November 6, 1999

Over 500 ships docked in New York harbor in December of 1806; prospects for foreign trade were looking up. But it had been touch and go most of the year. On May 16th Great Britain, struggling with Napoleon for European domination, had declared a blockade of the European coast. Six months later the Corsican general had issued his Berlin Decree, denouncing Britain's blockade and imposing one of his own, if only on paper. In the meantime Britain had tried to spread her blockade to the coastal trade of the U. S. At one point the Royal Navy ship Leander fired at the Richard, a U. S. sloop, off New Jersey's Sandy Hook, killing the captain's brother. Wiser heads were beginning to prevail however, and on December 31st, William Pinckney and James Monroe signed a trade treaty with Britain. But the Mother Country's high-handedness would arise again in the following years to sour relations between the two countries.

With a population of close to 100,000, the city at the mouth of the Hudson engaged in more peaceful pursuits throughout the year. On April 4th, the Eagle Insurance Company was incorporated, the city's first fire insurance company organized as a stock company. On the 16th of the following month the Free School Society opened the first Lancastrian school in the U. S., based on the English system created by Joseph Lancaster, making education available to the poor, an education utilizing older students as tutors.

All around the rapidly growing state new counties and towns continued to spring up. Broome andAllegany counties were formed. The town of Boyle was created southeast of the falls of the Genesee, and in a few years would give birth to the towns of Brighton, Penfield, Perinton and Pittsford, all Rochester suburbs today. Southampton was renamed Churchville. The busiest day of the year, geographically, must have been March 21st. On this date Madison County was created out of Chenango County. The Chenango County town of German was formed from the Madison County town of De Ruyter. The Onondaga County town of Otisco was formed from Marcellus, Pompey and Tully, and the Rensselaer County town of Berlin was formed from Petersburgh, Schodack and Stephentown. Whew!

And what of our Philadelphia newlyweds, Philip and Anna Church? They had traveled to the southwestern frontier of New York State, briefly set up housekeeping and then traveled back east to New York while Anna gave her husband a first anniversary gift, a daughter named Angelica, for Philip's mother. Then back to the frontier. Their new home would lose some of it's rough edges when his parents arrived to see their new granddaughter that summer. The elder Churches brought along a number of maids, a formal dinner service, and a French chef.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor

© 1999 David Minor / Eagles Byte