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October 18, 2012

Our gallant seamen

From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Oct. 17, 1812

Compiled, with comments

by HUGH C. MacDOUGALL

Weather: Utica 1812 Almanack: It may be some flurries of snow.

Murder

John Bowman, a youth of 11 years, was convicted at the late court of Oyer and Terminer in Herkimer co. of the murder of Eliza White, a child of 4 years of age, and sentenced to be executed on the 4th of Dec. next.

COMMENT: The murder took place early in July, 1811, and the following details were furnished by the July 13, 1811 issue of the New York Lady’s Miscellany:

“On Thursday last John Bowman, a boy of about eleven years old, living with Mr. James White murdered Ann Eliza White (daughter of Mr. White) aged four years. The lad decoyed the child to the bank of the river, where he procured himself a club, beat her on the head till her skull was broken, and her face lacerated in a most shocking manner; after killing her, to conceal the body, he hove it into the river, and then deliberately went to the house and eat his dinner. When the child was missed he declined knowing where she was. The body was found after being in the water about four hours.”

A coroner’s jury charged Bowman with willful murder and he was sent to the Herkimer County jail. According to other accounts he was between 9 and 10 years old when the crime was committed. At the request of Judge Smith Thompson, who had tried the case, his death sentence was in November 1812 commuted to life imprisonment by the State Legislature. Bowman was taken to a prison on Blackwell’s Island in New York City, where he was still incarcerated in 1820. Nobody seems to know what happened to him after that.

Commencement

of the war@Body Copy Ragged:

AMERICA did not begin the war against ENGLAND — but ENGLAND began it against AMERICA. She had seized by official accounts, more than 6 thousand American Seamen — she had captured nearly one thousand American vessels, and cargoes! — she had infested our coasts, & murdered our citizens — she had by her allies [i.e., Indians], invaded our country, & slaughtered men, women and children — and committed many other acts of hostility — before war was declared against her!

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