New York City Artisan, The, 1789-1825

A Documentary History

By Howard B. Rock

Series: SUNY series in American Labor History
Paperback : 9780791400975, 273 pages, August 1989
Hardcover : 9780791400968, 273 pages, August 1989

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations



PART ONE Citizenship

The Legacy of '76

1 Fourth of July Celebration, 1810

2 Fourth of July Oration, 1797

3 Fourth of July Oration, 1809

4 Anniversary Meeting of the Cordwainers Society, 1809

5 Cordwainers Display: Parade in Celebration of the Completion of the Erie Canal

6 Celebration of Lawrence's Victory: War of 1812

7 Artisan Celebrations of Peace Concluding the War of 1812

8 Preamble of Constitution of the Democratic Society of the City of New-York

9 Democratic Society of the City of New-York: Address to the Republican Citizens of the United States, May 28, 1794


10 Initiation Rites of the Mechanics Society

11 Mechanics Society: Report of School Committee, 1824

12 Mechanics Society: Report of School Committee, 1827

13 Mechanics Society: Motion Regarding Teaching at Mechanics School

14 Mechanics Society: Report of Apprentices' Library Committee

15 Fire Company Number 11: Journal (Minutes and By-Laws)

Keeping Up the Neighborhood

16 Petition of Inhabitants of the Seventh Ward for a New Market

17 Dangerous Street Conditions

18 Protest Against Slaughter House on Elizabeth Street (Sixth Ward)

19 Protest Against the Conduct of Nightmen

20 Protest Against Erection of School on Augustus Street (Sixth Ward)

21 Petition for Allowance of Swine in the Streets

22 The Evening Post on Swine in the Streets


23 Drinking Habits of the Laboring Class

24 Blood Sports

25 The Perils of Drink

26 The Empty Lives of the Idle Rich

27 Satire on a Ruthless Landlord

28 On Vagrants

29 Artisan Ideals

30 On Marrying a Cooper's Son

A Woman's World

31 A Profligate Wife

32 On Taking Infants to Church

33 On Women's Right to Snuff

PART TWO Politics

The 1790s

34 Federalist Defense of Suffrage Restrictions

35 The Consequences of Suffrage Reform

36 The Keteltas Affair: On Federalist Arrogance

37 Federalist Persecution of the Tallow Chandlers

38 Stephen Allen: On Choosing a Political Party

Republican Ascendancy

39 Democratic-Republicans on Suffrage Reform

40 On Artisans and the Gentry

41 Federalist Aldermen and the Concerns of Artisans

42 On Federalist Coercion of Cartmen

43 Federalist Intimidation Tactics in a Mechanic Ward

44 Democratic-Republicans on Federalist Carpenter Stephen Rudd

45 Federalist Satire on Artisans and Republican Ideology

46 Defense of Stephen Rudd, Federalist Carpenter

The Embargo and the War of 1812

47 Democratic-Republicans on Patriotism and the Embargo

48 Stephen Allen on the War of 1812

49 Democratic-Republicans on Taxes, Sacrifice, and Patriotism

50 The Independent Mechanic on the War of 1812

51 Federalist Appeal to Artisans: Commerce Binds All

52 Federalists on Artisans and Democratic-Republican Taxes

53 The Examiner on the Folly of Democratic-Republican Loyalty

Factionalism and Independent Political Action

54 Factional Appeals to Artisans

55 For the Withdrawal of Artisans from Politics

56 For the Formation of a Mechanic Slate

PART THREE The Marketplace

The Workplace

57 Typical Baker's Expenses

58 Day Book of James Ruthven, Turner and Carver

59 Sadler's Home and Workshop: A Description

60 Baker's Oven for Shipbread

Means of Enterprise

61 Stephen Allen: His Business Career

62 New York Slate Company

63 Cooperative Venture: Blacksmiths' Purchase of Coal

64 Trade-Wide Price Structure: The Shoe Smiths

65 Violation of Trade-Wide Price Structure: Bookbinders

66 Advertisement: Mockasin Maker and Medicine

Banking and Credit

67 In Support of the Mechanics Bank

68 On Artisans' Need for the Mechanics Bank

69 Artisans' Support of Private (Exchange) Bank

70 The Difficulties of Collecting Debts: A Dialogue

Tariff Protection

71 New York Journeymen Hatters: For Protection

72 New York Brewers: For the Promotion of American Beer

73 Report of the House of Representatives Committee on Commerce and Manufactures on Memorials and Petitions

Monopoly and the Fear of Factories

74 Committee of the Common Council on the Regulation of Bakers

75 In Defense of the Bakers

76 On the Necessity of Regulating the Bakers

77 New York City Artisans: Organize against Monopoly

78 On Monopoly and the Destruction of Artisan Enterprise and Independence

79 In Defense of the New York Bread Company

80 Mechanics Society Declines to Support Mayor Livingston's Public Workshop Proposal

Licensed Tradesmen

81 On the Forestalling of Wood

82 Mayor Colden to Cartmen on the Licensing of Aliens

83 Response of Cartmen on the Licensing of Aliens

84 Petition of John Lyons for Butcher's Stall

85 Petition of Butchers Against Forestalling of Livestock

86 Prosecution of New York Carpentry Shop as a Nuisance

87 Petition for Remission of Fine for Illegal Discharge of Gun

88 Petition for Employment as Inspector of Bread

PART FOUR Masters and Journeymen

The New Marketplace

89 Boot and Shoemaking Enterprises, 1820

90 Shoemaker Trade and Supply

91 Windsor Chairs: Domestic and Export Sale

92 Ready-Made Clothing: Every Description and Quality

Journeymen and Apprentices: The Traditional Role

93 Day Book of Elisha Blossom

94 An Apprentice's First Tools

95 A Song for the Tenth of March: The Night on Which Journeymen Mechanics Cease Working by Candlelight

96 Runaway Apprentices

97 Assault and Battery Trial: Apprentice vs. Master

98 On the Decline of Apprenticeship

Journeymen Societies and Constitutions

99 Constitution of the New York Cordwainers Society

100 New York Typographical Society: Constitution and By-Laws

101 Minutes of the Union Society of Shipwrights and Caulkers

102 New York Typographical Society: Resolution of Expulsion

103 New York Typographical Society: Help for the Unemployed

104 New York Typographical Society: Counter Proposal of the New York Master Printers to the Society

105 Journeymen Cabinet and Chairmakers Book of Prices: Introduction

Collective Action


106 New York Typographical Society: Appeal to Masters vs. Half-way Journeymen

107 Journeymen Printers on Strike

108 Letter from the New York Society to the Philadelphia Society during the New York Strike of 1809


109 Organized Journeymen Tailors Appeals for Public Support

110 Communication

111 Journeymen Tailors: Appeal for Support Against the Use of Women


112 Journeymen Cabinet Makers: Strike Appeal

113 Journeymen Cabinet Makers: Justification of Walk-Out

114 Journeymen Cabinet Makers: Walk-Out Against Duncan Phyfe

Carpenters and Masons

115 Carpenters Establish Employment Agency

116 Carpenters' Strike Manifesto

117 Journeymen House Carpenters: On the Conduct of the Masters

118 Journeymen House Carpenters: On the Use of Strikebreakers

119 Journeymen Masons: On Unity in Action

120 Journeymen Masons: Economic Justification for Walk-Out


121 Cause and Consequences of Expulsion from the Cordwainers Society

122 Experience of a Scab: The Power of the Cordwainers Society

123 Journeymen Boot and Shoe Makers: Opening of a Journeymen's Store

The Masters' Response

124 Master Carpenters and Masons Assert Wage Scales

125 Journeymen's Complaint of Masters' Tactics

126 In Defense of the Master Builders

127 Indictment of Journeymen Shoemakers for Conspiracy

128 Prosecution: Strike vs. the Good of the Community

129 Prosecution: The Aristocratic and Tyrannical Power of the Journeymen's Society

130 Journeymen's Defense: Plight of the Shoemakers

131 Journeymen's Defense: The Right to Countervailing Force

132 John McComb, On Holding Wages Down (New City Hall)


Select Bibliography



This is the first collection of primary sources by and about artisans in the early national era. In a number of ways it is as significant as the many volumes by the founding fathers that now grace library shelves because artisans were at the forefront of both the political and economic developments that would make this era so formative in American history. The documents illustrate the expectations spawned by the American Revolution within this sector of American society and the efforts of the artisans. It tells the colorful, dramatic, and hopeful, if ultimately disappointing story of their efforts, and the vital part they played in the shaping of American social and labor history.

Howard B. Rock is Chairman of the Department of History at Florida International University. He is the author of Artisans for the New Republic: The Tradesmen of New York City in the Age of Jefferson.


"This book does more than fill a gap; it provides the opportunity to give general readers and students deeper insights into the working lives, problems, cultural conflicts and citizenship affairs of ordinary New Yorkers. " —Graham R. Hodges, Colgate University