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nence is called upon to be godly in his walk and conversation; he should hold his head up — like a hen drinking water. There was Peter Cooper. He was godly. He was superintendent of the Sundayschool, there below the “Bull's Head,” from which the Bowery Village Church started. man that feared God and went to meeting on Sundays. I was glad that I, too, was now on the Lord's side. And though I have suffered many
losses since then, I am thankful to say that from that day to this I have never lost my religion.
He was a XI
Y START into the steamboat business came
about more or less haphazard. There was
a little boat run between Peekskill and New York, by Jake Vanderbilt, a brother of Cornelius Vanderbilt. It was in connection with a boat designed to compete with this one of Vanderbilt's, that I made the start.
This was back in the early days, when steamboating on the Hudson River was just getting under way. The old sailing sloops were still in use, but were rapidly becoming back numbers. A sloop would sometimes take nine days in going from New York to Albany. When the Chancellor Livingston made the trip once in nineteen hours and a half, people thought it a miracle, and gave her the name, Skimmer of the River. But even the sloops were an improvement over the old stagecoach, because the fare by stage-coach from New York to Albany was $8, and it never took less than two days and one night. Besides
Besides being slow, the sloops were also inconvenient; yes, even dangersome, because the winds on the Hudson are fuky, squalls rushing out, often without any warning, from
behind the headlands which line both sides of the river. The boom of one of the old packet sloops was sometimes ninety feet long, and when it jibed unlooked-for, would sweep everything before it. There was Dunham, a merchant of New York City and of a considerable name. He was making the trip one day on a sloop down from Albany, when the sail jibed; the boom knocked him overboard like a nine-pin, and he was drowned. So when Fulton, with his partner, Livingston, showed that steam-engines could be put into a boat and would propel it even against wind and tide, it made a great change.
For some years, however, the effect of the new invention was not noticeable. Because Fulton had got a grant from the Legislature giving to him and Livingston exclusive right to steamboat navigation on the tide waters of York State. This kept rival boats off. At last, some time before I started in, this monopoly had been done away. It came about through that famous suit of “Gibbons against Ogden.” Thomas Gibbons was the owner of a steamboat, Bellona, which plied between New York and Elizabethtown, New Jersey. (He was the one who built that beautiful estate down at Bottle Hill, New Jersey, which I bought from his son, William Gibbons, and turned into the Drew Theological Seminary, years after.) Ogden had got from Fulton and Livingston a grant to carry on their monopoly. So, when Gibbons started in, Ogden had him arrested. Then Dan Webster, Gibbons's counsel, made that famous speech of his before the Supreme Court, which broke up the monopoly and opened the tide waters of all the states to free navigation. When Gibbons found himself free to run boats, he went ahead with lots of push. He got a young man by-the name of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who had been running a sailing sloop between New York and Staten Island, to be captain of his boat, the Bellona. This ran from New York to Elizabethtown, where it shipped its passengers to the stage-coach, which carried them on to Philadelphia and the South.
Vanderbilt did so well there that he became superintendent of the line, and used to go up to Bottle Hill to report to the owner concerning the boat. Gibbons by and by sold the boat to the Stevens Brothers, of Hoboken. Then young Cornelius Vanderbilt took up navigation on the Hudson. He started a small boat called the General Jackson, to run between New York and Peekskill, and put his brother Jake on as captain.
Those early steamboats were funny things, compared with the great boats which are seen to-day, such as the Drew, and the Dean Richmond. Back in the early days they didn't have any pilothouse. The steersman was nothing more than the old sloop steersman; only, instead of working a tiller at the stern, he was placed up on top of the cabin, with a tiller wheel connecting to the rudder by a rope, and was exposed to the wind and weather. His station was directly over the engine. He signalled to the engineer by tapping with a cane on the roof. One tap meant, “Go ahead”; two taps, “Back up." '
Well, as I started to say, the General Jackson one day blew up. That line between Peekskill and New York had interested me more or less, anyhow, because it had become the great way of getting back and forth between the city and my old home in Putnam County. But I hadn't thought of going into the business myself. I counted on buying and selling cattle all my life. But one day, soon after Jake Vanderbilt's boat, the General Jackson, blew up,
a friend of mine came and told me about a new steamboat, the Water Witch, which he was planning to run as a competitor with the Vanderbilt Brothers on the Peekskill route.
He talked me into investing a thousand dollars in the boat. I had some money lying around loose. My cattle trips, together with what money I made
. from running the “Bull's Head,” had been bringing me in good profits. I was glad to make a small investment in the steamboat business, even though it looked somewhat risky.
And it was risky. The thing turned out a loss the very first season.
As soon as we put our boat