large cities was enforced. In New York city, Mayor
Fernando Wood questioned its constitutionality and
decided to ignore it.

The next year the law came before the supreme court
of the State and met with a reverse. Five judges
voted that it was unconstitutional, " because it inter-
fered with the use of property already in possession. ' '

Bills were at once introduced in the legislature
which sought to overcome this objection, but the great
regard in which the opinion of the court was held pre-
vented their passage, and in subsequent sessions tha
growth of the anti-slavery sentiment completely over-
shadowed all other issues.

A second prohibitory law came to a third reading in
May, 1859, but failed of passage.


1. "Rights and duties".

2. Anti-slavery sentiment.

3. Tne " Lemon case".

4. Crystal palace exhibition, 1853.

5. Temperance legislation.

6. First prohibition governor, 1854.

7. Personal liberty bills.

8. Prohibition.


The Irrepressible Con'flict

Revision urged. — When Governor King came into
office lie urged a revision of
the excise laws, the removal
of the property qualification
still required of colored
voters, and resistance to the
^^ - ——-—-^^ demands of the slave power.

\ ^B^BB^^ftife^ The position of New York

at this time was a difficult
one. The conscience of the
John als.,p kinu, 1788-1867 people was fully arouscd on

Governor, 1857-58 the SubjCCt of slavery, but

commercial relations between Xew York and the south-
ern States were so intimate that there was great hesita-
tion in regard to any movement that would jeopardize

The inhabitants of the State were an eminently
practical people, but they prized the institutions of
their country before every other possession. They
frequently denounced " abolitionists " in unmeasured
terms, but they were ready to make any sacrifice for
the maintenance of the republic. Gradually the con-
viction grew that slavery must go no further, and when
there began to be talk of dissolving the union, the
people ran ahead of every demand made upon them
by the State authorities.



The Republican Party


During the presidency of Franklin Pierce public
sentiment against slavery
was growing. ^N^ew York
has never taken any back-
ward steps, and when the
time came that decided ac-
tion must be taken, she
spoke in no uncertain tones.
The republican party.
— National issues now dom-
inated all others. Out of
the disintegration of the old
parties a new party had been formed. It had taken
the name " republican ".

Its line of action was not clear at the beginning, but
gradually its principles had crystallized around the
one idea of "resistance to the extension of slavery".
Its leaders did not advocate immediate abolition.
That was impracticable. They did, however, favor
the present restriction of slavery and its ultimate
extinction. They announced the cardinal principles

Fkanklin Pierce, 1804-1869
President, 1853-57



John C. Fremont.

James Buchanan. 1791-1861
President, 1857-1861

418 Threats of Disunion [Period IX-

of their organization " equal rights for all men, and
protection in the enjoyment of those rights". They
pronounced " slavery sectional and freedom national ".
In 1856 this party had nominated General John C.
Fremont for the presidency, and he had been defeated
by the election of James Buchanan, the democratic

Edwin D. Morgan^ governor^ 1858. — When the
elections of 1858 came on, the
republicans were much bet-
ter organized. For the office
' of governor they had nomin-

ated Edwin D. Morgan, a
,. ^- Xew York merchant of large

experience in public affairs.
He was elected by a small
majority over Amasa J. Par-
edwin dennison mokgan. 1811- ker, the regular democratic
1883: GovEKNOR, 1859-62 candidate. As he was re-
elected in 1860, he will always be known in history as
New York's " war governor ".

By the close of his first term, threats of disunion
were flying thick from southern leaders. Xew York
was never more in need of a wise governor, a loyal leg-
islature, a firm, patriotic delegation in congress. These
she now had.

New York's loyalty. — Deep in the hearts of the
people was rising a tide of patriotic feeling, a pas-
sionate love for liberty, which was destined soon,
in the political arena, to sweep every other considera-
tion before it.

1859] JoHx Brown 419

John Brown's raid. — This erratic man moved into
Essex county, N^. Y., in 1849, and settled npon lands

pP^ Ip.

J0H^- ]iK()\VN. I8()0-18o9. Gerrit Smith, 1797-1874

given him by Gerrit Smith, the abolitionist leader.

In 1854 his sons had settled in Kansas, where they
soon took part in the endeavor to make that a free
vState. They were raided by marauding bands from
Missouri, their property was plundered, and they sent
to their father for aid. He went to Kansas and soon
became a leader in the rough encounters on " the
border ", and from one of the contests became known
as " Ossawotomie Brown ". Later he was engaged in
the dangerous enterprise of assisting slaves to escape.

In 1859 he entered upon the hopeless task of organ-
izing a slave insurrection at Harper's Ferry,

The story of his capture and trial, his condemnation
and execution has been told over and over. In New
York, a large majorty condemned Brown's act, but,
strangely enough, they also wept over his fate and
counted his execution an outrage. If John Brown's
raid helped to bring on southern secession, it also
united the people of N^ew York against slavery.

420 Electiox of Abraham Lincoln [Period IX

Re-election of (jovernor Morgan^ 1860. — In the

campaign of 1860, there was
in New York very little ex-
citement; the feeling among
all classes was too deep. The
whole political sky was full
of portents of the coming
storm. The State gave Mr.
Lincoln a majority of 50,000,
and they re-elected Governor

Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865 Morgan by a majority of

President. 1861-65 n^Q^e than 63,000. Threats

had been freely made that if Mr. Lincoln was elected
there would be opposition to his inauguration, but the
people of New York voted with the determination
that whoever was elected to the presidency should be
inaugurated. The conviction that Governor Morgan
could be trusted for a wise, firm administration in the
event of any attempt to defeat the will of the people,
gave to him 13,000 more votes than Mr. Lincoln

A new era. — We have now traced the history of
our State^since its early settlement through five distinct
periods: (1) A dependency of Holland chartered to
and governed by a commercial company, purely as a
commercial enterprise; (2) an English proprietary
colony, the property of a royal prince, subject to all
his whims and caprices; (3) a dependency of the Brit-
ish crown, a royal province, governed through a long
period of years by favorites having no interest in the
prosperity or happiness of the people they ruled; (4)
after revolution, an independent State, owning no

1860] Xew York enters upon a New Era 421

allegience to any prince or potentate; (5) a component
part of a general government.

The State has revised its own constitutions, liberat-
ing its people and enlarging their privileges, until their
will, expressed by the ballot, is supreme.

During these years its population has increased to
4 millions; its valuation to 1,440 millions; the value
of its annual manufactures to 349 millions.

Nor has its wealth proved to be entirely material.
No other State contains so many churches, none has
contributed such munificient sums for the cause of

With wealth has come leisure, and with leisure a
remarkable development in literary affairs, shown in
the founding of libraries, the multiplication of news-
papers and magazines, and, especially, in the demand
for books which has carried the school library into
every district of the State.

Now dawns a new era when New York must en-
large the bounds of her industries and the field of
her usefulness. Having liberated and enfranchised
her own people, she must aid in carrying the same
blessings to other less fortunate States and peoples,
and in this work find an enlargement of her own


1. Governor King's administration.

2. Eise of the republican party.

3. Threats of disunion.

4. Edwin D. Morgan our " war governor ".

5. John Brown's raid.

6. New York enters upon a new era.


First Year of the War, 18()1

New York's loyalty, 1S(>0-1S()5.— The history of
Xew York during this period is in a large sense the
history of the United States. Her vote for Lincoln
was an expression of her love for the union and the
support which her statesmen give him was unstinted.
The more than 200 regiments which she equipped and
sent to the war would constitute a royal army. The
blood of her sons, poured out on every battle-field of
the south, testified to their patriotic devotion.

'New York's response to southern threats of seces-
sion, the one which became the battle-cry of the union,
was the telegram of John A. Dix, a loyal son of Xew
York, then secretary of the treasury, to an agent of
the department in Xew Orleans: "If any man at-
tempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on
the spot!"

In the city of Xew York there was a natural dread
of the effects of war upon trade. Robert Toombs of
Georgia had in congress declared that if the south
seceded grass would grow in the streets of Xew York.

Governor Morgan's message to the legislature was
calm and dignified, but firm. In it occurred this para-


1860-61] The Time of Waiting 423

graph, worthy of preservation with Lincoln's first
inaugural address:

" Let New York set an example; let her oppose no
barrier to conciliation; let her representatives in con-
gress give ready support to any honorable settlement;
let her stand in hostility to none; let her extend the
hand of friendship to all; but let her live up to the
strict letter of the constitution, and cordially unite in
proclaiming and enforcing a determination that the
constitution shall be honored and the union of the
States preserved."

The time of waiting, 1860-1S61.— The loyal
people of New York could not believe that the south
really meant to destroy the union, yet from the day
that the election of Mr. Lincoln was known to be be-
yond doubt they saw that war was among the possi-

William H. Seward, who had been Xew York's can-
didate for the nomination which Mr. Lincoln had
secured, threw the whole weight of his influence in
favor of the president-elect. The legislature, when it
met in January, 1861, with but one dissenting vote in
the assembly and two in the senate tendered to the
national government whatever might be necessary to
uphold its authority; while in response to an invita-
tion from Virginia, that no opportunity to preserve
peace might be omitted, this same legislature sent a
strong delegation to a peace .convention which was
held in Washington, in February, 1861.

Prominent men were not lacking who took a genuine
southern view of the situation. Ex-Governor Seymour
in a meeting held in Utica, in October, 1861, declared;

424 Declaration of Secession [Period X

"If it is true that slavery must be abolished to save
the union, then the people of the south should be
allowed to withdraw themselves from that government
which cannot give them the protection guaranteed
by its terms."

The mass of the people never wavered in their de-
termination that Abraham Lincoln should be inau-
gurated; that as president he should be sustained, and
that the union as it was should be preserved.

As the 4th of March approached this thought was
uppermost in the minds of the people. Seven States
had already seceded. United States forts all over the
south had been seized, and the property of northern
citizens in southern States confiscated.

Lincoln in Albany. — On the 18th of February,
Mr. Lincoln reached Albany on his way to Washington
and was received by Governor Morgan and the legis-
lature. His feelings were perfectly expressed in his
reply to an address of welcome by the chairman of a
legislative committee, in which the complete support
of the State was pledged to him in the discharge of his
duties. He said: " While I hold myself without
mock modesty, the humblest of all individuals that
have been elected to the presidency, I have a more
difficult task than any of them."

Secession begun. — W^hen Mr. Lincoln reached
Washington, before he had taken the oath of office,
or had publicly outlined his policy, the union, so far
as acts of southern legislatures or of southern State
militia could go, had been dissolved.

Mr. Lincoln's task was, indeed, a difficult one. Un-
til the 15th of April, the president waited, and then,

1861] New York's Eesponse 425

when further efforts at reconciliation were useless, he
called for 75,000 men.

New York's quota was to be seyenteen regiments
of 780 each, or more, than 13,000 men, and the
response was prompt, and unhesitating. On April 16
the State military board met Governor Morgan. No
time was wasted in useless deliberation. The presi-
dent had asked for one regiment that week ; the capi-
tal was thought to be in danger. The response of the
people was enthusiastic. The national guard of New
York and Brooklyn sprang to arms. There was a gen-
erous rivalry to see which regiment should first be
ready to march. The Sixth Massachusetts was first
equipped, and passed through New York a few hours
before the gallant Seventh was ready.

The Sixth met serious resistance at Baltimore and
so great was the need at Washington that the Seventh
New York was sent around by Annapolis to avoid the
possibility of detention*.

The summer of 1861. — Who that remembers that
summer can recall it without a thrill ! AVho that did
not participate in its scenes can imagine it!

Until that year the stars and stripes were rarely seen
except as they floated over some United States fort or
government building.

* From the 7th New York many men rose to prom-
inence during the war; six to the rank of major-
general; twenty-five became brigadier-generals. In
central park stands a monument to the memory of fifty-
eight of its members who fell in the defence of the
union. This regiment furnished 603 officers to the
volunteer service, of whom 41 were killed in battle,
and 17 died of disease.

426 The Uxion forever ! [Period X

The flag suddenly sprang into view everywhere, as
flowers blossom in spring. . In every village and hamlet,
on every hill and in every valley it waved. Flags
enough could not be purchased; loyal women made
them of every fabric that could furnish the trinity of
red, white and blue. Wherever possible, it bore the
legends, " The Union forever ! " " The Union, it must
and shall be preserved ! " The burden of them all was
" The Union ! " and deep in the hearts of the people
was registered the vow, " It shall he 'preserved / "

New York's quota was soon filled; it could as easily
have been filled five times over. Everywhere old men
and young men and boys dropped the employments in
which they were engaged, and hurrying to the recruit-
ing offices begged to be received into the regiments
then forming. They came from every field of labor,
from every profession in life, while schools and col-
leges were almost depopulated*.

A writer t on this period well says: " Surely if tha
voice of the people can ever be accounted as inspira-
tion of Grod, that which came in the united tones
of the great mass of statesmen and jurists, historians
and scholars, philosophers and poets, warriors and
spiritual guides, must be so accepted.

On the side of the union stood Bancroft and Motley
and Sparks and Palfrey, who had made the history of
free institutions their life study. The harps of Bryant
and Longfellow and Whittier and Holmes and Lowell
were strung to the music of the union, to inspire the

* From one university every young man in the class
of '61 entered the service.
t Thomas C. Townsend.

1861] The Copperheads 427

hearts of the people and nerve their arms for the

New York's mayor.— In 1861, Fernando Wood
was mayor of New York city. He was in full sym-
pathy with the secession element of the south. He
even advocated the secession of Xew York city from
the State. These were his arguments: " New York
supports by her revenues two-thirds of the expenses
of the federal government. As a free city, with a
nominal duty on imports, her government could be
supported without taxing her people one cent."

This plausible argument found many adherents in
the city, and occasionally one in the interior of the
State. It was said, " Xew York does not need the
rest of the union; she can live alone."

The common council of Xew York at this time were
quite in sympathy with the mayor. They ordered
3,000 copies of his message printed for distribution.
Thus early did Fernando Wood begin sowing the
'* dragon's teeth " that should soon, in the draft riots,
grow a crop of armed men. He and his followers
failed to see the logical outcome of their doctrine. If
a State could leave the union, a county or city could
withdraw from a State, and a ward from a city*.
Self-interest alone can never constitute nor preserve a

Mayor Wood and all his adherents were soon swept
into a political grave as dishonored as the one which,
at the close of the revolution, engulfed the tories.

* In the south, the people who argued in this way
were called " secessionists"; in the north they were
called " copperheads ".

428 Sanitary Commission [Period X

New York prepares for war. — The voice of the
people was now to be heard. The governor designated
Elmira as the place of rendezvous for the troops of the
State. The president had asked Xew York for 13,000
men. In ten days 10,000 men had been equipped and
sent forward, and in seventy-seven days 40,000 more
were in camp awaiting transportation.

The legislature voted $3,000,000 for equipments,
sent an agent to Europe with $500,000, to purchase
arms, and then waited to see what could next be done.

The great Union square meeting, 1861. — A war

meeting was called in Union square, April 20. This
call brought out such a throng of people that four
separate divisions were made. Speeches full of patri-
otic fervor were delivered at each stand ; the enthusiasm
was unbounded. Xew Y^ork's merchant princes were
present and their lives and fortunes, as in revolutionary
days, were freely offered to their country. From this
meeting came the "committee of safety", which in
one year raised a million for the equipment of soldiers
and the relief of their families.

Sanitary commission. — This association had its
origin in a meeting held in Cooper Union, New Y^ork

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 34)