The Otsego Herald for Sept. 6, 1819, compiled, with comments:

A Jewish writer



The perusal of your letters in the National Advocate, on “DOMESTIC ECONOMY”, have given much pleasure to many enlightened Philadelphians. Sincerely do I hope the end for which they were written may be realized in the fullest extent; it is a subject of infinite moment to the happiness of man; upon it rests the children’s fortunes and the parents’ comforts in old age.

Much does it grieve me to observe daily the inordinate desire for fashionable expensive dress and extravagance; the deep root they have taken in the minds of our youth, will require much time to eradicate the evil propensity and correct the desire. ... Sir, your obedient servant, YOUNG SOBERSIDES. Philadelphia, July 23. — Philadelphia Daily Advertiser.

COMMENT: I have in previous columns quoted frequently from articles attributed to “Howard” in which the follies of the young were contrasted with the sober habits of their parents, under the rubric of “Domestic Economy.”

It now turns out that these columns were in fact written by Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851) described as “an American sheriff, playwright, diplomat, journalist and Utopian” of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish ancestry who was the most important Jewish lay leader in New York in he early 19th century, and the first American-born Jew of national prominence. In his early days he was founder and editor of the “National Advocate,” in which these “Domestic Economy” were published, and signed “HOWARD.”

Description of ‘camels’

Extract from (Eyles Erwin (1751-1818), Irish poet and traveler — author of “A Voyage up the Red Sea on the coast of Arabia and Egypt,” 1777.)

YAMBO, Sunday, 25th May, 1777. A caravan arrived this afternoon from Medina, which is but two days journey from hence. This was the first I had seen, and though it consisted of 4 or 500 camels, I must confess myself to have been much struck with the grandeur and novelty of the sight. ...

The major part of the camels were loaded with merchandise, and the rest carried the travellers and the principal camel drivers. The sun was in his meridian. ... Not a beast was seen abroad, save the patient camel, that now braved the fiery ray, and marched with steady steps beneath the united pressure of hunger, thirst and heat. ...

This living vessel traverses the pathless waste, fraught with the precious treasures of the east. A caravan of camels exploring the wilds of Arabia, with nothing in view but sand and sky ... may be likened to a fleet of vessels. ... The camel is peculiarly adapted to a region in which no other class of beasts could bear fatigue. He too experiences the change of sublunary things ... and like the towering ship ... he yields at length to inevitable fate.

COMMENT: It is thus that the camel has so often been described as “the ship of the desert.” But the one-humped “camel” of Arabia described here should be called a “dromedary.” The real “camel” comes from Mongolia and has two humps.


DIED — On Thursday, the 2nd September, Helen Marin Bradford, aged one year, daughter of George W. Bradford, of this village (Cooperstown).

COMMENT: George Washington Bradford (May 9, 1796 Otsego, Otsego County – Oct. 31, 1883 Syracuse.)

Air ship

Camden, (N.J.) Aug. 17.

An air ship is preparing in this place, to ascend with a man in it. The event will probably take place the first calm and pleasant day after two or three days of dry weather.

Upon enquiry we learn, that the air ship above spoken of, is a skeleton of wood in the form of a ship, encompassed with silk, which is to be inflated with inflammable air (presumably hydrogen). To the ship is to be attached a boat with rudder, oars, &c. &c..

The ingenious inventor is so confident that he will be able to steer the air ship, that he has going to considerable expense in his arrangements. We are told it is contemplated to raise the ship on Saturday next. — Democratic Press.

COMMENT: I have found no further record of this most improbable design.

Air disaster

Paris, July 7.

The extraordinary fete — at Tivoli — has been signalized by a frightful catastrophe. Among the numerous entertainments ... was the ascent of Madame Blanchard in a luminous balloon ornamented with artificial fire works. ... This ... intrepid aeronaut, dressed in white, having also a white hat with feathers, entered the boat.

The balloon rose gently, but by throwing out ballast, Madame Blanchard caused it to ascend more rapidly. The Bengal firepots illuminated this brilliant ascent.... The balloon entered a light cloud which completely extinguished the firepots.

Madame Blanchard then ignited the artificial fireworks, which produced the effect expected, when some of the flying fusees were seen to direct themselves perpendicularly toward the balloon, and the fire communicated with its base. A frightful brilliancy instantly struck terror into all the spectators leaving no doubts of the deplorable fate of the aeronaut. ... The lifeless body of Madame Blanchard was in a quarter of an hour conveyed to Tivoli. ...

COMMENT: Madame Sophie Blanchard (1778-1819) made her first ascent, with her husband, Jean Pierre Blanchard, in 1804. She continued, after his death in 1809, specializing in night, and even all-night, balloon flights.

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