As 1803 dawned over New York State, there was one significant player missing. Back in London the year before, Sir William Pulteney had given his ledgers a good going over. Despite the fact that his investment in Genesee lands had doubled in eight years under the capable hands of his agent Charles Williamson, all Sir William could see was the amount in the expenses column - $1,374,470, and ten cents, as well as outstanding obligations of $300,000. Deciding to micro-manage, usually a bad idea even back then before it had a name, he sought to appoint a co-proprietor in New York. Charles Williamson was not about to share responsibility with anyone. He settled his affairs and moved on. The super salesman was gone now.

Ledger figures weren't coming out right down in New York City, either. An audit revealed that a member of Mayor Edward Livingston's staff had embezzled over $44,000 of municipal funds. The mayor, innocent of any wrong-doing and just recovering from a bout of yellow fever, moved quickly to restore the public monies from his own pocket. Impoverished, he resigned and moved to New Orleans. Waiting in the wings was a young U. S. Senator with a name soon to be reckoned with in the state. Name of De Witt Clinton. He would soon have a new office, as the cornerstone for the third, and current, City Hall was laid this year.

Upstate, development moved apace. Early settlers were putting down roots, roots that would be the foundations of Fredonia, Salamanca, Aurora, Warsaw, and Caledonia (then known as Southampton). In Batavia, land agent Joseph Ellicott made his first sale, to Adam Hoops and three business partners. Ellicott tore down his log office and moved into a frame building. Batavia was named as the seat of Genesee County. Settlers in Schenectady rebuilt the first bridge across the Mohawk, previously blown down just after its construction. In Herkimer County the Fairfield Academy was established. Becoming a medical school in 1809 it would fail to meet the requirements for a college and have its conditional charter revoked around 1812.

De Witt Clinton was not the only rising political star in the state this year. Upstate lawyer Martin Van Buren was named to the New York State Bar. And circuit court judge Daniel D. Tompkins, a future gubernatorial rival of Clinton's and future U. S. Vice President, arrived in Auburn to administer justice. He held a court of Oyer and Terminer, appointed to inquire into all treasons, felonies and misdemeanors, sitting on the case of a local Indian named John, who stood accused of killing settler Ezekial Crane, Jr. After hearing the evidence, Tompkins found John to be guilty of murder and sentenced him to be hanged. According to French's Gazetteer of 1860, the convicted man, "urgently requested that he might be shot - a privilege, of course, not granted by our laws."

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor

© 1999 David Minor / Eagles Byte