Nicholas Low Clears His Family's Name
Nicholas Low attempted to stay neutral during the American Revolution but was forced to take part to prove his patriotism. This is mostly due to (as we discussed yesterday) his brother, Isaac’s, departure to the loyalist cause.
Nicholas generally played a back up role in the Revolution, keeping the finances of his friends while they went off to serve in Congress.
Low also helped develop substantial portions of Upstate New York for future generations.
Nicholas Low’s Family
Nicholas Low was raised in one of the biggest houses in New Jersey. He followed his father into the merchant business that made his family so wealthy and became one of the most prominent men in New York City.
When the American Revolution began, Low kept a low profile. He was happy running his business and, though disgruntled by the new taxes, did not yet consider himself a politician.
Low’s brother, Isaac, however, did not feel the same.
Isaac was one of the merchants who led the movement to form Committees to halt British oppression. Isaac chaired many of these Committees and even represented New York in the First Continental Congress. However, after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Isaac became a Loyalist.
Nicholas’ brother’s decision cast a shadow of doubt on the whole family.
Although he was close with many Patriots, Nicholas stayed neutral in the war (and I’ll remind you here that about 1/3 of everyone in the colonies did the same).
After the Revolutionary War concluded, Low slowly made his way into Founding Father status. This was largely due to the evacuation of the British. When the redcoats left New York City, they took the Loyalists with them.
In this situation, wealthy men such as Nicholas who never fancied themselves politicians were forced to take leadership roles in the city.
In 1788, Low attended the New York State Ratification Convention. Here, Nicholas supported the Constitution which is not surprising because it was projected to help merchants such as himself grow their businesses.
The following year, Low began tending to the affairs of his friend Rufus King. King was chosen as one of New York State’s first US Senators and needed to focus his attention. Additionally, he would go off to Europe as the Minister to Great Britain.
In all, Low managed King’s finances for almost fifteen years.
During this time, Nicholas spent two years in the New York State Assembly.
In his later years, Low began investing in land.
Most of his holdings were in Upstate New York. At the time, most people who owned massive amounts of land sold off plots and let residents create townships themselves.
Low, conversely, spent time and money attempting to develop villages throughout the State. Some of these include Watertown and Lowville (his namesake). Most of all, Nicholas invested in Ballston Spa, where he spent several years of his life.
* Fun Fact: As a resident of Upstate New York, these developments have special meaning to me, although technically my property is in the Central New York Military Tract.
For further information about family life in New York City during the Revolutionary War, pick up a copy of ‘Generous Enemies’ by Judith Van Buskirk at the library or through the affiliate link below.
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