Independence Day in Scotia, 1830

An interesting story about the celebrations of Independence Day in Schenectady and Scotia appeared in The Schenectady Cabinet, the weekly local newspaper, in June and July, 1830. The excitement appeared in three separate issues of the paper, and I’ve transcribed it here. Italics and capitalizations are original.

If you want a quick read, the highlights of the proceedings are in bold. But then you will miss the incendiary prose, the expressions of controversy, the attention to detail, and the texts of the 17 (!) toasts. Chairman of the Committee for this alternative celebration was Capt. Reese, who was the owner of the present Flint House.

As you read, remember that 1776 and the Declaration of Independence were only 54 years ago for those folks. That’s like 1962 for us, so most everyone there had a personal tie to the events of the Revolution. Either they experienced it themselves or they had heard the tales from their parents or grandparents.

[Percy M. Van Epps, Glenville Historian from 1926 to 1950, wrote about this in one of his reports, and it inspired me to go back to the original newspapers and read the entire story. The Van Epps Papers, 3rd edition, published by the Town Board, Glenville, New York, 1998.]

 

Schenectady Cabinet, June 23, 1830

Fourth of July

At a large and respectable meeting of the citizens and townsmen of the city and county of Schenectady, held at the house of Bernard Cramer, in the village of Scotia, in the town of Glenville, on Saturday the 19th June, 1830, the following preamble, resolutions and proceedings, were unanimously adopted—Capt. Reese, having been first called to the chair, and Capt. Caw, appointed Secretary.

Whereas a dissatisfaction, occasioned by the proceedings of the general committee in the city of Schenectady, appointed to make arrangements for the celebration of the 4th of July next, having been given; and there being a diversity of opinion, even among the members of that committee, as to the propriety and legality of the course adopted by certain gentlemen belonging to that committee.—And whereas considering that a unanimity of sentiment ought to pervade every bosom on that happy day, in which the hand of freedom dashed in pieces the shackles of servitude, and emancipated America from the thralldom of slavery, and that enmity, hatred and malice ought to be banished from every soul: and also considering it a good thing to celebrate the day as it ought to be celebrated, with the angel of peace presiding over the hearts of men.—Therefore

Resolved, That on the ensuing anniversary of our National Independence, we will come out from the city, because of the diversity of feeling and sentiment existing among the people, and on this side of the Mohawk, with a unison of feeling, with one spirit and as one man, celebrate the proudest day in the annals of history, in peace and with good feelings of friendship towards all mankind.

Resolved, That we consider it the exclusive right of a free people to rule themselves, and that we disapprove of being ruled by a corrupt and unprincipled aristocracy, who only seek popular favour and the aggrandizement of their own wishes, without regard to honor or the dictates of a good conscience.

Resolved, That we consider liberty of expression and liberty of action, heaven’s first and best gift to man, and an invaluable blessing secured to us by our admirable constitution.

Resolved, That we will act free and independent, and according to the dictates of a good conscience, enlightened by the reflection of reason, and that we will not show ourselves unworthy of the privileges emanating from a republican government.

Resolved, That we do most heartily disapprove of the course adopted by the relics of the Regency, in its full extent, and also in all its ramification: that we will no longer suffer ourselves to be betrayed by a kiss: that the veil having been withdrawn from our eyes we will see! and fearlessly express our sentiments.

Resolved, That the Lion having been attacked in her den and laid at our feet, we will not be alarmed at the mewing of her whelps.

Resolved, That he who will tamely submit to wear the shackles of servitude in a land of liberty, ought to be despised and is unworthy the name of a man.

A committee of arrangements, to make preparations for the celebration of our National Independence, was then appointed, consisting of the following persons, to wit:

Col. Consaul, Maj. Sanders, Adj. M’Clelland, Qr. Master Bouck, Pay Master Allen, Serg’t Wemple, Qr. Master Faling, Capt. Reese, Capt. Bath, Capt. Caw, Capt. Garnsey, Capt. Lawrence, Capt. Clogston, Capt. Toll, Capt. Cramer, Capt. Knight, Capt. Condey, Capt. M’Allister, Capt. Van Slyck, Lieut. Brumaghim, Lieut. Marselus, Lieut. Veeder, Lieut. Ulsaver, Lieut. Carner, Ensign Carner—Judge Sanders, John I. De Graff, John Anderson, jr. , John Lassells, Geo. M’Queen, Aaron Van Santvoord, Simon Swart, Peter Sanders, Barent Sanders, Russel Waterman, Andrew Yates, Judge Potter, John Worden.

The following persons were then appointed by select committees, and unanimously approved by the meeting:

John Brotherson, Esq. for Orator,

Doct. Smith, for Reader,

Capt. Benson, for Marshall,

Adjt. M’Clelland, for Deputy Marshall.

A committee of three were appointed to wait upon the above gentlemen, to solicit their acceptance of their respective appointments.

After a number of sub committees were appointed to attend the necessary business preparatory to the celebration, the following resolutions were adopted and the meeting adjourned until Monday evening the 21st instant.

Resolved, That the Oration be delivered, the Declaration of Independence read, and the usual exercises of the day, be had in the Reformed Dutch Church of Scotia.

Resolved, That the citizens of Schenectady, and the Military of the city and county of Schenectady, are respectfully invited to participate with us in the celebration of our next national anniversary of Independence, and that the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the chairman and secretary, and published in the Schenectady Cabinet.

DAVID F. REESE, Chairman, James Caw, Jun. Secretary.

 

Schenectady Cabinet, June 30, 1830

Order of the Celebration

of the 4th of July, on Monday the 5th of July,

1830

Thirteen guns to be fired at sunrise. At 10 o’clock A. M. the procession to form in front of Bernard Cramer’s, in the village of Scotia, in the following order, viz:

Capt. Garnsey’s company of Flying Artillery, commanded by Lieut. J. A. Brooks.

Capt. Rees’ company of Heavy Artillery.

Martial Music.

Capt. Bath’s company of Light Infantry.

Schenectady Volunteers.

Capt. Caw’s company of Light Infantry.

Military Officers in full uniform.

Revolutionary Officers and Soldiers with their Banners.

Orator, and Reader of the Declaration of Independence.

The Trustees of the town of Glenville, together with the Officers of the town, attended with their company and their staff.

The Sheriff and Deputies.

Judges and Magistrates, preceded by the Constables with their insignia of office.

The Clergy.

Gentlemen of the Bar.

Medical Gentlemen.

Faculty and Students of Union College.

Citizens and Strangers.

The procession being thus formed, will move down the dyke to Mr. Swart’s, opposite the Mohawk Bridge, and from thence to the Dutch Reformed Church at Scotia, where an Oration will be delivered by John Brotherson, Esq. and the Declaration of Independence read by Capt. Caw.

The arrangement of the church will be as follows:

The Trustees of the Town on the stage.

The Officers and Soldiers of the Revolution will occupy the first and second seats fronting the stage.

The Military Officers the 3d and 4th seats fronting the stage.

The Judges and Magistrates the east half of the lower floor.

The Ladies the west half of the seats on the lower floor.

The singers the front seats in the gallery fronting the state, and the martial music the 2nd and 3d seats fronting the gallery.

Capt. Garnsey’s company, commanded by Lieut. Brooks, and Capt. Rees’ company on the west side of the gallery.

Schenectady Volunteers in the rear of the martial music.

Capt. Bath’s company and Capt. Caw’s company, the east side of the gallery.

The house having been called to order, the exercises will be as follows:

1st, Music—2d, Prayer by the Rev. Mr. Murphy—3d, Music—4th, Declaration of Independence—5th, Oration—6th, Music—7th, Prayer—8th, Music.

The exercises of the day having been concluded, the procession will then form as before, and proceed to the banks of the Lake, where the National Salute will be fired, consisting of 26 guns, and from thence the procession will move to the house of Bernard Cramer, where a sumptuous Dinner will be provided. The bells will continue ringing while the procession moves.

An evening gun will be fired at 9 o’clock.

Col. Benson is appointed Marshal of the day, and Lieut. Brooks Deputy Marshal, each of whom are to be obeyed accordingly.

No person will be allowed to enter the Church before the procession, except Ladies.

A committee of arrangements have been appointed, who will cause the most strict observance of order on that day. No expense or labour will be spared to render the proceedings both convenient and agreeable. The Church will be decorated with greens and shrubbery.

BERNARD CRAMER,

DAVID F. REES,

JAMES CAW, Jr.,

SIMON GLEN,

HENRY BRUMAGHIM

{Committee of Arrangements.}

 

Also in that paper:

The editor of the Cabinet will please give the following notice an insertion:

The resolutions which appeared in last week’s Cabinet, were not intended for any Regency, or the relics of any Regency existing out of the city of Schenectady, although they who are so blind they will not see, would fain shake it off of their own shoulders and load it on that of the Albany Regency.—The latter have as much as they can stagger under already, without bearing the burden of others.

 

Schenectady Cabinet, July 14, 1830

COMMUNICATED

The celebration at the village of Scotia, of the late Anniversary of American Independence, exceeded the expectations of all present; not only in the largeness of the procession, which extended from the Mohawk bridge to the village of Scotia, but in the exercises of the day. Little more than one half of the large assembly of people, were able to crowd themselves into the church, although it was well prepared for the reception of the audience—the decorations were arranged with elegance. The windows were literally crowded with people; and through the whole exercises the profoundest silence was observed.—Among the audience were a number of the faculty and about sixty students from Union College.

Capt. J. Caw, Jr. read the Declaration of Independence, with emphasis; his introductory remarks were pertinent to the occasion. And we deem it a duty we owe to John Brotherson, Esq. the Orator of the day, (notwithstanding his solicitation) to say, that the oration delivered by him (which occupied near an hour) was creditable to his talents.

After the exercises of the day had been concluded, the procession returned to Mr. B. Cramer’s inn, where a dinner was provided. After dinner Maj. J. Fonda was called to the chair, and Barent Sanders appointed Secretary, when the following volunteer toasts were given:

By J. Fonda. The day we celebrate—May all nations in future observe a jubilee in commemoration of having regained the right of self-government.

By A. Vrooman. The twenty-six United States of North America—May their union prove perpetual and their happiness everlasting.

By Judge Sanders. North and South Columbia, twin sisters—May their affection for each other become as strong and durable as the isthmus that unites them.

By J. Lighthall. The fair daughters of the twin sisters—May they never bring forth a tyrant.

By A. Updyke. Our brethren of Great Britain—May their condition be ameliorated, and their taxes and burthens diminished, that the poor may enjoy comfort.

By W. Veeder. Andrew Jackson—May his administration prove a blessing to his country.

By D. Pryme. Greece by her struggles has merited the right of self-government, yet unfortunately she is constrained to bend her neck to the defenders of legitimacy.

By C. Haverley. May the American Eagle never be trodden under foot.

By H. Reese. When the revolutionary soldiers shall sink into the ocean of eternity, to rise no more, may their spirits be deeply planted in the bosom of the rising generation.

By P. Brotherson. The Dutch—may they always support those principles which were imported with them, truth, honor, economy and a love of country, and may they never be poisoned by the filth which flows from the warmth of party zeal.

By P. H. Brooks. The memory of General WASHINGTON.

By P. Sanders. Union, Liberty, and the constitution—May they last so long as the “earth bears a plant or the sea rolls a wave.”

By B. Sanders. The Navy of the United States—With equal force the superior of the world.

By Capt. Lighthall.—Health to the sick—honor to the brave,

Success to the lover, and freedom to the slave.

By J. Brotherson. Health to Gen. Jackson, but success to Henry Clay.

By J. Caw, Jun. Koscisko [sic]—Warsaw’s martyr, his name shall ever be inscribed with virtue and true liberty:

While Kings shall die, and oblivion’s shade

Veils the vile things that slaves and cowards made,

His name shall flourish and his memory soar,

Till sun shall want and time shall be no more.

By J. Sanders. Maj. Fonda, the man who first raised the flag inscribed “Liberty of Death,” in the city of Schenectady.

After the above toasts were given, the committee waited on the Orator to solicit his Oration for publication; to which he made the following reply:

Gentlemen of the Committee—I thank you for the honour you confer upon me, by your personal attendance and soliciting the feeble production of him who now addresses you, for publication. Were not your solicitations necessarily associated with accompanying circumstances, they should be complied with, on my part, with cheerfulness. But matters being as they are, it makes it rather delicate for me to cast the first torch amidst the darkness which blinds the eyes of too many of our citizens. For the present, therefore, I decline having any farther publicity given to the oration. I will assure you, however, and wish it expressly understood, that it is not owing to any apprehension on my part, that it will not withstand the light of truth, although it should shine forth on every word of it; but it is because I feel a kind of compassion for some persons lest the truth should injure their feelings, before it would reach their understandings. It is not surprising that wholesome food should be obnoxious to the stomachs of those who are accustomed to swallow adulation, as water mixed with a few grains of deceit, and double that quantity of hypocricy [sic]. Yet should the truth operate on them as an emetic, it will not injure their constitutions; but on the contrary, have a tendency to cleanse their foul stomachs. And although it may debilitate their persons, during the operation, the medicine is a simple one and can surely hurt no one, but will eventuate in producing a salutary effect on their systems.

Although it be a maxim, that the truth should not always be spoken, yet when applied to the interests of the public, the maxim should be without an exception, although it should place him of whom it be spoken in ever so odious a light. And they who support a different doctrine, are supporting a tenet which if carried to its full extent, would, by degrees, draw from under our government its foundations and lay the basis of a despotic government, of which falsehood, secrecy and the will of the despot, are the characteristics. I cannot reconcile a doctrine which would exclude the truth from the vision of the public, with that virtue and morality which are essential to the support of a republican government.

Freedom of sentiment and the honest expression of truth, are the only sure defence [sic] against intrigue and corruption, which, if not guarded against, will most assuredly creep into the heart of our country and there gnaw, corrode and poison, until at length our government will fall lifeless by the hand of such men as make great professions of friendship for the people, and particularly the yeomanry of the country.

As it is customary to give newspaper puffs to all orators, who deliver 4th of July orations, perhaps you may be induced to puff me. I beg that you will not do so for two reasons: the first of which is, that they who say much to the credit of another, on such occasions, are not apt to speak the whole truth. The second is, that the only object in being puffed must be to gain a little unmerited popularity and false praise, which are equally lavished on the meritorious and the unworthy; for which reason I shall consider it no compliment.

Resolved, That the above proceedings be signed by the chairman and secretary, and published in the Schenectady Cabinet, and Albany Gazette.

JELLIS FONDA, Chairman.

B. SANDERS, Sec’ry.