~ Gordon Bennett Timeline ~ Gordon Bennett Chronology ~ Gordon Bennett Timeline ~

~ Chronological History ~

1795

 

September 1st               James Gordon Bennett Sr born in New Mill, Keith, Banffshire, Scotland.  His parents are Roman Catholics of French descent.


1809                             Bennett Sr is sent to Aberdeen, Scotland, to study for the priesthood.


1819

 

April                              Bennett Sr, having decided that he has mistaken his vocation (priesthood) he settles on emigration and eventually arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he attempts to earn a living by teaching bookkeeping.

 

He is unsuccessful in his bookkeeping-teaching endeavours so makes his way to America, entering through the port of Charleston, South Carolina.  He settles in Boston where he finds employment as a proof-reader.


1822                             Bennett Sr goes to New York and later becomes assistant in the office of the Charleston Courier.


1824                             Bennett Sr returns to New York and attempts to establish a commercial school, and then to lecture on political economy.  However, he is unsuccessful, and again turns to the newspapers, becoming a reporter, paragraphist, and contributor of poetry and all kinds of articles.


1825                             Bennett Sr buys ‘on credit’ the Sunday Courier but soon gives this up.


1826                             Bennett Sr becomes connected with the National Advocate but leaves it because of its advocacy of the election of John Q Adams.  He becomes Associate Editor on Noah's Enquirer.  About this time he joins the Tammany society.


1828                             Bennett Sr goes to Washington where he wins a reputation as Washington correspondent of the New York Enquirer.  At Bennett Sr’s suggestion the Enquirer is consolidated with another paper, becoming the Courier and Enquirer.


1829-1832                     With James Watson Webb for editor and Bennett Sr as his assistant, the combined Courier and Enquirer becomes the leading American newspaper.


1831

 

August 31st   -                As Associate Editor of the New York Morning Courier and Enquirer Bennett Sr publishes two-part Report on Mormons:

 

MORMONISM - RELIGIOUS FANATICISM – CHURCH AND STATE PARTY

Canandaigua, Aug. 15th, 1831.

New York has been celebrated for her parties -- her sects -- her explosions -- her curiosities of human character her fanaticism political and religious.   The strangest parties and wildest opinions originate among us.  The human mind in our rich vales -- on our sunny hills -- in our crowded cities or thousand villages -- or along the shores of our translucent lakes bursts beyond all ordinary trammels; throws aside with equal fastidiousness the maxims of ages and the discipline of generations, and strikes out new paths for itself.   In politics -- in religion -- in all the great concerns of man, New York has a character peculiarly her own; strikingly original, purely American -- energetic and wild to the very farthest boundaries of imagination.   The centre of the state is quiet comparatively, and grave to a degree; but its two extremities, Eastern and Western; the city of the Atlantic, and the continuous villages of the Lakes, contain all that is curious in human character -- daring in conception -- wild in invention, and singular in practical good sense as well as in solemn foolery. 

You have heard of MORMONISM -- who has not? Paragraph has followed paragraph in the newspapers, recounting the movements, detailing their opinions and surprising distant readers with the traits of a singularly new religious sect which had its origin in this state.  Mormonism is the latest device of roguery, ingenuity, ignorance and religious excitement combined, and acting on materials prepared by those who ought to know better.  It is one of the mental exhalations of Western New York. 

The individuals who gave birth to this species of fanaticism are very simple personages, and not known until this thrust them into notice.  They are the old and young Joe Smith's Harris a farmer, Ringdon [sic] a sort of preacher on general religion from Ohio, together with several other persons equally infatuated, cunning, and hypocritic.   The first of these persons, Smith, resided on the borders of Wayne and Ontario counties on the road leading from Canandaigua to Palmyra.   Old Joe Smith had been a country pedlar in his younger days, and possessed all the shrewdness, cunning, and small intrigue which are generally and justly attributed to that description of persons.  He was a great story teller, full of anecdotes picked up in his peregrinations -- and possessed a tongue as smooth as oil and as quick as lightning.  He had been quite a speculator in a small way in his younger days, but had been more fortunate in picking up materials for his tongue than stuff for the purse.  Of late years he picked up his living somewhere in the town of Manchester by following a branch of the "American System" -- the manufacture of gingerbread and such like domestic wares.  In this article he was a considerable speculator, having on hand during a fall of price no less than two baskets full, and I believe his son, Joe, Junior, was at times a partner in the concern.   What their dividends were I could not learn, but they used considerable molasses, and were against the duty on that article. 

Young Joe, who afterwards figured so largely in the Mormon religion, was at that period a careless, indolent, idle, and shiftless fellow.  He hung round the villages and strolled round the taverns without any end or aim -- without any positive defect or as little merit in his character.  He was rather a stout able bodied fellow, and might have made a good living in such a country as this where any one who is willing to work, can soon get on in the world.   He was however, the son of a speculative Yankee pedlar, and was brought up to live by his wits.  Harris also one of the fathers of Mormonism was a substantial farmer near Palmyra--full of passages of the scriptures--rather wild and flighty in his talk occasionally -- but holding a very respectable character in his neighbourhood for sobriety, sense and hard working.  

A few years ago the Smith's and others who were influenced by their notions, caught an idea that money was hid in several of the hills which give variety to the country between the Canandaigua Lake and Palmyra on the Erie Canal.  Old Smith had in his peddling excursions picked up many stories of men getting rich in New England by digging in certain places and stumbling upon chests of money.  The fellow excited the imagination of his few auditors, and made them all anxious to lay hold of the bilk axe and the shovel.  As yet no fanatical or religious character had been assumed by the Smith's.  They exhibited the simple and ordinary desire of getting rich by some short cut if possible.  With this view the Smith's and their associates commenced digging, in the numerous hills which diversify the face of the country in the town of Manchester. The sensible country people paid slight attention to them at first.  They knew them to be a thriftless set, more addicted to exerting their wits than their industry, readier at inventing stories and tales than attending church or engaging in any industrious trade.   On the sides & in the slopes of several of these hills, these excavations are still to be seen.  They would occasionally conceal their purposes, and at other times reveal them by such snatches as might excite curiosity.  They dug these holes by day, and at night talked and dreamed over the counties' riches they should enjoy, if they could only hit upon an iron chest full of dollars.  In excavating the grounds, they began by taking up the green sod in the form of a circle of six feet diameter --then would continue to dig to the depth of ten, twenty, and sometimes thirty feet. 

At last some person who joined them spoke of a person in Ohio near Painesville, who had a particular felicity in finding out the spots of ground where money is hid and riches obtained.  He related long stories how this person had been along shore in the east -- how he had much experience in money digging -- how he dreamt of the very spots where it could be found.  "Can we get that man here?" asked the enthusiastic Smiths. "Why," said the other, "I guess as how we could by going for him.”   "How far off?”  "I guess some two hundred miles -- I would go for him myself but I want a little change to bear my expenses.”  To work the whole money-digging crew went to get some money to pay the expenses of bringing on a man who could dream out the exact and particular spots where money in iron chests was hid under ground.   Old Smith returned to his gingerbread factory--young Smith to his financing faculties, and after some time, by hook or by crook, they contrived to scrape together a little "change" sufficient to fetch on the money dreamer from Ohio.  

After the lapse of some weeks the expedition was completed, and the famous Ohio man made his appearance among them. This recruit was the most cunning, intelligent, and odd of the whole.  He had been a preacher of almost every religion -- a teacher of all sorts of morals.   -- He was perfectly au fait with every species of prejudice, folly or fanaticism, which governs the mass of enthusiasts.  In the course of his experience, he had attended all sorts of camp-meetings, prayer meetings, anxious meetings, and revival meetings.   He knew every turn of the human mind in relation to these matters.  He had a superior knowledge of human nature, considerable talent, great plausibility, and knew how to work the passions as exactly as a Cape Cod sailor knows how to work a whale ship.  His name I believe is Henry Rangdon or Ringdon, or some such word. 

About the time that this person appeared among them, a splendid excavation was begun in a long narrow hill, between Manchester and Palmyra.  This hill has since been called by some, the Golden Bible Hill.  The road from Canandaigua to Palmyra runs along its western base.   At the northern extremity the hill is quite abrupt and narrow.  It runs to the south for a half mile and then spreads out into a piece of broad table land, covered with beautiful orchards and wheat fields.  On the east, the Canandaigua outlet runs past it on its way to the beautiful village of Vienna in Phelps.  It is profusely covered to the top with Beech, Maple, Bass, and White-wood -- the northern extremity is quite bare of trees. In the face of this hill, the money diggers renewed their work with fresh ardour, Ringdon partly uniting with them in their operations. 

 (To be continued.)

 

September 1st                Continuation of Report on Mormons:

 

MORMON RELIGION -- CLERICAL AMBITION –
WESTERN NEW YORK –
THE MORMONITES GONE TO OHIO

Concluded from yesterday's paper.

About this time a very considerable religious excitement came over New York in the shape of a revival.  It was also about the same period, that a powerful and concerted effort was made by a class of religionists, to stop the mails on Sunday to give a sectarian character to Temperance and other societies -- to keep up the Pioneer lines of stages and canal boats, and to organize generally a religious party, that would act altogether in every public and private concern of life.  The greatest efforts were making by the ambition, tact, skill and influence of certain of the clergy, and other lay persons, to regulate and control the public mind -- to check all its natural and buoyant impulses--to repress effectually freedom of opinion--and to turn the tide of public sentiment entirely in favour of blending religious and worldly concerns together.  Western New York has for years, had a most powerful and ambitious religious party of zealots, and their dupes.  They have endeavoured ever since the first settlement of Rochester, to organize a religious hierarchy, which would regulate the pursuits, the pleasures, and the very thoughts of social life.   This organization was kept up by banding churches and congregations together -- by instituting laws similar to those of excommunication -- by a species of espionage, as powerful and as terrible as that of a Spanish Inquisition.  Every occupation in life -- every custom of the people -- every feeling and every thought, from the running of a stage or of a lady's tongue up to the legislation of the state, or of Congress, was to be regularly marked and numbered like so many boxes of contraband or lawful merchandise, by these self-created religious censorships and divines.  Rochester is, and was the great headquarters of the religious empire.  The late Mr. Bissell, one of the most original and talented men in matters of business, was equally so in religious enthusiasm, and all measures calculated to spread it among the people.  -- 

The singular character of the people of western New York -- their originality, activity, and proneness to excitement furnished admirable materials for enthusiasts in religion or roguery to work upon.  Pure religion -- the religion of the heart and conduct -- the religion that makes men better and wiser -- that makes woman more amiable and benevolent--that purifies the soul -- that represses ambition -- that seeks the private oratory and not the highway to pour forth its aspirations: such a religion was not that of the party of which I speak.  Theirs is the religion of the pomp and circumstance of glorious controversy--the artificial religion of tracts.   Magdalen Reports, lines of stages -- the religion of collecting money from those who should first pay their debts -- of sending out missionaries to spend it, and of letting the poor and ignorant at home starve and die.   Such mistaken principles and erroneous views must when attempted to be carried into effect, breed strange results.  Men's minds in this age will not submit to the control of hypocrisy or superstition or clerical ambition.  They may be shackled for a day through their wives and daughters -- for a month -- a year, but it cannot be lasting; when the first die or the last get husbands, independence will be asserted.  

This general impulse given to religious fanaticism by a set of men in Western New York has been productive among other strange results of the infatuation of Mormonism.   This piece of roguery, folly and frenzy (for it partakes of all) is the genuine fruit of the same seeds which produced the Sunday Mail movement -- the Pioneer line of stages -- the Magdalen Reports &c. &c.   It is religion run into madness by zealots and hypocrites.  

It was during this state of public feeling in which the money diggers of Ontario county, by the suggestions of the Ex-Preacher from Ohio, thought of turning their digging concern into a religious plot, and thereby have a better chance of working upon the credulity and ignorance of [their] associates and the neighbourhood.  Money and a good living might be got in this way.  It was given out that visions had appeared to Joe Smith -- that a set of golden plates on which was engraved the "Book of Mormon," enclosed in an iron chest, was deposited somewhere in the hill I have mentioned.  People laughed at the first intimation of the story, but the Smiths and Rangdon persisted in its truth.  They began also to talk very seriously, to quote scripture, to read the bible, to be contemplative, and to assume that grave studied character, which so easily imposes on ignorant and superstitious people.  Hints were given out that young Joe Smith was the chosen one of God to reveal this new mystery to the world; and Joe from being an idle young fellow, lounging about the villages, jumped up into a very grave parsonlike man, who felt he had on his shoulders the salvation of the world, besides a respectable looking sort of a blackcoat.  Old Joe, the ex-preacher, and several others, were the believers of the new faith, which they admitted was an improvement in Christianity, foretold word for word in the bible.  They treated their own invention with the utmost religious respect.  By the special interposition of God, the golden plates, on which was engraved the Book of Mormon, and other works, had been buried for ages in the hill by a wandering tribe of the children of Israel, who had found their way to western New York, before the birth of Christianity itself.  Joe Smith is discovered to be the second Messiah who was to reveal this word to the world and to reform it anew. 

In relation to the finding of the plates and the taking the engraving, a number of ridiculous stories are told.  -- Some unsanctified fellow looked out the other side of the hill.  They had to follow it with humility and found it embedded beneath a beautiful grove of maples.   Smith's wife, who had a little of the curiosity of her sex, peeped into the large chest in which he kept the engravings taken from the golden plates, and straightway one half the new Bible vanished, and has not been recovered to this day.   Such were the effects of the unbelievers on the sacred treasure.  There is no doubt but the ex-parson from Ohio is the author of the book which was recently printed and published in Palmyra and passes for the new Bible.  It is full of strange narratives--in the style of the scriptures, and bearing on its face the marks of some ingenuity, and familiar acquaintance with the Bible.  It is probable that Joe Smith is well acquainted with the trick, but Harris the farmer and the recent converts, are true believers.  -- Harris was the first man who gave credit to the story of Smith and the ex-preacher.  He was their maiden convert -- the Ali of the Ontario Mahomet, who believed without a reason and without a murmur.  They attempted to get the Book printed, but could not raise the means till Harris stepped forward, and raised money on his farm for that purpose.  Harris with several manuscripts in his pocket, went to the city of New York, and called upon one of the Professors of Columbia College for the purpose of showing them to him.   Harris says that the Professor thought them very curious, but admitted that he could not decipher them.  Said he to Harris, "Mr. Harris you had better go to the celebrated Doct Mitchell and shew them to him.  He is very learned in these ancient languages, and I have no doubt will be able to give you some satisfaction.”   "Where does he live," asked Harris.   He was told, and off he posted with the engravings from the Golden Plates to submit to Doc Mitchell -- Harris says that the Doctor received him very "purlitely," looked at his engravings--made a learned dissertation on them -- compared them with the hieroglyphics discovered by Champollion in Egypt -- and set them down as the language of a people formerly in existence in the East, but now no more.  

The object of his going to the city to get the "Book of Mormon" printed was not however accomplished. He returned with his manuscript or engravings to Palmyra -- tried to raise money by mortgage on his farm from the New York Trust Company -- did raise the money, but from what source -- whether the Trust Company or not I am uncertain.  At last a printer in Palmyra undertook to print the manuscript of Joe Smith, Harris becoming responsible for the expense.   They were called translators, but in fact and in truth they are believed to be the work of the Ex-Preacher from Ohio, who stood in the background and put forward Joe to father the new bible and the new faith.  After the publication of the golden bible, they began to make converts rapidly.  The revivals and other religious excitements had thrown up materials for the foundation of a new sect, they soon found they had not dug for money in vain -- they began to preach -- to pray -- to see more visions -- to prophesy and perform the most fantastic tricks -- there was now no difficulty in getting a living and the gingerbread factory was abandoned.   They created considerable talk over all this section of the country.  Another Revelation came upon them, and through Joe and some other of these prophets, they were directed to take up their march and go out to the Promised Land -- to a place near Painesville, Ohio.  Money was raised in a twinkling from the new converts.  Their principles -- their tenets -- their organization -- their discipline were as yet unformed and unfashioned, and probably are so to this day.  Since they went to Ohio they have adopted some of the worldly views of the Shakers and have formed a sort of community system where everything is in common.   Joe Smith, Harris, the Ex-pedlar and the Ex-parson are among their elders and preachers -- so also now is Phelps one of Mr. Granger's leading anti-Masonic editors in this village. 

Such is a brief view of the rise and progress of the Mormon Religion one of the strangest pieces of fanaticism to which the ill-advised and the worst regulated ambition and folly of certain portions of the clergy in Western New York ever gave birth.  What a lesson it ought to teach us!


1832-1835                     When the Courier and Enquirer deserts Jackson for Nicholas Biddle, Bennett Sr leaves and starts a cheap party paper that lasts for only thirty days, and then a Jackson organ in Philadelphia, called the Pennsylvanian.  He appeals to the party to sustain this paper but, being refused, returns to New York determined to trust no more to politicians.


1835

 

May 6th                          Bennett Sr launches his New York Herald, a new penny paper of four four-column pages. His capital totals just $500 and his office is situated in a Wall Street cellar.  Two young printers, Anderson and Smith, agreed to print it, and to share the profits and losses with Bennett.  In less than a year the paper sells almost 15,000 copies daily.

 

June 13th                       Bennett Sr introduces a money-article in the New York Herald - a novel feature in American journalism.

 

July                              The Herald’s printing office is burned down and Smith and Anderson abandon the enterprise.

 

August 31st                    Bennett Sr revives the Herald of which he is thenceforth sole proprietor.


1838                             Bennett Sr first establishes European correspondents for his paper, the New York Herald.


1840

 

June 6th                         Bennett marries Miss Henrietta Agnes Crean, a poor, but accomplished, music-teacher, in New York.


1841                             The annual income of the New York Herald reaches at least $100,000.

 

May 10th                        James Gordon Bennett Jnr born in New York City.


1846                             A long speech by Clay is telegraphed to the Herald, which is considered a great feat!


1848                             Bennett Sr joins David Hale in convincing eight other men, representing a total of six competing newspapers, to found the world's first news cooperative, the Associated Press.


1855                             The Memoirs of James Gordon Bennett and His Times is published, containing much interesting matter.


1857

 

May 10th                        For his 16th birthday, Bennett Jnr (or Jamie as he is called by his father) was given a 77-ton centreboard sloop named Rebecca, which he promptly raced in the New York Yacht Club Annual Cruise.  At 16 years and 3 months he became the youngest member ever admitted to the New York Yacht Club.


1861                             Bennett Jnr makes his first appearance on the newspaper scene by attending an important dinner at the Bennett mansion in Washington Heights, to which his father had invited Henry Villard.

 

Under Abraham Lincoln's personal appointment, Bennett Jnr enlists as a Third Lieutenant for the United States Revenue Cutter Service to defend his country in the Civil War.  He roamed the New England coastal waters in his new schooner, the Henrietta, for over a year.

 

April                              Bennett Jnr reported of the Carolina coast.

 

August                          Bennett Jnr back in New York for the social season; joins the New York Yacht Club Annual Cruise, which confined itself to the waters of New York Harbour and the Sound.


1861-1865                     The New York Herald earns a reputation as a full and accurate paper, particularly in the period of the Civil War, when Bennett Sr employs 63 war correspondents and spends $525,000 on war reporting.  The newspaper more than doubles its pre-war circulation.


1866                             At age 25, Bennett Jnr returns to America where he joins his father in business at the New York Herald.

 

                                    During a late evening at the Union Club, Bennett Jnr fell to boasting with his friends about the relative merits of their new yachts.  Pierre Lorillard had a new centreboard schooner, Vesta, Osgood had his deep and narrow Fleetwing, and Bennett Jnr was eager to pit his skills against others.  The Herald had recently exhorted America’s "smooth water gentry" to "trip anchors and start out on a cruise on blue water.  Get off your soundings, trust your sea legs for a while, reciprocate the visits of your English cousins, visit your own coast, go to South America, try Europe, call on the Sultan; or if you have got the pluck, circumnavigate the world, then come home and write a book.  It will perpetuate your memory, reflect lustre on your deeds, and redound to the honour of your country."  (These may not have been the words of fledgling publisher Bennett Jnr, because he was notably poor with the written word himself, but more likely some reporter on the Herald who knew his boss's sentiments well).  Large stakes were mentioned: $30,000 to enter the race, much more than the cost of the yachts - winner take all!  These were the largest stakes in any sporting event even well into the next century, and they were shocking.

 

                                    Bennett Jnr has a royal audience with the Queen and did much to repair the strained relations with England following the Civil War.  Father and son are living together on lower Fifth Avenue and their estate at 181st Street.

 

December 25th               Bennett Jnr becomes the youngest yachtsman to win a race; on Christmas Day he wins the world's first trans-oceanic yacht race in his schooner, Henrietta.  The voyage, from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to the Needles, Isle of Wight, Great Britain, took thirteen days, twenty-one hours and fifty-five minutes.


1867                             Bennett Jnr takes over control of the New York Herald from his father.


1868                             Bennett Jnr becomes proprietor of the New York Herald.

 

Bennett Jnr elected Vice-Commodore of the New York Yacht Club at the age of 27 following the resignation of all the flag officers.

 

January 24th                   A letter written by Mark Twain to his mother and sister:

‘This is a good week for me.  I stopped in the Herald office, as I came through New York, to see the boys on the staff, and young James Gordon Bennett asked me to write twice a week, impersonally, for the Herald , and said if I would I might have full swing, and about anybody and everything I wanted to.  I said I must have the very fullest possible swing, and he said, "All right."  I said, "It's a contract-- " and that settled that matter.’

‘I'll make it a point to write one letter a week anyhow.  But the best thing that has happened is here.  This great American Publishing Company kept on trying to bargain with me for a book till I thought I would cut the matter short by coming up for a talk .  I met Henry Ward Beecher in Brooklyn, and with his usual whole-souled way of dropping his own work to give other people a lift when he gets a chance, he said; "Now, here, you are one of the talented men of the age -- nobody is going to deny that -- but in matters of business I don't suppose you know more than enough to come in when it rains.  I'll tell you what to do and how to do it."  And he did.’

‘And I listened well, and then came up here and made a splendid contract for a Quaker City book of 5 or 600 large pages, with illustrations, the manuscript to be placed in the publisher's hands by the middle of July.  My percentage is to be a fourth more than they have ever paid any author except Greeley. Beecher will be surprised, I guess, when he hears this.’

‘These publishers get off the most tremendous editions of their books you can imagine.  I shall write to the Enterprise and Alta every week, as usual, I guess, and to the Herald twice a week, occasionally to the Tribune and the magazines (I have a stupid article in the Galaxy, just issued), but I am not going to write to this and that and the other paper any more.’

‘I have had a tiptop time here for a few days (guest of Mr. Jno Hooker's family -- Beecher's relatives -- in a general way of Mr Bliss also, who is head of the publishing firm). Puritans are mighty straight-laced, and they won't let me smoke in the parlor, but the Almighty don't make any better people.’

‘I have to make a speech at the annual Herald dinner on the 6th of May.’


1869                             Bennett Jnr founds the New York Evening Telegram, anticipating a trend toward newspaper readers wanting afternoon editions of the daily news.


1869-1871                     Bennett Jnr finances Henry Morton Stanley's expedition into Central Africa to find David Livingstone (missing on his search for the source of the Nile).


1870                             Bennett Jnr sails another race across the Atlantic Ocean from Queenstown to New York in his yacht Dauntless, but this time he was beaten by the English Cambria, which, however, arrived only two hours in advance.


1871                             Bennett Jr’s large schooner, Dauntless, becomes flagship of the New York Yacht Club; Henrietta is sold and becomes a “fruiter”.  Bennett Jnr sails Dauntless across the ocean to escort James Ashbury in Cambria back to the U S in a transatlantic match race in preparation for the America's Cup race.  Dauntless also participated in that dismal America's Cup race as part of the fleet that met Cambria on the racecourse.  In a rematch, George Schuyler, the surviving member of the America's syndicate, convinced Bennett Jnr to defend with one boat at a time.   Dauntless was to defend but was damaged in the tow out to the start.


1872

 

June 1st                         James Gordon Bennett Sr dies.  He is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

 

 

 


1873

 

March 31st                     Bennett Jr’s mother, Henrietta Agnes Bennett (nee Crean) dies in Italy.


1874                             Bennett Jr’s last year of his first commodoreship of the New York Yacht Club.  Much of the board minutes are taken up with reports of the Badge Committee, when the club’s current badge and motto were established.

 

June 25th                      A Ladies Day Regatta was held where vessels were expected to race in cruising trim, with working sails, and all guns secured.


1876                             Bennett Jnr becomes engaged to beautiful socialite, Caroline May, daughter of Dr. William May.

 

July 10th                        At the age of 35, Bennett Jnr introduces Polo to the United States at the grounds covering Earl, Meikle and Vaughn Avenues of Newport, Rhode Island.


1877

 

January 1st                     At a party at the house of Caroline May’s father, Bennett Jnr insults her and the other guests by drunkenly mistaking the fireplace for a toilet and relieving himself therein in front of them all.  The engagement is off.

 

January 2nd                    Caroline's brother attempted to defend her family's honour by challenging Bennett Jnr to a duel which takes place across the Delaware-Maryland stateline.  While both men missed their target, the fallout from his scandalous incident at Caroline's and the duel with her brother proved unbearable.  Bennett Jnr flees to Paris, smashing up the best-known restaurants such as Maxime's; but always paying unstintingly for all damage.  From this year onwards Bennett Jnr lives mainly in Paris but continues to direct his newspapers by cable, correspondence and the summoning of editors.


1878-1881                     Bennett Jnr supports the ill-fated expedition of George Washington De Long to the arctic region.  The tragic Jeanette expedition is to explore the Arctic and is funded completely by Bennett Jnr, but run by the U S Navy.  Named for his sister, Jeanette, later Mrs Isaac Bell, Jnr, the steam bark departs from London for the Bering Sea in 1878.  She is crushed in the ice, and her people perish in the arctic winter of 1881, except for those few who are fed by the Inuits.  Several Siberian islands bear the name Bennett.


1878                             Having introduced Polo to the U S in 1876 Bennett Jnr brings over the entire British Polo team to show how it is done.

 

Bennett Jnr loses his membership in the famous Reading Room of Newport, Rhode Island.  The scandal was that he had encouraged, by way of a wager, a young English Polo team member, one Colonel Candy, to take his pony up the stairs of the Reading Room.


1879                             A summer resident of Newport, Rhode Island since the early 1870's, Bennett Jnr purchases Stone Villa from the Sidney Brooks estate.


1880

 

July 26th                        In a huff following his expulsion in 1878 from the exclusive Reading Room of Newport, Rhode Island, Bennett Jr has built the Casino on Bellevue Avenue, Newport – the first sports complex in America.  On July 26th the Newport Casino is officially opened.


1883                             Bennett Jr helps John William Mackay found the Commercial Cable Company to lay transatlantic cables (breaking Jay Gould’s monopoly) and organizes the company to handle his European dispatches.

 

                                    Bennett Jnr builds the most magnificent steam yacht of its day, the beautiful Namouna.  At 616 tons and 226 feet she is far larger than the next largest, the first Corsair at 185 feet.


1884                             Bennett Jnr is again elected Commodore of the New York Yacht Club (perhaps on the strength of Namouna) and relocates the clubhouse, again, to 67 Madison Avenue, with a dining room to seat 100 diners comfortably.   Captain and Mrs Henn challenge for the America's Cup in Genesta, and Bennett Jnr builds a 94-foot cast-iron centreboard sloop named Priscilla (designed by A Cary Smith) to defend.   She competes in all the trial races, but is beaten by Puritan.  At the end of his second term, Gordon Bennett accepts another America's Cup Challenge, again from William Henn in Galatea.  His terms as Commodore are busy and formative ones, and characteristic of both Commodore Gordon Bennett, and of the yacht club itself.


1886                             With John William Mackay, Bennett Jnr co-founds the Postal Telegraph Cable Company.


1887                             Bennett Jnr established the Paris edition of the New York Herald, titled The Paris Herald.


1890

James Gordon Bennett in white suit entertains friends on Namouna,

including actress Lillie Langtry, to right.


1895

 

November 7th                  William Randolph Hearst begins publishing The New York Journal.


1899                             Bennett Jnr convinces Guglielmo Marconi to allow him, representing the Associated Press, to broadcast the world's first news telegraph.   He debuted the service on behalf of the Associated Press at the America's Cup yacht race, held off the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey.


1900                             Bennett living on Louis XIV's estate in Versailles.

 

Bennett Jnr builds a yacht, the 301 foot Lysistrata, at a low cost of about $2m in today's money.  On board are a Turkish bath, a masseur (on call 24 hours a day) and a padded room holding an Alderney cow to provide Bennett Jnr with fresh milk for butter and brandy milk punch.

 

June 14th                       Bennett Jnr, having donated 10.000 Francs to the Automobil-Club de France as prize money for a motor car race, and having developed the rules himself, the first Gordon Bennett Race takes place from Paris to Lyon.

 

The 'Gordon Bennett' Trophy


1902

1902 Winner (and only finisher) – Selwyn F Edge in his Napier


1903

                                    When British driver Selwyn F Edge won the 1902 race (indeed, he was the only finisher!), the next year’s event was to be held in England.  However, there was much opposition to the running of the race in England where a 12 miles per hour speed limit applied.  Another venue was sought and members of the racing club went to Ireland to examine the roads.  And so the first ever Gordon Bennett Race to take place in Ireland was staged in 1903.

 

1903 Winner – Camille (France)

 

This race attracted the world's greatest drivers of the day.  It had a truly international flavour - 12 entries, three each representing France, Britain, Germany and the U S A.  The race started at Ballyshannon, some ten miles from Athy on the Dublin road and the course selected was in the nature of a figure of eight.  The first loop of the eight went to near Kilcullen, down the main road to Carlow, doubled back by Mageney to Athy, and on to Ballyshannon again.  The second loop went left to the Curragh to near Port Laoise, through Stradbally, the Windy Gap, Ballylinan and Athy, and off again to Ballyshannon.  The cars were not raced through the towns, but were led by a cyclist between controls at the outskirts.  There was a fine grandstand at the Moat of Ardscull and the best seats were £1 each.

Gordon Bennett Race Map 1903

 

December 17th               The Wright brothers made the first successful powered flight in the heavier-than-air machine.


1905                             Bennett Jnr withdraws his sponsorship of the Gordon Bennett Races due to politics, but the idea of Grand Prix racing is born.

 

                                    Bennett Jnr offers to the still young Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (F A I) the rules, a one time 25.000 Franc donation and 12,500 Francs for each of the following two years "for the most courageous and experienced pilots of the world struggling for the Grand Prix of the Air".  Thus the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett is launched.


1906                             Mark Twain, a regular contributor of over 200 articles and letters to the Herald since 1868, is apoplectic when Bennett Jnr arrives in Bermuda with the first car ever seen there, and lowers it from the deck of Lysistrata.  Twain, with the help of his friend Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton, drafts an edict for a ‘motorless Eden’.  "It would be a fatal error to attract to Bermuda the extravagant and sporting set who have made so many other places entirely intolerable to persons of taste and cultivation."   Bennett Jnr tours the island at a noisy 15 miles an hour with a crowd of schoolboys running behind him.

 

Bennett Jnr inaugurates the world's first series of air races by organizing the first balloon race on record and inaugurating it as an international event (The Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett).

 

The Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett is the most prestigious event in aviation and ultimate challenge for the balloon pilots and equipment.  The goal is simple: to fly the farthest distance from the launch site.  Every nation may enter three balloons as maximum and is obliged to host the race in the following year, if they win.  If one nation wins this challenge cup in three consecutive years, the cup finally comes to its possession and this nation has to sponsor a new cup.

 

This international balloon competition is initiated and the 16 balloons are launched from the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France.  The winning team represented the United States of America.  Americans Frank P Lahm, pilot, and Henry Hersey, co-pilot, flew approximately 401 miles (647.1 km) to claim the first Gordon Bennett Cup.  Little do the crowd of 200,000 spectators know that this race is to continue throughout the 20th Century.  Although interrupted by wars and weather, the challenge continues.  Held once every year and hosted by the country of the most recent winner, this event continues to attract balloonists, spectators and media.


1907                             Stock quotes are transmitted to a vessel by wireless courtesy of the Herald, to be hoisted in signal flags for the benefit of members during the New York Yacht Club Annual Cruise.


 

1909                             The first air race, called "The Gordon Bennett" is held in Rheims, France, and is won by Glenn Curtiss.  Bennett Jnr also sponsors an annual auto race.


            4 postcards from Gordon-Bennett 1909

 

 

 

 


1910                             Following Bennett Jr’s visit to Bermuda in 1906, Mark Twain is successful in temporarily banning cars from the island.


1912                                                     International Gordon Bennett Race – Chicago 1912

          Certificate Vignette

 

                                                Beautifully engraved unissued Certificate from the International Gordon Bennett Race dated 1912.  This historic document was printed by the Western Banknote & Eng. Company and Western Division - American Banknote Company.  This beautiful certificate has an ornate border around it with a vignettes.  Printed in brilliant orange with portraits of the previous winners: Glenn H Curtiss [1909] Claude Grahame-White [1910], Charles Terres Weymann [1911] and an empty spot for the winner of the 1912 race.  It also has a spectacular centre vignette of a statue entitled Coupe Gordon Bennett with an early Bi Plane flying overhead.  This item has the printed signatures of the Aero Club of America's President, Harold McCormick and its Treasurer.


1914                             At the age of 73 Bennett Jnr marries Baroness de Reuter.  They lived together in France until his death.

 

                                   World War I starts, bringing a halt to the prestigious annual Gordon Bennett gas balloon races until 1920, two years after Bennett Jnr died.

 

                                    Lysistrata is sold to Russia where she serves as a fisheries protection vessel, appearing in Jane's as late as 1966.


1918

 

May 14th                        James Gordon Bennett Jnr dies in Beaulieu near Nizza, France (Aged 77).


1920                             The Gordon Bennett gas balloon races resume following World War I.


1943

 

September 23rd              The SS James Gordon Bennett, having sailed from England for New York earlier in September as part of Convoy ON202 is one of ten Merchant and Escort ships sunk.


1981                             Polish stamps and block from 1981 with Polish Gordon-Bennett winners

·         3,- zl: Franciszek Hynek, Zbigniew Burzynski, balloon SP-ADS Kosciuszko

·         6,- zl: Zbigniew Burzynski, Wladyslaw Wysocki, balloon SP-AMY Polonja II

·         10,50 zl, balloon SP-BCU LOPP (winner 1938), Gordon-Bennett Cup from 1935 (left), all polish winner before the Second World War.

 

·         1933: Franciszek Hynek, Zbigniew Burzynski

·         1934: Franciszek Hynek, Wladyslaw Pomaski

·         1935: Zbigniew Burzynski, Wladyslaw Wysocki

·         1938: Antoni Janusz, Franciszek Janik


1984                             Polish stamp from 1984 with Gordon-Bennett winner 1983

Stefan Makne and Ireneusz Cieslak, balloon SP-BZO Polonez, right G-B cup 1983


 

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Updated 23 April 2001