Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

John Hunter Loses a Debate in the State Senate During the Winter of 1841

John Hunter, owner of Hunter's Island, was one of the most illustrious residents of the Town of Pelham during the 19th Century. I have published to the Historic Pelham Blog a number of postings detailing aspects of John Hunter's life including:

Friday, December 2, 2005: John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham, New York

Wednesday, December 14, 2005: New Information About John Hunter's Acquisition of Hunter's Island in the Manor of Pelham

Thursday, April 27, 2006: Burial Place of John Hunter (1778 - 1852) of Hunter's Island

Monday, August 14, 2006: An Early Account of a Visit to Hunter's Island and John Hunter's Mansion in Pelham

Monday, August 28, 2006: John Hunter of Hunter's Island in Pelham Obtained Special Tax Relief in 1826

John Hunter served in the New York State Senate for a period of time in the 19th century. He was a highly educated man and was a classical scholar. He cited the classics in one debate in the New York Senate during the winter of 1841, only to be bested in the argument by an illiterate, rough-hewn member of the Senate from Steuben known as "Bray Dickinson". The exchange was recounted in a book of reminiscences published in 1886. The account is transcribed immediately below.

"I must first tell of whom I am speaking. In the winter of 1841, I was an onlooker at a debate, in the Senate at Albany, on the causes of Mr. Van Buren's defeat in 1840. John Hunter, a Democrat, of Westchester, a refined gentleman and a classical scholar, declared that Van Buren's courage in placing himself in the chasm between a corrupt bank and a patriotic people had its fitting historic parallel in the in the Roman Forum when Marcus Curtius leaped into the abyss to save the republic. Andrew B. Dickinson, familiarly called Bray Dickinson, a Whig, of Steuben, illiterate and rough-hewn, who doubtless never till then had heard of Marcus Curtius, replied to Hunter. When he came to the classical portion of the speech, he said that the difference between that Roman 'feller,' Curtis, and Van Buren was, that Curtis jumped into the gap of his own accord, but the people throw'd Van Buren in."

Source: Stanton, Henry B., Randon Recollections by Henry B. Stanton, p. 111 (NY, NY: 2d ed., MacGowan & Slipper, Printers 1886).

Please Visit the Historic Pelham Web Site
Located at
Please Click Here for Index to All Blog Postings.


Post a Comment

<< Home