News of the US: December 1815

December 2:  From New York — “The British brig Betsey has arrived at New-York from AZ, with 178 released Americans.  The above mentioned seamen were principally discharged from British vessels of war.  It is said a Russian ship was to sail shortly after the Betsey, with colored American prisoners.”–Providence Patriot, December 2, 1815

December 2:  From New York — “In the brig Criterion came passengers, Messrs. Giles, senior and junior, and M. Etienne.  The first of these, was principal Oboe of the chapel of the late Emperor of France and of the Italian Opera in Paris, and one of the first players on the lyre; the second, was first bass singer of the Italian Opera, and the third, one of the best performers in Paris on the piano.  . . .  They have fled from the troubles which at present agitate their native country; and,  we understand, intend giving a few Concerts during their short residence in this city.”–New York Gazette, December 2, 1815

December 4:  From the House of Representatives — “The House proceeded to ballot for a Speaker–and the Tellers, having examined the ballots, reported, that the whole number of votes given was 122; that there were for Henry Clay 87 . . . .  The oath to support the Constitution having been administered by Mr. Wright to the Speaker, the Speaker in turn qualified all the Members present.”–Augusta  Herald, December 21, 1815

December 5:  From Washington — “This day at 12 o’clock, the President of the United States, transmitted to both Houses of Congress, his Message.  . . .  The national debt, as it as ascertained on the 1st of October last, amounted in the whole to the sum of one hundred and twenty millions of dollars . . . .”–Richmond Enquirer, December 7, 1815

December 6:  From Milledgeville –“Georgia Rum— The rapid progress of our state towards real independence, is highly gratifying.–Along with a sample of sugar, we received a few days since from Col. M’Cormick, a small quantity of Rum of his own making.  It is strong, it has a good flavor, and appears to require nothing but age to make it equal to what is usually imported.”–New York Spectator, December 23, 1815

December 6:  From Washington — “The Joint Library Committee to which is committed the expenditure of an annual appropriation of one thousand dollars for the purchase of books and maps for the use of Congress . .   ….   is composed, on the part of the Senate, of Messrs. Fromentin, Hunter and Goldsborough; and, on the part of the House of Representatives, of Messrs. Taylor of N. Y. Hopkinson and Tucker.”–Baltimore Patriot, December 20, 1815

December 7:  From Washington — “On the 7th a bill passed the house, by three readings, authorising the President of the United States, to rent the building on Capitol Hill which was built by the citizens of Washington, and designed as a temporary building for the convenience of Congress.”--Shamrock, December 16, 1815

December 7:  From Savannah — “A new Road, to run from Caldwell’s Bridge in Tennessee to Georgia, through the Cherokee Nation, by the way of Lowry’s ferry, the nearest and best route, passing Ross’s Hick’s turnpike, Van’s ferry, thence to the Georgia Line on the route to Augusta–was commenced by a company of gentlemen on or about the beginning of last month.”–New York Spectator, December 23, 1815

December 7:  From Boston — “The Macedonian came round from Newport and yesterday anchored in this harbor.  The people of Boston have now the proud satisfaction of beholding in their harbor two American seventy-fours–and a first rate frigate captured from the British!”–Boston Independent Chronicle, December 7, 1815

December 8:  From Washington — “The Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury was yesterday received in the House of Representatives.  The Report was anxiously looked for, because the subject of our national currency is generally esteemed one of primary importance, and probably will be the first topic of a general nature discussed in Congress.”–Richmond Enquirer, December 12, 1815

December 8:  From Boston — “The largest ships of war in the world are now owned by the U. States.  The New–Orleans and the Chippewa, now on Lake Ontario, are 16 feet longer than the British ship Lord Nelson.”–Raleigh Register, December 8, 1815

December 8:  From New York — “The New York paper states, that there are, in that port, 650 vessels.  Free trade and Sailor’s rights prosper much better, it seems, when Commerce is unfettered, than when regulated by Non-Intercourse and Embargoes; and the seamen merrily sing:–“I that once was a plowman, a sailor am now, /No lark that aloft in the sky / Ever flutters his wings to give speed to the plow,/ Is so gay and so careless as I.”–The Gleaner, December 8, 1815

December 9:  From the Boston Daily Advertiser — Sanders, the young man of African descent, who for several years kept the African school in this town, was at the last accounts in London where he had engaged to proceed to St Domingo, in the employ of the Missionary Society, for the purpose of ascertaining the state of instruction and morals there, and if practicable of establishing schools.”–New York Spectator, December 9, 1815

December 9:  From Boston —  “Came into harbor on Wednesday, the Independence 74, the Congress 36, and Macedonian, 38, to go into ordinary.   The superior style in which the Independence worked into harbor, with scant wind, was noticed by nautical gentlemen with unanimous approbation.”–Carlisle Gazette, December 20, 1815

December 9:  From Boston — “The brig Traveller, Capt. Paul Cuffee, it is expected, sailed yesterday from Westport, for Sierra Leone, with several coloured families, in all about 40 persons, who intend to form a settlement there.”–Raleigh Minerva, December 22, 1815

December 12:  “The House of Representatives yesterday sat in the Chamber prepared for it in the Building erected by the citizens for the accommodation of Congress, and the Senate will convene there tomorrow.”–Providence Patriot, December 23, 1815

December 13:  From Richmond — “On the 13th inst. was sold at Richmond by Mr. John Randolph, of Roanoke, of his new crop of Tobacco, say 17 hhds. at the enormous price of thirty dollars and thirty cents per hundred.  The above piece of information includes the inference of another, namely, that Mr. Randolph is not detained, as was said, by serious illness from his seat in Congress.–New York Spectator, December 23, 1815

December 14:  “Harmony Society.–This celebrated society, under the direction of Mr. George Rapp, have settled themselves  on the Wabash, about 30 miles above its junction with the Ohio, in the Indiana territory–a delightful spot abounding with streams fitted to drive all sorts of machinery.  They own 17,000 acres of land, which they bought at two dollars per acre.”–Louisville Western Courier, December 14, 1815

December 15:  From Hartford — “The First Anniversary of the Hartford Convention, was observed on the 15th inst. by the republicans of Hartford, with two-fold emotions, of mourning and exultation.  In the early part of the day, they displayed the flag of the union at half-mast; in the afternoon, it was raised to the mast-head in token of the discomfiture of the plotters.”–Aurora, December 25, 1815 

December 17:  From New York — “On Sunday the 17th inst. a Sunday School was opened for the education of slaves at Flatbush, L. I.  At a very short notice, upwards of one hundred, from the age of ten to sixty, assembled.  They commenced with writing, and conducted themselves in the most becoming manner.”–Connecticut Mirror, December 25, 1815

December 18:  “We have great pleasure in announcing that the Steam Boat AEtna, Capt. Destart from New Orleans, arrived at Shippingport on Monday last.  . . .  This second arrival of a steam boat from N. Orleans at this place, proves the practicability of stemming the current of those mighty waters in a manner highly flattering to the interest and prosperity of the Western country, where orders in council nor foreign decrees never impede our navigation.”–Louisville Western Courier, December 21, 1815

December 19:  From Salem — “On Saturday evening last, two carriages stopped at the Coffee-House in this town, with 5 gentlemen of the navy, and after taking some refreshment proceeded eastward.  It was dropped by some one that a duel was to be fought; and we are informed that on Sunday morning the soil of New-Hampshire was actually moistened with the blood of one of the parties, and that he died on his arrival a few hours afterwards in Newburyport.”–New York Evening Post, December 21, 1815

December 19:  From Philadelphia — “On Tuesday last, 19th inst. was launched from Messrs. Carter & Vandusen’s shipyard, at Kensington, the elegant Steam Boat ETNA, intended to ply regularly between Philadelphia and Wilmington, (Del.)”–Baltimore Patriot, December 22, 1815

December 21:  From Philadelphia — “Was launched, on Thursday, from the ship yard of Messrs. Vaughan and Bowers, at Kensington, the elegant Union Line steam boat Baltimore; this boat and the Philadelphia, now building at Baltimore, are intended to run in conjunction with the boats Delaware and Chesapeake, to form a daily line of steam boats between the cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore.”–Baltimore Patriot, December 30, 1815

December 21:  From Washington — “We have heard and believe, though the Proceedings thereon have not been disclosed, that the Commercial Treaty with Great Britain received the necessary consent of the Senate on Tuesday, by an almost unanimous vote.”–Adams Centinel,December 27, 1815

December 22:  On the Connecticut elections — “in New London, for the first time in many years, the republicans succeeded with all their candidates.  We trust in persevering efforts and renewed exertions in the approaching spring.  The Hartford Convention did more than we were aware for the republican cause in New-England, as succeeding elections will prove.”–Raleigh Register, December 22, 1815

December 22:  “Messrs. Samuel and Charles Howard are building a Steam-Boat in Savannah, to be employed in towing vessels to and from Tybee Bar and the city, and river craft playing between Augusta and Savannah.”–Raleigh Minerva, December 22, 1815

December 23:  “It is stated, that of 57,993 stand of arms distributed by Virginia to her militia during the war, only 28,630 have been recovered.”–New York Spectator, December 23, 1815

December 23:  From Baltimore — “We think it a duty we owe our country to publish, annually, the names of those who composed the ‘Hartford Convention’–that they may never be forgotten.”–Baltimore Patriot, December 23, 1815

December 23:  From St. Louis — “an Officer stationed at the cantonments near Rock River, informs the Editor that the troops are healthy and in good spirits..  . . .  some of the British traders have built trading houses at Rock-river:  these fellows have been forward in leading the Indians to the massacre of our women and children, after the peace was promulgated to the Indians, and now have the impudence to seek licenses to trade with their Mississippi red companions.”–Western Spy, January 19, 1816

December 26:  From Buffalo — “There are now in this village upwards of one hundred and forty dwelling houses and stores, many of which are elegantly constructed.  When it is considered, that less than two years since, the village was nothing but ruins, we cannot but admire the enterprise and exertion of its inhabitants, who have in so short a period, raised it from its ashes, with renovated    beauty.”–Albany Argus, December 26, 1815 

December 27 — From Tennessee — “The Legislature of Tennessee have removed the seat of government of that State from Nashville to Knoxville.”–Adams Centinel, December 27, 1815

December 29:  From Cincinnati — “The small Steam Boat Despatch, of and from Brownsville, left this place yesterday for Natchez.  This boat was built to run between Pittsburgh and Brownsville; hence her size.”–Western Spy, December 29, 1815

December 30:  From Washington — “The following is the plan proposed by Mr. Easton, in his observations on Friday last, for opening and improving roads from Shawney town to Kaskaskia, in Illinois, and from the town of Hamilton, in Ohio, to Vincennes, in Indiana, thence to the town of St. Louis, in Missouri; thence by way of the post of Arkansaw, to the Northern boundary line of the state of Louisiana.”–Scioto Supporter, January 16, 1816


About the Author

Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.

Mary Bowden