Saturday, April 24, 2010

Galloway Gallery: Exhibit 4

This is 211 Union Street, the birthplace of Hudson's most illustrious native son: General William Jenkins Worth. (How many people have three cities, a lake, a village, and a county named after them?) It's surprising that such a significant Hudson landmark is in private hands, but it is. It's owned by the Galvan Group--named for Eric Galloway and his partner, Henry van Ameringen.

William Jenkins Worth was born in this house on March 1, 1794--just a decade after Hudson was founded. His father was Thomas Worth, one of the original Proprietors, and his mother was Abigail Jenkins. It seems strange that the son of Quakers should become a celebrated war hero and military tactician, but that's what happened.

Worth's mother died when he was a small child, and his father was killed when Worth was 18. After attending a local "common school," Worth worked in a store in Hudson for a while before moving to Albany to pursue a mercantile career--one of the first young people to leave Hudson to seek their fortune. At the beginning of the War of 1812, Worth joined the army. He applied for a commission and received an appointment as a first lieutenant. For his gallantry during the War of 1812, he was promoted through the ranks: he became a captain in the Battle of Chippewa and a major in the Battle of Niagara.

After the War of 1812, Worth went to West Point as an instructor of tactics and, in 1825, became the Academy's fourth Commandant of Cadets--an unusual achievement since he had not graduated from West Point. During the 1830s, his time was taken up dealing with Indians. He fought the Black Hawks in Illinois, took part in the removal of the Cherokees from various southeastern states, and fought the Seminoles in Florida. It was during the Seminole Wars that Worth became first a colonel (in 1838) and then a general (in 1842).

Worth's last campaign was the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), during which he earned the rank of major-general. After that war, Worth got involved with a group of Cuban Freemasons who were plotting to overthrow the Spanish colonial government in Cuba. They allegedly offered Worth three million dollars to lead an invasion force of American veterans of the Mexican-American War against the Spanish, but before the plan could be carried out, the War Department transferred Worth to Texas to command the Department of Texas. A year later, in May 1849, he died of cholera in San Antonio.

There's a monument to General Worth in New York City: a granite obelisk situated in Worth Square at 25th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. Worth's remains are interred there. The monument and the square were dedicated on November 25, 1857, after an elaborate procession that involved 6,500 soldiers. Dedicated in 1857, Worth Square is the second oldest park in New York City.

Fort Worth, Texas, was named for William Jenkins Worth, as were Lake Worth, Florida; Lake Worth, Texas; the village of Worth, Illinois; and Worth County, Georgia. Worth Street in lower Manhattan was named for him, as were our own Worth Avenue and the late lamented General Worth Hotel, which was demolished in 1970.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for researching General Worth's history and relating it to us. The plaque has been removed from the house, and I hope it gets put back, as I miss it, and now people strolling around Hudson, won't know what they are looking at.

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