One of the United States, the wealthiest and the most populous in the Union, is situated between 40°30' and 45° north latitude, and 71°56' and 79°56' west longitude from Greenwich, and is bound on the north by Canada, which is separated in part by Lake Ontario and the river St Lawrence; east by Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut; south by Pennsylvania, Lake Erie and the Niagara river, the two latter separating it in part from Canada West. It has a superficial area of about 46,000 square miles or 30,000,000 acres.
Physical Aspect-- The natural features of this state are greatly diversified, but in general may be regarded as an elevated tract, with numerous indentations and depressions, which form the basins of the lakes and the valleys of fertilizing streams. The surface of the eastern division is more varied in its character than the western. There are some level tracts, the principle of which embrace the prairies and larger plains of Long Island; but the greater portion is mountainous and hilly. The central and western divisions are mostly level or moderately undulating, except near the Pennsylvania line, where it becomes broker and hilly. The soil of this state is generally good, except on the more sterile parts of the Hudson highlands, and other mountainous tracts, and many parts are celebrated for their extraordinary fertility. The valleys of the Mohawk and the Genesee, in particular, have long been proverbial for their productiveness, and are regarded as inexhaustible in their yield. The extensive plains in the central part of Long Island, heretofore used as woodlands, producing large quantities of fuel for the New York market, are now being converted into farms and gardens, and the soil, with a moderate outlay for amendments, is found to produce, when properly cultivated, as well as any other land on the island.
Mountains-- There are several ridges of mountains in this state, which are generally considered as extensions of the Allegany or Appalachian chain. Two of these cross the eastern division, one of which extends from New Jersey to West Point, forming the Hudson highlands; thence in a northerly direction to the Taghkannic mountains, constituting the dividing ridge between the Housatonic and Hudson rivers. The same range continues to Vermont, and is there known as the Green mountains. The other range, from New Jersey, terminates at the Shawnangunk mountains, on the west side of the Hudson. Another range still more prominent also extends from New Jersey, as a continuation of the Kittatinny ridge, to the Kastsbergs (Catskill), near the Hudson, whence it continues in a northwesterly direction, through the counties of Albany and Schoharie, forming the Helderberg; thence to the Little Falls, through Herkimer, where it is known by the name of Sacondaga mountain; thence along to the westward of Lake Champlain to the river St Lawrence, forming the Adirondack mountains, Mount Marcy being the most Lefty pinnacle of the range.
Rivers, Creeks, Lakes and Bays-- The principal rivers are the St Lawrence, Niagara, Hudson, Delaware, Susquehannah, Genesee, Oswego, Oswegatchie, Black, St Regis, Mohawk, Saranac, Salmon, Chenango, Tioga, Seneca, Canisteo, Allegany, Croton, Harlem, and East. The most noted creeks are, the Tonawanda, Ellicott, Eighteen-Mile, Oak-Orached, Oriskany, East and West Canada, Schoharie, Sacondaga, Rondout and the Wall Kill. Lakes Erie, Ontario and Champlain lie partly in this state. The other chief lakes are George, Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Oswegatchie, Canandaigua, Chautauque, Skaneateles and Crooked. The principal bays are, New York, Jamaica, Great South, Shinnecock, Gardiner's, Peconic, Oyster and Flushing.
Cataracts-- New York is noted for a number of magnificent waterfalls. The falls of Niagara form the most stupendous cataract in the world. The water accumulated from the great upper lakes, forming a river about three quarters of a mile wide, and from 40 to 60 feet deep, flows with a current of seven miles an hour. As it proceeds the river widens, and embosoms Grand and Navy Islands, and again contracts to its former width. Below the islands are rapids, which extend a mile, to the precipice, in which space the river descends 57 feet. Here Goat Island divides the river into two channels. Over the precipice the river falls perpendicularly about 160 feet. Much the greater part of the water passes in the channel between Goat Island and the Canada shore, and this fall is called, from its shape, the Horseshoe. Between Goat Island and the small island in the eastern channel the stream is only eight or ten yards wide, forming a beautiful cascade. Between this small island and the American shore the sheet of water is broad, and the descent greater by a few feet than at the Horseshoe fall, but the stream is comparatively shallow. The best single view of the falls is from Table Rock, on the Canada shore, and the best view of the rapids is from Goat Island. Trenton falls, 12 miles north of Utica, are succession of magnificent cascades. The Cohoes falls are formed by the passage of the Mohawk over a wall of rock, in one sheet, 62 feet high. At Rochester, the Genesee has a fall of 96 feet. At Ithaca Fall creek has a descent of 438 feet in the space of a mile. The Cauterskill falls are a beautiful cascade, of great elevation, in the Highlands.
Mineral Springs-- The Saratoga and Ballston mineral springs are the resort of invalids at all seasons, and of the fashionable world during the summer. The salt Springs, near Syracuse, annually yield four million bushels of salt. The sulphur Springs, at Sharon, in Schoharie county, and at Avon, in Livingston county, are efficacious in the treatment of chronic complaints.
Islands-- The chief islands, surrounded by tide water, are Long, Staten, Manhattan, Blackwell's, Gardiner's, Shelter, and Plum. Those of the inland waters are, Grand and Tonawanda islands, in the Niagara river, and several others in the St Lawrence.
Climate-- The climate is more varied, perhaps then any other state. In the eastern section, below the Hudson highlands, the winters, are comparatively mild, but changeable, and frequently are rendered disagreeable by the ocean winds. In the northeastern and central divisions they are more uniform, but severe. In the western division they are also mild, and are subject to less variation than either of the other divisions, except near the lakes, where they are often rendered unpleasant by tempestuous winds. The extremes of temperature near the city of New York vary from 4° below zero to 90° above; at Albany from 16° below to 93° above; at Canandaigua from 8° below to 87° above; and at Buffalo from 0° to 80° above. The climate of the state is generally regarded as healthy, with the exception of a few months in summer and autumn, in the vicinity of the stagnant marshes and sluggish streams. Here as in most other parts of the country, situated in similar circumstances, intermittent and bilious disorders more or less prevail.
Productive Resources-- The chief products are horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, eggs, beef, pork, fish, butter, cheese, silk, hay, wool,, sugar, wine, hops, tobacco, flax, hemp, lumber, pot, and pearl ashes, pitch, tar, turpentine, wheat, flour, rye, barley, oats, peas, beans, flax-seed, buckwheat, potatoes, Indian corn, apples, cider, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, and other fruits peculiar to the latitude. Of the mineral and fossil resources, iron, salt, marble, hydraulic cement, gypsum, super-phosphate of lime, flagstone and lime are the most important, all of which are extensively and profitably wrought.
Manufactures-- The manufactures of New York are extensive. Every section of the state abounds in excellent water power, which is generally improved for manufactories, flour mills, saw mills &c. Cotton, woolens, iron, paper, leather, glass, oil, silk, cutlery, hardware, firearms, carriages &c are the most important articles of manufacture.
Railroads and Canals-- New York has about 2,000 miles of railroads in successful operation. The most important are, the New York and Erie, extending from the Hudson river to Lake Erie, a distance of 450 miles; and the Hudson river, and the New York, Harlem and Albany railroads, extending from New York city to Albany. From Albany railroads extend eastward to Boston, northward to Canada, and westward to Buffalo. From all these roads branches extend to various important points in the state. The New Haven connects New York city with the eastern states. The principal canal in New York is the Erie, extending from Albany to Buffalo, 364 miles. From the Erie lateral canals diverge north and south, traversing many important sections of country. The canals are, with a single exception, the property of the state. They have an aggregate length of about 1,000 miles, and have been principally built for the purpose of uniting the navigation of the lakes with the Hudson river.
Commerce-- The foreign commerce of New York is nearly equal to that of all the rest of the Union combined. Her lake and interior commerce is equally immense. In 1850, its imports and exports amounted to $163,836,313. The shipping owned within the state is over one million of tons, of which about one half is employed in the coasting trade and on the lakes.
Education-- Among the literary institutions of New York are, Columbia, Union, Hamilton and Geneva colleges; and the New York, Madison and Rochester universities. There are seven theological seminaries and five medical schools. There are also, about 250 academics and 12,000 common schools in the state. The money appropriated for the support of common schools amounts to over a million dollars annually.
Government-- The executive power is vested in a governor, and lieutenant governor, who must be native born citizens of the United States, and have resided in the state five years, and who are elected biennially; and the legislative power in a senate, of 32 members, elected biennially, and a house of assembly, of 128 members, elected annually, on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday in November. The secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer, canal commissioners, attorney general, engineer and surveyor, are elected biennially by the people. Judges are elected by the people, and hold office eight years. Every white male citizen 21 years of age, who has resided in the state one year, and in the county where he offers his vote four months next preceding the election, enjoys the right of suffrage. Persons of color who have resided three years in the state, and have possessed a freehold of $250, one year previous to the election, are allowed the right of suffrage.
Population-- In 1790 was 340,120; in 1800 was 586,756; in 1810 was 959,949; in 1820 was 1,372,812; in 1830 was 1,918,608; in 1840 was 2,428,957 and in 1850 was 3,097,394. Number of slaves in 1790 was 21,324; in 1800 was 20,343; in 1810 was 15,017; in 1820 was 10,088; in 1830 was 75 and in 1840 there were 4.
History-- In the year 1609, Henry Hudson, a navigator (who had previously made two voyages to the American continent, in the service of a company of London merchants), in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, while exploring the coasts of what are now Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, in search of a passage to the Pacific ocean, passed through the Narrows, entered the magnificent bay of New York, and discovered the mouth of the Manhattan (now Hudson) river. For ten days he continued his voyage cautiously up this river, confidently hoping it would open through to the great ocean, and it was not until he reached the head of tide water, in fact until he was at the mouth of the Mohawk, that he relinquished this idea. He reached England in the autumn of that year. During the same year, Champlain, having fortified Quebec, passed through the lake which bears his name, and descended Lake George. The two navigators came very near meeting each other from different points, in the interior of New York. The Dutch commenced a regular trade with the Indians upon the Hudson in 1610, which was continued several years before a permanent settlement was commenced. They began a settlement at Albany in 1615, built a fort, and called the country upon the river New Netherlands. About the same time, a small settlement was made upon Manhattan Island, but actual colonization did not take place until after 1621, when the Dutch West India Company was formed. In 1629, this company issued patroon privileges, for the purpose of encouraging settlements and emigration rapidly increased. In 1633, the Dutch erected a fort on the Connecticut river, upon the present sit of Hartford, but soon after abandoned the place. The Dutch at this time claimed Long Island, yet the English commenced settlements upon the eastern end of it. They also claimed jurisdiction over the whole country bordering the Delaware and its bay, but there a colony of Swedes, which had been projected by and planted under the auspices of Gustavus Adolphus, disputed their authority, and they built a fort upon the island of Tinicum, in the Delaware, a few miles below Philadelphia. In 1643-44, the Dutch waged a war against the neighboring Indian tribes upon Long Island, and in New Jersey, who showed signs of disaffection, having been badly treated by whites. The Indians were subdued and dispersed. In 1647, Peter Stuyvesant, the most celebrated of the Dutch governors, arrived and by order of the home government, he set about reducing the Swedish colony to submission. This was accomplished in 1655, and New Sweden upon the Delaware became a part of the New Netherlands. In 1664, Charles II granted the country between the Connecticut and the Delaware to his brother, the Duke of York, who sent an armed force to take possession. This they accomplished in the autumn of that year, and the name of the settlement and province was changed to New York. When in 1689, Governor Andros was imprisoned, the people of New York under Leisler, took possession of the fort there. Leisler continued at the head of affairs until 1691, when he was arrested by Slaughter, a newly appointed royal governor, and executed on a charge of high treason. From the year 1700 until 1744, the province of New York was quiet, except the excitement produced by a pretended negro plot. It was then that the "five years" war with France took place, and northern New York became the theatre of hostilities. Hoosick and Schenectady were burnt. From 1755 to 1763 occurred the French and Indian wars, and New York was the chief field of operations within the English colonies. Fort Oswego was captured by Montcalm, 13 Aug 1756, and the next year, on 09 Aug, he stormed and took Port William Henry, on Lake George. The English also made conquests of fortresses in the possession of the French; Ticonderoga, Frontenac and Niagara. The congress of the colonies, which the stamp act gave birth to, was held in the city of New York, in 1765, and about the same time the association called the Sons of Liberty was organized in this province. In 1767, the powers of the colonial legislature were annulled by parliament, because the assembly refused to grant supplies to troops. In 1773, the people of New York, like those of Boston, successfully resisted the landing of tea. In 1775, after hearing of the battle of Lexington, a provincial congress was assembled, and thus the colony was governed until 1777, when a constitution was adopted. On 27 Aug 1776, occurred the battle on Long Island between the Americans and British and Hessians. The city was evacuated by the Americans on 23 Sep. From that time until the close of the Revolution, this state was the scene of some of the most exciting and important events for the war. But our limits forbid a detail of them. On 25 Nov 1783, the British evacuated New York. It was there that Washington, the first president of the United States, was inaugurated on 30 Apr 1789. New York ratified the Constitution of the United States 26 Jul 1788.