romantic days in the early republic

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER II NEW YORK " T F there is a town on the American conti- I nent where English luxury displays its follies it is New York. In the dress of the women you will see the most brilliant silks, gauzes, hats and borrowed hair. . . . The men take their revenge in the luxury of the table." Which might, though penned so long ago,1 be a somewhat unkind characterization of the New York of our own day! Samuel Breck, however, though he wrote of almost the same time, gives us quite a different picture. " As a colonial town it was a place of considerable trade," he says, " but we found it then [in 1787] a place of dilapidation. Having been in the hands of the enemy for seven years and visited during that time by an extensive conflagration ... it had not at all recovered from the effects of the war. New York in 1787 was but a poor place with about twenty-three thousand people. We anchored opposite a filthy little wooden shed called the 1 By Briasot de Warville in 1788. Fly Market, and when our boat reached the shore we had to climb up a wharf that was tumbling to pieces. Some twenty or thirty vessels lay at the other wharfs, and these shores that now exhibit a forest of masts and a stir of commerce surpassed in the whole world by two cities only [Mr. Breck was writing about 1830 and his allusion is to London and Liverpool] were then naked and silent." Happily, New York, then as now, had tremendous faith in its future greatness; and this faith it was which enabled it so quickly to rebuild itself and so impressively to enlarge its commerce that, in spite of its deficiencies and limitations, it seemed the logical place in which to establish the nation's capital. Soon after 1785 stage lines had begun to connect the city with Albany, Boston, and Philade...
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