September 5, 1998


When New York lawyer John Jay brokered a treaty with England in November of 1794, the announced provisions aroused political opposition - opposition that would not die down for the next two years. Northern commercial interests found the granting of most-favored nation status (sound familiar?) to Britain unacceptable. As New York entered 1795 and Alexander Hamilton announced his support for the treaty, he became one of the state's more unpopular citizens.

In July he attempted to explain his reasons in a outdoor public address on New York City's Broad Street, (near today's stock market, where George Washington had spoken during the city's Federal period). Hamilton's speech had to be canceled when several citizens began tossing stones at him. The city was becoming rather touchy anyway. An outbreak of yellow fever was just getting underway, and by November several hundred New Yorkers would be dead of the disease.

In the rest of the state things were quite a bit calmer. Nonetheless, governor George Clinton decided to retire from politics. Oddly enough it was John Jay who was elected to succeed him. Obviously the Federalists still enjoyed great power in New York. Clinton would be back as governor in 1801.

Though much of the state was still sparsely populated, the Hudson Valley and part of the Mohawk region was becoming quite civilized. Union College, so called because it was a union of several religious denominations, was founded in Schenectady. Building funds for the school were raised by he usual private subscriptions and lotteries, common methods for projects across the country, for decades to come. Among the monies raised were $225,000 for nine professorships, $5,000 for textbooks, $30,000 for a library and $20,000 for - a cemetery! Some of the funds came from investments in Brooklyn real estate.

The legislature had authorized a survey for a public highway last year, from Utica to the Genesee Valley, but these things take time. Jacob Weidman was near enough to Albany a lack of a cross-state road didn't matter, when he founded a village out of Rensselaerville and named it Bern for his birthplace in Switzerland. Others found the lack an obstacle, but not an unsurmountable one. Two Englishmen erected a log cabin west of the Genesee - the future site of Caledonia. Daniel Penfield began buying Phelps and Gorham Tract property for his mills on Irondequoit Creek, to the east of the Genesee. He would firmly place his name on the ensuing village. And two men named Ephraim would make their marks on our area. Ephraim Webster pioneered the future site of Syracuse. And Ephraim Wilder built an inn at Canandaigua, later a stage stop. You can still stay there - it's today's Acorn Inn.

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


© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte