We all know that Thomas Jefferson gets credit for writing the Declaration Of Independence. As important as that historical document is however, it’s the Constitution that dictates how democracy works in the United States. But who was its author?
James Madison of Virginia has been called the “Father of the U.S. Constitution”. Some historians say no other delegate was better prepared for the Constitutional Convention, and no one contributed more to shaping the final document. It was Gouverneur Morris, the New York City native and Pennsylvania delegate (at 36, the youngest), who the Rutledge Committee asked to pull together the disparate ideas and thoughts of the convention and mold them into a single document. Morris immediately went to work – in four days he had a full draft ready. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack historians routinely state that Rhode Island merchant John Brown obtained clear title to a 210,000 acre tract of land when he paid $33,000 at a Court of Chancery mortgage foreclosure sale in December 1798. However, this transaction was not recorded in the Lewis County Clerk’s Office until February 22, 1804, more than five years later and five months after Brown’s death.
Two days later on February 24, the Assembly enacted Chapter 6, Laws of 1804 which affirmed that the Brown estate’s title to the tract could not be extinguished in any way “by reason or pretext of the alienism of any person to whom the said lands may have been conveyed” or “ by any conveyance prior to“ Brown’s 1798 payment.
John Brown’s anxiety over his title and his efforts to obtain this legislation while he was developing the tract at significant expense are evidence that his title was not perfected until 1804, the same year that two of his legal advisers fought a deadly duel. » Continue Reading.
Last week we left Charles C. Brodhead in Indian Pass, he having arrived almost fifty years prior to David Henderson’s well-documented venture. As he chained through the pass Brodhead was slightly less than halfway through a survey of the line marking the boundary between the Totten and Crossfield Purchase, the Old Military Tract and the Macomb Purchase, the third and largest of the three great early Adirondack Tracts.
We have not previously encountered the Macomb Purchase and we will only touch upon it now. The Macomb purchase lay to the west of the Military Tract and its southern boundary was supposed to be the northern boundary of Totten Crossfield. But as we have seen there was no completed northern boundary for Totten Crossfield, thus the extent of the Macomb Purchase could not be properly calculated. It was Brodhead’s job to rectify that and to connect to Archibald Campbell’s unfinished line. As we will see, as astonishing as his High Peaks survey was, in the end he failed in this task. » Continue Reading.
On June 2nd, 1797, twenty-five years after Archibald Campbell surveyed part of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase, another surveyor named Charles C. Brodhead, tasked with working to the same line but starting from the east and chaining to the west, made the following entry in his field journal: “3 Miles, 20 Chains: assg. Ye mountain, Top ye mountain – (snow 24 inches deep) Timber Balsom and Spruce. 3 Miles, 23 chains: desending steep rocks, no Timber.”
This relatively pedestrian entry has at least the curiosity of recording so much snow in June but it otherwise causes one to long for the florid prose and colorfully descriptive thoroughness of Verplank Colvin. Colvin’s accounts of his surveying journeys make for real drama, whereas this journal, typical of the time, offers the barest details beyond the numbers, with only occasional comments on the quality of the land or detours that needed to be taken.
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