Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"[U]ntil a wonderful change occurred during the last few days of the session."

March 14, 1866, New York Times, FROM THE STATE CAPITAL.; OUR ALBANY LETTER. Debate on the New Capitol Bill--Speeches by Messrs. Cochrane and D. P. Wood -- A Charge of Fraud, [extract]

The bill appropriating $500,000, to enable Commissioners, to be appointed by the Governor, to commence building a new Capitol, has occupied much of to-day's session in the House. It was supported in an able speech by Mr. Cochrane, of Albany, who exhausted all arguments against the inconveniences and defects of the old building, and the reasons which impel the people of Albany to ask for a new edifice more in keeping with the power, wealth and importance of the Empire State.

D. P. Wood, of Onondaga, replied with much earnestness and ability, arguing that taxation had already reached an unprecedented figure, and that the present was an exceedingly inopportune time to ask for a new Capitol. He argued that it was only sought to commit the State to the project by making an appropriation, however small, in order that it might be urged hereafter that the work had been commenced and must be gone through with. He estimated that, including the amount of town and county obligations for payment of bounties, which would, with interest, reach over thirteen millions to be raised this year, the annual tax for 1866, State and local, would amount to the enormous sum of $24,600,000. Was any tax ever before imposed upon the people of this State calling for twenty-four millions in a single year? Was this the time to build a new Capitol? Would an individual build a new house with an immense debt hanging over him? Mr. Wood further charged that a base fraud was perpetrated in the passage of the bill last year. As that bill passed the House, it simply located the new Capitol in Albany, but made no appropriation whatever. When it got into the Senate, however, by some manipulation, it contained another section, which the House never acted on, making an appropriation of $10,000. Mr. W. showed by the journals of the two houses that his charge was correct.

Progress was finally reported on the bill, which has been made the special order for next week, Wednesday. Had the vote been taken to-day, the Capitol Bill would have been defeated by a large majority. Such, however, was the condition of affairs last year, until a wonderful change occurred during the last few days of the session. Possibly a similar change may yet be brought about by the Albanians who are wonderfully clamorous for the bill, and who, it is charged, have raised the "sinews of war" to put it through.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Funeral of Old Tammany

The sort of thing the New York State Library should have been filled with if had it ever been a "real" library, legitimated foremost by a proper focus on chronicling and protecting the political history of the State. Instead, it was the whim and the feeding trough of a revolving door of self-aggrandizing gangsters, originally at the service of a landed aristocracy, then in cahoots with robber barons and corporate thieves. Given the balance of corruption that is America's two-party politics, it's doubtful any attempt was ever made to document criticism of the system, unless of course, it was to gather up all the original and primary sources and then torch them in the night, and then sing gleefully about it a few weeks later at an annual political  roast held by a group of Albany legislative journalists.

Title: The Funeral of Old Tammany. Printed Broadsheet, published in New York, by H. R. Robinson, circa 1836.

For sale by James Cummins Bookseller, ABAA, in New York City. Price: US $1250.00

The Funeral of Old Tammany. Printed broadside showing a funeral procession with the hearse in the lead being driven by the editor of the Courier and Enquirer. Among the mourners are also the editors for The Times and The Truth Teller. From various of the mourners are inscriptions inside balloons. To the right in the background is a view of Tammany Hall with a flag at half mast. Printed under the title is "This mournful ceremony took place in the City of New York on the 10th day of November 1836. The lamented individual had been long subject to a vast complication of disorders, whic[h] though combatted with great skill and perseverance by, Doctors, Humbug, Monopoly & Office, at last carried him off. The symptoms became extremely alarming on Robinson, H[enry]. R

The comments of the mourners include a fireman in the background asking "Who killed Old Tammany?" Another fireman beside him answers "James Gulick." This is a reference to the excitement of the election of Tammany opponent James Gulick, deposed Chief of the Fire Department, to the office of Register. Relatively little is known about Henry R. Robinson. He was located at 48 and 52 Courtlandt Street in New York in 1836-7, where he worked largely as a caricaturist. His primary output was graphic humor and political cartoons, and he drew on stone most of the unsigned prints he published. His cartoons "are important, and spirited, have long speeches in 'balloons,' often appear colored, but are sometimes difficult to understand without delving into detailed history of the politics of the times." (Peters, American on Stone, pp. 337-8.) The only known historical reference to Robinson is in Frederick Hudson's History of Journalism in America (1873), which notes that Robinson "lined the curbstones and covered the old fences of New York with his peculiarly characteristic caricatures during Jackson's and Van Buren's administrations . ." Image area is approx. 19 1/4" l x 11 1/4", in 27 1/4" x 15 3/4" frame. . Some minor chipping, trimmed with minor loss to text, inked stamp in upper right corner above Tammany Hall ("From the United States Bazaar. No. 324 North Market St. Albany N.Y."), otherwise a very nice piece. See A History of American Graphic Humor, pp. 171-2. Bookseller Inventory # 234396

January 4, 2012, Associated Press / Albany Times Union, Key NY document from 1775 on display at Capitol, by Chris Carola, 

I Don't Know What the Naked Intergenerational Male Thing In Masonry Is All About, But I Think It's Hot.

Draper's Mentally Ill Education Building. "The Wall Between Church and State."

Monday, January 09, 2012

Designs for a New New York Capitol

At what stage did the fifth-story windows in the corner towers get built with the three pairs of small square windows in each face along with that fat band of masonry that looks almost like a balcony?

As built, it differs from the symmetrical treatment of five windows as seen on the plan below. All the work was ripped out subsequently

The American Architect and Building News, March 11, 1876

SERIAL ARCHIVE LISTINGS for The American Architect

American Architect and Building News. (Boston: James R. Osgood & Co.) Various issues- 1876-1878.
Library of Congress Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room.

American Architect and Building News. NA1.A322 Microfilm 05422 (1876-1908) MicRR

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Insurgent Opposition Crumbles,

Fate of the New York State Collections in Archaeology and Ethnology in the Capitol Fire.

January-March, 1911, American Anthropologist, Vol. 13, Part 1, pages 169-171. Fate of the New York State Collections in Archaeology and Ethnology in the Capitol Fire.

— In the New York State Capitol conflagration of March 29 the archeological and ethnological collections of the State Museum were almost totally destroyed by fire and water. The collections were installed in vertical wall and square alcove cases about the corridors at the head of the western staircase. The location seemed to insure singular protection from fire, there being nothing inflammable in the vicinity save the molding that held the cases together. The damage seems to have been done by the long sheets of flame that burst through from the large corridor windows of the library bindery on one side and of the Education Department offices on the other. The immense amount of inflammable material there fed the flames once established and the draft caused by the breaking of the heavy plate windows that opened out into the hall about the staircase carried the blast directly against the cases, shattering the glass and exposing the specimens within. The archeological cases suffered most from breakage brought about by the crumbling of the sandstone ceilings that had been subjected to the intense heat.

The falling of the ceilings in great blocks broke the shelves that had so far resisted the fire and spilled the specimens into the water and debris. The continual dropping of masses of cracked rock from the walls made work of rescuing valuable objects most hazardous. However, despite the choking smoke, the sudden blasts of heat, and the falling walls the majority of the more valuable articles, untouched by the fire, were carried to safety. The ethnological exhibits consisted principally of three large collections; one made by Lewis H. Morgan before 1854 and embracing some 200 objects, the Harriet Maxwell Converse collection of about 350 specimens, and the collection made by Arthur C. Parker embracing nearly 200 rare objects, exclusive of silver ornaments. The famous Morgan collection of old Iroquois textiles and decorated fabrics went up in the first blast of flame, and the cases were burned to their bases. About 50 Morgan specimens were in the office of the archeologist of the museum for study purposes, and fortunately have been preserved. The Converse collection of silver articles was rescued intact.

Many of the less inflammable objects were rescued during the fire and carried out of the danger zone. None of the wampum belts of the Six Nations was injured.

One of the odd features of the calamity was that hardly a single object connected with the ceremonies of the Iroquois totemic cults or the religious rites was injured. The hair of the 30 medicine masks that hung in a line across the westernmost cases was not even singed.

Of the 10,000 articles on exhibition, including about 3500 flints, only 512 have been identified by their catalog numbers. One thousand other articles, more or less ruined by the action of flame and water, will entail a great deal of work to identify. In this connection it is interesting to note that catalog numbers applied directly to the surface of the stone, bone, or clay specimen with waterproof ink, withstood the action of fire and water better than the numbers painted on white varnish or on paper labels. Even when the object had been considerably heated the ink number on the surface was still legible. Paper labels proved valueless especially those with typewritten numbers. Those with numbers written in waterproof ink came through better. Arthur C. Parker.

March 27, 2011, Associated Press / Huffington Post, 1911 Fire Commemorated In NY, by Chris Carola,