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Art. 1.-COMMERCIAL CITIES AND TOWNS OF THE UNITED STATES.

NUMBER XVII.

THE CITY OF ALBANY.

ALBANY--ITS FIRST SETTLEMENT-PUR TRADE WITH THE INDIANS AND CANADIANS-THE CENTER OT

THE MILITARY OPERATIONS OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT AGAINST THE FRENCH IN NORTH AMERICA -ITS RAPID INCREASE IN COMMERCE AND POPULATION AFTER THE ADOPTION OF THE FEDERAL COM STITUTION, AND PARTICULARLY AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE ERIE CANAL-ITS PRESENT TRADE, MANUFACTURES, AND PROSPECTS.

The settlement of Albany was commenced in the year 1614 by the United New Netherland Co., in the erection of a trading-house on Castle Island, immediately below the site of the present city. This post was fortified with two pieces of cannon and eleven stone guns, and commanded by Jacob Jacobz Elkens, who continued in the employ of the company for four years. In the spring of 1618, the fort on Castle Island was so much injured by the breaking up of the ice in Hudson's River, that it was abandoned, and the post removed a short distance to the south, to the banks of the Norman's Kill. The charter of the New Netherland Co. having expired the same year, the West India Co. was formed, and in 1623 erected Fort Orange, on the site of the present city of Albany. The first governor of Fort Orange was Hans Jorissen Houten.

The government of Holland about this time granted to Killian Van Rensselaer, a pearl merchant of Amsterdam, a tract of land twenty miles in length, on Hudson's River, and forty-eight miles in width, to which was given the title of the Manor of Rensselaerwyck. This manor comprised the present counties of Albany and Rensselaer, the northern portion of the latter excepted, and a part of the present county of Columbia. The city of Albany is situated midway between its eastern and western, and about six miles south of its northern boundary, on the west bank of Hudson's River, near the head of tide-water, and 150 miles from New York.

The Patroon of Rensselaerwyck, for by this title was Killian Van Rensselaer designated in the charter of his manor, sent out from Ilolland in 1630 a colony of fifty persons, who landed at Fort Orange on the 24th of May, in that year. Other settlers followed in each succeeding year, and were distributed over the territory, and thus laid the foundation of the villages in the vicinity of Albany.

The first foreign arrival at Fort Orange was a vessel called the William, owned by three London merchants, who had commissioned Jacob Jacobz Elkens, above mentioned, as factor or supercargo. The William touched at Fort Amsterdam, now New York, and was forbidden by the governor of that post, Wouter Van Twiller, to ascend the river. Nothing daunted, however, Elkens was determined to attempt the passage. He was successful, and arrived in the neighborhood of Fort Orange in May, 1633. He erected a tent about a mile below the fort, and landing his goods, commenced an active trade with the Indians. The governor of Fort Orange, hearing of this, soon embarked on board a shallop, with a trumpeter, and proceeded to the landing place of Elkens. “By the way," saith the old chronicle," the trumpet was sounded, and the Dutchmen drank a bottle of strong waters, of three or four pints, and were right merry." They also set up a tent by the side of the English, and endeavored, but to little purpose, to hinder their trade

with the Indians. At the end of fourteen days, three Dutch vessels, despatched by Governor Van Twiller, arrived from below, and forcibly ousting the English, compelled them to embark. The owners of the William estimated the damages which they experienced on this occasion, at five thousand pounds sterling; for the annual trade of Hudson's River was at this period estimated at from 15,000 to 16,000 beavers.

The same year, the Directors of the West India Co. ordered“ an elegant large house with balustrades, and eight small dwellings for the people,” to be erected at Fort Orange. A few years afterward, the name of Beverwyek was substituted for that of Fort Orange. After the conquest of the colony of New Netherland by the English, in the year 1664, the name of Beverwyck was changed to that of Albany, in honor of the Duke of York and Albany, afterwards James II. Its trade at this time, and for a long period later, consisted chiefly in furs, which were purchased of the Indians at very low prices, and sold to the agents of European merchants in New York. In course of time, as the inhabitants of the vicinity of the city began to raise a surplus of grain, the trade in breadstuffs assumed considerable importance, as also did the timber trade. Flour and saw mills were erected by Albany merchants on the water courses near the city, and a large number of vessels were employed in the transportation of the product of these mills to New York and the West India Islands. Kalm, a learned Swedish naturalist, who traveled in this country in 1748, states that all the vessels wbich then plied between Albany and New York, were owned at the former place; and that they “ brought from Albany boards, plank, and all sorts of timber, flour, pease, and furs, which they obtained from the Indians or smuggled from the French.” The same writer states that these vessels returned “almost empty, and only bring a few merchandizes, among which rum is the chief. This last is absolutely necessary to the inhabitants of Albany. They cheat the Indians in the fur trade with it; for when the Indians are drunk, they will leave it to the Albanians to fix the price of the furs.”

Wheat was raised at this period, just one century ago, in large quantities in the vicinity of Albany; the average yield being about twenty bushels to the acre. Albany flour was considered the best in North America, except that from Kingston, in Ulster Co. The exportation of pease was also large. At this time, and for many years afterward, there was no quay at Albany, on account of the ice. Heavy freight was put on board the river craft by means of canoes and batteaux. At the period of Kalm's visit, the fur trade continued to be the principal branch of commerce pursued by the Albanians. “There was not a place in all British America, the Hudson Bay settlements alone excepted, where such quantities of furs and skins were bought of the Indians as at Albany." Most of the Albany merchants of that day sent a clerk or agent to Oswego, which was a noted resort of the Indians who had furs to dispose of. They also spent the summer at Oswego in person, in order to trade with the Indians; “ cheating the same, when in liquor,” according to Kalm, who also states that the * Albany merchants glory in these tricks.” Besides this trade with Oswego and the Valley of the Mohawk, Albany enjoyed a large trade with the Indians of Canada, and other sections of the country. The French merchants of Canada being prohibited from exporting furs to the English colonies, were obliged to resort to smuggling in their commercial intercourse with Albany. They sent their furs, by means of the Indians, to their correspondents in that city, who purchased at the price previously fixed upon with the French, and gave to the Indians, in exchango,

cloths and other goods, which were sold

in Albany at a lower rate than were those which were sent to Canada from France. This trade with Canada was lost to Albany, in a great degree, after the conquest of that province by the English. At this period, wampum was made in Albany in large quantities, and sold to the Indians at a great profit.

Of the character of the Albanians, one hundred years ago, as merchants and citizens, Kalm draws a picture by no means flattering, as follows :“ The avarice and selfishness of the Albanians are well known throughout all North America. If a Jew, who understands the art of getting forward perfectly well, should settle among them, they would not fail to ruin him. For this reason, no one comes to this place without the most pressing necessity." Kalm also complains of a general indisposition to oblige, and of the exorbitant charges to which he was subjected. At the same time, he admits that " there were some among them who equaled any in North America, or anywhere else, in politeness, equity, goodness, and readiness to serve and oblige."

During the seven years' war, and for years afterward, Albany was the center of the military operations of the British government against the French and Indians in North America. The great army of General Abercrombie was encamped for several weeks on the plains below the city, and the lamented Lord Howe, and other distinguished officers of that army, were in habits of daily intercourse with her principal citizens. To Albany, also, at this period, the prominent citizens of New England frequently resorted, to hold counsel with the Schuylers, and other eminent men of the province of New York, in relation to Indian affairs. In 1754, a Congress of Commissioners was held in Albany, in pursuance of an order from George II., to treat with the Indians, and to determine upon a plan for a more general union of the colonies. To this Congress came Theodore Atkinson, from New Hampshire, Governor Hutchinson, from Massachusetts, Lt. Gov. De Lancey, from New York, Benjamin Franklin, from Pennsylvania, Col. Tasker, from Maryland, and many other distinguished men from the Northern and Middle provinces. A full account of the proceedings of this Congress is contained in a “Review of the Military Operations in North America, from 1753 to 1756," attributed to Gov. Wm. Livingston, of New Jersey. The Commissioners were, both for abilities and fortune, among the first men in North America. The speakers, however, were few in number, but among them were those who spoke with singular energy and eloquence. All were inflamed with a patriotic spirit

, and the debates were mooving and heart-stirring. Gov. Livingston compared the Congress with one of the “ancient Greek Conventions, for supporting their expiring liberty against the power of the Persian empire, or that Louis of Greece, Philip of Macedon.” Before adjournment, a plan was adopted for a general union of the British colonies in North America, and for creating a common fund to defray all military expenses.

Albany contained in 1754 but 300 or 400 houses, and from 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants. Still it was a place of vast importance, in a military and commercial point of view, and was constantly enlivened by the arrival and departure of British troops, with their attendant commissaries and contractors ; by the presence of gallant officers, who had seen service in the Low Countries and in Germany, under Marlborough and Prince Eugene ; in Spain, under the Earl of Peterborough; and some, perchance, who had followed the banners of the Great Frederick in the terrible fight of Cunners

dorf, had bravely confronted the fierce Croatian pandours of Frederick de Trenk, or pursued, under the same monarch, the retreating Daun, with the flower of Austria, over the frontiers of Siberia. The brave officers of New England, also, were frequent guests of the Albanians at this period, and Winslow, Williams, the founder of Williams' College, Pomeroy, Ruggles, Prescott, and other of their contemporaries in Massachusetts and Connecticut, were as well known, and as thoroughly appreciated by them, as their own Schuyler, or Gansevoort, or Herkimer.

During the Revolutionary war, Albany was eminently patriotic, and contributed her full quota, in men and money, to promote the success of that wonderful contest. Nearly all of her prominent citizens ranged themselves on the side of the colonies; and many of her sons gained at Saratoga, at Bennington, at Fort Stanwix, and on other fields, laurels which will never fade, so long as the annals of the Revolution shall remain extant. To Albany Gen. Burgoyne was brought after his surrender; and the elegant mansion where that unfortunate commander and his brother officers were so hospitably entertained by General Schuyler, after the capture of the British army at Saratoga, is still standing at the corner of Schuyler and Clinton streets. It is a fine specimen of a gentleman's country home in the English style of the last century.

The adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1789 exerted the same beneficial influence upon the city of Albany which was experienced from the same cause in nearly all the large towns and cities in the United States. Trade, which had languished under the confederacy, revived, and new and important enterprises were projected and successfully accomplished. In 1791, the first bank was established in Albany. It was styled the Bank of Albany, and endowed with a capital of $240,000. Its dividends, for many years after its establishment, were at the rate of 9 per cent per annum. This bank is still in existence, and ranks among the oldest and soundest moneyed institutions in the State. Its officers and directors have been, with few exceptions, of the good old Holland stock, and would not discredit the Bourse of Amsterdam, or the Council Board of the Dutch East India Co.

In 1793, the Northern and Western Inland Lock Navigation Companies were chartered by the State Legislature. The stock of these companies was chiefly subscribed in New York and Albany. The object of the companies was to improve the navigation of the Mohawk River, and of the Hudson above tide-water. The charter of the Northern Co. soon expired, without having been productive of any improvements; but the Western Co. completed a water communication from Schenectady to the falls of the Oswego River, through which boats were passed to within twelve miles of Oswego. At Oswego Falls there was a portage of one mile, below which the navigation was resumed in boats of a smaller class to Lake Ontario. The works of this company consisted of a series of locks, and a canal at Little Falls, on the Mohawk; a canal with locks at Fort Stanwix, from the Mohawk to Wood Creek, a tributary of Oneida Lake and the Oswego River; and a series of locks and dams on Wood Creek. Tolls were collected as early as 1796 on this line, and up to 1812, $450,000 had been expended upon the improvements. The length of this water communication from Schenectady to Oswe go, was 180 miles, with only one portage. Although it resulted in no pecuniary advantage to the stockholders, its influence upon the prosperity of western New York was incalculable. Through this channel the products of that region found a market at Albany, whence, in return, large quantities of

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merchandise were sent westward, and thus the foundation laid of that trade which has since become so lucrative.

In 1793, the only public means of conveyance for travelers between Albany and New York, in the winter season, was a stage coach, which left each city twice a week. During the season of navigation, passengers were conveyed between the two cities in sloops, which usually performed the voyage in from one to four days; although, in some instances, a week or a fortnight was consumed on the passage. The charge, including “ board, fare, and liquors," of a voyage of four days, made by Mande, an English traveler, in the year 1800, was $6 50. The shortest passage ever made up to that year, was made in sixteen hours six minutes. The passage up the river was always the shortest, as it now is with steamers, as you carry the flood tide

In the downward passage you outrun the ebb. In the year 1795, the trade of Albany was principally with the Mohawk valley. Ninety vessels were employed in the transportation of freight to and from New York at this period, half of which were owned in Albany, and the remainder in New York and the river towns. The captains of these vessels received $20 per month, the mates $15, and the seamen $9 per month. They usually made ten voyages the year, and averaged seventy tons each. The price of freight from Albany to New York, was 12 cents per cwt. 7 The price of land in the vicinity of Albany at this period, was from $63 to $75 per acre. Alluvial lands, near the river, were still dearer. This does not vary materially from the present value of land, used for agricultural purposes, in the same vicinity.

The seat of the State government was removed from New York to Albany, January 3d, 1797. The Legislature assembled on that day in the old City Hall, which then stood on the corner of Broadway and Hudson-streets. John Jay was Governor of the State at this time ; Stephen Van Rensselaer, Lieutenant Governor. Among the Senators were Philip Schuyler, Ambrose Spencer, Philip Livingston, and Peter Silvester. The population of Albany in 1797, was estimated at about 5,000. By the census of 1800, it was 5,349.

THE Press. The annals of the newspaper press in Albany form an important feature in its history; renowned as that city has been, during the last half century, for its active participation in the political affairs of the State and nation.

The first printing office established in Albany, was opened in the year 1770 by Alexander and James Robinson, from New York. The publication of the first newspaper was commenced by the same firm in November, 1771. It was styled the Albany Gazette, and was discontinued in 1775 or 1776— the publishers, being loyalists, having fled to Nova Scotia. In 1782, the New York Gazetteer was commenced ; and in 1784, the Albany Gazette, in continuation of the Gazetteer, by Charles R. Webster

. The Gazette was at first published once a week-in 1789, twice a week. The circulation at the latter period was 750 copies. There were but two mails at that time which arrived at Albany-one from New York, the other from Springfield, Mass. The Gazette was published until the year 1845, when it was discontinued.

The Balance, edited by Harry Croswell, now rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, was published in Albany from 1808 to 1811. It had previously been published for several years at Hudson, and was regarded as one of the ablest Federal journals in the Union. Mr. Croswell wielded a powerful pen, and was occasionally aided by the most distinguished political writ

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