Question: What Constitutes A New Yorker? 1907 Part III

Remarkable study of America’s Metropolis reveals many strange facts in the makeup of its citizenship, from which it appears that the Native born New Yorker is surprisingly scarce in the city.

These leaders of men are, with very few exceptions, full-fledged Americans. And they are hardly ever native New Yorkers. The proportion of native Manhattanese among these Americans is two or three in lists of ten and fifteen.

Passing to the majority the foreign-born New Yorkers and those born of foreign parents the analysis becomes more complex. In the first place, the foreigners whose language and racial traits correspond more nearly with those of the Americans are absorbed at once. They usually become Americans in the first and certainly in the second generation. With the English, Scotch, Irish, and Welsh it is only a matter of a few years. The Germans and French do not require much longer. These must be excepted from the majority of refugees who enter New York in flight from tyranny, poverty, and the horrors of massacre.

Run hastily through volumes of biography, for instance. Note the names of the big New Yorkers of eighty years ago and where they came from. Read the story of New York's great boom between 1827 and 1835, when the city began to out-strip Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia__the American metropolis of those days and take her place as the first American city. To what part of the country did these old New Yorkers look as the place of their nativity?

The analysis, of course, showed predominating numbers from the adjoining country New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It was only natural that the metropolis should draw to herself most largely from her nearest neighbors.

The canvas showed that of the 946,852 native-born white New Yorkers of American parentage, 724,822 were born in the State of new York, including this city, 14,466 in Connecticut, and 33,717 in New Jersey.

The next largest contribution was from new England. The States in this division,. excluding Connecticut, sent 27,295 of their sons to add to the strength of the metropolis. If the 14,466 New Yorkers born in Connecticut were added to the list, the total for new England would be 41,761, more by 8,000 persons than there were in New York at the end of the American Revolution.

Of the other States in the Middle Atlantic division, Pennsylvania ranks among the first with 22,618 of her sons in this city. There are 1,033 natives of Delaware in New York.

When the neighboring States are excluded, no geographical division can compare in numbers with new England, however, except the South. There are 13 States and the District of Columbia in this group, using the old Mason and Dixon's line and the Ohio River as the boundary on the North and the Mississippi River, Louisiana, and Texas on the West.

There are 24,218 New Yorkers from these States and the District of Columbia. Maryland and Virginia are in the lead and practically equal, the first with 5,370 and Virginia with 5,373 New Yorkers. North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia each sends from 1,300 to 1,900. Kentucky exceeds them with 2,238. The contributions of the rest fall below the one thousand mark.

The people from the central group of States, from Ohio on the East to the Rocky Mountains on the West, fall below this total for the South by less than 500. In the middle division were included the States as far West as the tier comprising North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. In all, 23,844 New Yorkers come from these 14 Commonwealths and one Territory.

Ohio is claimed by 8,502 New Yorkers as the State of their nativity, Illinois comes next with 4,839, then Michigan with 2,323, Missouri with 2,026, Indiana with 1,954, and Wisconsin with 1,191.

If it were not for the bond between New York and California, the contribution to the metropolis from the 11 States between the great central plain and the Pacific Coast would be less than 1,200 people. The States in this division include Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico on the East and extend to the coast. Of the 2,783 New Yorkers born in these States 1,649 came from California. Colorado claims 413 New Yorkers by accident of birth, Montana sent 92, Washington was the birthplace of 249, and Oregon of 148 New Yorkers.

The remaining 11,352 in the list were American citizens with native parents born under the following conditions: In Alaska, 11; in Hawaii, 24; at sea under the American flag, 40; in the Philippines, 12; in Porto Rico, 320; in foreign States, 1,497, and in States not specified, 9,448.

From these figures the following summary may be drawn of the birthplaces of the full-fledged Americans in New York:


State of New York
Other Middle Atlantic States
New England
Southern States
Middle West
Rocky Mountains and Pacific Slope
No. Here


When the leading men of the city the executives, financiers, business men, and artists are considered it becomes plain enough that New York depends upon the outside world, rather than herself, for the brains and power which keep the wheels of the metropolis moving.

Gov. Hughes, for example, is a native of Glens Falls, N.Y. He has been a New Yorker since he studied law at the Columbia Law School, and was admitted to the bar in 1884 as a youth 22 years old.

Mayor McClellan, son of Gen. George B. McClellan, famous in the civil war, was born in Dresden, Saxony, while his parents were traveling abroad in 1865. His father was a Pennsylvanian. The Mayor has been a New Yorker since 1886, when he was graduated from Princeton and went into newspaper work here.

Police Commissioner Bingham, a native of Andover, Mass., was a man of 48 when he took up his permanent residence in New York. In the twenty-eight years between 1879, when he was graduated from West Point, and his appointment as Commissioner last year, he was a Lieutenant of Engineers and Captain, Major, and Brigadier General in the United States Army, Military Attache at Berlin and Rome, and Military Aide to the President.

Ex-Postmaster William R. Wilcox, now head of the Public Service Commission, had an early training not unlike that of Gov. Hughes. He was born in Smyrna, N.Y., and educated at Brockport, N.Y., and Rochester, before he studied law at Columbia, and was admitted to the bar in this city in 1890.

Edward M. Morgan, the present Postmaster, Claims Marshall, Mich., as the town of his nativity. He has been in the New York Post Office for thirty-three years, starting as a carrier when he was 16 years old and working himself up through the ranks until he became Assistant Postmaster. As such he succeeded Mr. Wilcox.

Gen. James S Clarkson, Surveyor of Customs, like Gen. Bingham, had a long career behind him when he came to New York to take the office five years ago. He is an Iowa man, and spent most of his life there as school teacher, editor, politician, and builder of railroads. He was First Assistant Postmaster General under President McKinley.

Turning to the financiers, J. Pierpont Morgan, a native of Hartford, Conn., spent his boyhood in Boston and his college days in Gottingen, Germany. He went to Wall Street to learn the banking business when 22 years old, but received much of his training in London befor he became a partner of Dabney, Morgan & Co., five years later.

James Stillman, President of the national City Bank, comes of New England stock, was born in Brownsville, Texas, and spent his boyhood in Hartford, Conn. He became a New Yorker just after he became of age, starting his business career as a cotton merchant.

Henry Clews is an Englishman by nativity. He was born in Staffordshire and educated with the ministry in view. He came to America, however, as a boy of 15, and was so much impressed with the country that he went into business in New York.


Website: The History
Article Name: Question: What Constitutes A New Yorker? 1907 Part III
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The New York Times November 17, 1907
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