The Otsego Herald for March 20, 1820, compiled, with comments:

Letters from their mayors

Cadwallader D. Colden, Esq., Mayor of New York.

The following is the resolution which has given so much offense,

“Resolved, That it is the wish of the general committee that the money and goods to be remitted to Savannah, be applied exclusively to the relief of all indigent persons, without distinction of color, who are dependent on their own industry for support, and who have been sufferers by the late fire at that place.”

COMMENT: A major fire had destroyed most of Savannah, Georgia, on Jan. 11, 1820. New York City had sent a relief donation of $10,238 dollars and 29 cents. This was angrily refused by the Savannah government, which did not like its citizens being described as indigent paupers, and even more because it provided that its relief should be distributed “without distinction of color.”

The response of Savannah’s mayor appears below:

Thomas U. P. Charleton, Mayor of Savannah ... Feb. 28, 1820.

“You have, sir, politely and delicately conveyed to me this contribution; but it comes fettered by a restriction that renders its acceptance utterly impossible. Our people have encountered a terrible calamity; the best part of their once beautiful city as been laid in ruins. ...

Our countrymen were then left to decide upon the kind of aid it would be in their power to afford us, and to consult ... the character of the people, soliciting through me, the sympathy and kindness of their fellow citizens of the U. States. ... Their benevolent gifts have been transmitted without the annexation of any condition, painful to the feelings of our inhabitants. ...

But, sir ... the donation of our fellow citizens of New-York places our distressed people in the humble condition of PAUPERS. It restrains ... our ... committee in the exercise of a discretion of which they ... cannot be divested, and the language of the Resolution ... is calculated also to awaken and put forth impressions ... dangerous to this section of the United States. ...

It is ... throwing among us the fire brand of discord ... and place in jeopardy the federal unity of our now glorious Republic.

TRAITORS and DEMAGOGUES ... may be permitted to smile ... but that a true hearted AMERICAN ... should under any metaphysical abstract notion of human rights place in danger the union of these states ... is an impiety, madness and folly.

As AMERICANS ... no surprize ought to be excited by the RETURN of the New-York donation. ... The PEOPLE alluded to had been relieved beyond probably their hopes or expectations. They are grateful for the kindness EVER shown them, and ... would not exchange condition with half the peasantry of the world. ...

I have the honor to be very respectfully, your obedient servant,


COMMENT: Thomas Usher Pulaski Charleton (1779-1835) was six times mayor of Savannah, as well as a judge. He was also a slave owner, and an author.

American Navy

The estimated number of ... officers and seamen for the service of the navy for the present year, is in all 4550, viz: — Captains 36, master commandants 23, lieutenant commandants 10, lieutenants 203, midshipmen 392, able seamen 1338, ordinary seamen 1370. ...

The amount of pay and rations for the 4550 officers & seamen is estimated at $1,404.507.50. (Other expenses about another million dollars) for total of $2,474,507.

The estimated number of officers and men in the marine corps is 994.

COMMENT: Today the Navy includes 335,000 on active duty, and 101,000 in reserve. The Marines include 186,000 on active duty, and 38,500 in reserve.

King George dies

George III, king of England, died on the 29 January. ... The Prince Regent, as George IV, has been proclaimed King.

COMMENT: King George III was king from 1760 to 1820, or for 60 years, longer than any other British monarch except Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years, and the present Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned so far for 67 years. George III reigned through both the American Revolution and the War of 1812, in addition to the Napoleonic Wars. He later developed a mental disease, whose nature is now considered uncertain, and in 1810 his son — later King George IV — was proclaimed regent in his stead.

Evaluations of King George III, as one modern source puts it: “have depended heavily on the prejudices of his biographers and the sources available to them”

Cold wave in Europe

The frost has been severe in France & England. At Paris on the 11th, the thermometer of the engineer Chevalier stood at 11 below 0. The Seine was frozen over. All communication between London and the manufacturing towns in the interior of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, &c. was completely suspended by the continued severity of the frost. The ice in many of the canals and rivers was said to (be) 12 to 18 inches thick, and the Humber was rendered dangerous for any ship to anchor therein.

COMMENT: From other sources: “So severe at Lisbon, that in one night, thirty-five fishermen and three sentinels were frozen to death;” “So cold in Russia ... that all the public places of amusement had been closed. The thermometer at St. Petersburg, stood at 351⁄2 below Zero” “Colder in the month of January in England, than was ever known before in that country;” “In ... London the thermometer stood at 23 degrees below the freezing point;” “At Brighton, the wildest of the feather tribe have been so punished by the frost, that they have left the woods, for warmer shelter in the habitations of men;” “At Providence, R.I., about the 12th March, the limbs of trees were constantly falling from the weight of snow and ice upon them.”

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