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General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York

The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York, was founded on November 17, 1785, by 22 men who gathered in Walter Heyer's public-house on Pine Street in Lower Manhattan. The aims of the General Society were to provide cultural and social services to families of skilled craftsmen; the General Society during this early period celebrated the mutuality and centrality of the craft community. Besides its charitable activities, the society played a prominent part in the festivities that marked patriotic holidays, carrying banners emblazoned with its slogan'By hammer and hand all arts do stand', echoing the motto of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths; the city of New York and the Society both benefited from the decision to make New York the seat of the Federal Government. In 1789, legislators and their assistants and families began to pour into the city. Business prospects brightened considerably. In 1792, the Society attained a membership of 413, received a charter of incorporation.

Old documents reveal that the Society was quite active in the last years of the 18th century, corresponding with other business related associations, petitioning the state legislature in the interests of industrial progress. In 1820, The General Society opened one of the city's first free schools. During the early 1800s, New York had no public school system. Only two free schools were to be found in the whole city – one in the almshouse, the other open only to the children of freed slaves; the school opened with 70 students. Children of members were admitted free of charge, a small fee was required from all others; that same year the Society added a separate school for girls. The school, which became the Mechanics Institute in 1858, continues to provide tuition-free evening instruction in trades-related education, it is the oldest endowed tuition-free technical school in the city of New York, with more than 180,000 alumni. Founded in 1820, the General Society Library is the second oldest in New York City.

The Library's main reading room—which houses The Crouse Library for Publishing Arts—soars to a height of three stories topped by a magnificent skylight. The establishment of the Apprentices' Library put the Society well in the forefront of social reform. In the century there would be a great boom in libraries, much thought would be directed toward public education, but in 1820 such ideas were still new, the Apprentices' Library was one of the first public libraries in the city of New York, its aim was to provide good and instructive reading for apprentice boys who worked all day, had no other access to books and the library therefore kept evening hours. In 1833, by amendment to its charter, the Society was authorized to increase its usefulness by reserving a portion of its income for the purposes of "promoting and disseminating literary and scientific knowledge,", determined could be best done by means of lectures, more through the cultural and educational activities of the New York Center for Independent Publishing.

The lecture series, which began in 1837—and continues today—featured such illuminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Greeley, Wendell Phillips, Rear – Admiral Robert E. Peary. Known today as the Labor and Literature Lecture Series, the series continues the Society's long tradition of public lectures. Individual Society members must have been prospering during these years, too, it was during the 1830s that the French observer Chevalier made this comment about the American mechanic and tradesmen: "He dresses like a member of Congress, his women-folk dress the same as those of a wealthy New York merchant. His house is warm and comfortable. In 1878, the General Society opened an Apprentices' Library at its headquarters "on Sixteenth-street, near Union-square" to house its collection of 60,000 books "practical works in serviceable bindings" of use to its 8,000 members; these members of the Apprentices' Library included about 4,000 apprentices and 3,000 "girls in shops", along with members of the general public, who paid $2 per year, General Society members.

The building had room for up to 100,000 books and featured an on-site residence for the librarian and janitor. During the 1840s the Society provided college scholarships, it was decided that each year two students from Mechanics Institute would attend the University of the City of New York, free of charge. In addition, the society paid to send certain students to other schools; the library continued to be well patronized during these years, in 1845, Benjamin DeMilt, a watchmaker and former president of the Society, bequeathed his entire personal library to the Society, adding 1,800 volumes to the collection. The Society continued in its role as a pioneer in social reform by maintaining separate courses for women. In 1887, these classes for young women included stenography and typewriting – a innovative idea at a time when few women were integrated into the office work force. In 1861, when the Civil War broke out, the Society placed itself behind the government of Abraham Lincoln. About $8,000 in government bonds were purchased and many Society members enlisted in the Volunteer Engineer Regiment.

In 1885, the Society celebrated a landmark 100th birthday. A banquet was held at Delmonico's Restaurant and it was well attended both by Society members and by public officials; the Society's growth continued, in 1899 the organization moved to the current home at 20 West 44th Street. Between 1899 and 1908, Andrew Carnegie, a Society member, contributed over half a million dollars to the Society. Generous gifts came in from other members as well, by 1913 atten

Jules Angl├Ęs

Jules Jean Baptiste Anglès was a French politician, Minister of Police for a short period in 1814. Jules Jean Baptiste Anglès was born in Grenoble, Isère, on 28 July 1778, his father was Jean-François Anglès, a lawyer and adviser to the Grand Chamber of the Parliament of Grenoble, arrested during the French Revolution and spent 18 months in jail before being released on 9 Thermidor. Jules Jean Baptiste Anglès joined the École Polytechnique in December 1799. Anglès became Auditor at the naval section of the Council of State on 11 February 1806, he was appointed Intendant in Silesia from December 1806 in Salzburg in April 1809, was appointed intendant in Vienna on 27 July 1809. He was made maître des requêtes on 15 November 1809; the same day he was made a Baron of the Empire and given responsibility for general policing in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. He was Minister of Police in the provisional government of 1814. After the Ministry of the General Police was dissolved in May 1814 by the first Bourbon Restoration, Anglès was assigned to the Council of State.

He was made a Councillor of State on 17 March 1815. On 20 March 1815 he followed King Louis XVIII of France to Ghent, where he edited the Moniteur Royaliste. After the second restoration, on 22 August 1815 he was elected deputy for Hautes-Alpes, he was appointed Minister of State to the Privy Council on 19 September 1815. From 29 September 1815 to 19 December 1821 he was Prefect of Police, he was replaced by Guy Delavau. Anglès died in his Chateau de Cornillon, Loire, on 16 January 1828, aged 49. Citations Sources