A Documentary History of the New York (Brooklyn) Navy Yard 1806-1856

By John G. M. Sha
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At USGenWeb Archives
Copyright. All Rights Reserved

Waterview, Brooklyn Navy Yard
Lithograph, Harper's Magazine, 1857

Introduction: This group of transcribed documents illustrates five vital decades of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Navy Yard early history. The selected documents were primarily written by or about the mechanics and laborers who built the ships and armaments. This collection also includes essential documents related to the struggle for the ten hour day and successful strike of 1852. To these I have transcribed naval regulations which governed employee work and pay. To my knowledge most of these documents have never been transcribed or reprinted. 

 Although a fixture of the city of New York for over one hundred and fifty years, a complete history of the New York Navy Yard, better known as the "Brooklyn Navy Yard" is yet to be written. What histories exist with one notable exception concentrate on brief profiles of the various commandants, and well known naval officers stationed in Brooklyn. In these volumes civilian workers appear mainly as anonymous individuals in the background of ship launch photos, indeed far more space is given to ship data and images than to the employees who actually built them. Notably absent from most of these works is any serious investigation of the long history of the civilian workforce. As one scholar has noted, "Despite its status as one of New York City's historic icons, the historical literature on the Brooklyn Navy Yard is negligible and of what exists there is scant mention of its labor history." My purpose is not only to collect and transcribe documents relating the history of the civilian workforce but to convey something of the workers experience. In compiling this selection I have kept editorial comment and secondary sources to the minimum in order to let the mechanics and laborers to the extent possible "speak for themselves" and to avoid what one distinguished historian has labeled the "condescension of posterity."1

1 Thompson,  E. P. The Making of the English Working Class, Vintage Books: New York, 1963, p. 12.

In 1801, the Navy Department purchased land at six different locations to serve as places where naval shipyards could be established. The six were located at Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Boston, Massachusetts; Brooklyn, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Norfolk, Virginia; and Washington DC. For the first two decades, the Washington Navy Yard was the best developed; while the navy yard at Brooklyn, in contrast, was still emerging. In fact for nearly twenty years, BNY acted solely as a ship repair and fitting out facility and would only launch its first ship, the frigate USS Ohio, in 1820. Located on the Wallabout Bay, BNY was isolated from New York City until the 1883 erection of the Brooklyn Bridge. This out of the way location was a challenge, but the new shipyard faced environmental ones as well as it was situated largely on mud flats and creeks, and subject with each incoming tide to flooding.2  The letters of Jonathan Thorn, Isaac Chauncey, and Samuel Evans, illustrate the unique difficulties and circumstances faced by the shipyard’s proximity to the vast and booming metropolis of New York City. From the beginning competition for skilled labor in New York was a constant reality. As early as 1806, Lt. Thorn complained to the Secretary of the Navy, "Labor is so extravagantly high that I fear it will be difficult to keep men on board to whom the vessels can be entrusted in part for those wages."

2 Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn New York, 15 December 1918, p. 31

Many of the early commandant’s letters provide details on employment and labor issues. The letters of the first commandant Lt. Jonathan Thorn, show the amazing scrutiny and control that the navy exercised even over minor personnel matters; see 22 and 28 July 1806. Likewise Commodore Isaac Chauncey’s letters tell of his attempts to fix the decrepit state of the yard infrastructure; see 3 August 1807. In another note of 9 October 1811, Chauncey refers to Brooklyn as "this village."  In other dispatches he reveals the shipyard workers weak bargaining position (see his decision to reduce carpenters wages, 5 and 11 January 1808). This wage reduction caused considerable animosity and quickly became a political source of contention (see Chauncey’s 24 February 1808 letter http://genealogytrails.com/ny/kings/navyyard.html to the Secretary of the Navy). In reducing employee wages Chauncey was not acting alone, rather he was following long standing private sector work practices, where employers paid workers per diem, and then only when there were sufficient funds. Chauncey vigorously defended his action and questioned the workers right to complain at all, stating they "have asserted that they are all American citizens. This is not fact for some of them are not only British subjects born but not citizens by adoption - another strange position has been taken by the petitioners that by employing foreigners or enemies to the country to do the publick work…" Despite their protest the workforce remained essentially "day laborers" rapidly downsized after cuts in the annual naval appropriations.3 Similarly during winter months when weather conditions, like strong winds and severe cold, constrained workers to sustain periods of forced idleness large, numbers of employees were dismissed (see 27 February 1838 when 500 laborers were laid off).

3 NARA RG 125, Records of the Judge Advocate General Case Number 403 Capt. Samuel Evans Entry 26 – B dated 20 March 1823, see Specifcations 3 and 5 "Navy Yard aforesaid used and employed day laborers or workmen belonging to the said Navy Yard and then actually being in the pay of the United States"

The early navy yard was highly structured organization with the commandant at the top surrounded by a small group of trusted naval officers and civilian master workmen who formed the apex of the trade hierarchy. Just below them were the quartermen, subordinate leaders of several work crews, they were assisted by "lead men" or crew leaders. The whole structure depended on skilled trade mechanics or journeymen. The term mechanic in the early nineteenth century referred to a skilled tradesman who had successfully completed a five or six year trade apprenticeship in a particular field. Each trade had trainees or apprentices, young workers in training. Each trade apprentice signed a binding legal indenture or contract typically with master workmen to return designated service in exchange for trade knowledge. Periodically the Department of the Navy issued apprentice regulations (see 1 May 1817 which specified minimum ages and pay rates). Next were the laborers who composed the vast majority of navy yard employees. A typical apprentice indenture is that for Donald McKay (see 24 March 1827). Laborers were the unskilled men who performed arduous heavy but necessary work, such as digging, pile driving, and pulling or hauling of ships and ship parts.

Nineteenth century naval payroll and muster typically comprised employee name, occupation and wage rate (see payroll for 1 to 15 October 1840). For the years 1806-1856  these documents have no mention of ethnicity or race. Discrimination though was widespread as early as 17 March 1817. In response to complaints from white employees, the Board of Navy Commissioners, issued a circular to all naval shipyards effectively banning black employment. In 1862 Admiral Hiram Paulding publicly confirmed in the New York Times that to his knowledge no African American was ever employed at the navy yard.4 Likewise for this same period I was unable to find any women employed on the navy yard employment records. The first mention of female employees is found, following the Civil War as seamstresses. Nearly all the newly hired seamstresses were the widows of men killed during the war or on government service. For decades these women sewed national flags, naval pendants and canvass gunpowder bags and naval awnings and flags for squadrons and ships.5 Women were first employed in the navy yard as mechanics in September 1942.6 

4 Writing in 1862 Admiral Hiram Paulding  in response to rumors that "colored men" were being employed and taking the place of white mechanics and laborers stated, "A report having been published to the effect that a number of men had been discharged from the Brooklyn Navy-yard, and their places supplied by colored men, (contrabands,) Commodore PAULDING transmits the following contradiction, "Men from almost every department of the yard were discharged on Saturday last to the aggregate number of two hundred and forty for the reason that their services were not required, and a further discharge will probably soon be made for the same reason. As for the contrabands or colored men, there is not a word of truth in the statement. There is not a colored person employed in the Navy-yard, nor has there been since the day I assumed the command, or before that time as far as I know." New York Times 13 June 1862, p.2. Also see Spann, Edward K. Gotham At War New York City 1860-1865 Scholarly Resource Inc., Wilmington Delaware, 2002, p. 126. Spann has a thorough discussion of the race riots in 1863 and the economic background of which pitted Irish immigrants against African Americans in the labor market.

5 In 1908 the Navy Yard employed about forty people making flags and pendants, the majority of whom were widows of servicemen killed in the Civil War or Spanish American War see Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 30 January 1908, p.8.

6 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15 September 1942, p.10.

The Irish were long present in New York City but the great potato famine of 1845-1852 dramatically increased their population and changed the composition of the BNY workforce. These new immigrants were refugees from disaster, with many moving into Brooklyn seeking work and opportunity. The Irish were the one ethnic group whose presence was widely mentioned (see Brooklyn Daily Eagle 27 October 1849 and New York Times 26 July 1855). Walt Whitman, Daily Eagle editor and poet, lived from the 1820’s to the 1850’s in Brooklyn’s "Irish Town" located near the navy yard. The Whitman family were still in Brooklyn in 1855 when the Irish made up Brooklyn’s largest foreign-born element, numbering 56,753 out of a population of 205,250.7 These new immigrants by 1855 made up "a quarter to a half of the total population in sixteen of the city's twenty-two wards, and more than one quarter of the population in both Manhattan and Brooklyn..."8 While early federal records rarely noted employee ethnicity by 1848, Irish names appear to make up a substantial part of the navy yard muster rolls. This change was confirmed in the US 1850 census, the first in which census enumerators questioned individuals as to their birthplace or nativity. The large Irish influx, especially that of the 1840’s, alarmed many native born Americans, who increasingly blamed the Irish for urban crime and for undercutting the wages of the native born. In 1845 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle attempted to reassure readers that at the navy yard, nine of ten master mechanics and the majority of skilled tradesmen were native born. The prevalence of Irish among the yard laborers was attributed by the Eagle to American laborers being "comparatively scarce; and besides they prefer something else."9 

7 The Walt Whitman Archive Krieg Joann P. Walt Whitman & the Irish, http://whitmanarchive.org/criticism/current/anc.00160.html#chap1access
accessed 21 February 21, 2017
 
8 Casey, Marion R. The Irish, The Encyclopedia of New York City Yale University Press: New York, 2009.http://www.virtualny.cuny.edu/EncyNYC/Irish

9 Foner, Eric Give Me Liberty! An American  History Volume 1, WW Norton: New York, 2005, p.321. Brooklyn Daily Eagle September3, 1845, p. 2. 

Almost from the beginning political patronage was a feature of life at BNY and widely practiced.10 Political patronage or the "spoils system," a term derived from New York Senator William L. Marcy "to the victor belong the spoils," was by the 1848 election a fixture in the national political life particularly so in New York City. Such patronage usually involved appointing party backers to key positions within the shipyard. Another tactic prior to an election was to hire large numbers of shipyard workers in the hope of winning their gratitude and votes. Speaking before a Congressional Committee, one witness candidly stated that the BNY positions were the sinecure of political parties and powerful Congressmen, "The division of patronage among members was well known in the yard (see Evening Post 22 January 1821, 16 November 1835 and Long Island Star 25 July 1840). Each master workman understood to whom he and each of his fellows owe their places."11  Job placement in this era frequently involved favoritism and even nepotism.12 For federal employees this situation remained largely unchanged until 1883 with the passage of the Pendleton Act and the creation of the modern Merit System.13 

10 See Chauncey’s 24 February 1808 letter http://genealogytrails.com/ny/kings/navyyard.html to the Secretary of the Navy

11 Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives, 2nd Session thirty –fifth Congress 1858 -1859, James B. Steedman Printers: Washington, pp 66-67.

12 Graft and corruption remained a serious problem. In 1859 a series of scandals concerning the awarding of purchasing contracts at Brooklyn and the Philadelphia navy yards were the subject of Congressional inquiry. In testimony Anson Herrick Brooklyn Navy Yard Storekeeper, answered the question "Has not the office been given for many years, under all administrations, to the editors of papers or some political person"  with candor. "All offices that I know of are given to some political person; they are all politicians, either of one side or the other." Herrick went on to acknowledge he appointed his son as first clerk justifying his selection thus, "I do not spend but very little time in the navy yard, for this reason, these papers and documents are brought to me by my son whom I see every day, or by messenger… I appointed my son first clerk because I could have confidence in him." Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives, 2nd Session thirty –fifth Congress 1858 -1859, James B. Steedman Printers: Washington, pp 76-77.

13 Sharp, John G., ''History of the Washington Navy Yard Civilian Employees 1799 -1962" Naval History and Heritage Command, p.57, http://www.history.navy.mil/books/sharp/WNY_History.pdf accessed 20 November 2016

While the federal government pensioned disabled and wounded sailors and soldiers, and helped to care for their widows and orphans, there was no provision in case of death or disability for navy yard employees. This dilemma was the same for almost all workers in industrial America until the passage of the Social Security Act in the mid-1930s.14  For over a century, navy civilian employees could be dismissed no matter how long or how faithfully they served the nation. All civilian employees injured or killed on the job were simply stricken from the rolls the next day with no allowance for the injured or their survivors (see 14 April 1840 and 16 April 1850).15

14 Albion, Robert G. A Brief History of Civilian Personnel in the U.S. Navy Department, 1943, p. 27,
http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/b/brief-history-civilian-personnel-us-navy-department.html online accessed 20 November 2016

15 For a detailed discussion of how such cases were handled (see Sharp, John G. http://www.genealogytrails.com/washdc/biographies/bio2.html#BROWN,_VIRGINA_ALMIRA accessed 20 November 2016)

Many of the transcribed letters and documents contain intriguing details of the history of New York City. In a letter of 15 June 1811, Commodore Chauncey describes the search for the gold-laden British naval payroll vessel HMS Hussar that sunk near Hells Gate in the East River. The hunt for the sunken Hussar has continued to intrigue treasure hunters down to the present day. Commodore David Porter’s letter of 28 June 1812 provides a close examination of the conflicting emotions generated in New York City, by the War of 1812, as a mob sought to tar and feather one of his crewmen. Fire remained an ever present hazard in the early Brooklyn. For many years the navy yard remained a highly flammable mix of wooden ships and rough buildings (see 10 September 1810, 27 May 1811, the "Great Fire" of December 1835 and 18 April 1853).

Readers will find several documents relating to the now largely forgotten eleven-year tenure of Commodore Samuel Evans. Evens tenure began optimistically (see his letter of 20 July 1815) but culminated in his 1823 court martial on charges of "theft and misappropriation" and for being unable to make a clear separation between his official duties and responsibilities, and his private business and commercial affairs. I have included a small collection of documents reflecting employee and management views of the Ten Hour Day controversies (see August 26, 1835) and an account of the 1852 strike (see 16 December 1852). Together these records make known the rare victories in the long struggle of mechanics and workers for shorter work hours, decent pay, and benefits. Two employee letters addressed to Commodore Charles G. Ridgeley cover the difficult subject of civilian pay. Lastly, I have transcribed a group of newspaper articles on the launch of new naval vessels such as the USS Ohio, 30 May 1820; USS Savannah on 25 May 1842; USS Albany on 30 June 1846; USS San Jacinto on 16 April 1850 and the launch of the USS Niagara on 23 February 1856.

While sadly no single volume records the history of BNY civilian workforce, these surviving letters, documents, regulations, pay rolls and articles can allow us to more closely study the economic and social relationships of a fascinating and bygone era. My goal in assembling this collection is to provide a window in which we can "see the participants of the past in a comprehensive way in the context of their own time".16 My hope is this small collection which covers the first fifty years will provide material for future historians while giving the general reader an informed glimpse of this largely unknown workplace and its unique history.17 

16 Wood, Gordon, S., The Purpose of the Past Reflections on The Uses of History Penguin Press New York, 2008.

17 Bartlestone, John The Brooklyn Navy Yard Powerhouse Books: New York 2009, Berner Thomas F The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Arcadia Publishing: Charlestown, 1999, and Stobo, John R. Brooklyn Navy Yard: Civil Servants Building Warships, accessed 24 December 2016.

Transcription: The majority of the letters, circulars, regulations, payrolls and station log entries collected here were transcribed either from microfilm or photographic images of the original documents in the collections of the National Archives and Records Administration.  Newspaper articles were transcribed from the collection of the Library of Congress, Brooklyn Public Library and Genaelogytrails.com. In editing I have striven to adhere as closely as possible to the original in spelling, capitalization, punctuation and abbreviation (e.g. "Do" or "do" for ditto or same as above) including the retention of dashes, ampersands, and overstrikes. Where I was unable to determine what was written, I have so noted in brackets. 

Document Format: Documents are arranged by date chronologically. Each document and the source is labeled in bold.

Biographical Information:  Each section of the Commandant’s letters begins with biographical information regarding their naval careers and additional material on other persons and ships mentioned in the text are supplied in endnotes. All information for the dates of appointment or rank of naval and warrant officers mentioned in documents unless, otherwise stated, was taken from Officers of the Continental and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps 1775 - 1900, Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps in the War of 1812 Naval History and Heritage Command https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/organization-and-administration/historical-leadership/naval-officers-of-the-war-of-1812.html accessed 13 January 2017.. All information regarding civilian employees was derived from the National Archives and Records Administration at Washington DC, New York City and or Genealogytrails.com.

Acknowledgements: My thanks to Mr. Kevin Riley Archives Specialist, National Archives and Records Administration, New York City and Chris Killilay Archives Specialist, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC, who generously gave their help and assistance in locating and giving us the opportunity to study and transcribe these unique navy yard records. My thanks also to Nancy Piper of Genealogytrails.com for her help and support. A special thanks to Charlotte Megill Hix for her kind help with the biographical information and image of John Warden Megill. My thanks to the extraordinarily kind and generous volunteers at the Concord Family History Center, Concord California. Their knowledge, resources and especially their wonderful (now rare) microfilm readers  were essential to transcribing many of the documents in this collection.

Dedication: For my aunt Bette Louise Peynado Sharp (1927-2012), ever a kind soul and a true daughter of Brooklyn.

John G. M. Sharp
14 May 2019

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Commodore Isaac Chauncey - Isaac Chauncey played a prominent role in the creation of the BNY. His service in Brooklyn, New York, began prior to its official designation as a shipyard. Chauncey went on to be Brooklyn’s longest serving commandant. His letters to the Secretary of the Navy provide us perhaps the fullest picture and most candid portrait by a career naval officer of the early yard. These letters deliver rich detail about the officers and employees, and the problems he encountered making the new yard a viable concern.

Isaac Chauncey was born in Black Rock, Connecticut, and was appointed a Lieutenant in the Navy from 17 September 1798. He fought with gallantry in the West Indies during the Quasi-War with France, in the Mediterranean during the First Barbary War, and commanded John Adams (1804–5), Hornet (1805–6), Washington and the Mediterranean Squadron (1815–1820). He was promoted to Captain in 1806.

Perhaps his most outstanding service was during the War of 1812 when he commanded the naval forces on Lake Ontario, conducting amphibious operations in cooperation with the Army, and containing the British fleet under the command of Sir James Yeo, stationed there. He also served twice as commandant of the New York Naval Shipyard. His last service was as a member, and for four years, President, of the Board of Navy Commissioners. Commodore Chauncey died in Washington 27 January 1840. Chauncey was known for his intelligence, and formidable reputation as strict disciplinarian and organizer who brought effective management to naval administration. Chauncey served twice as BNY Commandant 13 July 1807 to 16 May 1813, and again 21 December 1824 to 10 June 1833.

The first letter by Isaac Chauncey dates to 1806 when as senior naval officer in the New York area, he was in charge of contracting and administration prior to the establishment of the shipyard and the appointment of Lt. Thorn as Commandant. Chauncey’s early letters to Secretary of the Navy, Robert Smith, concern his efforts to build and administer contracts for Gun Boats required in the wars being fought against the Barbary States. President Thomas Jefferson believed that a suitable naval force would consist primarily of small gunboats that could defend the home waters of the United States. To create this defensive force, Jefferson ordered cutbacks in major ships and the construction of a fleet of small gunboats, most of which were built at Washington Navy Yard. Jefferson believed the proof of the effectiveness of gunboats was reflected in the defense of Tripoli. These small ships measured about fifty feet long and eighteen feet wide, with a shallow draft for use in the shoal waters of America's harbors. They were variously rigged with oars, and sails, and crewed by up to twenty men. On the plus side, if the wind failed or if they were engaged in close combat, they could be propelled by oars. Each Gun Boat carried two to three guns: 18 to 24-pound swivel-mounted guns or 32-pounders on traversing carriages. However, gunboats could weigh as much as seven thousand pounds, which meant that a shallow-drafted gunboat would not fare well in heavy seas. Even experienced sailors had trouble with these cumbersome vessels and nearly all had harrowing difficulties of steering a gunboat across the Atlantic.18 The war of 1812 made the administration rethink their maritime strategy with the result that the navy quickly returned many of these boats to the Brooklyn yard for storage.

18 Due to their awkward structure crossing the Atlantic in a Gunboat was extremely perilous Gunboat No. 7, Lieutenant Peter S. Ogilvie, sailed from Brooklyn New York May 14. Six days out she sprung her mast, returned to port, sailed again, and was never heard of afterwards. No. 8 had a stormy passage, but her commander, Lieutenant Nathaniel Harraden, reported to Commodore Preble that she behaved well and he considered her "perfectly safe to cross the Atlantic." In his letter to the Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith dated 2 April 1805 then Sailing Master Haraden thanked Smith that he was to be promoted to Lieutenant and to be given command of Gun Boat Number Eight. Haraden also provided a bit of autobiography, "I am an old seaman, myself and have experienced heavy gales in Every class of Vessels from a Cod Smak to a ship of the line. there is but one danger those Boats will be exposed to in a crossing of the Atlantic that is this scudding in heavy gales adding their great length to their easy draft will occasion their stern out of the water. This danger can be remedied by doping the Rudder" (see Sharp, Joh G Nathaniel Harraden Sailing Master http://genealogytrails.com/washdc/biographies/bio14.html accessed 4 January 2017

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Robert Smith New York 20 May 1806
Nav Dept. Isaac Chauncey

Sir,
If you should determine to buy Gun Boats at New York on the plan herewith presented permit me to recommend Mr. Christian Bergh19 an eminent shipwright of this place who I have conversed with frequently on the construction of Gun Boats and who assist my ideas fully on the subject in fact I am chiefly indebted to Mr. Bergh for the little knowledge I possess in shipbuilding, he also did me the favor of drawing the draft of the Boat herewith forwarded. I think that it will be no surprise to you that Mr. Burgh was the Forman in the Yard at the time the President  was built at his place –20

With very great respect I have the honor to be Sir your most
obedient Servant.
Isaac Chauncey

19 Christian Burgh/Bergh, born 30 April, 1763 and baptized 12 May 1763, Wettenburgh Church, Rhinebeck, New York. Burgh may have worked as a shipwright apprentice in Canada for a brief period but later moved back to New York City and worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was appointed to superintend the construction of the Frigate President.  During the War of 1812 he accompanied Commodore Isaac Chauncey to the Great Lakes where with Henry Eckford he built ships for the U.S. Navy. After the war Christian Burgh established a prominent shipyard on Scamel Street became wealthy building packets for the Liverpool /London run.. Burgh;s son Henry Burgh was founder of the New York ASPCA Harpers Monthly Magazine June to November 1882 Volume LXV p 226 -228.  Also see Sharp, John G., http://genealogytrails.com/ny/kings/navyyard.html accessed 4 January 2017

20 See Isaac Chauncey’s 24 February 1808 letter to the Secretary of the Navy re Christian Burgh, http://genealogytrails.com/ny/kings/navyyard.html accessed 10 November 2016

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Lt. Jonathan Thorn was the first BNY commanding officer. Thorn was born on January 8, 1779, in Schenectady, New York.21 Thorn was a member of a prominent New York family. He entered the U.S. Navy on April 28, 1800, as a midshipman and during the Barbary War where he served on the frigate John Adams, followed by service aboard the USS Enterprise and USS Constitution part of a blockade off the coast of Tripoli. Under Captain Stephen Decatur,22 Thorn took part in the capture and eventual destruction of the U. S. frigate Philadelphia, an American vessel that had run aground off the coast of Tripoli and had fallen into the hands of the Tripolitans.  Thorn was promoted to acting Lieutenant on November 7, 1803, and on August 3, 1804, he commanded a gunboat during the USS Constitution’s bombardment of the City of Tripoli.  For his wartime actions Thorn was recognized by both Captains Decatur and Preble for bravery and meritorious service.23

21 Thorn, Charles E. Heroic life and tragic death of Lieutenant Jonathan Thorn, United States Navy. New York City, Pub, for the author and C. R. Churchill and Mrs. Ida C. Baumgartner, 1944. http://www.ussjpkennedyjr.org/thorn647/ltthornbk.html accessed  10 November 2016

22 Stephen Decatur, Jr. (January 5, 1779 , to March 22, 1820) was a United States naval officer and commodore notable for his naval victories in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Decatur accessed 24 November 2016.

23 Edward Preble (15 August 1761 to 25 August 1807) was a United States naval officer who served with great distinction during the 1st Barbary War, leading American attacks on the city of Tripoli and forming the officer corps that would later lead the U.S. Navy in the War of 1812. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Preble
accessed 20 November 2016.

On June 6, 1806, Lieutenant Thorn was appointed the first BNY commandant. At the age of 27, he was youngest officer ever to command a United States Naval Yard. His letters reflect his efforts to build, preserve and inventory Gun Boats. As a junior officer, Thorn’s position at the BNY and his independence of action were hampered by his rank and a somewhat suspicious and inflexible nature. Thorn’s tenure in Brooklyn though was brief; his few surviving letters disclose a young man plagued by doubts, suffering poor physical and possibly mental health. In July 1807 Thorn, exhausted, requested and was granted a leave of absence. In addition to his health, Thorn was probably frustrated by the lack of promotional opportunity. In the peacetime navy promotions were few and Thorn must have sensed his tenure in Brooklyn would not improve his prospects (see Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith’s letter dated 12 May 1807). When the wealthy financier John Jacob Astor offered Thorn command of a commercial expedition to the Pacific Northwest, he quickly agreed.24  In 1810, The Navy Department granted Thorn a two-year furlough to command Astor's sailing bark Tonquin in the Astor Expedition for the Pacific Fur Company to the Pacific Northwest to establish a fur trading post. The Tonquin left New York City on 8 September 1810, sailed around Cape Horn on Christmas Day, stopped off in Hawaii and arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River on 22 March 1811. On 15 June 1811, having traveled along the west side of Vancouver Island they anchored to trade with the local Nootka people. Thorn’s insulting behavior toward the Nootka chief resulted in a war party returning the next day for revenge; they attacked the ship and killed Thorn and most of his crew.25

24 Ronda, James P. Astoria and Empire University of Nebraska Press: Omaha, 1993, p. 96.

25 Stark, Peter Astoria Astor and Jefferson’s lost Pacific Empire A Tale of Ambition and Survival on the Early American Frontier, Harper Collins: New York 2015, pp 77, 213, 290-291.

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
Navy Yard New York 18 June 1806

I have received your letter of the 18th instant the appropriation for the improvement of navy yard being limited, I cannot decide upon having improvements recommended by your letter made until I receive an estimate of the expense.

I am respectfully your Obt Servt
R. Smith

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New York 30th June 1806
Sir,

I have at length succeeded in providing an estimate of the expense for the Improvement and preservation of the public property deposited at the navy yard Viz.

To take up the guns and place them together on skids $ 200 -

To take up the anchors and place them on skids $ 300 -

To repair the platform in the [ ] and clear of the mud, and turn the timber and place the timber $200. 

To square the timber on the beach and pile it in a range within the timber shed 270 -.

To extend the timber shed 100 ft. Take up the live oak now lying in the stream and pile it a range with the timber shed $ 500 –S1200

You will observe that I have made an estimate for the putting the live oak in a state of repair.

With much respect I am Sir your Obedient Servt.
J Thorn

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav Dept 
Navy Yard New York 9 July 1806 

I received your letter of the 30th ult., containing an estimate of the expenses or the preservation and arrangement of the publick property deposited at the Nary Yard on Long Island Viz

For taking up the guns and placing them on Skids 200 –
For taking up the Anchors and laying them on Skids 60 –
For sorting the square timber on the Beach and piling it in a range with the timber shed 270 –
For extending the Timber Shed 100 feet 500 –
For taking up the live oak now in the Dam and piling it in a range with the Timber Shed 1200 –

All of which is approved & you will proceed to execute the same, accordingly I have written Mr. Beekman to make timely requisition of the money. You will observe that I deem it relative to removing the live oak under cover and approve of, and not your estimate for replacing the platform.

I am Sir 
R. Smith

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New York 22nd July 1806

Sir,

Conformable to your orders of the 10th instance I have yesterday commenced the separation at the Navy Yard. I observe that you was silent in your instructions regarding the latter part of my letter viz employing six laborers to do the necessary work about the yard (there in men stationed) and not enumerated in the estimate, finding their services indispensable and presuming you would not object to it I have employed them and beg you will extend my instructions to that effect –

The contract for the Gun Boats will be signed tomorrow when they will be sent you.

With much respect I am Sir your Obedient Servt.

J. Thorn
Hon. R. Smith Secretary of the Navy

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
New York 28 July 1806

I have received your letter of the 22nd instant – Your conduct in employing the six laborers for necessary work about the Yard is to be considered as a matter of course

Respectfully
R. Smith

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Navy Yard New York 13th August 1806

Sir,

The Gun Boats No. 6 and 8 and the bombard Vengeance have been delivered to me with their stores, having no orders how to dispose of them and not knowing for what services they may be intend, I have only hauled them into the slip and taken their provisions and stores into the public store and made arrangement with the commander at Fort Jay to receive the powder. I beg you will inform weather they are to be kept in a state for active service or laid up and also whether the officers left with them are to be supplied with a ration from the public store or find themselves for the present. I have requested them to find themselves for the present until further orders. I shall provide and take the guns out of the Gun Boats their remaining on board any time without any weight in the center will be apt to fag them - The sails belonging to no. 6 are reported to be in bad order, she awaits caulking, her false keel has never been coppered and is reported to be foul and some of her spars will require repair – Gunner Sales, her Boatswain deserted the day he was paid off and I have approved  William M. Davis a man recommended by Lt. Lauce to supply the place – No.8 was left without Boatswain or Gunner, Lt. Harraden26 not having on board a man adequate appointed James [illegible] Boatswain and Charles Lindsay Gunner as your pleasure may be known – the false keel of No.8 is likewise reported to require some repair and her decks caulked – the bottom of the Vengeance is very foul and requires [grating]

I am Sir with Greatest Respect your most Obt Servt.
J. Thorn

The Honorable Robert Smith Secretary of the Navy

26 Nathaniel Haraden had long service in the US Navy, serving as Sailing Master; Lieutenant, and from April 16, 1816 Master Commandant. Harraden served the last decade of his life at the Washington Navy Yard as executive officer to Thomas Tingey. Haraden died at his house near the Yard gate on January 20, 1818. For biography see Sharp, John G, http://genealogytrails.com/washdc/biographies/bio14.html accessed 20 November 2016.

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
New York 20 Aug. 1806

Your letter of the 9 & 13 instant has been received – The Gun Boats and the Vengeance are to be kept ready to receive their crews and provisions and proceed upon active service. You will therefore carefully prepare and forward to me an Estimate of the expense of putting them in such a State. Upon receiving such an estimate I will give you further instruction upon the subject.

The officers attached to the Gun Boats and Vengeance may either be supplied by the publick, or they may supply themselves with rations – if they should prefer being supplied by the publick inform the accountant of the Navy of it, and he will forward particular instructions upon the subject of issuing the rations. If they should choose to supply themselves they will be allowed 20 cents for each ration that they are by law entitled to when I inform you that they may supply themselves with rations I do it with reservation, that they shall not by frequent absence from their respective vessels subject the publick to any inconvenience .

I am Sir Very Respectfully &c &c
R. Smith 

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
New York 28 Aug. 1806

I have received your letter of the 23rd inst. Allow the Boatswains and Gunners employed by you full pay which is 20 D per month and 2 rations per day.

 R Smith

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
New York 24 Dec Aug. 1806

The Ketch & Gun Boats under your care must be immediately prepared for actual service in all respects excepting their crews- They must be put in a State of readiness to receive their crew & proceed upon service immediately upon order being given to that effect – Make you a requisition upon the Navy agent for every supply wanted & report to me daily the progress you may be making

Respectfully
R Smith 

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
New York 4 May 1807

I received your letter of the 30th ult. 30 April 1807. I have never received any communication in the least degree prejudiced to your character or conduct as an officer and a gentleman; on the contrary you have always been reported to me as an officer of distinguished merit and of a gentlemanly correct deportment. Such is consequently my opinion of you that it would afford no greater pleasure to gratify your expectation relatively to the rank if it could consistently be done.

I am respectfully 
R Smith 

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
New York 12 May 1807

I have received your letter of the 8th instant agreeably to your request I have placed the Gun Boats under the charge of Lieut. Lawrence. After delivering them over to him, you will consider yourself at Liberty to go into the country for a few days, and then repair to the City of Washington for the purpose of settling your accounts. You state that officers of junior warrants have been placed over you and that you were under the impression that your name would stand on the list next to that of Mr. Trippe –

Upon reviewing the records I find no instance of an officer being placed over you, except the case of Mr. Morris. He entered service as a midshipman 1 July 1799, you were appointed 28 April 1800 & entered service 1 May 1800. Mr. Morris' appointment warrant was prior to yours by two years - but by mere accident he did not receive his warrant until 27 May 1800. No person would pretend to say that a casual circumstances of this kind deprive Mr. Morris what would been in effect if I had placed your name on the list next to that of Mr. Trippe. It would have been raising you over 27 gentleman whose warrants are senior to you.

I am respectfully 
R Smith  

==========

New York 9th July 1807

Sir,

By the advice of my physician I was on the seaboard when your letter of the 3rd inst. arrived so that I did not receive it until today. It is extremely painful for me to say that I am unwell to attend to orders at a time when the services of every officer are apparently so much required, that I have been confined to my room nearly the whole time since I left returned from Washington with a pain in my breast and a cough and my physician will not suffer me to walk out any more to take any exercise whatsoever, I have acquainted the commanding officer with the nature of my orders who knows my inability to render him any service in fitting out the Gun Boats or otherwise, I have however told him that I should be ready in case of emergency to assist him as far as my strength would admit – A voyage to sea has been strongly recommended by all the physicians I have consulted as the most probable remedy and I was only waiting your decision to my request when yours arrived, if an indulgence of that kind could be consistently granted it might possibly be the means of restoring while in my present weak state I could be of little or no service particularly on board a Gun Boat –

I am Sir with respect your obt Servt. J. Thorn

To: Honorable Robert Smith
Secretary of the Navy 

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Lieut. Jon. Thorn Nav. Dept.
New York 13 July 1807

I have received your letter of the 9th instant. As your future services which may be more important are calculated upon, you will pursue such course for the reestablishment of health as your Physician may advise. My wishes for your success [and] when again ready for service you will inform me by letter 

I am respectfully 
R Smith 

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Navy Yard 
13th July 1807

Captain Issac Chuuncey

You will take command of the Navy Yard of New York. You will for the present be considered as having general charge of the Yard and property therein deposited. When it can conveniently be done, you will receive all the public property at the yard from Mr. Beekman by inventory, giving to him receipt therefore.

When you shall require a clerk you may engage one at a salary not exceeding $ 600 per annum. The one at present allowed Mr. Beekman may properly answer your purpose.

I have the honor to be Sir, Your obedient Servant. R. Smith

==========

Robert Smith New York Navy Yard
Nav Dept 3 August 1807

There is two small wooden buildings in this yard that stand very much in the way – and prevent our completing the improvements already commenced – May I have them removed to another part of the Yard. It can be done with our own people without any extra expense except in putting up the chimney again. I presume this can be done for about 10 to 12 Dollars as materials of old chimneys will answer again.

I have the honor to be very respectfully
Sir your most Obedient Servant.
Isaac Chauncey

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Robert Smith New York Navy Yard
Nav. Dept. 3 August 1807

Sir

The House in the Navy Yard is not tenable for a family in its present situation and it would cost a considerable sum of money to make it so, and after all it would be money badly expended for whenever a ship is built in the Yard the House must of necessity be taken down - Lieutenant Johnson and other officers attached to the Yard at present occupy it and there is no other place in the Yard to accommodate them in - I can rent a small house a little without the Yard for about $ 200 a year

If you should approve of that I should prefer it to repairing the house in the Yard and it would cost much less besides accommodate Lieutenant Johnson and the other officers. The mill in the Yard rent for $500 a year these could be taken from that sum, a sum sufficient to pay the House rent and the surplus appropriate for the improvement of the Yard in any way that you may think proper –

I have the honor to be very respectfully
Sir your most Obedient Servant.
Isaac Chauncey

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Robert Smith New York Navy Yard
Nav Dept 4th August 1807

Sir,

Is the armorer that Commodore Rodgers has given me orders to appoint to be considered as permanent establishment in the Yard or merely an armorer in the Navy and to be stationed in the Yard for the present – if the former what is the salary to be – A Mr. Fey has made application to be appointed and to superintend the foundry if any such establishment should be thought necessary (at the salary of $ 1200 per annum) he has at present a foundry in this city and is furnishing the arms for Gun Boats that was built that he can make Blunderbuss, muskets, pistols, cutlasses, &c &c stock and faith polish them and complete them for service If a person of his description should be thought necessary I will make a more particular inquiry respecting his ability in the line of his profession and report to you the results of such inquiry

I have the honor to be most respectfully
Sir your most obedient servant
Isaac Chauncey

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Isaac Chauncey Aug 5th, 1807 
Navy Yard New York

The inconvenience attending our having no Blacksmith Shop in the Yard induces me to direct that you have a temporary one erected capable of containing three fires in such part of the Yard as we will determine on immediately.

I have the honor to be
Sir your obedient Humble Servant

[Signed] John Rodgers

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Robert Smith New York Navy Yard
Nav Dept 10th August 1807

Sir

In consequence of an order of Commodore Rodgers (a copy of which I enclose) I have directed a Blacksmith Shop to be built in the Yard, for the purpose of repairing any iron work to the Gun Boats, that may be wanted as we find it extremely inconvenient to cross the River for every little piece of work that is wanted to be done in that line. It will be necessary to have a Blacksmith either on Daily Pay or as permanent establishment. I presume on daily pay will answer but at least until the Gun Boats are equipped there is a lighter and two ship boats in the Yard. Shall I have them repaired as they will be worse for watering and provisioning the Boats after they are in commission.

I have the honor to be most respectfully
Sir your most obedient servant
Isaac Chauncey

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Robert Smith New York Navy Yard
Nav Dept 12th August 1807

Sir

There is wanted to superintend the duty in the Yard, an active smart midshipman, who could also do the duty of a storekeeper for the present, and ten men could be employed to advantage if they could be entered the same as the men at Washington in ordinary – That is by the month for in our present situation as I have to cross to town, several times a day I am obligated to take men from the Gun Boats to go in the Boat with me - Moreover these same men will be necessary to assist in taking the inventory of the publick property in stores. There is also wanted for the Purser & Surgeon stores two rooms to be partitioned off in one end of the warehouse shall I have it done with rough board?

I have the honor to be most respectfully
Sir your most obedient servant
Isaac Chauncey

==========

Robert Smith U S Navy Yard New York
Nav. Dept. Aug 27, 1807 

Sir,

What shall I do with the wheels and gun carriages lately condemned & belonging to the Connecticut and Rhode Island Boats they are much in the way in the Yard and cannot be converted into anything useful except fire wood unless the side pieces of the carriages may possibly answer for the same part of the smaller carriages. If you will permit me to break these up the Iron works can be wrought up in the Yard in lieu of new Iron.

I have the honor to be very respectfully
Your Obedient Servant
Isaac Chauncey 

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Robert Smith U S Navy Yard New York
Navy Dept. September 1 1807 

Sir,

We have no places for the people attached to the yard to live in. May they be on board the Ketch Vengeance until she is wanted to return to service. Commodore Rodgers has no objection

 

I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt.
Isaac Chauncey

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Robert Smith U S Navy Yard New York
Navy Dept. November 27, 1807 

Sir,

The following things are almost indispensable to promote the public service and for the accommodation of the yard. Two wells to be sunk in the yard with pumps in them, windows in the armory, a horse & cart to transport stores, fill holes about the wharf &c &c The tide ebbs & flows in 24 hours consequently leaving a dampness that must destroy the timber next to the ground very soon There is sufficient for the horse in the yard Six wheel barrows with more other little conveniences which I will hope you will leave to my discretion I will not abuse your confidence

Very respectfully 
Isaac Chauncey 

==========

Robert Smith U S Navy Yard New York
Nav Dept Dec 9 1807 

Sir,

I have three men in confinement deserters from the flotilla; how shall I dispose of them? This crime happens so frequently; and in consequence so ruinous to the service that unless a severe example is made of some offender we shall never be able to put a stop to it.

I have the honor to be Your Obt Servt
Isaac Chauncey

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Robert Smith. U S Navy Yard, New York
Nav. Dept. Dec 10, 1807

Sir,

As we shall be under the necessity of employing a number of laborers when the Constitution is repairing, shall enter some more men by the month for the yard; they can be entered for one, two, three or four months at ten dollars per month if victualed from the yard and at sixteen dollars if they find themselves; this would be a savings to the US of nearly one half as the price of a laborer is from one dollar to one dollar and a quarter per day. The Gunboats have all returned to the Yard in good order except No 56 which received some damage in her bottom in consequence of getting on the rocks near Staten Island but will be repaired and the Boat ready for service in the course of this day or tomorrow.

I have the honor to be
Your Obt Servt
Isaac Chauncey

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Robert Smith US Navy Yard New York
Navy Dept. 5 Jan 1808

Sir,

I yesterday reduced the wages of the carpenters employed on the Constitution & Revenge 25 cents per day.27 Some of them (in consequence of Mr. Buckland having mentioned publicly that twenty three gun boats was to be built) immediately had an idea that we could not do without them and would not go to work. I however was able to find a sufficient number willing to work at the reduced wages and these who refused will in a week come back and beg for work and I shall be able to reduce their wages 25 cents more, for the merchants have no work for them to do therefore they must either work for us at our price or go unemployed to induce the merchants to believe the government is not fully determined to build the twenty three Gun Boats at this place I have given out that they are to be built where they can be built cheapest and if their estimates are above what they ought to be that I shall take the timber in the Navy Yard to use for repairs and the Gun Boats be built in some other part of our union –

This I think will induce them to make a fair estimate and if I am not mistaken much less then former.
I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

27 The Navy purchased the Baltimore-built schooner Ranger at New Orleans in December 1806. She was renamed and commissioned as Revenge. In 1807 she was ordered to the Atlantic coast under the command of Lt. Jacob Jones, joining Commodore John Rodgers' New York Flotilla, which assembled shortly after the Cheaspeake-Leopard Affair r to protect shipping in the vicinity of the Hampton Roads. With the passage of Thomas Jefferson's Embargo on 22 December 1807, the flotilla established a blockade of the US coast to prevent foreign commerce. In 1809, Lt. Oliver Hazard Perry relieved Jones in command of Revenge. The passage of the Non-Intercourse Act on 1 March 1809 had removed most restrictions on foreign commerce (excepting France and Britain which were at war with each other), and the ship widened her area of operation, cruising south to the tip of Florida and north to the coast of New England. In April 1810, the schooner entered the Washington Navy Yard for repairs. The following July, while cruising off Charleston, South Carolina, Revenge was ordered to Amelia Island, Florida, then Spanish territory, to free an American ship, Diana, which had been seized in Spanish waters and placed under British colors. Undaunted by the presence of two British warships, Perry boarded the ship, manned her with a prize crew, and sailed away. That winter, Revenge was charting coastal waters and harbors near Newport, Rhode Island, New London, Connecticut and Gardners Bay, Long Island, New York. On 9 January 1811 she ran aground on a reef off of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, while attempting to navigate a hazardous stretch of water known as 'The Race' in heavy fog. Cargo was unloaded onto other ships, and Revenge was pulled off the rocks. However the tow rope parted and she began to drift, foundering, and eventually sank. The records maintained by the Department of the Navy consider her to have been abandoned. Perry was cleared of responsibility for loss of the ship during the consequent court-martial proceedings. The court held the ship's pilot responsible for the wreck, as he had assured Perry of his ability to navigate Block Island Sound

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Robert Smith US Navy Yard New York
Nav Dept January 11, 1808

Sir,

 

A committee of the Carpenters called on me yesterday to know whether I could employ any number of seamen that might apply to them for support I agreed to receive as many as 300 provided, the sailors will sign Articles subjecting themselves to Naval Discipline and holding themselves accountable to the Navy Department for the amount of their rations at the rate of 20 cents per day I hope this arrangement will meet your approbation as we shall have the services of these people without any expense not even their victuals. 

I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt 
Isaac Chauncey

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Commodore Isaac Chauncey 24 February 1808 response to the Secretary of the Navy re a petition of Brooklyn Navy Yard workers.

Source: Letters sent by the Secretary of the Navy to Commandants and Navy Agents M441/1 microfilm rolls 1 and 2.at the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Records of the New York City Navy Yard, RG 45.

Note: This letter is dated 24 February 1808 from Commodore Isaac Chauncey, Commandant New York Navy Yard (Brooklyn Navy Yard) to the Acting Secretary of the Navy Charles W. Goldsborough. Chauncey was writing in response to a petition of shipyard workers requesting the removal of Christian Burgh, Master Shipwright and entrepreneur. In 1808 BNY was not particularly active and was building mostly gunboats but these jobs were relatively well paid and highly prized. The high pay resulted from the prolonged shipwright apprenticeship and that shipbuilding in New York City was still in its infancy with only 117 shipwrights and caulkers in whole town.28 This letter is an excellent source for extremely contentious question of citizenship for naval shipyard employees. This issue was finally resolved in the affirmative by the Board of Naval Commissioners circular dated 11 April 1817.

28 Burrows, Edwin G. and Wallace, Mike Gotham A History of New York City to 1898 Oxford University Press: New York, 1999, p. 341.

Also see John Stobo An Introduction to the Labor History of Navy Yards http://www.columbia.edu/~jrs9/Navy-Yard-views.html

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Navy Yard New York 24th February 1808
My Dear Sir, 

 I again thank you for your letter of the 4th inst., as it enables Merit to establish its innocence against the aspersions of foulmouthed calumny.

Mr. Christian Burgh (the subject of the Petition sent to the Honorable Secretary) was born in this state of course a Citizen.29 It is true that he went to Nova Scotia with his Father while a minor and of necessity obliged to follow the fortunes of his family but soon after he became of age, he returned to his native state and resided in this city for the last 12 years two of which he has been personally known to me, he was Forman in the Navy Yard at the time the Frigate President was built and gave perfect satisfaction - For his talents and requisite merits as a mechanic, his integrity as a man there not his superior in the United States which I believe his merit will allow and for which I will pledge my reputation. I will appeal to the order of Dr. Mitchell to the truth of this statement. It is a fact that Mr. B. refused to take the oath of allegiance (as stated by Mr. Jacob Merrell.  Note why he refused because he considered himself insulted for he went to the Poles as a native American citizen to vote. He was challenged by a person of opposite politicks this appeared so pointed that Mr. Burgh to take the oath not that he had any other objection merely not to gratify the challenge he however went to the to Ward to the Mayor of the City and took the oath of allegiance and abjuration.

Mr. Burgh was employed (from my recommendation) by Mr. Beakman in 1806 to build a few of G. Boats built at that time and I believe if you will refer to the estimates then sent forward you will note that he was the lowest. He also was one of the gentleman that Mr. Beakman purchased timber from in August for the building of G. Boats He has since been contracted with to build five Gun Boats of the twenty-thee ordered to be built here when I received orders to repair the Constitution I employed Mr. Burgh in conjunction  with Messieurs Eckford & Bebee (Republicans) to repair that ship it is my opinion the people best qualified for such a service It is true that I employed Mr. Burgh knowing him to be a Federalist but I did not employ him for his politicks but for his intrinsic value as a workmen and as a man It may be necessary for me to state here which I do most solemnly upon the standards & honor of a gentleman that I never since I have been in publick service employed a man for his political sentiments or have been in any way influenced by them I have always employed those people whom I thought would do the government the most Justice and do the work on the best terms always keeping in view economy and always have endeavored to impress upon the minds of all those whom I have had authority to employ the necessity of their doing the publick work on as good terms then they do for individuals for in one case there would be some risk in the other nine.

The whole of the persecution against Mr. Burgh has come from my reducing the Carpenters wages and time of some worthless fellows out of this Yard which they then conceived was owing to influence of Mr. Burgh which is not [illegible] is most scandalous The petitioners have asserted that they are all American citizens this is not the fact for some of them are not only British subjects born but not citizens by adoption  - another strange position has been taken by the petitioners that by employing foreigners or enemies to the country to do the publick work (I presume Mr. Burgh) that it would be so executed as to make the ship not only useless but dangerous to the officers and [men] this is a strange & foolish doctrine unless they will consent became rascals themselves for the most of them petitioners in the carpenters petition (that is worth employing) are at this time and have from the commencement employed on the constitution. Therefore if the work is done badly it is their fault not Mr. Burgh’s who merely [imparted ?]in conjunction with another Master Ship Builder (and a Republican) the fact is they are dissatisfied that their wage was reduced and have attacked Mr. Burgh deeming that would be of sufficient measure with a certain class for the purpose of making their attack on me with more success for they continue in [illegible] him their next object would be to me also - But I trust that no government and particularly administration is entrusted as the present would not remand any of its servants for doing their duty –

I enclose a number of documents shewing that Mr. Burgh is a native born citizen of the U. States and a respected mechanic of this city I also enclose you a paper shewing the occupation and characters of most the signers of the petitions by which you may make a comparison between Mr. B – and his persecutors and draw your own conclusions - the City petition is headed with a few respectable names, but for what reason these gentlemen put their [name] to that petition is I think very evident they would sign a counter one if they could gain a Vote by it.

The petition itself was wrote by a man that makes a trade of criticism and would prostitute his pen in any cause that he could gain any thing by it he would write me a petition tomorrow on any subject for five dollars. The contractors for the building of the Gun Boats gave me in their estimates together of course there is no difference in them. The contractors I believe are all republicans except Mr. Burgh - I however forward to you two original ship chandlers bill, you will be pleased to compare them – Mr. [illegible] who was employed before I came to the Yard wished to furnish the proposal from mere patriotism but Messrs. Lehermerhorns wanted a moderate profit on their goods - I will prove whenever necessary by the Certificate and oath of most of the officers in the yard and Squadron that the [illegeable] and other articles furnished by Messrs. Lehermerhorn is at least 15% better than that received from Mr. Dickerson with all his patriotism  and you will perceive by the bills considerably cheaper –

I regret that I could not forward these papers before but I was anxious to obtain a correct statement of the facts relative to Mr. Burgh and also the Characters of his prosecutors I have taken much pains to obtain those and their characters those left blank I could not obtain to my satisfaction but the others you may rely upon the correctness of –

 With great esteem and personal regard I am your friend

[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

[Addressed to:] Charles Goldsborough Esq Washington

29 Christian Burgh/Bergh,   born 30 April 1763 and baptized 12 May 1763, Wettenburgh Church, Rhinebeck, New York . Burgh may have worked as a shipwright apprentice in Canada for a brief period but later moved back to New York City and worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was appointed to superintend the construction of the Frigate President. During the War of 1812 accompanied Commodore Isaac Chauncey to the Great Lakes where with Henry Eckford he built ships for the U.S. Navy. After the war Christian Burgh established a prominent shipyard on Scamel Street and became wealthy building packets for the Liverpool /London run.. Burgh"s son Henry Burgh was founder of the New York ASPCA Harpers Monthly Magazine June to November 1882 Volume LXV p 226 -228.

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A List of Subscribers to the Citizens petition to the Honorable the Secretary of the Navy

Names
Occupation
Remarks
Dewitt Clinton
Mayor
 
John L. Broome
Merchant
 
Abr. Bloodford
Asst. Alderman<
 
George Mitchell
Grocer & Grog Shop Keeper
Brother to the Hon. Dr. Mitchell
Aspinwall Cornwallis
Grocer & Grog Shop KeepeR
Brother in law to the Hon. Do.
Daniel Winship
Butcher
 
Josiah Ferris
   
Leonard Seaman
Auctioneer
 
John Broome
Lt. Governor
 
John Pell
Butcher
 
John A. Smith
Clerk to Lumber Merchant
 
Matthew Bir
Assist Alderman & cabinet maker
 
Stephen Ludlum
Assist Alderman & cabinet maker
 
David Covert
House Carpenter
 
R. Delaplaine
Porter house keeper<
 
David Hubbard
Inspector of Beef & Pork
 
[Illegible] Guest
   
Fisher Dunham
Grog shop Keeper
Brother to the Hon Dr. Mitchell
James Mitchell
   
Timothy Titus
Boarding house keeper
 
John Polhanus
Grocer
 
Joseph Titus
House Carpenter
 
Bryan Titus
   
Alfred Titus
School Teacher
 
Jonathan Titus
Ferryman
 
Jrail Titus
Grocer
 
Rufus Paggar
House Carpenter
 
Cornelius Sebring
   
Rich Milivar
   
Micah Hawkins
   
Nath Smith
   
Phineas Lockwood
Joiner
A worthless Drunkard
Abraham Knopp
House Carpenter
 
Phineas Hulese
   
P. J. Goodfellow
   
Thurston Wood
Auctioneer
 
John Grey
   
Banney Radley
   
James Greaton
Taylor
 
Phillip Jones Shoemaker
   
Reuben Brooks
House Carpenter
Discharged from the Service of the U.S. in consequence of his exorbitant charges -
Rodman Boone
   
Isaac Dereiner
Cartman
 
Charles Dobbs
Cartman
 
Adah Holmes
Grocer
 
A. Welmore
Grocer
 
David Reeve
Grocer
 
[Illegible] Newby Junior
   
John Smith
   
R.R. Owen
   

 

A list of Subscribers to the Carpenters Petition to the Honorable the Secretary of the Navy

Name
Occupation
Remarks
Jeremiah Dodge Junior
Carver
Good for Nothing
Nathan Osborne
Carpenter
 
John Dodge
do
Good Workman
David Roberts
do
do
Homer Pease
do
Quit on account of wages
Jonas Baldwin
do
An Indifferent Workman
Edward Chamberlin
do
do
Nathan Known
do
A bad workman & bad character
John Sviffer
do
At present an oysterman
Dennis Munger
Carpenter
An indigent workman
 
[Illegible] Snow
Caulker
A tolerable yard workman
Edward Middleton
Carpenter
ditto
Jacob Southward
Caulker
A good Workman but a worthless character
Hubard Reiner
   
Thomas Hall
Oysterman
A foreigner & worthless character
Nathan Gadney
Carpenter
Good - Quit on account of wages
Stephen Mott
Caulker & Oakum Spinner
But tolerable
Jacob Johnson
   
John Campbell
   
Andrew Parker
   
John Griffits
A boy Carpenter
Foreigner tolerable
James Weed
Carpenter
Good
James Seaman
"
A Poor Workman
James Evans
   
Edmund Conely
Caulker
A poor workman
John Owens
Laborer
A Foreigner
Paul Snow
Caulker
A good Workman
Richard Fernat
Carpenter
Good quit on account of wages
Henry Buck
"
Indifferent
Gilbert Hathaway
"
Good, Quit on account of wages
Ebenezer Clark
"
Indifferent
Robert Martin
Caulker
A foreigner & a poor character
Selleck Howe
Carpenter
Good
Henry How
"
"
Thomas Clark
"
"
Stephen Cavanah
Caulker
A foreigner & indifferent worker
Moses Fargo
A Boy
 
Cornelius Johnson
Oysterman
A poor character
Jarvis King
   

 

Isaac Chauncey Nav. Dep.
Navy Yard New York 29 February 1808

 My letter of the 18th inst., directed you to discharge all foreigners &c to prevent any misunderstanding upon this subject I deem it proper to state to you that these directions were intended to include the able seaman, ordinary seaman & Boys that is such foreigners as might be serving in these capacities 

Respectfully
R Smith

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Isaac Chauncey Nav. Dep.
Navy Yard New York 13 April 1808

I have this day written for the Navy agent, directing him to consult with you and contract for a building of a Frame House the plan of which are accompanied in your letter of the 28th January last, all the materials in Yard that are unfit for Navy purposes and that can be applied to the building of this House, must be used in that way. Economy in the expenditure of publick monies is known to you to be essential, it is particularly so in expanding monies appropriated for the Navy Yard, because the appropriation for that object are always extremely limited.  Let the House therefore be well built, but as small an expense as possible. 30

Respectfully
R Smith

30 The house referred to by the Secretary is likely BNY Quarters A. (See Grey Chistopher, A Federal-Style Gem That Outshines Gracie Mansion  New York Times 25 June 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/realestate/25scap.html

==========

Secretary of the Navy US Navy Yard New York
Robert Smith June 15th 1808

Sir,

We now have about forty officers and men attached to the yard and it is probable that we shall have a number of men sent here. Carpenters to be victualed for their labor & a keeper of the accounts Request a purser of the Navy Yard solely

I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

==========

Isaac Chauncey Nav. Dep.
Navy Yard New York 5 July 1808

Sir,

Your letter accompanied by a draft of the Yard at New York had been received. You suggest a wish to have permission to point out the sites of future improvements in the Yard. This information I shall be glad to receive, and Mr. Latrobe who will in 1 day or two be on his way to New York and who takes with him a draft sent by you, being professionally a civil engineer & engaged  by the Dept., will aid you in making this communication

I am Sir Respectfully 
R Smith 

==========

Robert Smith US Navy Yard New York
Nav Dept October 10th 1808

Sir,

Lieutenant Thorn has requested to be stationed at the Navy Yard at New York if you should deem it for the good of the service. If you should station Lieut. Thorn at this yard, he could be usefully employed –

I have the honor to be your
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

==========

Isaac Chauncey Navy Dept
Navy Yard New York 29 Nov1808

Sir You will appoint a suitable character to fill the place of the Carpenter of the Yard Gobby, and when you shall be satisfied of his capability inform me, and I will send a warrant for him

I am Sir Respectfully
R Smith

==========

Isaac Chauncey Navy Dept.
Navy Yard New York 12 Jan 1809

Being solely responsible to this Dept for the good order of the Navy Yard under your command, and for the preservation of the property there on deposited, you will of course exclude from the Yard all disorderly persons whose presence might in any degree tend to injury of the property or subordination of the Yard you will as may be proper permit the officers attached to the Yard to occupy the houses now in the Yard.

Respectfully
R Smith

==========

Isaac Chauncey Navy Dept.
Navy Yard New York 27 March 1809

I have received your letter of the 24th inst. By the letter of 12 Jan last, you are invested with the authority to exclude from the Yard under your care, all such persons as you may find disorderly. Your authority in this part is perfect it was given to you from a persuasion that you would exercise it with a sound discretion with a single view to the public good. The marines while station in the Yard must have their rights, but the women allowed them must be orderly women.

Respectfully
R Smith

==========

U.S. Navy Yard N York
20th July 1809

Sir,

                On the Night of the 18th June, Mr. Samuel masters mate took George W. Simmons an ordinary seaman belonging to the Gun Boats in ordinary over to town to show him Mr. Wares where a Deserter from the Navy was secreted which he (Simmons) pretended to have information of Simmons took Mr. Wares up several narrow streets and alleys at length turning suddenly upon him he knocked him down drew a knife and attempted to stab Mr. Wares but in which attempt after hurting him slightly the knife broke he then robbed him of his watch and money and made off. I last night sent several officers and trusty men to watch his haunt and they succeeded in taking him and recovered the watch and the money. He is so hardened a villain that he says he glorys in what he has done but regrets that he did not succeed in killing Mr. Wares -  

                I have to request your instructions in this case whether Simmons is to be tried by a Court Martial or whether he  is to be delivered to the Civil Authority  of the District where he committed the robbery – If he is to tried  by a Court Martial will you have the goodness to order one –

                I have the honor to be very respectfully Sir your obedient Humble Servant

                                                                                                Isaac Chauncey

[Address to] Honorable Paul Hamilton Secretary of the Navy Washington DC

==========

Paul Hamilton US Navy Yard New York
Navy Dept. 12 Oct 1809 

Sir,

I sometime since appointed a Mr. John Floyd to act as Carpenter of this Yard, but as I can only authorize to allow him the same pay as carpenter in the navy (say $20 per month) I cannot expect that he will continue long in this Yard unless he should be allowed some increase of pay or some equivalent for house rent. I can apprise you Sir that Mr. Floyd would be a real loss to the establishment he is a man in every way qualified and vastly superior to any other that would accept situation. I should be safe in pledging myself for Mr. Floyd‘s capability, integrity and zeal for publick service more is unnecessary for me to say.31

I have the honor to be your
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

31 John Floyd, Naval Constructor is listed Spooners Directory of New York 1823 (see
http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Directory/1823.Bklyn.Directory.html  accessed 4 January 2017) Floyd became the first Naval Constructor, he built the first shiphouse in 1824 (see New York Times, 21 October 1893, p5).

==========

Paul Hamilton US Navy Yard New York
Navy Dept. 30 March 1810 

Sir,

There is wanted for the Navy Yard at New York a person who shall do the duty of the Clerk of the Yard keep the Boatswains account and assist the Navy Storekeeper also a porter for the office of the Commandant of the Yard.

I think that the publick service would be promoted by allowing me occasionally to employ in the Yard a Boat builder and Block maker of the Squadron at that Station

I have the honor to be your
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

==========

Paul Hamilton US Navy Yard New York
Navy Dept. 30 March 1810 

Sir,

In consequence of the extract of a letter from the Navy department sent to me by Doctor Bullas I have discharged all the sailmakers and blacksmiths, the circumstances I regect as much as has prevented me from completing the Revenge sails which should have been handled in four days more in other respects she is ready to receive. She is ready to receive her guns.

I am Sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

==========

Paul Hamilton US Navy Yard New York
Navy Dept. 31 March 1810 

Sir,

I leave in the Steam Boat for Albany in order to completer the business and obtain the deed of the flat. I have in this Yard one Cooper at $10 per month, one joiner and one ship carpenter rated as carpenter’s mates at $ 18 per month and five ship carpenters and caulkers rated as seamen at $12 per month. The Cooper furnished all the buckets, lids, & cans for the Squadron on this station for the last 2½ years besides having 1100 of these articles. These people are paid from the appropriation for repairs I wish to know whether they may be discharged. 

I am Sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

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Paul Hamilton US Navy Yard New York
Secretary of the Navy 4th Sept 1810

Sit,

My object in making this communication is, in the first instance a conviction that it is my duty to do so, and next opt ask permission to fix the boundary and then to build a bulkhead with logs and stones which will not only be a permanent boundary for the United States but will prevent the panel which I think of necessity for being filled up by the work of the Hills. I have made calculations of the cost contemplated. 

I am Sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

Note: "Capt. Chauncey will fix the boundary to his best judgement"
[Signed] P Hamilton

==========

Paul Hamilton US Navy Yard New York
Secretary of the Navy September 10, 1810

Sir,

I am very sorry to inform you at about 12 last night the old Building that was occupied by Lieut. Gamble of the Marines was discovered to be on fire and that in the course of 30 minutes it was burnt to the ground not withstanding every exertion to save it. We however succeeded in preventing the fire communicating to any other buildings. The one that was burnt was of little or no value it being 30 years old. But I am sorry to state the Marine Clothing was consumed from the information I collected the fire was communicated from a Candle set in the windows of the upper story by Lieut. Bennett’s servant who fell asleep and left it burning & who must have perished in the flames but for the accidental circumstances of Lieut. Bennett’s discovering the fire in time to awake his servant & themselves and in a most astonishing manner to every part of the house.32 I have confined the man by whose neglect this accident happened and shall await your orders upon the subject. The standing orders of this Yard is all fires & light to extinguished at 8 o’clock PM in Winter and at 9 clock in Summer except an officers apartment who is supposed to have sufficient discretion to take all proper care & guard against such accidents.

I will this opportunity to suggest the propriety of having a Good Engine belonging to the Yard, the necessity of which was very evident last night. If you will authorize me I will order one built for the yard.

I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

32 Bennett, Edward. Midshipman, 3 January 1800. Lieutenant, 5 February 1807. Died 20 December 1810.

==========

To: The Honorable Paul Hamilton Secretary of the Navy Washington

Navy Yard New York
15 January 1811 

Sir,

I have this day been honored with your letter of the 11th instant and hasten to make the Report therein directed.

Of the fifty one Gun Boats on this Station, nearly all are in the Mill Pond with their masts out and roofed except those that have been employed in bringing Stone and used as Lighters for the publick vessels that visit this Station. Number 6 and 8 are large Boats and coppered; would require new waterways and planks and some new timbers and new masts, Cables, Standing and Running Rigging and Sails. Numbers 29 to 45 inclusive are Boats built in Connecticut and Massachusetts of I presume green timber which is much decayed and I think would require a thorough repair of the Hull. Their Masts and Riggings are generally good; their Sails about half worn. Numbers 46 to 57 inclusive are Boats built in this place, of good materials, and are sound in their Hulls and Spars. They would require caulking and sheathing with new Cables, Runnings Riggings and Sails. Numbers 93 to 112 inclusive are the last Boats built at this place and are of a smaller class than any of the others but are built of good materials and have never been in Commission, consequently their Cables, Anchors, Sails and Riggings are new, and these Boats would require no other repairs than Caulking, except No. 97 which has been used for last 2 years as the Constitution’s tender; her Sails and Riggings are nearly worn out, consequently she would require new – 33

All these Boats (except No. 6 & 8) are Schooner rigged mounting one 32 or 24 pounder on a Circle in their Center, they are all fitted with Carriages, and there is a sufficient number of Guns, in the yard for all the Boats.

To fit twelve of these Boats for active service (say 45 to 57 inclusive which are the largest) it would require $ 1, 710 – for each Boat or $ 20, 520 for the twelve exclusive of the military stores of which we have a sufficient quantity in the yard to equip 12 Boats but twelve of the smaller craft would only require for each boat $ 150 or for twelve $ 1, 800 – exclusive of military stores. If a transfer of stores from all the Gun Boats was permitted to fit the Twelve (from 45 to 57) we should only require canvas for sails, boards and nails for sheathing, and pitch and paper for the seams and Bottom of which articles we have none in Store. –

I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. |
Isaac Chauncey

33 USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy, named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America. Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Constitution was launched in 1797, one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed. Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy's capital ships, and so Constitution and her sisters were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. Constitution was built in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts, at Edmund Hartt's shipyard. Her first duties with the newly formed U.S. Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War. The USS Constitution is famous for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships: HMS Guerriere, Java, Pictou, Cyane, and Levant. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname of "Old Ironsides" and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping. She continued to serve as flagship in the Mediterranean and African squadrons, and circled the world in the 1840s. During the American Civil War, she served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy. She carried American artwork and industrial displays to the Paris Exposition of 1878.

The Constitution was retired from active service in 1881, and served as a receiving ship until designated a museum ship in 1907. In 1934, she completed a three-year, 90-port tour of the nation. Constitution sailed under her own power for her 200th birthday in 1997, and again in August 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over Guerriere.

==========

To: The Honorable Paul Hamilton Secretary of the Navy Washington

U.S. Navy Yard New York
27th January 1811

Sir

I was honored with your letter of the 22nd Jan directing the Argus to be coppered. I had already anticipated such orders and had prepared her accordingly we shall heave her out, and strip the old copper off tomorrow morning –

I have the honor to be very respectfully / Sir
Your Obt Humble Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

==========

To: The Honorable Paul Hamilton Secretary of the Navy Washington

U.S. Navy Yard New York
30th January 1811

Sir,

The cold has been so intense for the last week that the quantity of ice that has made is very great. We are now completely blocked up at this yard, so much so, that we cannot heave the Argus out, as long as it remains so, which I hope will not be more than two or three days - about 2/3 of the coper has been stripped from the starboard side and the bottom corked as low as the copper has been taken off, and we shall resume the work the moment that the weather will permit –

I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

==========

U.S. Navy Yard New York
5th February 1811

Sir,

When you did me the honor of entrusting to me the superintending control of the Hospital on this station I was impressed with the idea that every person within that establishment was subject to its regulations within and to punishment (with the consent of the Surgeon) whenever such regulations was infringed but Captain Hall (who commands the Marine Guard in this yard) thinks otherwise, I beg to ask of you Sir, how far my powers extend over the patients in the Hospital.

The reason of my troubling you, on this occasion is this, a few nights since John Car (a Marine patient in the Hospital) got very much intoxicated and became extremely turbulent, and in his wantonness, he heaved several buckets of water, over the floor of the Hospital, where the sick lay, and broke a window sash and several panes of glass, he was at length confined, but liberated before he was reported to me – At first impression I was determined to punish this man for his wantonness and as an example to deter others from similar offense. Captain Hall however objected to my punishing a Marine upon the principle that they were placed under the his sole command and that no other person had a right to punish any of them their crime be what they are and that he has authority over the Marines intended equally to those in the Hospital as those in Barracks this being Captain Hall’s opinion, and wishing myself to act correctly, I thought it right to ask your decision upon the case – You however (being a military man yourself) will readily perceive the subversion of all discipline and good government of introducing such a principle, as two separate commands in one establishment, in fact the Marines press upon that idea already and be prevailed upon to keep their apartment so clean as the sailors are obliged to keep theirs.

I am sir respectfully
Your Obt Servt. 
Isaac Chauncey

==========

The Honorable Paul Hamilton
U.S. Navy Yard New York
12th February 1811

Sir,

The Weather has been so very bad I last had the honor of addressing you upon the subject of the Argus that we have been only able to complete one side of her, and the greater part of that was done in a Snow Storm we shall resume the work of the vessel, the moment that the weather will permit at present it is snowing most tremendously –

The berth deck of the Argus, is quite worn out, and scraped through in many places: shall I lay a new deck: the cost will be about $ 200 –

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Humble Servant
[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

The Naval Hospital

Honorable Paul Hamilton
U.S. Navy Yard, New York
21st February 1811

Sir,

I have procured a House for a temporary Hospital, within 50 yards of the Navy Yard @ 200 per annum neither the building or the situation is exactly what I could wish, but the best that I could procure at this time, and infinitely better than the present situation, we shall however be obliged (with your permission) to put a fence around this building not only to secure our men from desertion, but to exclude all improper visitors, the cost of such fence (made of refuse board) will not exceed $35, and the material wood will be very little injured and can be removed, and appropriated for other purposes whenever the building is relinquished as a Hospital.

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your most obedient servant

 [Signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

Honorable Paul Hamilton
U.S. Navy Yard, New York
1st March 1811

Sir,

I am happy to inform you that we got the mainmast of the Argus in last night after dark and I think that before sundown this day that she will be rigged and ready tomorrow to proceed to Rhode Island completely prepared for Foreign Service.

We have had uncommon bad weather since I received the order to prepare the Argus for service, yet with the able assistance that I have received from Captain Lawrence, we have succeeded in getting her ready, or in a shorter time, than we at first expected, and which I hope is in time to meet the works of the Department.

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your most obedient servant

[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

Navy Yard New York
1 April 1811

Sir,

Since the return of the Argus to this place I have caused a new Berth – Deck to be laid agreeably to your permission of the 10th February.  She is now completer in every respect to proceed on any Service –

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir,
Your most obedient servant [signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

U.S. Navy New York
17th April 1811

Sir,

On the night of the 15th instance John Whitmore and John Riley, Marines, and Charles McFarlan deserted from the Hospital, they escaped through a window in a room occupied exclusively by Marines, and I think there is no doubt, but with the knowledge of many of the people in the room.

I will take the liberty to suggest, for your consideration whether a porter at the Hospital would not be preferable to a Marine Sentinel - there twenty men at 18 Dollars per month and a ration would be quite different, and I think would be a better guard upon men than the Marines are, for more than half of the desertions that take place from the Hospital are Marines –

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir,
Your most obedient servant [signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

U.S. Navy Yard
27th May 1811

Sir,

The Fire Engine that you authorized me to have built for this Yard is now nearly finished - It will require a House to keep it from the weather, shall that house be built of Brick or wood in either case we have mechanics belonging to the vessels in ordinary that can be build it, we shall only have to purchase materials –

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Humble Servant
[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

Commodore Isaac Chauncey to the Secretary of the Navy re the search for the HMS Hussar 15 June 1811

Note In 1811 a Mr. Palmer requested the navy yard’s help securing a vessel to search for sunken treasure.34 Palmer hoped the naval vessel could carry his rigid chamber diving bell and transport his divers over a ship lost in the Revolutionary War. The British frigate HMS Hussar was rumored to have had a substantial sum of money aboard as payroll for British troops when she went down near Hell’s Gate in 1780. The HMS Hussar was a sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy, built in England in 1761-63. On 23 November 1780, against his pilot's better judgment, Hussar's captain, Charles Pole, decided to sail from the East River through the treacherous waters of Hell Gate between Manhattan Island and Long Island. Just before reaching Long Island Sound, Hussar was swept onto Pot Rock and began sinking. Pole was unable to run her aground and she sank in 16 fathoms (29 m) of water. The British immediately denied there was any gold aboard the ship, but despite the difficulty of diving in the waters of Hell Gate, reports of $2 to $4 million in gold were the catalyst that prompted many unsuccessful salvage efforts over the next 150 years. The New York Evening Post reported on 5 November 1811 "Mr. Palmer, who has been descending in Hell- Gate New York in his Diving Bell, in search of the Hussar frigate (sunk there during the Revolutionary War) penetrated into the Cabin, several weeks since, whence since when he brought up a firkin of butter – which was GOOD".35 In 1823 The New York Evening Post reported that a Samuel Davis had invented ''a machine for raising sunken ships'' and was about to ''commence operations'' to raise the Hussar.36 Since Mr. Palmers failed quest, others continue to search for the "ship of dreams". The New York Times on 29 September 1985 reported "some historical accounts reported that the 26-gun frigate was carrying 960,000 British pounds in gold when she struck a rock in the treacherous waters of Hell Gate and sank near the South Bronx. One international coin dealer estimated that the bullion said to have been aboard the ship could be worth as much as $576 million." On 23 March 2014 the New York Times, p. 6, reports two recently recovered cannons from the HMS Hussar will go on display in Central Park. Commodore Chauncey’s letter is one of the earliest documents re the search of for the HMS Hussar.

34 The diving bell was a cable-suspended chamber, open at the bottom that is lowered underwater to operate as a base or a means of transport for a small number of divers. The pressure of the water kept the air trapped inside the bell. This was the first type of diving chamber. The diving bell was not designed to move under the control of its occupants, nor to operate independently of its tether. See Diving Bell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diving_bell access 20 November 2016.

35 Evening Post New York, New York, 5 November 1811, p.3

36 New York Times 17 February 2002

Navy Yard New York
15 June 1811
Sir,

A Mr. Palmer the proprietor of a Diving Bell has been making some attempt to raise Guns and Ballast of the Huzzar a British 20 gun ship that sank in the Hell Gate during the Revolutionary War and which is said to have had a large sum of money on board. Mr. Palmer has ascertained the exact position and has taken some copper from her Bottom, and part of the painter and braces from the rudder. He however has applied to hire a vessel to present his plan and has applied to me to hire a Gun Boat, Cables &c to assist him. He has been seconded in his application by Major Stoddard of the Artillery and Captain Beauford of the Engineers who with myself will become responsible for any injury that the Gun Boat may receive. It is a fact very deniable to be ascertained that the Guns and other luxury substances may be recovered from the Bottom in ten or so fathoms of water.

I take the liberty to enclose the copy of a letter from General Dearborn late Secretary to Commodore Rodgers upon the subject. I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Humble Servant

[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

Copy Gen. Dearborn to Commodore Rodgers dated Boston - April 22nd 1811

Dear Sir,

The Bearers Mr. Palmer having proceeded in recovering Cannons &c from the Beds of Rivers & harbors by the use of what is called a Diving Bell, he goes to New York with intention of endeavoring to recover some cannons &c from the beds of harbor and rivers in that vicinity and any aid or encouragement you may be pleased to afford him would in my opinion be doing not only a noteworthy kindness to an enterprising Citizen but useful to the public. His practice has been considerable and I have observed one experiment in this harbor when he remained underwater in his Bell upwards of half an hour, and in the meantime moved 60 to 80 rods with his Bell near the Bottom

==========

U.S.Naval Hospital Brooklyn June 17th 1811
Sir,

The difficult access to New York from this place conjoined with my unusual duties in the Hospital Department, render it impossible for me also to attend Lieutenant Lutlows Rendezvous, I therefore request you to have the goodness to return the order you gave me on the 15th of April to that effect. I presume you will not believe my request an improper one, if you will call to mind that Dr. Marshal, absent and probably will be for a considerable time, that I am discharging the medical duties of the Hospital, visiting as its Steward attending the Rendezvous and visiting Mrs. Rodgers in New York every day, whose situation requires the strictest attention and consequently employs most of my time, from your knowledge of the duties, I have writing, I trust you will do me the justice to believe that my request has not proceeded from any want of inclination to attend to any day that the service my requires of me; but from the improbability of my discharging all those duties correctly.

I am with respect your obt honorable servant
W.B. Hatfield 37

37 Hatfield, William B. Surgeon's Mate USN, 24 March 1809. Last appearance on Records of Navy Department, Naval Register February 3, 1812.

Navy Yard New York
26 June 1811

Sir,

I herewith enclose a letter of Dr. Hatfield at this place. I will only add it is my opinion that the sick in the Hospital are necessarily neglected while Dr. Hatfield is obligated to attend the Rendezvous in New York.

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Humble Servant
[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

Navy Yard New York
25 June 1811

Sir,

I have the liberty of enclosing a letter from Lieut. Trenchard to me upon the subject of being attached to this yard. I beg leave to second the application of the Lieut. Because I am in want of an officer of his grade, and think that he would be an acquisition. I have known him many years and always found him worthy.

The only officers that are attached to this yard besides myself are Boatswain Berry and acting Gunner Black. It is true that I have Lieut. Angus, Sailing Master Trent and Boatswain Adams attached to the vessels in Ordinary but the former is on furlough sick and Mr. Trent at Boston on publick duty. I therefore trust that you will not deem the request an improper one to ask that Lieut Trenchard or some officer of his grade may be attached to the Navy Yard at this place. –

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Humble Servant
[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

Agreed to –
P.H.

Brooklyn June15th 1811

Sir,

The state of my health being such as to render me at this time incapable of performing the duties of my profession at sea with that precision and activity which it has always been my wish to observe and a maritime life being unfriendly to the disease which I have been afflicted, I take the liberty of soliciting the pleasure of serving under your command at the navy yard and by that you will do me the favor to communicate this wish to the honorable Secretary of the Navy.

I have already communicated my intentions on this subject to Commodore Rodger and he has done me the honor not only to approve of my motives but to promise me the use of his influence with you.

With greatest respect I have the honor to be your most obedient servant

[Signed] Edward Trenchard

==========

U.S. Navy Yard New York
26th Sept. 1811

Sir,

The twenty Gun Boats that you ordered got ready for service and all out of the Pond and rigged with their decks and upper works corded but in heaving them down yesterday to clean their bottoms we found that they [illegible] so fast that in we was obliged to right them and upon examination found the oakum entirely out of the seams in the bottom under the sheathings, consequently we shall be obliged to take all the sheathing off and work and sheath them which will not only add to the expense first contemplated but pooling the time in equipping them beyond what I expected when I last wrote you upon the subject. I however shall use every exertion to have them got ready for their men as soon as possible.

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Humble Servant
[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

To Paul Hamilton Secretary of the Navy

Private Navy Yard New York 29th Oct. 1811

Sir,

I understand that a petition is about to be forwarded to you in favor of a Robert H. Nichols in order to obtain an appointment as a Midshipman. This petition is signed by some of the most respectable men in this Village which is very astonishing to me as I understand from unquestionable authority that the applicant is notorious for his vile and bad conduct and would be a disgrace to the service - I also understand that several other applications are about to be made from this Village for similar appointments. I have been applied to for letters but have refused to give any as I did not know the applicants. I will however endeavor to make myself acquainted with their standing and habits and if you should deem such information as I can furnish respecting applicants from this place for appointments in the Navy of any importance, it would afford me much pleasure in communicating it –

I hope in that you will not deem this communication impertinent as I can assure you that my only motive is to exclude from an honorable service all improper characters and knowing at the same time how utterly impossible it is for you to guard against impositions being practiced upon you in the form of recommendations.

Isaac Chauncey

==========

To The Honorable Paul Hamilton Secretary of the Navy

U.S.Navy Yard New York
16th November 1811

Sir,

I have been honored with your letter of the 10th instant with queries as to the state and condition of Gun Boats on this station &c &c.

In answer to the first queried I refer you to my letter of the 15th of January last, where I have detailed the state and condition of the Gun Boats which has undergone no material changes since. To the second I answer, that twenty Gun Boats (I say from 95 to 112 inclusive) may be fitted for service, ready to receive their men for about $4000, and I think that masters of merchant vessels may be readily procured to command them with pay and rank of sailing masters in the navy. But I don’t think it would be safe to trust to volunteers themselves with the command of publick vessels. Most men must have something stronger than patriotism to bind them to their duty particularly when there is danger connected to the performance of it –

Seamen could be procured at this time without difficulty.

I have the honor to be very Respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Humble Servant
[Signed] Isaac Chauncey

==========

Commodore David Porter (February 1, 1780 – March 3, 1843) letter June 1812 vividly describes an attempt to tar and feather, Seaman John Erving of the USS Essex, one of its sailors. The Essex was in Brooklyn to refit and reprovision. In the War of 1812 nationalist political passions and along with accusations of treason or disloyalty ran against any persons like Erving who would not swear allegiance. David Porter as Captain of the Essex found himself caught between those who wanted to make poor Erving an example and his desire to protect the seaman and abide by the law.

Tar and Feathering

Source: LS, DNA, RG45, MC, 1812, Vol. 1, No. 72.

U.S. Frigate Essex
Navy Yard Brooklyn
28 June 1812

Sir,

A circumstance that occurred on board the Essex, the day before yesterday excited some interest in this place and may produce some enquiry from the Department.

John Erving an American seaman belonging to the Essex, declared himself to be an Englishman when called upon to take the oath of allegiance. The crew requested me to permit them to tar & feather him, and turn him out of the ship with appropriate labels on him.I consented. The Police to prevent a riot took him in charge. The British consul I am informed has declared him to be an Englishman, and is about engaging a passage for him to Halifax. The Police Office I am told has consented to this measure. Erving has already had an interview with the Consul.

Yesterday the enclosed correspondence took place between me and a magistrate of the Police Office & it was from the bearer of the letter that I received information of the above arrangement. I desired him to inform the officers of the police that I should protest in the most solemn manner against the delivery of Erving to our enemy, who may through him obtain much information respecting our Navy. Perhaps Sir, there may be such a character on board each of our vessels. I have the honor & c.

D Porter

[Enclosure]
City of New York, June 26th 1812

John Erving being duly sworn, deposed & saith that he was born in New Castle on Tyne (England) that he has resided within the United States of America since the year 1800, is a Sail Maker, has never been naturalized in the United States.  That on the 14th day of last Oct 1811, he entered at Salem in the capacity of Sail Makers Mate, for the frigate Essex, that he joined said Frigate at Norfolk on board of which he continued until this day, that about 9 o’clock this morning all hands were piped to muster when Captain Porter (Capt. of said Frigate) told the hands that they were called up to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, and gave them to understand that any man who did not choose to take the oath should be discharged, that when deponent's name was called, he told Capt. Porter that he, the deponent, could not take the oath required, being a British subject, on which Capt. Porter called the Petty Officers and said to them, that they must pass sentence on him the deponent, on which the said Petty Officers put him in the Launch which was alongside the Frigate and there put a bucket of tar on him, and after which laid on him a quantity of feathers.  They then rowed said Launch stern foremost on shore on New York Island and put him on shore, but whereabouts deponent does not know as he was never here before. That deponent went from Street to Street naked from the waist up, smeared with Tar & feathers, not knowing where to go when a man (Benjamin Ford) told him to go into his shop from the mob, or crowd of people then around him, that he stayed in said Shop until the Police Magistrate took him from thence and put him in the City Prison for protection, where he has been cleansed and got a Shirt & Trousers. The deponent further swears that none of the citizens, or inhabitants of the City of New York done him any manner of injury, or insulted him, but that he has been assisted and protected by the civil authority thereof

(Signed) John Erving

Taken & Sworn before me in the
Police Office of the City of New York
June 26th 1812

(Signed) Charles Christian
Special Justice of the peace for said City

Source: DNA, RG45, MC, 1812, Vol. 1, No. 72.

[Enclosure]
(Copy)
Police Office City of New York
June 26th 1812
Sir,
The bearer John Erving was this morning put on shore in this City, Tarred & Feathered – the Mayor of this City, the Justices at this Office, and the citizens without exception have protected him. Finding on examination that the said Erving is a British Subject and a total stranger in this City, I therefore refer him to you for further succor. Your Obt Servt

(Signed) Charles Christian
Special Justice of the Peace
Thomas Barclay Esqr

Source: DNA, RG45, MC, 1812, Vol. 1, No. 72.

[Enclosure]

Police Office, City of New York
June 27th 1812

Sir,

I had the honor this moment to receive your note of the present date, and in consequence of the information it contains, I have committed John Erving, with a view to his safe keeping, and further examination of this subject, as a disorderly person. Presuming that a perusal of his examination at this office may be useful to you individually or to the service, I have communicated it by Mr. Montgomery (Police Officer) with instructions to return it to this office; should you judge proper a copy of it is entirely at your service. Respectfully [&c.]

(Signed) Charles Christian
David Porter Esqr
Capt. U S Frigate Essex-
Brooklyn

Source: DNA, RG45, MC, 1812, Vol. 1. No. 72.

[Enclosure]

Commanding officer on board

The Essex Frigate
Police Office
New York
June 27th 1812

Sir,

John Erving, who was landed in this City yesterday from the Essex, says that his clothing is on board that Frigate. He is in the care of the Police of this City who have given him a Shirt & Trousers. If you judge proper to give his chest and clothes to the bearer, Mr. Raynor, Police Officer, he will receive them. Erving says that the Armorer of the Essex can inform you where his clothes is placed. Your Obt Servt

(Signed) Charles Christian
Special Justice

Source: DNA, RG45, MC, 1812, Vol. 1, No. 72.

[Enclosure]

U.S. Frigate Essex
27 June 1812

Sir,

John Erving is an American Citizen; I herewith enclose a copy of his protection. His clothes cannot be delivered until I am furnished by the Purser with a statement of his accounts, should he not be indebted to the United States they shall be delivered to your order. Very Respectfully [&c.]

(Signed) D. Porter
Charles Christian Esqr
New York

Copy, DNA, RG45, MC, 1812, Vol. 1, No. 72.

[Enclosure]
(Protection)
United States of America
No: 189

Virginia,

I, Larkin Smith Collector of the District of Norfolk & Portsmouth, do hereby certify that John Erving an American Seaman, aged twenty-three years, or thereabouts, of the height of five feet four 1/4 inches, of a light complexion, brown hair, Grey eyes, born in Salem in the State of Massachusetts, has this day produced to me proof in the manner directed in the act entitled "an act for the relief and protection of American Seamen" and pursuant to said act, I do hereby certify that the said John Erving is a citizen of the United States of America.

In witness whereof,
I have hereunto set my hand & seal of office
This 23rd day of April
One thousand eight hundred and eleven
Seal
Signed Larkin Smith
Collector

I certify that the above is a true copy of the original.
W.W. Bostwick

Source: DNA, RG45, MC, 1812, Vol. 1, No. 72.

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY HAMILTON TO MASTER COMMANDANT DAVID PORTER

Capt. David Porter Navy Dept
New York 30 June 1812

I have just received your letter of the 28 Inst. 

It is much to be regretted that you gave sanction to the proceedings on the part of your crew in the case of John Irving. It is indeed to be regretted that you did not suppress the proceedings. Mobs will in Spite of all Law, sometimes Act licentiously, but Mobs should never be suffered to exist on board of a Man of War, while order discipline & a perfect observance of the Law should be enforced. Tyranny in whatever Shape it may appear ought to be resisted by all men. I do exceedingly regret that an officer of your rank and intelligence should have permitted the proceedings in question.

P. Hamilton

Source: DNA, RG45, SNL, Vol. 10, pp. 81-82

==========

Source: RG45

Commodore Samuel Evans to the Secretary of the Navy, 20 July 1815 re Plans for the Navy Yard

U.S. Navy Yard New York
20th March 1815

Sir,

It is an old maxim, which the majority of the people of this country, are now I believe to admit as correct, that peace is the Reason to prepare for eventual war. The war we have just gloriously concluded was a war waged almost for national independence, against an adversary whose means of annoying us is more powerful than the rest of the world combined. He had been foiled in all his projects, and beaten, at his favorite projects until he has been compelled to acknowledge the strength of our arms and the justice of our cause by subscribing to a peace honorable to us as a gallant and powerful nation. The share the navy had in producing this desirable event, has been the theme of admiration and praise, both at home and abroad, and when we are again involved in a contest for our rights, be it with whom it may, it is not unreasonable to calculate that much will be expected from the navy. Hence then arises the policy and necessity of availing ourselves of this most favorable period, to introduce regular Systems for every branch of the Naval Service, to revise and correct the regulations we have, and to establish such additional ones as may be wanting for genius of maritime warfare. The establishment of the board of commissioners promises to be of vast importance to the nation at large, and from the talents that are incorporated in it, the navy is sure to reap incalculable advantages from it, as will be benefited by their engineers and laborers.

I consider it the duty of all to contribute to them, and if the remarks I am about making (which I should be pleased if properly laid before them on their meeting) on a branch of the civil Department of the service, shall not be considered in time, & because we unasked for, and should be the cause of soliciting one idea that would to an improvement in the service, if it will be productive of happiness to me.

It would be presumption as well as waste of time, to use argument to convince you of the vital importance to a maritime nation of well-established Dock Yard for building and repairing their Public ships, with the small force we have heretofore had, the want of them has been severely felt, by the public, as well as those officers who have the control of repairs, and I do not believe it extravagant to say, that for want of them and judicious regulation respecting the purchase and accountability of stores, all expenses that class under the head of repairs and that you know is a large item in naval expenditures, are increased Twenty five or Thirty per cent but even this, great as it is, is far from being the most important evil that may arise from the want of them, our late enemy, while he exists as a nation, will never entirely divest himself of that character, either openly or covertly, he will, as it were from nature maintain  that feeling toward us, "the more we prosper, the more vindictive will be the of his exasperation, vanity, and the deeper and more deadly will he aim the vengeance of his wounded pride. It therefore disposes (indeed it may at some time be essentially important to us as a nation) to be so far on the alert as to be enabled to equip all the force we may have, at the shortest possible notice, and that we can never do until there is a radical reform in the civil Department of the Service. The first question of importance on this subject that presents itself to me for consideration is the location of the different Navy or Dock Yards. How many of them shall we have? Where shall they be permanently established? What shall be their extent, conveniences for building, repairing, equipping &c &c and their appointments?

We have I believe six established Navy Yard Viz., at Portsmouth, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Norfolk. The one at Portsmouth I only know by report, the situation of it though I believe to be eligible, and I should calculate on that as being permanent. The one at Boston I should view in the same light. If it is necessary or expedient, there should be one at Philadelphia, I would recommend changing site, or purchasing more ground on the river. I believe there is not near sufficient for an efficient establishment. It is considered advisable to have one grand Depot for Building, the policy of which at this time I much question, it should be at Washington, at any rate in the improvements made in the Yard there, regard should be had to its being a great arsenal hereafter. The one at Norfolk is also in want of front on the water for a permanent establishment, and the one I write from would be much better in every respect, if we had the point of land adjoining to the West, and which could be at this time be purchased, I expect for 40,000 dollars, to these I would add one at Rhode Island, one at Port Royal, South Carolina, and one at New Orleans. The two latter should be at present on comparatively small scale, but capable of such extension as might be found necessary, but the one at New Port should be the grand rendezvous for one fleet and depot of materials for repairs and equipment. I consider its advantages for these purposes superior to any in the U. States. Each yard should if possible contain Fifty acres, Although it would lose us time in having every Yard laid out in the most convenient manner for building, repair &c &c and having every stone or stick that was laid in it hereafter placed in conformity to the great plan adopted, I am never the less of the opinion that it is necessary at this time to incur what would be a serious expense on them, in a national point of view. I would limit the improvements yearly, at the different yards as circumstances might seem to require, and none of them when contemplated should be calculated to have more improvements than follows: Good stone walls to guard them, A dry dock and two building slips, with necessary moorings, and a sheer hulk to each, Receiving stores, Carpenters, timber, and mast sheds, coopers, block makers, Boat builders, Painters, Blacksmiths and Plumbers shops, Rigging and Sail Lofts, Rope Walk, Magazine Armory and offices, with houses and buildings for officers attached to the establishment who should all live in the Yard.

Where ever there are Marine quarters in the Yards, they should be converted to the use of the officers and the marines accommodated elsewhere. I consider a Navy Yard a most unsuitable place for more marines than are necessary to guard it, and they should be relieved daily. To each of the most important Yards I would allow the following officers, petty officers and seamen exclusive of the ordinary men: A Captain, a Store Keeper, a Purser, a Surgeon, a Chaplain, a Superintendent of the Rope Walk, A Master of Ordinance and assistants, a Blacksmith, a Joiner, a Mast Maker, a Cooper,, a Boat Builder, a Sail Maker, a Block maker, a Painter, a Armorer, a Plumber, a Master of the teams and laborers, a Porter, thirty seaman and seventy laborers and such clerks in the higher departments as may be considered necessary, but salaries of the whole number of clerks employed should not exceed a specified sum. In regard to the officers enumerated I will only observe, that where there is so much public trust and responsibility, as must necessarily be imposed on them, it will in my opinion be beneficial, to be rather liberal, than parsimonious. I would let every rank be satisfied that their comforts were not unattended to, and promotions in their line should be held out as a reward for zealous and faithful service. The number of artificers to be employed in each Department requires some consideration. It would be the height of national prodigality to establish Navy Yards, and appoint the officers I have enumerated, with employing at all time a certain number of mechanics in each Department, but I am not satisfied in my own mind, that economy would result from an extensive and indiscriminate manufacture of naval equipment in our Dock yard, without more experience on this subject, I should decline advising the extending on this subject, much beyond the manufacture of articles in which quality and dispatch is a greater object than cost, these however include articles and considerations, and important, for it never should be forgotten that the efficiency of our Navy will depend more on the mind and condition of our ships and the facility with which they can be put in motion than the number of them.

I believe the following number of mechanics could always be employed to advantage in the principal yards, in the Carpenters Department or under his immediate superintendence, one hundred and twenty Carpenters and Joiners including Boys and assistants, Ten Mast Makers, Ten Boat Builders, Ten Block makers, Ten Painters, Five Plumbers, Thirty Blacksmiths under the immediate superintendence of the master exclusive of his assistants, the Boatswain and his assailants and the seamen and laborers enumerated, Twenty Sailmakers, under the immediate superintendence of the master of the ordinance, including armorer and assistants, ten under the immediate superintendence of the Rope walk – Twenty under the immediate Superintendence of the Store Keeper including his assistants, Ten Laborers, and six watchmen under the immediate Superintendence of the Cooper, Ten making a great total of three hundred and ninety two officers, petty officers, artificers, seamen, laborers and boys.

I am not certain that the classes are so divided as to prevent one branch from interfering with or waiting for the other. A reasonable discretion, however, should be left with the Commandant to enable him to apportion the classes according to circumstances, but not to increase the whole number, unless authorized by the Department –

As it regards the nature of contracts with them, and their pay and subsistence, I will only remark now, that I am of the opinion it would be advisable to engage them to serve, during good behavior, with daily payment subject to such checks and deductions, as the regulations may prescribe. I would issue no ration to any such person belonging to the establishment.

Samuel Evans

==========

Complete Musters of Officers, Mechanic’s and Laborers.

 Source: 17 Mar: 1817 Circular from Board of Navy Commissioners to Commodore Samuel Evans (E307 v.1)

"You will send to this office, as early as possible, a Complete Muster & Pay Roll of all officers, Mechanicks, laborers & others in the Yard under your command; and on the last day of every month & hereafter, you will do the same. No mechanics or laborers are in the future to be employed under your command without the orders or sanction of the Board of Navy Commissioners."

==========

"No Slaves or Negros .."

Source: 17 Mar. 1817, Circular from Board of Navy Commissioners to Commodore Samuel Evans (E307 v1.)

Note: In this circular dated 17 March 1817 the Board of Navy Commissioners directed to Samuel Evans and all naval shipyards that henceforth no slaves or Negros were to be hired at naval shipyards without the BNC approval. There is no documentation BNY ever employed slaves or free blacks, prior to the Civil War. This action was a response to complaints received from (white) employees at the Washington and Gosport (Norfolk) shipyards to the hiring of slaves and free blacks.

"Abuses having existed in some of the Navy yards by the introduction of improper Characters for improper purposes, the board of navy Commissioners have deemed it necessary to direct That no Slaves or Negroes, except under extraordinary Circumstances, shall be employed in any navy yard in the United States, & in no case without the authority from the Board of Navy Commissioners. Efficient white mechanics & Laborers are to be employed to supply the places of those discharged under this order." 

==========

Citizenship

In a circular dated 11 April 1817 the Board of Navy Commissioners directed all naval shipyards that henceforth all employees must be United States citizens.

Source: Board of Navy Commissioners Journal to Commodore Samuel Evans, Subject Citizenship dated 11 April 1817.

"None but citizens of the U. S. are to be employed in any Situation in the Navy yard under your command. Should there be any such at present employed they are to be discharged."  (E307 v1)

BNC Journal of same day states "This regulation was founded on the Supposition that Citizens will be less likely to betray secrets, and convey to the Enemy such information that will tend to the disadvantage of the United States" (E303 v 1)

==========

1 May 1817 Regulations re Apprentices

BNY like the other federal shipyards developed its own regulations and pay scales for apprentice workers. However, the creation of the Board of Navy Commissioners (BNC) in 1815 led to a gradual standardization of apprentice regulations. One of the most perplexing problems the BNC faced was the number of apprentices each shipyard trade was to be allocated. This circular letter dated 1 May 1817 to all naval shipyards set forth the following numerical restrictions.

Source: Board of Navy Commissioners to Commodore Samuel Evans, Subject Apprentices, dated 1 May 1817

"When Master Workmen shall be attached to the Navy Yard under your command, they are to be allowed under restrictions, the number of apprentices as follows.
Master Carpenter................ Three
Cooper......................Two
Mast Maker ..............Two
Sail Maker.................Two
Boat Builder .............Two
Blockmaker ..............Two Apprentices are not allowed to be taken into the yard unless they shall be bound for seven years and shall have attained the age of fourteen - For the first two years of their apprenticeship they shall be allowed one fourth the pay allowed to a mechanic of the trade at which they are serving, for the third & fourth years one half, for the fifth & sixth two thirds, and for the Seventh three fourths the pay allowed to a mechanic of the trade at which they are serving."

[End document]

==========

NAVY YARD APPRENTICE AGE & PAY RATES

BNC Circular to Commodore Samuel Evans, date 2 July 1817, Subject Apprentice Pay Rates.

From the reports received by Several experienced respectable mechanics employed in some of our Navy Yard, the Commissioners of the Navy are moved to believe that rate of wages fixed on for compensation of apprentices, commencing on the 1st day of the previous month the following rates of pay, instead of those directed by our Circular of the 1st May last. For the first year of their apprenticeship, they shall be allowed, one-third of the pay allowed to mechanics of the trade at which they may be serving; for the second and the third years, one-half; for the fourth year two-thirds; & for the fifth years three-fourths. With respect to the ages and terms of Service of apprentices its understood that five years will be sufficient to make them workmen, provided they are intelligent and are 16 years of age at the time they are bound. No apprentices except of such character & age, as is before mentioned is here after to be received into the navy yard under your command. Those apprentices who are at present employed in the yard & bound under different Circumstances may receive the same rates of pay according to merit & terms of service, as they would be entitled to, if they would be entitled to, if they had been 16 years of age at the time of being bound.

==========

PAY RATES FOR CARPENTERS AND BLACKSMITHS

Source: BNC Circular dated 13 Jul 1818 to Commodore Samuel Evans (E307 v1).

The Board of Navy Comms, desirous of making you to employ the most skillful & best Ship Carpenters & blacksmiths are disposed to place at similar work in the different  yard as pay as nearly similar as possible have made the following arrangements in relation to pay –

Of Ship Carpenters exclusively of foremen & apprentices there are to be but two classes of one-third of them shall be of the first class & shall be allowed two dollars per day – the remaining class 2/3rd shall be of the second class & shall be allowed $ 1.75 per day

Of the number authorized by our Circular of 22 June to be employed in the Construction of the Ship, when in your opinion such number can be usefully employed, four are to quartermen who are to be allowed each 2.50 per day.

The Blacksmiths & persons employed in the Department when it shall become necessary to employ them agreeably to our Circular of 22 June are to be allowed according to their several & respective merits $ 2- $1.25, $ 1.50, $1.75 & 1.25 exclusive of Foremen. 

==========

Captain Samuel Evans Explains the Ferry

Source: 27 May 1819 Captain Samuel Evans to Commodore John Rodger BNC re the Ferry. RG 125, Records of the Judge Advocate General Case Number 403 Capt. Samuel Evans Entry 26 – B. 

Copy

U.S. Navy New York 
May 27th 1819
Sir

The repairs we have on hand has rendered it necessary to increase our gang of Mechanics considerably from New York and there is some difficulty in their getting over in season to muster & returning in the Evening to their families; to obviate this I have at considerable loss to myself put an additional Boat on the Ferry I established near the Yard and borrowed two boats being all I could get from the lower service –

There is a large boat in the Yard formerly belonging to the John Adams when a Store Ship, which is seldom used for any purpose and if the Commissioners will allow me to use her on the ferry while there is so many employed, or until I can procure a suitable one it will much facilitate their crossing - It may be proper to state that the Mechanics working in the Yard only pay me one dollar a month for crossing, that my boats will not carry with safety more than 18 persons, that it costs me fifty dollars a month for each boat I have on and that three boats are insufficient for the ordinary purposes of the ferry –

I have the honor to be &c
[Signed ] Samuel Evans
Commodore Rodgers
President of the Board of
Navy Commissioners

==========

Reduction in Wages by Trade

Source: 24 May 1820 BNC Commodore John Rodgers  to Captain Samuel Evans, reduction in wage rates RG 125, Records of the Judge Advocate General Case Number 403 Capt. Samuel Evans Entry 26 – B. IMAGE

Copy
Navy Commissioners Office
May 24th 1820

Sir

From and after the 1st day of June 1820 the pay of the Carpenters, Joiners &c in the Yard under your Command must be reduced & regulated by the following rates Viz –

Carpenters
$ 1.62 ½ down to
$ 1.25
Joiners
1.37 ½
1.12 ½
Blockmakers
1.37 ½
1.12 ½
Blacksmiths
1.62 ½
1.12 ½
Coopers
1.37 ½
1.12 ½
Laborers
90
75
Boat builders
1.62 ½
1.25
Painters
1.25
1.12 ½
Gun Carriage Makers
1.37 ½
1.12 ½
Spar Makers
1.62 ½
1.25
Caulkers
1.62 ½
1.25
Armourers
1.37 ½
1.12 ½
Sawyers
1.50
1.12 ½
Riggers
1.00
1.00
Gunners
1.00
1.00

In coming to this determination due reference has been had to the circumstances of the time – all the essential articles of living are known to be greatly reduced in price; at Portsmouth & Philadelphia Yard the price for some time past given are even less than those above allowed –
I am Sir respectfully Your most Obt. Servant
Signed John Rodgers

To: Capt. Samuel Evants
New York

==========

The Launch of the USS Ohio 30 May 1820.

The USS Ohio was a ship of the line of the United States Navy and the first built at Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was designed by Henry Eckford, and launched on 30 May 1820.38 Eckford made his reputation as a commercial shipbuilder and had worked for the navy during the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. After the war he again worked as for the Navy as chief naval constructor at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In 1817 the USS Ohio was laid down largely as an Eckford-designed 74-gun frigate. The design established a model upon which "74s" were built thereafter. Eckford resigned from his post at the yard on 6 June 1820, the week after Ohio was launched, and returned to running his private shipyard In later years the USS Ohio went into ordinary and decayed badly. Refitted for service in 1838, Ohio sailed on 16 October 1838 to join the Mediterranean Squadron under Commodore Isaac Hull. Acting as flagship for two years, she protected commerce and suppressed the slave trade off the African coast. Ohio proved to have excellent performance under sail, from 1841-1846, Ohio served as receiving ship. The following are two contemporary accounts of the Ohio’s 1820 launch.

38 Henry Eckford 1775 -1832 ship builder builder https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Eckford_(shipbuilder) accessed 20 November 2016.

==========

Albany Gazette (Albany New York) 5 Jun 1820, p. 2.

THE LAUNCH

Yesterday, at the appointed hour, the launch of the ship of the line OHIO from the navy yard accomplished in the best manner and without the least accident. The novelty and grandeur of the scene attached nearly the whole population of the city and the surrounding country to witness it, as well as thousands from the distance of 100 and 150 miles. The river and its banks presented a most interesting scene, being literally covered with spectators for miles in extent. All the steam boats were out, and each having a band of music, they added much to enliven the scene, as they plied amongst the sloops and small craft which covered the Wallabout Bay. In front of the navy yard lay the Hornet sloop of war, tastefully decorated for the occasion with the colors of all nations, and her yards manned by her fine crew; and in view was the Washington 74 and the steam frigate Fulton the 1st. The whole framed one of the finest scenes that can be imagined. The day was remarkably fine.

The appearance of the Ohio, as she lay upon the stock was truly grand. At 20 minutes past 11, the signal was given, and she descended into her element in a slow and majestic manner. As she moved from her ways, a national salute was fired from the navy yard, and when the ship embraced the water, she was welcomed by salutes from the Washington 74 and Hornet sloop of war, as well as an honorary salute from General Stevens Brigade of city artillery, and by the shouts of tens of thousands of gratified spectators. In the afternoon at the turn of the tide, the steam boats Chancellor Livingston and Connecticut towed the ship from her anchorage back to the navy yard dock. Thus was launched the first ship of the line ever built in New York.

We congratulate Mr. Eckford on the happy accomplishment of his arduous labors. The architect will be remembered long after the tough oak which he has wrought shall have decayed. He has formed a model for future artists.

We congratulate the State of Ohio that it has fallen to her lot to have her honorable name inscribed and borne upon such a ship. We congratulate the nation on the access to our navy of the FINEST SHIP IN THE WORLD.

==========


National Advocate (New York, New York) June 1820

Launch of the United States’ Ship OHIO

After this beautiful piece of Naval Architecture was received into her destined element, the Shipwrights and Joiners of the Navy Yard, retired to Wheeler’s Hotel, at the foot of Grand Street, and partook of a handsome Dinner prepared for the occasion, being honored with the company of their Chief Architect HENRY ECKFORD, Esq., then the following Toast were drank with great glee – after which the company parted fully satisfied.

TOASTS
1. The President of the United States.
2. The Vice President of the United States.
3. The Senate and the House of Representatives.
4. Mechanism the Bulwark of the Republic without it, little agriculture, few merchants and no commerce.
5. The Bust of the OHIO 74 –Hercules, an emblem of the strength of the Republic.
6. The Secretary of the Navy and the Commissioners of the Board – Their wisdom will afford to our Republic some defensive security.
7. The Navy of the United States Deserving the patronage of the American people; friendly to all nations in peace, but terrible in war.
8. The United States Ship OHIO – Twenty-two such will secure "Free Trade and Sailors Rights."
9. Orders in Council, blockading, Berlin and Milan decrees are receiving their death warrants by the wooden walls of Columbia.
10. American Naval Architecture – Exceeded by none and equal to any.
11. The Shipwrights and Caulkers Society.
12. If American stripes of thirteen punished tyrants, what will twenty-two do?
13. The later War – A lesson taught us to prepare in time of peace for such events.
14. The American Tars –Brave, honest and generous.
15. The Army of the United States.
16. The State of OHIO – May it always appreciate the honor conferred the 30th May 1820.

==========

Results of Private Sector Wage  Survey

Source: 29 Novemberr 1820 BNC Captain Samuel Evans, to BNC Commodore John Rodgers re Private Sector Wages, RG 125, Records of the Judge Advocate General Case Number 403 Capt. Samuel Evans Entry 26 – B.


Copy
U.S. Navy Yard
Nov 29th 1820

Sir
In reply to your letter of the 24th Instant on the subject of Wages at New York, I have the honor to report the following wages given in private work –

Ship Carpenters
1.50 to
1.62 ½
Mast Makers
1.50 to
1.62 ½
Joiners
1.37 ½
 
Boat builders
1.25
 
Plumbers
1.25
 
Block Makers
1.00 to
112 ½
Blacksmiths
1.00 to
1.25
Caulkers
1.50 to
1.62 ½
Caulkers
1.12 ½ to
1.25
Riggers
   
Sawyers
1.50
 
Armourers
1.25 to
1.50
Coopers
1.25
1.50
Painters
1.25
 
Reamers
1.00 to
1.12 ½
Carvers
1.50
2.00
Laborers
 .75 to
1.00


Taking into consideration thatwe have a great proportion of the best Workmen in New York, and that the business of Ship building, and the branches connected with it, has somewhat improved lately, I am of the opinion that the Public service will not reap any advantage by a reduction at this time of our present wages –

I have the honor to Very Resepctfully
(Signed) Samuel Evans
To: Commodore John Rodgers

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In 1821 New York Governor, Dewitt Clinton 1769 -1828 writing in the Evening Post charged some of the officers and men of the Brooklyn Navy Yard with attempting to unduly influence the election of 1821. Clinton was governor of New York from July 1, 1817 to December 31, 1822, and again from January 1, 1825 to February 11, 1828. Clinton’s allegations and certified statements of two witnesses are transcribed below.

The Evening Post (New York, New York)
22 January 1821, p.1

Governor’s Message

At 12 o’clock yesterday his Excellency the Governors communicated to the House of the Assembly the following Message, in compliance with a regulation of the House passed at November Session of the Legislature

Gentlemen,
That many of the officers of the United States, have for a number of years acted improperly, by interfering in the elections of this state, must be known to every man in the community who has had an opportunity for information, and whose mind is not steeled by prejudice, against the admission of truth.

The navy yard is situated in Brooklyn, King’s county, and contains about 40 acres. Large sums of money have been expended there in building and repairing ships of war, and extensive establishment is maintained in that place. The documents herewith transmitted will show that under the principle direction of Mr. Decatur, the naval storekeeper, the blacksmiths, caulkers, carpenters, laborers, and other persons in the public employ at the navy yard, were brought up to vote – that he was assisted by other officers of that establishment – and that improper attempts were made in a variety of shapes to operate on the electors. The whole presents a scene of undue influence and extraneous intrusion revolting to every friend of republican government. The papers marked from A. to L. inclusive, establish the charge beyond the possibility of refutation and the certificate marked M from the first judge of the county of Kings, and place the credibility of witnesses beyond doubt.

Deposition of John Dikeman

I do certify that during the election last spring, for governor lieutenant governor &c I was a challenger at the poll held at Brooklyn, and saw Col. J. P. Decatur, naval storekeeper, bring up several persons from the navy yard to vote, and making himself very busy during the whole three days of the election, and declaring repeatedly, that he would bring up his carpenters, blacksmiths, and caulkers, in succession. One day in particular, he stated, "well, now you have had carpenters, tomorrow, you shall have blacksmiths."  When the votes from the navy yard came up, Col. Decatur always attended on them in the box for receiving votes, unless they came up with some of the master mechanics of the yard. The second day of the election, Col. Decatur brought up a person from the navy yard, having the naval button on his coat, and who was challenged as an illegal voter, and refused to take the oath required by law to qualify him for a vote. The last day of the election Col. Decatur came again up with him, and insisted on his taking the oath; the person commenced, and I was again interrupted by one of the inspectors, and I recommended not to take the oath, for it appeared very doubtful whether he was entitled to a vote; never the less, Col. Decatur kept persisting; but the man, on being told to beware of the consequences, declined, and left the poll. The master blacksmith headed the blacksmiths from the navy yard when they came to the poll. I often saw sailing master Bloodgood, busily engaged in the poll room, repeatedly, and bringing up votes. 39

JOHN DIKEMAN
Brooklyn, 21 Dec. 1820. 

39 Bloodgood, Abram B. Sailing Master, 25 June 1812. Died 12 June 1851

Deposition of John Dezendorf

This is to certify, that I was a challenger at the poll in Brooklyn, during the late election for governor, lieutenant governor &c: that I saw John P. Decatur, Purser Wise and Sailing Master Bloodgood, very active at the polls. Mr. Bloodgood drove a chair to bring voters up to the poll – that Mr. Cosgrove, gunner, also drove a chair for that purpose - that I heard Decatur say he had not yet brought up half his force; but should, on the third day of the election, give the Clintonians a black eye, by bringing up the blacksmiths and others – that I did see the blacksmiths come up in a body, headed by the master blacksmith, Dickinson – that Sailing Master Bloodgood was very quarrelsome at the poll, and during one of these quarrels I saw him with his coat off, and a dirk in his hand, which he put in his bosom – the dirk had been once taken from him by Mr. Langdon, as I understood – that in my opinion there were near two hundred persons brought up by the navy officers to vote – I am of the opinion that many of these persons were not legal voters – I hear Decatur and Bloodgood (and, as I believe Mr. Chesey, master laborer) repeatedly declare that any man ought to be damned who would vote the Clintonian ticket, as Clinton never was a friend to the general government – that Mr. Decatur attended during the three days, distributing tickets, and often challenging the voters – that he brought up a man twice who was a laborer in the yard, urging him to take the oath, after he had been rejected by the inspectors – Bloodgood, in company with Decatur, brought a man up twice, who had the navy button on his coat, and urged him to swear, but he was rejected by the inspectors. On the last day of the election five or six person were brought up at one time by Decatur, who were rejected as not being legal voters.

JOHN DEZENDORF
Brooklyn Kings County, 25 Dec. 1820

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Source: Board of Navy Commissioners to Commodore Samuel Evans 10 December 1821 subject reduction of civilian employees IMAGE

Circular

Sir

No doubt being entertained that it is the intention of Congress to reduce the appropriation of the Navy, it becomes the duty of the Commissioners to make (as far as they may be able to anticipate the extent of the reduction) a corresponding reduction in the expenditures of the several Stations. As one means of meeting the view of Congress a reduction of the number of Mechanics and Laborers becomes a measure of indispendisble necessity, the Board have therefore decided that the number of Mechanics and Laborers in the Yard under your Command must not after the 1st of January 1822 exceed the following.

Carpenters including foremen & secondmen, apprentices & boys … 55
Caulkers 6
Sawyers 12
Blockmakers 4
Joiners 10
Blacksmiths 15
Plumbers 2
Boatbuilders 4
Painters 4
Laborers 50
Riggers 4
Sail Makers 4
Armourers 4
Coopers 4
Clerk 1

If the number of the Mechanics than Carpenters and Blacksmiths stated in the preceeding list should not be found proportionate to the number of Carpenters & Blacksmiths, then an additional number may be retained, so as to make the Mechanics in all the other branches of business proportionate to the number of Ship Carpenters and Blacksmiths to be retained

I am very Respectfully Your most Obedient Servant
(Signed) John Rodgers

P.S. Should the number of Mechanics & Laborers authorized by the Board exceed the number which can be advantageously employed you will reduce them to number which can be employed with advantage to the public.

To: Capt. Samiel Evans
Navy Yard New York

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Source: Board of Navy Commissioners to Commodore Samuel Evans 31 January 1821 subject muster of civilian employees.40

40 National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC, Records of the Department of the Navy Record Group 45.3 Records of the Board of Navy Commissioners, Letters Sent 1815 -1842 p. 21.

Regulations re Musters of Civilian Employees Naval Shipyard New York 1821

Naval regulations required a daily muster of all BNY employees. At musters employees were required to state their names as present for work to the Clerk of the Check. The Clerk of the Check was required to record each name present and absent on the daily muster rolls for pay purposes. Shipyard musters were usually conducted in the early morning and afternoon. For shipyard employees a failure to attend a muster was serious offense which could result in loss of pay or discharge. These 1821 regulations were sent by the Board of Navy Commissioners to Commandant Samuel Evans.

Circular no. 21 Navy Comm. - Office
31st Jany 1821

Sir

The Commissioners of the Navy have found it expedient to adopt the following additional regulations with regard to the Musters &c of the different Navy Yards –

1st – A Lieutenant, if there be one attached to the Yard, or if not, the Sailing Master, is to be present at all Musters of the Mechanics and Laborers, which Lieutenant or Master is keep a regular Book or Roll, in addition to that kept by the Clerk of the Yard –

2nd To prevent Mistakes or fraud the Order of Muster must be as follows –
The rolls of the Lieutenants or Master, are to be made out in the same order as those of the clerk - The clerk is to call over the name of each Mechanic, Laborer, and other person employed by the day, in the order in which they stand on the rolls – and as they are so called, they are to pass in rotation in the presence of the said Lieutenant or Master, whose duty it will be to check any omissions or correct any mistakes, which may accidentally or otherwise be made by the Clerk

The roll being called [word crossed out illegible] The Lieutenant or Master is immediately afterwards to compare his Roll with that of the Clerk, in order to ascertain if they agree –

3rd At the end of each week the Clerk is to deposit his Roll signed by himself in the hands of the purser and Lieutenant or Master is in the like manner, to deposit his in the hands of the Commandant of the Yard, who before signing the general Monthly pay Roll (by which alone the purser will be authorized to pay the mechanics laborers, and others belonging to the yard & paid by the day) is to compare the rolls so kept by the Lieutenant or Master, with the monthly Pay roll made out by the purser, in order to satisfy himself, that their respective Rolls agree, before he the Commandant puts his Signature to that, by which the purser pays the Men –

4th – The originals rolls kept by the Clerk, are on the settlement of the Pursers accounts with the 4th Auditor to be sent with such accounts as indispensable vouchers establishing the correctness of the Sums respectively paid to the mechanics, laborers and others employed by the day –

5th The Rolls kept by the Lieutenant or master, and deposited in the hands of the commandant of the yard, are those by which the Commandant is to make out the monthly rolls required to be sent to the Navy Commissioners Office, shewing the sums expended for labor on each and every object, whether for Navy Yards – repairs, Ordnance or gradual increase, or whatever object it may be; and in order to multiply the number of checks the commandant is to file and preserve all weekly rolls from which he makes out - the before mentioned monthly Rolls –

6th. – One day in every Week the Commandant will in person attend the Musters of the Yard and see that they are Conducted in manner herein prescribed –

Respectfully
Jno Rodgers – Pres
To: Murray, Evans, Hull, Morris, Tingey, Cassin

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Reduction in Pay

Source: 8 Dec 1821 BNC Commodore John Rodgers to Captain Samuel Evans, subject pay and hours of work. RG 125, Records of the Judge Advocate General Case Number 403 Capt. Samuel Evans Entry 26 – B.

Sir

The Commissioners of the Navy, considering that the days have become much shorter, that it is not possible for the Mechanics to do as much work as during the long summer days, have decided  upon a reduction of their wages in several building yards, accordingly first rate Carpenters are to be reduced to $ 1.40 per day and the other mechanics proportionally from the 1st inst. You will be pleased to cause this reduction to be made in the Yard under your Command –

I am Sir Respectfully
Your most Obt. Servant
(Signed) John Rodgers

To Capt. Samuel Evans
New York

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Reduction in Pay

Source: 4 Dec 1822 BNC Circular to Commodore Samuel Evans, subject pay and hours of work. (E307 v3).

4 Dec1822

Sir,

Because of the "shortness of the days and the impossibility of much work being done during the inclement season, Yards should reduce rolls to numbers as can be advantageously employed" and reduce pay by 10% in consultations with naval constructor, to begin 1 Jan through inclement weather .

I am Sir Respectfully
Your most Obt. Servant
(Signed) John Rodgers

To: Captain Samuel Evans
New York

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The Carpenters and Blacksmiths "have left off work."

Source Samuel Evans to Commodore John Rodgers 10 December 1821 re Mechanics leaving over wage reduction. Court Martial of Samuel Evans, Record Group 125, Records of the Navy Judge Advocate, Entry 26B

U.S. Navy Yard
New York
Dec 10th 1821

Sir

Sir, I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 3rd inst, directing that the wages of the first rate Carpenters, should be in consequence of the shortness of the days be reduced to $1.40 per day and the other Mechanics in proportion, which was communicated to them, and all the Carpenters employed excepting five, and all the Blacksmiths excepting two, have left off work this morning –

I have the honor to be
Very respectfully
(Signed) Samuel Evans

To: Commodore John Rodgers
Pres of the Board of Navy Commissioners

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Source: Court Martial of Samuel Evans, Record Group 125, Records of the Navy Judge Advocate, Entry 26B IMAGE 1 & IMAGE 2

The Court Martial of Commodore Samuel Evans 1823

Commodore Samuel Evans 17?? - 1824 was the third BNY Commandant. Evans served as the Commandant 16 May 1813 to 2 June 1824. He was appointed as Midshipman 11 May 1798 and served in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. Evans was appointed Captain 4 July 1812. On 30 April 1813 he asked to be relieved of the command of the Chesapeake, stating his eyesight was affected as the result of an old wound, and he must be under the care of an oculist. On 6 May 1813 the Secretary replied to his letter, releasing him from his command of the Chesapeake, and ordered him to take command of BNY, 'to afford him a convenient situation while his health was restored,' stating that 'the service could but ill dispense with him,' and that at the New York Yard, then vacant, 'the services of a judicious, active, prudent and economical officer were extraordinarily wanted." Sadly, Samuel Evans tenure was mired by controversy.

On 27 March 1823 the New York Evening Post announced "A Naval Court of Enquiry is now sitting at the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, by order of the Secretary of the Navy to investigate the conduct of Evans, as commandant of the yard upon charges preferred by John P Decatur, Esquire naval storekeeper."41 As early as 12 August 1807 the location of the navy yard made Commodore Isaac Chauncey write to the Secretary of the Navy regarding a need for a reliable means of transportation between the BNY and New York City. The new navy yard site made for long delays in receiving personnel, supplies and limited the availability of potential workmen to those living nearby. Shortly after taking command Evans recognized the need for a commercial ferry and with a group of wealthy investors set about forming the Navy Yard Ferry Company. On 22 December 1817 the New York City Common Council granted Evans' company the franchise to run the ferry for the term of fifteen years "for the accommodation of mechanics and others in crossing."42 On July 17, 1818, the ferry began operations from Walnut Street, New York, to a location near the navy yard.43

On 4 June 1823 a local newspaper the National Advocate reported Commodore Evans, by order of the Secretary of the Navy, was assisting Joseph Graham by providing a berth at the navy yard for machinery to be used in raising the gold supposedly on sunken HMS Hussar (see Commodore Chauncey’s letter 15 June 1811).

But it was Evans other business venture that quickly caused trouble and resulted in his court martial. His trial began in July of 1823. Most of the testimony heard by the court came from civilian employees. The charges, seventeen of which are listed below detailed numerous diversions of public stores and materials
44 in the 24 August 1823 edition of Niles Weekly Register and 5 August 1823 of the New York Evening Post. These charges detailed numerous diversions of public stores and materials. This included the selling of government owned supplies and fittings to private shipping interests, the use of government owned small boats to operate a ferry service for Evans personal gain, and the building of a ferry boat for Evans private use with government labor and materials and the diversion of lumber and workmen to build additions to Evans home.45 Evans was convicted of "blending his public and private concerns" and officially reprimanded by the Secretary of the Navy. Evans died June 2, 1824, of a coronary aneurysm while boarding the ladder of the USS Constitution.46 Reports of the Evans trial were widely carried in local and national newspapers of the era. For "blending public and private concerns" Evans was sentenced to receive a reprimand from the Secretary of the Navy.47 Evans was widely thought to be suffering a "derangement."48 The Secretary later, possibly with Evans mental state in mind, reduced the reprimand to a warning. The trial and court testimony deeply divided the workforce for over two decades.

41 Evening Post, New York, New York, March 27, 1823, p. 3.

42 Stiles, Herny R. A History of the City of Brooklyn including the Old Town the Town of Bushwick and Village of Brooklyn and the Village and City of Williamsburgh Voume III, Published by Subscription: Brooklyn, 1870 pp 562-563. 2nd quote Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, Volume IX 1784-1831, New York City Common Council; New York 1917, p 377

43 Evening Post New York, New York July 21, 1818, p 1.

44 Valle, pp 226 -227.

45 Valle, James E. Rocks and Shoals Naval Discipline in the Age of Fighting Sail Naval Institute Press: Annapolis 1996, pp 226-227

46 National Advocate New York June 2, 1824, p.2.

47 New York American For the Country, New York 6, August 1823, p. 2.

48 Maloney, Linda M. The Captain from Connecticut the Life and Naval Times of Isaac Hull, Northeastern University Press: Boston 1986, p. 361.

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Niles Weekly Register Volume 24 August 9, 1823, pp 360-363.

General Court Marshal
Navy Department July 30th 1823

At the request of Captain Samuel Evans ordered that the following proceeding can be published

Smith Thompson

At the general naval court martial assembled and held on board the United States, ship Washington, at the navy yard at New York, on Tuesday the 10th of June 1823, was tried on the following charged and specification, viz

Charge – Misconduct

Specification 1st – In this, that Samuel Evans Esq. Captain in the navy of the United States, and commandant of the navy yard at Brooklyn, in the state of New York, having the charge and superintendence  of the ships, magazines, stores, and other public property of the United States in and near the said navy yard, in the years 1818 and 1819, permitted the time and services of persons employed in the said navy yard, and then in the pay of the United States, to be used and employed in receiving and delivering hempen yarns not the property of the United States.

Specification 2nd - In this, that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did in the year 1820 take or suffer to be taken out of said navy yard, slab pieces, blocks of timber, roughage pieces and yellow pine edgings belonging to the United States and did permit the same to be applied to his private use.

Specification 3rd - In this, that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid, did in the year 1820, take from the said yard sundry pieces of timber belonging to the United States and apply the same to his own use, returning the other pieces in exchange, but without keeping any accurate account of the quantity and quality of the pieces, respectively, so taken and returned, by which a proper estimate of their relative value could be made.

Specification 4th - In this, that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did in the spring of the year 1820 permit a piece of timber belonging to the United States to be taken from the said yard and made into a mast for a boat, the private property of the said commandant, by the mechanics of the said yard in the pay of the United States.

Specification 6th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did permit the time and services of several mechanics in the pay of the United States to be employed in the erection of a fence around the said ferry house the property of said commandant.

Specification 7th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid, did in the year 1820 permit persons in the pay and employment of the United States to absent themselves from the navy yard to render services in razing a stable belonging to the said commandant.

Specification 8th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid, did in the year 1820 permit oil, drying stuffs, paints and other materials belonging to the United States to be used on boats the property of the said commandant and the work on the same to be performed by persons in the pay of the United States.

Specification 9th - In this, that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid, did in the year 1819, or 1820, take for his own private use eighteen blankets belonging to the United States, paying for the same only the price of the damaged and condemned blankets when it does not appear that those taken were of that description.

Specification 10th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did in the year 1819, [used] the time and services of a carpenter in the pay of the United States to be employed in making a pair of window shutters for a store, the property of the said commandant.

Specification 11th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did at different times permit persons in the pay of the United States to be employed in private jobbing boats, the property of the said commandant.

Specification 12th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did prior to the year 1817 permit horses, not belonging to the public, to be shod at the navy yard with public materials and by workmen in the pay of the United States.

Specification 13th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did at different times employ Cornelius Lafferty, the porter of the navy yard, and in the pay of the United States, as master of the ferry, the property of the said commandant.

Specification 14th - In this, that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid, did since the year 1820, for his private emolument, throw obstructions in the way of the workmen crossing from New York in the navy yard, otherwise than in his own ferry boats, and arriving too late, by taking off the checks from the muster roll allowing them credit for full day’s work.

Specification 15th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as a foresaid did since the years 1820 and 1821, allow to workmen from New York, employed in the navy yard, greater wages than those of equal abilities, living in Brooklyn.

Specification 16th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did in the year 1817 permit the time and services of a person in the pay of the United States to be employed in hauling up timber, the property of said commandant.

Specification 17th - In this that said Samuel Evans Esq. commandant as aforesaid did and does still retain in the service of the United States, Thomas Ash, who was detected in 1822, in stealing tobacco, the property of the United States.

The court, having maturely and deliberately considered the testimony, and defense offered by the accused, as well in relation to the charge as to each specification, doth find in relation to the several and respective specifications as follows:

1st. As to the first specification, the court is of the opinion, and doth find, that in the year 1818, or 1819, the time and services of persons employed in the navy yard, mentioned in the specification, and then in the pay of the United States, were used and employed in receiving and delivering hempen yarns, not the property of the United States; but it is not proved that such use or employment of Captain Evans, except in relation to one of the said persons.

2nd. As to the second specification, the court is of the opinion, and finds that, in the year 1820 some articles of the description specified belonging to the United States, were taken from the navy yard, and were applied to Captain Evans own use, but does not appear from the evidence that Captain Evans had personal knowledge of the articles being so taken or that he knew of their being applied to his own use.

3rd. As to the third specification, the court is of the opinion, and find, that in the year 1820, sundry pieces of yellow pine edging of small value belonging to the United States were taken from the navy yard, and applied to the use of Captain Evans. The other pieces of white pine, supposed of equal value to those taken, were returned to the yard, but no account of the quantity or quality of the pieces taken or returned was kept. It was not proved that Captain Evans had any knowledge of this transaction. The court also finds that certain pieces of timber, such as posts and parts of boards and plank belonging to the United States were in the year 1820 taken by direction of Captain Evans from the navy yard and applied to his use in the making of a ferry house of his, on the York side of the East river, where he had a ferry to prevent accidents from passengers rushing into his ferry boats at the time the Ohio was launched. It is proved that these materials, or the greater part of them, were returned to the yard, but it does not appear that any account were taken of their quantity or quality was kept when they were taken or when they were returned. The court also finds that a topmast, which belonged to the United States which was in the yard, was sawed up and a part of applied to the use of Captain Evans as a pile in a dock of his at the before-mentioned ferry, which post has not been returned to the yard. It is not proved that Captain Evans had any knowledge of the topmast being so taken. Nor is it proved that any other timber, or other such materials is described in the third specification, taken from the yard was returned, than as above mentioned.

4th. as to the fourth specification - the court is of the opinion and does find that the facts thereby charged are proved.

5th. as to the fifth specification - the court is of the opinion that the facts therein charged are not proved.

6th. as to the sixth specification - the court is of the opinion that the facts therein charged are proved.

7th. As to the seventh specification - the court is of the opinion and finds that in the years 1820, persons in the pay and employment of the United States did absent themselves from the navy yard, and did render services in razing a stable for Captain Evans; but it did not prove Captain Evans that Captain Evans had knowledge of this transaction.

8th Specification – As to the eighth specification, the court is of the opinion and finds that it is not proved that Captain Evans did, in

9th, 10th and 11th Specifications – As to the 9th, 10th and 11th specifications the court is of the opinion and finds that the facts charged in the said specifications are not proved.

12th Specification – As to the twelfth specification, the court is of the opinion and finds, prior to the year 1817, horses not belonging to the public were shod at the navy yard with public materials, and by workmen in the pay of the United States; but it is not proved that Captain Evans had knowledge of the fact previously to the before-mentioned period when he in very particular manner prohibited its being done.

13th Specification – As to the thirtieth specification, the court is of the opinion and finds, the facts therein charged are proved.

14th Specification – As to the fourteenth specification, the court is of the opinion and finds the facts therein charged are not proved.

15th Specification – As to the fifteenth specification, the court is of the opinion and finds the facts therein charged are proved.

16th Specification – As to the sixteenth specification, the court is of the opinion and finds the facts therein charged are not proved

17th Specification – As to the seventeenth specification, the court is of the opinion and finds the facts therein charged are proved; but the court thinks proper to state, that the offense of Ash was very light; the tobacco stolen by him was less than a pound, and not over three cents in value. That he is a man of a large family, and independent of the crime mentioned in the specification, he has always sustained a good character. That he was distinguished for industry and punctuality as a laborer in the yard. That upon detection of Ash being reported to captain Evans, he immediately instituted an enquiry into the circumstances of the crime, and while the investigation was depending, an appeal was made in favor of Ash by the clerk of the yard; and the court is of the opinion that Captain Evans, in retaining Ash in the service of the United States, has exercised a due discretion consistent with humanity, and not inconsistent with public duty.

The court considers that the matters they have found proven, constrains them to pronounce the accused guilty of misconduct, and they do convict him of the charge; yet they think it due to him to say, that it appears to them that he has been subjected to this charge by want of due care, circumspection and attention, and not by having acted from cupidity or culpable motives. The court having duly considered the premises is of the opinion, that as misconduct, the charge whereof they have convicted the accused is not a crime specified in any article of the act for better government of the navy of the United States, they can only sentence the accused under the thirty second article of the said act. The court does therefore pronounce the following sentence:

That the accused be reprimanded by the honorable the secretary of the navy, and be admonished by him, and that he the accused be more cautious not to blend his public and private concerns as he has done.

A. SINCLAR, president
I. WARRINGTON,
MEL. T. WOOLSET,
JNO. ORDECREIGHTON,
JNO. DOWNES,
J. D. HENLEY,
CADWALLADER D. CULLEN
Judge Advocate.

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By the Secretary of the Navy

Although the court pronounced Captain Evans guilty of the charge of misconduct, yet, by the special findings applicable to the several specifications, it appears that, in every material instance where public materials or public labor has been applied to his benefit, it has been done without his knowledge. And the proceedings show that, even in these cases, an equivalent or a supposed equivalent, was returned: So that it could not be proven by persons who directed the same, has been a misapplication of public materials or public labor to his private benefit, with any fraudulent intent. It is not therefore to be inferred, from the judgment of the court, that the misconduct of which Captain Evans is found guilty, implies criminality - and that such must have been the understanding of the court, is evident, because they say expressly that he has been subject to this charge by want of due care, circumspection and attention, and not by having acted from cupidity or culpable motives. And this construction of the meaning and intention of the court is fortified by the consideration that, even admitting fraud in the agents of Captain Evans, this could not subject him to any criminal charge. He could be so far responsible for their acts as to be bound to restore an equivalent for the materials or labor applied to his benefit; but, if he was ignorant of the fact or disapproved of it, and forbade a repetition when known (as it appears he did in the only case that came to his knowledge), no crime could be imputed to him. The only misconduct then imputed to Captain Evans, by the judgement of the court, and which in my opinion is all the testimony would warrant, is the want of due care, circumspection and attention, to prevent the application of public materials and labor to his private benefit. I have thought proper to give this explanation of my understanding of the judgement of the court in my approval of the proceeding, and which becomes necessary for the purpose of determining the nature and extent of the reprimand, which by the sentence of the court, I am required to give Captain Evans. Believing as I do, that no unworthy or dishonorable motive ought to impeach his honor or integrity as an officer, the only admonition called for by this case, is I think, that he be more cautious about blending his public and private concerns. I take this occasion, however, to observe as a general rule that I cannot approve of commandants of our navy yards being engaged in private business that leads in any measure to a blending of public and private concerns; for with the most scrupulous honesty and stern integrity it is difficult, if not impracticable, to guard against unworthy jealousies and suspicions, which may be prove injurious both of the character of the officer and the service.

SMITH THOMPSON
Navy Department, 8th July 1823,

Ordered that the foregoing be sent to Captain Evans, in execution of the sentence of the court martial. S.T.

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Source: Western Carolinian ,Salisbury, North Carolina, August 31, 1825, p. 3.

James Fennimore Cooper visits the Brooklyn Navy Yard

On Thursday, 5th, the officers station at New York Navy Yard, gave a dinner to the celebrated American Novelist, JAMES COOPER, Esq., formerly an officer of the Navy.

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Apprentice Indentures: BNY was for nearly a century New York City’s largest employer with a large numbers of trade apprentices working at the navy yard. Early naval regulations allowed master mechanics wide discretion as to the hiring and training of their apprentices. Naval regulations did specify the minimum age of apprentices, the specific number of apprentices each master mechanic might hire and the wage rates for apprentice labor. While indentured apprentices were paid by Department of the Navy and they were in every sense the apprentice of a specific master mechanic. New York City like most major eastern cities required a signed indenture or contract specifying the duties and responsibilities of both parties in some detail. Originally both parties to such indentures received a signed copy of the document while another was made for the municipal records.

Apprentice indentures and related documents are genealogical gold mines for they provide historians considerable detail about the lives of ordinary people. An apprentice indenture was foremost a legal contract between the apprentice and the master mechanic. The Department of the Navy was not a party to these contracts nor bound by their stipulations. The typical apprentice indenture lists the apprentice name, parents or guardian’s names if a minor, age of the apprentice, some others provide birthdates and place of birth etc. The documents also reflect the level of literacy of the apprentice and parents. Where the individual was unable to write his or her name, the documents are marked with an X and witnessed by literate adults. In the early United States the formal apprenticing of children was the method used for nearly two hundred years to train the young for useful occupations. The apprenticeship system of New York City provided for formal indentures or contracts in which young people were legally bound to labor for a set number of years in given trade or occupation, and in return for their service they would receive trade or occupation instruction and tutelage from their master. While most apprentices entered into their apprenticeship voluntarily with the consent of their parents, some other young people (orphans and poor children) were placed unwillingly while others, from dislike of their chosen trade or more often disagreements with their master, ran away. Perhaps the most famous of these runaways was Benjamin Franklin who broke his indentures by running away from his brother James in 1723 for New York City. Since the apprenticeship was a legal contract between the master and the apprentice, the law gave the master the right to take action to recover errant apprentices, and if necessary take the apprentice by force. The New York Historical Society http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/nyhs/indentures/dscref15.html collections contains many examples of over two centuries of apprentice indentures. Brooklyn on Line has posted "Historic Greepoint" by William L. Felter 1915 http://bbs.brooklynonline.com/history/greenpoint-brooklyn-history.xhtml which has a good example and brief discussion of an apprentice indenture.

Canadian born Donald McKay 1810-1880 began his famous career as ship designer in New York City as carpenter apprentice. McKay’s 1827 indenture as a ship carpenter apprentice is a good example of typical nineteenth century apprentice contract.

Source: McKay, Richard C. Donald McKay and His Famous Sailing Ships Dover Publications: New York, 1995, pp. 5-7.

APPRENTICE INDENTURE; Donald McKay to Isaac Webb 24 March 1827.

This Indenture Witnessed, that Donald McKay, now aged sixteen years, five months and twenty days, and with the consent of Hugh McKay, his father, hath put himself, and by these presents apprentice to Isaac Webb, of the City of New York, ship–carpenter, to learn the art, trade and the mystery of ship-carpenter, and after the manner of an apprentice to serve from day of the date hereof, for and during and until the full end and term of four years, six months and eleven days next ensuing; during all of which time the said apprentice his master faithfully shall save, his secrets keep, his lawful commands everywhere readily obey; he shall not waste his masters goods, nor lend them unlawfully to any; he shall not contract matrimony within the said term; at cards, dice, or any other unlawful game he shall not play, whereby his said master may have damage; with his own goods nor the goods of others without license of from his said master he shall neither buy nor sell; he shall not absent himself without leave day nor night from his masters service without leave; nor haunt ale-houses, taverns, dance-houses or play houses; but in all things behave himself as a faithful apprentice ought to do during said term. And the said master shall use the utmost of his endeavors to teach or cause to be taught or instructed the said apprentice in the trade or mystery of a ship-carpenter, and the said master shall pay to the said apprentice the sum of two dollars and fifty cents weekly for each and every week he shall faithfully serve him in the said term. An shall also pay to him the sum of forty dollars per year, payable quarterly, for each and every of the said years, which is in lieu of meat, drink washing, lodging, clothing and other necessaries. And for the true performance of all and singular covenants and agreements aforesaid, the said parties bind themselves each unto the other firmly by these Presents. In Witness Thereof, the party to these Presents have hereunto set their hands and seals the 24th day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven.

Isaac Webb {SEAL}
Donald Webb {SEAL}
Hugh Webb {SEAL}

Recorded the 24nd day of March 1827

[end document]

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Explosion of the Steam Frigate Fulton

Source: Republican Compiler Gettysburg Pennsylvania, 5 June 1829

Note : On 9 March 1814, Congress authorized the construction of a steam warship to be designed by Robert Fulton, a pioneer of commercial steamers in North America. The construction of the ship began on 20 June 1814 at the civilian yard of Adam and Noah Brown, and the ship was launched on 29 October. After sea trials she was delivered to the United States Navy in June 1816. The ship was never formally named; Fulton christened it Demologos though following his death in February 1815, the ship was named Fulton.

By the time she was completed, the war for which Demologos had been built had ended. She saw only one day of active service, when she carried President James Monroe on a tour of New York Harbor. A two-masted lateen rig was added by the orders of her first commander, Captain David Porter. In 1821 her armament and machinery were removed. The remainder of her career was spent laid up in reserve; after 1825 she served as the floating barracks for Brooklyn Navy Yard. She came to an end on 4 June 1829 in a gunpowder explosion.

Dreadful Occurrence - Explosion of the Steam Frigate Fulton

Yesterday afternoon, about half past 2 o’clock, the Magazine of the steam frigate Fulton the First, which was lying on the flats about a cable’s length from the Navy Yard dock, exploded and dreadful to relate, killed and maimed nearly all on board, estimated from 70 to a hundred.

At half past 5 in the afternoon, 25 dead bodies had been brought on shore, and 25 to 30 of the wounded, many of whom are shockingly mangled. Others were yet missing. Among the dead were two women, wives or relatives of the marines and seamen. The magazine was directly under the sick bay and all the invalids there confined, supposed about 15 in number, were killed. The officers on board were Lieut. Breckenridge, who was so badly wounded that it was feared he could not survive many hours. His lady, who was on board at the time, was slightly wounded.

Lieut. Platt, badly wounded.
Lieut. Mull, slightly wounded.
Sailing Master Clough, badly wounded.
Midshipmen - Eckford, leg broken in two places; Johnson, badly wounded; Hoban, slightly.

The accident is supposed to have occurred in consequence of the ignorance of a person named Williams who was employed yesterday to act as gunner, who it is said, went into the magazine with a light, mistaking the place for another apartment. There was but a small quantity of powder in the magazine, caused no greater concussion than the firing of a 44 pounder; yet the three masts of the frigate were blown into the air to the height of 40 to 50 feet, both decks forward of the main mast blown up, the starboard side shattered to pieces and the ship rendered a complete wreck. Com. Chauncey and Capt. Newton, the commander, with several other persons, left the ship a few minutes before the explosion. The band of musicians and the laborers employed were fortunately on shore at the time. There were fewer persons on board than usual and the number we have stated above may be exaggerated. Some of the officers estimate the number at not more than sixty or seventy. About 60 marines left the vessel on Wednesday to proceed for Norfolk and a like number a day or two before. The officers on board were at dinner when the explosion took place. The Coroner of this city held inquest on the bodies of the following persons: R. M. Peck, Wm. Peck, Alexander Cameron, Mrs. Nelson, Mrs. Williamson (colored woman), James Livingston, Thomas Walton, Harmon Vatel, Wm. Brown, Franklin Ely, Wm. Stockwell, Henry Lovan, Peter Gilen, John Brown, John McKennen, Jacob Boise, Chares Williamson, James C. Burgher, Otto E. Fergentine, Silvanus C. Hallaran, Henry Megrew, John Dilo Ravez, James Pierce, Lieutenant Breckenridge.

The inquest then adjourned and three dead bodies remaining to be examined - names not ascertained. When we left the Navy Yard at 11 o’clock only five men were unaccounted for. These have doubtless perished either by drowning or by being crushed among the timbers.

==========

Source: Evening Star, New York, New York, 21 July 1835, p. 2.

Dry Dock Rumors
There is a rumor afloat, but not traceable, that the Secretary of the Navy has decided to erect a Dry Dock at Governor’s Island, if there is a suitable location for erecting a dry dock.

==========

Source: November 16, 1835, Evening Post, New York p. 2.

Note, early in the fall of 1835, the mechanics in the Brooklyn Navy Yard petitioned the Secretary of the Navy and the Board of Navy Commissioners to reduce their work hours from twelve to ten. Even ten years after Samuel Evans court martial, the workforce remained deeply divided. In their report, the workers stated the case for the ten hour day and listed other grievances. Chief among their complaints was that Commodore Evans had blacklisted workers who testified against him at his 1823 court marital and that later the Department of the Navy had bared men who had advocated for a ten hour day from employment at all naval shipyards.

Report of the Committee of Shipwrights, Smiths, Joiners and other citizen Mechanics of the Brooklyn Navy Yard


Part of the report of the Committee appointed at a meeting of Shipwrights, Smiths, Joiners and other citizen mechanics of New York and Brooklyn, September 9, 1835, and instructed to inquire into certain practices injurious to the rights and interest of the citizens said to be allowed in the Navy Yard, Brooklyn, read and accepted at a meeting, October 23, 1835.

The Committee aforesaid has the honor to report, that they have made inquiries directed by the meeting and find that William Wells, Augustus Butler, Michael Coulfield, Amos Dickerson, and other apprentices in the blacksmith’s department of the Brooklyn navy yard have received higher wages than the journeymen, more than three fifths thereof going to Samuel Hill master blacksmith, who by such addition to his pay of $3 per day is believed to receive $2500 a year on the apprentices coming of age, such extra wages ceased for instance, John Dickerson who served an apprenticeship in the blacksmith’s department, worked elsewhere after he was of age, and was of excellent character; for skill and industry, and moral worth, was rated below his younger and less athletic brother Amos Dickerson an apprentice. In the joiners department, Francis Cecil. John Ross, Smith Whaley, William Lee, Romeo Freganza, William Owens, Abraham Bloodgood, John Dickie, John Woodward, Caleb Harvey paid part of their wages to James Dubois, master joiner, and were allowed to misspend their time in a scandalous manner. The committee have reason to believe when the yard was under the command of Isaac Chauncey, that William  Van Voohis, Daniel Potter, Benjamin Delano, George Hall, Edward Delans, William Williamson, Michael Webb, John Moore, William Vincent, John Midwinter, Isaac Rollins, Alfred Rollins, John Green, Richard Hall, John Creal, and others, paid the third of their wages to Samuel Hartt, the Naval Constructor, whose salary is $2, 300 a year. 

As the persons having the charge of the publick work are paid for their time at a rate which would command the services of better men, it is the publick that gives instruction to the apprentice; and to compel him to pay part of his wages to one who does nothing  therefor, appears to be under the revolting violation of the right of the citizen to his own labor – a right inalienable in itself and inseparable from the "right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." No less at variance with the institutions of the republic, which should enforce the return of service and duty according to the privileges and protection bestowed, is this taxing the scanty and insufficient wages of the laborer to increase the riches of the selfish and unprincipled master.

It may be asked from whence the government derived the right to interfere in the pursuits of private life, to take apprentices to ordinary trades and callings, and to turn them out inferior workmen to underwork and injure honest citizens in their means of living. Is it providing for the common defense and general welfare to displace from the public works able and faithful workmen, sons of soldiers of the revolution, to make rooms for boys and British aliens, whose wages are taxed to enrich an ignorant and unworthy master.

Your Committee believes it a most unfortunate and unjustifiable measure which placed the citizens who labor on the publick works under the control of persons amenable to military authority, Capt. Samuel Evans convicted by court martial on six of a hundred charges of embezzlement and conversion of publick property to private use, was restored to command of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, while certain citizens who on compulsory process, testified at his trial were excluded from employment therein during his life time (notwithstanding personal application made to John Rodgers, President of the Navy Board) and only admitted after his death, at the instance of the late Mr. Eckford. That Evans was not declared guilty on the remaining 94 charges will surprise no one when it is known that a workman, who by personal orders of Evans, had carried the publick material from the Navy Yard to mend a private fence, was privately examined thereon by the Judge Advocate, called immediately before the Court, sworn to give true answers to such questions as should be asked, and no one was asked which had the least relation to such personal orders; and it was said that Evans personal knowledge of the abstractions and conversions of publick property to his private use was not proved. No less criminal have been held who, following settled usage of the mechanics, have struck for time or wages; and John Knapp, and several others who stuck at Norfolk yard, were posted on the black list at Brooklyn; and so much is this proscription dreaded, that few workmen in the Navy Yard were willing to sign a memorial asking for the ten hour system so much desired by every working man in the nation. Immediately after the meeting of the 9th September, a note was sent to the head joiner of the Brooklyn yard forbidding the employment on the publick work of several citizens therein named, and suspected of being in said meeting, and the only workmen in the yard who ventured to attend was immediately discharged.

==========

Source Sentinel of Freedom; Newark, New Jersey, February 27, 1838, 2.

500 Laborers Discharged

More than 500 laborers have been lately discharged from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the inclemency of the winter. It is stated by them that more than half of them have been unnecessarily discharged.  The "Brooklyn Soup House Association,’ daily distributes charity to hundreds of the sufferers thus abandoned to the rigors of winter - Again, we would ask what has this people – worshipping Administrations done for the poor? Was their condition ever so bad under any Administration?

==========

Commodore Charles Goodwin Ridgeley (1784 – 8 February 1848) served as Commandant 10 June 1833 to 19 November 1839. Ridgeley was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He served with Edward Preble during the First Barbary War. He was promoted to captain on 28 February 1815 and placed in command of Erie. He commanded the Brazil Station from 1840 to 1842. The following letters illustrate how master mechanics and senior civilians pay considered.

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New York New York March 21st 1836
[Addressed to Commodore Charles G. Ridgely]

Sir

I hope you will pardon my again intruding upon your valuable time which nothing but a sense of duty to myself and family would induce me to do, but situated as I am and having a family to support under the present exorbitant prices for provisions and house rent, I cannot but hope it will meet your favorable notice and induce the Commissioners of the Navy to increase my pay –

While all the other Master Mechanics of the Yard have had their pay increased - mine has remained. If I was unable to meet the expenses of my family I would not there trouble you - but I find with all economy I can use after schooling my children, paying house rent &c which later has increased  at least one third the present year, that in lieu of laying aside a little money for sickness or causalities, I am involving myself in debt.

There is hardly a mechanic of any description Sir in Brooklyn or New York employed at day’s work who does not receive compensation equal to mine and many cases more.

Your kindly aid in my behalf will much oblige your very obt servant.

[Signed] Theoph Hardenbrook 49

49 Brooklyn Daily Eagle 28 September 1850 "HARDENBROOK. -- In Brooklyn, on Friday morning, Sept. 28, suddenly, of disease of the heart, Col. THEOPHILUS HARDENBROOK, aged 69 years, 11 months and 12 days. Col. H. was a native of the City of New York, and for the last forty years, and up to time of his decease, held the position of Master Cooper of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, respected for his strict attention to duty and the faithful discharge of the trust confided to him. His friends and acquaintances, the members of the Veteran Corps of the War of 1812, and the Masonic fraternity, are respectfully invited to attend his funeral, from his late residence, No. 118 Sands St., Brooklyn, at 2 o'clock, P.M., on Sunday, Sept. 30. His remains will be conveyed to Greenwood Cemetery for interment." Theophilus Hardenbrook is buried at Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=108612895

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U.S.N. Yard N. York
March 24th 1836

Sir,

I want most respectfully by leave to call your attention to the subject of my pay as Master Joiner of this Yard. It would be needless to enumerate to you the exorbitant prices which are required for house rent, provisions, &c &c as you must be perfectly aware of these circumstances. The increasing wages paid to mechanics of all descriptions added to the enormous expenses attending a resident near this navy yard lead me to believe that you will not hesitate to take such steps as will obtain a fair and liberal compensation for the situation  which I have the honor of holding at this yard.

Mr. Harte has kindly consented to this mode of making known my wishes, and I have to request that you, when at Washington (which place I have heard you propose to visit shortly) lay the matter before the Board of Navy Commissioners –

I have the Honor to be your most obedient Servant
[Signed] James Dubois

[Note] Dubois should have the increase of pay. C.G. R.

==========

The Great Fire of 1835: Modern scholars believe the great New York City fire that began on the evening of 16 December 1835 started in a five-story warehouse at 25 Merchant Street, now known as Beaver Street, at the intersection of Hanover Square, Manhattan and Wall Street. As the fire spread, gale-force winds blowing from the northwest towards the East River spread the flames. At the time of the fire, major water sources including the East River and the Hudson River were frozen solid in temperatures as low as -17 °F (-27 °C). The resulting conflagration was visible from Philadelphia, approximately 80 miles away.50

50 Burows, Edwin G. and Wallace, Mike Gotham A History of New York to 1898, New York, Oxford University Press, 1899, pp. 596 -597.

Firefighters were forced to drill holes through ice to access water, which later froze in the hoses and pipes. Attempts were made to deprive the fire of fuel by demolishing surrounding buildings, but at first there was insufficient gunpowder in Manhattan. Later in the evening, New York Mayor Lawrence dispatched Charles King, editor of the New York American, to BNY to request for sailors and soldiers to do demolition and for the necessary gun powder. Marines and sailors from BNY led by Commodore Isaac Chauncey returned with gunpowder and began to blow up buildings in the fire's path. Subsequent investigation did not assign blame but reported that a burst gas pipe, ignited by a coal stove was the initial source. The following account of the fire was first reported in the New York Journal of Commerce 18 December 1835.

Source: Saratoga Sentinel, Saratoga New York, 22 December 1835, p. 3

NEW YORK IN RUINS UPWARDS OF SEVEN HUNDRED BUILDINGS AND FROM TWENTY TO THIRTY MILLIONS IN PROPERTY DESTROYED

The night of Wednesday Dec. 16th will be long remembered as the date of the most destructive conflagration which ever took place in this city or on the American continent. The fire originated in the store of Comstock and Andrews, 25 Merchant Street and 131 Pearl. The wind being fresh from the westward, half a dozen stores were in blaze in a few minutes. Add to this the fireman being exhausted by the service of the previous night and day and their hose so much frozen that the raging element was unavoidably permitted to roll on unobstructed until it gained such tremendous power that resistance was became entirely useless. Store after store and block after block was swept down with astonishing rapidity. ----- The burning of the Merchant Exchange removed all hope that the fire could be stopped before reaching William Street, sweeping down on Exchange Place to the Scotch Dutch Church….This venerable pile was but sport to the flames – in less than half an hour the steeple fell and the whole building was destroyed except the walls. In the rear of the church towards Wall Street, was the printing office of the Journal of Commerce, from which warned by bitter experience of others, we removed everything moveable. The near proximity of the church together with the fact that no aid could be afforded by the firemen at this point prepared us to accept a similar fate with hundreds of our fellow citizens. But as good luck would have it there were a half dozen hogsheads of fine wine vinegar at the rear of our lot, some of which by consent of the owner, Mr. N.M. Brown were broached by the head and their contents together with a few pails of water which happened to be in the office and were applied so successfully to the exposed part of the office and another building similarly situated that both were preserved.  This operation however was not unattended with danger, the blazing cornice being liable at any moment and the heat being sufficiently intense. By this one feat with pails and vinegar, we were able to save at least one million dollars from destruction, since if our printing office was gone nothing could arrest the progress of the flames until they reached Broad Street. Mr. Brown and Mr. Downing, the colored oyster dealers, deserve special commendation for their exercise at this point. Meanwhile the flames had extended in the opposite direction to the East River, a distance we should say of at least a quarter of a mile and were still raging on the south side of the Exchange Place, and extending West in Pearl, Water Front and South Streets. At this time Commodore Chauncey with a company of Marines arrived from the Navy Yard at Brooklyn and with the concurrence of the authorities blew up three or four buildings at different points where the flames were extending which materially aided in finally arresting their progress. The fire commenced about 9 o’clock on Wednesday evening and raged with unabated violence for at least EIGHT HOURS; and in one or two localities they were not fairly got under until 12 o’clock on Thursday noon or FIFTEEN HOURS from the time it broke out.

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U.S. Navy Yard New York
December 24th 1835

Sir,

Influenced by the extreme pressure of the times, occasioned by the unprecedented high prices of every necessity of life in this section of the country, I respectfully lay before you this application, trusting that if it is in your power, you will grant the request, I feel embolden to make. For many years I have filled the Station of Master Plumber of this Yard, and in performance of my duties feel that I have done that which was required of me to the perfect satisfaction of those under whose superintendence I have been placed. I have in addition to plumbing work done that also which properly belongs to a Tinsman to a Coppersmith and to a Sheet Iron Worker, thereby uniting four separate branches in our department, and as wages given to all mechanics at this period, are much advanced beyond the former rates owning to the excessive high prices of provisions &c and that on account thereof the Navy Commissioners have been pleased to advance the pay of several of the Master Workman of this Yard. I trust that you will take my case into consideration and grant such an increase under the circumstances.

I am Sir very Respectfully Your Obt
Servt.

[Signed] William J. Boyer Master Plumber

To: Commodore Charles J. Ridgley Commanding Naval New York

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The Ten Hour Work Day

Background:  Work hours in the early United States were dawn to dust, in essence a twelve hour day based on the needs of farming and agriculture. Early in 1835 shipyard workers in the urban port cities of New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington DC were petitioning and agitating for a change in work hours.51 In New York City workers had achieved success with private shipyards  but BNY employees were still working the same long hours. In December 1835 Commandant Charles Goodwin Ridgeley received the Board of Navy Commissioners (BNC) circular directing a ten hour day at the New York shipyard.

This BNC decision was prompted by events at Philadelphia Naval Yard. Commodore James Barron had written to the BNC about his attempts to resolve demands from Philadelphia shipwrights for changes in working hours. The shipwrights wanted the Department of the Navy to shorten their workday from 12 to 10 hours.52 The fight for a shorter workday in the United States began in the late eighteenth century, even before the establishment of the first trade unions. The worker’s goal was the ten hour day with no reduction in pay . A key aspect of this campaign concerned the way organizers framed their demand. They argued a ten hour day was needed not only to protect the health of workers, but also because the long and exhausting workday was a barrier to more revolutionary change. A circular issued in 1835 by Boston shipyard employees advocating the ten hour day, highlights the connection, "We have been too long subjected to the odious, cruel, unjust and tyrannical system which compels the operative mechanic to exhaust his physical and mental powers. We have rights and duties to perform as American citizens and members of society, which forbid us to dispose of more than ten hours for a day’s work." The Philadelphia Navy Yard strike was part of a large number of labor actions that took place in the summer of 1835 and the first successful action against the federal government. This BNC circular is dated August 26, 1835, and is addressed to federal shipyards commandants; the circular is a direct response to worker agitation and political pressure. This was also the first ruling by the federal government to mandate a ten hour work day and a milestone in labor history.53

51 Roediger, David E and Foner, Phillip S In Our Own Time A History of American Labor and Working Day Greenwood Press: Westport, 1989, p. 38.

52 The Struggle to Win the Ten Hour Workday in Philadelphia Navy Yard see Sharp, John G http://genealogytrails.com/penn/philadelphia/phlbios_a-b.html accessed November 24, 2016

53 The 10-Hour Day in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1835-36, O. L. Harvey Monthly Labor Review Vol. 85, No. 3 (MARCH 1962), pp. 258-260

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Wednesday 26th Aug. 1835 [Board of Navy Commissioners]

To: Comm James Barron upon the subject of the working hours established by the circular of this date.

Circulars to Commandants: Wm. M. Crane, John Downes, Ch. Ridgeley, James Barron, Isaac Hull, L. Warrington & W. Chauncey. By Circular of this date, established the working hours of mechanics in different Navy Yards. 

Memoranda basis of Working Hours.
Memoranda: Length of Days at Washington

January 1st
9h 20m
January 15th
9. 34
February 1 st
10.00
February 15th
10.36
March 1 st
11.10
March 15th
11.46
April 1 st
12.20
April 15th
13.04
May 1 st
13.40
May 15th
14.10
June 1 st
14.32
June 15th
14.42
July 1 st
14.32
July 15th
14.28
August 1
14.02
August 15th
13.34
September 1
12.54
September 15th
12.20
October 1 st
11.40
October 15th
11.04
November 1 st
10.24
November 15th
9.54
December 1 st
9.28
December 15th
9.18

November, December, January & February: to commence work 45 minutes after Sunrise & have one hour to dinner will leave as a mean 8:05 for labor between Sunrise & Sunset. March to 15th April & Sept to end of October, an hour to breakfast & an hour to dinner, gives 9:47 for working time.

From 15th April to end of May & from 15 Aug to 15 Sept, an hour to breakfast & hour to dinner, will give 11:28 for working time.

June & July & half August, one hour for breakfast & 2 hours for dinner, gives 11:29 for the working hours.

The mean of the working hours for the year will be 9:53 for Washington.

[End Document]

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U.S. Navy Yard New York
Dec 24th 1835

Sir, Acting under the principles that govern all, I most respectfully ask that the daily pay allowed to me as Master Painter of this Yard may be raised –

My reasons for making this request are many and obvious: the prices of all Mechanical Labor have advanced at least one third; every article required for sustenance and comfort have risen almost one half more than they were twelve months since, that the pay allowed to the Master Painters of the principal Yard is much greater than has ever been sanctioned at this (the one at Boston I understand receives $ 3.25 per diem) that the Navy Commissioners appear disposed from what they have already done, to allow a fair compensation for services rendered, and that $ 2 per day, the Sum I now receive, is not an equivalent for my labor or sufficient to support my numerous family –

I will at this time take the liberty of informing you that my duties are not only confined to Ship & House painting but to Gilding, Painting Flags of Foreign powers which cannot be executed in any other manner, and to all the various branches of an ornamental painter, and which feel satisfied I am capable of performing – This subject has never yet been brought before you, and which my desire not to encroach upon your time, has prevented me from presenting long ever this, but stern necessity compels me to solicit the favor of an increase in my pay, so as to place me in a situation equal to those holding similar situations at the principle Navy Yard of the United States, thereby enabling me to do justice to those who look up to me for support.

Relying with confidence on your liberality, I hope that this request will meet with your approbation and approval.

I have the honor to be Sir, Your most obedient Servant
[Signed] Isaac Reynolds
Commodore Charles G. Ridgley
Commanding U.S. Navy Yard
New York

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Source: Centinel of Freedom 27 February 1838, p.2.

More than 500 Laborers have been lately discharged

More than 500 laborers have been lately discharged from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the inclemency of the winter. It is stated by them that more than half have been unnecessarily discharged. The "Brooklyn Soup House Association", daily distributes charity to hundreds of the sufferers thus abandoned to the rigors of winter. Again, we would ask what has this people – worshiping Administration done for the poor. Was their condition ever so bad under any other Administration?

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Brooklyn Navy Yard Station Log for Christmas Day, 25 December 1839 and New Years, Day 1 January 1842

Source: NARA Record Group 45 entry 456 of the original New York (Brooklyn) Navy Yard Station Log.

Note: This entry for 25 December 1839 is one of the earliest surviving BNY station log entries. Typically the BNY station log states the number of personnel employed, the number of mechanics in various trades, laborers at work on a given date, and reports of work accomplished. Many entries list the name of the naval and merchant vessels at the yard, the name of the ship’s captain, and the reason for a visit such as delivery of supplies or repair. Steam engines to power the foundries and mills were introduced and became a regular part of the work environment by the Civil War.  The arrival of steamboats, both naval and merchant, was common. Many of these vessels were loaded with coal and reflected the navy yard shift away from building wooden ships to Steam vessels. Increasingly anthracite coal rather than wood was the fuel for large foundries and steam engines.

Watch officers were also obligated to chronicle the weather with particular attention to wind direction and cloud formation; log entries from the 1830’s include the air temperature and barometric pressure. Changes in weather were crucial since most mechanics and laborers worked out of doors. The nineteenth century shipyard workforce was largely composed of per diem workers.  The practice at Washington and other federal shipyards was to retain only the absolute number of these men necessary for a given shop to operate or complete a ship repair.  Accurate weather observations were useful in projecting the number and types of workers required.  Cold weather meant that laborers unlike carpenters, painters, and blacksmiths who could work indoors in a shop or shed would be laid off until warmer weather made their work feasible.

Remarks of the U.S. Navy Yard New York
James Renshaw 54 Esqr. Commandant
Silas H. Stringham 55 Esqr. Commander
Remarks Wednesday December 25th 1839.

Commences with clear pleasant weather wind North, at 11.30 A.M. the Schooner Wave returned to the Yard from the Railway of Mr. Whiting. The Mechanics and Laborers were not mustered during the day nothing usual occurred. Ended with thick Fog & Calm.

T. Bailey Lt. of the Watch.

54 Renshaw, James. Midshipman, 7 July 1800. Lieutenant, 25 February 1807. Master Commandant, 10 December 1814. Captain, 3 March 1825. Died 29 May 1846.

55 Stringham, Silas H.Midshipman, 15 November,1809. Lieutenant, 9 December 1814. Master Commandant, 3 March 1831. Captain, 8 September 1841. Retired List, 21 December 1861. Rear Admiral on Retired List, 16 July 1862. Died 7 February 1876.

Remarks of the U.S. Navy Yard New York
Matthew C. Perry Esqr. Commandant 56
Joshua R. Sands Esqr Commander
Saturday January 1st 1842.

These 24 hours commenced clear, wind has been moderate from South West with clear mild weather till 4 P.M., then passing clouds to the end –

Sailed from the Yard at 1.30 P.M. the sloop Venus-

The Mechanics & Laborers employed in the Yard were not mustered at 1 P.M. this being considered a kind of Holiday beginning the New Year.

The Officer of Police Inspected the Yard, Buildings & Vessels, and after sun set took the circuit of the Yard, visited each watch station, saw all light & fires extinguished and all safe, the watchman attentive and vigilant - 

Total Mechanics, laborers &c employed in the Yard . . . . 538

9 A.M. January 2nd
C.H. Jackson Lt. of Police.

56 Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, April 10, 1794 to March 4, 1858, United States Navy and commanded a number of ships. He served in several wars, most notably in the Mexican-American War and the War of 1812. He played a leading role in the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854. Perry was very concerned with the education of naval officers and helped develop an apprentice system that helped establish the curriculum at the United States Naval Academy. With the advent of the steam engine, he became a leading advocate of modernizing the US Navy and came to be considered "The Father of the Steam Navy" in the U.S. He spent the years 1833-1837 as second officer of the New York Navy Yard.

==========

Source: Long Island Star Long Island, New York, 25 July 1840, p. 2.

The Case of Mr. Dean

Brooklyn Navy Yard the case of Mr. Dean, who was removed from the situation of Master Painter at the Navy Yard on account of his politics, is at this time attracting the attention of the citizens of Brooklyn. There are spies and meddling men connected with the Navy Yard, who require every master mechanic to select his under workmen with particular reference to his political vote. It is not sufficient that the master is neutral, indifferent or passive, as he may in that case unfortunately employ Whigs without his knowledge! It is required that he should be positively useful to the party in his selections.  

==========

Source: Augusta Chronicle, Augusta, Georgia, 1 August 1840, p.,2.

Workers not paid

The New York Courier states, upon good authority, that the "Riggers, Carpenters, Caulkers &c. at the Brooklyn Navy Yard have not for the past six weeks received a cent of pay for their services." Shame on the government that will not pay the hard earnings of the industrious mechanic.

==========

Source: Commercial Advertiser New York, New York, 14 August 1840, p.,2.

FATAL CASUALTY AT THE NAVY YARD

Daniel James aged about 40 years, a ship carpenter employed on the new steam frigate in progress at the Navy Yard Brooklyn fell from the upper deck to the hold by which his neck was broken and instant death produced. He left a family, to which his wife added another child yesterday morning, but a couple hours before her husband was killed. A subscription for the benefit of the family was immediately opened in the yard, and we are gratified to hear that it bids fair to amount to something handsome.

==========

Source: Augusta Chronicle, Augusta Georgia, 3 March 1841, p3.

Commodore Renshaw Removed

Correspondence from the National Intelligencer, New York February 25.

It is currently reported here that Com Renshaw has been removed from the station at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Commodore Nicholson appointed in his stead. The charge preferred against Commodore Renshaw, it is said, was that he allowed the workmen in the Navy Yard only a half day to attend the polls.57

57 Commodore James Renshaw Commandant BNY 9 November 1839 to 12 June 1841.

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BNY payroll for 1 to 15 October 1840

Introduction This is a small sample of the BNY payroll for 1 - 15 October 1840. The biweekly payroll for these two weeks consisted of 780 employees. The total for the entire BNY workforce was $ 15,089.31. Employees were paid per diem that is only for days worked. The number of work days varied, depending on employee occupation, number of ships under construction or repair, weather and naval appropriation. Employees were paid every two weeks, during the nineteenth century, employees were accorded no paid sick days, or vacation. At BNY in 1840 the only paid holidays were Christmas and July 4th.

Where I was unable to determine a name, I have so noted in brackets. Where possible, I have arranged all transcribed material in a similar manner to that found in the pay roll.

Source: National Archives and Records Administration New York, Record Group 45, 181.3.5 Records of the New York (Brooklyn) Navy Yard (New York, NY) payrolls 1840.

Payroll of Mechanics and Laborers Employed in the United States Navy Yard, New York from  1st to the 15th of October 1840, inclusive:

IMAGE

Number
Name
Station
Days
Wages
Amount
537
Michael Ferrell
Sawyer
11 ¾
1.75
20.56
538
Patrick Meacham
 
12
1.75
21.00
539
John Bennet
 
12 ¾
1.75
22.31
540
John Dennin
Armorer
12
1.50
18.00
541
Charles [Illegible]
 
11 ½
1.50
17.25
542
James C. Crum
Block Maker
13
2.00
26.00
543
George A. Farley
 
15
1.50
22.50
544
Joseph L. Bruder
 
13
1.37
17.81
545
Charles Burdett
 
13
1.37
17.81
546
Joshua Sands
 
13
1.37
17.81
547
John J. Byers
 
13
1.25
16.25
548
George L. Birch
 
13
1.25
16.25
549
[Illegible] Cook
 
14
1.12
15.68
550
Phillip Brady
Laborer
14
1.12
15.68
551
John A. Crum
Store Keeper
15
1.75
26.25
552
John B. Marshall
S. Laborer
13
1.50
19.50
553
Phillip Dougherty
 
13
1.25
16.25
554
John Stewart
 
13
1.25
16.25
555
James Pinn
 
13
1.12
14.56
556
John Brown
 
10 ¾
1.12
12.04
557
James Steady
 
11
1.12
12.32
558
Nathaniel S. Davis
 
12 ¾
1.12
14.28
559
John Megill
 
13
1.12
14.56
560
James Shoemaker
 
12 ¾
1.12
14.28
561
David Davis
Teamster
13
1.25
16.25
562
Alphonse Lewis
 
13
1.25
16.25
563
David Vanderwell
 
12 ½
1.25
15.62

==========

Source: Albany Argus Albany New York, 2 July 1841, p.2.

PROSCRIPTION AT THE NAVY YARD, BROOKLYN.

The foremen, who are democrats, were discharged on Saturday, from the employment of the Government. Their names are Mr. S. Hart, carpenter; Mr. Boyle, plumber, Mr. Boyse, joiner; Mr. Crowel, painter, Mr. Fordham, inspector of timber; Mr. Turner, gun carriage maker; Mr. John Carrigan, sawyer; and Mr. John Halstead, laborer. The foremen who are federalists, some of whom have been employed for twenty or thirty years are retained. The people may now understand the hollowness of federal profession, and falsity of the charges made against the democratic administrations that have preceded the present. Federalists have been employed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for twenty consecutive years and their opinions have never been asked. Four months of the present administration have hardly expired and almost every democratic foreman is discharged.

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Source: Commercial Advertiser New York, 27 September 1841, p.2.

NAVAL RECEPTION OF THE PRINCE DEJOINVILLE

The reception of the Prince De Joinville by the officers of our navy, has been marked with all the courtesy due to so distinguished a visitor. On the arrival of La Belle Poule a salute was fired – which was promptly returned by the United States ship North Carolina. The Prince soon after visited the North Carolina, and the visit was next day returned by Commodore Perry, who directed the civilities of the port and conveniences of the dock yard to be tendered for the use of the Prince’s ships.

On Saturday agreeable to invitation, the Prince visited the Navy Yard and Brooklyn where a salute of 21 guns was fired on his arrival. A full garrison of marines and a volunteer company, who had handsomely offered their services, were drawn up in the yard to receive him, flag flying on the ships of war. After visiting the Commandant’s quarters and receiving the hospitalities of the Navy, the Prince visited the workshops, rope-walks &c. with all of which he expressed himself highly pleased and with the general arrangements of the yard. On leaving the yard, a salute due to the naval rank of the Prince was fired, which was duly acknowledged on his arrival on board La Belle Poule.

==========

Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn, New York, 1 April 1842, p. 2.

The Navy Yard "the State’s Prison…"

The Navy Yard at Brooklyn, under the present commandant, should certainly be called the State’s Prison, for the only difference exisiting under his artbitary, aristocratic and overbearing regulations in regard to the reseptable mechanics who work under him is, that he does not lock them up at night – which he would doubtless be pleased to do. Since he has been in command, he has issued orders entirely  different from all other officers that ever commanded the Yard. Firstly he is not allowing anyone respecatable who may visit it, to pass through either of the ship-houses. And secondly, in not allowing one mechanic to speak a word to his brother mechanic. A vistor is neither allowed to pass a word to any of the workmen; nor to enter any of the work-shops, for if one of the workmen is seen speaking to or is known to have introduced a stranger in the shops, he is discharged. He does not allow any of the mechanics to work on stormy days, when at the same time, there are hundreds in the Yard who work under cover the year around. Another regulation is,  that if a mechanic, either by sickness, or any other unavoidable circumstances, looses three days of work, his name is strickened from the roll, nor can he get back without going in person to his would be Lordship with a certificate from a doctor; and sometimes it has been known to take four days before the mechanic  who was so unfortunate as be sick, could have an audience with the gentleman. Such are few of the new regulations introduced. S

==========

Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn, New York, 4 May 1842, p. 2.

The Steamer Missouri – The experimental trip of the Steam Frigate Missouri yesterday, about the waters of our noble bay seems to have been highly satisfactory in all respects, as we learn from the New York papers. Her average speed was about twelve knots, and her consumption of fuel one ton per hour. So it is settled that our machinists can build a steam vessel second to none. While on the subject, we would state for the benefit of our Commodore, and others in authority with him, that the Navy Yard is located at Brooklyn - that there are three newspapers published daily in that little town – and that common courtesy would seem to require that matters of interest occurring at the yard should be communicated to one or the other or if it might be not too much of a stretch a great kindness to all three of them. We have received numerous complaints in regards to the manner of doing things at this station but have hitherto refrained from publishing them. There is no telling what justice may yet require at our hands.

==========

Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 6 May 1842, p.,2

A Navy Yard Critic

Mr. EDITOR – My attention has been invited to an article in your paper of the 1st ult. over the signature of "S" purporting to set forth the regulations of the Navy Yard at this place, under the present commandant. Had "S" given a fair and correct statement of the case, the public should not have been troubled with one word from me.

Before, however I proceed to state the facts as they are, I unhesitatingly pronounce the article a base calumny and the writer reminds me very much of a little dog barking at the moon, his howling cannot reach his object of malignity, he is protected by the broad shield of even-handed justice and an ardent desire to promote the public good, which are too conspicuous to escape the notice of the most careless observer and too prominent to meet the approbation of very honorable mind.

"S" calls the Yard a State’s Prison. If so, it’s the inmates who suffer a voluntary imprisonment, for no man is compelled to submit to its regulations. If there are any orders different from what has been usual, it is because of the shameful abuse of the public interest require them. The United States has an immense amount at stake in the Navy Yard, and one spark of fire might, in a moment destroy the whole. Persons having been discovered smoking segars in the ship houses, and this is the reason why an order was issued preventing all persons not attached to the yard from passing through those houses. There has been, Mr. Editor, so much waste of time and idleness practiced in the Yard, that it is high time, nay absolutely necessary, to correct abuses. This, I am well assured from strict observation, has been the chief aim of Commodore Perry, and the idle nonsense of "S" that one mechanic cannot speak to another &c is too absurd to need reply. There was a standing order before Commodore Perry had command of the yard against persons visiting the different workshops, except on business; and it is evident that were persons permitted a pleasure to visit them with their thousand guests the men would be impeded very much in their work, besides much public property would be endangered.

"S" says mechanics are discharged for introducing visitors into shops. Why does he not come out like an honest man and say they are not suffered to pocket the public money as formerly, and idle half the time in amusement with their friends. If any man employed in the yard wishes to gratify the curiosity of friends by going through the different shops &c, he can do so, by going to the clerk of the yard and checking himself. "S" complains that mechanics are not allowed to work on stormy days. Neither should they when it is impossible that they can do a faithful days work.  You are aware, Mr. Editor, no doubt that pay in the yard is much higher than outside; and it is a crime that the Commandant should refuse to allow men to commence a day’s work, when he feels assured that they cannot do public Justice?

"S" complains that if a man is sick, absent three days, his name is stricken from the roll. This was an order in force long before Commodore Perry has charge of the yard, and if I am correctly informed, was procured by a conspicuous officer of the yard, in part for the following reasons. A number of idlers would manage to get their names enrolled on the books, work a short time, drink, gamble and frolick a long time so that they were an injury to the publick by retarding the work and preventing industrious men from getting employment.

Let any individual that has been in the habit of visiting the yard for a few years back, now come and observe the difference and he will find that ships are springing up almost as if by magic and that every department seems to be vying with each other as to which can excel in performing their duty most faithfully, and by exerting themselves to promote the public interest and this brought about under the correct management and business habits of the present Commandant. Pardon me sir for spinning out this communication so long; but I could not have said less and done anything like justice to a high minded honorable gentleman and meritorious officer.

Brooklyn, April 5, 1842
A STRICT OBSERVER

==========

Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 25 May 1842, p.,2

The Launch of the Savannah

Probably not less than fifteen thousand persons were present this morning to witness the launch of the frigate Savannah. Long before the appointed time crowds were thronging toward the Yard, and every available inch of space from which the spectacle could be observed was soon taken up. The roofs of the neighboring buildings were alive with spectators; but owing to the admirable arrangements of the Commodore (not the least meritorious of which was the erection of seats for the ladies) no accident occurred, if we except an unexpected shower bath received by a detachment of some two thousand persons, collected on the docks enclosing the rails, adown which the gallant ship glided smoothly, and rode her destined element like a majestic goose. The sudden rise and dash of the water caused many wet feet, spoiled some fancy slippers, sprinkled a lot of flaunting silks and satins and frightened all hands prodigiously.

The foolish ceremony of breaking a bottle or two of wine on the occasion was performed. It was an interesting affair throughput – always excepting the wet feet, &c., aforesaid.

P.S. One Lady fainted.

==========

   

Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 22 April 1846, p. 2

Note: BNY Dry Dock No. 1 was built between 1841 and 1851, and modeled on Norfolk Naval Shipyard Dry Dock completed in 1834. For Brooklyn Dry Dock No. 1 was a source of civic pride, which the Brooklyn Daily Eagle compared to the Egyptian pyramids.58 At various times the dock employed upwards of seven hundred men, excavating and removing earth and shaping the new dock. The work while dangerous provided employment for thousands of new immigrants.

THE DRY DOCK A DREADFUL ACCIDENT – While the men were at work on the United States Dry Dock, Navy Yard yesterday afternoon about 2 o’clock, one of the booms accidently fell on Peter Hanaberg, a foreman, whose head was crushed; and also on Owen O’Brian (laborer) whose shoulder blade was broken; James McMahon, (laborer) was also injured. Mr. Hanaberg has been employed at the Long Island Railroad, and as Ferry master at the Catherine Ferry. The wounded men were taken on board the North Carolina, and put under the charge of the surgeon Baribino, where Mr. Hanaberg died in about half an hour after the injury. An inquest was held at 11 o’clock this afternoon, at the house of the deceased, corner of Willoughby and Bridge Streets, and a verdict rendered accordingly.

58 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York  3 August 1846, p. 2.

==========

Source: Centinel of Freedom, Albany, New York, 30 June 1846 ,p.2

Launch of the Sloop of War Albany

The Launch of the Sloop of War Albany at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Saturday morning, drew together immense crowds of spectators. The docks and numerous vessels, streets and windows were all filled. In the yard, and in the most eligible location, several platforms were erected, upon which sat the Court of Errors and Common Council of the city of Albany and the Common Councils of New York and Brooklyn. . . The pupils of the Deaf and Dumb Institution were also present, and a great number of ladies. The launch was very beautiful - Capt. Hudson and a party of ladies and gentlemen being on board, the band playing Hail Columbia.

She is a sloop of war of 1,000 tons, and mounts 16 thirty-two pounders and 4 Paxihan guns, 64 pounders. She will carry all told, 200 men, and six months provisions and 100 days water, carried in forty-four iron tanks, holding 22,000 gallons. She will be rigged and ready for sea in 60 days. Her entire cost will be $ 129,000. She is named after the city of Albany, and in return for this, a number of the wealthy residents of that city have obtained a very fine painting of the city which is to adorn the cabin.

==========

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn, New York, 22 January 1847, p.2.

An Hour at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

We were highly gratified this morning with a visit to our Navy Yard Dry Dock, and the rapid progress which has been made on the removal of the excavation from the pit. There are about six hundred men employed in all of the various branches of the work, chiefly digging out the pit. We took a stroll over the subterranean regions of the work and were agreeably surprised to find the means which have been taken to lead off the water by drains, running to pumps, have rendered the whole excavation at the depth of more than 30 feet below tide water, as dry as many of our sand hills. Several novel modes of removing the excavation are in successful and some in them as far as we could judge very economical operation. In one place the earth is loaded into large cars which are hauled up to the level of the surrounding ground on incline railroad planes by surplus power of the engine pumps. The cars are thence moved by horses on temporary rail roads to the pond in the yard, where the earth is used for filling up what had long been an unsightly feature of this yard. In other places we observe them hoisting out earth in tubs suspended from a long boom crane, the surplus power of the engine pumps being also used for that purpose. Nearly one hundred men were also employed in wheeling out the earth in an old fashion manner, the expense of which contrasts unfavorably with the other plans in use. The excavations have been earlier to the full depth required of the pit adjoining the bay within two feet of the depth (40 feet) at the land side of the pit. Preparations were making for the commencement of driving the foundation piles. This work will commence next week.  At the wharves were two vessels being discharged loaded with granite, one of which contained some of the cut stone brought from the State of Maine.

==========

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn New York, 26 January 1847, p. 2.

The Dry Dock

The Dry Dock at the Navy Yard is progressing as rapidly and successfully as its most sanguine friends could wish. There are now employed upon the work about seven or eight hundred men, who cause it to go bravely on. This morning they were to commence driving piles for the foundation, about one tenth of the pit having been already sufficiently excavated for that purpose. The accident on Sunday which gave rise to so much exaggerated rumor, proves to have been a mere bagatelle. There are now no fears of another breach in consequence of the engineer having so well secured the pit from any danger of the recurrence of those accidents.

==========

Source: Charleston Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, 22 April 1847, p. 2.

THE DRY DOCK

The New York Journal of Commerce says – The Dry Dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard is making rapid progress. The new steam pile driver recently set up there, has been tested and is competent to make sixty blows in a minute. About 400 men are now employed at the Dock,. The Sabine, a frigate of the largest class, is ready for launching, and it is expected will soon be afloat.

==========

Source: True Sun, New York, New York, 5 June 1847, p. 1.

Rapid Progress

The mason work of the Naval dry dock at Brooklyn is in rapid progress. The Nasmyth steam pile driver is at work. It drove on Wednesday one pile 40 feet long, in one minute. On Thursday its average work was seven miles per hour.

==========

Source: NARA Record Group 45, entry 456, volume 7, New York (Brooklyn) Navy Yard Station Log.

Note: These three transcribed station log entries for 5, 6 and 15 July 1847 provide some idea of how national holidays such as July 4th were observed, the scale of navy yard operations, size of the workforce, and building of the Dry Dock Number 1.

Remarks of the U.S. Navy Yard, New York
Isaac Mc Keever, Esqr. Commandant
William L. Hudson, Esqr Commander
Monday, July 5th 1847.

The last 24 hours commenced with Calm and Clear pleasant weather, at 8 A.M. light breezes from the South West and Clear pleasant weather, at Meridian light breezes from the West with Clear pleasant weather, at 4 P.M. light breezes from the South with Clear pleasant weather, at 8 P.M. Wind the same with passing clouds, at Midnight Calm and Clear pleasant weather to the end.

This being the day to Celebrate the Seventy-first anniversary of American Independence, no work was done in the Yard. At 1 P.M. a national salute of 21 Guns was fired from the Saluting Battery and the same repeated by the receiving ship North Carolina in honor of the day. 

Remarks of the U.S. Navy Yard, New York
Isaac Mc Keever, Esqr. Commandant
William L. Hudson Esqr. Commander
Tuesday, July 6th 1847.

The last 24 hours commenced with calm and variable weather, at 8 A.M. light breezes from the North and clear pleasant weather, at Meridian light breezes from the North East with passing clouds, at 4 P.M. wind the same and cloudy weather at 8 P.M. Calm and clear pleasant weather to the end.

Arrived at 1 P.M. the Sloop Merrimack, Stillwell Master, and sailed from the Yard at 3 P.M. with 7 Anchors of the following weight viz. 180 lbs., 290 lbs., 360 lbs., 480 lbs., 509 lbs., 676 lbs., & 700lbs., loaned by the Commandant to Major Delafield of the U.S. Engineer Corps.

A gang of Carpenters employed repairing the wharf, and another gang employed repairing the Dredging Machine with Caulkers also the Yard Camels. The other mechanics variously employed in the Yard and workshops, the laborers employed cleaning Tanks & in various objects. 

"Taken on" 1 Plumber, 1 Sawyer, 1 Carpenter, 1 Yard laborer, and suspended 2 Yard labors.
Total of mechanics, laborers and others employed in the Yard. .  . . 466.
Total Number of men employed in the Dry Dock . . . . . 385.
Surgeon Thomas L. Smith reported for duty in the Yard.

Midnight, July 6th, R.H. Nichols
Masters Mate.

The last 24 hours commenced with Calm and Clear pleasant weather, at 8 A.M. light breezes from the South with Clear pleasant weather, at meridian wind the same with passing clouds, at Midnight wind the same with Clear pleasant weather to the end.

Sailed from the Yard at 10.30 A.M. the Schooner Floriel, Joseph H. Hart master.
Arrived at 11 A.M. The Schooner Ann Ray, Moody Master with Sand for the Dry Dock.
Arrived at 1 P.M. The Sloop James Lawrence, H. Babe Master, with Cement for the Dry Dock.

The Carpenters employed repairing the wharf, the other mechanics employed on various objects in the Yard and Workshops. Taken on" 1 Joiners workmen, 1 Dockbuilders laborer.
Total of mechanics, laborers and others employed in the Yard. .  . . 449.
Total number of men employed in the Dry Dock . . . . . 447.

At meridian a sale at Public Auction took place in the Yard of Condemned Muskets, Scrap Iron, and Pine wood &c &c.

Midnight, July 15th, R.H. Nichols
Masters Mate.

==========

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn, New York, 1 September 1847, p.2.

ACCIDENT AND DEATH AT THE DRY DOCK -

Yesterday, at the U.S. Dock now constructing at our navy yard occurred a sad accident resulting in the death of a worthy man, the workman there. By some mismanagement of the pile-driving apparatus, the iron weight attached to it, in being drawn up tilted suddenly over and leaned upon a man standing by, pressing him against a hard substance, and crushing his breast and inwardly between that and his back. Medical assistance was immediately called and at first resolved to send him over to the New York hospital; but that plan was abandoned and he was taken on a litter toward Brooklyn hospital in Jackson Street. He died on the way.

==========

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 8 September 1847, p.2.

IRREGULARITY IN THE PAYMENT OF THE MEN AT OUR U.S. DRY DOCK -

We have received the following for publication: The mechanics and laborers employed on the dry dock, having patiently waited for their pay for three days after the day set apart by the department, on their names being called at 1 o’clock yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, declined answering. A meeting was held on the spot, and a committee of two from each department was appointed to wait upon Mr. McAlpin, engineer to ascertain the cause of the delay in the payment of the men employed. Mr. McAlpin said he was sorry the men did not answer to their names and especially Mr. Smith’s gang as they were his especial favorites. He thought the mechanics might wait a week, but the laborers could not. He said the committee had taken the wrong course and he should have to make a public example of some of the men concerned. The reason he said the men were not paid at the regular time was the clerk was delayed one day by overwork and another day by family affairs of his own. That, he said, was all the redress he could give them.

==========

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 9 September 1847, p.,2.

NAVY YARD WORKINGMEN - Pursuant to adjournment, the mechanics and workingmen employed in the dry dock department of the navy yard, met at the Brooklyn hotel for the purpose of adopting measures as shall secure regularity in paying of the hands employed. The minutes of the last meeting and remarks of the several Brooklyn papers were read and on motion a vote of thanks was passed to the Brooklyn Daily Advertiser for its aid in the cause of the workingmen. The committee on resolutions reported the following, which were unanimously adopted:

Whereas the intervals of payment of the men employed on the U.S. Dry Dock at this station have long ceased to be regular, a reform in this particular is essential to our interest, as it is just in itself.

Therefore, be it resolved, that the neglect on the part of some departments connected with the U.S. Dry Dock in the observance of regular intervals in paying of the men employed therefore upon, has long been and continues to be productive to us of serious inconvenience, and therefore meets with our earnest disapprobation.

And be it further Resolved, that the Hon. Secretary of the navy be respectfully requested to take the subject of this one complaint into his consideration, assign a uniform period for the paying of the men employed on the aforesaid dock and enforce its observance.

On motion, a committee of one was appointed to proceed to Washington and make their grievances known to the president and secretary of the navy and seek redress.

==========

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 24 September 1847, p. 2.

ACCIDENT AT THE DRY DOCK - An Unfortunate casualty at the U.S. Dry Dock this morning which resulted in the death of Miles Kiernan a laborer on the dock. One of the large piles which are being driven into the foundation was about being hoisted to the perpendicular position in the pile driving machine by the chain used for that purpose, and when nearly up the rope secured to the lower end of the pile to steady it, and prevent accidents, slipped from the person who had it in charge. The result was a sudden swinging of the stick by which the deceased was struck in the back, causing instant death. A coroner’s jury was held, how rendered a verdict of accidental death in accordance with the facts of the case.

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Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 23 July 1849, p.3.

ACCIDENT AT THE NAVY YARD -  A serious accident occurred at the Dry Dock in Navy Yard on Friday afternoon last, occasioned by the breaking of one of the small derricks used to hoist stone at that place. It was owning to a defect in the cast iron just above mast head, which upon being examined after the accident, had the appearance of honey comb. Three men named Thomas McGovern, Henry Burns and John Farrell were all more or less seriously injured. McGovern had his collar broken, Burns one of his arms, and Farrell received several bruises. They were immediately removed to comfortable quarters and every attention paid to their case. We are informed that no reliance can be placed upon cast iron for such purposes, for although it may look perfectly good and sound outside, it is very likely to be spurious and good for nothing.

==========

The Navy Yard and Political Favoritism: This bit of satirical humor appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 11 October 1849. The writer aimed his barbs at the Whig Party winners of the election of 1848 and its leader Zachery Taylor... The anonymous Democratic author makes fun of the Whig party, compares their platform to a religion and jibes at their leaders installed at the navy yard and their control of the hiring process. The "Locofocos’ (also Loco Focos, Loco-focos) were a faction of the Democratic Party that existed from 1835 until the mid-1840s. . .
Source:
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Brooklyn New York 11 October 1849, p.3.

Political Levee and Political Catechism


The Hon. Mr. Bokee, M.C. held his first levee for the benefit of his anxious friends on Saturday last at his residence in Hicks Street. It was a rainy day, but notwithstanding the storm, the street was thronged with from fifty to one hundred hopeful converts to the faith and doctrines, as taught and expounded by our "worthy representative of some of his constituents."

Previous to receiving a passport to the land of promise, (the Navy Yard) each applicant was excised in the catechism of his political faith. The form of the catechism was sanctioned by Old Zach, and the questions propounded by his honor.

Q. - What is your name?
A. – Michael A. Weathercock, your Honor.
Q. - What is the chief duty of a member of the congress?
A. - To get men into the navy yard.
Q. – Was you born in a state of sin?
A. – No, I was born in auld Ireland.
Q. – Did you ever fall from grace?
A. – Yes, two years ago at the spring election.
Q. - What are the wages of sin
A. – Whig promises.
Q. – Who are the three greatest men living?
A. – Old Zack, Misther Stryker, Pat O’Donnell and your honor.
Q. –Before receiving your passport to the navy yard, will you take the " Bokee Pledge"?
A. – Yes, your Honor, I’ll do that if I’ll will get me in the navy yard.

Repeat the" Bokee Pledge"
"I solemnly promise and agree to renounce locofocoism and will vote the Whig ticket at the next election"
"That will do! Here is your ticket! Report yourself to Boss Rhodes, don’t work too hard, and if you find any locofocos in the yard report their names to me forthwith for my contentious convictions will now permit Whigs who will take the Bokee pledge to work in the navy yard so long as I wear the honors of a member of congress.’

Political favoritism Irish vs Native and Whig vs Democrats.


Note: The following letter to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle decries the perceived favoritism shown toward native born Whig Party supporters after the election of 1848. Following the election many supporters of the Democratic Party at the navy yard were replaced with supporters of the Whig Party. This letter writer "Felix" focuses on the discharge of Peter Turner gun carriage maker born 1787 in Ireland who died in Brooklyn New York Dec 31, 1863. Turner worked at BNY for many years as gun carriage maker. Turner, was known for his devotion to the Catholic Church, and his work to help Irish immigrants and improve the lot of working people. The letter writer makes the point that Turner was fired for being an Irish and a Democrat. His obituary stated he was helpful in finding employment for those recently arrived from Ireland. He led the Irish fraternal society "The Erin Fraternal Association' and Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. His wages as Foreman in May 1848 for 14 day period @3.00 per day week $ 42.00. His son John M. Turner, became a priest and was Vicar General of the New York Diocese.59
Turner is enumerated in the circa 1849 Whig Party list of possible replacements at BNY http://genealogytrails.com/ny/kings/navyyard.html "of the worst sort" likely a reference to Turner’s Irish heritage and championing of Roman Catholic causes.

59 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, Dec 23 1894, p. 8.

Source Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 27 October 1849, p.,2.

Mr. Editor – I will now canvass the relative merits of this Whig foreman and of their democratic predecessors. First then is William H. Hallock, the present foremen of the shipwright’s department. This man received his appointment with no other qualifications than that he was a "Bokee Whig." He knows nothing of the science of ship building, such as drafting, laying out plans etc. He possesses a very limited education and is incompetent to be foreman of his department, as a tailor to make a watch. Mr. Weeks his predecessor, was a scholar, and possessed mechanical abilities of the highest order, as is proved by a model steamship made by him now in the Lyceum which took the premium at the fair in the year 1847.

I will now ask if it was a redeeming of "Taylor pledges" to discharge such a man as Mr. Weeks, to make room for such a man as Mr. Hallock?

Next the gun carriage department, Mr. Turner has been in this department for a number of years, and was considered by officers in the navy as the best gun carriage maker by the officers in the navy. Having never received more than journeyman’s wages it was some time before they could find a pretense for discharging him. Finally Bokee decided he should be discharged as no Irishman should hold an appointment when an American wanted it. . .

Mr. Turner was discharged and his place filled by a Mr. Wrighington, a man who never made a gun carriage in his life! His principal claim to the situation was on account of his having been a strong Native. I will now ask the adopted citizens if they are prepared to support a party that has prescribed one of their own numbers for no other reason than his being an Irishman? Felix

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John Megill

Source: Commercial Advertiser New York, New York, 16 April 1850, p.2.

SERIOUS ACCIDENT AT NAVY YARD

As Mr. John Megill, attached to the Storekeepers department was engaged in packing clothing on Saturday afternoon between 5 and 6 o’clock, he came across a 6 ounce vial which was lying about for some time and to get it out of the way, threw it in the stove, causing instant explosion, blowing the stove through the floor, seriously wounding himself and causing a general alarm throughout the yard. The vial is supposed to have contained fulminating powder. The right hand and arm of Mr. Megill was so badly injured that immediate amputation was found necessary and the operation performed taking the arm off at the elbow. 60

60 John Warden Megill 1814 -1867 for biography see Hix Charlotte Megill
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Megill&GSfn=john+&GSmn=warden+&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=125442376&df=all&
Accessed 2 December 2016.

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Launch of the USS San Jacinto

Source Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, April 16, 1850, p.2

Launch of the USS San Jacinto – This noble looking frigate – propeller, the dimensions of which we detailed last week, was launched forth into its destined element this forenoon, precisely at half past eleven.

The day being most delightful, an immense concourse of citizens with their ladies and little ones thronged the arena of the navy yard to witness the auspicious, even indeed, every accessible spot was crowded with spectators anxious to obtain a sight of the launch.

The arrangements connected with the occasion were of the most complete nature and the ceremonies of the affair passed off with the most brilliant éclat.

The unfixing of the vessel was completed in less than seven minutes, and the screw having been applied to the bows, away the San Jacinto went majestically and amidst the enthusiastic cheers of full four thousand people into the mighty deep – Having sailed about half a mile in the river, she was eventually towed back by a steamer which was in readiness.

The lady who officiated as the christener on the occasion and who was heroically seated in the bows of the vessel was Miss Cannen, a niece of the Hon. Mr. Rose, M.C., who was also present, and who with Capt. Bell of the Navy Yard presided over the ceremonies. As the ship entered the water, Miss Cannen stood up and completed the ceremony by precipitating the flowing of wine on the bows of the vessel.

During the launch the Navy Yard Band, which was stationed on a war sloop lying alongside the quay, played "Hail Columbia" in noble style and the old "Carolina" fired a national salute. At this moment the scene was most imposing as the cheers of multitude, the firing of the cannon, the national standard flying in all directions and the splendid sunshine imparted a "pride, pomp and circumstance to the occasion" which will never be eradicated from our memory. Great praise is due to Mr. Constructor Hart, under whose immediate superintendence the whole details of the launch were regulated and successfully achieved. So far we saw or learned of no accident occurred.

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Source Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, April 18, 1850, p. 3.

THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD.

Although work is generally dull in the mechanical departments of the Navy Yard, there are some improvements going on at the present time. At the east end of the yard, between the new saw mill building and the sewer workmen are completing the foundation of a house in which oakum is to be picked by steam. The building is to be two stories high, and will be composed entirely of iron. Three spinning jennies are now being made in Massachusetts for the shop. It is expected that all the oakum required for the navy will be picked and manufactured here. On a line with this new building and the saw mill, the foundation has been laid for a gun carriage shop, which is also to be made of iron. These new buildings will probably be finished during the ensuing summer. The new steam mill is daily in operation and is one of the attractions of the yard. The machinery consists of a beam engine and two boilers, made at the foundry of Mr. Tufts, East Boston. The engine is said to be the smoothest and stillest working engine in this part of the country. It makes no perceptible noise. It operates one gang of twelve saws, for sawing ship planking; one futtock saw for sawing crooked and bedeviled timber frames and is said to be the only one of the kind in the use in the navy, one wood boring machine, one morticing machine for boring and turning holes in the lignuvitae for gun carriage &c. The mill is now sawing for the United States Steamer Mississippi which is undergoing thorough repair.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 18 October 1850, p. 2.

THE NAVY YARD Upwards of eight hundred men are now constantly employed by the Government at the Navy Yard. One half of this number are engaged in completing the dry dock and the massive granite building connected with it, which is to contain the steam engine, pumps &c. The work is advancing rapidly.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 1 November 1852, p.,2.

BNY and the Election

Note: As described in the following article the practice of hiring large numbers of laborers just prior to an election who in return for employment would vote for the party in power was a common practice.

The Navy Yard

Mr. Editor – Within a few weeks past nearly one thousand laborers have been imported to the Navy Yard, although there is no work going on in the Yard to justify such an increase. The number at present employed is nearly twice as large as ever having been before, even in these stirring time. I have become acquainted with some political movements which have recently taken place in the Yard and deem it a duty to expose them. The Whig officers and their assistants came to the conclusion that if they could only fill the Yard to over flowing for a few weeks they could carry their local ticket.  In order to do this they must have the cooperation of Commodore Salter, and knowing the soft spot in his character, they purchased a silver pitcher that weighed forty ounces and cost they state $150.00. The pitcher was tendered to the Commodore, but he wrote a letter to the parties presenting it declining to accept it, but stated that they might take it to New Jersey and present it to his lady, which they did. They then succeeded in bringing into the Yard as many men as they wanted from all parts of the city. They have selected a candidate for Alderman of the Fifth ward, and already have threats been held out to workmen in the Yard that they will be discharged if they dare vote for any other man. Will the independent laborers and workmen in the Yard allow themselves to be used by political intriguers to elevate men to office whom their souls abhor? Will they sacrifice their independence as free citizens for a few days’ work, and become passive tools in the hand so of designing, unprincipled politicians? There are now 1,400 men employed in the yard, but immediately after the election everyone taken on for temporary purposes will be discharged. Fellow workmen do not disgrace the franchise, do not act in a manner that your conscience will rebuke you for, but go to the polls and vote according to your own your convictions. Do not fear the Whigs for their time in authority will now be very short, and if any of you are discharged for voting like freeman, according to your own convictions, your loss in the end will be your gain. FELIX

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Strike for the Ten Hour Day:  On 14 December 1852, Secretary of the Navy John P. Kennedy arbitrarily attempted to set aside President Van Buren's 1840 ten hour workday order, hoping to increase production at all naval shipyards. Kennedy’s order stated the workday at naval yards was henceforth to begin an hour earlier or from sunrise to sunset. His order effectively extended the workday to eleven hours. At Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Washington DC, his order resulted in a strike of nearly all mechanics and laborers. These strikes and adverse publicity made the new Fillmore administration quickly reconsider the wisdom of the extension and Kennedy rescinded his order just forty-eight hours after it was issued and BNY returned to work.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 16 December 1852, p. 3.

STRIKE IN THE NAVY YARD

For the last two days the laborers employed in the Navy Yard have been off work owing to an order issued on Tuesday requiring the men to add an hour to their time of labor, as at present arranged by the regulations of the Yard. The order was received from Washington by Commodore Boardman, Commandant of the Navy Yard. It was posted at the muster house as soon as received so that all employed in the Yard could learn its import when coming out to dinner.

On the same evening the laborers held a meeting at the Brooklyn Hotel in York Street and appointed a Committee, who were instructed to consult with the Commandant of the Yard upon the subject, and the conclusion was arrived at that they would resume work the following morning (yesterday) at the hour designated in the order. The laborers, however to the number of about 1000, assembled in front of the gate in the morning, and the majority appeared in favor of holding out, and those dispersed to work were induced to side with the larger party in the hope that the order would be countermanded. So things stand at present. Some three months since a similar attempt was made by the department but the order was resided in a few days afterward. The workmen appear to be of the opinion that by refusing to comply with the requirement a similar result will follow.

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Source: New York Times, New York, 17 December 1852, p. 6.

Strike at the Navy Yard.

Workers at the Navy Yard declared they will not return to work unless they are allowed to work the eight hour day as formerly. Everything was quiet yesterday and the men were anticipating a favorable reply to the telegraphic dispatch sent to Washington on the first day of the strike.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 17 December 1852, p. 3.

STRIKE IN THE NAVY YARD

It seems that the order recently received at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which caused the strike among the workmen, is not the only order that has been issued.

There is great excitement at the Charleston Navy Yard, in consequence from the order received  from Washington requiring the men to commence work ten minutes before sunrise. A meeting of the workmen was held at City Hall yesterday forenoon and was largely attended. Resolutions were adopted protesting against the order of the Naval Bureau, adding one hour to the day’s labor, and determining not to work until the order was countermanded. The meeting was orderly. Eight hundred men are now employed in the yard.

In Philadelphia the same state of things exists, and the workmen refused to work.

In this city the Navy Yard employees still continue on strike, awaiting the receipt of order from Washington but up to the last evening no word was received. The report published yesterday morning that a similar order at the Philadelphia Navy Yard has been rescinded has encouraged them to hold out hopes of a similar result here. It appears that the hands in the Yard work nine hours in the summer and eight hours in the winter, and the recent order which requires them to work nine hours per day at the present time is what they are standing out against.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 20 December 1852, p. 3.

STRIKE IN THE NAVY YARD THE NAVY YARD ORDER

The order compelling the workmen in the Navy Yards to work an additional hour has been rescinded. The following counter order has been addressed to the various commandants of the Yards from the Bureau of Docks and Yard, 16th December 1852.

Commodore: The order issued from this Bureau by the authority of the Secretary of the Navy respecting work hours at the several Navy Yards is by his direction suspended till further instructed upon the subject.

Respectfully, your ob’t Servant
Joseph Smith

So there is a Smith at the bottom of the business. The Smiths seem to be mixed up with all the different questions that arise in the country.

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Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 18 April 1853, p. 3.

DESTRUCTIVE CONFLAGRATION AT NAVY YARD - LOSS $155,000.

A fire involving a greater loss of property than any which occurred in this City since 1848 occurred yesterday morning at the Navy Yard. The fire broke out in one of the large buildings, 300 feet long and 60 feet wide, which together with most of the contents was destroyed. The building was occupied on the ground floor as a place of storage for various kinds of lumber. At the time of the fire there were stored there beams (Southern pine) and frames (oak) for two frigates and one sloop of war, besides a large quantity of ship-knees and other materials including a quantity of timber which had been experimented upon for years. The loss in this department is estimated $60,000, very little being saved and that only in a damaged state. A portion of the easterly end of the building was occupied as the gunners-room for repairing. The loss in this department is confined mostly to the tools and a small quantity of stock – loss $5,000. The second floor of the building was occupied as the painters department, in it were a large quantity of paints and oil a portion of which had only been placed there on Saturday, loss $20,000. The fire was first discovered about 9 o’clock when the flames were breaking through the roof about the center of the building. It originated in the paint shop from spontaneous combustion, produced, as is supposed, in a waste barrel where paint skins and linseed oil were thrown. It is stated that a fire occurred in the same shop about nine months since from the same cause but was discovered in time to prevent a conflagration. The building cost $20,000. Soon after the fire reached the gunner’s room there was two explosions, afterwards ascertained to be from old bombshells which had been thrown in carelessly as old iron. The explosions were light but insufficient to cause a suspension of work by the firemen until the facts were ascertained from the person supervising the department. The Fire Department together with the Chief of Police and Assistant Captains, with a large number of Police from each District, were promptly on the spot and rendered all possible aid, but the inflammable nature of the contents rendered their attempts nearly useless. Three engines belonging to the Yard, as also the Steam engine at the Dry Dock, were brought into requisition, but for some reason not until after a portion of the Brooklyn Fire Department had got to work. Commodore BOURMAN, together with many officers belonging to the Yard, were active in their endeavors to extinguish the flames, but when this was found to be impossible, the Government oxen were set to work at dragging out the large oak beams, by which means considerable property was saved, most of it, however, in damaged state. The whole loss will not fall short of $ 150,000.

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Source: New York Times, 22 April 1853, p.4.

The Navy Yard carpenters make a respectful demand.

The Navy Yard. – The Carpenters at work in the Navy Yard last week made a respectful demand for an increase of wages - two shillings per day. Their request was transmitted to Washington and a favorable answer was returned. The workmen now receive the desired advance. During the week about one hundred laborers have been added to the force employed in the Yard, and also additional hands were set to work in several of the mechanical departments. The boiler of the dredging machine, which exploded a few weeks since, has not been raised yet.

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Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn New York, 17 November 1853, p.3.

EXCURSIONS – The cry is "still they go." The Danegar Guard (so named in honor of the Master Plumber in the Navy Yard, and composed principally of the best looking young men under his charge) they are making preparations for their first annual target excursion to take place in the 23rd instant. The company will be under the command of Captain JOHN HUNT. The number of shoots will be regulated by the number of muskets to be found in the city.

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Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 3 June 1854, p.,3.

Ship Carpenters Pay

The ship carpenters employed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard have struck for higher wages and created work on the frigate Sabine. They were receiving $2.75 per day, but demanded $3.00.

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Source: Irish American, New York, New York, 12 August 1854, p. 3.

Crushed to Death
A man named Bowlen was crushed to death in the Navy Yard by the upsetting of a gun carriage near where he was sitting.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn New York 26 November 1854. p.3.

Note: Jesse Morell Folk, September 22. 1804 to January 4, 1894, was a leader in Democratic Party politics and a prominent figure at the navy yard. Starting as laborer, Folk quickly became overseer of the navy yard laborers and later master ship joiner. Master workmen such as Folk exercised considerable power especially so when BNY moved to hire or discharge employees and the master workman was delegated authority to make up the list.61 In the often acrimonious world of nineteenth century politics Folk was the subject of much speculation. In April 1842 he was charged with assault and battery against fellow Democrat Francis C. Treadwell. Treadwell charged Folk with pushing him off the stage when he was trying to speak. At trial witness testimony was nearly evenly split. The jury ruled for the plaintiff but many were in doubt; Treadwell was awarded just six cents in damages (see Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 29, 1842, p. 2). In the 1850’s Folk organized fifty-five BNY mechanics yard working men into a semi military militia "the Jesse M. Folk Guard" which met for drill and target practice. These local militia or guard units were common place in New York City during the 1840’s and 1850’s. Such groups were often organized by Democratic and Whig party politicians and local ward bosses to insure electoral support and intimidate their opponents. While these groups collected a "voluntary assessment" they also provided workers access to employment, job security and a sense of dignity and cohesion.62 In 1848 Folk is enumerated on the BNY Payroll for 16 to 31 May 1848 as a supervisory laborer, wages $ 2.50 per day.63

For the 1848 Whig Party comments re Jesse M. Folk: see http://genealogytrails.com/ny/kings/navyyard.html

61 In 1859 Commodore Thomas R. Root testifying before a congressional committee about BNY replied to the question, "Was there any limit upon the powers of these masters of mechanics to put men in?" answered: "I will state this: When a change was made of one of the master workmen, the new one would come into the yard and find a gang of men already there. It became necessary to discharge some of the men for want of work, and the list was made out and approved by the master workmen, and by the commandant of the yard and the men was dismissed. When it became necessary to appoint new men, I observed that it was very seldom that many of the old ones came back again." House Documents, Vol. 119, Part II, pp 6-7,1859.

62 Adams, Peter, The Bowery Boys Street Corner Radicals and the Politics of Rebellion, 2005. p .37, and Connolly, James J., An Exclusive Unity: Urban Democracy and Machine Politics

63 National Archives and Records Administration, New York, Record Group 45, 181.3.5, Records of the New York (Brooklyn) Navy Yard (New York, NY) payrolls,1848. Jesse M. Folk, number 290.

lMaster Joiner Jessie M. Folk and the "Jessie M. Folk Guard
 
The workingmen employed by Jesse Folk Master Joiner in the U.S. Navy Yard, preceded to Clifton Park, Staten Island, on the 24th instant, for target practice under the name of the "Jesse M. Folk Guard." They numbered 55 muskets and were accompanied by Shelton’s band. The following prizes were awarded:

Number
Prize
Present by
Won by
1st
Gold watch
Jesse M. Folk
S. H. Bush
2nd
Set of table spoons
Jno. Buckley
Anthony Conk
3rd
Cake basket
A.C. Entrican
John Hunt
4th
Cake basket
Charles Beck
Thomas Coe
5th 
Set of spoons
Martin Schinder
Capt. R. Friganza
6th
Family Bible
Miss A.M. & A. Folk
S. Johnson
7th
Ton of coal
A. Friend
Wm. Clayton
8th
Camp colors
Miss Bristol
R. Friganza Jr.
9th
Ton of coal
Jno. P. Gregson
Jos. Hicks
10th
Breast Pin
Master J. McGee
Henry Howell
11th
Fob chain
Jas. McGee
Hiram Funk
12th
Hat
Edward Hartt
Wm. Folk
13th
Silver card basket
William Gardiner
Jos. Friganza
14th
Gold ring
Jos. Thompson
Thomas Powers
15th
Hat
Rich. A. Bishop
John M. Titus
16th
Silk vest
John Winters
Geo. Acker
17th
2 wreaths
Miss Eliz. Folk
G. Pearsall
18th
Wreath
Miss Friganza
Jesse E. Folk
19th
Wreath
Miss Hunt
Jesse E. Folk
20th
Fancy box
Wm. S. Hanna
G. Schoonmaker
21th
Fancy box
Jno. G. Palmer
Thos. Green

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Source: New York Times, New York, 26 January 1856, p. 8.

The Navy Yard

The Severity of the weather still renders all matters connected with the Navy Yard dull. With the exception of the few hands employed in constructing the ways of the launch of the Niagara, there are few mechanics at work and the progress of the ways is slow, the slip being entirely filled with ice.64

Most of the mechanics employed hitherto upon the Niagara were discharged on Thursday evening, it being impossible to proceed any further in her construction until she is launched. A great part of her staging having been taken down, her beautiful model and magnificent proportions can now be seen to some advantage. Mr. STEERS may justly be proud of his handiwork.65 After her cruise in search of filibusters in the North River on Thursday afternoon, the Dispatch safely returned to her dock, having been out three hours. She is waiting orders to sail on some more adventurous cruise.

64 The second USS Niagara was a screw-steamer driven frigate in the United States Navy. The Niagara was launched by on 23 February 1855, sponsored by Miss Annie C. O'Donnell and commissioned on 6 April 1857, Captain William L. Hudson in command. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Niagara_(1855)

65 George Steers, August 15, 1819 to September 25, 1856, was a designer of yachts and ships best known for the famous racing yacht America. He founded a shipyard with his brother, George Steers and Co, and died in an accident just as he was landing a major contract to build boats for the Russian Czar. Between 1841 and 1850, Steers built many yachts which were well known in their day. In 1850 he formed the firm George and James R. Steers with his brother. Steers is perhaps best known as the designer of the most famous racing yacht of all time, the schooner yacht America, for which the America's Cup is named. No doubt influenced by the ship designs of fellow New Yorker John W Griffiths, the aptly named America established the American naval architecture of the day. Steers built one full-sized commercial ship, the clipper ship Sunny South. Steers last ship was the USS Niagara launched in 1856. He died in an accident on 25 September 1856 while driving a new pair of horses.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 15 March 1853, p.,2.

PAY OF MECHANICS

A general movement is taking place among the mechanics of the city to obtain an increased rate of salary. The carpenters have held some preliminary meetings to confer and adopt some plan of action that will enable them to carry out their views. The wages paid now to carry is twelve shillings a day. And they intended in a short time to demand $2. The smallness of their pay is not the only grievance they labor under at present; they have often great difficulty in obtaining what they earn, it being a habit of many of their employers to decline making full payments and retain sums which in time reach a considerable amount and thus curtail the earnings of the workman in a serious degree. Such deferred payments are never made unless the "bosses" are forced to it by legal process. By concerted and vigorous action the carpenters can reform the present state of things, and we can hope they will not fail to do so. An emergency meeting of the carpenters was held last evening at Mrs. Prest’s hotel to consult upon the subject. There appeared to be no concert of action. Some seemed to be satisfied with 15s, while a few, comparatively for the meeting was quite a large one, advocated and demand for $ 2. per day. The evening was consumed in discussion until a late hour when it was finally resolved to prepare memorial to be submitted to the Secretary of the Navy and the Brooklyn Common Council praying the former to increase the wages of carpenters in the navy yard from $2. to $2.25 per day, and asking the latter to allow $2. per day on all work done for the city. A committee of four for the city consisting of Messrs. Price, Vunk, Van Brunk and Grove, was appointed to prepare a memorial as provided in the resolution.

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Note: Theophilus Hardenbrook aka Hardenburgh, Hardingbrook etc., was born in New York City in 1791 the son of Nicholas Hardenbrook and Susan Walker. During the war of 1812 he joined a privateer the Zebra and became prisoner of war on 20 April 1813 when his ship was captured in the Bay of Biscay by the HMS Pyramus and HMS Belle Poule. The Zebra was an American private vessel operating as "privateer" under a Letter of Marque dated 26 June 1812. The Zebra was purposely built as a privateer by well-known shipbuilder Noah Brown at New York 1812/1813.

Following his capture Hardenbrook, a prisoner of war, was incarcerated in Darmoor Prison, England. Darmoor records Hardenbrook as a seaman, born in New York. His physical description is age 23, 5 ft. 6 ½ inches tall, blue eyes with dark brown hair. Identifying marks a scar on his left hand. After capture Hardenbrook was first taken to Stapleton Prison and later to Darmoor on 23 June 1814. He survived brutal prison conditions where over 200 Americans died of diseases such as smallpox, dysentery and other conditions and the notorious "Darmoor Massacre" which wounded 60 men and killed 7 on 6 April 1815. He was released in May 1815, following ratification of Treaty of Ghent. The actual date of his repatriation to the USA is unknown, though most likely late June 1815. As mentioned in the following Brooklyn Daily Eagle article, Hardenbrook found employment at BNY with the help of President James Monroe, where he was employed for many years as master cooper. Hardenrbook was an active member of the Proprietors of Greenwood Cemetery and the Veterans of the War of 1812.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 26 April 1853, p. 2.

The Navy Yard Theophilus Hardenburgh [Hardenbrook] Master Cooper.

The Navy Yard – It seems that Mr. Hardenburgh, the old Navy Yard cooper, who has been in his place some thirty years or more, came very near being ousted in the late shuffle. On going to Washington lately to look after his interests, he got an interview with Mr. Dobbin, the Secretary of the Navy, and learned that he was displaced. He was deeply pained at the news, and went on to tell the Secretary something of his history. He soon satisfied him that he had been throughout his life not only a set fast Democratic Party man, but the person ordered to be appointed in his stead was no other that originally a poor boy whom he had charitably rescued from the streets and had subsequently taught him all he knew of his trade. The Secretary appeared staggered with these disclosures, when the old man, raising his hands, exhibited the print on his each wrist of the manacles he wore while prisoner to the British during the war of 1812. The Secretary immediately revoked the order for his dismissal and the old cooper went his way rejoicing. Hardenburgh says he was originally appointed under Monroe.

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Source: New York Times, New York 16 December 1854, p.8.

FIVE HUNDRED MEN DISCHARGED FROM THE NAVY - YARD.

Nearly five hundred men were discharged from the Navy Yard yesterday, comprising men from all the different mechanical departments and laborers. Nearly everyone employed on the United States frigate Sabine was included in the dismissal. This is particularly unfortunate at the present time when it is so difficult to obtain employment and must be the cause of much suffering. There are only some eight hundred men now left in the Yard.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 8 January 1855, p.,2.

REDUCTION OF WAGES AT THE NAVY YARD. INDIGNATION MEETING OF THE WORKMEN

Commodore Boardman last week gave notice to the master carpenters, laborers, &c., that the wages of the men employed in the Navy Yard must be reduced – joiners from $ 2.50 to $ 2..25 per day, and the other branches in proportion. The employees in the yard, believing the commodore has no authority for this course of action, held a meeting on Saturday evening at the Brooklyn Hotel, corner of Hudson Avenue and Prospect Street. Wm. Gardiner was called to the chair and Mr. Pearsall was appointed secretary. After some consultation, the chairman was selected as a delegate to proceed to Washington and lay the matter before the Secretary of the Navy, and his interposition to prevent the consummation of what the workmen believe to be a most outrageous proceeding. Considerable indignation was expressed by the workmen and some of them thought it would be a good idea if wages were to be reduced to commence with the Congressman, Cabinet Ministers and Commodores.

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Source: New York Times, New York 12 March 1855, p.5.

Laborers Discharged

On Tuesday last between fifty and sixty laborers were discharged in consequence of the want of work upon which to employ them.

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Source: New York Times, New York 26 July 1855, p.2.

A VISIT TO THE BROOKLYN NAVY - YARD

We visited the Brooklyn Navy Yard yesterday, Reader, we have been there before and intended to note the result in a form rather adapted for the tolerably large class of our citizens who because it was so accessible have always postponed their visit till a more convenient season than for those seeking mere temporary information. We jot down the following thanks to Mr. COLVILLE, of the North Carolina who in the absence of Lieutenant KILTY supplied us with the necessary information.

As we would assure those of our readers who have never been there, an inspection of the Navy Yard is no difficult matter to accomplish. Choose a pleasant afternoon, neither too hot nor too cold. Cross to Brooklyn by any ferry that tis convenient, the Fulon, Catherine or Gouverneur ferries being the nearest, and the fare being in all cases two cents – German kreutzers, English half pennies and French sous are invariably refused as are also all pocket-pieces, tokens and bogus coins of what kind so ever. The first person you meet unless he is a newly arrived emigrant, an Irishman that can’t speak English or German, will put you on the route, directly you leave the boat and in brief time you are there.

Do not be alarmed by the sentry at the gate, though he bears on his shoulder a musket and bayonet he is peaceably disposed and is indeed quiet and mild spoken. It may be well to avoid showing any intentional disrespect, though it is not necessary to touch your hat to him….

Let us – having first inspected this other huge ship-house in which there is no vessel on the stocks – visit the Dry Dock. It is said to be one of the largest in the country – some say in the world; but of that we know nothing. In its construction 80,000 tons of stone were used. Its foundations are 400 feet in length and 120 feet in in breath. The "main chamber" as we are informed is 286 feet long and 20 feet broad at the bottom, 307 feet long and 98 feet broad at the top. By using the floating gate, an additional length of 50 feet may be obtained.

Words fail us, similes fail us, so we advise you reader to go and judge for yourself. Go and behold no less than 1600 men uninterruptedly at work. Examine what work they do. Uncle Sam permits you to do so, and he will tell you if you ask what he pays them on the 8th and 22nd of each month. Of these men you will find about 310 are carpenters, over 100 blacksmith about 100 joiners and similar with the other occupations - There are nearly 800 mechanics at work on the new building. Take our advice and see the Navy Yard without delay.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 23 February 1856, p. 3.

Launch of the Niagara

The steam frigate Niagara was launched at eleven o’clock this forenoon. The launch was witnessed by from ten to fifteen or twenty thousand persons. The Navy Yard was filled with people, and the Williamsburgh shore and every available spot in the neighborhood from which a view of the launch could be obtained was crowded with spectators as thick as mosquitos of a Jersey swamp. Platforms had been erected in the Yard for the accommodation of the ladies and children. A steamer started in the morning from the foot of 10th street, New York side, to convey members of the Legislature, the New York City Government, gentlemen of the press, and others specifically invited by Mr. Steers to witness the launch.  Everything being in readiness the wedges retaining the vessel were removed and the Niagara glided majestically into her future element, amid the cheers of the assembled multitude, the waving of hats and handkerchiefs and the booming of cannon from the North Carolina.

After the launch, which resulted in the most satisfactory manner, the vessel was towed back to the dock by two steam tugs, Leviathan and Hercules, where she now remains.

The Niagara   was built by Mr. Steers, and her machinery is from the foundry of Pease & Murphy, New York. She is the largest war steamer in the world – being 6,000 tons burthen (carpenters measurement), 345 feet long overall and 55 feet beam. This is six feet longer than the great Vanderbilt which is 4,000 burthen.

The Niagara will carry 86 guns, and will require about 700 men to man her.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn New York, 6 September 1856, p.3.

SERIOUSLY INJURED

A laborer employed in the Navy Yard had one of his feet smashed yesterday while engaged at his usual labor in hauling timber. He was taken to his residence in Clermont Avenue.

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Source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, 17 November 1856, p. 2.

Affairs in the Navy Yard & Number of Men Employed.

The new Iron Gate at the entrance of the Navy yard is now complete and making a handsome though not imposing appearance.

The whole number of men employed in the Yard, in all departments, November 1st, was 1, 560. At the present time the number on the roll is about 1,470 – some seventy five men in the engineers department and fifteen borers having been discharged a few days after the election. More discharges will probably be made today and still further reductions may be expected as soon as the weather becomes colder. The masons and carpenters will not be able to work to advantage and business generally in the yard will decrease. The sea wall to extend from the dry dock has been commenced, giving employment to a large number of stone cutters. It will cost an immense sum.

 


Brooklyn Navy Yard 1808
Graphite Drawing by John Rubens Smith, 1775-1849

 

 

* * * * * * * * * *

John G. "Jack" Sharp resides in Concord, California. He worked for the United States Navy for thirty years as a civilian personnel officer. Among his many assignments were positions in Berlin, Germany, where in 1989 he was in East Berlin, the day the infamous wall was opened. He later served as Human Resources Officer, South West Asia (Bahrain). He returned to the United States in 2001 and was on duty at the Naval District of Washington on 9/11. He has a lifelong interest in history and has written extensively on the Washington, Norfolk, and Pensacola Navy Yards, labor history and the history of African Americans. His previous books include African Americans in Slavery and Freedom on the Washington Navy Yard 1799 -1865, Morgan Hannah Press 2011. History of the Washington Navy Yard Civilian Workforce 1799-1962, 2004. 
https://www.history.navy.mil/content/dam/nhhc/browse-by-topic/heritage/washington-navy-yard/pdfs/WNY_History.pdf
and the first complete transcription of the Diary of Michael Shiner Relating to the History of the Washington Navy Yard 1813-1869, 2007/2015 online:
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/d/diary-of-michael-shiner.html
His most recent work includes Register of Patients at Naval Hospital Washington DC 1814 With The Names of American Wounded From The Battle of Bladensburg 2018,
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/r/register-patients-naval-hospital-washington-dc-1814.html
The last three works were all published by the Naval History and Heritage Command. John served on active duty in the United States Navy, including Viet Nam service. He received his BA and MA in History from San Francisco State University. He can be reached at sharpjg@yahoo.com