Jump to navigation
[ 148 ] EDWARD PESSEN the year 1828, unfortunately they are random, imprecise, and poorly documented.3 Philip Hone's diary, located in The New-York Historical Society, is the private journal of a wealthy merchant; the twenty-eight quarto volumes contain the names of hundreds of obviously successful men privileged to move in Hone's social circle. Yet while a list drawn up from such a source would have merit, it could lay no claim to comprehensiveness or accuracy. Similar flaws would characterize a listing of contemporary bank or corporate officers and directors. A recent study of antebellum Philadelphia ingeniously sought to locate wealthy persons by reference to the locations of their residences and to their occupations.4 Its author chose this approach because a more direct and accurate method, one that would have ascertained the value of the real and personal estate owned by individuals, was evidently closed off to him by what he describes as Philadelphia's system of taxing the occupants rather than the owners of real property. Fortunately in New York City this was not a problem. The 1828 manuscript tax rolls for New York City show that assessments on real property were levied on owners, not occupants. Only Sarah Baker was assessed for the value of the house at 13 Broadway occupied by Dudley Fuller, John D. Phoenix, and Daniel Phoenix. Only Mrs. Keese was assessed for the property at 52 Broadway occupied by Henry Parish, Jeremiah Constant, and J. R Phoenix. Further uptown James Anderson was assessed for a number of Broadway residences he obviously did not personally use. There were hundreds of similar cases. Throughout the city's wards, including the poorest and most heavily populated, men named Astor, Lorillard, Goelet, and Whitney were assessed for modest individual real properties occupied by others. In view of the fact that the New York City tax records cited the assessed value of the real and personal property owned by individuals, listing the sums alongside the names of their owners, I de- 3In Henry Wysham Lanier, A Century of Banking in New York, 1822—1922 (New York, 1922), appears a listing that Lanier entitled "The Rich Men of 1822',' 92-142. Although no source is cited for it, the tabulation is a useful one, based on the New York City tax rolls for the early 1820s. Since its compilers unfortunately did not go through the entire record, for one year (1823) omitting all property in the wealthy First Ward, the list excludes much wealth owned by men whose names it contains and also omits many rich men. 4Stuart Mack Blumin, "Mobility in a Nineteenth-Century American City: Philadelphia, 1820—1860" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1968).