The Otsego Herald: A suggested new home for Jewish people in America

Paul Donnelly Village historian Hugh MacDougall, right, poseswith Katherine Lloyd and Harry Bradshaw Mathewsat a recent Friends of the VIllage Library event. MacDougall will be the speaker at another library event at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Otsego Herald for Jan. 24, 1820, compiled, with comments:

Proposal from London

A friend has put into our hands a pamphlet from London, entitled “Memoir addressed to persons of the Jewish religion in Europe, on the subject of emigration to, and settlement in, one of the most eligible parts of the United States of North America.”

This pamphlet gives a concise view of the present situation of the Jews in Europe; the persecutions which they have endured for many ages, the inconveniences which they are fated to suffer in all despotic countries, and strongly recommends them to leave the theatre of their complicated sorrows, and emigrate to this land of happiness and freedom.

It appears to have been elicited by “the late extraordinary persecution of the Jews in several parts of the European continent, and also in Turkey,” and on this account it is certainly well timed.

The plan suggested, is the organization of a company of wealthy and respectable Jews, who are to subscribe a fund, to as large an amount as may be practicable, and purchase a tract of land in the United states, adequate to the object in view.

The upper Mississippi and Missouri country is recommended for its soil, climate and situation, as the most suitable place for purchase and settlement. ... In most countries in Europe, the Jews are allowed scarcely a solitary civil right or privilege, but are compelled to submit to the insults and persecutions of a bigotted and fanatical population, without the ability to obtain the least redress of their wrongs. ...

From their commercial character, however, we should suppose that a territory upon the southern borders of the upper lakes, would suit them better than the Mississippi country — particularly after the completion of the great canal. — Connecticut Mirror

COMMENT: This proposal was launched by William Davis Robinson (b. 1774), an American living in London, and was published there in 1819. It is still in print. He sent copies to ex-presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The “great canal” was the Erie Canal, then under construction, which promoted commercial traffic between New York City and the Great Lakes. I have not found any evidence that Robinson’s proposal was ever really attempted.


DIED — At Buffalo, on the 3d January. Mrs. MARY HOLT, wife of Gen. Elijah Holt, in the 46th year of her life.

COMMENT: Mary Adams Holt (1772-1820) was the second wife of General Elijah Holt (1762-1826), who was a War of 1812 veteran. She was buried in Buffalo. He died visiting a brother in Cherry Valley, and is buried there.

Earthquakes on Salmon River

Salmon River, (Lines) Nov. 26

The people of this vicinity have been, during the past three weeks, very much alarmed by repeated shocks of Earthquakes, some of them so heavy as to shake violently the houses, startle the inhabitants from their sleep, rattle stoves and other articles of furniture, and even to raise a surf in the river, when the air was perfectly calm.

You may be assured that this account is unexaggerated. There have been, I believe, upwards of forty shocks since the dark Tuesday, some of them accompanied with a noise as loud as that caused by the discharge of a twenty-four pounder fired at the distance of a mile, others were attended by a rumbling sound resembling that produced by the finger on a tambourine.

The last shock was experienced at ten o’clock last night, and was pretty severe — Some are so alarmed that they are with difficulty, persuaded to go to bed, others go to bed with their clothes on, and their cash in their pockets, fearing what may happen in the night, Hoping the worst is over. I remain Sir, &c. J.D. — Canadian Courant.

COMMENT: I don’t know who J.D. was. The Salmon River (in New York) runs from the Tug Hill Plateau west of the Adirondacks, and flows into Lake Ontario near Oswego. It seems an odd place for earthquakes, but the article appears honest.


Philadelphia, Jan. 11

Another, “Continental,” or old-fashioned snow storm, commenced. — We had a very heavy fall of snow, say six inches, which continued, when this paper went to press. As was the case with the late snow storm, the cold is intense.

Army size

The return of the strength of the army gives, including engineer and ordinance departments.

Total of commissioned officers, 627

Non com. officers and privates, 7,557

Total, 8,184

Of the force, 2,083 belonging to the northern division, and 3,936 to the southern.

New agricultural magazine

The Plough Boy, it will be seen, has become the official organ of the Board of Agriculture. This offers a new and strong inducement for our agriculturalists to patronize this valuable work.

COMMENT: A weekly, begun in 1819, it was edited by Solomon Southwick, under the pseudonym of Henry Homespun. It seems to have lasted only a few years.

Maine constitution

The votes for the new constitution of Maine, amounted to 10898 — those against it to 875.

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