Visitors to the King’s Bridge (#4)

Home Forums Colonial Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil Visitors to the King’s Bridge (#4)

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    ndembowski
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    As the American War of Independence approached, communication and coordination among the 13 colonies increased.  In 1774 Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts and the 1st Continental Congress was organized to formulate a response.  Delegates from the various colonies streamed into Philadelphia.  One notable delegate, John Adams of Boston, spent the night in Kingsbridge on his way to this historic gathering.  His diary entry from August 20, 1774 reads:

    Lodged at Cocks at Kingsbridge, a pretty Place–Uncas River running before the Door and verdant Hills all around. This Place is about 15 Miles from N. York. Uncas River is the Bound between the County of Westchester and the County of N. York. This Place is 10 Miles from Hell Gate, which is supposed to be occasioned by a large Cavern under the Rocks, into which the Water rushes at certain Times of the Tide. This Whirlpool is 5 Miles from the City.

    screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-10-05-22-am
    The verdant hills around Spuyten Duyvil Creek in the 19th Century

    By this time, Frederick Philipse’s tavern property adjacent to the King’s Bridge was operated by John Cock.  Adams refers to the Spuyten Duyvil Creek as the “Uncas River,” which probably meant “Yonkers River.”  Adams was only one of many to see the natural beauty in the area, which was the muse for so many artists in the centuries that followed.

    In the days that followed, Adams would meet with New York City’s bigwigs and leaders of the Sons of Liberty.  He was impressed with the city’s architecture and layout but was less impressed with its inhabitants:

    With all the Opulence and Splendor of this City, there is very little good Breeding to be found. We have been treated with an assiduous Respect. But I have not seen one real Gentleman, one well bred Man since I came to Town. At their Entertainments there is no Conversation that is agreable. There is no Modesty—No Attention to one another. They talk very loud, very fast, and alltogether. If they ask you a Question, before you can utter 3 Words of your Answer, they will break out upon you, again—and talk away.

    As a side note, Adams was by no means the only Bostonian to disparage the manners of New Yorkers.  Two years later Henry Knox would write:

    Their churches are grand; their college, workhouse, and hospitals most excellently situated, and also exceedingly commodious; their principal streets much wider than ours. The people, — why, the people are magnificent: in their equipages, which are numerous; in their house furniture, which is fine; in their pride and conceit, which are inimitable; in their profaneness, which is intolerable; in the want of principle, which is prevalent; in their Toryism, which is unsufferable, and for which they must repent in dust and ashes.

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