Macdougall

The Otsego Herald for Oct. 18, 1819, compiled, with comments:

Novel theory

A writer in the Christian Observer, published in Tennessee, has undertaken to demonstrate, from numerous facts collected from Roman writers, and the history of modern times, that there is a “cycle of the duration of some centuries, when the cold seasons, and the warm ones, periodically and regularly return.” ...

He adduces many authorities to show, “that from the year 440, B.C. to 260 after, were cold centuries; from 260 to 440 were warm ones; thence to 1054, cold; thence (to) 1620 cold. thence to 1800 warm, thence the cold ones begin.” ...

He shows that during the cold centuries, the Mediterranean, the Baltic; the Euxine (Black) and the Greenland seas were frozen; that the Danish colonies in Greenland became extinct ... And that during the warm periods, Greenland was clothed in verdure, and peopled with colonies, and the vine flourished in England. — Albany Argus.

COMMENT: The author’s theories also include speculations on the northern and southern migrations of mammoths and other great beasts. But this strikes me as a remarkable article for the 1819 period, not least because of its early American reference to the Norse colonies in Greenland.

Adoring the wealthy

That a subversion of our liberties is more to be apprehended from the influence of internal, than from foreign enemies, is I think undeniable. Among the many arguments that may be adduced in support of this position, is that of our general adoration for the possession of wealth. ...

We do not reflect, while admiring the splendid retinue of the wealthy nabob, we are paying homage to a qualification so fugacious as that of riches; but we identify their possessor with the benefactors of mankind, and are ever ready to give him that place in our hearts which should be occupied with a (William) Tell,(William) Wallace, or a (George) Washington, when that individual, abstracted from the false glare that surrounds him, would excite no other emotion of the observer than that of contempt or abhorrence. ...

Wealth is accepted as an equivalent for virtue, and integrity and talent are no longer considerable as indispensable to qualify a candidate for office, but if he is rich, he may almost depend upon the suffrages of his fellow citizens. ...

Should some victim of your oppression — perhaps some war-scarred veteran of the revolution, reproach you with want of probity; — should the tenants of the once happy mansion, desolated by your rapacity, call upon the institutions of justice for redress and retribution, fear them not — the shouts of applauding thousands shall drown their clamours — thy gold is their aegis. This will be thy earthly security.

As for the hereafter — but I forbear — then, then for worlds I would not be thy substitute. — PHILO HOWARD.

COMMENT: “Philo Howard” appears to be an admirer of “Howard” (Mordecai Manuel Noah), though perhaps more angry than philosophical. I have not yet identified him but, like “Howard,” he appears rather frequently in the Otsego Herald.

“Fugacious” means “fleeting,” and “aegis” means sponsorship or protection.

Aid for an African school?

From the Cherry Valley Gazette, Oct. 12.

The Reverend Synod of Albany, convened in this village on Wednesday last. ... On Thursday an interesting debate took place on the subject of patronizing the African school in the city of New York. The object of this school is to educate men of colour as missionaries, which may be sent to the southern states, to the West India Islands, or to Africa.

All approved of the design of the school, but it is thought by many that the plan on which it had been founded would require alteration. The consideration of the object was eventually postponed until the next meeting of the Synod.

COMMENT: The New York African Free School was established in 1787 with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton among its important founders. It grew and flourished for a number of years; in 1820 it had 500 students enrolled, though actual attendance was often less.

New York gradually abolished slavery, ending in 1827, and private African free schools ended in 1835.

The Synod also divided the Presbytery of Oneida. creating the Presbytery of Otsego, which was ordered to hold its first meeting at Cooperstown’s “Presbyterian meeting house” on the first Tuesday in November.

Yellow Fever in New Orleans

A letter from New Orleans of the 11th (September), says — “New Orleans can now be compared to nothing else than a house of affliction and mourning. I have heard there were fifty four burials yesterday.

They have been averaged more than twenty five for some days past, though it is believed that the white population remaining in the city does not exceed 8000 souls.”

COMMENT: The number of deaths from yellow fever in Louisiana in 1819 exceeded 2,000, greatly more than most years, and would not be equaled until 1847.

How to save money

A communication from a gentleman on Governor’s Island, published in the Mercantile Advertiser of yesterday morning, gives an account of a Canadian convict on the island, who had lately, for his amusement swallowed a jacknife and forty one cents.

The man it seems is famous for swallowing jacknifes, but having added the cents, their bulk and weight overloaded his stomach, and he was under the necessity of applying to the doctor for relief.

From the last account of him, it appears that his stomach had parted with the jacknife, but seems unwilling to disgorge the cash. — Albany Argus

COMMENT: It doesn’t say whether the jackknife was open or not!

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