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Battle of the Booklets, Part 2
William Duer vs. Cadwallader Colden

Aaron Ogden Petitions

Aaron Ogden was elected governor of New Jersey in 1812 and served a one-year term. In November 1813 the New Jersey legislature awarded him exclusive rights to operate steamboats between New Jersey and New York City, putting him in direct conflict with the New York State law granting a steamboat monopoly on New York State’s waters to Livingston and Fulton.

Aaron Ogden petitions New Jersey
Aaron Ogden's Petition

In 1814 Ogden petitioned the New York State Assembly, challenging the monopoly. It was Ogden’s opinion that Fulton was not the inventor of the steamboat and that the monopoly was unjust. William A. Duer (1780-1858), chairman of the committee, endorsed Ogden’s position. (Duer was born in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He had served as chairman of the New York Assembly committee that drafted the law investing Livingston and Fulton with the steamboat monopoly on the Hudson River.)

This prompted another pamphlet battle.

In Report of the Committee, to Whom Was Referred the Memorial and Petition of Aaron Ogden, a Citizen of the State of New-Jersey. (New York State Library call number: N,040,B,v.310), signed by Duer, it was suggested “that, under all the circumstances of the case submitted to them, some relief ought to be afforded to the memorialist.” The New York State Senate did not agree with Duer and refused to repeal the monopoly. Ogden then agreed to pay the Livingston-Fulton company an annual fee to operate his steamboats.

All these pamphlets/books are available in the research room of the Manuscripts and Special Collections unit of the New York State Library.