History of the Fire Department of the City of New York

Chapter 19, Part I

By Holice and Debbie



Ravages of the Great Fire. -- Graphic Description by Eye-Witnesses. -- Insurance Companies Bankrupt. -- Terror and Dismay. -- The Fairest Portion of the City in Ruins. -- Action Of the Authorities. -- Arrival of Philadelphia Firemen.

A public meeting to express sympathy took place in the City Hall at noon on December 19. The assemblage was called to order by Judge Irving, upon whose motion the mayor took the chair. The following gentlemen were then appointed vice-presidents on the motion of General Prosper M. Wetmore; Albert Gallatin, Preserved Fish, Louis McLane, George Newbould, Isaac Bronson, Enos T. Throop, Campbell P. White, John T. Irving, Samuel Hicks, George Griswold, James G. King, Benjamin L. Swan, Jacob Lorillard, and Stephen Allen. On the motion of General Jacob Morton, the following secretaries were also appointed: Jonathon Goodhue, Proper M. Wetmore, John S. Crary, John a. Stephens, Jacob Harvey, Reuben Withers, Dudley Selden, Samuel R. Ruggles, George Wilson, Samuel Cowdrey, James Lee, and John L. Graham. The Meeting was addressed by Samuel L. Stone, Prosper M. Wetmore and several other prominent citizens, after which the following resolutions were, on motion of James G. King, unanimously adopted:

Resolved. That while the citizens of New York lament over the ruin which was left desolate the most valuable part of this city, and deeply sympathize with the numerous sufferers, it becomes them not to repine, but to unite in a vigorous exertion to repaid the loss, that the extent of her commerce, wealth, and enterprise of her citizens justify, under the blessing of Divine Providence, a primary reliance upon her own resources.

Resolved. That we consider it the duty of our citizens and moneyed institutions, who stand in the relation of creditors to those who have directly or indirectly suffered by the late fire, to extend to them the utmost forbearance and lenity.

On Motion of Dudley Selden, it was further

Resolved. That committee of the mayor and one hundred and fifty citizens be appointed to ascertain the extent and probable value of the property destroyed, and how the sufferers are protected by insurance.  Also with power to make application to Congress for relief by an extension of credit for debts due to the United States, and a return of remission of duties on goods destroyed, and also to ask such other aid from the general state and city governments as may be deemed expedient.  Also to ascertain the origin and cause of the fire, and what change, if any, should be made either in the regulating of streets, the erection of buildings, or the arrangements of the Fire Department, to prevent a recurrence of similar calamities, and take such other measures as the emergency may demand.

Resolved. That the committee to be appointed take the earliest and most effective measures to ascertain and relieve the necessities of those who have been reduced to want by the recent unfortunate event. On motion of Colonel Murray, it was also

Resolved. That the thanks of this meeting be and they are hereby rendered to the citizens of Philadelphia and Newark for the spontaneous expression of their sympathy in our misfortune, and that they be especially tendered to the firemen of those cities who, with a promptitude and kindness unexampled, have left their homes at this inclement season to offer their services, and which they are now tendering at the scene of the calamity.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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