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HENRY HUDSON HONORED IN NEW YORK FETE.
It was a coincidence almost rivalling that of the dual discovery of the pole, that while Dr. Cook and Commander Peary were being feted and were arguing their claims the memory of a pioneer American explorer and Artie adventurer was receiving honor. New York, only three weeks after the great pole sensation, was the scene of a mammoth celebration, with pageants galore and with warships from foreign waters present in force.
The fete served to teach people many little-known facts about Hudson's career, which was one of the most romantic in history.
Alfred Payson Terhune, in a recent biographical sketch of Hudson, has outlined the facts of the explorer's life in a graphic way.
"He was born no one knows where or when. He died no one knows when or how. He comes into our knowledge on the quarterdeck of a ship bound for the North Pole. He goes out of our knowledge in a crazy boat manned by eight sick sailors."
So writes one historian of Hendrik Hudson, man of mystery. The hero who blazed his name upon America's history by discovering the mighty river and the bay that bear his name seems to have arisen from Nowhere to perform wondrous deeds and to have vanished into Nowhere when his grand work was done
Hendrik Hudson flashed into fame at a bound, was before the public for four brief years, and then disappeared. Even his portrait and autograph are not generally believed to be genuine. None knows his age at the time he made his discoveries. That he was of mature years is shown by his having an 18-year-old son. But whether he was a hale mariner of 40 or a grizzled veteran of 70 it is impossible to guess.
He was born somewhere in England, some time in the sixteenth century. His name was Henry Hodgson, and his Dutch employers later twisted the English phraseology into "Hendrik Hudson." His father and grandfather are vaguely supposed to have been London merchants and interested in the Muscovy company.
Hudson first appears in history on April 19, 1607, when, with his 16-year-old son, John, and ten mariners he sailed from England as captain of the Muscovy company's little sixty-two ton ship, Hopewell. There is the modest object of his voyage as set forth in his own notes:
"To discover the North Pole and to sail across it to China or India."
The voyage was probably of Hudson's own choosing. For all his known life he was a slave of one idea and that idea a wrong one. He believed that he could reach the orient through a sea passage somewhere in the frozen north. This would mean a short cut for Europe's trade with the east. To discover the supposed north passage Hudson devoted all his powers and risked his life. The really great discoveries which he blundered upon while searching for this passage he did not seem to consider especially valuable.
Sailing on the Hopewell in April, 1607, he scored a ''farthest north" record, penetrating to within 10 degrees of the North Pole and discovering Spitzbergen. But the icepack and cross currents at last drove him back. He returned to England without having found the long-sought passage across the pole to the orient. But in 1608 he was ready for another search. Again, in the Muscovy company's service, he sought the mythical passage. This time he sailed eastward to Nova Zembla, and again was turned back. Here is a queer extract from Hudson's notebook for this voyage:
"On this day (June 15, 1608), one of our company, looking overboard, saw a mermaid. She was close to the ship's side, looking earnestly upward."
Hudson's two unsuccessful voyages in quest of the passage across the pole disgusted the Muscovy company with that sort of exploration. They turned their attention to whaling. Hudson as an explorer was out of a job. Then, when luck seemed at its worst, came the chance of his life a chance that made him immortal.
The Dutch East India company had been making so much money that a 75 per cent, dividend had been declared. Some of the company's directors suggested that a small part of the surplus cash be used for fitting up an expedition to hunt for the "north passage." It was a gamble, and to the thrifty Dutch looked for big commercial results. They sent for Hudson and offered him command of the venture.
He was ordered to set out in the eighty-ton Half Moon, with a crew of twenty men, and to "proceed In search of a northwest passage around the northern extremity of Nova Zembla to India." For his services, according to a contract's terms, Hudson was to receive $320, "as well for his outfit as for the support of his wife and children." The contract adds: "In case he do not come back which God prevent the directors shall further pay to his wife 200 florins ($80) in cash."
Thus it was that in the early spring of 1609 Hudson put to sea for Nova Zembla. A second ship, the Good Hope, went along with the Half Moon as consort, but soon turned back.
The icepack kept Hudson from reaching Nova Zembla. His crew, in council, advised him to try the impossible passage of Davis straits into India. Some historians say he refused; others that a great storm blew the Half Moon far westward from her course. Whether from design or accident, Hudson found himself off the North Atlantic coast of America. Then he made known to his men a wonderful plan he had evolved, namely, to discover an inland strait or sea crossing the whole American continent from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific. To this insane plan we owe the discovery of the Hudson river.
Capt. John Smith a most marvelous liar as well as a splendid soldier of fortune had once told Hudson that a strait or inland sea cut the North American continent in half, from east to west, and that its Atlantic inlet was just north of Virginia. Failing to find a passage across the North Pole to India, it occurred to Hudson that the discovery of this inland sea between Atlantic and Pacific might help atone for his other failure. For, by coming to America at all, he was disobeying his employers' orders.
So down the Atlantic coast from the north sailed the little Half Moon She touched at Cape Cod (that had already been discovered by Goswold in 1602), found no "inland sea," then put further offshore and next sighted land at Chesapeake bay. Hudson cruised in the Chesapeake only long enough to find it was not the "strait" he sought. Then he ran north, along the coast, to Delaware bay, where he made another hopeless search for the "strait," and again skirted the coast to the northward. Every opening in the New Jersey shore line must be carefully explored, for each might prove to be the mouth of the "strait."
Thus, on Sept. 3, 1609, Hendrik Hudson sailed inside Sandy Hook and cast anchor in lower New York bay. From the size of the bay it seemed to him that he had at last found the mythical "strait." There is no reason to think Hudson was the first man to enter New York bay. Mariners from several countries claimed to have been there before him. Andrea da Verazzano, a corsair in the French service, explored the North Atlantic coast from Florida to New York in 1524, and so on to Block island and Newport. He was either killed by Spaniards or roasted at the stake by savages.
For ten days the Half Moon rode at anchor in the lower bay, while Hudson parleyed with the natives, whose canoes swarmed about his ship, and sent out little exploring parties in boats. In one of these explorations the boat crew had a fight with Indians, and John Coleman, a seaman, was shot through the throat by an arrow. The first white man to die in New York was buried on a sandy strip of ground known thereafter as "Coleman's Point." On Sept. 12 the Half Moon sailed up the bay to Manhattan island and anchored off what is now the battery. One historian writes that at this spot Hudson gave a great feast to the Indians and offered them the first liquor they had ever tasted. A drunken orgy followed, and the Delawares, in contempt, named the island "Man-hatta-nink" meaning "place of general intoxication." Hudson was delighted with the beauty of Manhattan island and wrote in his report: "It is a very good land to fall in with and a pleasant land to see!" Thence up the broad river he sailed, certain that he had at last found the "strait." Friendly natives fed his crew on grain and game during this journey and received in return not only such trinkets as savages love, but liquor as well. Says the journal of Juet, Hudson's mate: "When they were drunk it was strange to them; for they could not tell how to take it." At the present city of Hudson the captain and officers went ashore, and, according to the note, were there feasted by the local chiefs on "a goodly store of pigeons and a fat dog." Hudson plied the chiefs with drink "to learn if they had any treachery in their hearts toward us." When he discovered that the salt water of the lower bay was turning fresh he began to doubt if he were really in the "strait."
Yet he kept on, until, on Sept. 22, at a point just above Albany, he found the river was no longer navigable. This was a terrific blow. Hudson had failed to reach the North Pole, he had disobeyed orders in coming to America, and now he knew at last that there was no inland sea leading from New York to the Pacific.
His voyage had failed. He was heartbroken. The fact that he had discovered one of the greatest rivers on earth counted for nothing. That while searching for a "strait" which did not exist he had opened New York to civilization and had thrown wide the gates to a rich wonder-world all this meant nothing to him. He had failed. His fellow-navigators would sneer at him. His employers would reprimand perhaps discharge him.
To soften the Dutch East India company's wrath he began to collect rare woods and furs to show how valuable a land this might be from a trade viewpoint. Indeed, it was the news of these products especially the furs that later led the Dutch to settle New York. Thus, even in his "failure." Hudson's pathetic efforts to pacify his employers were the indirect cause of New York's first growth.
Coming down the river Hudson anchored under the Hoboken cliffs. The mate writes of the opposite shore as "that side of the river called Manna-hata." (There are nearly a dozen versions of the way Manhattan got its name.) There, on Oct. 1, while the Indian canoes were clustering around the ship, one savage climbed the rudder chains, crept through a window into Hudson's cabin and stole a pillow, two shirts and two belts. The mate, according to his own account, "shot at him and struck him on the breast and killed him." The ship's cook seeing a second Indian who, in swimming, had seized the dead savage's canoe, "took a sword and cut off one of his hands and he was drowned." This brought on a general fight, in which several more natives were killed.
On Oct. 4 the Half Moon set sail for Holland. It was the first vessel to leave the port of New York bound direct for Europe. Hudson knew that trouble awaited him at home, but had he guessed how great a misfortune it would prove he would probably have chosen some other destination.
Great was the excitement at Dartmouth, England, when, on Nov. 7, 1609, the battered little Half Moon crept into port, bearing the returned discoverers. Hudson and his men were plied with questions as to the wonderful new land they had explored. They became nine-day wonders at the sleepy English town. But suddenly the sentiment toward them changed.
Hudson had merely stopped at Dartmouth on his way to Holland. Before he could go on with his journey the British authorities seized the Half Moon and arrested Hudson and the crew. For months the returned mariners were held captive. At last Hudson succeeded in forwarding his reports to the Dutch East India company, and his men were allowed to take the ship to Amsterdam. Hudson did not go with them. It is supposed, too, that the Dutch East India company (angry at his disobedience to orders and disgusted at what they deemed his failure) discharged him.
Thus the discoverer found himself stranded once more, without employment or prospects. For months he lived in miserable idleness, trying always to secure command of a new expedition for the discovery of the North Pole and of the supposed "passage" across it to India.
(The Half Moon, after several later voyages under less famous captains, is said to have been wrecked off the island of Mauritius in 1615.)
By dint of much persuasion Hudson finally induced some rich London merchants to fit out a ship for him and let him make one more search for the northern "passage." This new vessel, the Discovery seventy tons was manned by Hudson, his 18-year-old son John and twenty-two other adventurers. She sailed from England on April 17, 1610, In July she entered what was afterward known as Hudson's straits, and on Aug. 2 entered Hudson's bay. For three months Hudson explored that vast body of water. Then in November he and his men went into winter quarters on its south shore.
Hudson was a great and fearless navigator. But he was not a born ruler of men. This had earlier been shown by the mutinous behavior of his crews. Now, camped on the frozen coast of a northern bay, short of food, fearful of dying in that bleak wilderness, his men again broke into furious mutiny.
Hudson tried to pacify them by argument and entreaty, instead of enforcing his authority. He also divided among them the last fragments of the ship's provisions. He even wept loudly and publicly over their mutinous conduct. All this served to make the crew the more contemptuous of Hudson's authority.
Illness, starvation and mutiny wore away the long northern winter. When spring at last arrived the men clamored to start for Europe. Hudson deemed the ship too badly provisioned and the ice floes too thick for a safe passage so early in the season. Whereat the mutineers seized Hudson on the morning of June 21, 1611, as he came on deck from his cabin, bound him and threw him into a small boat. They thrust his son John into the boat after him, and then proceeded to throw seven of the weakest, sickest sailors over the side of the ship into the cranky little craft to keep the fallen hero company.
While almost the whole crew had mutinied, yet those who found themselves condemned by their stronger brethren to share their commander's fate resisted fiercely. In the free fight that ensued up and down the deck four men were killed.
At last the boat with its nine helpless occupants was cut loose from the ship. A kettle, a gun, some ammunition and a little food were tossed to the fugitives, and the Discovery sailed away for England, leaving Hudson and his sick fellow outcasts floating helpless upon the water in a frail boat. The mutineers fought among themselves on the way home. All ringleaders were killed or died of hunger and disease. Of the twenty-four who had left England, only eight returned alive. In the Discovery, in 1616, Baffin's Bay was discovered.
What became of Hudson and his eight men? A relief expedition found no trace of them. Did they perish, or as old traditions say were they adopted into some Indian tribe? Hudson's fate is as mysterious as his origin. He sprang at a bound from utter obscurity, accomplished his life work and vanished into the Unknown.
The most spectacular features of the New York celebration were a naval parade, a land pageant and a display of fireworks.
The naval parade was held the morning of Sept. 25 amid a din of whistles like that heard when the old year passes out and the new comes in, made up of the combined clamor of all the harbor craft, the hoarse blast from the tugs, and deeper bass of the big liners, the firing of guns, the cheering of the folks assembled on the shores of the three boroughs, and the neighboring state.
From the lee of Jersey shore, where Kill von Kull cleaves the way between the sister state and Staten island, there emerged a strange vessel. Its high poop, its rigging, its entire makeup bespoke the day that has long since passed. Besides the Cunarder Caronia, which passed in strung with flags from stem to stern in its honor the foreign-looking boat appeared ridiculously small. In fact, it was completely blanketed.
Yet, after a lapse of three centuries, its day had come again a glorified day in which a great city paid its tribute in respect to the Half Moon and what it stood for.
Likewise the Clermont, typifying the day when Manhattan stretched to Canal street and no farther, while Brooklyn was a village, when the science of navigation by steam was in its infancy, got such a reception as Fulton never had in the bygone days when his genius came to be recognized.
There came near being an end to the most attractive feature of the entire celebration before matters were straightened out and a start was made. The Half Moon and the Clermont collided while rounding the turn off the ferry house close to St. George. The Half Moon had broken out sail at the time and was footing it in great shape under a cloud of canvas, but the twenty knot wind proved too much for it. In spite of the efforts of the Dutch crew to prevent it the vessel bore down on the long, low lying Clermont and rapped it smartly on the port side amidships.
The Clermont, with its outside paddle wheels churning the water of the bay into a yeastly smother, tried to get out of the way, but the Half Moon, which was like a chip on the ocean in comparison with the present day liners, proved fully as ambitious as the record breaking four day boats and bore down into the wind with a speed which would have made Henry Hudson open his eyes wide in astonishment.
Not far from the Stapleton shore the crash took place. The Dutch product of the sixteenth century had traveled a short distance from Constable Hook in tow, but the wind was so inviting it parted from its convoy and put out sail. When the sailors on the Half Moon saw that a collision was inevitable they hastily lowered the canvas, which retarded the Half Moon's speed considerably. All the same, the sixteenth century and the nineteenth came in contact with force enough to set the pewter plates on the Dutchman rattling.
Neither vessel was much damaged. Part of the railing of the Clermont was splintered and the Half Moon had its nose bruised, figuratively speaking, for the bowsprit was bent a bit, but it was not necessary for the vessels to drop out of the line and they joined in the parade as briskly as if nothing at all had happened.
The Clermont was under its own steam at the time, just as the Half Moon was under sail. The tug Frederick B. Dalzell had taken the Half Moon 200 yards. A breeze was kicking the bay into whitecaps, but as the quaint vessel spread its white wings and the sails bellied out, it rounded Staten island like an American cup champion. It wasn't on the cards that it should go as fast, but the crowd on shore was delighted and let out a cry of approval.
At the same time the cloud of steam issued from the tall stack of Clermont, but Its gait was more methodical. When the crew saw the Half Moon up on it, however, the vessel got a move on in earnest and tried to get out of the way. It couldn't quite make clear water in time.
In the wake of the Half Moon trailed the official boats, tugs, yachts, and other craft. Five submarines stole into the channel and went along, closely convoying the Half Moon. Then the big show might fairly be said to be on.
The head line of the naval parade, with the Half Moon leading, was off South Brooklyn shortly before 1 o'clock.
The excursion boats were all heavily crowded and the bay was full of decorated vessels of all sorts tugs, steam lighters, and other craft darting hither and thither. The outward bound liners were all decorated as they passed the parade on their way down the bay. The boats moved up the Hudson in a double line at a speed of about eight miles an hour, but such was the number of participants and the distance necessary to be maintained between them that the head of the procession had reached the turning point at Spuyten Duyvil and was part way back before the last upward bound vessel passed the Battery. Strung out thus, the column proved to be nearly fifteen miles long.
When the Half Moon and the Clermont reached the United States ship Newport, which marked the southern end of the line of warships at Forty-fourth street, they moved up on the New York side of the river, while the other vessels kept on between the men o' war and the New Jersey shore. As the two little craft went by the warships started firing the royal salute, making one continual roll of powder fed thunder.
The Half Moon and Clermont went only as far as One Hundred and Tenth street, where the land ceremonies of the day occurred at 4 o'clock, with speeches by Gov. Hughes and others. While these were in progress the other vessels rounded the head of the warship line at Two Hundred and Twenty-second street, and returned along the Manhattan shore, back to buoy to await the night, when, with scarcely time enough for the crews to get dinner, the participants of the day parade went over the same route, while the river was gorgeously illuminated.
The weather was as perfect as the preparations. Four days of rain had washed all the gray out of the skies, and through the atmosphere, clear and sparkling, ran the first brisk breath of autumn, the first feel of Indian summer. Under the flawless sunshine the water danced, all white and blue, the wheels and screws of the scurrying craft churning the top of the swells into a creamy smother.
Where all the crowd came from and how it got settled into place is a marvel past telling. The sun, climbing into the sky, looked down upon a metropolis that rippled and eddied with red, white and blue, with orange, blue and white, and with every other color that can be woven into a flag or printed into bunting; it looked down also upon two rivers, a harbor, and bay fairly dancing with vessels of every sort, from ocean liners, excursion boats, trim private yachts, fat ferry boats, waddling like mallards, and tugs as brisk as the blue teal, down to motor boats and skiffs, playing over the surface like schools of sunfish in a pond. It also looked upon the picked war craft of our own nation and other nations; all metal and menace and might.
Besides the pleasure craft there was waiting the greatest gathering of war vessels ever seen. It was a fleet of seventy war vessels, fifty-three American, four English, four German, three French, two Italian, One Dutch, one Argentine, one Mexican, and one Cuban, with guns enough, if fired in one broadside, to wipe out a city or sink a nation's navy enough potential destruction in a row to stagger the imagination. There were 27,000 officers and men and nearly 500 big guns.
In the evening came the fireworks.
As early as 6:30 o'clock, when the city hall and all the borough halls of the great city, the big East river bridges, the skyscrapers, hotels, and everything else sent forth their first flash of lights, all the river also was lit up. In front of the big white pylons of the staff at the foot of One Hundred and Tenth street lay the liner Nieuw Amsterdam, with every line studded with lighted bulbs. From the water front a few yards in front of the crowd to the rim of the Palisades, up and down as far as one could see, there were lights and lights and more lights.
There was a pause for a while on every bridge of the miles of fighting ships while the quartermasters waited for the "cornet" signal that would cause them to give the order. "Turn on lights." The signal came promptly as signals on flagships have a habit of doing, and like a burning trail of powder ship after ship flashed out of the darkness, up and down the river as far as you could see. A good imitation of the crack of doom accompanied the lighting up of the fleet. Every siren for miles was tied down. The hoarse calls of battleships, liners, and other boats added to the din.
Jets of light from the clustered searchlights far up the river, which had been radiating like sticks in a woman's fan in individual rays, now were brought closer together, still spreading out individual shafts of light, but making a lesser, therefore brighter, number of rays.
And then up and down the river, the Jersey shore the back drop of the stage broke loose with fireworks. Fireworks spluttered and banged and sent training balloons of fire sailing southward over the warships in a strong breeze for more than an hour. It undoubtedly was the biggest pyrotechnic display, in quality and in quantity, that New York ever had seen.
Up on Washington heights twenty great beams of light in twelve colors made a playground of the darkness. The searchlights were there to light up the curtain of steam that sizzled a few hundred feet from them to one side. The steam would billow out in fat, fanlike puffs, and the searchlights would illuminate these in gaudy colors, like a peacock's tail, or it would &ome out in a solid sheet and the colors would play on the wall. Again it would issue forth in short snaky looking wreaths, a dozen writhing in mid air at the same time, and the colors would come and go in red and yellow and all the other tints the psychologists say represent anger and fear.
The plant from which all the plays of light came was situated on Riverside drive, between One Hundred and Fifty-fifth and One Hundred and Fifty-seventh streets. There the twenty lights were lined up, occupying more than a block, facing the Hudson river. Each projector had an intensity of 50,000,000 candle power. The light was so powerful that when the operator turned it on a tree during the preliminary practice every leaf was brought out in a hard brilliance of contour.
The most interesting effect was that obtained by forcing steam under heavy pressure through hose pipes. The pipes slatted about furious in mid air and the steam was thrown about in every direction. This was called "the battle of the serpents," or some such name, and as lighted up by the twenty projectors had a dazzling effect. Another effect was obtained by discharging an aerial bomb high in the sky, then turning the searchlights up on it till the smoke cloud had disappeared.
This was the end of the day's festivities and it had been a crowded day. The historical pageant on Sept. 27, really represented the supreme effort of the commission. For several months 300 artists, carpenters and papier-mβchι manipulators had been at work preparing the wood and plaster figures which decorated the fifty-four floats in the procession. Nearly 20,000 men, women and children, representing every national and patriotic society in the city, posed as historic personages on these floats or marched beside them. The cost of the spectacle was $300,000.
Guests of the commission and the city numbered several thousand. The former occupied an immense stand in front of the new public library at 5th avenue, 40th and 42d streets. This was the reviewing stand.
The story unfolded by the floats and their costumed characters dealt with the history of New York and the country surrounding it in four periods the Indian, the Dutch, the colonial and the modern. The last named, however, carried the tale no farther than the first Erie canal boat and the introduction of water from the Croton reservoir. Leading the pageant were officers of the city and the commission. The Irish societies led the first division, having in line about 400 Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and 2,000 members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, while after them marched 1,500 from the Italian organizations, 1,500 Bohemians, 250 Poles and 250 Hungarians, all in costume. The title car "New York," which led the floats, was followed by 250 Norwegians. A number of Iroquois Indians took part in the tableaux on the Indian floats that followed.
After 1,000 additional members of the Italian societies and 1,000 from Ireland came floats picturing scenes in the early Dutch colonies, including representations of the Half Moon and the "Fate of Henry Hudson." One that attracted attention was the car "St. Nicholas," attended by 250 children. That the youngsters might not be wearied by the long march they served in relays along the route.
Swedish and Irish societies, including 1,500 members of the Clan-na-Gael, preceded the floats of the colonial period and members of various patriotic societies escorted the cars of the modern or United States period, which composed the last division. "The reception to LaFayette," however, was accompanied by 200 members of the French societies, and the car "Garibaldi" was escorted by members of the Italian societies, including ten veterans who had served under the Italian liberator.
And thus Henry Hudson was honored. It may be asked: How will the American nation do homage to Peary and Cook in 2009?