Beautifully engraved Certificate from the Merrick and Jamaica Plank Road Company issued
in 1852. This historic document is signed by the Company's President, John Alsop King and its Secretary, James Rider. Although the condition of this certificate is well worn, I nor other major dealers contacted have not seen it before. This item is 151 years old.
John Alsop King one of the founders of the Republican Party.
In 1854 the party system dominated by Whigs and Democrats collapsed due to the controversy sparked by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which made it possible to establish slavery in western territories, where it had previously been banned. This act outraged northerners and convinced many Democrats and Whigs in that region to abandon their parties. Many of these voters initially joined the Know-Nothing Party, an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant organization whose antislavery reputation in the North helped it attract more than one million members (see Know-Nothings).
The creation of a new Republican Party was the most important result of the Kansas controversy. Organized in some places as early as July 1854, the party promised not only to prevent the admission of new slave states to the Union, but also to diminish slaveholders' influence in the federal government. The appeal of this platform quickly enabled the Republican Party to overpower the Know-Nothings. In the New York Whig convention of 1855, John Alsop King moved for the adoption of the name "Republican" which was approved. Although the Republicans lost their first campaign for the presidency in 1856, they triumphed in 1860 with former Congressman Abraham Lincoln. The Republican victory resulted in part from the division of the Democratic Party into northern and southern factions, each of which ran its own presidential candidate, and in part from their success at attracting Whigs and Know-Nothings who had opposed the Republicans in 1856. During the Civil War, the Republicans temporarily called themselves the Union Party in an attempt to win the votes of prowar Democrats.
John Alsop KING, (son of Rufus King and brother of James Gore King), a Representative from New York; born in New York City January 3, 1788; attended Harrow School, England, and also studied in Paris; returned to New York City; studied law; was admitted to the bar; served in the War of 1812 as lieutenant of Cavalry; engaged in farming near Jamaica, N.Y.; member of the State assembly 1819-1821; served in the State senate from 1823 until his resignation in 1825; appointed secretary of the legation at London in 1825; Chargé d’Affaires June 15 to August 5, 1826; again elected to the State assembly in 1832, 1838, and 1840; delegate to the Whig National Convention in 1839 and 1852; elected as a Whig to the Thirty-first Congress (March 4, 1849-March 3, 1851); resumed the practice of law; Governor of New York in 1857 and 1858; delegate to the first Republican National Convention in 1856; member of the peace convention of 1861 held in Washington, D.C., in an effort to devise means to prevent the impending war; died in Jamaica, Long Island, N.Y., July 7, 1867.
Beginnings: It was through unlucky circumstances that former New York Gov. John Alsop King first built on the land that is now Kings Point. In the mid-1800s, after King and a relative inherited a strip of land north of Great Neck, a coin toss decided who would get the fertile farmland to the east and who would be stuck with the rocky shoreline and woods. King, who was also a congressman and a founder of the Republican Party, lost. He built a home on the craggy shore overlooking Long Island Sound - now among the most expensive real estate on Long Island. Kings Point became part of a loose group of associations that included Elm Point, Grenwolde, East Shore and Gracefield.
Turning Point: In 1924 Kings Point and the surrounding areas were incorporated as one village by residents concerned about preserving its rural charm and individuality. Some of the key people in the move to incorporate were driven by environmental conservation issues, ideals well ahead of the time. The village became a model of the Roaring '20s on Long Island's Gold Coast, with wild jazz parties thrown by such glamorous residents as Wall Street titan Jesse Livermore, store owner Henri Bendel and car manufacturer Alfred P. Sloan, among others. Such lavish events set the stage for F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, ''The Great Gatsby,'' in which Kings Point was portrayed as West Egg.
The Academy: In 1942 the federal government established the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on a Kings Point estate purchased from auto manufacturer Walter P. Chrysler. His 35-room marble mansion became the administration hall. The academy was the only military institution from which undergraduate cadets served in World War II. More than 260 cadets gave their lives.
This company operated under a Board of Directors which consisted of a Director, a Finance Committee and a Treasurer. They were as follows:
1852-1867 John Alsop King
1867-1888? Abraham B. Hendrickson
1852-1853 Samuel H. DeMott, Elisha B. Baldwin, Abraham B. Hendrickson
1853-1857 Abraham B. Hendrickson, Thomas Seaman
1857-1888?, Julius Auerbeck, Elisha B. Baldwin, Henry Pearsall
1852-1854 James Rider
1854-1862 Elisha B. Baldwin
1862-1888? John W. DeMott
Most of these individuals were the prominent members of their community. John Alsop King, the founding Director, was Governor of New York State from 1857-1859. James Rider was a state senator from 1856-1857, and John W. DeMott was one of the more active lawyers of the area.
Many of the stockholders, salaried gatekeepers (toll collectors) and repairmen were property owners along the road. The initial construction, maintenance and subsequent rebuilding of this road was most of the time also executed by these same individuals. Although this corporation was organized during the zenith of plank road construction in New York State, it operated until 1888, after most other plank road companies went out of business. In 1857 there were 352 plank road companies chartered in New York State, while eleven years later in 1868 there were only seventeen companies in this state.
The effect of the plank road helped to develop both city and farmer. Since travel time was almost cut in half, road surfaces were passable in any weather condition, the farmer became quite independent. The cities, on the other hand, provided a depot for the farmer, where cheaper commercial transportation could take his produce outside the immediate geographic area.
The Merrick and Jamaica Plank Road went from Jamaica (Queens County) easterly for about 13 miles to Merrick (formerly Queens County, now Nassau County) where what is today Route 27A.
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