Original Caption: Description: Event Date: Publication: Author: Owner: Source: 104



DECEMBER 19 Particulars of the Fire


I went yesterday and to‑day to see the ruins. It is an awful sight. The whole area from Wall street to Coenties Slip, bounded by Broad street

to the river, with the exception of Broad street, the Wall‑street front between William and Broad, and the blocks bounded by

Broad street, Pearl street, the south side of Coenties Slip and South Street, are now a mass of smoking ruins. It is gratifying to witness the spirit and firmness with which the merchants meet this calamity. There is no despondency; every man is determined to go to work to redeem his loss, and all are ready to assist their more unfortunate neighbors. A meeting of citizens was held this day, at noon, at the Session Court‑room, on the call of the Mayor. A committee of one hundred and twenty‑five was appointed, which met in the evening at the Mayor's office and appointed sub‑committees on each branch of duty submitted

to them. I am of the committee to make application for relief to the State government. That committee is to meet to‑morrow evening at my house. The utmost spirit and harmony prevailed at the meeting, which embraced all the best and most influential men in the city. During the evening intelligence was brought in of the proceedings of a great meeting held yesterday in Philadelphia, at which the Mayor presided. Amongst other things a resolution was passed calling upon the general government to appropriate the sum of $1 2,000,000 to our relief. This is an important step, for it will tend to remove the only objection to such a measure‑ that of its being exclusive and partial in its operation. A body of four hundred Philadelphia firemen came on yesterday to relieve our firemen. They are to be seen about the streets and in the neighbourhood of the fire, in their peculiar uniform. This is truly a brotherly kindness and charity, and will never be forgotten.


Companies of soldiers are on guard all the time, and patrols of citizens are formed in each ward, who are on duty during the night; the exhausted state of the firemen and the disabled condition of their apparatus render these extraordinary measures necessary. A fire would be awful at this moment. The insurance offices are all bankrupt, and every man is his own underwriter.


The Merchants' Exchange is held at the Mechanics' Exchange in Broad street; the post‑office removed to the rotunda in Chambers street. The printing‑offices, of which a large number are burned out, are distributed into different places, and it is amusing to see the holes and corners into which the merchants have stowed themselves.


Mr. Biddle, President of the Bank of the United States, came on to‑day to see what that institution could do for us. The first step must be to turn the bonds and mortgages held by the insurance companies into cash, to enable them to pay as much as they can of their losses. But the unfortunate stockholders, what is‑to become of them?


The following are the sub‑committees appointed at the meeting of the general committee this evening:

1. Committee to ascertain the extent and probable value of property destroyed, and how far the sufferers are protected by insurance: Nathaniel Weed, Gabriel P. Dissosway, Brittain L. Woolley, George S. Robbins, Walter K. Jones, Isaac S. Hone.

2. Committee on application to Congress for an extension of credit on duty bonds, and remission of duties, and on such other aid as it may be expedient to ask of the general government: Albert Gallatin, Preserved Fish, George Griswold, John T. Irving, Louis McLane, James G. King, Reuben Withers, Cornelius W. Lawrence, Samuel Jones.

3. Committee on application to the State and city government: Enos T. Throop, John L. Graham, John A. Stevens, Charles H. Russell, Thomas J. Oakley, Philip Hone, Daniel Jackson, Benjamin L. Swan.


4. Committee on the origin and cause of the fire: James B. Murray, George Douglass, James Lee, David Bryson, Marcus Wilbur.


. Committee on change in the regulation of the streets: Samuel B. Ruggles, Jonathan Goodhue, David S. Jones, John Haggerty, John S. Crary.


6. Committee on the erection of buildings and the arrangement of the fire department: Stephen Allen, Peter G. Stuyvesant, John Leonard, Benjamin Strong, Charles A. Davis, George D. Strong, Prosper M. Wetmore, Seth Geer, George Ireland, James J. Roosevelt, Jr., Dudley Selden, and Stephen Whitney.


7. Committee on relief, with power to receive and distribute contributions: Samuel Cowdry, Jacob Lorillard, Samuel S. Howland, Benjamin McVickar, M.D., John J. Boyd, William T. McCoun, Ogden Hoffman, William L. Stone, Jacob Harvey, Thaddeus Phelps, John WI. Leavitt, James Boorman, Edward Prime.


DECEMBER 21–‑The sub‑committee on the subjects of applications to the State and city governments met last evening at my house and agreed to a report recommending an application to the Legislature to issue a State stock, under the guarantee of the corporation, of six millions of dollars, and the appointment of a committee of five to go to Albany and confer with the Governor on the facts to be laid before the Legislature. The general committee met this evening; our report was accepted, but the resolutions amended so as to call upon the corporation to issue their bonds for $6,000,0000 to create a fund for the purpose of buying up the bonds and mortgages held by the insolvent fire insurance companies, and thereby enable them to pay their losses as far as they may be able.


December 22—The weather since the fire has become more mild. This day is very pleasant. This is a happy circumstance, for it facilitates the labors of an immense number of workmen who are employed in removing the rubbish. Goods and property of every description are found under the ruins in enormous quantities, but generally so much damages as to be hardly worth saving. Cloths, silks, laces, prints of the most valuable kinds, are dug out partly burned, and nearly all ruined. A mountain of coffee lies at the corner of old Slip and South street. The entire cargo of teas, arrived a few days since in the ship “Paris,” lies in a state not worth picking up, and costly indigo and rich drugs add to the mass of mud which obstructs the streets.

Crowds of spectators (amongst whom are many ladies) have been perambulating the streets in the neighbouhood, lost in wonder and absorbed in horror at the awful scene of destruction. Many curious facts are now coming to light in relation to the fire. A not of and, of fifty-seven dollars, in favour of the Ocean Insurance Company, was blown, during the fire, from a store in South street to a garden at Flatbush, Long Island, five miles distant. A gallant effort was made to save the statue of Hamilton by  young officer from the Navy-Yard, with a party of four or five sailors. They had actually succeeded in removing it from the pedestal, when the danger of he approaching fall of the dome compelled them to abandon it. The fire was seen at New Haven and at Philadelphia; the firemen turned out, supposing the fire was in the suburbs of the city.





Tuckerman, Bayard, ed., The Diary of Philip Hone, 1828-1851. Vol. 1, 185-187. New York: Dodd , Meade & Co., 1889.

Close Window