October 1997


The United States had a new capital in 1785 - our own New York City. Fraunces Tavern, still standing in lower Manhattan today, became home to the U.S. departments of Foreign Affairs, Treasury, and War. Congress sat in New York for the first time on January 11th, and settled down to the business of the nation. One of the first concerns was to try and settle the currently flexible boundaries of its adopted state. Surveyors were dispatched across the top of New Jersey, over to the west, to work on the boundary line with Pennsylvania. The Massachusetts border had been in contention since colonial times, and Congress appointed John Ewing, Thomas Hutchins and David Rittenhouse to survey a final boundary.

Water transportation being important to the settlement of the new state, Congress granted Christopher Colles $125 in April, for further study of his plan to convert the Mohawk River into a canal. For this sum, Congress and the public got a pamphlet with the title of - Proposals for the speedy settlement of the waste and unappropriated lands of the western frontiers of New York, and for the improvement of the inland navigation between Albany and Oswego. Settlement may have been speedy; titles certainly weren't.

Actually, development wasn't that speedy. A few tentative forays began into the interior, away from the Hudson and Mohawk valleys. The northern end of Seneca Lake experienced the first development. Horatio Jones, a former captive of the Seneca (named by them Handsome Boy), married a Schenectady woman and moved to a site on the Seneca River where the water dropped over 24 feet in a short distance, the area that would become the village of Waterloo 39 years later. And the first settlers moved in a few miles to the west - the beginnings of the city of Geneva.

The New York State government began disposing of lands seized from Loyalists after the Revolution. James DeClark, Jacobus Dyckman, George Fisher, and tavern keeper Peter Post purchsed four farms along the Hudson River once belonging to the Philipse family. Their purchase would one day become Hastings-on-Hudson, familiar to many a commuter today.

Back in civilization, everyone was keeping busy. In the state and national capital, Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay and lawyer and former congressman Alexander Hamilton set out to organize the New York City Manumission Society. Mindful of last year's successful voyage of the Empress of China, backers of the Hudson River sloop Experiment, sent Captain Stewart Dean out of Albany on a trading voyage to Canton, China, the second U. S vessel to trade with the little-known Asian nation.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor


© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte