PHILIP HONE, 1825-26, and
WILLIAM PAULDING, 1826,
THIS year was one of much commercial
distress, the result of the failure of several spurious banks chartered
by the State of New Jersey. Subsequently, by the failure of several insurance
companies, was revealed an amount of venality that affected the commercial
character of the city at home and abroad, and also that of a number of
persons of character and respectability; resulting in the conviction of
some by a court of justice; some of them being sent to the Penitentiary,
while others appealed to the Court of Errors, and escaped by the casting
vote of the Lieutenantgovernor.
Jacob Barker, who has been already mentioned (1822), in
consequence of his connection with the Exchange Bank at a previous date,
and the Washington and Warren at a very late period, was very seriously
and generally censured in the public prints, and some years after this
he became a citizen of New Orleans. He resided at 34 Beekman Street, a
neighborhood which at that time was the residence of many of our wellknown
and distinguished citizens; he enjoyed not an enviable reputation for his
shrewdness in business matters and responsibilities., My employer, who
had a bill against him for the repairs of his steamboat Marco Bozzaris,
threatened to sue him; whereupon he said: "It is not worth while
for you to go to the expense, when you can buy a judgment against me of
any amount you want at a very low rate." At this time, which was some
years prior to his leaving for New Orleans, a number of brokers publicly
advertised or proposed to raise the amount of three hundred dollars, to
give him as an inducement to leave the city.
Instances of Barker's shrewdness have been frequently
repeated. Thus, when a boy, he engaged to carry a trunk for a passenger
to a neighboring hotel, but finding it too heavy for him to handle alone,
he secured the services of a playmate by promising that if he received
two apples for the work he would give him one. The trunk was transported,
and Barker received a sixpence, whereupon, when his assistant asked for
his half, he replied: "If he had given me two apples, I would have
given you one, as I said; but as he did not give me apples, I have none
to give you." On another occasion, he had incurred the dislike of
the paying teller of a bank, and upon demanding payment in specie of a
check for a thousand dollars, he was given a box of sixpenny pieces.
At this time, and for many years afterward, in making a deposit in a bank,
the teller, when he had counted the amount, asked the depositor the amount
of it, and if his account agreed, well; if not, a new count was made. Upon
receiving this box Barker caused the lid to be raised, withdrew a few pieces,
pocketed them, and then directed the balance to be passed to his credit
as a deposit. Whereupon the teller had to count the entire contents of
the box, while Barker had but to count his small portion and subtract it
from the whole in order to name the amount of the deposit.
When in the shipping
business he was at one time much exercised regarding the safety of a particular
vessel on a distant trading voyage, which he had not insured. He one day
applied to an insurance office for a very full amount upon her; the application
not having been made "binding," he did not ask for the policy,
but a few days afterward he hurriedly appeared at the office and told the
president of the company that he need not sign the policy, as he himself
"had heard of the vessel." Whereupon the president replied that
the application had been accepted and the transaction completed, retired
to his private office, and returned with the policy duly signed, which
Barker pocketed. Soon after it was posted that the vessel had been wholly
lost. Barker had "heard of the vessel," that is, he had
heard of her loss. It was reported that this was a case of "diamond
cut diamond"; the policy, in fact, having not been signed until after
Barker reported hearing from the vessel; the president intending thus to
secure the premium without taking any risk.
Mrs. Hackett, who since her marriage had retired from
the stage for a period of seven years, was induced to return to it, in
consequence of the failure of her husband, a merchant of Utica, and appeared
on January 27 at the Park Theatre. March 1, James H. Hackett himself appeared
for the first time on any stage at the Park, and in spite of the nervousness
natural under the circumstances, his success warranted his adoption of
the profession. He made several profitable English tours from 1827 to 1851.
In 1829 and 1830 he was connected with the Chatham and the Bowery managements;
in 1837 he managed the old National for a time; still later, he was concerned
in the Astor Place Opera House. He brought out Grisi and Mario in the summer
of 1854. Hackett's imitations were remarkable, and his Dromio (especially
with Barnes) and Falstaff were wonderful. He gained a great deal
of money, which he used first to pay all his trade debts. As a raconteur
he was inimitable.
On March 20 the Common Council required hacks to have
lighted lamps at night.
March 30. One Hewlett, a colored representative of "Shakespeare's
proud heroes," as he himself termed it, gave illustrations of his
talent at 11 Spruce Street.
At this time the steamboat Washington, under the
command of Captain Elihu S. Bunker, then and for many years afterward well
known, commenced running to Providence. John C. Symmes returned to this
city and delivered a series of lectures in support of his theory of a passage
to the centre of the earth, at the North Pole (see 1821).
June 5. Garden Street (Exchange Place) was widened to
Broad. The Merchants' Exchange building (the present Custom House), was
in course of erection. The project of constructing a railroad between Schenectady
and Albany was entertained and advanced.
June 12. Hackett appeared at the Park Theatre for the
third time on any stage, for the benefit of his wife, as Monsieur Morbleu
in "Monsieur Tonson."
June 15 George P. Morris's play of "Brier Cliff"
was produced at the Chatham Garden Theatre and achieved decided success
and long popularity. July 15 Thomas Placide appeared at this house for
the first time in New York; becoming much esteemed as a capital low comedian,
though of less talent and general capacity than his brother Henry. He very
soon after joined the Park company.
June 23 Edwin Forrest appeared for the first time in New
York, at the Park Theatre, as Othello. Returning to the Park, he
produced "Metamora" and "The Gladiator," both written
for him. He was twice in England. Forrest's connection with the Astor Place
riot, and his divorce suit, injured him in public estimation; yet immediately
after the verdict in the latter case, being engaged at the Broadway Theatre,
he opened (in January, 1852) to an enormous house, and played Damon
for sixty-nine consecutive nights, surpassing all records of tragic
performances then existing.
June 24, St. John's Day, was laid the cornerstone
of Masonic Hall, on the site of 314 and 316 Broadway, a Gothic structure
of imposing appearance among buildings of the time. It contained a fine
saloon 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 25 feet high, richly decorated
Here the first fair of the American Institute was held. After the alleged
murder of Morgan and the organization of the Antimasonic party, it
was named Gothic Hall.
Before this building was completed, William Morgan published
his book purporting to reveal the secrets of Masonry, and then occurred
his hidden and unexplained disappearance. As it was alleged that he had
been murdered by Masons and his body secreted, the charge was availed of
by some politicians in the State, and an Antimasonic party was organized,
which not only pervaded this State, but extended to contiguous States,
and continued active for some time. Thurlow Weed, of Albany, took a leading
part in availing himself of the excitement against Masons, with a view
to the organization of an opposition to the Democrats. Upon being told
that the body of a drowned man had been found in Niagara River and that
some declared it to be that of Morgan, while others who had seen it denied
that it was his, Weed is reported to have said: "It is a good enough
Morgan until after the election." In 1830 Francis Granger received
one hundred and twentyeight thousand votes as Antimasonic candidate
for Governor of New York. In 1832 William Wirt was Antimasonic candidate
for President of the United States, and obtained the electoral votes of
Vermont, a State which was for several years wholly under Antimasonic
rule. During this excitement Masons were held to be so obnoxious to propriety
and good citizenship that the order was measurably paralyzed; so much so
that some lodges closed and others met but rarely,-in one case I know of,
the lodge withdrew and donated its funds, exceeding six thousand dollars,
to a charitable institution,-but in time the opposition lapsed and Masonry
lifted its head, and was soon restored to popularity and usefulness. In
the meanwhile the name of the hall was changed to Gothic Hall.
July 4 the new Lafayette Theatre was opened. General Sanford
built during this summer the Mount Pitt Circus, in Grand Street, opposite
East Broadway, first opened in November.
On arrival of the Liverpool packet Silas Richards,
her captain reported that in a given latitude and longitude, he, with
his passengers and crew, saw a sea serpent on the 7th of June.
July 18 the project of cutting a canal from One Hundred
and Eighth Street at the Harlem River to Spuyten Duyvil Creek, was first
entertained and discussed.
September 11 the Williamsburgh Ferry Co. petitioned the
Common Council to allow them to replace their horseboat with a steamboat,
as a steamboat was not provided for in their grant.
September 19 a family from the South arriving here with
several slaves as servants, a party of resident negroes assembled soon
after and endeavored to incite a mob for the purpose of freeing the slaves,
but the general populace and the Courts resisted the design.
The firm of Arthur Tappan & Co. was the largest silk
house in the city. Arthur and Lewis Tappan were the principal originators
of the abolition of slavery movement. Arthur was a zealous bigot of a pronounced
type. He issued to the clerks of the house, and submitted to all applicants
for employment, the following requirements and rules for their government
and manner of living: "Total abstinence; not to visit certain proscribed
places nor remain out after ten o'clock at night; to visit a theatre, and
to make the acquaintance of an actor precluded forgiveness; to attend Divine
service twice on Sundays, and on every Monday morning to report church
attendance, name of the clergyman, and texts; prayermeeting twice
a week, and must belong to an antislavery society and essay to make
converts to the cause."
September 21 the steamboat New Philadelphia
made a passage hence to Albany in the unprecedented time of twelve
hours and fifteen minutes, including all her eight landings. The Sun, in
her fast passage, came from Albany, or down the river.
September 27 Henry Eckford, George W. Browne, Mark Spencer,
and Jacob Barker, who had been indicted for a conspiracy upon the allegation
of irregular transactions in the operation of certain banks and financial
companies, were arraigned in the Court of Oyer and Terminer held by Judge
Edwards; they were prosecuted by Hugh Maxwell and Peter Augustus Jay, and
defended by Thomas Addis Emmet, William M. Price, Murray Hoffman, David
C. Colden, and William R. Williams; Mr. Barker defending his own case.
The Court forbade the publication of the current testimony. Stenography
was not practiced then. On the 23d of the following month the jury was
discharged, having failed to agree upon a verdict; their decision was reported
to be seven to five for a verdict of guilty, against all; and eight to
four for all but Henry Eckford.
October 2 the famous English tragedian, W. C. Macready,
made his American debut at the Park Theatre, as Virginius, instantly taking
a very high place. He returned to England at the end of the season, but
was again at the Park in 1843, and made his last appearance there in the
autumn of 1844.
The first of the stone buildings of the General Theological
Seminary in Chelsea Square (Ninth and Tenth avenues, Twentieth and Twentyfirst
streets) was completed in this year, the cornerstone having been laid by
Bishop White, July 28, 1825. This was the one afterward termed the East
Building, removed in 1892 to make way for new houses for the professors.
The present Dean of the Seminary, the Very Rev. Dr. E. A. Hoffman, writes
in a recent article published in the Trinity Record: "The site
was then far removed from the city and extended down to the banks of the
Hudson, being surrounded on the other sides by green fields, enclosed by
postandrail fences. The grounds, which now stand above the street,
were then an apple orchard, which was situated near the corner of what
is now Ninth Avenue and Twentyfirst Street. Professor Clement C. Moore's
country residence-extending from Nineteenth to Twenty-fourth Street and
from Eighth Avenue to the river, and known as Chelsea-was the only house
in the vicinity; and with this exception, save a few straggling houses
in the village of Greenwich, there was scarcely a good brick house to be
found between it and Canal Street. The only approach to the grounds was
through a narrow road, called Love Lane, running easterly to the Bloomingdale
Road, now Broadway; while the water was at times so deep immediately around
the new building as to make it inaccessible during a great portion of the
winter, except on horseback or in a carriage." This fine property
had been given to the Seminary by Clement C. Moore, immortalized among
children by his verses, "'Twas the Night before Christmas"; being
a part of his patrimony, formerly attached to the countryhouse of
his father, the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Moore, Bishop of New York.
October 23 was a day of consequence in New York's theatrical
annals, for it saw the opening of the New York Theatre; so named officially,
but even then called and afterward universally known as the Bowery Theatre,
constructed on the site of the Bull's Head (see page 169). It was opened
with "The Road to Ruin," and the farce of "Raising the Wind,"
under the management of George H. Barrett. Prices of admission: pit, 371/2
cents; boxes, 75 cents; gallery, 25 cents. This was the first theatre in
New York to be lighted with gas. The house and stage were the largest in
America. For many years Thomas S. Hamblin was the lessee, and Gilfert the
manager, and the house acquired great fame. Many plays of note were here
first produced and many actors and actresses who became celebrated first
appeared here. Here Mme. Malibran was paid six hundred dollars for a performance-a
sum in those days held to be enormous-and here she made her last appearance
in America, on October 28, 1827. The Bowery suffered more than its fair
share of the fate that besets theatres, being four times destroyed by fire;
viz., in 1828, 1836, 1838, and 1845.
In December of this year it was first thought necessary
to pave the sidewalk in Canal Street, and then only on one side. Waltzing
was first introduced this season as an element of evening entertainment,
this occurred at the house in Franklin Street of a member of a leading
French shipping firm. I was present. The discussions and declarations on
the propriety of such a lapse from the requirements of a society principally
(at that time) confined to the descendants of Knickerbockers and Puritans,
can more readily be inferred than portrayed. Sed tempora mutantur, et
nos mutamur in illis.
Lithography was first introduced. There was but one boat
at the Paulus Hook (Jersey City) ferry. It was about this time that the
making of mint juleps was introduced here; they were a great novelty and
were indulged in to a great extent, as much in the way of curiosity as
from a liking for them.
Onesippe Pacolin commenced business at No. 7 Wall Street,
and subsequently in 1840 removed to 82 Broadway; he was the first strictly
French boot and shoe maker of a Parisian stamp that opened in this city,
and so superior was the material he used, and so thorough his workmanship,
that he soon took the lead in his line, and in a comparatively few years
retired with an independence.
Mrs. Knight, from London, first appeared at the Park Theatre
in this year.
Lafayette Place was opened on the 4th of July in this
year, one hundred feet in width and through Vauxhall Garden. Bancker, which
was a street notorious for the objectionable character of its dwellers,
and a byeword, was changed to Madison Street.
The State prison at Christopher Street was purchased of
the State by the Corporation for one hundred thousand dollars.
The public schools at this period were but five in number,
viz.: "Chatham Street," near Tryon Row; 119 "Henry,"
near Pike Street; "Hudson," corner Barrow Street; "Rivington,"
near Pike Street, and "Chrystie Street," No. 70.
In consequence of a rupture in the relations of the Professors
and Trustees of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a second college
was organized, termed the Rutgers Medical College, which was located in
Duane near to Church Street.
Antoine Malapar, who in 1825 had been a bartender
at Castle Garden, associated with George I. Pride and others, advertised
the formation of the Marble Manufacturing Co., assumed the province of
a Bank of Deposit, and issued notes. The enterprise was viewed with such
general suspicion that it existed but for a brief period, failing within
the year, and in its failure the Franklin Bank, the Jefferson Insurance
Co., and a bank in New Jersey in some manner were involved, and they also
failed. Malapar had descended upon the public in great force, and for a
time was a noted figure in Wall Street, standing prominently on the steps
of banks and the Exchange, displaying a gold pencilcase wherewith
to note his operations-gold pencils were scarce in those days. For a year
or more his local renown was nearly equal to that of the leading speculators
of the day. He, however, gradually disappeared from the public gaze and
was quite forgotten until, a few years afterward, it was learned that he
had died in the Almshouse.
At this period wateringplace life was slightly organized
and comparatively restricted. Nothing was known of the general summer exodus
that in these days divests the finer parts of the town of almost every
sign of occupancy from May till November. The places of resort for the
moderate vacations indulged in at the time were Ballston Spa (perhaps Saratoga),
Lebanon Springs, and Trenton Falls, N.Y., and Schooley's Mountain, N.J.
Newport was a quiet town at which the steamboats hence to or from Providence
touched, if there was any one to land or to be taken off. Places now thronged
by thousands for the sake of picturesque scenery were then unvisited; indeed
the love of Nature seems to be a development of more modern civilization
and modes of thought. The Adirondacks retained their native wildness; a
few hardy spirits adventured out of curiosity or for scientific purposes
to some points in the White Mountain region, and the reports of extreme
difficulty and considerable danger in ascending Mount Washington were apt
to deter others from imitating their example. It was not till 1840 that
Abel Crawford, first of all men, rode a horse to the foot of the cone or
dome of Mount Washington.
The Almshouse at Bellevue which had been commenced in
1823 was completed in this year, and were it not that it would awaken mournful
recollections among families and friends of unfortunates, I could recite
a number of instances of meeting, in my official visits to Bellevue and
the "Islands," schoolmates, youthful companions, bright intellects
and promising men, that were there awaiting that early dissolution ever
attendant upon debauched dissipation.
New York Society Library, incorporated 1795, was located
at corner of Nassau and Cedar streets.
In the previous year, 1819, the French Benevolent Society
of New York (Societe Francaise de Bienfaisance de New York) was
incorporated; it was organized in 1809. Its objects, to assist needy French
people with medical advice, medicines, food, clothing, and temporary shelter.
About 1823 there was a young man in the city who, with
his associates, amongst some other festive amusements, would occasionally,
in the early hours of the morning, awake or terrorize the "Dogberrys"
of the city watch, and who not only did "those things he ought not
to have done," but "left undone those that he ought to have done,"
and as a result, he was very generally and well known and quoted. In addition,
he was the owner and driver of a very fast mare, which, for exceptional
speed, his daily displays of her in Broadway, of her capacity on the roads,
and the uniform manner in which she, even at night, however unguided, would
return with him to her stable, was as well known as he was.
As there were not any trotting courses or associations,
especial trotting wagons or sulkies, or timing watches at this period,
her speed was not publicly known; my impression is that it was about a
mile in three minutes, about equal to that of the "Boston Blue"
of Mr. Stackpole, who claimed that in 1810 he had trotted a mile in two
minutes fortyeight and onehalf seconds, and in order the better
to avail himself of such singular and exceptional speed, he was taken to
The only competitor of this mare was a horse owned by
Wm. Niblo named "Dragon," and on an afternoon, when the usual
number of gentlemen who had driven out of town to Cato's (Fiftysecond
Street) were resting their horses and refreshing themselves, the owner
of the mare referred to entered, and in a discussion that ensued regarding
her points he was asked what he thought of Billy Niblo's "Dragon,"
to which he vauntingly replied, "My mare can show him her tail from
Brooklyn to Jamaica." A lad who was present related this to a boarder
of Niblo, who immediately challenged the mare, which being accepted, the
match came off from the turnpike gate on the road to Jamaica, about where
Adams Street and Boerum Place met it.
Cato drove the mare, and White Howard, a keeper of a livery
stable at Brooklyn, drove "Dragon," and one of the conditions
of the match was that, in the event of either horse "breaking
up," he was to be stopped and turned around; this was not an exceptional
requirement, it being one that was observed both here and in England at
this period. "Dragon" won.
A few years after this the public were surprised to learn
that the owner of the mare had mended his ways, joined the Methodist Church,
and become a zealous and vociferous member.
About 1824, a family of Charleston, S. C., on their return
home, were driven down to a pier south of Wall Street, to embark in a vessel,
and as the carriage was fully occupied by the mother, children, and maid,
the father walked down. It occurred, however, that the carriage was backed
against the stringpiece of the pier, and from its insufficiency, carriage
and horses fell into the water and the entire party was drowned. I saw
the carriage and horses in the water.
St. Andrew's Society of the State of New York, founded
in 1756, and incorporated in 1826, is probably the oldest society in the
country. Its object, the promotion of social and friendly intercourse among
Scotchmen and their descendants in this city and its vicinity, and the
relief of such as may be indigent.