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From the New York Herald, Saturday July 4, 1857.
Practical Effects of the Decision – The Old Force Deprived of
Authority as Officers – Order to Disband – Scene and Speeches –
The Old Police Remain as Guests of the City in their Station
Houses – Proceedings at White Street – Wholesale Police Making –
Proscription of Foreigners – Interview of the Mayor and  Mr.
Tallmadge – The Mayor Refuses to Convene with the Commission.  

     &c.,                     &c.,                    &c.,
The full decision of the Court of Appeals was read in the city papers yesterday morning.  By special urgency of the parties in the White street interest : Albany, and  through the special advocacy of the republican press, the decision was given by the Court one day sooner than had been fixed upon,  so that it should at once go into effect, and its result precede the public demonstrations for the Fourth of July in this city and its neighborhood.   The expediency of this was thought to have particular importance for the
preservation of the peace, especially as the promulgation of the decision to-day it was thought might lead to disturbances and difficulties between the rival forces.
The decision came to hand therefore yesterday morning, including due notice from the proper authorities – the clerk of the Court of Appeals and the Attorney General Cushing probably – to the Mayor.   This, of course completed the fact without further possibility of  a doubt, that the Mayor of New York no longer had any authority to retain the present force in his special control, as it also step aside all authority as officers of the existing municipal police.  The decision, taken with the previous action of the White street commissioners, did not leave an authorized man in the city station house who could presume to arrest for breach of the peace.

The municipal force were prepared of course for this, from the telegraphic dispatches of the previous day.  All police power was understood to be exclusively vested in the Metropolitans.  The Municipals accordingly grounded their arms and stood ready for the anticipated orders from the municipal head of  the department.  At an early hour in the morning a message was telegraphed from the Chief’s office, ordering the Captains to withhold their men from the usual police duties, and retain them in the station houses for further instructions.  The order was accordingly put in force, and throughout the forenoon there was not a Municipal policeman seen outside his station house on any duty through the day.  The compliance with the law, as soon as it was finally determined, was therefore immediate, and not a single act can probably be cited as having been even accidentally done in violation of the law, when it had been definitely ascertained.

In the course of the forenoon there was quite a gathering of the police captains and their friends off an on at the Chief’s office.  Mr. McKellar, in Mr. Matsell’s absence, sat in the chair of the dethroned civic chief.  A number of the captains were gathered around him, and did him humorous homage, and as they each arrived made a pleasantry of handing in their last reports.  There could hardly be assembled a more jovial looking throng and laughter and wit and repartee seemed to prevail with a spirit which might have better become the Metropolitans in their serenading revels of the previous night.  Leader of the crowd was Captain James Leonard of the Second ward, who, with his characteristic good spirits imperturbable temper, sustained the occasion with a good grace and portly firmness, which even the old Chief Matsell himself would hardly excel.  The captains pretty much all dropped in before noon, and duly received the final orders of the Mayor, which were formally handed to them to promulgate at their stations before 2 o’clock.

The great anxiety of the White street people for the decision at the earliest possible moment kept their attention so much engaged on the anticipation that when it did come it found them badly prepared for the event.  Even their purpose to make a grand display of  rejoicing fell through comparatively, and their illuminations, their bonfires and their cannonading before City Hall was all knocked in the head.  They, in the first place, have had none of the money, no pay to discount as yet and to there was a material drawback in
this connection.  The decision coming a day or two in advance of their anticipations made still another drawback, whilst the recurrence of the Fourth of July demonstration will of course swallow all they may yet attempt so that none but themselves will understand anything they may do for other than pure legitimate Fourth of July matter.
But the matter of the immediate recurrence of Independence Day so close upon the decision of the Court of  Appeals will put the Police Commissioners in a particularly awkward position.  Whilst the decision necessarily disbands the old force, and leaves them powerless as officers, the Metropolitans are by no means in readiness to take their places, especially upon so trying an occasion as Fourth of July in this city.  In view of this the Commissioners began to fill up their force yesterday, and as soon as it was told them that the Municipal force would necessarily be disbanded, they realized their predicament with such vividness that quite a sensation prevailed at their office through the day.

Messages were sent in every direction for the applicants on file in the office, and the neighborhood was soon crowded.  There was not a quorum of the Board in town, as Gen. Nye had gone up to Cortland to deliver a Fourth of July oration, and Commissioner Crowel had left the city also, to spend the Fourth.  Names were called for and answered to, and every man who could be had was sworn in as a policeman, in all the instance where they could be appointed in the absence of a quorum of the Board.  In the course of the day no less than eighty policemen were made, of which the following list presents those who had been previously passed upon by the Committee on applications and removals

[Names are given here along with appointments to a particular Ward]

Besides these, there were still others, and when no more of a legitimate character could be hurried through, Simeon Draper and the Brooklyn Commissioner, Mr. Stranahan, sent in all quarters for whoever could offer, to be sworn in as a special force.  They were not able to achieve a great many of those for want of men, but canvassers went out to spend the night in drumming up others, who will have been sworn in this morning.  It was ascertained that the supply of “shield badges” was exhausted, and that accordingly a number of hatbands with “Metropolitan Police” lettered in them must be provided forthwith for these “specials.”

The Board has not appointed any Irishmen thus far, with a very few “good republican” well enclosed exceptions.  The like distraction had been made with respect to Germans, the Sixteenth Ward being, however, allowed a few of the vacancies as will be observed by the orthography of the foregoing list.  These Germans have, like the Irish, been endorsed by the black republican ward committees.  The Commissioners say that the particularly “naïve” complexion of the appointments is owing to the pernicious activity of Commissioner Cholwell and his backers in the lobbies at White street.

In the course of the day the final orders of the Mayor to the late police force under his control reached the different station houses, when due action was taken upon by the captains.  It was as follows: -  

Office of the Chief of Police
          New York, July 3, 1857.
To Captain______  ____.
     SIR: - The Court of Appeals having decided in favor of the constitutionality of the act to establish a Metropolitan  Police district, it is our duty to yield to that decision, and to acknowledge this law as binding and obligatory upon our conduct.  Whatever may be the opinions of  the great body of the people as to the tyranny and injustice of legislation which deprives us of the right of self government, and however repugnant this law is to our local pride and independence, we have no present recourse but compliance and submission.  So far, therefore, as the existing police  organization of the city is concerned, as formed pursuant to the law passed anterior to 1857, now repealed, we have no discretion but to abandon and dissolve it at once and forthwith.  Its official power is gone, and we have no authority to continue it another hour.  You will therefore assemble your men and read to them this order, and withdraw them from all patrol or other official service.  Whether a municipal day and night watch is consistent with this decision, and whether it shall be established pursuant to the ordinance of the Common Council approved June 2, 1857, is a matter for future determination.  I shall announce the conclusions on that subject at an early day.  You will in the meantime, and until further orders, remain in charge of the station houses and all other Corporation property entrusted to your care and require the officers and men under your command to deliver up to your custody the police property in their possession.
©2003 The Composing Stack Inc. ©2003 Gregory J. Christiano