JANUARY 2, the secretary of the New York Life and
Trust Co., Nicoll was discovered to have been speculating heavily
in lottery tickets and stocks, since December, 1841; he resigned,
and his account was deficient two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
January 5, the historic walls of the Park Theatre
were desecrated by the conversion of the pit for the accommodation
of Welsh's Olympic Circus and its appearance there, which was
not only numerously but fashionably attended until its closing
on March 6.
January 8, at "The Broadway Cottage," opposite
the Hospital, which was then termed a "groggery," "rumshop,"
or "ginmill," and now known as saloons (why, I
have not as yet been satisfactorily replied to), a young woman
in the daytime was allured in and violently assaulted; the perpetrator,
a man named Dingler, was arrested. Jas. R. Whiting was District
Attorney at the time, and his arraignment and invective, in his
opening of the case and his charge to the jury, were exceptional
essays, and so effective that the jury were absent less than five
minutes, and the prisoner was sentenced to ten years' hard labor
in the State Prison.
In illustration of the enterprise of the journalists
of the time in the absence of express trains on railroads, electric
telegraphy, etc., upon the assembling of the Legislature in this
year, the Governor's message was expressed to the city by rival
journals, on different sides of the Hudson River. The riders of
the expresses were to start upon the delivery of the message at
12 M.; that of the Tribune reached Wall Street at 9 P.
M. Probably it left somewhat before the appointed time. The riders
were three, with the necessary relays of horses.
Foreign steamers were boarded at Halifax, and the
news borne by them was expressed to Boston and New York.
Very stringent business conditions continued through
most of this year, some improvement being manifested at its close.
February 14 died Commodore Hull, U. S. N., and on
February 21 died Peter Augustus Jay; an eminent citizen, highly
esteemed by all classes.
Early in this year the movement to nominate Mr. Clay
for the Presidency took form, and the "Clay balls,"
which were a notable feature of the campaign of 1844, began to
March 21. In the evening of this day a Mr. Corlies,
who was proprietor of a billiard room in Broadway near Franklin
Street, was called out by a woman, and when they reached Benson
Place in Leonard Street, he was shot and killed by a man on the
opposite side of the street. The only party to whom an incentive
for such a crime existed was soon after arrested in his room;
subsequently both he and his wife were indicted, tried, and acquitted
for want of direct testimony.
Samuel F. B. Morse, who had conceived his idea of
electric telegraphy in 1832, had publicly exhibited a telegraph
in the University of New York in 1837. After long delays a Congressional
appropriation was made March 3, 1843, for building a trial line
from Baltimore to Washington, which was completed in 1844. I was
present at the receipt of the first message, and soon after transmitted
one to a friend in Baltimore. Submarine telegraphy began in New
York harbor in the autumn of 1842. In January, 1846, the telegraph
was opened between New York and Philadelphia, and was continued
to Washington in the course of that summer. My younger readers
can scarcely realize how the telegraph revolutionized methods
of domestic, as the ocean cables did the methods of foreign, business.
April 29, Jesse Hoyt, Collector of the Port, was
found to be a defaulter to the Government in an amount exceeding
two hundred thousand dollars.
In May Peter Lorillard died, at the age of seventy-nine,
having outlived his brothers George and Jacob, who had been associated
with him in business and the founding of one of the great New
The "Lady of Lyons" was first played in
America, in May, 1841, at the Park Theatre, with an admirable
cast, Charlotte Cushman as Widow Melnotte.
In June President Tyler visited New York on his way
to the ceremonies attending the dedication of Bunker Hill Monument.
A great display marked his reception here.
In the same month occurred the death of Christian
Bergh, at the age of eightyone. Mr. Bergh may be called
the founder of our shipbuilding, which under his care and that
of his followers became an enterprise of great magnitude, and
produced ships that were unrivalled by those of any other nation.
The crushing out of the worldfamous American shipbuilding
is one of the most grievous errors of modern legislation.
July 4. The residents occupying houses fronting the
Bowling Green had erected within the enclosed park a prismoidal
structure of rough rock, over the sides of which flowed a stream
of water from a Croton pipe. The design was generally held to
have been a signal failure; a rather severe criticism in view
of the restricted space and the supply of water. On the occasion
of a French gentleman visiting one of the contributors to the
structure, his attention was invited to it, and after a brief
interval he asked, "What is the name of the architect?"
Upon being, replied to, that it was Mr. Renwick, he simply remarked,
"Mr. Ronwig! I shall remember that name." An American
or Englishman would have expressed his dissent from the design
in less considerate words.
About this period there were two contending parties
interested in the adoption by the Government of their peculiar
designs and constructions for the raising of vessels, incorrectly
and persistently termed "dock," viz.: The Gilbert or
"Balance," by which a vessel could be raised either
in an open or enclosed space, but in both cases on a connected
and continuous support or bearing; the other the Dakin or "Sectional,"
the bearing being constructed in sections, by which it was argued
that they could by their independent action be adapted to the
line of the keel of a vessel, if any curvature therein required
such support. This was a very plausible position to advance, although
it was an untenable one, and it succeeded with members of Congress,
some of whom had never seen a ship, and even with shipmasters
and constructors who were not well up in the operation of hydraulic
machinery. The result, after one of the severest contests that
were ever presented to Congress or the Navy Department, other
than one of general public interest, was a compromise, by authorizing
the construction by one party at Philadelphia and the other at
Pensacola. My official position at the time was one that subjected
me to the recitals and arguments of both parties.
In operation both designs were introduced here, and
both had their supporters.
July 18 Mrs. J. M. Davenport, formerly "the
infant wonder," who had first appeared in June at the National
Theatre with great success (at eleven years of age), was seen
at the Park, where she attracted great attention. After a long
absence she appeared at the Astor Place Opera House, in the autumn
of 1849, in the pride of young womanhood.
August 31, there was a buffalo hunt in an enclosure
at Hoboken, N. J., which was witnessed by fully thirty thousand
people from this city, and in the progress of the hunt a number
of the confined animals broke loose, to the dismay and damage
of the spectators.
September, the Chatham Theatre, in new hands, opened.
A very notable attachment to the company was the " Virginia
Minstrels " (Whitlock, T. G. Booth, H. Mestayer, and Barney
Williams), for this was the beginning of "Negro minstrels."
The Park Theatre was very much embellished this summer,
even to the building of a new front to the house, and was opened
in September, with a return to the old prices.
September 30, at the Episcopal Convention held in
St. Paul's Chapel, an exciting contest occurred in the consideration
of a vote on a resolution involving the sanction of the forms
(?) of the Rev. Dr. Pusey of England. The final vote was on a
question adverse to "Puseyism," and the result was,
Ayes, clergy 18; laity 37 =55; Noes, clergy 97; laity 47=144;
a result that was hailed with great glee by the Bishop.
October. On the completion of the United States auxiliary
steamer Princeton, having a novel design of engines of
Captain Ericsson, and one of his screw propellers, Commodore Stockton
had given notice that upon the day of departure of the British
mail steamer Great Western, he purposed a trial of speed,
and on the 19th as the Great Western rounded the Fort off
Governor's Island, the Princeton headed for her, and they
raced to Sandy Hook bar.
The Great Western was the fastest sea steamer
out of England, and her captain, J. Hosken, accepted the contest,
and his vessel was as well prepared as a merchant steamer loaded
with freight and fuel, leaving port, could be. On the other hand
the Princeton was deep, as the competition was not solely
to pass over a certain distance in the least time, but to test
the seagoing capacity of the vessel.
Captain Hosken, in a letter regarding the contest,
claims to have made nine and onehalf knots per hour, and
acknowledges to have been beaten from onehalf to threequarters
of a knot per hour.
During this fall, General Count Bertrand, of Napoleon's
army, and companion of the Emperor in exile, divided attention
with Macready, being honored with extraordinary civilities, public
and private. A public dinner was given him by the French residents.
November, Colonel John Trumbull, the artist and Revolutionary
soldier, died, aged eightyseven.
December, a controversy, not yet forgotten, began
between the Rev. Dr. Wainwright and Dr. Potts, a Presbyterian
clergyman, originated by Dr. Wainwright's declaring in a letter
that "there could not be a Church without a Bishop."
The building for the Leake and Watts Orphan Home,
the cornerstone of which had been laid in 1838, was in this
year completed and occupied. This was the structure still standing
(1895) in the Cathedral grounds, on the line of One hundred and
Twelfth Street, near Tenth Avenue, having been but lately vacated
on completion of the new Home on the bank of the Hudson, just
across the line of the city's northern boundary.
1844. February 7. Although the fine for giving a masked ball (deducting onehalf the fine to the giver who informed on himself) was, as has been before stated, one thousand dollars, yet one was given this evening in the upper East side, which the Herald in its illustrated report of it, termed it " Grand Fourierite *
*Charles Fourier designed a condition of society
he termed "Social Unity." Soon after this a call for
a meeting of all who desired to form an American society was issued
for April, to which were subscribed the names of some dozen wellknown
citizens. Horace Greeley is reported by the Herald to have
been intimately connected with the society, and an advocate of
Free and Easy, and JointStock Fancy Ball,"
from which the character of both participants and their actions
may be inferred.
February, F. Palmo, the proprietor of the popular
Cafe de Mille Colonnes, an enthusiastic lover of his native music,
secured the building 39 and 41 Chambers Street, previously Stoppani's
baths, and at his own charges converted it into a charming little
house for the production of Italian Opera, and it afterward was
converted into Burton's Theatre. The overconfident Palmo
lost in this enterprise all the money he had accumulated in his
proper business, and was forced to "tend bar" for a
It must be noted here that the Harlem Railroad advertised
that after the opera "a large car, well lighted and warmed,"
would be run "from the corner of Chambers and Centre streets
as far as Forty second Street."
On St. Valentine's Day was given at the Astor House
the "Bachelors' Ball," which had been long expected
by our society and was long remembered for its brilliancy. In
the latter part of the month the city was suddenly depressed by
news of the disaster on board the Princeton.
February 28. It was on board of this vessel that
the twelveinch castiron gun known as the "Peacemaker"
burst, when the vessel was bearing the President, his Cabinet,
officers of the Army and Navy, and members of Congress, and many
other gentlemen with ladies, on an excursion in the River Potomac,
killing Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur, Secretary of the Navy
William C Gilmer, the Chief of the Bureau of Construction, Captain
Beverly Kennon, Virgil Maxcy and David Gardiner, of Gardiner's
Island, N. Y., and wounding Captain Stockton, Lieutenant Hunt,
and a seaman. The gun was cast at the West Point foundry, Cold
Spring, N. Y., in 1843, and was satisfactorily proved by Commodore
Stockton, I assisting him, and subsequently at Sandy Hook.
March 3, from an investigation by the Grand Jury,
it submitted to the Court that the New York Life and Trust Co.,
with a capital of $20,750,000, had assets amounting to only $2,000,000.
This was the exciting year of the Clay campaign for
the Presidency, A considerable revival of business began, in spite
of the distractions of the canvass.
In this year Captain Ericsson was created by the
King of Sweden a Knight of the Order of Vasa, and naturalized
as a citizen of the United States.
April 6, the New York Courier and Enquirer, referring
to the advent of the annual elections for Wardens and Vestrymen
of the Protestant Episcopal Church, affirmed that the Bishop and
many of the clergy were essaying to elect "Puseyites,"
and that the master was of great interest to the Church, and that
after the Bishop (Benj. T. Onderdonk) had addressed the Episcopal
Convention in support of "Puseyism," as it was termed,
Mr. John Duer presented a paper signed by several clerical and
lay delegates, respectfully dissenting from certain remarks in
the Bishop's address (Benj. T. Onderdonk), and requesting that
their dissent might be placed in the minutes, whereupon he was
interrupted by the Bishop, who violently declared he would not
allow the paper to be made a subject for discussion or be put
upon the minutes. Mr. Duer arose to appeal from the decision of
the Bishop, who, in a very excited and peremptory manner, replied,
"Sit down, sir; take your seat," and declared that,
if the clergy and laity did not sustain him, he would "resist,
even unto death, such an invasion of his rights!"
April 7, General Morgan Lewis died, eightynine
years old. Son of Francis Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of
Independence, he was himself eminent for service in the Revolutionary
War. After the peace he became Attorneygeneral, Justice
and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State, Governor,
and Senator. In the war of 1812 he served as Quartermastergeneral
of the United States Army. At the time of his death General Lewis
was Grand Master of Masons and President of the Society of the
Cincinnati. His funeral in St. Paul's Chapel was a great public
event. It was attended by the aged Major William Popham, then
ninetytwo years of age, Vicepresident of the Cincinnati
and then the sole surviving original member of the society.
April 7, Washington Hall and its site were purchased
from the heirs of John G. Coster by Alex. T. Stewart, who purposed
to erect a drygoods store thereon. Mr. Hone writes that
the cornerstone of the Hall was laid on the 4th of July,
1809, and on the 5th of July of this year it was burned.
The Roman Catholics in 1841 had opposed the application
of the publicschool fund in the established manner; they
wanted a portion of it for their sectarian schools, and organized
in support of their claim. In this not only did they signally
fail, but their action gave additional organization and vitality
to the Native Americans, whose action in the mayoralty election
of this year was of exceptional interest, as there were three
parties in the field, their candidates, Jonathan I. Coddington
representing the Democrats, Morris Franklin the Whigs, and James
Harper the Native Americans, who was elected; he receiving 24,510
votes against 20,538 cast for Coddington, and 5297 for Franklin.
This party was in the majority in the Common Council for some
years, but the illiberality of its tenets, added to the return
of many of its members to their original parties, when Native
Americans were in nomination, so reduced the new party that in
a few years it dwindled out of existence. Mayor Harper signalized
administration by active service in the improvement of Madison
Square, and in improving the organization of the Police Department.
His administration partook of the purity of that
of his early predecessors in the office, but without the savoir
faire and pratiques of some of the local politicians
who succeeded him.
At this period the police officers of the city were
few in number, without effective organization, and ununiformed.
Mr. Harper, recognizing their deficiency when combined action
was required, proceeded to remedy this, and succeeded in effecting
an organization that became initiatory to the present one. He
also succeeded, despite the opposition to the measure, in establishing
a uniform for the members.
April 4, the Fourierites held a great convention
in Clinton Hall, at which Horace Greeley presided as one of the
Vicepresidents; and on the 8th, the anniversary of the birth
of Fourier, there was a grand festival at Apollo Hall, at which
Parke Godwin and Horace Greeley addressed the company.
The Tribune at this time was the organ of
the Fourierites and published their creed.
April 13, Moses Y. Beach, in his paper The Sun,
essayed to perpetrate a hoax upon the public with an announcement
of the arrival of a balloon and its navigator at Charleston, S.
C., from England.
April 11, the first Paas festival of the St. Nicholas
Society was celebrated.
April 12, the Herald having published a very
severe article on Henry Wikoff, regarding his business relations
with Mlle. Elssler, he replied in the columns of the Enquirer,
making charges, and alleging circumstances altogether of too
personal a nature to be given here.
May 2. At Apollo Hall there was presented the performance
of the "Congo Minstrels," later known as the "Negro
June 27. In evidence of the advance or improvement
in the capacity of both trotting and running horses, the breeding
and training of them: in 1818 " Boston Blue" of Boston,
Mass., at Jamaica, L. I., trotted a mile in harness in the then
unprecedented recorded time of 3 minutes; in 1824, "Albany
Pony," also in harness, a mile in 2 minutes and 40 seconds;
and in this year "Americus," driven by George Spicer,
trotted three miles on a racecourse on Long Island in 7 minutes
and 52.2 seconds, equal to an average of 2 minutes and 37.5 seconds;
and in 1859, at Kalamazoo, Mich., "Flora Temple," in
harness, one mile in 2 minutes and 19.75 seconds. In running horses
like improvement had been attained. "Sir Henry" in 1823
ran, as before stated, four miles in 7 minutes 37 seconds; and
in 1876 "Ten Broeck" in 7 minutes and 15.75 seconds.
July 1, the Cunard steamer from Boston for Liverpool
had sixtysix passengers, and at the same time from this
city, the Oxford for Havre, Liverpool, the Oneida for
Havre, and the Victoria for London had collectively but
eighty four passengers.
May 9, at an annual meeting of the Abolitionists,
their actions were of an exceptional and fanatical character.
They were wrought up to frenzy, in the passage of a resolution
expressing a determination to dissolve the Union. Garrison presided,
assisted by Wendell Phillips.
At a meeting of the Board of Aldermen it was advanced
that in consequence of the frequent and fatal accidents on the
New York and Harlem Railroad, the rails should be removed from
the streets; and a report from a select committee was submitted
by it, which, after being laid aside, was not concurred in.
May. It was about this period that the area known
as the Fishing Banks was discovered to be a feeding bottom for
sea bass, porgies, etc., and Henry E. Neil chartered the first
steamboat for the service of fishing and excursion parties.
It was not permitted to sell goods on a Sunday, or
to encumber a sidewalk. The fine for the nonobservance of
the laws was two dollars for each of the offences, and it was
demanded and paid.
The proposed annexation of Texas, advanced and advocated
at the South and by the Northern Democrats, was violently opposed
by partisans of the Whig party, who were opposed to any extension
of Southern influence and negro slavery. Meetings for the purpose
of expressing dissent were held at various times, and the Administration
and "Locofocos," as the Democrats were termed,
denounced. On April 24 a public meeting of all, "without
reference to party," assembled at the Tabernacle to protest
against the annexation; the call being signed by the leading merchants,
bankers, and citizens of the time. The meeting was presided over
by Albert Gallatin, and it was interrupted by an adverse party,
who hurrahed for Texas etc. Conspicuously the Whigs outnumbered
The Chatham Theatre opened in the middle of July,
with J. W. Wallack as Hamlet to the Ophelia of Mrs.
Flynn. This performance was notable for the appearance of F. S.
Chanfrau as Laertes. He had worked up from the ranks, afterward
becoming famous as Mose in "A Glance at New York"
at the Olympic. He travelled thereafter extensively through the
Union; a handsome man and versatile actor of enduring popularity.
July 29, the Long Island Railroad was opened to its
terminus at Greenport, with an excursion over the line to Boston
in the following year; and the last train to the South Ferry was
run September 30, 1861. Much was expected of this enterprise as
affording a main route of travel to the East (by steamboats from
Greenport), but it did not fulfil expectation.
April 13. Edward Curtis, a prominent and active Whig
who had been appointed Collector of the Port by President Harrison,
was this day removed by President Tyler, who was charged with
aspiring to be the nominee at the approaching convention, and
in view of it he sought to put his partisans in power, and Chas.
G. Ferris, a Democrat, was appointed to the vacancy. Both removal
and appointment were much criticised.
July 30, the New York Yacht Club was organized by
the presence and act of nine gentlemen on board the yacht Gimcrack
of Mr. John C. Stevens, who was elected commodore. On its
first cruise there were nine yachts. Many years prior to this,
Commodore Stevens and his brother, Robert L., had built a small
sloop, the Trouble, and in 1833 they built at Hoboken the
Mr. Korponay, a Pole, who had lately arrived here
for the purpose of teaching us the polka, went to Saratoga, where
he was received by the young with much eclat and after
a very successful course of teaching, he visited Newport and Washington
for a like purpose, and successfully.
In August died John G. Coster, at eightyone,
a much esteemed citizen; and also William L. Stone, who had honorably
conducted the Commercial Advertiser for a quarter of a
I think it was in the fall of this year that the
Bowery Theatre brought out a patriotic drama entitled "Putnam,
or the Iron Son of '76," which had extraordinary attraction
for the public, and ran for nearly eighty consecutive nights.
Its cast of characters included Washington, Greene, Cornwallis,
Rawdon, etc., and appealed strongly to a public the elders of
which could remember the Revolutionary War.
As the Presidential election drew near, it became
the chief topic of thought and conversation. The passionate devotion
of the Whigs to the person of Mr. Clay gave a peculiar ardor to
their feelings and acts in this campaign, which never since has
been matched in point of enthusiasm. On October 30, a great Whig
demonstration occurred in New York, followed on November I by
an equally long procession of the Democrats. In numbers, insignia,
and equipments these were superior to any preceding or succeeding
display I have witnessed, and I have seen very many. In the election
the Whigs "traded" their Congressional and State candidates
for Clay votes, thus giving a sweeping success to the Native American
party; but that party did not return the compliment in full, and
as the Abolitionists voted directly or indirectly against Clay,
he lost the State of New York by a small majority, and with it
The first returns favored Clay's prospects, and the
Broadway House, on the northeast corner of Broadway and
Grand Street, the Whig headquarters, was a centre of rejoicing
over the early news. A procession marched to congratulate Frelinghuysen,
the candidate for Vice president, who was visiting in Washington
Place, and he replied in a speech. The Whigs were intoxicated
with triumph, but the morning showed New York and the election
lost. The Broadway House, after this campaign, lost prestige and
John C. Stevens leased a portion of the grounds of
Columbia College, fronting on College Place, and erected a house
thereon, somewhat in the Colonial style. In excavating for the
foundation, there were exposed and reclaimed two pieces of English
field artillery, which had evidently been captured and secreted.
Thomas Ludlow Ogden died in December of this year,
aged seventyone. He was a highly respected member of the
bar, of a family connection which is still extensive and of high
repute. For many years he had been clerk of Trinity corporation
and Warden of the parish. He was grandfather of Thomas Ludlow
Ogden, but now dead (1894), almost precisely fifty years later,
also in the office of a vestryman of Trinity.
In this year Joseph Francis perfected his lifeboat,
the precursor of the varieties that have followed.
Houston Street was extended from Lewis Street to
the East River.
The last services were held in the Middle Dutch Church,
prior to its removal. The old church became the Postoffice.
It was removed in 1882 to make way for the Mutual Life Insurance
August 11,. The Herald evidently availed itself
of every opportunity that was presented to notice what it held
to be vagaries or idiosyncrasies of Horace Greeley, the acts or
sayings of James Watson Webb, the letters of Henry Wikoff, or
to refer to Thurlow Weed (whom, from his political and editorial
influence at Albany, it termed the State Barber), or the presence
and salutatory displays of the "Bouquet man" at all
public meetings of societies, etc.; and on the occasion of the
delivery by Horace Greeley of a lecture in Philadelphia, the Herald
announced to its readers that "This eccentric genius
delivered an address before some literary society at Hamilton
College the other day, and a pretty mess it appears he made of
it. It was partly literary, philanthropist, Clay, and Fourierite.
Horace had better stay at home and look after his paper; he evidently
was in a dangerous state of exaltation."
August. Captain James Hosken (Lieutenant R. N.),
who had commanded the steamer Great Western, arrived here
for the purpose of enlisting some of our capitalists in organizing
a company to construct and operate a line of steamers hence to
Liverpool and return; the practicability of which he supported
by furnishing detailed exhibits of the receipts and expenditures
of the Great Western and of the British Queen. He
failed in his mission and returned home.
September 26. There was a great meeting held at Tammany
Hall this evening to endorse the measure before Congress relating
to the acquisition of Texas, and at it George Bancroft, the historian,
made his debut both as a political and a Democratic speaker. His
reception by the meeting was of an exceptionally enthusiastic
On the southwest corner of Trinity churchyard
was the grave of Captain James Lawrence, U. S. N., who was killed
on board the United States frigate Chesapeake in her engagement
with H. B. M. frigate Shannon. There was erected a shaft
with a broken or imperfect capital, as typical of his life, but
as the city had provided a new monument, the shaft was removed
and the new one (August 22) fronted on Broadway.
In evidence of the commercial position of the city
at this period, there were 218 seagoing vessels in port
and in service, and in this year there were 50 vessels built here.
In the fall of this year the Democratic party divided
in two factions; one being designated by the other as "Barnburners,"
referring to the story of the man who burned his barn to destroy
the rats that ate his grain; later they were termed "soft
shells," and the other faction "old hunkers," or
Washington Market was extended out to the bulkhead
line, and known as the Exterior or Country Market.
The boundaries of Madison Square were fixed at Twentythird
and Twentysixth streets, and Fifth and Madison avenues,
the area being 6.82 acres, a reduction of 73.48 acres from the
original design of 1814.
In Broadway at 412, near Lispenard Street, there
was the Apollo Ballroom, a very popular resort for a grade of
politicians who were opposed to Tammany Hall. In later days it
was the headquarters of the Apollo Hall or Wood democracy.
In this year the American Musical Institute was founded,
under Mr. Henry C. Timm, and Thomas Clyde established a line of
steamers between this port and Philadelphia, with the steamer
McKim; not only the second commercial one, but the first
with twin screws-a type now being adopted after a lapse of very
nearly half a century.
December 1, the New York Hotel opened by Billings