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all dust and ashes now, but the mirror, which a blow of a hostile musket-stock might easily have shattered, still remains. Perhaps some of the rich men whose daily walk to business leads them in the vicinity of the old Kennedy house and its next-door neighbor, may think that it might be well to have a museum of Revolutionary antiquities in the vicinity of the Battery, and may rescue these old buildings for Centennial pur
poses. New York needs at least one such center. It would fitly be placed on the spot which so many famous feet have consecrated.
The first headquarters of Washington in the city of New York was No. 180 Pearl street, opposite Cedar. It was the family mansion of the De Peysters, and the original contract for building it is still in the family's possession. The house was very spacious. The center and the upper wing of the edifice were left standing until a few years ago. Built of brick, covered with stucco, having a handsome tiled roof and dormer windows, surrounded by stately trees, and looking through heavy shrubbery out upon the waters of the East River, the house was an attractive spot, even to the owner of a fine estate in Virginia. In this house the American Commander-inChief remained until summoned to meet with Congress at Philadelphia, in the latter part of May, 1776.
On his return to the city, Washington made his headquarters at the house and estate known and renowned as Richmond Hill. This mansion, reared far out of town by an opulent citizen, achieved its highest notoriety in connection with Aaron Burr,
who made his residence there at the time of his duel with Alexander Hamilton. The house was built in 1760 by Abraham Mortier, who was then Paymaster-General of the royal forces in America, and was a very wealthy gentleman. His estate comprised about one hundred acres, and the grounds about the house, which was a roomy and substantial structure, were laid out with rare taste, and were said to compare favor
ably with celebrated country-seats in England. Far "out of town" as the house was in that day, it was actually situated near the present intersection of Charlton and Varick streets. A hundred years ago its nearest neighbors were the residences of Warren on the north and Lispenard toward the south-west, each of which was almost a mile distant. In the absence of its loyal owner, General Washington occupied the Richmond Hill house as his headquarters in the summer of 1776. He was succeeded by Sir Guy Carleton, who made it a favorite rendezvous for his brother officers and the wealthier people of the city. Other noted men, among whom was Sir Grenville Temple, were domiciled here after peace had been declared with England, but with no occurrences was the stately mansion so closely identified as (later in its existence) with the marriage of Burr's gifted and ill-fated daughter Theodosia, and with the murderous quarrel which resulted in the death of Alexander Hamilton. The house ceased to be attractive to those who would otherwise have admired it as a home, and it became a hotel, whose ample garden was the scene of many a large pleasure party. When streets were cut through the estate, the building was moved to Charlton street near Varick, and served in turn as an inn, a theater, a circus, and a saloon, until the decree went forth for its demolition. Those New Yorkers who were young men thirty years ago (it will hardly do yet to designate them as old) will recall with eager zest the dances that were held on winter evenings in the great ball-room of the Richmond Hill mansion.
There is no true son of New York that will not join in the regret of the antiquarian that time has spared so few of these old monuments of our colonial prosperity and wealth. One after another they have fallen at the touch of the street commissioner, the bidding of fashion, or the conscienceless demand for improvement. It is but a few
years since the old Beekman mansion was one of the landmarks of the city, and young people listened with delight to the legends with which their elders had invested it.
Now it has disappeared, and the writer of our Centennial literature must be content with telling inquirers that it stood east of First Avenue, between Fifty-first and Fiftysecond streets. In olden time it was known by every New Yorker that its fine lawn reached down to the King's Bridge road, and its windows looked out upon Turtle Bay. In structure it was plain, but massive, being solidly built of thick planks filled in with brick. It had two stories and a basement, and was surmounted by an old-fashioned shingle roof. This plainness was to be expected at the hands of its builder, Gerardus Beekman. He was a descendant of William Beekman, who came to New Amsterdam with Governor Peter Stuyvesant, and took a prominent part in the affairs of the colony in his day. The descendant built in 1763 this snug "bowerie" of the Beekmans at a point distant enough from the busy little city to lose its clamor, and yet near enough to enjoy the sight of its growth. Here, embedded in gardens, with fertile farms about it on either side, and with the river near at hand, what could a family sanctuary further desire? A contemporary witness, Baroness Reidesel, wrote of the place in 1780, that it left nothing for a tenant to desire. The English Governor at that time assigned it
to her as a residence, her husband having commanded the Hessians who were taken prisoners at Saratoga. In glowing colors she depicts the beauties of farm, and garden, and
greenhouse, and the interior of this elegant colonial residence. The rooms were spacious, adorned with black marble mantels bearing elaborate carvings of scroll and foliage. The fireplaces were ornamented with Dutch tiles, representing Scriptural subjects. Elijah in his chariot of fire was the story of one artist, and others had seized upon the history of the Prodigal Son and the perils of the Apostles, to impress a moral on the beholder while they delighted him with an odd exhibition of their art. True, the laws of perspective were grossly violated at times, but nothing more costly could be found in the colony, and it bore the additional merit of having been imported across the ocean. The building was taken down in 1874, but the drawingroom mantel and the Dutch tiles have been preserved in their entirety at the rooms of the Historical Society. One of the rooms was interesting as the place where André passed his last night in New York.
After the disastrous defeat of the American forces on Long Island, August 27th, 1776, it became necessary that Washington should know something definite about the movements of the British forces. A council of officers decided that a spy should be dispatched to gain this information, and it
MAJOR ANDRÉ'S ROOM, BEEKMAN MANSION.
was evident that the person chosen must be not only brave, but a man of military talent and good judgment. The choice fell upon Captain Nathan Hale, of Coventry, Con
necticut, an officer of the gallant Connecticut regiment known as "Congress's Own." Without hesitation the young man placed his life at the disposal of his country, and went to the house of Robert Murray, on Murray Hill (where Washington had his headquarters on the fourteenth of September), to receive his orders. Arrested at Huntington, Long Island, through the instrumentality of a cousin who was bound to him by many an act of kindness, he was brought to General Howe, at the Beekman House, Sept. 21, 1776. The British General did not stoop to the form of a court-martial, but told his captive that he would be hanged the next day, and only accorded him the privilege of writing to his mother and sisters that he was to meet a spy's fate. Captain Cunningham, the brutal provost-marshal, refused to grant him the services of a clergyman, denied him the use of a Bible, and destroyed before his eyes the letters he had written to his relatives. Then, with the loud roll of drums they sought cruelly, but in vain, to drown the last words of the heromartyr: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Traditions do not agree as to the place of Captain Hale's execution. One account says that he was hanged on an apple-tree in Rutgers' orchard, near the present intersection of East Broadway and Market street, while other living authorities used to point to an aged butternut tree standing before the Beekman House and marking the fifth mile from Whitehall, as the locality.
The inhumanity exhibited by the British officers to Captain Nathan Hale stands out in striking contrast with the forbearance and generosity shown by the Americans in the case of Major John André. It was not until nine days after his capture that the British spy was hanged, and in the meantime he had been supplied with every possible comfort, and had been treated with the most distinguished consideration. The tears of those who had been his enemies in arms bedewed his grave, and their sympathies found expression in kindly letters to his mother and sisters. André had, also, the lion's share of honor in death. His King testified his gratitude by a handsome monument in Westminster Abbey, near the Poet's Corner. When will New York do like honor to the brave young soldier whose sacred ashes were thrust into an unknown grave in her soil? It is not asking too much now of a city whose people gave him no sympathy in his last hour, that somewhere
Nathan Hale should be honored as was his fellow-soldier Richard Montgomery. She to whom Hale's last thoughts of love went out was worthy of all the affection he had lavished upon her, and she never forgot him. For three-quarters of a century she toiled on, wrinkled and bent and failing, but before her unfading memory always stood Nathan Hale, with the bloom upon his cheek that was there when he spoke his last good-bye, and with the fire of patriotism still kindling his youthful figure into a glorious manhood. Years after her beloved had met a hero's death, she yielded to the importunities of one who had long loved her silently, and to the advice of her friends, and was married. But she never forgot. Seventy-five years after Captain Hale had given his life to his country, she who had been betrothed to him was summoned to her rest. The messenger found her ready and glad to go, for she had been waiting patiently many a long year. Waiting, and for whom? During the delirium of her last illness she repeatedly called to "Nathan," and talked to him of the days when they had last been together, and with his name upon her lips she passed into eternity to meet him.
The battle of Long Island, which led indirectly to the capture and execution of Nathan Hale, was the first great disaster that had befallen the patriot arms. Clinton and Howe had announced their purpose of meeting the "rebels" in the field, where no great disparity of numbers would exist, and where they would have the advantage in drill, equipments and artillery. This result was more than achieved before the close of August in the second year of the war. Ten thousand British soldiers, well armed, with forty cannon, landing on the lower Long Island shore, drove back into the East River five thousand Continental soldiers, killing and wounding about 550, and taking 1,150 prisoners. It was a terrible disaster, and its consequences threatened to be appalling. Fortunately, two days afterward the Americans were enabled to take advantage of a heavy fog and cross the East River to New York without the loss of a man. Their foes slumbered all unconscious, within hearing. distance of the patriot camp, waking only to find themselves cheated of their prey. As they emerged from the trenches they could see the nimble Continentals marching up from the ferry landings to the Rutgers farm, exulting beyond measure in their escape. Though the soldiers might rejoice at a temporary piece of good fortune, their
main body of the army, accompanied by several hundred patriot refugees, removed to the neighborhood of King's Bridge. Putnam was left in the city with a garrison of four thousand men, having his headquarters at the Kennedy House, while Washington made his headquarters at the residence of Colonel Roger Morris.
their artillery was very inferior, their men were discouraged by defeat, and desertions were frequent. Here was enough almost to dishearten Washington. Sectional feeling divided the troops, insubordination prevailed largely, and greed was found in many where patriotism was expected. Men plundered alike friend and foe, and inferior officers showed an utter disregard for integrity and morality. It is not a pleasant picture to contemplate, but New York saw it all in the days that followed the defeat on Long Island. Good men grew dispirited, and wondered whether the prize in contemplation were worth the present sacrifice.
As early as September 2d General Washington wrote to Congress that he would be unable to hold New York, and asked whether it would be advisable in that case to burn the city so as to prevent its affording winter quarters to the enemy. History does not tell us whether the American commander expressed an opinion on the point. It only lets us know that such men as General Greene and John Jay earnestly advised the use of the torch. Congress raised its voice against the measure, as it had hope of regaining the city; but the hope was not fulfilled until peace was declared. Meanwhile the torch of an incendiary had in part accomplished the work of destruction which patriotic New Yorkers then advised and desired. This point settled, the Continental army prepared to evacuate the city, and two weeks after the battle of Long Island the
It was a strange chance that led the American General to this roof. The loyalist owner, who had deserted his home at the approach of the men in buff and blue, was Washington's old companion in arms, and his wife was the beautiful Mary Phillipse, to whose hand it was said that Washington had once aspired. The world had changed since then, and had driven these friends far asunder. Colonel Morris and his wife were devoted to the royal cause, and they had fled at the approach of their enemies, to the country residence of Colonel Beverly Robinson in the Highlands. From the home of the fugitives Washington issued the orders which resulted in the brilliant skirmishes at McGowan's Pass and Harlem Plains. The Morris mansion stands yet, unaltered amid the great change that has swept over all its surroundings, massive, elegant and imposing. Modern New York knows it best, probably, as the residence of Madame Jumel, the eccentric widow of Aaron Burr. It stands on the heights that overlook Harlem River, a little below the High Bridge, and the view from its windows is superb.
There is one incident connected with Washington's brief sojourn at the Morris mansion which deserves to be recalled from
its legendary oblivion. While inspecting the works thrown up at Harlem for the protection of his army, the American commander was struck with the skill displayed in the disposition of a certain fort which was in charge of a young captain of artillery. On making inquiry it turned out that the name of the officer in question was Alexander Hamilton, of whom General Greene had previously spoken to his superior in terms of high praise. Washington sought the acquaintance of the youth-Hamilton was then but nineteen-and at that time the friendship began which linked their lives. together.
It was about this time that Lord Howe