The Otsego Herald for Jan. 17, 1820, compiled, with comments:

American division not agreed

Washington, Jan. 2, 1820

But little has been done here for two or three days past. The committee who were appointed to endeavor to effect a compromise of the Missouri question, were discharged during the past week, not having agreed upon any arrangement.

Mr. Taylor proposed a committee to secure to the proprietors of slaves now in Missouri, the right of property in them and their posterity forever, and to prohibit the further introduction of slaves into Missouri and all the territory west of the Mississippi. This proposition was almost unanimously rejected.

He then proposed to fix the river Missouri, as the perpetual boundary north of which no slaves should be introduced, and giving the right of freely introducing them into the country south of the river. This was also not agreed to.

He then proposed to fix the line from the mouth of the Missouri up the river to the Kansas river, thence up the Kansas to the south fork of the river, and follow the said fork to its source, and to fix the N. boundary of Missouri at the Missouri river, extending the state W. far enough to add to it a territory equal to what she would lose on N. and permit slavery on the south of the boundary, excluding it forever on the north. This proposition also was rejected.

The committee, the next day asked to be discharged from the further consideration of the subject, which was granted.

COMMENT: This was the so-called Missouri Compromise of 1820, not to be confused with the much later Missouri Compromise of 1850, which led in part to the Civil War. The 1820 compromise led, as the first set of proposals suggests, by New York’s abolitionist Congressman John W. Taylor (1784-1854), and which eventually admitted Missouri as a slave state, balanced by Maine — hitherto a part of Massachusetts — as a free state.

The balance between slave vs. free states was as follows, up to the Civil War:

1789 (8 slave, 5 Free); 1800 (9 slave, 8 free); 1821 (12 slave, 12 free) — with the admission of Missouri and Maine; 1837 (13 slave, 13 free); 1846 (15 slave, 14 free) — after the Mexican war; and finally 1861 (15 slave, 19 free).

Death of William Morris

It becomes our painful duty to record the sudden death of WILLIAM AUGUSTUS MORRIS, son of Gen. Morris, which took place on Tuesday last, at Butternuts, in this county. Mr. Morris was endeavoring to set the water-wheel of a bark mill in motion, for the purpose of shelling corn, the gate being hoisted.

As is supposed, after having extricated the wheel from the ice, to have stepped on the buckets of the wheel, as had been for some times practiced, in order to facilitate its movement, and that he either slipped or that the wheel slipped or that the wheel started more easily than he expected, which precipitated him instantly between the wheel and the bulk head of the flume.

He was soon discovered by his brother, wedged up by the wheel with one of the buckets across his back, and his face towards the bulk head. The breath of life was extinct. He was extricated by cutting away the bucket of the wheel and every exertion made to resuscitate him but in vain.

On Thursday his remains were interred, attended by a large assemblage of relations and friends, whose feelings and sympathies were unusually excited, as the deceased, had, by his kind and affectionate disposition, and his gentle and conciliating manner, endeared himself to all with whom he was acquainted. 

The Rev/ Mr. Wheeler performed the last sad rite of burial, in a feeling and impressive manner. The deceased was in the 24th year of his age.

COMMENT: William Augustus Morris (1796-1820) was the son of General Jacob Morris (1755-1840), who was son of Declaration of Independence signer Lewis Morris, and was founder of the Morris settlement in Otsego County. If the account of his death seems based on conjecture, the admiration of his character seems genuine, and created by the Otsego Herald’s editors.


DIED — in Seneca, Ont., on Sunday the 9th January, Valentine Brother, Esq., one of the members of the assembly from that county.

COMMENT: Valentine Brother (1773-1820), member of New York state Assembly from Ontario County, 1809-10, 1811-12, 1819-20; died in office in 1820. He was of German ancestry. Interment was at Old Number Nine Cemetery.


Sense — A man that knows how to speak, knows also when to be silent.

The Mirror — There is no such thing as an impartial representation. A looking glass one might be apt to imagine, was an exception to this proposition, and yet we never see our own faces justly in one. It gives us nothing but the translations of them. A mirror even reverses our features and presents our left hand for our right. This is an emblem of all personal reflections.

Titles — Titles of honor are like the impressions of coins — which add no value to gold and silver, but only render brass current.

Delicacy — The chaste mind, like a polished plane, may admit foul thoughts, without receiving their tincture.

Public life — Men are like plants, some delight in the sun, others in the shade.

Wants — Great wants proceed from great wealth, and make riches almost equal to poverty.

Death — We should feel death but once. He who feels death, dies every time he thinks of it.

Parsimony — A miser of sixty years old refuses himself necessaries that he may not want them when he is a hundred.

Extremes — Too much devotion leads to fanaticism, too much philosophy, to irreligion.

COMMENT: What do you think of these truisms? 

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