Oswego - Encyclopedia

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OSWEGO, a city, port of entry, and :the county-seat of Oswego county, New York, U.S.A., on the S.E. shore of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Oswego river, about 35 m. N.W. of Syracuse. Pop. (1900) 22,199, of whom 3989 were foreign born; (1910 census) 23,368. It is served by the New York Central & Hudson River, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, and the New York, Ontario & Western railways, by several lines of lake steamboats, and by the Oswego Canal, which connects Lake Ontario with the Erie Canal at Syracuse. There is an inner harbour of 9.35 acres and an outer harbour of 140 acres, which are defended by Fort Ontario. The city lies at an altitude of 3 00 ft., and is divided into two parts by the Oswego river. Oswego is the seat of a state Normal and Training School (founded as the City Training School in 1861, and a state school since 1867), a state armoury, and a United States life-saving station; among the public buildings are the City Library (about 14,000 volumes in 1909), founded by Gerrit Smith in 1855, the Federal Building and Custom House, the City Hall, the City Hospital, the County Court House, an Orphan Asylum, and a business college. The Oswego river has here a fall of 34 ft. and furnishes excellent water power. Among the principal manufactures are starch (the city has one of the largest starch factories in the world), knit goods, railway car springs, shade-cloth, boilers and engines, wooden-ware, matches, paper-cutting machines, and eau de cologne. The factory products were valued in 1905 at $7,59 2, 12 5. Oswego has a considerable trade with Canada; in 1908 its exports were valued at $2,880,553 and its imports at $999,164. Lake commerce with other American Great Lake ports is also of some importance, the principal articles of trade being lumber, grain and coal.

The site of Oswego was visited by Samuel de Champlain in 1616. Subsequently it was a station for the Jesuit missionaries and the coureurs des bois. In 1722 a regular trading post was established here by English traders, and in 1727 Governor William Burnet of New York erected the first Fort Oswego (sometimes called Fort Burnet, Chouaguen or Pepperrell). It was an important base of operations during King George's War and the French and Indian War. In the years1755-1756the British erected two new forts at the mouth of the river, Fort Oswego (an enlargement of the earlier fort) on the east and Fort Ontario on the west. In August 1756 Montcalm, marching rapidly from Ticonderoga with a force of 3000 French and Indians, appeared before the forts, then garrisoned by 1000 British and colonial troops, and on the 14th of August forced the abandonment of Fort Ontario. On the following day he stormed and captured Fort Oswego, and, dismantling both, returned to Ticonderoga. The British restored Fort Ontario in 1759, and maintained a garrison here until 1796, when, with other posts on the lakes, they were, in accordance with the terms of Jay's Treaty, made over to the United States. It was here in 1766 that Pontiac formally made to Sir William Johnson his acknowledgment of Great Britain's authority. On the 6th of May 1814 Sir James Yeo, with a superior force of British and Canadians, captured the fort, but soon afterwards withdrew. In 1839 the fort was rebuilt and occupied by United States troops; it was abandoned in 1899, but, after having been reconstructed, was again garrisoned in 1905. The modern city may be said to date from 1796. Oswego became the county-seat in 1816, was incorporated as a village in 1828 (when the Oswego Canal was completed), and was first chartered as a city in 1848. See Churchill, Smith and Child, Landmarks of Oswego County (Syracuse, 1895).

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