Otsego Herald of Nov. 23, 1818, compiled, with comments by Hugh C. MacDougall
Everyone Is Complaining
One can scarcely turn a corner of the street without encountering some one who is exclaiming against the hardness of the times, and the scarcity of money. Ever since the conclusion of the late war (War of 1812), these complaints have been familiar to all, and yet they seem to have increased with the time which has elapsed. If we are not mistaken in our views, the crisis has not even yet arrived.
This people had fattened upon the distress of Europe. So easy was money to be obtained, that many, very many of us had anticipated years of growth, and in childhood began in business which required the nerve and wisdom of manhood to prosecute to advantage.
Instead of governing ourselves by the maxims of prudence, we have grasped at the emoluments of futurity, calculating upon a prolongation of the miseries of the old world as a sure guarantee of the prosperity of the new.
Governed by this fatal delusion, we have anticipated our growth for many years, become involved in debt, and are now reaping the fruit of our folly. Before the good old times will be restored to us, we shall have to reform our habits...
This NATION must learn to support herself, year by year, instead of running into debt for the gewgaws of Europe... Our COMMERCE must not be greater than our AGRICULTURE will warrant. No farmer of prudence will mortgage his succeeding crops for the stay —tape (over seams) and buckram of the merchant...
We have bought the trappings of luxury to twice the amount of our produce. We must retrograde our steps back to the goal of Economy from which we have so widely strayed, (or) we shall continue to hear the moans of the oppressed, the sullen murmurs of disappointed pride, the lamentations of wounded vanity, and the half stifled sighs of avarice, joining in the cry of “HARD TIMES.”
COMMENT: The War of 1812 was followed by a major recession.
At a court in North Carolina, two men were convicted of perjury, and sentenced to have their ears cropped! We did not know that any state in the union still maintained in operation laws so sanguinary and unjust. The object of punishment is reformation, and laws are intended to operate more from their certainty than their severity.
What reformation can be expected from a man who is sentenced to shame by the loss of his ears — who carries to the grave the marks of a savage court of justice upon him — who wanders through the world an object of scorn and contempt — who carries upon him a mark like Cain?
Such a man can never be restored to society. The Russians have abandoned the knout and the slitting of the nose, and yet the most humane and liberal nation on earth continues to cut off ears. – Albany Argus
COMMENT: Though practiced widely in Colonial America, ear cropping as a punishment died out slowly — but in some states not until after this 1818 case. Slaves continued to have their ears cropped as punishment until after the Civil War.
Most Valuable American Building Burned
The superb Exchange Coffee House, at Boston, lately consumed by fire, was perhaps the most extensive and valuable building in the United States — It was seven stories high, exclusive of spacious cellars under the whole; contained 200 apartments, and occupied nearly an acre of ground.
It was surmounted by an elegant and spacious dome, 100 feet in circumference, and by means of a sky-light in its centre, light was thrown into the interior of the building.
The base of the sky-light was 45 feet in circumference, protected by a substantial railing within which was a seat and box, containing a perspective glass [telescope], used daily to ascertain the shipping entering the harbor; and from which was an extensive view of the harbor, and its various islands, the adjacent villages and country seats, and all the public edifices in the towns of Boston, Charlestown and Roxbury. — Albany Gazette.
COMMENT: The building, the tallest in Boston at the time, had been built in 1809, and was destroyed by fire on Nov. 3, 1818. It was said that it spread because of the shavings that had been stuffed into its walls and under its floors during construction.
Indian Treaty Signed
Treaty Ground, Oct. 19, 1818
We have just closed a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians, for all their claim in the states of Tennessee and Kentucky, containing about seven millions of acres, of the best lands in the western country, and washed by the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi rivers, for at least three hundred and fifty miles; for an annuity of twenty thousand dollars, for fifteen years. I am respectfully, &c. ANDREW JACKSON. — Nashville Whig.
COMMENT: That’s a total of $3,000,000 for 11,000 square miles, or a payment of $272 a square mile. Eventually, of course, the Chickasaw Indians were forced to move to the west of the Mississippi River.
“Attempt at Murder!”
It appears by the late New-York papers, that two of our naval “gentlemen,”...have lately had a meeting for the “honorable” purpose of killing each other! One of them “honorably” fired his pistol, but did not succeed in killing; the other “gallantly” refused to fire; and having thus made a “magnanimous atonement,” the “affair” was “honorably terminated.”
It is not stated what “atonement” was made to HIM who hath said “Thou shalt not kill,” and who will judge the intentions of the heart! – Boston Recorder
COMMENT: A sarcastic reference to the duel between Marine Capt. John Heath and Cmdr. Oliver Hazard Perry, which we covered several weeks ago.