History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Centennial Celebrations of the State of New York
Prepared pursuant to a Concurrent Resolution
of the Legislature of 1878 and Chapter 391 of the Laws of 1879
By Allen C. Beach, Secretary of State.
Weed, Parsons & Co. Printers 1879.
Appendix to "The Old Capitol."
Note 1. The Arms Of The State.
The arms of the State have never been placed there, possibly because there remains to the present day uncertainty as to what is the actual design of the State arms. Dr. Henry A. Homes, State Librarian, writes as follows on the subject:
"The first enacted general law of the State of New York, March 16, 1778, declared what were to be the arms and seal of the State." Several times since, in 1798, 1801, 1809, and 1813, new seals or modifications of the old seals have been authorized by law, but there is no evidence that the arms of the State were ever changed by law.
following is a general description of the arms, avoiding technical terms:
Shield --Upper portion of a blue sky, with the sun rising behind three mountains, and at the base of the last the sea in calm. Crest --An eagle rising from a globe, with geographical delineations. Supporters --The figure of Liberty, in dress of gold and mantle of red hanging behind from her shoulders to her feet, the right hand clasping a staff, crowned with a liberty camp, and her left pressing upon a jeweled crown. This is on the right. On the left, the figure of Justice, with dress and mantle like those of Liberty, her left hand holding a balance,and a sword pointed upward in her right hand. Both of these figures are standing, and the left hand of Liberty supports the shield.
"Efforts are being made in the Secretary of State's office to secure correct pictures of the arms in their earliest form. There has been obtained an engraving of the arms as found on a military commission issued by Governor George Clinton within three months after the passage of the law of 1778. There is now painting in colors a copy of the arms from a flag displayed by a New York regiment, commanded by Gen. Gansevoort at the surrender of Gen. Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, to be placed in the State Library,and in the Secretary's office. By chap. 634 of the Laws of 1875, a third early copy of the arms has been obtained from a window in St. Paul's Church, New York. With the aid of all these a standard representation of the State arms will be retained in the Secretary's office.
"The title pages of the annual editions of the Session Laws, down to 1815, bore a vignette of the State arms, of the same general design as the three early copies mentioned above; but in that year, for the first time, the vignette bore the figure of Justice seated, and in 1819 the figure of Liberty was also, for the first time, seated. Evidently it was supposed that as the seals had been modified, the laws of heraldry, as regards the arms, might be disregarded and the supporters be seated."
The following extracts from the minutes of the Common council of Albany, relative to the sundial, have been brought to the attention of the editor by Mr. Elisha Mack, of Albany, and will be found of interest:
At a meeting of the Common Council, held at the capitol in the city of Albany on the 27th of May 1822:
Present, His Honor the Mayor, and Recorder.
Gibbons, Hamilton, Phelps, Bleecker, Cassidy, L'Amoureux.
Maher, Lansing, Davis, Costigan, Pemberton, Humphrey.
Resolved. That the Recorder with Messrs. Hamilton, Humphrey and Maher be a committee to ascertain the expense of setting up the Dial belonging to this Board, upon the Public Square.
At a meeting of the Common council, held at the Capitol, in the city of Albany, on the 22d July, 1822: The committee to whom was referred a resolution to ascertain the expense of setting up a Dial belonging to this Board, upon the Public Square, report that the same may be attached to a corner of the Capitol building, and the expense will be about $15.
Estes Howe, Ch'n.
Resolved, That the Board agree in said report.
Resolved, That the City Superintendent be directed to put the Dial at the southeast corner of the Capitol building, the expense not to exceed $15.
It appears in the book of minutes, from which the foregoing extracts were copied, that in the year 1822 Hon. Charles E. Dudley was Mayor, Estes Howe, Recorder, and Philip Hooker, City Superintendent and Surveyor.
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