THE business stringency continued this year, with
securities much depressed, trade stagnant, and city real estate
at the lowest point of salable value it had reached for many years.
The Cunard steamer Britannia arrived at Boston,
bringing twentyfive days later news from England. This same
vessel, although one of the first class of her day, would not
now be of sufficient dimensions and speed to be chartered for
the transportation of cattle.
The average of nineteen passages from Liverpool to
Boston via Halifax, and deducting time there, was four teen days
and ten hours, and on January 20, Charles Dickens, with Mrs. Dickens,
* In her, not on her, which latter
expression is universally published in our daily papers; and how
such an inappropriate term could have been adopted can only be
explained by the analogy that before the advent of steam navigation
on the Western rivers, and the construction of railroads; the
transportation of crops, etc., and even of passengers, was effected
on rafts, borne by the current of the rivers. One was very properly
said to have arrived on a raft; hence, when steamboats were introduced,
the expression was continued. One coming by railroad might with
equal propriety say he arrived on a railway car.
During the Mexican War, upon the arrival of MajorGeneral
Scott and his staff at Vera Cruz, it was published throughout
the Union that he and they had arrived there on the Massachusetts.
Now, from my knowledge of the vessel, I fail to see how they
could have been accommodated on her, that is above deck, and if
they were not wholly accommodated there, they did not arrive "on
her" In other words, the expression is inapplicable and a
her. It would
be difficult to convey to my readers of later generations a sense
of the excitement caused in the simpler society of that period
by this visit. Dickens had then published, of his more important
works, the "Pickwick Papers," "Oliver Twist,"
"Nicholas Nickleby," "The Old Curiosity Shop,"
and "Barnaby Rudge." These were as familiar in this
country as in England; great novelists were rare sights here;
and mere curiosity joined with a feeling of real personal attachment
to induce evidences of interest and regard which, to speak truly,
were a little beyond proper measure.
Some of our leading citizens united in a letter of
welcome to the novelist while he was yet in Boston, inviting him
to a public dinner. Almost immediately afterward a considerable
meeting at the Astor House, presided over by the Mayor, determined
to add to the dinner a grand ball at the Park Theatre; a letter
of invitation, signed by all present, being despatched to Boston
by a private hand for delivery personally. The Journal of Commerce
published the following:
They'll tope thee, Boz, they'll soap thee, Boz,
Already they begin;
They'll dine thee, Boz, they'll wine thee, Boz,
They'll stuff thee to the chin.
They'll smother thee with victuals, Boz,
With fish and flesh and chickens;
Beware, Boz, take care, Boz,
Of forming false conclusions,
Because a certain set of folks,
Do mete thee some obtrusions,
For they are not the people, Boz,
These tempters of the cork,
No more than a church steeple, Boz,
Is Boston or New York.
The ball occurred on February 14, the stage and pit
of the theatre being floored over for dancing. The decorations
of the house were wholly composed of scenes from the works of
Dickens, and upon a small stage erected for the purpose were displayed
in intervals between the dances tableaux vivants composed
after the incidents of his different novels. The ball was attended
by about twentyfive hundred persons; and in some instances
subscribers to the ball, who were prevented from attending, sold
their tickets for forty dollars. The dinner was given on February
18, at the City Hotel, with Washington Irving in the chair. Many
private attentions also were cheerfully paid to Mr. and Mrs. Dickens,
who sailed for home on June 7. The "American Notes,"
published in the fall of this year, were commonly (though perhaps
improperly) considered to be an ill return for hospitality so
lavish. To this feeling the appearance of "Martin Chuzzlewit,"
in the next year, added (and more justly added) a new bitterness.
In the midst of their wrath, however, people smiled when remembering
the advice attributed to Mr. Tony Weller by Mr. Dickens:
that Mr. Pickwick should escape from the Fleet prison in
a hollow pianoforte and take passage for America, after which
in due time he should "come back and write a book about the
'Merrikins' as 'll pay all his expenses and more, if he blows
'em up enough."
Mr. Robert C. Winthrop relates of Mr. Dickens that,
before he reached Washington, he had accepted invitations to dinner
to an extent that precluded his acceptance of an invitation from
both the President and axPresident Adams. The latter, in
anticipation of meeting Dickens, had, at his daughterinlaw's
suggestion, procured a copy of the "Pickwick Papers,"
but could not, as he said, proceed beyond a few chapters, remarking
that while the author had a wonderful faculty of description,
the incidents portrayed were not worth describing; adding that
"there was no novel like 'Tom Jones.'" If instead he
had said "Gil Blas," there are many like to myself who
would have agreed with him.
Mr. Winthrop further relates that Dickens wrote to
Mr. Adams that he and his wife asked the privilege of coming to
luncheon the following day at two o'clock. Accordingly an elaborate
lunch was provided, but not only did Dickens and his wife come
late, but before the meats had been removed they arose, with the
plea that they had to dress for dinner at the house of an employe
of the State Department, and the luncheon was broken up.
As some mitigation of Dickens's conduct on this and
some other occasions, it was advanced that he had been led into
the infelicity of "previous engagements" by officious
friends. On the other hand he evidenced a preference for the company
of newspaper men and reporters, and the flattery he had received
at Boston and New York induced a degree of brusquerie and
waywardness even in the company of men entitled to his respect.
Copies of Dickens's "American Notes" were
received from England, and his illnatured and unjust criticisms
and but partial commendations aroused a very general feeling of
indignation and humiliation with those who had been in anywise
connected with the complimentary manner in which he had been received.
I met him on his second visit here, and although
1 breakfasted in company with him, I declined an introduction,
notwithstanding I am an enthusiast when I refer to some of his
Mr. Dickens's visit was measurably disappointing;
we did too much for him and his lady; they did not appreciate
the honor bestowed on them, and overrated their importance. When
in Washington they were charged with a neglect of etiquette amounting
It must be added that on the subsequent visit of
Mr. Dickens, at the Press Dinner given to him in April, 1868,
just before his departure, he made a graceful and feeling statement
in the nature of an apology, or even a recantation, which he engaged
to have appended to every copy of the offending works so long
as he or his representatives should retain control of their publication.
January 19, the Registry Law for the city was repealed
by an act of the Legislature.
In February the Herald claimed to have attained
a daily publication of 27,890 copies. On the 2d, the General Bankrupt
Law was enacted by Congress.
February 8. Public sentiment was so adverse to the
operations of stockbrokers that Recorder F. A. Tallmadge,
in his charge to the Grand Jury, invited its attention to their
The Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co. was organized by
several merchants with a subscription of one hundred thousand
dollars, and Walter R. Jones was elected president. In 1860 it
made a scrip dividend of thirty-five per cent., and had assets
amounting to $6,646,292.16. and 1894, forty per cent., and assets,
February 12. The City Despatch Post was this day
put in operation. Letters or parcels under two ounces, three cents;
under eight, six cents. It was known as the Penny Post.
Referring to a file of the Evening Post for
a date which I had forgotten, I noticed its publication of the
list of unclaimed letters in the Postoffice. This was a
practice of the period before and for some years after. The greater
number of such letters, and the space occupied by the addresses,
after a few years rendered such notice quite impracticable.
February 14, Bennett of the Herald, who had
been indicted for libels on Judges Lynch and Noah of the Court
of Sessions, was fined one hundred dollars for one offence and
two hundred and fifty for the other.
April 9, having occasion to refer to a date in this
year, I noticed the quotations of the market both for meats and
fish, and the rate of exchange on bankbills, and give them
without selection as to period or prices exceptionally high or
Meats and fish: Porterhouse
steaks, 12C. per lb. Ducks and fowls, 50 to IOOC. each. Beef,
5 to 11C. per lb. Sirloin, IOC. per lb. Mutton, 5 to 8C. per lb.
Chickens, 371/2 to 75C. each. Lobster, 8c. per lb. Butter,
25c. per lb. Lamb, 6 to 8c.per lb. Shad, 183/4 c. each.
Crabs, 2c. each.
Rates of exchange on banknotes: New
England, 3/8 to 1/2 per cent. Pennsylvania, 1/2 to 2 per cent.
Maryland, 31/2 to 7 per cent. Virginia. 8 to 9 per cent.
Mississippi, 50 per cent. Ohio, 12 per cent. Georgia, 5 to 20
per cent. Alabama, 16 to 17 per cent. Illinois, 50 per cent. Michigan,
35 per cent. Florida, 60 to 75 per cent. Louisiana to 15 per cent.
In the same paper I note the sales of stocks and
bonds, as reported for the day, to consist of but twentyeight
sales of all kinds.
April 15 In this year our shipping interests,
like all others, suffered from the depression of business, but
as an indication of the extent of the New York shipping trade
at this period, in comparison with that of later years, there
were in port this day 70 ships, 34 barks, 93 brigs and 250 schooners.
April 28. There was a large meeting at Tammany Hall
this evening, held in pursuance of a call to express the opinion
of the Democratic party on the action of Thomas W. Dorr of Rhode
Island, in declaring himself elected Governor and essaying to
maintain the position. Eventually he failed to maintain his claim,
and he and his followers dispersed. When he was here in about
1825, reading law, we resided together.
May. The new Custom House on Wall, William, and Hanover
streets and Exchange Place was completed and occupied; the entire
cost being a million of dollars.
May 10. The second great horse race between Northern
and Southern breeders came off this day at the Union Course, L.
I. The occasion of it was a challenge by Colonel Wm. R. Johnson,
"The Napoleon of the Turf," to James Long of Washington,
to run his mare "Fashion" fourmile heats against
the latter's horse "Boston," for twenty thousand dollars
a side. It was won by the former in 7 minutes 321/2 seconds
and 7 minutes 45 seconds, and it was estimated that there were
fully fifty thousand persons present.
After the Anglomania possessed our breeders
here, and they supplanted two, three, and fourmile
heats by flat races of threequarters to a mile and onehalf,
and entered twoyearolds, a horse over three years
of age is seldom seen upon a course, but when entries of threeyearolds
and above were alone entertained, horses were entered and run
up to nine years, which was the age of "Fashion" in
the race above noted, "Boston" being five; and "Eclipse"
in his great race, in 1823, was eight years old.
June 7. In the early part of this month, Judge Kent and Aldermen Ball and Hatfield presiding,*
((* Previously, and for some years after, the aldermen were associated with a judge in all criminal cases.))
a case was tried that involved very much more interest
than any occurring within the period of these reminiscences. It
was that of Colonel Monroe Edwards, alias J. P. Caldwell,
who had been arrested on the 7th of October in the previous year
for forgery and fraud. He, by a system of forged letters, to and
from various parties in the country, displayed knowledge of a
high order of business and commercial affairs, by which he obtained
two sums of twentyfive thousand dollars each, on exchange,
notes, and letters. On October 5 he was brought to this city.
He was prosecuted by Jas. R. Whiting, the District
Attorney, assisted by Hon. Ogden Hoffman, and defended by Hon.
J. J. Crittenden, U. S. Senator, and Hon. Thos. F. Marshall, both
from Kentucky, J. Prescott Hall, Robt. M. Emmett, Wm. M. Price?
and Wm. M. Evarts.
The trial lasted seven days, the verdict was "guilty,"
and the sentence ten years in the State Prison. So great was the
interest in the trial, and such was the eloquence of the counsel,
that the procedings with the speeches, published in pamphlet form
and sold for six and one quarter cents, were thus circulated not
only in New York, but very widely through adjacent States.
This was the first appearance of Mr. Evarts in an
important case, and he gave promise of his future distinguished
Edwards died, January 29, 1847, before the termination
of his sentence, from indiscretion, and to this day, when it is
essayed by those who knew of him to give an example of personal
address, skill, and criminal adroitness -he is instanced.
June 1, Niblo's opened with the Ravels and a dramatic
company of which the Misses Cushman were members. The Ravels occupied
the house for four nights of each week. During this season they
produced " The Green Monster," a pantomime that remained
famous for many years.
The work on the Croton Aqueduct was so far completed
that water was turned into it on June 21, and on the 27th it was
admitted with formal ceremony into what was known as the upper
reservoir at Yorkville, now familiar as the "old reservoir"
in Central Park. It was introduced with further ceremonies, on
July 5, into the reservoir at Fifth Avenue and Fortysecond
Street, then described as "at Murray's Hill, a short drive
from the city."
July 9, Mr. Pinteaux opened the Cafe des Mille Colonnes
in Broadway, between Duane and Anthony (Worth) streets. In accommodation
and appointments it was far in excess of any previous essay in
July 19, Marcus Cicero Stanley, who had rendered
himself notorious in some alleged scandalous transactions, was
cowhided in the Park by an offended party.
August: James E. Cooley, a resident of the city,
had travelled in the East; and on his return he published a book
of his travels, in which he commented on some act of George R.
Gliddon, the British consul at Cairo. Soon after the appearance
of the book Mr. Gliddon arrived in the country, and he provoked
a personal rencontre with Mr. Cooley in the store of the
Messrs. Appleton, the publishers of the book; resulting in Mr.
Cooley being fined by a court to the amount of five dollars.
John Anderson, who occupied a store in Broadway under
the St. Nicholas Hotel, Broadway and Spring Street, had employed
a very pretty young woman named Mary Rogers. She was very attractive,
and so much admired that both she and the place where she was
employed partook of notoriety. On a day in July (a Sunday, I think)
she left home, and was never seen again until her bruised body
was discovered in the water near the "Sibyl's Cave"
at Hoboken. An examination of the vicinity developed the fact
that there had been a severe struggle. The notoriety of the victim,
the evidence of her resistance, whether in defence of honor or
life, the question of the animus and the identity of the
murderer, all contributed to an exciting mystery, which the police
of two counties signally failed to disclose. The theory of robbery
from the person was not for a moment entertained. An opinion was
general, which gained ground, that the act was that of an officer
of the Navy.
In August Lord Ashburton (Alexander Baring), having
concluded with Mr. Webster the negotiation of the "Ashburton
Treaty," by which was defined the disputed boundary line
between Maine and Canada, visited New York on his way homeward.
He was received with every sign of good feeling, had the Governor's
Room in the City Hall placed at his disposal, received much private
hospitality, and was entertained at a public dinner and also by
Captain M. C. Perry, of the Navy, on board his command, the steamer
Fulton, which occasion I was present.
September 13, one McCoy was killed in a prizefight
by his antagonist, Lilly. The affair took place at HastingsuponHudson.
Lilly escaped, but the seconds in the combat were convicted of
manslaughter in the fourth degree.
September, George Vandenhoff appeared here for the
first time in this country, in "Hamlet," and afterward
in other tragedies and in high comedies. His performances were
of great elegance, but not very successful with the public.
September 26, Richard Riker died.
September 29, Rev. Antoine Verren, Rector of the
Church du St. Esprit, having been tried by Judge Lynch and four
aldermen under an indictment for perjury, was acquitted by the
jury with the expressed approval of the Court.
At this period the depression in business and manufactures
was very extensive, and the effect was sensibly exhibited in the
depreciation of stocks; thus: In nine solvent companies, the stocks
of which were marketable, the mean depreciation was fortysix
per cent. In the latter part of this year I joined the United
States Steam Frigate Missouri, and the effect of the manufacturing
depression was manifest in the personnel of the crew; a
majority of which were workmen out of their proper employ, and
were derisively termed, by the sailors proper, the "cotton
October 16, at a public sale, vacant lots in the
city, which in 1836 had been purchased for twentyfive hundred
dollars and three thousand dollars, sold for five hundred dollars.
As a matter of general information it was published
that the time of travel hence to New Orleans was from six to seven
days, and the least actual cost $57.25.
October 18, in illustration of the manner of conducting
the nomination of candidates for Congress, State and City officers:
each ward was entitled to five delegates, who met at Tammany Hall,
and there by ballot announced their candidate. On this day there
was a nominating convention held there for Register and Assemblymen.
At this period, and for some years after, our representatives
in Congress and the Legislature were nominated and elected on
a general ticket. There were seventeen wards, hence the convention
consisted of eightyfive members, and fortythree votes
were necessary for a nomination. On the ballot for Register J.
Sherman Brownell received fortyeight votes, and was duly
nominated. On the first ballot for Assemblymen, there were the
names of fiftytwo candidates presented, of which George
G. Glasier, a shipwright, received forty-four and he was the only
candidate receiving a majority; Samuel J. Tilden being fourth
on the list with thirtysix votes.
Mr. and Mrs. Brougham first appeared in October;
he became at once popular and long remained efficient on our stage
as actor and playwright.
October 14, the great Croton Water celebration took
place, surpassing in its proportions and interest any public occasion
ever before known in New York, including even the famous parade
on the completion of the Erie Canal. The procession was estimated
to be seven miles long, in endless variety, military and civic-including
all the troops of the neighborhood, the Fire Department, with
firemen of Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and other cities (a mile and
a half of firemen), and representatives of trades and associations
of every kind; it required more than two hours to pass, in ranks
from two to ten deep. The printers had a car bearing the press
which Benjamin Franklin had once worked, On which were printed
during the passage, for distribution among the crowd, copies of
an ode written for the occasion by George P. Morris, which at
a later hour was sung by a large choir, from a stage erected in
the City Hall Park. The route was from the Battery up Broadway
to Union Square, where the Governor (Seward) reviewed the troops,
then by way of the Bowery, etc., to the City Hall, where the procession
was reviewed by the Mayor and Common Council. At this point Samuel
Stevens, President of the Building Commission, formally transferred
the works to the city, the speech of acceptance being made by
John L. Lawrence, President of the Croton Aqueduct Board. A collation
followed, at which the Mayor and the Governor spoke. Through the
day the new fountains in Union Square and the City Hall Park (the
latter on the site now defaced by the Postoffice) had been
playing, to the admiration of all spectators. In the evening a
brilliant general illumination ended the public festivities. The
city swarmed with visitors; all the nearby towns poured
in their populations, while great numbers came from places comparatively
The introduction of water into the city by the completion
of the Aqueduct, and the consequent construction of sewers in
the streets, afforded the opportunity for the introduction of
it in buildings, and, as a result, plumbers were in great demand;
but as the few in operation at this period were inexperienced
in house work, as it is termed, parties who were wholly ignorant
of plumbing embarked in the business, and advertised themselves
as "practical" plumbers; hence this general and superfluous
prefix to billiard, tonsorial and boot blacking parlors; hatters'
signs, etc., etc.!
November 17, Assistant Alderman Atwill introduced
a resolution in the Board with a view to the establishment of
a day and night police.
It was in this year that the evanescent political
party, styled The Native Americans, came into existence. The foundation
of its organization was that none but native-born citizens were
to be its members, and all were pledged not to vote for any foreigner
A short time previous to this, Simpson, the manager
of the Park Theatre, had directed that henceforth females unaccompanied
by a man were not to be admitted during a performance; upon which
paeans were sung by the press, from the pulpit, and by a large
portion of the public. The operation of such a proceeding cannot
be fully understood at this day. The third tier of boxes, or gallery,
with its foyer and a barroom, was wholly given up to women
and those who sought their company or visited there as spectators.
Unfortunately the small size of audiences at theatres at this
period, except upon occasions of especial attraction, coupled
with the loss of the many men who were attracted solely by the
presence of the women, proved too powerful to permit the restriction
of women, whereupon Simpson was criticised by the press and contributors
to it. Hence his position was, "I'll be damned if I do and
be damned if I don't."
The prices of admission at this time were seventyfive
cents to the boxes and fifty cents to the pit, now termed the
orchestra and held to be the most desirable location, and at the
About this date prevailed "Mock auctions,"
or auctions at which, by the aid of confederates, termed "Peter
Funks," not an article was sold except at a remunerative
price, or in such manner as to trap the unwary, credulous, or
submissive victim, in a purchase in which he would be unmercifully
The grand coup of the
auctioneer was to set up a display card on which were affixed
a variety of articles; knives, scissors, chains, rings, mock jewelry,
etc., etc., upon which a "Funk" would start a bid so
small, compared with the value of all the articles, that the uninitiated
party present, alike to Peter Pindar's "Hodge," thinks
"the fellow must have stole them," and he ventures a
bid, whereupon the articles are ceded to him and he is invited
into a back room to settle. He produces the amount of his bid
or a bankbill in excess of the amount of it, whereupon to
his dismay he is informed that there are fifty different articles
on the card (as the case may be), and that the price is so much
per piece. Upon his remonstrance he is met by two or three men
who declare that the articles were offered at so much per piece,
and that he bought them, whereupon, after some dissent, he either
pays the full amount or loses his money; end as the class of persons
who were so swindled were invariably countrymen, they soon left
the city and abided their loss, in preference to being incarcerated
in the House of Detention to testify if they made the charge.
Whenever an effective coup was made by a sale,
it was announced "No more sales today," and the
place was immediately closed; thus precluding the victim from
making any immediate demand or disturbance, upon his discovery
of the swindle. A common delusion practiced upon a stranger, when
he stopped at the door and asked what sale it was, was the uniform
reply that it was a sheriff's sale, which was given as a sure
bait to the unwary.
Despite the attempt to restrain these auctions by
legal practice, and the publicity that was given in the papers
to their swindling practices, they continued to flourish (Broadway
and Chatham Street being the principal locations) until one of
our Mayors conceived the effective method of employing a man with
two large canvas placards suspended, one in front and one behind
him, on which were emblazoned in large letters "Beware of
Mock Auctions," and the duty of the man bearing the notices
was to walk to and fro in front of these stores.
November 4, Daniel Webster made another visit to
New York, and held a public reception at the City Hall, which
was attended by the Chamber of Commerce in a body, whose president
made an address.
In this month died John Delmonico, the head at that
time of the familiar business that had then become well established.
He was one of a deerhunting party at Snediker's, L. I.,
placed on a stand; he wounded a deer, which was killed at the
adjoining stand. When his associates went to join him they found
him dead; the excitement of the coming of and firing at the deer
Philip Hone's "Diary" preserves for posterity
the following singular notice: "A Card: The widow, brother,
and nephew Lorenzo, of the late much respected John Delmonico,
tender their heartfelt thanks to the friends, Benevolent societies,
and Northern Liberty Fire Engine Company, who accompanied his
remains to his last home. The establishment will be reopened today,
under the same firm of Delmonico Brothers, and no pains of the
bereft family will be spared to give general satisfaction. Restaurant,
barroom, and private dinners, No. 2 South William Street;
furnished rooms No. 76 Broad Street, as usual."
October 12 James Watson Webb, who in June had fought
a duel with the Hon. Thomas Marshall of Kentucky, in the State
of Delaware, and was wounded in the leg, was on the 1st instant
presented by the Grand Jury, who in the indictment submitted the
following exceptional charge, declaring "James Watson Webb,
of an evil and wicked mind and malicious disposition, and a common
duellist, fighter, and disturber of the peace of the people of
the State of New York," etc.
To this Webb pleaded guilty of having left the State
with the intent to fight a duel; whereupon Recorder Tallmadge,
a political and personal friend of his, to the surprise of all
held that leaving the State with the intent to fight did not render
him amenable for having fought, and the indictment was dismissed.
The origin of the meeting was a charge of Webb that corruption was resorted to, to effect the repeal of the Bankrupt Law. *
((* This law was repealed by the House of Representatives
on the 19th of January, and by the Senate on February 25, 1843)).
November 19, Webb was again presented, and pleaded
guilty; he was committed to the Tombs, but under exceptional indulgence
as to quarters, and regaled by the munificence of his friends.
Bennett of the Herald drew up a petition asking
the Governor to pardon Webb, which was signed by fully five thousand
persons, and forwarded to the Governor (Seward). On the 26th he
was sentenced to two years in prison, and on the 2d of December
he received a pardon.
While he was in prison Bennett invited a party to
send him one hundred segars, and another to send him half a dozen
of champagne. The first was complied with, and Webb was very indignant;
for it should be understood that between Webb and Bennett there
was a personal, professional, and political feud, and that the
latter's actions were designed to be received as the compassionate
or eleemosynary action of one who forgave an offender in view
of his being in distress.
December 1, Webb and Marshall were indicted in Wilmington,
Del., for having fought the duel there.
The Messrs. Robert and George L. Schuyler in the
preceding year contracted with the Russian Government for the
construction of a steam frigate, the Kamschatka; she was
completed and delivered in this year at Cronstadt. Regretfully,
the Messrs. Schuyler, who were not experienced either as shipbuilders
or engineers, adopted a novel design of engines and boilers, which
was disapproved by engineers (I use the last word emphatically),
and the vessel was not favorably received by the Government after
it had witnessed the operation of her machinery.
December 15, the United States brig Somers, Commander
Alex. S. Mackenzie commanding, arrived from Monrovia, Africa,
and soon after it was learned that while cruising on the coast
a midshipman on board had formed a mutinous band (the crew of
the vessel being principally boys, apprentices from the schoolships)
with the purpose of murdering the officers and seizing the vessel,
In connection with which J. W. Wales, the purser's steward, was
approached and asked to join. He temporized with the proposers,
and availing himself of a fitting opportunity, he disclosed the
plan to the commander, which was to feign a scuffle on the forecastle,
and on the appearance of the officers then to murder all but the
surgeon, whereupon the ringleaders were arrested, a courtmartial
convened which declared the midshipman, a boatswain's mate, and
a seaman guilty, and they were immediately hanged.
This summary proceeding was severely censured by
many, and especially so as the midshipman was a son of a Cabinet
officer at the time. On the other hand, the action was held to
have been necessary to secure the safety of lives, the vessel,
and the honor of the service; added to which, the vessel was but
a brig, the number of officers was small, and as they were young,
it would have been injudicious to have risked the rising of even
a portion of a crew that had considered and planned a mutiny.
On the 28th instant a Court of Inquiry was convened
at the Navy Yard here, Commodore Charles Stewart presiding, and
the Hon. Ogden Hoffman, Judge Advocate.
Captain Mackenzie's professional reputation and career
were for some time damaged, but late in the spring of 1843 a longcontinued
courtmartial fully and honorably acquitted him, and the
verdict was approved by the President.
About this period associations of young men under the general designation of target companies, but appearing as "Guards," "Sharpshooters," "Fencibles," etc., became frequent; and as they paraded almost exclusively in the months preceding the fall election, they generally assumed the names of candidates in nomination for a political office, or of the firm or manufactory in which they were employed, when the number thus employed was sufficient to form a company. The conventional manner of equipment was a band of music, two or more tall men, with axes and fur shakos and beards, to represent pioneers; then the company, with muskets and belts, and then a negro supporting a target. The pioneers were men who made a profession of such services, and were hired for the occasion. The muskets, belts, etc., were also hired. In some instances the recipient of the high honor of having a military (?) company named after him marched in front, supported by some congenial friends. Contributions were not confined to money; but plated ware of various kinds was given and exhibited, generally strung on a pole which was supported at each end by one of the company, conspicuously shown in front.
After the competition for the prizes, the first proceeding on the return of the companies seems to have been that of riddling the target with balls, evidently without regard to the distance at which it was placed, and the trophies were suspended from the buttonholes of the winners, and the negro bore the evidence of the prowess of the company with all the "pomp and circumstance" his race is conspicuous for when put in prominence.
For many years the companies on their return, without exception, marched by the office of the Emerald in Nassau Street; and the following morning the members could read a notice of them and their "soldierly appearance."
The American Museum, which in 1816 was at 21 Chatham Street, and in 1817 removed to the New York Institution, a long building fronting on Chambers Street, and afterward removed to the corner of Broadway and Ann Street, was in this year owned and operated by Phineas T. Barnum, who had obtained possession of the stock and building of Scudder's Museum, on the site later occupied by the New York Emerald. Here he produced the dwarf man "General" Tom Thumb. In 1841 Barnum occupied a bookstore at 137 Nassau Street.
The New York and Harlem Railroad was opened to Williamsbridge.
In this year the commonschool system was extended to the city by act of Legislature.
The Park Theatre made great efforts to recover its supremacy; prices were again reduced as follows: boxes, 50 cents; pit, 25 cents; and gallery, 12-1/2 cents.
September, Barnum, later termed the Napoleon of showmen,
introduced a construction which he heralded in his customary manner,
and termed it the mummy of a Mermaid. It was the construction
of the upper half of a young woman and the after part of a fish,
and so elaborately and artistically effected that very many people
were deceived and gave faith to the imposition. In 1844, when
I was in Washington, I became acquainted with the man who manufactured
it; he was from the north of Europe.
It was ascertained that since July 1 of the preceding
year, eightyfive steamboats, plying in the Western rivers,
had been wrecked, either by explosion of their boilers, fire,
At the end of the year there was given at the Park
Theatre an early form of "Toodles," a play which afterward,
at Burton's, became a very great favorite.
The Bowery also reduced its prices this season to
371/2 cents for the boxes and 19 cents for the pit, followed
by a further reduction to 25 cents and 121/2 cents.