July 22, 2000

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Mayor De Witt Clinton had strengthened New York's defenses toward the end of 1812. As January 1813 rolls around, he may wish he'd been able to do something about the city's offense. A British warship of 74 guns and several other vessels enter the mouth of the harbor and set up a blockade. The city's shipping goes into a sharp decline. Upstate, the Federal government purchases land at Watervliet for a new arsenal. Meanwhile a series of naval assaults, battles and skirmishes for control of Lake Ontario gets under way. U. S. forces under Zebulon Pike burn the town of York (later named Toronto) in April; Pike is blown to Kingdom Come along with the fort's powder magazine. But the cycle of revenge by fire has begun. British forces burn Sodus Point in June. In December they will capture Fort Niagara, burn Lewiston, then Buffalo, as inhabitants flee to the east, many reaching as far as Batavia.

This year Robert Fulton works on anti-ship devices with one hand, and continues developing steamboat service with the other, sends the steamer Firefly on a voyage upriver to Peekskill, puts the Fulton into service on Long Island Sound when the harbor clears of British and ice in the Spring, and launches the rebuilt Car of Neptune. He also begins ferry service between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Land transportation gets a boost when the Ontario and Western Turnpike, connecting Canandaigua with the Niagara Frontier, is completed.

New political entities are formed. Warren County is carved out of Washington County; Binghamton is incorporated; the town of Bellona is renamed Le Roy, after prominent resident Herman Le Roy. Rochesterville gets its first sawmill, post office, doctor, school and public conveyance. The development of natural resources continues, as Onondaga Salt Works superintendent William Kirkpatrick reports production in 1812 totalling over 221,000 bushels. Along the upper Hudson River the first of the great log drives gets underway, despite the unsettled military situation to the north. Education is not overlooked. In a pioneering move, Gideon Hawley is named the first state school superintendent in the U. S. And the New York regents charter the Albany Academy. For boys, of course. Pioneering can only go so far.

Some previous acquaintances reappear. Joseph Ellicott, former surveyor for the Holland Land Company, is appointed professor of mathematics at West Point's military academy. And war has not left Philip and Anna Church unaffected. Trapped in England by hostilities, he will naturally worry about Anna, as reports of military activities to her north, on the Niagara frontier, begin to filter back. Any fears will be groundless. In September, as Oliver Perry and Robert Barclay slug it out at Ohio's Put-in-Bay, Seneca chiefs surround the Angelica house. They will see no harm comes to their adopted Ye nun-ke-a-wa.

For Classical 91.5, this is David Minor

 

© 2000 david Minor / Eagles Byte

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