August 25, 2001
New York State's new constitution, calling for gubernatorial elections every two years, went into effect in 1822. It was good news for De Witt Clinton, the former governor, voted out of office last year. Meant he'd only have to wait half as long before being voted back in. The state saw other innovations and changes this year. Chemung, Niagara and Orleans counties got their first printing presses. The two-year old Shaker colony at Watervliet got a Brethren's Shop and Sisters' Workshop; Episcopal bishop John Henry Hobart's college got Geneva Hall, the nucleus of his Geneva campus; Charlotte got a lighthouse. Bath hosted the first Steuben County Agricultural Society fair, with a race track and livestock competitions featuring nine categories for the judging of cattle and sheep. And Rochesterville, now with a population of 2,700, plus 430 laboring on public works, got its first court house. New name, too. On April 12th the village name was officially shortened to Rochester. Being an up-and-coming frontier town it's not too surprising that one of the first things village trustees did was to levy an annual license fee on gambling dens. But there were "good" works around as well; the Female Charitable Society was organized at the home of almanac publisher Everard Peck, to visit the poor and the sick. Their efforts would one day lead to the founding of Rochester General Hospital. Other early modest conferences at the Peck home would lead to the founding of the University of Rochester.
Peck helped found a career as well this year, giving a job to a young printer and would be politician who walked in off the street one day, by the name of Thurlow Weed. Geologist Amos Eaton, who always kept his publishers and printers busy, published "A Geological Profile of the rocks from Onondaga Salt Springs, N.Y. to Williams College, Mass." Another publisher we've met before, Horatio Gates Spafford had a habit of getting sidetracked every now and then, especially with inventing. On October 30th he was granted two patents on a steel manufacturing process, similar to and anticipating the Bessemer method that would not come along for another 34 years. Seeking offers from the U. S. Government as well as the Emperor of Russia, he was still fearful of patent infringement, so failed to describe the process in detail. Thus leaving us with a bit of an unsolvable metallurgical mystery.
While Horatio and his inventions waited at the bridge to fame that autumn, things were proceeding rapidly on that greater technical undertaking, the Erie Canal. With planners creating a school of American engineering as they went along, construction projects all across the state in November raced the winter hiatus. Aqueducts had already been completed at Schoharie, Little Falls and Rochester, both paling in comparison with the mile-long Grand Embankment, which carried the canal 70 feet above Monroe County's Irondeqouit Valley. Canal traffic was now moving the 200 miles from Rochester to Utica and a short time later the canal was extended to Schenectady. Work at both ends of the system would not be completed for another three years.
The building of the Rochester Aqueduct brought many workers to the village on the Genesee. One was fated to have a profound influence on the political history of the state - a young mason (capital and small "M") by the name of William Morgan.
For Classical 91.5 and 90-point-3, this is David Minor
URL OF THE WEEK
Before there were pixels ganging up to masquerade as alphabet letters and graphics there was movable type. To see just how far we've come, check out the page of PrintersMark.com at
There you'll find links to articles covering the history of print, from its origins in China, through Gutenberg, to Stereotypy and stereography, to lithography, to Gravure and rotogravure up to the latest technologies such as Flexography, Three-dimensional printing and Word processing and Desktop printing. There's a bobliography also. If the printed word is your toolbox you'll find much of interest. Word!
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© 2001 David Minor / Eagles Byte