Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Little Taste Of History (24)

Topic: Facts On Long Island #2

Long Island Historical Society

An association in Brooklyn, N.Y., organized in 1863 for the purpose of furthering a knowledge of American history, primarily as connected with the history of Long Island. On June 11, 1864, a committee on the natural history of Long Island was appointed, and from its work has grown a fine museum of flora, fauna, minerals, antiquities, and historical relics of the Island. The society has published a number of valuable works, among them two volumes on the Battle of Long Island, and one containing the hitherto unpublished letters of George Washington on agricultural and personal topics. Its library comprises 45,000 volumes and as many pamphlets.

"For 15 years the society had been laboring in various ways for the instruction and entertainment and benefit of the people of the City of Brooklyn, and in gathering together a collection of books and other materials to aid it in its work, and for 11 years it had been the owner of land on the corner of Clinton and Pierrepont streets, upon which to erect a building in which to place its collections and establish its head-quarters. The commencement of that building had been postponed from time to time, until a favorable opportunity should offer itself to raise the funds necessary for its completion. Finally, last Spring the ball was set in motion by Mr. S. B. Chittenden, who proposed to give $20,000, provided the Directors would raise $80,000 more, thus insuring a sum of $100,000. The Directors took the matter into consideration, and invited various architects to submit plans and specifications, not with a view to the selection of any particular plan at that time, but to see what they could do with $100,000."

"They had resolved at the outset that they would not make a subscription binding, or make any start toward the erection of the building, until they had secured the entire amount of $100,000, which would give them $80,000 for the building, $14,000 to complete paying for the lot, and leave them $6,000 to use for incidental purposes." (NYT Nov.14,1877)

Battle of Long Island

A battle fought on Brooklyn Heights, Long Island, N.Y., August 27, 1776, during the Revolutionary War, between a British force of more than 15,000 under General Howe and an American force of about 8000 under the immediate command of General Israel Putnam. The British, landing at a point of Long Island a short distance below the "Narrows," marched by three routes against the American position, which had been strongly fortified in anticipation of an attack. Brooklyn Heights being necessary to the British if they were to succeed in their plans for the capture of New York. The most important road, the Jamaica Road, leading to the American position, seems to have been left almost wholly unguarded, and it was by this that the British advanced in greatest force. Parts of the American army under Gen. William Alexander (Lord Stirling) and General Sullivan, stationed in advance of the principal American fortification, were defeated after some stubborn fighting, both Alexander and Sullivan being captured; and Howe then proceeded to invest the works. In the evening of the 27th Washington crossed over to Long Island, and on the following day brought over reinforcements. General Howe showing no disposition to storm, however, Washington decided to abandon the works and transfer his forces to Manhattan Island, and during the night of August 29-30 this was successfully effected, the British not suspecting the movement until the Americans had crossed in safety. The British loss in killed, wounded, and missing in the battle of Long Island was about 400, while the American loss was about 1000.

Consult: Field, Battle of Long Island (Brooklyn, 1869) ; Carrington, Battles of the American Revolution (New York, 1876) ; Dawson, Battles of the United States (New York, 1858) ; Johnston, Campaign of 1776 Around New York and Brooklyn (Brooklyn, 1878) ; and the critical article by Adams, "The Battle of Long Island," in American Historical Review (New York, 1896).


An Algonquian tribe formerly inhabiting the eastern end of Long Island, and claiming sovereignty over most of the other tribes of the Island. Their principal village was near Montauk Point. When first known they were a numerous people, but having been reduced by a pestilence in 1658 to about 500 souls, they were invaded by the Narragansett from the mainland and forced to seek shelter among the white settlers at Easthampton. A century later only 162 remained. Many of these joined a kindred band in New York about 1788, and in 1829 only about 30 were left on Long Island. By 1870 these had dwindled to about a half dozen.

Contact: miriam@thehistorybox.com or miriammedina@earthlink.net

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