The Manhattan Company is formed

September 1, 2014

 

 

The Manhattan Company was a New York bank and holding company established on September 1, 1799. The company merged with Chase National Bank in 1955 to form the Chase Manhattan Bank. It is the earliest of the predecessor institutions that eventually formed the current JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Excerpt from charter of The Manhattan Company[4]

The Manhattan Company was formed in 1799 with the ostensible purpose of providing clean water to Lower Manhattan. However, the main interest of the company was not in the supply of water but rather in becoming a part of the banking industry in New York. At that time, the banking industry was monopolized by Alexander Hamilton’s Bank of New York and the New York branch of the First Bank of the United States. Following an epidemic of yellow fever in the city, Aaron Burr founded the company and successfully gained banking privileges through a clause in its charter granted to it by the state that allowed it to use surplus capital for banking transactions. The company raised 2 million dollars, used one hundred thousand dollars for building a water supply system, and used the rest to start the bank.[1] The company apparently did a poor job of supplying water, using hollowed out tree trunks for pipes and digging wells in congested areas where there was the danger of raw sewage mixing with the water.[2] After a multitude of cholera epidemics a water system was finally established 1842 in New York City with the building of what is now known as the Old Croton Reservoir.

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Offices of the Manhattan Company at 40-42 Wall Street. The building was erected jointly in 1884 by the Manhattan Company and the Merchants’ National Bank.[4]

On April 17, 1799, the Manhattan Company appointed a committee “to consider the most proper means of employing the capital of the Company” and elected to open an office of discount and deposit. The “Bank” of the Manhattan Company began business on September 1, 1799, in a house at 40 Wall Street. In 1808 the company sold its waterworks, pocketing 1.9 million dollars, to the city and turned completely to banking. Even so, it identified as a water company as late as 1899. The Company maintained a Water Committee which yearly assured, quite truthfully, that no requests for water service had been denied, and moreover conducted its meetings with a pitcher of the water at hand to ensure quality. It is unclear whether anyone at these meetings actually tasted the water.[3]

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The Manhattan Company Reservoir on Chambers Street[4]

The Bank started paying dividends in July 1800, and in 1853 the Manhattan Company became one of the original 52 members of the New York Clearing House Association. In 1923 it moved its headquarters to the Prudence Building. A 1929 merger made Paul Warburg its chairman. The Bank merged with Chase National Bank in 1955 to become Chase Manhattan, and then was acquired by Chemical Bank in 1996, who retained the Chase name, to form what was then the largest bank holding company in the United States. In December 2000, the bank acquired J.P. Morgan & Co. to form JPMorgan Chase & Co.

References

  1. Chernow, Ron (2005). Alexander Hamilton. Penguin. p. 587-588.
  2. Newman, Andy (April 18, 2013). “Early Water Delivery System in the City Cut Corners and Trees”. The New York Times.
  3. John Kendrick Bangs. Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. XCVIII No. DLXIII, December 1898, p971 et seq. “A Historic Institution: The Manhattan Company”
  4. “Bank of the Manhattan Company: Origin, History, Progress” by anonymous author, Project Gutenberg

William Lee: Revolutionary War militia diplomat

August 31, 2014

 

 

William Lee, fifth-born of the six famous Revolutionary War brothers, was one of a handful of American patriots who were up-rooted from peace-time civilian pursuits to represent the infant United States in the eighteenth-century capitals of Europe.

These Americans were summoned to be the “militia diplomats” of the War for Independence. Like the Minuteman mobilized from his lams and field, Lee and his colleagues were sent into the front lines of international relations with a minimum of preparation and without the training of career foreign service officers.

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William Lee appears as a well-dressed young man in this portrait painted by an unidentified artist. In the rendition he has the handsome features and large dark eyes characteristic of many members of the Lee family. (Courtesy of Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.)

He was born at Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on August 31, 1739, to Hon. Thomas Lee (1690–1750) and Hannah Harrison Ludwell (1701–1750). His brothers, all also active within the Continental Congress, were Arthur Lee (1740–1792), Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734–1797) and Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794).[1]

William Lee’s public career was brief and controversial. It was compressed into seven eventful and intrigue-filled years between 1773 and 1779. These years began with his elevation to high municipal office in London—a vantage point from which he opposed the ministry dominated by King George III. They ended with the termination of his dual responsibility, as United States commissioner to the courts of Berlin and Vienna, in the heat of the Silas Deane affair.

Between these years Lee had also been appointed commercial agent of the Continental Congress and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Afterwards, in retirement in Virginia, he served brief terms as a State Senator and as a county sheriff. But the period of his prominence fell in the early part of the Revolution when the United States was establishing itself in the eyes of other countries as an independent nation.

From the public career of William Lee and his colleagues one may date the beginning of the diplomatic establishment of our nation—the U.S. Foreign Service, as it was to be called in a later day. Americans at the time, however, were ill-prepared to embark upon the business of foreign relations. From their early history, their relations with other countries had been conducted by Great Britain. The colonies had had no need for diplomatic representation abroad, though many of them had maintained agents for special purposes in London. They had no tradition of foreign service and no schools that offered training in modern languages or other skills of diplomacy.

Furthermore, it must be remembered that the national government had grave weaknesses and that the United States existed as a nation only because the Continental Congress, in declaring it a nation, had said it was a nation. No other country was to recognize it as a nation until a year and a half after the Declaration was signed. It must he remembered, too, that all foreign relations had to be conducted through committees of Congress. There was at this time no chief executive and no department or secretary of state.

But here was a gallant beginning, in which the Lees had a vital role, along with the Adamses of New England. One appreciates their achievement all the more because it was made against odds. These men, who provided so much of the drive to win a place for the United States in the family of nations, must be admired for the manner in which they took over an unfamiliar and thankless task. In the blood of the new nation was the rough resourcefulness of the frontier, and not the softer heritage of the court, the chateau, or the cloistered university where the diplomatic arts had some place in the curriculum.

The Lee and Adams families, who supplied many of the United States’ early envoys, made a virtue of the necessity that these early diplomatic representatives had to be rushed into service without diplomatic background. Richard Henry Lee, older brother of William and author of Virginia’s resolution for independence, thought American military capability “formidable in its militia,” apart from the well-drilled Continental troops. He and the exuberant John Adams believed that the never-say-die patriotic ardor of the untrained American envoys would more than compensate for their lack of cold professionalism. And it was true that the militia diplomats, uninhibited by tradition or by protocol, would win friends for America and bring a fresh breeze through the stuffy salons of imperial Europe.

Benjamin Franklin, whose mastery of French and whose seasoning as a colonial agent made him the nearest to a trained diplomat the young nation could muster, disagreed with the Lee-Adams thinking. Such differences over militia diplomacy—a philosophical difference among many other differences between Franklin and the Lees—were not to be resolved within William’s span of prominence in the Revolution. William Lee was in the thick of the enmities that seethed within the new American diplomatic establishment. But the fact does not diminish the essentiality of the role that he was called upon to fill, nor the patriotic motives that underlay his service.

He died on June 27, 1795 and was buried in Jamestown, Virginia.

Thomas Lee continued also the family tradition of advantageous marriage. William married Hannah Phillipa Ludwell (1739–1784) on March 7, 1769. Hannah was the daughter of Col. Philip Ludwell III (1716–1767) and Frances Grymes (1717). Frances was the older sister of Lucy Grymes the “Lowland Beauty” (1734–1792), who married Maj. Gen. Henry Lee II (1730–1787). Hannah died August 18, 1784 in Ostend, Belgium and was buried in London, England.

Frances was the daughter of Hon. Charles Grymes (1693–1743) and Frances Jennings. Charles resided at “Morattico” in Richmond Co., Virginia.

Philip III was the son of Philip Ludwell, Jr. (1672–1726) and Hannah Harrison (1679–1731). Philip resided at “Greenspring”, Virginia.

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Stratford Hall, the fortress-like brick mansion built by Thomas Lee, father of William Lee, on the high banks of the Potomac River in Westmoreland County, Virginia. William Lee was born here. As a young man, he managed the plantation under the direction of his oldest brother. (Courtesy of Virginia State Library, Richmond.)

Eleven children were born to Thomas and Hannah Ludwell Lee. Of the eleven, eight survived to adulthood. In order of birth, they were Philip Ludwell, Hannah, Thomas Ludwell, Richard Henry, Francis Lightfoot, Alice, William and Arthur. William’s place in this order and his relationship to his oldest brother were to shape his altitudes and profoundly affect his career.

William was the son of Col. Thomas Lee, Hon. (1690–1750) of “Stratford Hall”, Westmoreland Co., Virginia. Thomas married Hannah Harrison Ludwell (1701–1750).

Hannah was the daughter of Col. Philip Ludwell II (1672–1726) of “Greenspring”, and Hannah Harrison (1679–1731).

Thomas was the son of Col. Richard Lee II, Esq., “the scholar” (1647–1715) and Laetitia Corbin (ca. 1657–1706).

Laetitia was the daughter of Richard’s neighbor and, Councilor, Hon. Henry Corbin, Sr. (1629–1676) and Alice (Eltonhead) Burnham (ca. 1627–1684).

Richard II, was the son of Col. Richard Lee I, Esq., “the immigrant” (1618–1664) and Anne Constable (ca. 1621–1666).

Anne was the daughter of Thomas Constable and a ward of Sir John Thoroughgood.

References

  1. Chisholm 1911.
  2. “WILLIAM LEE-Militia Diplomat”. Washington and Lee University http://leearchive.wlu.edu/reference/books/dill-wl/index.html
  3. “WILLIAM LEE-Militia Diplomat”. Washington and Lee University http://leearchive.wlu.edu/reference/books/dill-wl/index.html

Joseph Dennie, Federalist journalist: the father of American Belles-Lettres

August 30, 2014

 

 

Joseph Dennie was an American author and journalist who was one of the foremost men of letters of the Federalist Era.[1] A Federalist, Dennie is best remembered for his series of essays entitled “The Lay Preacher” and as the founding editor of “Port Folio,” a journal espousing classical republican values. “Port Folio” was the most highly regarded and successful literary publication of its time,[2][3][4] and the first important political and literary journal in the United States.[5] Timothy Dwight IV once referred to Dennie as “the Addison of America”[6] and “the father of American Belles-Lettres.”[7]

Dennie was born on August 30, 1768, in Boston, Massachusetts to Joseph Dennie, a member of a well-to-do merchant family, and his wife Mary Green, whose father was Bartholomew Green, Jr.[8] The Greens were a prominent printing family in colonial America; the progenitor of the family, Samuel Green, emigrated from England with John Winthrop and was one of the first printers in the colonies.[9] Having moved to Lexington at the age of seven, Dennie returned to Boston in 1783 to study bookkeeping and later clerk in a counting house. He began preparing to enter Harvard College in 1785, under the guidance of Reverend Samuel West. West had a significant impact on Dennie, fostering his pupil’s interest in literature, as well as instilling in Dennie a decidedly pro-British mindset.[10]

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Portrait of Joseph Dennie by James Sharples, c. 1790

In 1787 Dennie was admitted to the sophomore class of Harvard College, where he was very popular with his peers.[11] This popularity did not extend to his tutors, and he was suspended in December 1789 for six months after insulting the faculty.[10][12] Dennie had difficulty finding suitable employment after earning his degree in 1790, but by 1793 he was practicing law (though earning very little for his work).[13] In a January 1794 letter to his parents, however, Dennie reports that he had been appointed as a reader for the Episcopalian church in Charlestown, New Hampshire. Nevertheless, he insisted that this new vocation would not deter him from his goal of practicing law, though by then he was planning on remaining in New Hampshire to practice rather than returning to Massachusetts.[14] Shortly after writing the letter, Dennie was admitted to the Court of Common Pleas and opened a practice in Charlestown.[15] However, he rarely appeared in open court;[16] indeed, he probably made only one appearance.[17]

Throughout the 1790s Dennie contributed to various journals, including the “Federal Orrery” and the “Massachusetts Magazine,” often using pen names such as Academicus and Socialis.[18] In 1795, his writing being enthusiastically received, Dennie was persuaded to begin a literary journal, “The Tablet.” William Spotswood, a Boston printer and bookseller, agreed to oversee the entire enterprise, splitting the profits evenly with Dennie. Such a literary journal was a novel idea at the time, and it was well received among the city’s elite. Despite the initial excitement surrounding the project and content from noted writers such as John Sylvester John Gardiner, “The Tablet” lasted only a few months before folding,[19] having published thirteen issues.[20]

Dennie’s disappointment over the failure of “The Tablet” inspired him to begin work on “The Lay Preacher,” the first of which appeared in “The Farmer’s Weekly Museum,” a New Hampshire newspaper which was the leading literary journal of the 1790s.[21] After Dennie took over as editor of the paper in 1796, its circulation increased dramatically, stretching, as one commentator put it, “from Maine to Georgia.”[22] Under Dennie’s leadership the paper had a decidedly Federalist slant, supporting both the Quasi-War and the Alien and Sedition Acts.[6] Dennie collaborated often with his friend Royall Tyler;[23][24] the two wrote a satirical column by the name of “The Shop of Messrs. Colon and Spondee” which appeared in the Museum.[25][26] In 1798 Dennie lost a considerable amount of money when the paper’s printer went bankrupt. He remained as editor for a few months afterward at a reduced salary, but was soon replaced by the printer’s brother. The paper’s circulation dropped precipitously following Dennie’s departure. Later in the year Dennie ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress; following this defeat, he turned down offers to edit several prominent journals, including a generous offer from Boston’s Independent Chronicle, as he refused to work for a Democratic paper.[27] Instead, he accepted an appointment from Timothy Pickering (at the time United States Secretary of State) to a position as Pickering’s personal secretary.[28]

Once in Philadelphia, Dennie resumed his editorial career with the Gazette of the United States, a Federalist-friendly newspaper.[29] In 1800 Dennie, along with Philadelphia bookseller Asbury Dickens, began work on the Port Folio. Under the pseudonym Oliver Oldschool, Esq.,[30][31] Dennie wrote, in 1803, a scathing attack on Jeffersonian democracy, for which he was brought up on charges of seditious libel.[32] Dennie wrote, in part:

A democracy is scarcely tolerable at any period of national history. Its omens are always sinister, and its powers are unpropitious. It is on its trial here, and the issue will be civil war, desolation, and anarchy. No wise man but discerns its imperfections, no good man but shudders at its miseries, no honest man but proclaims its fraud, and no brave man but draws his sword against its force. The institution of a scheme of policy so radically contemptible and vicious is a memorable example of what the villany of some men can devise, the folly of others receive, and both establish in spite of reason, reflection, and sensation.

This paragraph was reprinted in Federalist newspapers throughout the country.[32] While Dennie was acquitted, the severity of the attacks leveled in Port Folio would henceforth be lessened.[33] However, when Dennie criticized democracy, it was not the republican democracy found in the United States today, but rather the “democracy” found in France under Robespierre and Napoleon. Dennie was invoking Aristotle’s argument that “an absolute democracy is not to be reckoned among the legitimate forms of government. It is the corruption and degeneracy, and not the sound constitution of a republic.”[34]

Dennie had health trouble throughout his life, as well as a predilection for wine.[35] His father (who had battled mental illness)[36] died on September 28, 1811; Dennie was not able to attend his father’s funeral, as he himself was gravely ill at the time, and this caused him great grief.[37] He briefly recovered, but succumbed to cholera morbus four months after his father’s death.[38] Dennie died on January 7, 1812, and was interred two days later at St. Peter’s Church, Philadelphia.[39] His epitaph was written by John Quincy Adams.[40] The epitaph erroneously gives Lexington, Massachusetts as his birthplace; in fact, Dennie was born in Boston, but his family moved to Lexington shortly thereafter.[41]

Notes

  1. Massachusetts Historical Society 1879, p. 362
  2. Spiller 1948, p. 36
  3. Horner 1966, p. 581
  4. Lora 1999, p.108
  5. Dowling 1999, p. 1
  6. Lora 1999, p. 107
  7. Marble 1907, p. 206
  8. Ellis 1915, pp. 12-14
  9. Thomas 1879, p. 49
  10. McKerns 1989, p. 178
  11. Clapp 1880, p. 8
  12. Clapp 1880, p. 9
  13. Clapp 1880, pp. 13-16
  14. Clapp 1880, pp. 15-23
  15. Clapp 1880, p. 23
  16. Buckingham 1852, pp. 198-199
  17. Ward 1896, pp. 667-668
  18. Ellis 1915, p. 42
  19. Clapp 1880, pp. 24-25
  20. Lora 1999, p.104
  21. Lora 1999, p. 103
  22. Clapp 1880, p.28
  23. Westbrook 1988, p. 100
  24. Richards 1997, p. 1
  25. Tyler 1920, p. 119
  26. Ellis 1971, pp. 66-67
  27. Marble 1907, p.216
  28. Clapp 1880, pp.31-32
  29. Lora 1999, p. 108
  30. Adams 2006, p. 221
  31. Trent 1903, p. 212
  32. Adams 1986, p. 60
  33. Marble 1907, p. 216
  34. Dowling 1999, pp. 2-3
  35. Govan 1951, p. 39
  36. Ellis 1915, p. 12
  37. Ellis 1971, pp. 208-209
  38. Ellis 1971, p. 211
  39. Clapp 1880, p. 36
  40. Marble 1907, p. 231
  41. Smyth 1892, pp. 110-111

References

  • Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Massachusetts Historical Society, 1879
  • Adams, Henry; Harbert, Earl N. (1986). History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson. Library of America. ISBN 0-940450-34-8
  • Adams, Herbert Baxter (2006). The Life and Writings of Jared Sparks: Comprising Selections from His Journals and Correspondence. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4254-9328-9
  • Buckingham, William Tinker (1852). Specimens of Newspaper Literature: With Personal Memoirs, Anecdotes, and Reminiscences. Redding and Company
  • Clapp, William Warland (1880). Joseph Dennie: Editor of “The Port Folio,” and author of “The Lay Preacher.”. John Wilson and Son
  • Dowling, William C. (1999). Literary Federalism in the Age of Jefferson: Joseph Dennie and the Port Folio, 1801-1812. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1-57003-243-2
  • Ellis, Harold Milton (1915). Joseph Dennie and His Circle: A Study in American Literature From 1792-1812. Bulletin of the University of Texas, No. 40. Studies in English No. 3 (July 15). Austin: University of Texas. i-viii. 9-285.Repr. N.Y.: AMS Press, 1971. ISBN 0-404-02308-8
  • Govan, Thomas P. (1951). “The Death of Joseph Dennie: A Memoir by Nicholas Biddle”. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (Historical Society of Pennsylvania) 75 (1): 36–46
  • Horner, George and Robert, A. Bain. (1966). Colonial and Federalist American Writing. Odyssey Press
  • Lora, Ronald (1999). The Conservative Press in Eighteenth-and Nineteenth-century America. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 103–111. ISBN 0-313-31043-2
  • Marble, Annie Russell (1907). Heralds of American Literature: A Group of Patriot Writers of the Revolutionary and National Periods. University of Chicago Press. pp. 190–231
  • McKerns, Joseph P. (1989). Biographical Dictionary of American Journalism. Greenwood Press. pp. 178–180. ISBN 0-313-23818-9
  • O’Donnell Kaplan, Catherine (2008). Men of Letters in the Early Republic: Cultivating Forums of Citizenship. University of North Carolina Press. pp. 114–139. ISBN 0-8078-3164-6
  • Richards, Jeffrey H. (1997). Early American Drama. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-043588-3
  • Simpson, Henry (1859). The Lives of Eminent Philadelphians, Now Deceased. W. Brotherhead. pp. 306–307
  • Smyth, Albert H. (1892). The Philadelphia Magazines and Their Contributors 1741-1850. Philadelphia: Robert M. Lindsay. pp. 90–117
  • Spiller, Robert Ernest (1948). Literary History of the United States. Macmillan Publishers
  • Thomas, Isaiah; Thomas, Benjamin Franklin (1874). The History of Printing in America: With a Biography of Printers, and an Account of Newspapers. J. Munsell
  • Trent, William Peterfield (1903). A History of American Literature, 1607-1865. D. Appleton & Company
  • Tyler, Royall; Wilbur, James Benjamin (1920). The Contrast: A Comedy in Five Acts. Houghton Mifflin
  • Ward, Julius H. (1896). The New England Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly. Warren F. Kellogg, Pinkham Press
  • Westbrook, Perry D. (1988). A Literary History of New England. Lehigh University Press. ISBN 0-934223-02-5

French and Indian Raid on Haverhill

August 29, 2014

 

 

The Raid on Haverhill was a military engagement that took place on August 29, 1708, during Queen Anne’s War. French, Algonquin, and Abenaki warriors under the command of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville descended on Haverhill, then a small frontier community in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. In the surprise attack, 16 people were killed and another 14 to 24 were taken captive. A rapid militia muster gave chase, and in a skirmish later in the day, nine of the French and Indian party were killed and some of their prisoners escaped.

Haverhill was not the original target of the raiders. Expecting a larger Indian contingent, French authorities planned to engage in a series of raids on the communities of the Piscataqua River. However, the unwillingness of some Indian tribes to participate in the expedition forced the French to reduce the scope of the operation and choose an easier target. The raid was more costly to the French than previous frontier raids like that in 1704 on Deerfield, Massachusetts because the province had been warned of the raiders’ advance.

When Queen Anne’s War (as the War of the Spanish Succession was called in the colonies of British America) broke out in 1702, it sparked war on the already tense frontier between the English colonies of New England and the colonies of New France, including Acadia and Canada. French military officers from the troupes de la marine, the defense force of New France, often led parties of Indians from their settlements along the Saint Lawrence River south to the northern frontiers of New England, which then included small communities in what is now northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and Maine.[1]

The largest and most successful raid of the war occurred in February 1704,[2] when Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville led about 250 men, principally Indians on a raid against the frontier town of Deerfield in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Hertel de Rouville’s band killed or took prisoner many of the townsfolk, returning to Canada on a difficult trek in which a number of the prisoners died; many of the surviving captives were adopted into Indian communities afterward.[3] Massachusetts fortified its frontier with militia in response to this raid,[4] and launched a raid against Acadia in retaliation.[5]

The Massachusetts village of Haverhill was also subjected to smaller-scale raids in 1704, but it was not originally the target of the ambitious expedition planned by New France’s Governor-General Philippe de Rigaud Vaudreuil in 1708.[6] In the aftermath of the failed English siege of Port Royal, Acadia in 1707, Vaudreuil was criticized by French Marine Minister the Comte de Pontchartrain for failing to apply sufficient pressure on the New England colonies. Vaudreuil was also concerned over the increasing tendency of Indians that were under French influence to engage in illicit trade with the Province of New York, cutting into New France’s economic activity.[7] Vaudreuil decided to address these issues by organizing a major raid into New England that was intended to be even larger in scope than the Deerfield raid.[8]

Vaudreuil’s plan was to amass a force of as many as 400 men for attacks on the towns of New Hampshire on the Piscataqua River.[9] In order to maintain some secrecy over the size and target of the expedition, forces from several points along the Saint Lawrence River would descend to Lake Winnipesaukee, where they would rendezvous with Abenaki and Pennacook tribal parties.[10] The main French party departed from Trois-Rivières, and consisted of about 100 men, drawn from Canadian militia and the troupes de la marine, under the command of Hertel de Rouville. This party included a number of veterans from the Deerfield raid, and they were accompanied by bands of Abenaki and Nipissing.[10] A band of 220 Iroquois from the Kanehsatake and Kahnawake tribes was to depart Montreal under the command of René Boucher de La Perrière, and additional Huron and Abenakis were to come from near Quebec.[10]

Reports that a major expedition was being planned made their way via Indian traders to Albany, New York, and from there to Boston. Because the expedition’s targets were not known, little could be done to prepare specific defenses. A party of about 40 provincial militia were sent to Haverhill in response to these reports.[11][12]

Elements of the expedition departed in mid-July from the Saint Lawrence River. As the Quebec party ascended the Saint-François River, a Huron died in an accident. This was viewed as a bad portent by many of the Indians, and the Hurons turned back.[10] Among the Iroquois from Montreal, who traveled via Lake Champlain, some men fell sick and the rest refused to continue, in what some contemporaries thought was a ruse by the Iroquois to avoid conflict. Vaudreuil believed this was the case, and reports reached the English at Albany that the Iroquois had deliberately chosen to abandon the expedition “not to join war against New England.”[10] Despite these setbacks, Vaudreuil ordered Hertel de Rouville to press on, even if he received no further reinforcements. When his company reached Lake Winnipesaukee, he found that no eastern Indians willing to participate in the expedition had been found.[10] Hertel de Rouville was consequently left with a band of about 160 men, which limited his options for raiding targets to places that were less fortified.[13]

Haverhill was chosen as the target for several reasons. The village layout was already well-known from the 1704 raids and from an earlier raid in the Nine Years’ War. It was not particularly large (25 to 30 houses), its location lent itself poorly to defense, and only some of the houses were fortified. A fast-moving raiding party could be in and out of the village before the alarm could be raised. The party arrived outside Haverhill and prepared to begin the raid on Sunday, August 29.[14] It was joined at some point on its travels by the exiled Abenaki war chief Escumbuit, who lived not far from Haverhill, and had received word of the expedition’s advance.[15]

At the time, responsibility for Haverhill’s defense was divided. The local militia was under the command of Simon Wainwright, whose house had a view of the entire village.[16] The town’s defenses had been supplemented by three small (three to four man) garrisons of colonial troops under the overall command of Major Turner.[17]

The raiders successfully sneaked past the outer garrisons of provincial militia, and were first spotted in the pre-dawn light by a villager. Firing his gun to raise the alarm, he ran for the village, with the French and Indians in noisy pursuit.[17] The action quickly became general as the raiders descended on the houses in the village. One of the colonial garrisons was stationed in the home of the minister, Benjamin Rolfe, who had barred the door in an attempt to keep the raiders out. Raiders fired through the door, wounding Rolfe, and then broke the door down. They then slaughtered Rolfe, his wife, infant child, and the colonial militiamen, who, “paralyzed by fear”, were begging for mercy.[18] In another house, one baby was thrown through an open window by a raider but suffered no injury. A number of villagers escaped by hiding in cellars whose trapdoors were not discovered by the raiders.[19] Captain Wainwright was preparing to organize a defense when gunfire from the raiders passed through the door to his house, killing him instantly.[20]

The raiding and pillaging continued until the sounds of approaching militia companies reached the raiders, who quickly lit the town meetinghouse on fire and left with their accumulated prisoners and loot.[21] The reinforcements came from neighboring communities (some from as far away as Salem)[22] and mustered under Major Turner’s command when they arrived.[14][23] One party of Haverhill militiamen discovered the raiders’ baggage camp several miles from the village, and took their packs.[23] Captain Samuel Ayer’s company, numbering about 20, pursued the retreating raiders. Eventually strengthened by further militia, he engaged the encumbered raiders. In a furious rear-guard action the raiders fought off the militia (killing Ayer in the action), but lost nine killed, including Hertel de Rouville’s brother, and 18 wounded. Because of the skirmish, the raiders abandoned some of their loot, and some of their prisoners got away.[24] The village recorded that 30 to 40 people were killed or captured, which included those who escaped in the later skirmish.[24]

The raiders’ return to Canada was difficult. Joseph Bartlett, one of their captives, described the privations suffered due the loss of the force’s baggage. One day they caught a hawk, which was divided among 15 men; his share, the head, was “the largest meal I had these four days.”[22] Bartlett remained in captivity with the Indians for four years.[22] Some of the Frenchmen, rather than attempt the journey without their supplies, surrendered themselves to Massachusetts authorities.[25]

French accounts of the raid greatly exaggerated the numbers involved, claiming that several hundred had been killed, and that the post-raid skirmish had involved as many as 200 English colonists.[26] The raid was more costly to the French that previous raids had been: because of better preparedness on the part of the Massachusetts militia, the French suffered a higher proportion of casualties than they had in the Deerfield raid.[13]

The raid was the last large-scale attack the French launched against Massachusetts in the war. Minor attacks occurred along its frontier, and Wells, then part of Massachusetts but now in Maine, was attacked by a substantial force in 1712. Port Royal fell in 1710 to an expedition that included British marines, and the British abandoned a 1711 naval expedition against Quebec after some of its troop transports ran aground at the mouth of the St. Lawrence with significant loss of life.[27]

Notes

  1. Kingsford, pp. 73–76
  2. Haefeli and Sweeney, p. 206
  3. Kingsford, pp. 78–81
  4. Haefeli and Sweeney, p. 190
  5. Drake, p. 193
  6. Kingsford, p. 92
  7. Haefeli and Sweeney, pp. 196–197
  8. Haefeli and Sweeney, p. 197
  9. Drake, p. 240
  10. Haefeli and Sweeney, p. 198
  11. Kingsford, p. 93
  12. Chase, p. 217
  13. Haefeli and Sweeney, p. 199
  14. Kingsford, p. 94
  15. Kayworth, p. 214
  16. Drake, p. 242
  17. Drake, p. 243
  18. Drake, p. 244
  19. Drake, pp. 245–246
  20. Drake, p. 246
  21. Drake, p. 247
  22. Chase, p. 227
  23. Chase, p. 224
  24. Drake, p. 248
  25. Chase, p. 225
  26. Kingsford, pp. 95–96
  27. See e.g. Drake, chapters 26–28

References

  • Chase, George W (1861). The History of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Haverhill, MA: self-publisher. OCLC 4879490
  • Drake, Samuel Adams (1910) [1897]. The Border Wars of New England. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons. OCLC 2358736
  • Haefeli, Evan; Sweeney, Kevin (2003). Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 978-1-55849-503-6. OCLC 493973598
  • Kayworth, Alfred (1998). Abenaki Warrior: The Life and Times of Chief Escumbuit, Big Island Pond. Boston: Branden Books. ISBN 978-0-8283-2032-0. OCLC 38042997
  • Kingsford, William (1889). The History of Canada: Canada under French Rule. Toronto: Roswell & Hutchinson. OCLC 3676642
  • Peckham, Howard (1964). The Colonial Wars, 1689–1762. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. OCLC 1175484

Major Jonas Hawkins, courier for Culper spies

August 28, 2014

 

 

Major Jonas Hawkins[1] was a farmer and general store owner who lived at Stony Brook, NY. He was a soldier in the American Revolution and a trusted friend of Gen. George Washington. Hawkins was connected with his spying operation on Long Island during the war as an occasional courier. He made at least one trip to New York City to receive information from the Setauket Culper spies that was delivered to General Washington.

He lived in the homestead built by his father, Major Eleazer Hawkins, in 1757. In 1938, this house, known as the Hawkins-Mount Homestead, consisted of 19 rooms with 8 fireplaces, gun closets, saddle closets, and smoke holes. This home was later the home of his grandson, William S. Mount, a pioneer American artist. The loading door on the third-story gable end still reads “Jonas Hawkins Store and Ordinary.” The house, which belongs to the Long Island Museum, is located at the intersection of Route 25A and Stony Brook Road. In the 18th century, the main road between Smithtown and Setauket ran closer to the house in a northeast direction through what is now Stony Brook University.

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Jonas Hawkins’ home and general store circa 1952. Photo from Beverly Tyler.

Jonas married Ruth Mills on January 1, 1775.[2] The couple had two daughters:

  • Julia Ann Hawkins, born March 8, 1782, Stony Brook, Brookhaven, Suffolk Co., LI, New York. Died November 25, 1841, Stony Brook, New York. (Age 59 years)
  • Dorothy Hawkins, born May 3, 1788, Setauket, Suffolk Co., Long Island, New York, Died July 16, 1843. (Age 55 years)

Along with his wife, he is buried at Mills Pond, Long Island, New York.

Footnotes

  1. A Hawkins Genealogy, 1635-1939: Record of the Descendants of Robert Hawkins of Charlestown, Massachusetts, Hawkins, Ralph Clymer., (The Hawkins Association, 1939), p. 16
  2. A Hawkins Genealogy, 1635-1939: Record of the Descendants of Robert Hawkins of Charlestown, Massachusetts, Hawkins, Ralph Clymer., (The Hawkins Association, 1939), p. 26

Ensign Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, New York statesman

August 27, 2014

 

 

Jeremiah Van Rensselaer was a Representative from New York to the United States Congress. He was the cousin of Killian K. Van Rensselaer, who was also a Representative (as was Killian K.’s nephew Solomon Van Vechten Van Rensselaer.

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Jeremiah Van Rensselaer was born on August 27, 1738, in New York, the son of John Van Rensselaer (1708–1793) and Engeltie Livingston Van Rensselaer who died before Jeremiah was 10. He was tutored at their manor house “Rensselaerswyck”, attended private school in Albany, New York, and attended college at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) where he graduated in 1758.

He married Judith Bayard in 1760, but after she died, he married Helena Lansing and in February 1764 and they had one child, Solomon Van Vechten Van Rensselaer.

Rensselaer became a land agent, merchant, and surveyor. In 1766, he was a signer of the constitution of the Albany Sons of Liberty and became a member of the Albany Committee of Safety. During the American Revolutionary War he was commissioned as an ensign in the third regiment of the New York Line where he served as a paymaster.

He was elected to the First United States Congress and served from March 4, 1789 to March 3, 1791, but lost his bid for reelection to the Second Congress.

He was member of the New York State Assembly in 1789. In 1791 he was a member of the first board of directors of the Bank of Albany, and from 1798 through 1806 he was the president of the bank. He was a presidential elector in 1800, voting for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

Van Rensselaer was Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1801 to 1804, under Governor George Clinton. He was curator of the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary at Albany in 1804.

He died in Albany on February 19, 1810, and was buried in the Dutch Reformed Cemetery, but his body was later moved Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York.

References

  • Jeremiah Van Rensselaer by Stefan Bielinski, New York State Museum
  • The Political Graveyard: Van Rensselaer family of New York
  • Jeremiah Van Rensselaer at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

Battle of the Combahee River

August 26, 2014

 

 

The Battle of the Combahee River was a skirmish of the American Revolutionary War fought on August 26, 1782, near Beaufort, South Carolina, one of many such unimportant confrontations to occur before the British evacuated Charleston in December 1782. Of note is the death of 27-year-old Colonel John Laurens, “one of the bravest and most gallant of the American officers.”[2]

British forces had essentially been under siege in Charleston since late 1781 due to the activity of General Nathanael Greene’s forces in the area. General Alexander Leslie requested a truce in March 1782 and permission to purchase food for his garrison and for the inhabitants of the city. When Greene refused, General Leslie announced his intention to resume his armed forays to seize provisions by force. Greene created a 300-man light brigade of infantry and cavalry under the command of General Mordecai Gist of Maryland to oppose such forays.

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General Mordecai Gist

On August 21, General Leslie sent out two foraging expeditions. One went out to St. Helena’s Parish, and the other, under Major William Brereton, went up the Combahee River.[3] When Greene learned of these movements, he sent Gist’s force to the Combahee to oppose Brereton’s movements. Gist arrived at the north bank of the river on the 25th, but Brereton had already arrived and taken control of the ferry. Gist learned the next day that 300 of Brereton’s men had crossed the river, so he sent a detachment over to deal with them, while he sent Laurens with 50 Delaware infantry and artillery captain with a howitzer to man a redoubt at Chehaw Point, where they might fire on the British as they came downriver. Laurens spent that evening visiting with friends who lived on the way, and left for Chehaw Point at about 3 am on the morning of August 27.

The British had anticipated Gist’s maneuvers and had quietly drifted downriver. Before Laurens could reach Chehaw Point, 150 soldiers set up an ambush along the road to the point. Gist discovered the British departure at 4 am and immediately led 150 cavalry after Laurens.

While sources disagree whether Laurens ordered an attack or was surprised in the ambush, battle was engaged, and Laurens fell with mortal wounds in the first volley. The artillery captain also fell, as did others, and the troops retreated in disarray, leaving the howitzer behind. Gist and the cavalry arrived in time to cover their retreat, but he was unable to recover the howitzer or dislodge the British from their position.

The British eventually returned to their boats, and Brereton’s men continued to forage while Gist dealt with the aftermath of the battle. Laurens and one other man died on the field, and 19 more were wounded.[1]

Notes

  1. Massey, p. 227
  2. Ward, p. 842
  3. Massey, p. 225

References


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