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December 6, 2012

Proclamation

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Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Dec. 5, 1812

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

Weather: Utica 1812

Almanack: Look for snow,

then rain or clear.

Fire!

On Wednesday morning last, between 3 and 4 o’clock, the inhabitants of this village were alarmed by the cry of fire! which proved to be in the building occupied by Messrs. Coopers, as a Store house.

The fire was bursting through several parts of the building when first discovered, which was soon consumed. By the timely exertions of the citizens, with the new fire Engine, the buildings, contiguous, were saved. It is supposed the fire caught from a Stove, on a part of the building occupied by Mr. E. F. Benjamin as a cabinet makers shop.

The building altogether was about 90 or 100 feet long, and the loss estimated at about 2500 dollars.

COMMENT: The building had been William Cooper’s original home in Cooperstown, located where the gate to the Cooper Grounds on Main Street now stands, but had been moved down the street so as not to interfere with the view of the Lake (down Fair Street) from his new home of Otsego Hall, located where the Cooper statue now stands.

Eli Foster Benjamin (1790-1856) was born in Dutchess County, but came to Middlefield to marry Mary (Polly) Hughes (1791-ca. 1863) in 1810, by whom he had two children. The following year he bought a lot from Isaac Cooper on the south-west corner of Fair and Lake Streets, and built a home which (with additions) remained there until about 1874. Eli, however, soon moved to Utica, where he remained the rest of his life, though his brother Miles Benjamin stayed on in Cooperstown. About 1874 the house was moved across the street, to become Glimmerglass Cottage at 8 Lake Street.

According to James Taylor Dunn, “Pioneer Cabinet Makers of Cooperstown” (1955): “Eli F. Benjamin, a local grocer, turned to furniture construction in 1810 in Cooperstown. He was the first cabinet maker to resort to barter. He would take many items in exchange. This was the result of the western land panic in 1819 and many bank failures. A few years later, he moved to Utica and with Tillman opened a mahogany chair manufacturing company. In Cooperstown, he left his accounts with his brother, Miles Benjamin, also a cabinet maker.”

Proclamation

GENERAL SMYTH, to the Soldiers of the Army of the Centre.

COMPANIONS IN ARMS!

The time is at hand when you will cross the stream of the Niagara, to conquer Canada, and to secure the peace of the American frontier. You will enter a country that is to be one of the United States. You will arrive among a people who are to become your fellow citizens. It is not against them that we come to make war. It is against the government which holds them as vassals.

You will make this war as little as possible distressful to the Canadian people. If they are peaceable, they are to be secure in their persons; and in their property, as far as our imperious necessities will allow. Private plundering is absolutely forbidden. Any soldier who quits his rank, to plunder on the field of battle, will be punished in the most exemplary manner.

But your just rights as soldiers will be maintained. Whatever is booty by the usages of war, you shall have. All horses belonging to artillery and Cavalry; all waggons and teams in public service, will be sold for the benefit of the captors. Public stores will be secured for the service of the United States. The government will, with justice, pay you the value.

The horses drawing the light artillery of the enemy, are wanted for the service of the United States. I will order 200 dollars for each to be paid to the party who may take them. I will also order 40 dollars to be paid for the arms and spoils of each savage warrior who shall be killed.

Soldiers! You are amply provided for war. You are superior in number to the enemy. Your personal strength and activity are greater. Your weapons are longer. The regular soldiers of the enemy are generally old men, whose best years have been spent in the sickly climate of the West Indies. They will not be able to stand before you, when you charge with the bayonet. You have seen Indians, such as those hired by the British, to murder women and children, and kill and scalp the wounded. You have seen their dances and grimaces, and heard their yells. Can you fear them? No. You hold them in the utmost contempt....

ALEXANDER SMYTH, Brigadier General Commanding. Camp near Buffalo, 27th Nov. 1812.

COMMENT: General Smyth (1765-1830) was a lawyer of Irish origin, and after the war served for years in the Virginia House of Delegates and as a Congressman.

At this period, many British soldiers in Canada had been serving (often under duress) in the West Indies, while better British troops fought in Europe against Napoleon.

Smyth’s appeal to his troops to behave properly -- somewhat dampened by his subsequent promise of “booty” and payment for seized government property, proved largely ineffectual. Many residents of Upper Canada who had recently emigrated from the United States (because land was cheaper and more available in Canada), eventually proved loyal to Canada as a result of their treatment by invading American troops.

Extra Notice

All persons are hereby cautioned and forbidden harboring or trusting any one whatever, on my account without a written order from JOHN MATTHEWSON. Westford, Nov. 5,1812.

COMMENT: Though he doesn’t say so, it seems probable that he is referring to his wife.