Tag Archives: American and Commercial Daily Advertiser

Advertisement: Attention. All persons owning ground on Oakum Bay…

Attention All persons owning ground on Oakum Bay...
American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, January 4, 1814

In 1783, Maryland established the “Wardens of the Port of Baltimore” to oversee the construction of wharves, to help maintain clear waterways, and collect duties from vessels entering and leaving the Port. By the early 1800s, the marshy cove at the bottom of the Jones Falls — also known as Oakum Bay for the a tarred fiber “oakum” used in caulking and shipbuilding —  posed a significant public health hazard. An 1808 report on the origins of Baltimore’s frequent yellow fever epidemics pointed a finger at the cove as a “sink of putrefaction,” continuing:

“So offensive were the effluvia emanating from this source of death that it affected those who had occasion to pass it even at a considerable distance interstices.”

The January 8, 1814 public meeting advertised in the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser helped to launch an effort to eliminate this hazard by filling in the cove and build the City Dock still located near today’s proposed Harbor Point development project.

New Year’s Day reflections from William Pechin and Hezekiah Niles

On January 1, 1814, two Baltimore newspaper editors reflected on the struggles of the war. William Pechin, editor of the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser published at 4 Harrison Street (near the site of the Baltimore City Police Department headquarters on Fayette Street) wrote:

“In taking a retrospective survey of the last twelve months, in a national point of view, although there may be much to deplore and regret, still we are not destitute of many proud and triumphant causes for the elevation of the American feeling, calculated to exclude any thing like sadness or despondency.”

Pechin, a 40 year-old Philadelphia native,  personally championed a Baltimore petition to advocate for the declaration of war that arrived in June 1812. Despite the recent U.S. retreat from Canada in October and the attack on Buffalo just two days prior, Pechin had lost none of his patriotic zeal continuing:

“The position we have been compelled to take to defend ourselves against the encroachments of British tyrrany, should call forth the zealous support of every American that has the vigor and spirit to wield a sword.”

The influential and nationally-circulated Niles’ Weekly Register, published by Hezekiah Niles, offered a more sober account:

“The present appears the most dreary sheet we have had yet to publish. The career of calamity seemed, for the moment, to overwhelm the soberness of reason, and place the mind in a state that has been aptly compared to the condition of ‘fishies frozen up in a pond.’”


January 1, 1814, Niles’ Weekly Register, “State of the War – Editorial Remarks,” p.299

January 1, 1814, American Commercial and Daily Advertiser, p.2