Sunday, April 24, 2016

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

On April 2, the day after April Fool's Day, Gossips published a little item that appeared in the Columbia Republican on April 1, 1916, with the head "Hudson Is Safe." At the time, it seemed that the item might be a 100-year-old April Fool's joke. A few days later, a reader sent the link to a New York Times article, published on July 27, 1865, which provides evidence that Hudson was not always safe: "RIOT AT HUDSON, N.Y.; Albany Roughs Traveling on Their Muscle--The City of Hudson at Their Mercy, The Citizens Afraid to Let "Daylight" Through Them." The entire article is recommended reading, but here's a sample of what was reported:
Hudson, N.Y., Wednesday, July 26
This city was visited yesterday by a gang of roughs and thieves, who accompanied the excursion of the Emmet Guard, from Albany.
The scoundrels spread all over the city, robbing and knocking down the citizens to their hearts' content. For a long time they kept this up, for there was no one to make them afraid.
According to some sources, the Emmet Guard, or Emmett Guards, was one of the many Irish units that fought for the Union during the Civil War. (In July 1865, when the riot occurred, it had been just three months since Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant.) The Emmett Guards, however, appear to have existed in New York long before the Civil War. In a book called The Anti-rent Agitation in the State of New York, 1839-1846, published in 1887, Edward Potts Cheyney recounts that the Emmett Guards were sent to Hudson in December 1844 to protect the city when two anti-rent leaders, accused of murder, were being held here in the county jail.
The anti-renters threatened to rescue these prisoners, and even to burn the city of Hudson. Movements were noticed among the disguised bands that led the sheriff to organize an armed posse of about a hundred men, and to apply to the Governor for arms and ammunition for the use of the inhabitants of Hudson. After keeping guard with such forces for a week, the probabilities of violence seeming to become still greater, the sheriff and the authorities of the town made an application to Governor Bouck to call out the militia. He consented, and a military force, consisting of the Albany Burgesses Corps of the Emmett Guards, marched from Albany December 25, 1844. 
When the Emmett Guards visited Hudson in July 1865, however, they did little to protect the city, in fact, they brought the "most desperate rowdies, thieves, pickpockets and murderers" with them. According to the Columbia Republican, the visit was the Emmett Guards' "annual target excursion." What follows is the account of what happened when the Guards and their followers landed in Hudson, as it appeared in the Columbia Republican:


And we thought we lived in Hudson in interesting times.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, you found another article in addition to the colorfully written NYT article that I found. Good sleuthing Carole. The Columbia Republican article just drips with judgmental emotion: "shamefully," "vagabonds," "ruffianism." Good stuff! :)