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History of
Greene County
New York


Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men

J.B. Beers and Co.

Outline History of New York

Transcribed by Dianne Schnettler



In 1524 John de Verazzano, a Florentine navigator in the service of Francis the First of France, made a voyage to the North American coast, and, as is believed from the account which he gave, entered the harbor of New York. No colonies were planted, and no results followed; and the voyage was almost forgotten.

Though discoveries were made by the French, north from this point, and colonies planted by the English farther to the south, it is not known that New York was again visited by Europeans till 1609, when the Dutch East India Company sent Hendrick Hudson, an Englishman by birth, on a voyage of discovery in a vessel called the “Half Moon.” He reached the coast of Maine, sailed thence to Cape Cod, then southwesterly to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, then, coasting northward, he entered Delaware Bay on the 28th of August. From thence he proceeded northward, and on the 3rd of September, 1609, anchored in New York Bay. On the 12th he entered the river that bears his name, and proceeded slowly up to a point just above the present site of the City of Hudson; thence he sent a boat’s crew to explore farther up, and they passed above Albany. September 23rd he set sail down the river, and immediately returned to Europe.

In 1607 Samuel Champlain, a French navigator, sailed up the St. Lawrence, explored its tributaries, and on the 4th of July in that year discovered the lake which bears his name.

At the time of the discovery of New York by the whites the southern and eastern portions were inhabited by the by the Mahican or Mohegan Indians; while that portion west from the Hudson River was occupied by five confederate tribes, afterwards named by the English the Five Nations, and by the French the Iroquois, and by themselves called Hodenosaunee – people of the long house. The long house formed by this confederacy extended east and west through the State, having at its eastern portal the Mohawks, and at its western the Senecas; while between them dwelt the Oneidas, Onondagas, and Cayugas; and after 1714, a sixth nation, the Tuscaroras, southeast from Oneida Lake. Of these Indians Parkman says that at the commencement of the seventeenth century “in the region now forming the State of New York, a power was rising to a ferocious vitality, which, but for the presence of Europeans, would probably have subjected, absorbed or exterminated every other Indian community east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio.”

“The Iroquois was the Indian of Indians. A thorough savage, yet a finished and developed savage, he is, perhaps, an example of the highest elevation which man can reach without emerging from his primitive condition of the hunter. A geographical position commanding on the one hand the portal of the great lakes, and on the other the sources of the streams flowing both to the Atlantic and the Mississippi, gave the ambitious and aggressive confederates advantages which they perfectly understood, and by which they profited to the utmost. Patient and politic as they were ferocious, they were not only the conquerors of their own race, but the powerful allies and the dreaded foes of the French and English colonies, flattered and caressed by both, yet too sagacious to give themselves without reserve to either. Their organization and their history evince their intrinsic superiority. Even their traditionary lore, amid its wild puerilities, shows at times the stamp of an energy and force in striking contrast with the flimsy creations of Algonquin fancy. That the Iroquois, left under their own institutions, would ever have developed a civilization of their own, I do not believe.”

These institutions were not only characteristic and curious, but almost unique. Without sharing the almost fanatical admiration for them of Morgan, or echoing the praises which Parkman lavishes on them, it may be truly said that their wonderful and cohesive confederation furnished a model worthy to be copied by many civilized nations, while, so long as they were uncontaminated by the vices of civilization, they possessed, with all their savagery, many noble traits of character, which would adorn any people in their public, social, or domestic relations.

They made themselves the dreaded masters of all their neighbors east of the Mississippi, and carried their victorious arms far to the north, the south and the east. Their dominance is thus eloquently pictured in Street’s “Frontenac”:

“The fierce Adirondacs had fled from their wrath,

The Hurons been swept from their merciless path;

“Around, the Ottawas, like leaves, had been strewn,

And the lake of the Eries stuck silent and lone.

The Lenape, lords once of valley and hill,

Made women, bent low at their conquerors’ will.

By the far Mississippi the Illini shrank

When the trail of the Tortoise was seen on the bank;

On the hills of New England the Pequod turned pale

When the howl of the Wolf swelled at night on the gale;

And the Cherokee shook in his green, smiling bowers

When the foot of the Bear stamped his carpet of flowers.”


It will hereafter be seen that the Iroquois acted an important part in the early history of the State.

Space will not permit a description of their league, or confederation, a sketch of their tribal relations, and their religious, social and domestic customs, or a history of their warlike achievements.

Only an allusion may here be made to the many dim and shadowy records of a pre-existing people of whom not even a faint tradition remains. These records consist of stone, terra cotta, or bone weapons, implements or ornaments, that are occasionally discovered, and of the remains of defensive works found here and there through the State. Many similar works have been leveled by the plough, and those that remain are slowly crumbling and passing to oblivion. Some of them, though they would not be regarded as models of military engineering at the present day, give evidence of an adaptation to the circumstances that probably existed when they were built, and of skill in construction, which are not discreditable to their builders.  



In 1610 another vessel was sent from Holland to trade with the natives and in 1612 two more, soon after followed by others; and a small fort and a few rude buildings were erected at the southern extremity of Manhattan Island, and the place was named New Amsterdam. In 1614 the States General of Holland granted a charter to the merchants engaged in these expeditions, giving exclusive privileges of trade for four years. The Hudson River had been ascended by Hendrick Christiansen, and a fort and trading house erected near the present site of Albany, which was named Fort Orange.

In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was chartered, and in 1623 settlers were sent thither. In 1626 Peter Minuit, as director-general or governor of the province, arrived with other settlers, and purchased the island of Manhattan from the Indians for trinkets of the value of about $24. In 1629 the company offered grants to patrons who should found settlements in the province (which had been named New Netherlands) of fifty or more adults, and several availed themselves of this offer. In 1633 Minuit was recalled and Wouter Van Twiller appointed in his place. During his administration the controversy concerning jurisdiction was commenced between the Dutch and the English, who claimed the country on the ground of prior discovery by Cabot and the grant of James I. covering the territory.

In 1638 Van Twiller was succeeded in the government of the colony by William Kieft. By reason of hostilities which occurred with the Indians on Long Island in 1643-44, for which Kieft was censured, he was recalled, and succeeded by Peter Stuyvesant in 1647. The controversy concerning jurisdiction continued during his administration, till, in 1664 , Charles II of England regardless of the claims of the Dutch to New Netherlands, granted to his brother, the Duke of York and Albany, afterwards James II.,  the whole country from the Connecticut to the Delaware, including the entire Dutch possessions. A fleet was sent under Colonel Richard Nicolls by the duke to enforce his claim, and on the 3rd of September, 1664, the province was surrendered without bloodshed, and the government of the colony passed into the hands of the English.

Colonel Nicolls at once assumed the functions of governor; the name New Amsterdam was changed to New York, and Fort Orange to Albany, laws for the government of the province were prescribed, and courts for the administration of these laws established. In 1688 Governor Nicolls resigned, and was succeeded by Colonel Francis Lovelace. England at about this time became involved in a war with Holland, and this government sent a squadron to repossess its province in America. This squadron arrived July 30th , 1673, and the fort at New York was surrendered without resistance by Captain John Manning, who was in command. Captain Anthony Colve became governor; but his reign was short, for on the conclusion of peace between the two powers, February 9th, 1674, the province reverted to the English. A new patent was issued, confirming the first, and Sir Edmund Andros was commissioned governor. The despotic agent of a despotic ruler he was unpopular with the people, and became involved in difficulties with the neighboring colonies. He was recalled and his successor, Thomas Dongan, arrived on the 22nd of August, 1683. In the autumn of the same year the first colonial assembly was convened, many needed reforms were instituted, and better times than the colonists had ever known appeared to have dawned. The most important act of this Assembly was the adoption of a charter of liberties and privileges, or bill of rights. The hopes thus raised were soon disappointed. On the accession of James II to the English throne he refused his confirmation of the privileges which had been granted while he was Duke of York, prohibited the Assembly, forbade the establishment of a printing press in the colony, and filled the principal offices in the province with Roman Catholics.

In 1687 a war broke out between the Iroquois and the French. The country of the former was invaded by the French, under De la Barre and M. de Nonville successively, and in retaliation the Iroquois, twelve hundred strong, fell upon the French on the south side of the island of Montreal, “burnt their houses, sacked their plantations, and put to the sword all the men, women and children without the skirts of the town. A thousand French were slain in this invasion, and twenty-six were carried into captivity and burnt alive.” Shortly afterward, in another attack, the lower part of the town was destroyed, ad in all this the assailants lost only three.

In 1688 New York and the Jerseys were annexed to the jurisdiction of New England, and Sir Edmund Andros was made governor of all. Governor Dongan was removed, and Francis Nicolson succeeded him. The government was vested in a governor and council, who were appointed by the king without the consent of the people.

In 1689 William and Mary ascended the English throne. Sir Edmund Andros was seized at Boston, and Jacob Leisler seized the fort at New York, under the pretence of holding it for the new sovereigns. During the two years of Leisler’s usurpation the French and Indians made a descent on Schenectady, February 8th, 1690, and massacred about sixty of the inhabitants. The danger by which they were threatened induced the people – who, though favorably disposed toward William and Mary, were opposed to Leisler – to submit to his authority for the time. On the arrival, in March, 1691, of Colonel Sloughter, who had been commissioned governor in 1869 [sic 1689?] Leisler at first refused to surrender the government to him. For this he was tried by a special commission, and sentenced to death. The governor, who refused to sign his death warrant, was persuaded, while intoxicated, to do so, and he was executed before the governor had recovered from his intoxication. Governor Sloughter died in July, 1691, after a weak administration of only a few months.

The colonial Assembly was again established during this year, and the oppressive laws which had been imposed on the colony repealed. In the interim between the death of Sloughter and the arrival of his successor the chief command was committed to Richard Ingoldsby. In August, 1692, Benjamin Fletcher arrived with a commission as governor. He was narrow, violent, avaricious and bigoted, and his administration was a continual exhibition of these qualities.

In 1693 the French and Indians under Count Frontenac invaded the country of the Iroquois, killed some, and took three hundred prisoners. In 1696 he made another incursion, and ravaged a portion of the country. The Indians retaliated by hostile incursions among their enemies, but the peace of Ryswick, between France and England, terminated these hostilities.

Governor Fletcher was succeeded in 1698 by Richard, Earl of Bellomont, who died in 1701, and John Nanfan, the lieutenant-governor, succeeded him till the arrival of the next governor, Lord Cornbury, in 1702. The administration of this governor was chiefly distinguished for religious intolerance; and he received the unenviable distinction of being the worst governor under the English regime. He was succeeded, December 18th, 1708, by Lord Lovelace, who died on the 5th of the following May. Under Lieutenant-Governor Ingoldsby, who administered the government after his death, an unsuccessful expedition against Canada was undertaken. Gerardus Beekman succeeded him as governor pro tem., till June 14th , 1710, when the next governor, Robert Hunter, arrived. In 1711 another disastrous expedition against Canada was made, but in 1713 the treaty of Utrecht terminated the war between England and France, and put an end to Indian hostilities. In 1719 Hunter returned to England, and Peter Schuyler was governor, ad interim, till the arrival of William Burnet in 1720. On the accession to the throne of George II Burnett was transferred to the government of Massachusetts, and succeeded, April 15th, 1728, by John Montgomery, who died July 1st, 1731. Rip Van Dam, by virtue of seniority in the council, was his successor till the arrival of William Cosby, the next governor, finished his administration and began one rendered memorable for its arbitrary proceedings and tumult, rather than for striking or important events. Cosby died March 10th, 1736, and was succeeded by George Clark, senior counselor after Van Dam, whom Cosby had caused to be suspended. Clark was commissioned lieutenant-governor in the following October. An antagonism had been growing during some time between the democratic and the aristocratic parties in the colonies. Clark at first sought to conciliate both, but in the end had the confidence of neither, and his retirement, on the arrival of his successor, Admiral George Clinton, September 23rd, 1743, was but little regretted. The administration of Governor Clinton was characterized by a continual conflict with the people, represented in the provincial Assembly. Unable by repeated prorogations and dissolutions to coerce them into submission, he resigned after and administration of ten years, and was succeeded, October 10th, 1763m by Sir Danvers Osborne. He was charged with still more stringent instructions than his predecessors, and met with still firmer resistance from the people. After an administration of a few days he committed suicide by hanging, probably because of the embarrassment by which he was surrounded, and grief for the death of his wife. He was succeeded by Lieutenant-Governor James De Lancey till the arrival, in September, 1755, of Sir Charles Hardy, who, though nominally governor, surrendered the duties of the office into the hands of De Lancey. Governor Hardy resigned in 1757 and De Lancey became governor. He died on the 30th of July, 1760, and Cadwalader Colden, president of the council, took charge of the government. He was commissioned lieutenant-governor in August, 1761, and in October of the same year General Robert Moulton, who had been appointed governor, assumed the gubernatorial functions; but on the 13th of the following month he left the administration of affairs in the hands of Colden, and went on an expedition against Martinique. Colden’s administration continued till 1765. 



 As early as 1722 a trading post was established at Oswego by Governor Burnet, with the view of establishing others farther west on the lakes, and securing the trade of the western Indians. To intercept this, and secure this trade for themselves, the French established a post and erected a fort at Niagara, with the design of extending a chain of military posts to the Ohio River, and thus limiting the English trade.

In March, 1744, war was declared between France and England, in which the colonies of New York and New England participated. During it continuance the country north from Albany was frequently ravaged by parties of French and Indians. Saratoga was burned, and nearly all the inhabitants either killed or made prisoners, and the village of Hoosic taken.

In 1746 an unsuccessful expedition against Canada was undertaken, for which the colony of New York furnished sixteen hundred men. Peace was concluded at Aix La Chapelle in 1748, and a period of nominal tranquility followed, though the frontier was desolated by savage parties, encouraged by the French.

In 1755, with the view of checking their encroachments, four expeditions were sent against them, two of which were in the colony of New York. One of them, that against Niagara, was unsuccessful, but the other, against Crown Point, achieved a success, which was not however followed up.

It was not till 1756 that the English ministry aroused from its imbecility and formally declared war. In the campaign of 1756 the English and colonial forces met with no success, but the two forts at Oswego were lost, with 1,600 prisoners and much war material. The campaign of 1757 was equally unsuccessful and disastrous. Fort William Henry, on Lake George, with 3,000 men, fell into the hands of the French under Montcalm.

On the accession of William Pitt to the head of the British ministry in 1758 new energy was infused into their measures, and a fresh impulse given to the colonies. Success soon turned in favor of the English, and, with few exceptions, continued till Canada was subdued. Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Niagara and Quebec fell in 1758, and Montreal, Detroit, Michilimackinac and all other Canadian posts in 1760.  A great obstacle to the prosperity of New York was removed by the conquest of Canada, which prevented further hostile incursions of French and Indians into its territory.

In 1763 a controversy arose between the colonies of New York and New Hampshire concerning the jurisdiction over the territory between Lake Champlain and the Connecticut river, now comprising the State of Vermont. Proclamations and counter proclamations were issued, but the matter was finally referred to and settled for the time by the crown.

During many years the government of Great Britain had attempted to make encroachments on what the colonists regarded as their rights, but without success. The taxation of the people without their consent was sought to be accomplished in some insidious manner, and was steadfastly and watchfully guarded against by the colonists, through their representatives in the colonial Assembly. In 1764 the notorious stamp act was passed and its enforcement in the city of New York attempted. It was resisted by the populace, the effigy of Governor Colden, who was charged with its execution, was hanged and burned in the streets, and finally a quantity of the stamped paper was seized and consumed in a bonfire.

Through the influence of London merchants, whose colonial trade suffered by reason of the act, the odious law was repealed in 1766, but its repeal was followed by a declaration by Parliament of the right “to tax the colonies in all cases whatsoever.” Troops were quartered in New York city, really for the purpose of enforcing the laws that Parliament might enact. Collisions occurred between these troops and the people, and the Assembly refused appropriations for their support. Parliament declared the legislative powers of the Assembly annulled till compliance was had with the demands of the government. In June, 1767, a bill was enacted by Parliament imposing duties on certain articles imported into the colonies. This was followed by a revival of the non-importation agreement that had previously been entered into by the colonists, and again the influence of the English merchants procured the repeal of all these duties, except that on tea, which was retained by reason of a determination to assert and maintain the right of taxation.

Sir Henry Moore succeed Governor Colden in 1765, and his administration continued till his death, in 1769, when the government again devolved on Cadwallader Colden. Between the soldiers and those colonists who were known as the Sons of Liberty animosities continued to exist, and finally, on the 18th of January, 1770, five years previous to the battle of  Lexington, a collision occurred at Golden Hill, in New York city, in which several of the citizens were wounded.

In October, 1770, Lord Dunmore superseded Colden in the government of New York, and in 1771 he was transferred to the government of Virginia and succeeded in New York by William Tryon, who was rendered independent of the people by a royal decree that his salary should be paid from the revenue.

The non-importation agreement was continued so far as related to tea, and the East India Company suffered severely in consequence. Doggedly determined to maintain the assumed right of taxation, the British government abolished the export duty on such tea as was shipped to the colonies, thus enabling the company to sell it there cheaper than in England, and appointed consignees in the colonial ports for its sale. Regardless of this appeal to their cupidity, the people made such demonstrations of resistance that the consignees in New York resigned, and when an attempt was made to land a quantity of tea clandestinely it was thrown overboard by the vigilance committee, and the vessel sent out of the harbor.

It is hardly necessary to say that in the other colonies the oppressive acts of the King and Parliament met with as firm resistance as in New York. The battle of Lexington was the signal for a general rush to arms throughout the colonies.

In New York city the arms in the arsenals were seized and distributed among the people, and a provisional government for the city was organized. Ticonderoga was seized on the 10th of May, 1775, by Connecticut patriots under Colonel Ethan Allen, and two days later Crown Point, both without resistance, and thus the command of Lake Champlain was secured.

The Continental Congress assembled on the 10th of May, and on the 22nd of the same month a Provincial Congress assembled in New York.

In August an attack was made by the British ship of war “Asia” on a party who were engaged in removing some cannon from the battery in New York, and considerable damage was done to the buildings in the vicinity but the guns were removed. In the autumn an armament was collected by General Schuyler at Ticonderoga and an expedition went against Canada. The forts at Chambly, St. Johns and Montreal were taken, and Quebec was assaulted, but the colonial force was here repulsed and driven out of Canada. 



Early in 1776 General Lee, with a force of twelve hundred men, occupied the city of New York. General Schuyler with a small force had disarmed the tories of the Mohawk valley and a like service had been rendered on Long Island by the New Jersey militia. About the first of July General Howe who had previously evacuated Boston and sailed for Halifax, appeared off Sandy Hook with his army, where he was soon afterward joined by his brother, Admiral Howe, with a force of British regulars and Hessians, and Clinton and Parker, on their return from an unsuccessful attack on Charleston, making an aggregate force of about 30,000 men.

The Provincial Congress of New York adjourned to White Plains, where it convened on the 9th of July, and ratified the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress.

On the 22nd of August a British force landed on Long Island, and on the 27th a battle was fought, resulting in the defeat of the Americans, who on the night of the 29th, favored by a thick fog, retreated to New York. The plan had been formed to capture New York, ascend the Hudson, effect a junction with a force from Canada under General Carlton, and thus cut off communication between the patriots of New England and those of the middle and southern colonies; but the movements of Washington and the failure of Carlton frustrated the plan.

On the 15th of September General Howe took possession of New York, and the Americans retreated to Harlem Heights. General Howe sought to gain their rear, but Washington’s movements frustrated his designs.

Opposed to General Carlton at the north was General Gates, who abandoned Crown Point and concentrated his forces at Ticonderoga. A small squadron was formed and placed on Lake Champlain under command of Arnold in August. An action took place in October between this squadron and the fleet which Carlton had prepared at St. Johns, in which the Americans were defeated and fell back on Ticonderoga. Not deeming it prudent to attack them there General Carlton withdrew to Canada.

On the 21st of April 1777 a State constitution was adopted, and under it George Clinton was elected governor, and he assumed the duties of the office on the 31st of the following July.

The principal object of the British in the campaign of 1777 was to carry out the cherished design of separating the eastern from the southern colonies by controlling the Hudson River and Lake Champlain. Lieutenant-General Burgoyne, who had superseded General Carlton, was to force his way from Canada, and meet Sir Henry Clinton at Albany, while Colonel St. Leger was to ascend the St. Lawrence, and, with a force of loyalists and Indians, sweep through the Mohawk valley from Oswego and Rome, and join them at Albany.

In June Burgoyne moved on Ticonderoga, which the American commander, General St. Clair, evacuated. As the American army retreated some fighting took place, without decisive results, till at Bennington the Americans, under General Stark, achieved a victory over a detachment of the enemy under Colonel Baum, who was slain.

Colonel St. Leger advanced and invested Fort Schuyler, otherwise called Fort Stanwix, now Rome. The battle of Oriskany was fought, soon after which St. Leger abandoned his undertaking and returned to Canada.

General Burgoyne advanced to Saratoga, where he was surrounded, and on the 17th of October was compelled to surrender.

While operations were in progress in the vicinity of Saratoga Sir Henry Clinton sought to make a diversion in favor of Burgoyne. He proceeded up the Hudson, captured Forts Montgomery and Clinton, devastated the settlements along the banks of the river, burnt Kingston, and, on learning of the surrender of Burgoyne, returned to New York.

In the campaigns of 1778 and 1779 no very important operations were carried on in New York. The Indians of the Six Nations (except the Oneidas and a few others) were induced to carry on against the Americans and their savage and cruel warfare, and devastation, slaughter and massacres were the result. To arrest these depredation General Sullivan, in the summer of 1779, with an army of 3,000 men, ascended the Susquehanna to Tioga Point, where he was joined by General Clinton with a thousand men. With these forces they penetrated the country of the savages, destroyed their towns, and laid waste their cornfields and orchards. Though not subdued by this punishment, they were so crippled that their inroads were less frequent and destructive afterward.

During the years 1780 and 1781 the Mohawk valley was the scene of devastation by the savages of the Six Nations, particularly the Mohawks, under their celebrated chief Brant; but aside from these New York was not the scene of important hostile operations. The year 1780 was made memorable by the treason of Arnold. This gallant officer had, for some irregularities in Philadelphia in 1778, been court-martialed and sentenced to be reprimanded by his commander-in-chief. He apparently acquiesced in the sentence, but his pride was deeply wounded, and he thirsted after revenge. He solicited and obtained command of West Point, and entered into negotiations with Sir Henry Clinton for the delivery of that fortress into the hands of the British. In the course of these negotiations Major Andre, of the British army, met General Arnold on the banks of the Hudson. In attempting to return he was captured, about thirty miles from New York, by three militiamen named Paulding, Williams and Van Wert, who refused his offered bribes and delivered him to their commander. He was tried, condemned and executed as a spy.

The Revolutionary war virtually closed with the surrender of Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown on the 19th of October, 1781. A treaty of peace was entered into on the 3rd of September, 1783, and on the 25th of November in the same year the British troops evacuated on New York.

After the United States had achieved their independence it was early perceived that the confederation, which had been established for a particular purpose, lacked that cohesive force which was requisite for an effectual national government. Measures were accordingly instituted, first for a revision of the Articles of Confederation, but finally the formation of a national constitution was determined on; and such constitution was formed by the convention in Philadelphia in 1787. After its adoption by the requisite number of States it was ratified in convention by the State of New York, by a close vote, on the 26th of July, 1788, but with the recommendation of several amendments, which, however, were not adopted.

The difficulties arising out of the conflicting claims of New York and New Hampshire to the territory now comprising Vermont, which had been held in partial abeyance during the Revolutionary struggle, were finally settled by the admission of the disputed territory into the Union as a State, in 1790, under the name of Vermont.

By reason of indefiniteness and confusion in the original grants Massachusetts claimed a portion of the territory of New York. This claim was settled by the cession to Massachusetts of all rights, except that of political sovereignty, over about one-fourth of the State. The largest tract of these lands, embracing what has been known as the Genesee country, was sold by Massachusetts for the sum of one million dollars. 



At the commencement of the present century difficulties arose between this country and Great Britain concerning the rights of neutrals on the seas, and the aggressions of the British became a subject of bitter animosity. In addition to other encroachments, the English government claimed the right to search American vessels and impress into their service such of their crews as they chose to regard as British subjects. Outrages were committed in the enforcement of this pretended right, and for the suppression of the practice, and the vindication of the national honor, war became necessary; and it was declared on the 19th of June, 1812. To this measure there was a strong opposition, both in New England and New York, and this opposition embarrassed the government to some extent in the prosecution of the war. An invasion of Canada was determined on, and for that purpose forces were collected in the vicinity of Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain, under General Dearborn, and at Lewiston, on the Niagara River, under General Van Rensselaer. A naval force was fitted up on the lakes, and Commodore Chauncey was placed in command of it. Unsuccessful attacks were made by the British fleet on Sackett’s Harbor and Ogdensburg, while, on the other hand, the British vessel “Caledonia” was captured at the foot of Lake Erire. An attack was made on the heights at Queenston, on the Canadian bank of the Niagara, and though at first the Americans were successful they were finally compelled to surrender. Nothing beyond slight skirmishing occurred in this quarter during the remainder of the year.

Early in the spring of 1813 a successful expedition to Canada was made from Ogdensburg, and in retaliation an attack was made on that place, some stores taken, several vessels destroyed and the property of citizens injured. In April a successful expedition was sent by General Dearborn against York, now Toronto. In May the British were driven from Fort George, on the Niagara River, near Lake Ontario, and the enemy’s post on that frontier evacuated. Sackett’s Harbor was attacked by the British, who were repulsed, and an unsuccessful attack was also made by them on the village of Black Rock.

The brilliant victory of Commodore Perry, on Lake Erie, was achieved on the 10th of September in this year, but the operations on Lake Ontario were less decisive. Late in the autumn an unsuccessful attempt was made to invade Canada under General Wilkinson. The American generals Izard and Hampton were repulsed near the border of Franklin county. In December the British took Fort Niagara, and massacred a large part of the garrison and even hospital patients.  Lewiston was burned, and the villages of Youngstown, Manchester, Schlosser and the Indian village of Tuscarora were devastated by the enemy. The village of Black Rock and Buffalo were also burned, and thus the desolation of the Niagara frontier was completed.

Early in 1814 an attempt was made by the British to capture some military stores at Oswego Falls, but without success. On the 3rd of July, 1814, Fort Erie was taken by the Americans, and on the 25th a battle was fought at Lundy’s Lane. In August Fort Erie was besieged by the British, who were compelled to retire about the middle of September.

The plan of a dismemberment of the Union, by possessing Lake Champlain and the Hudson River from the north, and capturing New York, was again formed, and it was hoped that discontent and opposition to the war in New England, and possibly in New York, might lead to the conclusion of a separate peace with these States. The people, however, were fully aroused and the defenses of New York were strengthened and strongly garrisoned. An invasion was undertaken from Canada, and a descent was made on Plattsburg by an army of 14,000 men under Sir George Prevost, but after a severe engagement on the 11th of September this army was compelled to retire with great loss. The British fleet, under Commodore Downie, was on the same day captured on Lake Champlain by Commodore Macdonough. No further invasion of this frontier took place. On the 24th of December a treaty of peace was concluded at Ghent.

No other interruption of the peaceful relations between this country and England has occurred. Some infractions of the neutrality laws have been attempted by people on the Canadian frontier, the chief of which took place during the Canadian rebellion, commonly known as the “Patriot war,” in 1837-38.

What were known as the anti-rent disturbances commenced as early as 1839, and were not terminated till 1846. Laws were enacted to modify the process of collecting rents and to extend the time for “re-entry” on lands where rents were in arrears. Participators in outrages were pardoned, and quiet was finally restored.

The annexation of Texas to the United States led to hostilities between Mexico and this nation, and on the 11th of May, 1846, Congress declared that, by the acts of the Mexicans, war existed between the two nations. The Americans were victorious in all important engagements with the Mexican army, and the part taken by the troops from the State of New York was conspicuous and highly creditable to their valor.From time to time the Legislature enacted laws concerning slavery, down to the year 1819. A law passed in 1799 provided for the gradual extinction of slavery in the State. “In 1817 a further act was passed, decreeing that there should be no slavery in the State after the 4th of July, 1827. Ten thousand slaves were set free by this act.”

The recognition of slavery in the territories of the United States was earnestly resisted during many years, and the controversy finally resulted in a gigantic civil war. On the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, in 1860, on the platform of avowed hostility to the extension of slavery, and the failure to effect a compromise by which the institution should be recognized or tolerated in any of the territories, the southern States determined to secede from the Union and establish a separate government. The attack by the Confederates, as these States styled themselves, on Fort Sumter was the first overt act of the Rebellion, and on its occurrence, in April, 1861, was the commencement of active hostilities. Before the close of that year the State of New York had placed in the field one hundred and fifteen regiments.

In July, 1863, during the execution of a draft ordered by Congress, an alarming riot occurred in the city of New York. The police were unable to check its progress, and during several days the city was convulsed with lawlessness, rapine and murder. The outbreak was finally quelled by military force, but not until a large amount of property had been destroyed and many lives sacrificed. The war was prolonged till the spring of 1865, when it terminated with the complete success of the Union arms, and peace has since prevailed. 



 In 1791 the Legislature ordered an exploration and survey to ascertain the most eligible method of removing obstructions from the Mohawk and Hudson rivers, with a view to improve their navigation by the construction of canals. The following year two companies were incorporated, styled the Northern and Western Inland Lock Navigation Companies, for the purpose of facilitating navigation by connecting Lake Ontario with the Mohawk and Lake Champlain with the Hudson by canals.

In 1810 a provision was made by the Legislature “for exploring the route of an inland navigation from Hudson’s River to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.” It was at first proposed to solicit aid from the general government to carry out this work, but in 1812 a commission reported to the Legislature that sound policy demanded that this should be done by the State. War with Great Britain interrupted the project.

On the termination of the war the policy revived; and notwithstanding the formidable character of the undertaking, and the difficulties in its way, through the untiring energy and perseverance of De Witt Clinton an act prepared by him was passed in April, 1817, authorizing the construction of the work. It was commenced on the 4th of July in that year, and on the 26th of October, 1825, the first flotilla of boats left Buffalo for New York. The departure of this flotilla was communicated to New York in one hour and twenty minutes, by the discharge of cannon stationed within hearing of each other. This was then regarded as a rapid transmission of intelligence.

The first railroad in the State, that between Albany and Schenectady, was chartered in 1826 and completed in 1831. Other roads through the central portion of the State were soon constructed, and railroad connection between the great lakes and Hudson River established. In 1851 these different roads were consolidated into the present immense New York Central Railroad, and subsequently connection was established, through the Hudson River Railroad, with the city of New York. In 1833 the New York and Erie Railway was commenced, but it was not completed till 1852. The enlargement of the Erie Canal to its present capacity was commenced in 1835 and completed in1862. These constitute the main avenues of travel and transportation through the State between the eastern and western extremities, but connecting routes in every direction have come into existence, and the facilities for transportation and travel in this State are not excelled by those of any other. It is hardly necessary to cal attention to the telegraph lines that ramify through all part of the State.

It has already been stated that a State constitution was adopted in 1777. Several amendments to this constitution were adopted in a convention held for that purpose in 1801. In 1821 it was revised by a convention chosen for that purpose, and the new constitution was adopted early in 1822, at a popular election held for that purpose, by a majority of more than 33.000 in a total vote of 116,919.

On the 1st of June, 1846, another constitutional convention met at Albany, and it continued in session more than four months. The amendments to the constitution adopted by that body were ratified by the people in the following November by a majority of more than 20,000 votes.

In 1867 another constitutional convention assembled on the 4th of June, and continued its session, except during an adjournment of two months, several weeks into 1868. The amended constitution framed by this convention was submitted to the people in November, 1869, and resulted in its rejection, except the article making changes in the judiciary, by a majority of more than 66,000. The judiciary article was accepted by a small majority.

In 1872 a commission of thirty-two persons was appointed to propose to the Legislature amendments to the constitution. In 1873 several important amendments were recommended, and ratified at the election in 1874. It is a notable fact that, as changes have been made in the constitution of the State, the right of the elective franchise has been extended; till now complete manhood suffrage is established.

In 1787 a law was enacted incorporating the Regents of the University of New York, and in their report for 1793 they called attention to the importance of instituting a common school system. At different times from 1787 to 1795 Governor Clinton called the attention of the Legislature to the same subject, and in that year an act was passed appropriating $50,000 annually for five years for the encouragement of schools. In 1805, after attention had repeatedly been called to the subject by different governors, the Legislature passed an act laying the foundation of the present common school fund. In 1812 the first common school system was adopted, comprising substantially the features of the system as it existed up to 1840. Changes in this system have from time to time been made, till now the free school system of this State is believed to be, with scarcely an exception, the most nearly perfect of all in existence.

The State Agricultural Society, which has been productive of such great benefit, was organized at a convention in Albany in 1832. It was reorganized in 1841, and measures were adopted for raising funds and holding annual fairs.

In 1836 the Legislature ordered a scientific survey of the State for the purpose of developing a knowledge of its geology, mineralogy and natural history. The published reports of this survey are of very great value.

The following lists of the governors, lieutenant-governors and presidents of the council who have administered the government of the colony and State of New York from 1629 to the present time will be found convenient for reference.

Under the Dutch regime: Wouter Van Twiller, 1629; William Kieft, 1638; Peter Stuyvesant, 1647.

English governors, etc.:  Richard Nicolls, 1664; Francis Lovelace, 1667; Anthony Colve, on the recapture of the province by the Dutch, 1673. After the surrender to the English: Sir Edmund Andros, 1674; Anthony Brockholls, 1681; Thomas Dongan, 1683; Francis Nicholson, 1688; Jacob Leisler, 1689; Henry Sloughter, 1691; Richard Ingoldsby, 1691; Benjamin Fletcher, 1692; Richard, Earl of Bellomont, 1698; John Nanfan, 1699; Lord Cornbury, 1702; Lord Lovelace, 1708; Richard Ingoldsby, 1709; Gerardus Beekman, 1710; Robert Hunter, 1710; Peter Schuyler, 1719l William Burnet, 1720; John Montgomery, 1728; Rip Van Dam, 1731; William Cosby, 1732; George Clark, 1736; George Clinton, 1743; Sir Danvers Osborne, 1753; James De Lancey, 1755; Sir Charles Hardy, 1755; James De Lancey, 1757; Cadwallader Colden, 1760; Robert Monkton, 1762; Cadwallader Colden, 1763; Sir Henry Moore, 1765; John, Earl of Dunmore, 1770; William Tryon, 1771; Cadwallader Colden, 1774; William Tryon, 1775; James Robertson, 1780; Andrew Elliot, 1783; Peter Van Brugh Livingston, 1775 [sic 1785?].

Presidents of 2nd Provincial Congress:  Nathaniel Woodhull, 1775; Abraham Yates jr., 1775; Nathaniel Woodhull, 1776; John Haring, 1775; Abraham Yates jr., 1776; Peter R. Livingston, 1776; Abraham Ten Broeck, 1777; Leonard Gansevoort, 1777.

President of the Council of Safety:  Pierre Van Cortland, 1777.

Governors of the State:  George Clinton, 1777; John Jay, 1795; George Clinton, 1801; Morgan Lewis, 1804; Daniel D. Tompkins, 1807; DeWitt Clinton, 1817; Joseph C. Yates, 1823; De Witt Clinton, 1826; Martin Van Buren, 1829; Enos T. Throop, 1831; William L. Marcy, 1833; William H. Seward, 1839; William C. Bouck, 1843; Silas Wright, 1845; John Young, 1847; Hamilton Fish, 1849; Washington Hunt, 1851; Horatio Seymour, 1853; Myron H. Clark, 1857; John A. King, 1857; Edwin D. Morgan, 1859; Horatio Seymour, 1863; Reuben E. Fenton, 1865; John T. Hoffman, 1869; John A. Dix, 1873; Samuel J. Tilden, 1875; Lucius Robinson, 1877; A.B. Cornell, 1881; Grover Cleveland, 1883.

Lieutenant Governors of the State:  Pierre Van Cortlandt, 1777; Stephen Van Rensselaer, 1795; Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, 1801; John Broome, 1804; John Taylor, President pro tem. of Senate, 1811; De Witt Clinton, 1811; John Taylor, 1813; Erastus Root, 1823; James Tallmadge, 1825; Nathaniel Pitcher, 1827; Peter R. Livingston, President pro tem. of Senate, 1828; Enos T. Throop, 1829; William M. Oliver, President pro tem. of Senate, 1830; Edward P. Livingston, 1831; John Tracy, 1833; Luther Bradish, 1839; Daniel S. Dickinson, 1843; Addison Gardiner, 1845; Hamilton Fish, 1848; George W. Patterson, 1849; Sanford E. Church, 1851; Henry J. Raymond, 1855; Henry R. Selden, 1857; Robert Campbell, 1859; David R. Floyd Jones, 1863; Thomas G. Alvord, 1865; Steward L. Woodford, 1867; A.C. Beach, 1869; John L. Robinson, 1873; William Dorsheimer, 1875; George G. Hoskins, 1880; David B. Hill, 1883.

Secretaries of State:  John M. Scott, 1778; Lewis A. Scott, 1789; Daniel Hale, 1793; Thomas Tillotson, 1801; Elisha Jenkins, 1806; Thomas Tillotson, 1807; Elisha Jenkins, 1808; Daniel Hale, 1810; Elisha Jenkins, 1811; J.R. Van Rensselaer, 1813; Peter B. Porter, 1815; Robert R. Tillotson, 1816; Charles D. Cooper 1817; John Van Ness Yates, 1818-23; Azariah C. Flagg, 1826; John A. Dix, 1833; John C. Spencer, 1839; Samuel Young, 1842; Nathaniel S. Benton, 1845; Christopher Morgan, 1847; Henry S. Randall, 1851; Elias W. Leavenworth, 1853; Joel T. Headley, 1855; Gideon J. Tucker, 1857; David R. Floyd-Jones, 1859; Horatio Ballard, 1861; Chauncey M. Depew, 1863; Francis C. Barlow, 1865; Homer A. Nelson, 1867; G. Hilton Scribner, 1871; Diedrich Willers jr., 1873; John Bigelow, 1875; Allen C. Beach, 1877; Joseph B. Carr, 1879, 1883.

Controllers:  Samuel Jones, 1797; John V. Henry, 1800; Elisha Jenkins, 1801; Archibald McIntyre, 1806; John Savage, 1821; William L. Marcy, 1823; Silas Wright jr., 1829; Azariah C. Flagg, 1834; Bates Cook, 1839; John A. Collier, 1841; Azariah C. Flagg, 1842; Millard Fillmore, 1847; Washington Hunt, 1849; Philo C. Fuller, 1850; John C. Wright, 1851; James M. Cook, 1853; Lorenzo Burrows, 1855; Sanford E. Church, 1857; Robert Denniston, 1859; Lucius Robinson, 1861; Thomas Hillhouse, 1865; William F. Allen, 1867; Asher P. Nichols, 1870; Nelson K. Hopkins, 1871; Lucius Robinson, 1875; Frederick P. Olcott, 1877; James W. Wadsworth, 1879; Ira Davenport, 1881; Alfred C. Chapin, 1883.

Treasurers:  Peter B. Livingston, 1776; Gerardus Bancker, 1778; Robert McClallen, 1798; Abraham G. Lansing, 1803; David Thomas, 1808; Abraham G. Lansing, 1810; David Thomas, 1812; Charles Z. Platt, 1813; Garret L. Dox, 1817; Benjamin Knower, 1821; Abraham Keyser jr., 1824; Gamaliel H. Barstow, 1825; Abraham Keyser, 1826; Gamaliel H. Barstow, 1838; Jacob Haight, 1839; Thomas Farrington, 1842; Benjamin Enos, 1845; Thomas Farrington, 1846; Alvah Hunt, 1847; James M. Cook, 1851; Benjamin Welch jr., 1852; Elbridge G. Spaulding, 1853; Stephen Clark, 1855; Isaac V. Vanderpoel, 1857; Philip Dorsheimer, 1859; William B. Lewis, 1861; George W.Schuyler, 1863; Joseph Howland, 1865; Wheeler H. Bristol, 1867; Thomas Raines, 1871; Charles N. Ross, 1875; James Mackin, 1877; Nathan D. Wendell, 1879; Robert A. Maxwell, 1881, 1883.

Attorneys-General:  Egbert Benson, 1771; Richard Varick, 1788; Aaron Burr, 1789; Morgan Lewis, 1791; Nathaniel Lawrence, 1792; Josiah O. Hoffman, 1795; Ambrose Spencer, 1802; John Woodworth, 1804; M.B. Hildreth, 1808; A. Van Vechten, 1810; M.B. Hildreth, 1811; Thomas Addis Emmett, 1812; A. Van Vechten, 1813; Martin Van Buren, 1815; Thomas J. Oakley, 1819; Samuel A. Tallcott, 1821; Samuel A. Tallcott, 1823; Greene C. Bronson, 1829; Samuel Beardsley, 1836; Willis Hall, 1839; George P. Barker, 1842; John Van Buren, 1845; Ambrose L. Jordan, 1847; Levi S. Chatfield, 1849; Gardner Stow, 1853; Ogden Hoffman, 1853; Stephen B. Cushing, 1855; Lyman Tremain, 1857; Charles G. Myers, 1859; Daniel S. Dickinson, 1861; John Cochrane, 1863; John H. Martindale, 1865; M.B. Champlain, 1867; Francis C. Barlow, 1871; Daniel Pratt, 1873; Charles S. Fairchild, 1875; A. Schoonmaker jr., 1877; Hamilton Ward, 1879; Leslie W. Russell, 1881; Denis O’Brien, 1883.

State Engineers and Surveyors:  Philip Schuyler, 1781; Simeon DeWitt, 1784; Simeon DeWitt, 1823; Milliman Campbell, 1835; Orville L. Holley, 1838; Nathaniel Jones, 1842; Hugh Halsey, 1845; Charles B. Stuart, 1847; Hezekiah B. Seymour, 1849; Wm. J. McAlpine, 1851; Wheeler H. Bristol, 1853; Henry Ramsey, 1853; John T. Clark, 1853; Silas Seymour, 1855; Van R. Richmond, 1857; Wm. B. Taylor, 1861; J. Platt Goodsell, 1865; Van R. Richmond, 1867; Wm. B. Taylor, 1871; Sylvanus H. Sweet, 1873; John D. Van Buren, jr., 1875; Horatio Seymour, jr., 1877; Horatio Seymour, jr., 1879; Silas Seymour, 1881; Elnathan Sweet, 1883.

The population of the colony and State of New York was in 1698, 18,067; 1703, 20,665; 1723, 40,564; 1731, 50,824; 1737, 60,437; 1746, 61,589; 1749, 73,348; 1756, 96,790; 1771, 163,337; 1790, 340,120; 1800, 586,756; 1810, 959,049; 1820, 1,372,812; 1830, 1,918,608; 1840, 2,428,921; 1850, 3,097,394; 1860, 3,880,735; 1870, 4,382,759; 1880, 5,083,173.

Of the total population there were in 1790, 21,324 slaves; in 1800, 33,343; 1810, 15,017; 1820, 10,088; 1830, 75; 1840, 4.

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