Brief History


The Empire State

Welland Hendrick, A.M.


The majority of the content on the Empire State History website was written by Welland Hendrick and taken from his book Brief History of The Empire State.  Even though some of the information contained in his writings are no longer considered to be accurate, the content is still valid. The author's incredibly entertaining writing style makes the history The Empire State come to life and makes it a truly fascinating read.  This is how the world percieved New York and its history over a hundred years ago.


When I began to teach American history in the schools of New York, I looked for a brief school history of the State. The book had to be written.

The study of the history of New York has a place in its schools:

1. The colony in its origin and growth was separated from the other colonies; for fourteen years after the end of English domination, the State was an independent nation; and ever since, as a part of the American republic, it has had a distinct life.

2. Pupils commonly have a vague idea of the isolation of the original colonies and of the relation of the States under the confederation. During these periods a State history has a unity which a general history lacks. The best point of view for a beginner is the account of some one colony, in which he or she can trace the colony's earliest connection with neighboring provinces, its decreasing dependence upon the mother country, its consquent change from a colony to State and the relunctant but necessary giving up of State rights in the formation of a strong central government.

3. The study of State history is a study of civil government. it is a common experience that pupils, after taking up United States history, cannot distinguish between the duties of the State government and of the national government. It is the State which has to do with the everyday life of the citizen; and what a State is, is best learned in its history.

4. The importance of New York in the making of America has been underrated. The Minute Men, Anueil Hall and the battle of Lexington are known; but the Sons of Liberty, the Fields and the battle of Orkiskany are uncertain terms even to people of New York. How the colony learnt liberty under the Dutch, and held to it through a century of English governors; how the State, fifth in number of people, with almost a third of its men tories, with border open and chief city sure to be the enemey's headquarters, with much wealth in perishable shipping, how such a State was among the first in the war of freedom, and alone of the thirteen met every demand of congress; how the ommonwealth built a canal which not only developed its interior, but also opened up the great north-west; how all these things were done, ought to be taught with patriotic pride to the pupils of our public schools.

It has been my aim to prepare a brief history of New York suitable for general reading, adapted to be a text book for a short term's work in the grammar and academic grades, and especially fitted for a reader, either regular or supplementary, in any grade of work after the fifth or sixth year.

It might be well for a class to read or study this book after it ahs had a primary history of the United States, and before it takes the advanced study of that subject; or the history of New York may with profit be studied in connection with United States history.

In fact the history of New York properly taught is a history of the United States; and the teacher , who brings out in class the facts here suggested but not detailed, can make the study a unified and graphic story of the republic.

The book labors to be a consistent State history; it does not assume to give an account of national wars, presidential campaigns and international affairs; it refers to such topics only so far as they throw light on the story of New York. Men and affairs learnt in United States history may sometimes be found here in changed relations; Hamilton who devoted his genius to the nation, receives less attention than DeWitt Clinton, who gave his life to the State.

Possibly the book lacks features that may be expected: it is not filled with praise of New York to the exclusion of all censure; it does not insult the intelligence of the bright boys and girls of the junior grades by telling its story in baby-talk; it does not relegate the gist of a page to fine print notes at the bottom; it does not crowd the account of the people, their customs and education, into the end of chapters, as if such matters were not indeed the truest part of all history.

While this book i not the result of original research, a wide range of authorities has been consulted, and the main facts selected and briefly put. Mention should be made in this connection of the history of New York by Ellis H. Roberts in the American commonwealth series, and of Mrs Lamb's Hostory of New York City.


Saratoga Springs, N.Y., August 21, 1890.