March 7, 1998


In 1790 New York State continued to define its boundaries. It had built a lighthouse on the west side of New York Harbor at Sandy Hook, which was now part of New Jersey, so the beacon was transferred to the U. S. Government in February. In October the common boundary with Vermont was determined, with New York relinquishing some of the disputed land for a $30,000 payment. Land sales at the other end of the state were not proving to be as profitable; Phelps and Gorham sold the land west of the Genesee River back to Massachusetts. It would be more than another decade before settlement would begin to pick up to any great extent. Middaugh's tavern at Lewiston would continue to be rather lonely for some time.

Meanwhile, back in lower Manhattan, the Federal Government continued to mind the country's business. Secretary of State Hamilton proposed in January that the new government assume all state debts incurred during the recent rebellion. Congress received its first antislavery petitions (ironically it was on February 11th, the day before the future birthday of a yet-unborn Abraham Lincoln). March 1st saw the enactment of the first Census Act. The count for the state showed a population of 340,120, making it the fifth largest in terms of population. Secretary of State Jefferson reported for duty on the 21st and was sworn in the next day. As the year progressed Congress also created the U. S. Coast Guard to suppress smuggling, passed a copyright act, a patent act (the first patent recipient lies buried in Pittsford), and, in August, signed a treaty with Creek Indian leader Alexander McGillivray, to preserve peace with the tribes of the south.

One piece of legislation was not having an easy time of it. The House of Representatives defeated Hamilton's Assumption Act. Many southern states saw no reason why the Federal government should assume the wartime debts incurred by the states, especially since the northern states would benefit most. But in the end Hamilton held an important bargaining chip. The southern states felt that the country's government should be at a more central location, at least in Virginia. Legislative give-and-take continued. In mid-June Congress gave Hamilton his act, and a southern location was chosen for the nation's capital. It was decided to have the President choose the final site. Nothing suggested itself, but it was agreed to move the capital to Philadelphia for a ten-year period, while plans for a new Federal City went forward. The nation's capital prepared to pick up and move on. Congress recessed on August 12th and New York City passed out of the national limelight.

Life went on across the state. Orange County farmer William Wickham and his family headed for the Finger Lakes that Fall, wintering over in northern Pennsylvania. And brothers James and William Wadsworth arrived in the Genesee Valley.

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


© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte