OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK (1783 - 1821)

pp. 5960 (description of the Council of Appointment Military Minutes):



THE Council of Appointment minutes are deposited in the office of the Secretary of State, Albany, and cover fourteen volumes of manuscript. The first, second and third volumes are composed of civil and military matters; volumes 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14, civil appointments, and volumes 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13, military.

During the forty-four years of the existence of the first constitution, frequent demands were made for the publication of these records, but the Council invariably refused to comply. The constitution of 1777 failed to make provision for a new constitutional convention, as it failed to specify the time when the governor should begin his official duties. Governor Clinton was declared elected, July 9, 1777. He took his oath of office the same day. It was not until the act of February, 1787, was passed for regulating elections, that a specific date was established for the governor and the lieutenant governor to enter on the duties of their respective offices--the 1st of July, after their election.

When the first constitution was adopted, New York State was divided into fourteen counties: Albany, Cumberland, Dutchess, Gloucester, Kings, Montgomery, New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster, Washington, Westchester. When this constitution went out of existence, the state was divided into fifty-three counties–the original counties--of Cumberland and Gloucester having become a part of the new state of Vermont–as follows, with the date of erection of the forty-one new counties:

Columbia, erected in 1786; Clinton, Ontario, in 1788; Herkimer, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Tioga, in 1791; Onondaga, 1794; Schoharie, 1795; Steuben, 1796; Delaware, 1797; Chenango, Oneida, Rockland, 1798; Cayuga, Essex, 1799; Greene, 1800; Genesee, St. Lawrence, 1802; Seneca, 1804; Jefferson, Lewis, 1805; Allegany, Broome, Madison, 1806; Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Cortland, Franklin, Niagara, 1808; Schenectady, Sullivan, 1809; Putnam, 1812; Warren, 1813; Hamilton, Oswego, 1816; Tompkins, 1817; Erie, Livingston, Monroe, 1821.

The subject matter contained in these volumes comprises the military appointments made by the Council of Appointment, beginning after the last name mentioned in "New York in the Revolution" to the adoption of the second constitution in 1821. In the thousands of names here presented will be found those of men who have been prominently identified with the history of the State in the arts, sciences and the law. Several governors and United States senators performed duty as militiamen during the good old times when the "training day" was one of the features of the year. …

(p. 61): Chaplains were first appointed by the Council, June 8, 1808; horse artillery first appears on the records of date February 4, 1809, as "company" in contradistinction to "battery."

In the preparation of this material, it has been a source of unending regret that the State should have surrendered to the authorities at Washington all its records relating to the Second War with Great Britain. The few names now within the control of the State represent a very small fraction of the total number on file in the War Department at Washington. ...

pp. 63-64: Footnotes on appointments.
*The rank of colonel in this state was abolished by act of legislature, under law passed April 4, 1782, entitled "An act to regulate the militia," section 4, which reads: "That in case of the death, resignation or other inability, to serve of any colonel now commanding a regiment, no colonel shall thereafter be appointed thereto. That such regiment and all others not now commanded by a colonel shall henceforth be commanded by a lieutenant-colonel."

Chapter 25, laws of 1786, provided: "That each regiment shall be commanded by three field officers, viz.: One lieutenant-colonel commandant and two majors."

May 8, 1792, the Congress of the United States passed an act, "More effectually to provide for the national defence by establishing a uniform militia throughout the United States," in which the provision was made: "That the said militia shall be officered by the representatives states as follows: ... to each regiment one lieutenant-colonel commandant." This act was re-enacted and put in force in New York state by chapter 45, passed March 9, 1793. All subsequent state militia legislation was based upon the United State act of 1792 for many years.

The lieutenant-colonel commandant continued as the ranking officer all through the war of 1812, and until May 1, 1816, when the Fourteenth Congress passed an act which is known as "chapter 64, in which it was provided: That from and after the first day of May next instead of one lieutenant-colonel commandant to each regiment, there shall be one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, and one major to each regiment of militia."

July 8, 1816, the Council of Appointment of New York adopted the following resolutions:

"Resolved, That the several persons now holding the commission of lieutenant-colonel in the several regiments of infantry, artillery, cavalry, horse artillery and riflemen of this state be deemed and respected as colonels which they now have as first majors, and the said lieutenant-colonels and first majors are hereby respectively appointed to said offices with such relative rank accordingly.

"Resolved, That the adjutant-general forthwith cause a list or roster of the lieutenant-colonels and first majors embraced in the preceding resolutions, with the dates of their respective commissions, to be made out, certified and filed in the office of the secretary of state and that the secretary issue new commissions to them as colonels and lieutenant-colonels respectively with rank from the dates of their present commissions according to the act of Congress passed 20th April, 1816."--STATE HISTORIAN.

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