June 10, 2000


1812. Former U. S. vice-president George Clinton, first governor of New York State, died in Washington D. C. on the 20th of April. But it was his nephew De Witt Clinton, mayor of New York City, who would monopolize the spotlight across New York this year. His city had been a major focal point of the previous war with Great Britain, and it was supposed that it would figure largely in the upcoming conflict. Which kept hizzoner busy, strengthening the defenses of the city and harbor. But after war was declared by president Monroe and Congress on June 18th, the conflict erupted primarily to the north, where the St. Lawrence River met Lake Ontario, and across from the western end of the state on Canada's Niagara frontier. But the war is not our subject here.

It was an active political year for Clinton. At the end of May, a state caucus nominated him for the presidency. In August the Federalist Party convened in New York City and chose him to run against incumbent president James Madison. The following day a group called the Friends of Liberty, Peace and Commerce, met there to stage an anti war mass meeting. Three months later Clinton was picked to run for the governorship. But he'd have to wait another five years for that one.

Back in January, the Fulton-Livingston workshops in New York City were destroyed by arson. Robert Fulton bought a house on Bowling Green in lower Manhattan and moved up from Washington. Never one to relax, he continued promoting his business interests, putting a steam ferryboat into service on the North and East Rivers, agreeing to convert a Canal across lower Manhattan into today's Canal Street, and exposing a charlatan's perpetual motion machine. One other would-be traveler from the south never made it. Discredited former vice-president Aaron Burr, recently returned from four years in Europe, waited in vain for the arrival of the packet ship Patriot, out of Georgetown, South Carolina. His plans for a reunion with his daughter Theodosia were not to happen. The ship, and Theodosia, vanished from history during the voyage. For others in the city it was business as usual. A new City Hall, begun in 1803, was finally completed. The Bank of America was chartered. And the section of the city surrounding Chatham Street was destroyed by fire.

Up in Albany the foundation of the state's educational system was laid down by governor Daniel Tompkins. In Syracuse, merchant John Gridley, fearing a British invasion, had a Masonic emblem carved into the keystone over the front doorway of his new house. And the village on the Genesee took shape, gaining a settlement named Rochesterville, a courthouse square, a bridge crossing the river, and newcomers such as Hamlet Scrantom, postmaster Abelard Reynolds, and Francis Brown, all names to become prominent locally. Speaking of which, we're not done with the name Clinton just yet. (Looks like we may never be). Hamilton College was founded this year. In Clinton, New York.

OUTRO For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor

© 2000 David Minor / Eagles Byte