New York Fire of 1835 - New York Mayor Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence Autograph Letter Signed. 1 page, 7" x 8.75", "Mayor's Office" [New York], January 18, 1836. A very scarce relic from what is considered America's first major disaster, the great New York fire of 1835 addressed to the "Gentlemen of the Common Council" enclosing for them "...a letter [no longer present] from George Auldjo Esquire, and a copy of the proceedings of a meeting of the Citizens of Montreal, at which he was Chairman, and my answer. You will notice by the fifth resolution that the Sum of two-thousand dollars was appropriated for the relief of certain sufferers by the late fire. I have received a draft on Prime Ward & King for that amount, and now hold their check. I propose that you authorize me to hand the same to the Committee for the relief of the Suffers by the late fire..." The great New York Fire of 1835 began on Wednesday, December 16, a snowy subzero night, raging for 24 hours, destroying 674 buildings over 17 blocks (50 acres) in the heart of the city. The fire destroyed most of the banks, the New York Stock Exchange, the post office, two churches and other important public buildings. The damage was estimated at $20 million. All but three of the city's twenty-six fire insurance companies went bankrupt. The local papers spoke about the fire's effect on the country as a whole, viewing it as a national tragedy, not one limited to the devastation of New York City. The pressure on the financial sector was such that the fire helped precipitate the Panic of 1836, the first major financial crisis in the United States. New York City Mayor Cornelius Lawrence and the city's political leaders met at City Hall on December 19, 1835 to request help from the federal government in Washington, D.C. and the state government. "Other cities, such as Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and Albany, approved of New York's appeal to the federal government and promised assistance themselves. Even Montreal sent $2,000 to Mayor Lawrence to help rebuild the city," according to one source. Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence (1791-1861) a Representative from New York; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-third Congress; mayor of New York City 1834-1837 making him the first person chosen by popular suffrage in the city. An excellent piece of New York history, material concerning the Fire of 1835 is very scarce on the market. Light creases, a few foxed spots, otherwise fine condition.

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