December 20, 1997

Our new nation hit a milestone in 1787, as delegates meeting in Philadelphia approved a final draft of a new national constitution on September 17th. New York-born Pennsylvania politician Gouvernor Morris had written the final draft, and the delegates passed a resolution to forward it to Congress in New York City. The Articles of Confederation had been supplanted by the new U. S. Constitution and courts and citizens would continue refining its meaning, down to the present day and beyond.

Meanwhile the seat of government would continue to grow, as a center for arts and commerce, challenging Boston and Philadelphia's position. On the 24th the city's Daily Advertiser printed A Revolution Effected by Good Sense and Deliberation, the first known original commentary on the Constitution in the state. Previously, on April 16th, Boston playwright Royall Tyler would reverse a tradition yet to come, and open his new play The Contrast out of town in New York, at the John Street Theatre. It would be the first professional performance of a comedy in America.

On July 5th, Connecticut-born clergyman, doctor, and speculator Manasseh Cutler arrived in the city and spent the next nine days petitioning Congress for the right to buy one-and-a-half million acres of land on the Ohio River - at 3 acres for a dollar - for the Ohio Company. On the 27th he was given the authority to buy 1,781,760 acres for $1,000,000, with an option for another five million acres. Meanwhile the state legislature, meeting in the city, sold Alexander Macomb four million acres in the northern part of New York state. Heady stuff for a city that had only cost a few dollars worth of trinkets itself.

Further up the Hudson, civilization was making inroads. In Albany, housewright Isaac Packard was building Cherry Hill, a Georgian mansion, for patroon Philip Van Rennselaer. (From now on Philip would have to work a bit harder to maintain his estate, as the legislature abolished feudal tenure this year.) And the printing firm of Claxton & Babcock would begin publishing Troy's weekly Northern Centinel & Lansingburgh Advertiser. Off to the west, at the confluence of the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers, settlers began to gather at a site they called Chenango Point. We call it Binghamton.

While all this was happening, decisions were being made in Hartford, Connecticut, that would have an impact on western New York. A conference set the western boundary of New York's Indian lands just east of the Niagara River, running from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. Rights to the one-mile strip west of the line were reserved for New York State.

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

© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte