Puslapio vaizdai


JANUARY, 1876.

No. 3.




ONE hundred years in length and half a mile in breadth. ago New York was a aristocratic residences of the miniature mecity of less than twenty-tropolis clustered around the Bowling Green, five thousand inhabitants. It was described and the gardens of those who lived on Broadby contemporary historians as being a mile way and on Pearl street stretched down to

VOL. XI.-20.

the waters of the North and the East rivers. The City Hall Park was then an uninclosed space, known as the Fields or Commons, disfigured by the gallows, bridewell, jail, and barracks, with the Liberty Pole of the patriots as its only ornament. St. Paul's Church, newly built, was one of the ornaments of the upper city, but there were many green fields and few residences in its vicinity. For a neighbor, it had the Old Brick Church, which was trying to gather an up-town congregation to its site on the triangular space of ground bounded by Park Row, Beekman, and Nassau (then Kip) street. Other edifices of note were Trinity Church, on Broadway; the Middle Dutch Church on Nassau street, until recently occupied as the post-office; the North Dutch Church in Partition (now Fulton) street; the Government House in the fort on the Battery, and King's (afterward Columbia) College, whose quadrangle faced the Hudson, and was described as the most beautifully situated college in the world.

The traveler of that day avers that the city was tolerably well built. Though its streets, with the exception of Broadway, Wall, and Broad, were rarrow, they were paved and very clean, a state of affairs on which our nineteenth century civilization has not improved. On Broadway nearly all the houses had rows of trees before them, and

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Dutch descent, are described as frugal, industrious, and quick at a bargain. Yet they indulged heartily in their favorite amusements, and kept their legal holidays with an unction worthy of imitation by their descendants. Balls and sleighing expeditions enlivened the winter, and in summer fishing and sailing parties were numerous, and excursions to the upper end of the island took place once or twice a week. "Thirty or forty gentlemen and ladies," writes an English visitor, "would meet to dine together, drink tea in the afternoon, fish and amuse themselves till evening, and then return home in Italian chaises," adding, with just a suspicion of humor, that there were 'a gentleman and lady in each chaise." The same close observer of men and manners also noted that there was a bridge about three miles distant from the city, which was always crossed in returning, and which was known as the Kissing Bridge, because it was a part of the etiquette to salute the lady who had put herself under your protection." The writer was a clergyman, and it is fair to presume that he omitted this uncanonical ceremony. The bridge in question crossed De Voor's mill stream, near Fifty-fourth street, between Second and Third Avenues.



Beyond the Commons, the island stretched away, unbroken by streets, and crossed but by few roads, dotted here and there by the elegant summer residences of the merchant princes of the city. There Walton, Rutgers, Stuyvesant, Murray, Beekman, Morris, Watts, Lispenard, Mortier, and other men of wealth, exercised a bountiful hospitality. Their houses were embowered in groves of chestnut, oak, beech, and hickory trees, while every kind of wild berry grew in the meadows in profusion. Fisherman and hunter found abundant sport in every quarter. The East and North rivers, and the bay, swarmed with shad, bass, salmon, and black-fish, and the sporting citizen had no need to go farther than Minetta Brook, which emptied into the North River near the foot of Houston street, in his search for trout. Wild geese, ducks, and pigeons, quail, partridges, and snipe, had their haunts near the quiet city. There was nothing to disturb them. Travelers were not numerous. The high road to Boston crossed the Common on its east side, and followed the Bowery to the spot where the Cooper Union now stands, where it branched off into the Middle road, joining Harlem Lane at about Thirty-seventh street, and the Bloomingdale road at a very short distance above. The latter avenue,


which skirted the Hudson, was much the most picturesque route. On these roads the residences were far apart All else was an unbroken wilderness, which possessed few attractions for the settler or the speculator. Indeed, the immediate suburbs of the city remained in their native state. A deep pond of fresh water covered the site of the present City Prison, from which a brook ran through Beekman's swamp to the East River. Farther to the north and west was another marsh, known as Lispenard's meadows, and when the water was high, there was constant water communication between the East River and the Hudson.

Upon these pleasant scenes the fires of the Revolution began to throw their lurid light one hundred years ago. The crisis came not without signs and omens. For ten years prior to the news of Lexington battle, the patriot people of New York had been in a fever of excitement. Political sentiment had divided society, but the secret discussion of the rights of colonies had recruited the ranks of those who had determined to resist oppression. When the day came for action, New York spoke out boldly for the cause of freedom. She paid dearly for it by a captivity of seven years in British hands, but she has gained a glorious record. Few of the myriads who throng her crowded streets to-day realize that their feet are on holy ground, consecrated by the sacrifices, sufferings, and heroism of the men of the Revolution. It is well that pilgrimages should be made to Concord, Ticonderoga, and Independence Hall; but New York's notable sites should not be forgotten.


house still stands in which Putnam, Howe, Clinton, and Washington had their headquarters, and in which André nursed his plot against West Point. On the City Hall Park stood Washington, surrounded by his staff, when the Declaration of Independence was read to the Continental brigades. A church and a sugar-house yet stand that witnessed within their walls the tortures of thousands of American prisoners. Up the Boston road swept the sullen lines of the patriot army after its desperate defeat on Long Island. It was but the other day that the old butternut-tree, on which Nathan Hale forfeited his life as a spy, was hewn

down. At McGowan's Pass, along the upper edge of Central Park, occurred the brilliant skirmish in which the gallant Knowlton fell. At Fort Washington the Continental army suffered a terrible and needless defeat.



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A few of the dilapidated homes of the men who entertained royalist and patriot generals a century ago; the remains of revolutionary lines of fortifications near the extreme edge of the island; the walls of the Hall of Records, which are the same that held Ethan Allen and other American prisoners when the brutal Cunningham was the British jailer; and St. Paul's Church, which looks down upon the peaceful things of to-day, just as once it towered serenely above the hurrying ranks that wore the scarlet of England, or the blue and buff of the old Continentals, these are shrines which should not be uncared for or unvisited. There are enough ancient landmarks still extant to recall the revolutionary days vividly, and New Yorkers have every reason to be proud of the record of their forefathers. The streets of the New World's commercial metropolis are sanctified by the footsteps and by the blood of the soldiers of the War for Independence.

The story of New York's struggle to throw off the royal yoke begins with the passage of the odious Stamp Act, March 22, 1765. As soon as the news of this legislation reached

the city, the Sons of Liberty were organized. | on which they placed the Governor's costly They were not numerous, but they comprised such men as Marinus Willett, Isaac Sears, Alexander McDougal, William Wiley, Gershom Mott, John Lamb, and Edward Laight,


-patriots whose ardor was invincible. Their usual place of meeting was at the house of Abraham Montagne, in Broadway, near Murray street, which, in 1775, was occupied as a tavern by Samuel Fraunces. The day before the Stamp Act was to go into effect, October 31st, 1765, the "Gazette, or Weekly Post Boy," which was then the organ of the Liberty Party, appeared in mourning with the following prologue at its head:

A Funeral Lamentation on the Death of Liberty, Who Finally Expires on this 31st of October in the Year of our Lord MDCCLXV, And of our Slavery. I.

The same evening there was a general meeting of citizens at the King's Arms, when measures were taken to compel the Government officers who had charge of the stamps to resign their office. This, however, was not sufficient to appease popular indignation. Major James, Commandant at Fort George, had boasted that he would cram the stamps down the rebel throats. The stamps were in possession of Acting-Governor Colden at the Government House in the fort, the guns of the fort were loaded with grape and turned up Broadway; yet a maddened throng paraded the streets, tore down the wooden fence that inclosed the Bowling Green, and made a bonfire of this material,

coach. Meanwhile, they dared the soldiery to fire upon them, and finally ended the night's work by despoiling Major James's elegant residence, Ranelagh, situated out of town, in the vicinity of Worth street and West Broadway. Thereupon the stamps were delivered to the Mayor and Common Council, who wisely put them out of sight, and peace was restored.

In February, 1766, the Stamp Act was repealed. On the following 4th of June, the King's birthday, the people celebrated the event with high carnival on the Commons. An ox was roasted whole. Twentyfive barrels of strong beer and a hogshead of rum contributed to the feast, and a liberty pole was erected, with the inscription, "To His Most Gracious Majesty George III., Mr. Pitt, and Liberty." The mass of the people for a time became intensely loyal. Petitions of citizens were addressed to the Colonial Assembly, requesting the erection of a statue to Pitt, and that body not only complied, but voted also an equestrian statue to the King, to be set up in the Bowling Green. Of the latter, only the stone pedestal remains, having recently been rescued from its ignominious service, for the greater part of a century, as a door-step. The statue of Pitt was of marble, and represented the great commoner as clad in a Roman toga, having in the right hand a scroll partly opened, on which was inscribed, "Articuli Magna Charta Libertatum," and extending the left hand in an oratorical gesture. In revenge for the destruction of the King's statue, some British officers during the war knocked off the head and arms of the Pitt statue, and it passed from one hand to another, until it found a fit resting-place in the rooms of the New York Historical Society. The statue originally stood at the corner of Wall and William streets.

The Stamp Act troubles bred bad blood between the soldiers and the colonists. On the King's birthday, in 1767, the citizens ran up the colonial flag to the top of the Liberty Pole on the Common, and a cannon at its foot answered derisively the salute at Fort George. Finally, the soldiers determined on the destruction of the pole, which had become the rallying point of the patriots. Twice the pole was cut down by the British troops, and twice restored. Finally, on the night of January 16, 1770, a party of the Sixteenth Regiment cut down the pole for the third time, hewed it into pieces and piled the fragments in front of Montagne's,


where the Liberty Boys held their meetings. | This insult brought on the "battle of Golden Hill," as it was termed in colonial days. The locality was at the intersection of John and Pearl streets. There a party of soldiers drew their swords, and, with the cry, "Where are your Sons of Liberty now?" fell upon a crowd of citizens, cutting and slashing about them with great violence, and wounding six or seven persons. The citizens were unarmed, and their only crime was a petition to the Mayor to repress the insolence of the British troops. This contest took place two months before the massacre in King's street, Boston, and five years prior to the battle of

not be permitted to land his cargo, he at once set sail again for England. Another skipper fared worse. A merchant vessel, under command of Captain Chambers, arrived in April, 1774, bringing eighteen boxes of tea hidden in her cargo. The Liberty Boys boarded the ship in open day, dragged out the chests, emptied them into the harbor, and bade the Captain recross the Atlantic without delay. He was wise enough to obey peaceably. When he set sail, the cannon pealed a triumph, and the flag on the rebuilt Liberty Pole waved a farewell amid the cheers of the colonists.

On Sunday morning, April 23d, 1775, a messenger rode in hot haste down the Bow

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Lexington. It may be, therefore, that New York is entitled to claim that the blood of her citizens was the first that was shed in the cause of freedom.

New York had her revolutionary tea-party as well as Boston. When the news of Lord North's Tea Act reached the city, in November, 1773, the popular excitement became intense. The "Nancy" was the first tea ship to arrive. By advice of the pilot, Captain Lockyier left his vessel at Sandy Hook, and came up to the city and held a conference with the Committee of Correspondence. Becoming satisfied that he would


ery Lane, and through the fields, summoning the citizens to the Liberty Pole by a startling blast of his trumpet. There he astounded them by announcing that the battle of Lexington had been fought, and the British troops had been driven into Boston. The news was sufficient to fill the hearts of the Sons of Liberty. Led by Isaac Sears,-who was then known as "King" Sears, and who subsequently died in poverty in a foreign land, they rushed to the arsenal at the corner of Wall and Broad streets, forced the doors and captured six hundred muskets, with a considerable supply of cartridges.

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