The Essential New Yorker, Gulian Crommelin Verplanck

The Essential New Yorker, Gulian Crommelin Verplanck

The Essential New Yorker, Gulian Crommelin Verplanck

The Essential New Yorker, Gulian Crommelin Verplanck

Excerpt

THE BOY was born on August 6, 1786, in the big yellow brick house on Wall Street next to Federal Hall. The two buildings were separated by a garden; and when he was little more than an infant, he looked out a side window across the flower beds and watched General Washington ride past in his carriage to the first inaugural under the newly formed government. It was a solemn and impressive moment; but it is likely that the child, pressing his nose flat against the pane in his eagerness to catch every detail, was more absorbed in the prancing horses, the bright flags, and the colorful uniforms than he was in the fact that a new government had been launched.

But such a fact did not long elude him. He was a studious boy, and the pleasures of his companions had little interest for him. While others were outdoors with their marbles and kites, he could be found in the library browsing through long shelves of books. His temperament and interests led him to the study of history and classics rather than to the fishing, hunting, swimming, nut-gathering and other timeless pursuits of young boys which were a daily occurrence in the fields and woods just beyond Wall Street.

He was a stocky lad, small for his age but not frail or sickly. His round face was ruddy with health, and his dark eyes sparkled with a zest for life.

His name was Gulian Crommelin Verplanck.

The Verplancks arrived in America early. Originally they were of old Batavian stock, half Flemish and half Dutch, and lived in Brabant and Zeeland. Probably they were farmers . . .

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