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SILVANUS THAYER ABERT, CIVIL ENGINEER, AUTHOR--1828-1903
Abert, Silvanus Thayer, civil engineer, author, was born July 22, 1828, in Philadelphia, Pa. He was a civil engineer in the United States service; and from 1873 was in charge of the geographical division extending from Washington to Wilmington, N.C. He is the author of Notes Historical and Statistical upon the Projected Route for an Interoceanic Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific. He died in 1903 in Washington, D.C.
Source Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States, by William Herringshaw, 1909

Transcribed by Therman Kellar, of Genealogy Trails



MRS. SARAH C ACHESON, CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION, 1844

ACHESON, Mrs. Sarah C, temperance worker, born in Washington, Pa., 20th February, 1844. She is descended on the paternal side from English and Dutch families that settled in Virginia in 16oo, and on the maternal side from Col. George Morgan, who had charge of Indian affairs under Washington, with headquarters at Fort Pitt, and of whom Jefferson, in a letter which Mrs. Acheson has in her possession, says, "He first gave me notice of the mad project of that day," meaning the Aaron Burr treason. Among her ancestors were Col. William Duane, of Philadelphia, editor of the Philadelphia "Aurora" during the Revolution. Her girlhood was spent in the town of her birth, where she was married, in 1863, to Capt. Acheson, of the same place, then on Gen. Miles's staff, the marriage taking place while the Captain was on furlough with a gunshot wound in the face. He left for the front ten days after, encouraged by his young wife. Dr and Mrs. Acheson moved to Texas in 1872. During their residence in Texas Mrs. Acheson has been a moral force. Her influence has been strongly felt, not only in the city where she resides, but throughout the State. Her generous nature has been shown in heroic deeds of a kind which the world seldom sees. When a cyclone struck the village of Savoy, many of its inhabitants were badly wounded, some were killed, others made homeless. Mrs. Acheson reached them as speedily as a train could take her, doing duty as nurse and special provider for the suffering. She gave three years of active service to the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She was State president at a time when a strong leader was greatly needed, guiding their bark into a haven of financial safety. Her life is active along all lines of duty. She is abreast of the advanced thought of the age. The world's progress in social, scientific and religious reform is not only an open, but a well read book, to her. Her home is in Denison, Tex.

Source American Women, Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol 1, Publ. 1897

Transcribed by Marla Snow



ROBERT ADAMS, GEOLOGIST, DIPLOMAT, CONGRESSMAN--1849-1906

Adams, Robert, geologist, diplomat, congressman, was born Feb. 26, 1849, in Philadelphia, Pa. He graduated from the university o f Pennsylvania in 1869. He studied and practiced law for five years; was a member of the United States geological survey in 1871-75; and engaged in explorations of the Yellowstone park. He was a member of the state senate of Pennsylvania in 1883-87; and was United States minister to Brazil in 1889-90. In 1893-1906 he was a representative from Pennsylvania to the fifty-third, fifty-fourth, fifty-fifth, fifty-sixth, fifty-seventh, fifty-eighth and fifty-ninth congresses as a republican. He died May 31, 1906, in Washington. D.C.

Source Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States, by William Herringshaw, 1909

Transcribed by Therman Kellar, of Genealogy Trails



CHARLES ADAMSON, LAWYER, MANUFACTURER, FOUNDER, Born 1859

Adamson, Charles, lawyer, manufacturer, founder, was born March 17, 1859, in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1882-90 he practiced law in Philadelphia, Pa.; and in 1889-90 was a member of the city common council. In 1890 he organized the Cedartown land improvement company of Georgia. In 1896 he organized the Cedartown cotton company to make fine hosiery yarns; in 1898 organized the Southern extension cotton mill company; and in 1899 organized the Paragon mills; and in each of these corporations he was either president or manager. In 1899 he consolidated these three companies, aggregating twenty-five thousand spindles, becoming vice-president of the corporation. In 1896 and 1904 he was a delegate from Georgia to the republican national conventions. In 1907 he was president of the Southern association of hosiery yarn spinners.

Source Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States, by William Herringshaw, 1909

Transcribed by Therman Kellar, of Genealogy Trails



MRS. ELIZA DOWNING ALBRIGHT, TEMPERANCE WORKER, 1847

ALBRIGHT, Mrs. Eliza Downing, church and temperance worker, born in Philadelphia, Penn., 13th March, 1847. She is descended from Puritan ancestry, dating back to that goodly company of 20,000 emigrants, Englishmen of the adventurous and thrifty class, whose sails whitened the Atlantic between 1630 and 1640. At t-he age of eleven years Eliza Downing was graduated from the public schools of Philadelphia, and later she stud1ed under private teachers and in some of the institutes in which the city at that time abounded. In 1867 she was married to the Rev. Louis M. Albright. D. D., a graduate of the Ohio Wesleyan University and a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. After marriage she was engaged with her husband in teaching mathematics and natural sciences in the Ohio Wesleyan Female College, in Delaware, Ohio. Later she was a teacher of mathematics in Lewis College, Glasgow, Mo., and De Pauw Female College, of which Dr. Albright was president. More recently, in the itinerancy in Ohio, Mrs. Albright has been occupied in good work as a pastor's wife in connection with the churches and districts in which her husband has successively served. For the last six years they have resided in Delaware, Ohio. When the temperance crusade began, Mrs. Albright threw herself into that new movement. She became corresponding secretary of the Ohio Woman's Christian Temperance Union at its organization, in 1877, and for three years, until family cares made necessary her resignation, she did a large amount of work in the way of correspondence and public speaking. She has been identified with the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as district secretary and speaker. At present she is one of the national officers of the Woman's Home Missionary Society and is also chairman of the State executive committee of the Young Woman's Christian Association. A clear and effective speaker, she is in constant demand for public addresses in the interest of these and other causes. While in sympathy with every movement for reform, Mrs. Albright counts her duties to her family first and highest. Naturally a student, with strong physique and great energy, she turns to account every opportunity for personal improvement.

Source American Women, Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol 1, Publ. 1897

Transcribed by Marla Snow



MISS LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, AUTHOR, 1832-1888

ALCOTT, Miss Louisa May, author, born in Germantown, Penn., 29th November, 1832. Her birthday was the anniversary of the birth of her father, the late A. Bronson Alcott, the "Sage of Concord." Louisa was the second of four daughters, only one of whom, Mrs. J. B. Pratt, is now living. Surrounded in childhood by an atmosphere of literature, she began to write at an early age, her reading including Shakespeare, Goethe, Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Miss Edgeworth and George Sand. Her first poem, "To a Robin," was written when she was eight years old. In 1838 the Alcott family removed to Boston, and she lived in or near that city until her death. Concord was longest her home. Their life in this latter town was interrupted by a year spent in an ideal community, "Fruitlands," in the town of Harvard, where they abstained from meat as food. The experience Miss Alcott described in an amusing sketch, "Transcendental Wild Oats." Returning to Concord, the Alcotts lived for a while in a house that was afterwards Hawthorne's home. Her father, a distinguished lecturer and teacher of his time, was one of the first to insist that gentleness was more influential than the rod, and to show that education should bring out the best that was in a child's nature, not simply cram a young mind with facts. Miss Alcott received her instructions chiefly from Henry Thoreau. Emerson was Mr. Alcott's most intimate friend, and very early in her life Miss Alcott became his favorite. When she was fifteen, Mr. Emerson loaned her a copy of "Wilhelm Meister," from the reading of which dated her life-long devotion to Goethe. At the age of sixteen Miss Alcott began to teach a little school of twenty members, and continued to do work of this kind in various ways for fifteen years, although it was extremely distasteful to her, and at the same time she began to write stories for publication. Her first published book was "Flower Fables" (Boston, 1855). It was not successful. She continued to write for her own amusement in her spare hours, but devoted herself to helping her father and mother by teaching school, serving as nursery governess, and even at times sewing for a living. Many of the troubles of those early years have been referred to in the sorrows of Christie in her volume called "Work," published after her name was widely known. After awhile she found there was money in sensational stories, and she wrote them in quick succession and sent them to many papers; but this style of writing soon wearied her and she had conscientious scruples about continuing it. In 1862 she became a nurse in the Washington hospitals and devoted herself to her duties there with conscientious zeal. In consequence, she became ill herself and narrowly escaped death by typhoid fever. While in Washington she wrote to her mother and sisters letters describing hospital life and experience, which were revised and published in book-form as "Hospital Sketches" (Boston, 1863). In that year she went to Europe as companion to an invalid woman, spending a year in Germany, Switzerland, Paris and London. Then followed "Moods" (1864); "Morning Glories, and Other Tales" (1867); "Proverb Stories" (1868). She then published "Little Women," 2 volumes, (1868), a story founded largely on incidents in the lives of her three sisters and herself at Concord. This book made its author famous. From its appearance until her death she was constantly held in public esteem, and the sale of her books has passed into many hundred thousands. Most of her stories were written while she resided in Concord, though she penned the manuscript in Boston, declaring that she could do her writing better in that city, so favorable to her genius and success. Following "Little Women" came "An Old Fashioned Girl" (1870); "Little Men" (1871), the mere announcement of which brought an advance order from the dealers for 50,000 copies; the "Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag" (1871), 6 volumes; "Work" (1873); "E1ght Cousins" (1875); "A Rose in Bloom" (1876); "Silver Pitchers and Independence" (1876); "Modern Mephistopheles, anonymously in the "No Name Ser1es" (1877); "Under the Lilacs" (1878); "Jack and Jill" (1880); "Proverb Stories" a new edition revised (1882); "Moods" a revised edition (1884); "Spinning-Wheel Stories" (1884); "Jo's Boys" (1886). This latest story was a sequel to "Little Men." "A Garland for Girls" (1887). With three exceptions her works were all published in Boston. Miss Alcott did not attempt a great diversity of subjects; almost everything she wrote told of scenes and incidents that had come within her personal knowledge. The sales of her books in the United States alone amount to over a half-million. Her "Little Women" reached a sale of 87,ooo copies in less than three years. She wrote a few dainty poems, but never considered that her talents lay in versifying. Her death occurred 6th March, 1888, just two days after the death of her father. She was buried on 8th March in the old Sleepy Hollow graveyard in Concord, the funeral being a double one and attended only by the immed1ate relatives. Miss Alcott's will directed that all her unfinished manuscripts, including all letters written by her, should be burned unread.
Source American Women, Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol 1, Publ. 1897

Transcribed by Marla Snow



MRS EMMA B ALRICH, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR, EDUCATOR, 1845-

ALRICH, Mrs. Emma B., journalist, author and educator, born in Cape May county, N. J., 4th April, 1845. She was the first child of fond parents, and no attempt was made to guard against precocity. At the age of three years a New Testament was given her as a prize for reading its chapters, and at five years she picked blackberries to buy an arithmetic. At twelve years of age she joined the Baptist Church. At that time she began to write for the county paper. At sixteen she taught the summer school at her home. In 1862 she entered the State Normal School in Trenton, N. J., going out for six months in the middle of the course to earn the money for finishing it. She was graduated in June, 1864, as valedictorian of her class. She began to teach in a summer school on the next Monday morning after her graduation. In 1866 she was married to Levi L. Alrich, who had won laurels as one of Baker's Cavalry, or 71st Pennsylvania Regiment. Her first two years of married life they spent in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1876 the Centennial opened up new possibilities and Mr and Mrs. Alrich moved to the West and settled in Cawker City, Kans. There she again entered the school -room, was the first woman in Mitchell county to take the highest grade certificate, and the only woman who has been superintendent of the city schools. She was a warm supporter of teachers' meetings, church social gatherings, a public library and .a woman's club. In 1883 her husband's failing health compelled a change in business. He bought the "Free Press," and changed its name to the "Public Record." All the work of the office has been done by their own family, and each can do every part of it. Besides her journalistic work, she served two years on the board of teachers' examiners. She was one of the forty who organized the National Woman's Relief Corps, one of the three who founded the Woman's Hesperian Library Club, and was the founder of the Kansas Woman's Press Association. Her busy life leaves her but little time for purely literary work.

Source American Women, Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol 1, Publ. 1897

Transcribed by Marla Snow



MRS. SARA DARY ARMBRUSTER, BUSINESS WOMAN AND PUBLISHER, 1862-

ARMBRUSTER, Mrs. Sara Dary, business woman and publisher, born in Philadelphia, Pa., 29th September, 1862. Her early years were passed in luxury, and she had all the advantages of thorough schooling. When she was seventeen years old, reverses left her family poor, and she was made partly helpless by paralysis. Obliged to support herself and other members of her family, she took the Irving House, a hotel of ninety-five rooms, in Philadelphia, and by good management made it a successful establishment and lifted herself and those dependent upon her above poverty. She was married at an early age. She originated in Philadelphia the Woman's Exchange. Her present enterprise is to furnish a house for the infants of widows and deserted wives in her native city. She is the publisher of the "Woman's Journal," a weekly paper devoted to the cause of women, and her interest in philanthropic movements is earnest and active.

Source American Women, Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol 1, Publ. 1897

Transcribed by Marla Snow



JOSEPH HUBLEY ASHTON, LAWYER, FOUNDER, AUTHOR--1836-1907

Ashton, Joseph Hubley, lawyer, founder, author, was born March 11, 1836, in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1854 he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with the degree of A.M.; and subsequently received the degree of LL.D. from Georgetown University. In 1864-67 and in 1868-69 he was assistant attorney general of the United States; and in 1870-74 was professor of pleading, practice and evidence in the law department of Georgetown University. In 1885 he was counsel for the government before the Venezuela claims commission; and in 1890-97 was counsel in cases under Chinese exclusion laws. In 1878 he was one of the founders of the American bar association. He edited four volumes of Opinions of the Attorneys-General of the United States. He died in 1907 in Washington, D.C.

Source Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States, by William Herringshaw, 1909

Transcribed by Therman Kellar, of Genealogy Trails



MRS HARRIET BUNKER AUSTIN, AUTHOR, 1844-

AUSTIN, Mrs. Harriet Bunker, author, born in Erie, Pa., 29th December, 1844. She is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Bunker, descending from New England, stock. Her greatgrandfather, Benjamin Bunker, was a soldier of the Revolution, and was killed in the battle of Bunker Hill. The hill from which the battle was named comprised part of the Bunker estate. On her mother's side she is related to the Bronson Alcott and Lyman Beecher families. When quite young, she removed with her parents to Woodstock, McHenry county, Ill., where she has since resided. Her education was received in the Woodstock high school and Dr. Todd's Female Seminary. At the close of her seminary life she was married to W. B. Austin, a prosperous merchant of that city. She has been a prolific writer, many of her poems having been set to music and gained deserved popularity. She has always taken an active interest in every scheme for the advancement of women, and is ever ready to lend her influence to the promotion of social reforms.

Source American Women, Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol 1, Publ. 1897

Transcribed by Marla Snow



MRS RACHEL FOSTER AVERY, WOMAN SUFFRAGIST, 1858-

AVERY, Mrs. Rachel Foster, woman suffragist, born in Pittsburgh, Pa., 30th December, 1858. Her father was J. Heron Foster, of the Pittsburgh "Dispatch." Her mother was a native of Johnstown, N. Y., the birthplace of her Sunday school teacher and life-long friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. When Rachel was a child, Mrs. Stanton lectured in Pittsburgh. Shortly after, a suffrage meeting was held in Mrs. Foster's house, and a society was formed of which she was made vice-president. Thus the young girl grew up in an atmosphere of radicalism and advanced thought. That she is a woman suffragist comes not only from conviction, but by birth-right as well. In 1871 the family, consisting of her mother, her sister, Julia T., and herself, the father having died shortly before, moved to Philadelphia, where they at once identified themselves with the Citizens' Suffrage Association of that city, in which Lucretia Mott, Edward M. Davis, M. Adeline Thompson and others were leading spirits. Her sister, Julia, was for many years a most efficient secretary of that society as well as recording secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and seconded warmly the more active work of her sister, Rachel G., as did also their mother, Mrs. Julia Foster. Both mother and sister have passed away, but their works live after them. When about seventeen years old, Miss Foster began to write for the newspapers, furnishing letters weekly from California and afterward from Europe to the Pittsburgh “Leader.” Later she took part in the Harvard examinations, traveled extensively in Europe with her mother and sister, and studied political economy in the University of Zurich. In the winter of 1879 she attended the eleventh Convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association, which determined her career. With characteristic promptitude she began to plan the series of conventions to be held in the West during the summer of 188o, including those at the same times and places as the Republican and Democratic national nominating conventions. In the spring of 1881 she planned the series of ten conventions in the different New England States, beginning at Boston, during the May anniversary week. In 1882 she conducted the Nebraska amendment campaign, with headquarters in Omaha. She engaged Gov. John W. Hoyt, of Wyoming, to give a lecture in Philadelphia on "The good results of thirteen years' experience of woman's voting in Wyoming Territory," had the lecture stenographically reported, collected the money to publish 20,000 copies, and scattered them broadcast over the State of Pennsylvania. The 22nd February, 1883, Miss Foster sailed for Europe with Miss Susan B. Anthony, and with her superior linguistic attainments she served as ears and tongue for her companion in their journeyings through France, Italy. Switzerland and Germany. Miss Foster's management of the International Council of Women, held in Washington, D. C., in February, 1888, under the auspices of the National Woman Suffrage Association, was the crowning effort of her executive genius. There were forty-nine official delegates to that council, representing fifty-three different societies from seven distinct nationalities. The expense of this meeting made a grand total of fourteen-thousand dollars, the financial risk of which was beforehand assumed by Miss Anthony, supported by Miss Foster. Mrs. Foster Avery is a philanthropist in the broadest sense. Of her independent fortune she also gives largely to numerous reforms and charities. Her marriage with Cyrus Miller Avery took place 8th November, 1888, Rev. Anna H. Shaw assisting in the ceremony. Mrs. Foster Avery holds the office of Corresponding Secretary of the National Suffrage Association, and of the National and the International Councils of Women.

Source American Women, Fifteen Hundred Biographies, Vol 1, Publ. 1897

Transcribed by Marla Snow



LYDIA BAILEY, PRINTER & PUBLISHER--1779-1869

Lydia R. (Steele) Bailey

Bailey, Lydia R.- printer and publisher, was connected with the printing industry for sixty years and was the first and only woman to become official city printer in Philadelphia. Of her early life nothing is known, but when she was nineteen she married Robert Bailey, son and successor of Francis Bailey (q.v.) and at her husband's death, 1808, found herself in debt and with four small children to support. The youngest child was only four months of age. Being a practical printer she set about paying off her husband's debts and established a successful business. In this effort she was assisted by several influential persons who knew her plight. One of these was the patriot poet, Philip Freneau, who gave the widow the publication of a new edition of his "Poems." These she issued in 1809 in two small volumes, with frontispieces engraved by Eckstein. From about 1830 to 1850, she was City Printer of Philadelphia and the specialty of her office was book work. She died February 24, 1869, three weeks after reaching her ninetieth (90th) birthday, but had retired soon after the death of her son, Robert, who was her trusted assistant, in 1861. SOURCE Jackson, Joseph,. Encyclopedia of Philadelphia. Harrisburg, Pa.: National Historical Association, 1931-1933

Lydia R. Bailey

This lady is a native of Lancaster county. She is the daughter of the late William Steele and niece of General James Steele and General John Steele, all of whom served their country faithfully and bravely during the revolutionary war. Her husband, Robert Bailey, printer, also a patriot of the revolution. On the death of her father-in-law, she was left nearly destitute, with a family of small children to support by her own industry. Thus situated, she made an effort to continue the business in which her husband was engaged, and through the kindness of Mr. Mathew Carey, and some other liberal Booksellers, she succeeded in obtaining employment and when her uncle General John Steele, was appointed Collector of the Port of Philadelphia, she obtained the printing of the Customhouse, which with her general business and her ingenuity and dexterity in putting maps upon rollers, enabled her to educate her children and support her family decently.

With all her claims upon the public, the little government patronage which she enjoyed, could not escape the greedy eye of a prominent partisan of Messrs Adams and Clay, and Mrs. Bailey, who does not print a newspaper and therefore can have no immediate claim to the support of the administration, was dismissed as custom-house printer, to make room for Mr. John Binns.

The claims of this gentleman upon the general government, we understand, have been admitted to their fullest extent, and though he had neither father, uncle, brother or relative, who served the United States in her great struggle for liberty; and though his claims to personal bravery or services to this country, in his own person are not of a more brilliant character than those of the Widow Bailey, yet does the administration by its acts prove that it delights to honor him .

Mr. Binns was appointed an alderman of the city of Philadelphia by Governor Hiester, which lucrative office he still holds. He was also appointed a publisher of the laws of the United States and of the proclamations and advertisements of the Executive, Treasury and War Departments by Mr. Clay as some compensation, we presume, for his going over to the Adams party.

To all this we might have submitted without a murmur; but when we see the rapacious talons of this cormorant, seizing upon the widow's mite, to stuff a maw already gorged by the hands of his very liberal feeders, we cannot repress our indignation.

Mrs. Bailey is a daughter of Lancaster county. Her relations have always been among the foremost when their country needed their services. Their course has been distinguished for manly rectitude. No man but the duelist Clay, could have insulted her poverty and trampled upon her merits. No man, but Mr. Binns would have deprived her children of bread. The people of Lancaster county will not be slow to manifest their disgust at such evident baseness.

(In addition to the items of profit received by the Editor of the Press, enumerated in the preceding article, we add the furnishing stationary for the custom house, amounting to about $500 per annum, and what renders the removal of Mrs. Bailey the more ungracious is that Binns had the printing of the custom house at the time he got the furnishing of the stationary from Mrs. Bailey.) - (Republican Compiler, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), July 18, 1827 - From the (Lancaster Gazette) - Contributed by NP, of Genealogy Trails



JAMES NELSON BARKER, SOLDIER, DRAMATIST, AUTHOR, POET--1784-1858

Barker, James Nelson, soldier, dramatist, author, poet, was born June 17, 1784, in Philadelphia, Pa. He was a Philadelphia poet and playwright. He was comptroller of the United States treasury in 1838-50. In the war of 1812 he rose to the rank of major; and in 1814-17 was assistant adjutant-general of the fourth military district. His dramas include Marmion; The Indian Princess; Superstition; and Smiles and Tears. He died March 9, 1858, in Washington, D.C.

Source Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States, by William Herringshaw, 1909

Transcribed by Therman Kellar, of Genealogy Trails



JOSEPH K. BARNES, PHYSICIAN, SURGEON--1817-1883

Source Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States, by William Herringshaw, 1909

Transcribed by Therman Kellar, of Genealogy Trails

Barnes, Joseph K., physician, surgeon, was born July 21, 1817, in Philadelphia, Pa. When the Mexican war began he was appointed chief medical officer of the cavalry brigade; and served throughout the war. In 1863 he was assigned to duty in the office of the surgeon-general; was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general; and in 1865 was brevetted major-general. He was present at the deathbed of Lincoln; attended Secretary Seward when he was wounded by the knife of a confederate assassin; and attended Mr. Garfield through his long confinement. He was a trustee of the Peabody educational fund; a commissioner for the soldiers' home; and the custodian of other important public trusts. He died April 5, 1883, in Washington, D.C.



COMMODORE JAMES BARRON, U. S. NAVY --Letters To The Board Of Navy Commissioners

Source: Navy Board of Commissioners, Letters Receive, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 45, E314 Volume 91.
DRAWING OF COMMODORE JAMES BARREN, US NAVY Introduction-- The letters below are from Commodore James Barron, (September 15, 1768 – April 21, 1851), Commandant, Philadelphia Naval Yard. Barron is writing to the Board of Navy Commissioners describing his attempts to resolve demands from the shipwrights for change in working hours. The shipwrights wanted Barron and the Department of the Navy to shorten the workday from 12 to 10 hours. The struggle for a shorter workday in the United States began in the late eighteenth century, even before the establishment of the first trade unions. The goal was the ten hour day. A key aspect of the campaign concerned the way organizers framed their demand. They argued that the 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 workers 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.

Transcribed & submitted by John G. Sharp, contributor to Genealogy Trails

The Struggle for Ten Hour Day at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard July 1835

Comdts Office

U.S. Navy Yard,
Philad. 8th July 1835

Sir,

The Mechanics in this city of all denominations have recently made , as it is termed , a turnout, a turnout for a regulation in the hours of labor, and so general is the feeling amongst the respectable portion of the community that the Master mechanics – City councils – and County and district Commissioners have all conceded to them the terms demanded – say from 6 – o’clock to 6 – o’clock , during those months of the year when the Sun rises before & sets before or at 6 o’clock, allowing one hours for dinner , - and from Sun rise till Sun set, for all the balance of the year – granting the same time for meals, -

The Shipwrights, differ in some respects with regard to the time they are willing to work, and I here with enclose to the Board a copy of the rules by which their working hours are regulated – from the Symptoms which have developed in the body since the hours from 6 to 6 have been granted – to the other mechanics – it is evident however that these rules will not be adhered to long – and that the same terms will be demanded by the Shipwrights - This therefore would seem to me to be a favorable moment to adopt the hours from the 6 to 6 - in the Yard provided the Board should think proper to do so for as that would not be a concession on the part of the Commissioners to the demands of the Mechanics – but a voluntary act of the Board which can involve no unpleasant feelings – and which in my opinion - I would respectfully observe – Seems to be inevitable, sooner or later, for as the working man are seconded by all the Master workmen, city councils etc. there is no probability they will secede from their demands –

I am Very respectfully Your Obedt Servt

James Barron

To Commodores
Isaac Chauncey
Charles Morris

Commanding Officer

U.S. Navy Yard, Phila 9th July 1835

Sir,

The conversation which I had with you on Sunday last induced me to believe that if any arrangements could be made with the workmen of this city to perform their labor by the hour, it would be agreeable to the Board of Navy Commissioners, so to employ them.
In consequence of the conversation, above alluded to, I sent for one of the workmen and requested him to consult with his friends, and endeavor to ascertain their ideas on the subject, communicating to me the result, so soon as known to him – and it is therefore probable that early in the next week , I may receive this information –

I have therefore, to request any instruction or opinion from the Board that it may have to give , relative to the latitude which it may think proper to invest me with –

The wages are about tow dollars per diem, or twenty cents per hour –

I am Sir very respectfully
Your Obedt Servt.

James Barron

To
Commodore John Rodgers
Presid. Board of Navy Comm.
Washington

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer; 20 July 1835
[The Ten Hour Day]
The Shipwrights, Caulkers and Riggers A public meeting of the Shipwrights, Caulkers, Riggers and others connected with the art of shipbuilding, was held at the Commissioners Hall, Southwark on the evening of Friday last – the object of the meeting being to hear and act upon a letter received a day or two since from the Secretary of the Navy. John F. Stump, Esq was present, and made quiet an appropriate address on the occasion. It appears that some months since the shipwrights, carpenters, riggers, and others connected with the various shipyards of Philadelphia made an appeal to the Master Builders, who cheerfully agreed to consider ten hours as the Working Day. A short time after an order was received from Washington authorizing a store ship to be built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and a number of hands were immediately advertised for. It was soon ascertained, however that they were expected to engage themselves in conformity with the terms of the old arrangement. They refused and the work was consequently delayed. Mr. Stump accidently hearing of the circumstance, advised the shipwrights to detail the whole matter to the Secretary of the Navy. This was accordingly done, the letter signed by Messrs. Stump, Page and Horn. The result was of the most satisfactory character. The Secretary promptly responded to the letter, and remarked that it would be perfectly agreeable to the Department that the shipwrights engaged on the public work should not be compelled to labour longer than those engaged in the private shipyards. The letter was read at the meeting on Friday night and received with every proper demonstration of satisfaction. A committee was appointed to wait upon Commodore Barron and another to forward a letter of thanks to Washington. The meeting was quite large – and those present conducted themselves with due propriety.

image of the 1835 strike poster taken at the National Archives and Records Administration by John G. Sharp



NICHOLAS BIDDLE, FINANCIER--1786-1844

Source: Biographical Sketches of Preeminent Americans, Volume 2 By Frederick G. Harrison; Publ. 1892

Transcribed and submitted by Andrea Stawski Pack, of Genealogy Trails

NICHOLAS BIDDLE BIONICHOLAS BIDDLE, From an exceptionally fine portrait, by Henry Inman [1801 1846];
Painted for the late Hon. Richard M. Blatchford, of New York; An intimate friend of Mr. Biddle;
And father of Mr. Justice Blatchford of the United States Supreme Court; In whose Washington residence the portrait now hangs.

NICHOLAS BIDDLE; whose name is inseparably connected with the financial history of the earlier years of our government, and especially with that institution which was so long a prominent factor in Federal politics, the United States Bank, was born in the city of Philadelphia, on the 8th of January, 1786. His intellectual forces matured with remarkable rapidity, and he was hurried through the academy and through the University of Pennsylvania in such a manner that he was fitted to receive his degree by the time he was thirteen. This, however, it was deemed best to defer, owing to his extreme youth, and he entered "the Sophomore Class at Princeton, graduating in 1801, after gaining a very brilliant college record.

He next began to read law; but his studies were interrupted by his appointment as secretary of legation to John Armstrong, the United States minister to France. He developed an extraordinary aptitude for business, and the gray-headed French diplomats were amazed at the ease and ability with which the handsome young American handled grave matters of state.

Even so early in life, he proved himself an adept in matters of finance. Certain claims against the French government which, according to treaty were to be paid out of the Louisiana Purchase money were referred to the young secretary for audit, and he attended personally to the payment of the claims when they were allowed. Subsequently, he travelled extensively through Greece, and other parts of Europe, after which he acted, for a time, as secretary to James Monroe, then American envoy to England. Here he again found opportunity to astonish his elders, by a discussion with the learned professors at Cambridge, on the subject of the relation between the ancient and the modern Greek tongue, in which his knowledge of the living idiom was so much superior to that of his opponents, that he had them clearly at a disadvantage, very much to the gratification of Mr. Monroe's national pride.

Upon his return to America, in 1807, he opened an office in his native city and began to practice law; but he was also engaged in literary pursuits, and in politics. He became interested in the publication of a magazine called the "Port Folio," and was, for a time, its sole editor. Soon after the acquisition of Louisiana, an expedition was sent out by authority of President Jefferson, under the command of Captains Lewis and Clarke, to explore the new territory. Mr. Biddle undertook the task of preparing the report of this expedition for publication, and carried it almost to completion, although* his name did not appear on the title page.

In 1810, Mr. Biddle entered the Pennsylvania Legislature, where he became a distinguished champion of the movement for the establishment of a general system of instruction for the young, at the public expense. He was, indeed, ahead of his generation, and met with present defeat; but the agitation which he was so largely influential in promoting went on, gathering fresh impetus from year to year, until his beneficent designs were carried into execution, twenty-five years later, under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens. But Mr. Biddle did not confine his attention to matters of local importance. He became deeply interested in the question of the re-charter of the United States Bank, and by his active efforts in behalf of the measure, he commanded, young as he was the attention of the entire country. As the Bank of the United States receives frequent mention in our pages, a slight notice of its history may not be out of place here.

Alexander Hamilton, while Secretary of the Treasury, in a report touching the financial condition of the government made in the year 1790, recommended the establishment of a bank which should issue notes receivable for all dues to the United States, thus providing a reliable and uniform currency for the whole country. In accordance with this recommendation a bill was passed in Congress in the following year to charter the Bank of the United States, with headquarters at Philadelphia, and branches in other cities as might be desirable. Much opposition was manifested to the new institution, especially by the Republicans who denied the right of Congress to create corporations of any kind. The government was at first the largest stockholder. The affairs of the bank were conducted with care, and it paid its shareholders a dividend of about four per cent. In 1795, the government sold nearly half of its stock, and, in 1802, disposed of the remainder. A large portion of the shares, if not a majority, were now in the hands of foreigners, and this was one of the principal reasons adduced by Thomas Jefferson for his determined opposition to the bank. In 1808, Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, reported in favor of renewing the charter for another term of twenty years. The opposition had by this time gained such strength that the Senate was tied on the measure, and it was defeated by the casting vote of Vice-President Clinton, in 1811. The charter consequently expired by limitation, and the affairs of the bank were wound up — so carefully that the stockholders met with no loss.

The return to the old system of State banks, whose notes were either altogether uncurrent outside of the State of issue, or else only taken at a ruinous discount, soon produced wide spread commercial disaster. It was in this emergency that the second United States Bank was chartered in 1816. It was similar in its nature to the first, but had a larger capital. The government was again the principal stockholder, and the appointment of five of the twenty-five directors was vested in the President of the United States. It is to be remembered that, as time went on, many statesmen and politicians changed their opinions concerning the bank, with the light of experience. Mr. Monroe was a determined opponent of the old bank, but recommended the new one, and, as President, signed the bill for its incorporation. Henry Clay opposed the re-charter in 1811, but strongly supported the proposition for a charter in 1816. Among the Republicans or Democrats who favored the bank was Nicholas Biddle.

Mr. Biddle opposed a resolution in the Pennsylvania Legislature against the first bank, in a speech which was widely published, and gave the young man of twenty-five a national reputation as a financier. At the close of his term he declined a reelection; but, in 1814, entered the State Senate. This position he resigned after about three years' service, during which time he was an active supporter of the war with England; and after the return of peace, he drew up a set of resolutions, which was adopted by the Legislature, containing a masterly rebuke to the Hartford Conventionists. He was a candidate for Congress in 1818, but was defeated.

In 1819, Nicholas Biddle was appointed by President Monroe as one of the government directors of the bank. Although he accepted the office with reluctance, he devoted himself to the financial interests of the great corporation with an assiduity which in time rendered the “Bank" and "Nick Biddle" almost synonymous terms. Upon the resignation of the president of the bank, Langdon Cheves, in 1822, Mr. Biddle was chosen to be his successor. Seven years of great prosperity ensued, during which the opposition to the bank was either dispelled entirely, or did not dare openly to attack an institution which had so abundantly proved its worth. Mr. Biddle's fame as a financier became world-wide. The Monroe and John Quincy Adams administrations placed no obstacles in the tide of prosperity; but opposition at last arose, and from an unexpected quarter.

In 1829, President Jackson, in his message to Congress, called attention to the approaching expiration of the bank charter, and broadly hinted his objection to its extension. Its unconstitutionality was alluded to; but his opposition was grounded chiefly on the fear that 60 rich a corporation, with its semi-official character, might be used as a powerful agency for political corruption. Out of this position the obstinate old hero could not be reasoned, and he proceeded forthwith to inaugurate his famous "bank war." He determined to cripple his enemy,— for so he had come to regard it,— by withdrawing the government deposit of ten millions, which he did in 1833 and 1834 on his own responsibility, after having sought in vain for authority from Congress.

For two years, Mr. Biddle continued to maintain the credit of the bank, both at home and abroad, by his superb financial management. So great was the confidence of the people in his methods, that a bill easily passed Congress for a re-charter; but Jackson gave the bank its coup-de-grace by vetoing the bill, the veto being sustained by the requisite minority in Congress. The bank was immediately Te-chartered by the State of Pennsylvania; but the odds against it were overwhelming, and the struggle against misfortune was thenceforth hopeless. In the financial crash of 1837, it suspended payment in common with the other State banks throughout the country. It dragged out a Lingering existence for three years longer, when it closed its operations forever, and the stockholders lost every dollar of their capital.

Mr. Biddle was a second time defeated in a congressional election in 1820. In 1839, having placed the affairs of the bank in a condition of temporary prosperity, so that its stock was above par, he resigned his office as president, and severed his connection with the institution. He was broken down in health and fortune, and was, besides, subjected to the adverse criticism of multitudes of thoughtless persons, who hastened to lay upon him the blame for those misfortunes which he had for many years averted by his masterly skill. To these strictures upon his management of the bank he made reply by an admirable series of articles in print. By his fellow citizens of Philadelphia, he was highly respected, and he continued to take an active and honorable part in public affairs, especially in matters pertaining to education, being for some time President of Girard College. Even when warned by his physician that nothing but a change of climate could prevent a fatal termination of his illness, he simply replied, "I will die here," and continued his labors for the public welfare as long as strength remained to do so. He was the owner of a fine farm, which he cultivated with success, and was President of the Philadelphia Agricultural Society. He was an able writer, and some of his public orations are models of eloquence and learning. Mr. Biddle died February 26, 1844, at his country seat, near Philadelphia.



HENRY BRACKBILL, SEN--1726-1825

Source Republican Compiler, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 2, 1825

Transcribed by NANCY P, of Genealogy Trails

Died on Saturday the 8th ultimo, Henry Brackbill, Sen., aged 99 years and 7 months.

This interesting old man was born in Philadelphia in March 1726 and served in the British army at the taking of Havana in 1754 – and was one of only seven of his company, which comprised of seventy seven men who survived the ravages of a malignant epidemic fever which prevailed among the soldiers at that time. He likewise served as a volunteer at the commencement of the revolutionary war, being then too old to be put in requisition as a militiaman. He preserved his mental faculties free from the dotage incident to old persons until his last moments and his bodily strength and activity was a matter of astonishment to all who knew him. Two years ago although then upwards of ninety seven years of age, he cut all the timber off a well timbered clearing of four acres within the space of six weeks and in the same year, he marched with his axe on his shoulder to the mountain, a distance of two miles from his residence and felled and trimmed up a tree, two feet and a half over and returned home again before night; and during the present year he has performed tasks which might make some of your young men blush. He never was during his long life visited by any sickness except that which carried him off, which only lasted twelve hours. - Mifflin Eagle


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