Charter and By-Laws of the German Society of the City of New-York (1808)

Charter and By-Laws of the German Society of the City of New-York (1808)  (1808) 










By D. & G. Bruce.



The German Society in the city of New-York was formed in the year 1784, at a time when the returning peace opened to America the prospect of a friendly intercourse with the maritime nations of Europe. The period had then arrived when many foreigners, encouraged by the bright aspect of a western world, might be expected to emigrate hither.—It was foreseen that among the emigrants, there would be found those who on their arrival would stand in need of advice and assistance, especially if they were ignorant of the language of the country, and its laws.

To afford relief to German emigrants, who might arrive under such circumstances, with a view to settle in this country, was therefore the primary object for which the society was instituted.

The means necessary for carrying the design into effect were small, in the beginning, being no other than what arose from admission money, and quarterly contributions of the members; yet the most pressing calls have at all times been answered, and it is remembered with peculiar satisfaction, that in more than one instance the society have been instrumental, not only in alleviating the distressed situation of their countrymen, but also in delivering them from oppression.

As the society increased in members, and the migration of foreigners, particularly of Germans, became less frequent, the institution was enabled so to manage its funds, as to acquire a small property in real estate, which was held in trust by some of the members. The inconvenience of holding property in this manner, was, however ever, soon experienced, which induced the society to apply for a charter, and which was granted by the legislature, in the session of the year 1804.

At present the funds of the society are chiefly invested in Bank stock, and the quarterly contributions having been relinquished, the annual donations are nearly kept within the limits of the devidends. Any considerable increase of members would put it in the power of the society still to augment their capital stock, the enhanced revenues of which would enable them to carry more fully into effect, the benevolent design of their institution.



To incorporate The German Society
in the City of New-York, for
charitable purposes.

Passed April 6th, 1804.

Whereas, Philip I. Arcularius, William Wilmerding, and others, citizens and inhabitants of the city of New-York, associated as a society, under the style of "The German Society in the city of New-York," for the laudable purposes of assisting German emigrants, and to afford relief to other poor distressed Germans, and their descendants, and by their petition to the legislature have prayed to be incorporated, Therefore,

Be it enacted, by the People of the State of New-York represented in Senate and Assembly, That the said Philip I. Arcularius, William Wilmerding, Leonhard Fisher Peter Camman, David Grim, John B. Dash, senior, Philip Oswald, Christian Baehr, Christian Schultz, John Gaessner, Alexander Fink, senior, John B. Dash, junior, the reverend Doctor John Christopher Kunze, Christian Wilhelm Wilmerding, Jacob Mark, Blasius Mohr, John Peter Ritter, Isaac Paris, the reverend Henrick Moller, Johannes Mehli, John Harbeck, Charles Newman, Henry Astor, George Gilfert, Carl Ludwig Camman, Doctor George Christian Anthon, Edward Livingston, Sigismund Hugget, John Jacob Astor, Christian Matthias Heil, David Lydig, George Powers, James Hallet, Henry White, Doctor John William Zeis, John Philips, Francis Childs, John Speyer, Jacob Morton, Christian Rook, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Josiah Ogden Hoffman, Thomas Morris, Samuel L. Mitchell, George Arcularius, Henry Limberger, Philip Grim, Henry Ortley, junior, John Fisher, John Bartow Prevost, Alexander Von Pfister, Cornelius Christian Westphal, Jacob Hauptman, Jacob Schieffelin, Henry Heisser, Frederick Shoenewolf, Johannes Schultz, John Morton, William Cammeyer, Martin Hoffman, Frederick Beinhauer, Hendrick Scherer, Jacob Bierman, Frederick Rausch, William North, Daniel Bowie, the reverend George Strebeck, George Clussman, John Nicholas Crentzebach, Cornelius Hoffman, Joseph Sterlitz, John Miller, Edward Dunscomb, John Remmey, Benjamin Walker, Anthony Ernest, J. L. Steinback, Matthias Luft, Anthony Rutgers, Daniel Paris, Daniel Baehr, William G. Miller, William Gultzow, George F. Toderhorst, Nicholas I. Roosevelt, Peter Ritter, John Hone, Jacob Sherred, John Nitchie, Henrick Siebeck, Joseph Horn, Lewis Eigenbrodt, Charles Loss, Joseph Meltzer, and their present associates, and all persons being resident within the city or state of New-York, who shall hereafter be members of the said society, shall be, and hereby are, ordained, constituted, and declared to be one body corporate and politic, in fact and in name, by the name of " The German Society of the city of New-York," until the first Monday in April, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five, and that by that name they and their successors shall and may have succession, and shall be persons in law, capable of suing and being sued, pleading and being impleaded, answering and being answered unto, defending and being defended, in all courts or places whatsoever, and all manner of action and actions, suits, complaints, matters, and causes whatsoever; and that they and their successors may have a common seal, and may change and alter the same at their pleasure; and also that they and their successors by the name of the German Society of the city of New-York, shall be in law capable of purchasing, holding and conveying any estate, real or personal, for the public use of the said corporation, provided that the lands, tenements, and hereditaments which it shall be lawful for the said corporation to hold, shall be only such as shall be requisite for the purpose of erecting a house or hall thereon, in which to meet and to transact the business of the said corporation, or such as shall have been bona fide mortgaged to it by way of security, or conveyed in satisfaction of debts previously contracted in the course of its business, or purchased at sales, on judgments which shall have been obtained for such debts, and provided also, that the amount of the real and personal estate which the said corporation are hereby enabled to hold, shall not at anyone time exceed the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars.

And be it further enacted, That the officers of the said corporation shall be a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and seven Assistants, who shall hold their offices for one year, and shall be citizens of this state, and be elected on the last Monday in January in every year, at such time and place in the City of New York as shall be fixed on by the officers, or ascertained by the by-laws of the said corporation. That all elections of the said officers or any of them shall be by ballot, and such persons who shall have at any election the greatest number of votes as President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary or Assistants, shall be deemed duly elected to the office for which he or they were severally chosen and designated by the ballots, which were given in at any such election. And the said officers shall hold their respective offices for one year, and until others shall be chosen in their places; provided that nothing contained in this act shall be so construed as to prevent any or either of the said officers from being re-elected: That if any vacancies shall happen among the said officers by death, resignation or removal, such vacancies shall be filled for the remainder of the year in which they may happen by a special election for that purpose, to be held in the same manner as the annual elections, at such time or places as shall be fixed on by the officers, or ascertained by the bylaws of the said corporation. That Philip I. Arcularius shall be the first President of the said corporation, William Wilmerding Vice President thereof, Leonard Fisher the Treasurer thereof, Peter A. Camman Secretary thereof; David Grim, John P. Ritter, Caspar Meier, Jacob Sherred, John Remmey, John B. Dash Junr. and Henry Heiser the respective Assistants thereof, who shall hold their offices respectively until the last Monday in January next, and until others shall be chosen in their places.

And be it further enacted, that in case it should at any time happen that an election for officers should not be made on any day, when in pursuance to this act it ought to have been made, the said corporation shall not for that cause be deemed to be dissolved, but it shall and may be lawful on any other day to hold and make an election of officers in such a manner as shall have been regulated by the by-laws and ordinances of the said corporation.

And be it further enacted, That all elections and all meetings of the said corporation shall be made and held at a place certain, to be fixed and determined by the bylaws of the said corporation, and that at all such elections and meetings of the said corporation so to be held as aforesaid, thirteen members thereof including the President, or in his absence the Vice President, or in his absence one of the Assistants, shall be considered a quorum of the said corporation, and shall have full power to do and transact all business thereof

And be it further enacted, That the said corporation, and their successors, shall have full power from time to time to make by-laws and ordinances relative to the management and disposition of the estate and concerns of the said corporation; and the regulation of the persons exercising the offices aforesaid. Provided that such by-laws and regulations be not repugnant to the constitution or the laws of the United States and of this State.

And be it further enacted, That the board of officers shall at least once every year on the last Monday in January, exhibit to the members of this corporation an exact account of the receipts and disbursements of the preceding year.

And be it further enacted, That all persons desirous to become members of this corporation shall be proposed by at least two members, one meeting previous to his or their election, which shall be by ballot, and determined by two thirds of the members present at such election—that then he or they so elected, on paying into the hands of the Treasurer such sum as the corporation by their by-laws shall direct, provided the same shall not exceed the sum of fifteen dollars, shall have his or their names inserted in the general Register, and shall be entitled to all the privileges and benefits arising therefrom.

And to the end that the funds of the said corporation may never be diverted to any other than the charitable purposes for which the institution has been expressly made and created,

Be it further enacted, That the corporation shall, within sixty days after the passing of this act, exhibit to the chancellor of this state a full and particular account of all the estate real and personal then vested in the said corporation, attested by the oath of the Treasurer thereof, that the same is a true and perfect account; and shall also triennially between the first and last days of May, exhibit to the chancellor for the time being a like account, together with a particular account of all monies by the said corporation expended in the preceding three years, specifying the several purposes to which it has been applied; and if it should appear to the said chancellor, that any monies, except for the necessary purchases or repair of any buildings which may belong to the said corporation, or for the payment of the Treasurer or Secretary thereof, or for other charges expressly incidental to the management of the funds thereof, have been applied by the said corporation to any use, other than for the support of indigent emigrants and other German poor and their descendants, or other charitable purposes, he shall direct the Attorney General of the State for the time being ex-officio to file an information against the said corporation in the Supreme Court of this State: and if upon the traverse the said corporation shall be found guilty and judgment shall pass thereupon, that thenceforth the said corporation shall cease, and become null and void, and the estate real and personal which it may then possess, shall vest in the people of this State.

And be it further enacted, That this act be and hereby is declared to be a public act, and that the same be construed in all courts and places benignly and favorably for every beneficial purpose therein intended.

State of New-York, Secretary's office.

I certify the preceding to be a true copy of an Act of the Legislature, now on file in this office,

Dep. Sec'y


To be observed by the corporation
Of the German Society of the
City of New-York.


The Charter of this Society, the By-laws, Rules and Regulations of the same, at present made, and such as may hereafter be made, shall be regularly entered, under the date when agreed to by the Society, in a book kept for that purpose by the Secretary, who shall also enter therein the name of each member, specifying the time of his election.


Place of meeting of the Society.All meetings of this Society shall be held at the German Lutheran school-house, in William-Street, in the city of New-York, until otherwise ordered by the Society.


Elections of officers to be by ballot.The elections for officers shall be held at the usual place of meeting of the Society, and the officers shall be chosen by ballot by a majority of to be by the members present; which election shall be held under the inspection of three members previously chosen for that purpose by the Society.


How vacancies are to be filled up. Any vacancy which may happen among the officers of this Society, by death or otherwise, shall be filled up for the remainder of the year by special meeting, to be convened for that purpose, of which notice shall be given at least one month previous to such meeting, and the election for supplying such vacancy shall be held in the same manner as the annual election is held.


How persons may be proposed when there is no quarum. Whenever it shall happen at any meeting of Society that a sufficient number of members do not appear to form a quorum agreeable to the charter, and application is made for the proposal of a person as a member, the name of such person may be handed to the officers, whereupon he shall be considered as regularly proposed.


New members to pay fifteen dollars. All new-elected members of this Society shall pay to the Treasurer thereof the sum of fifteen dollars, at the time of their admission and signing the by-laws. And all members so elected, who shall neglect to pay their admission fees within nine months subsequent to their election, (after being notified) shall forfeit their right of membership, and be thenceforth considered as not elected.


All business relative to the property belonging Property, how to be transferred or sold to the Society, particularly the transferring of property, stock in any of the Banks, or the sale of any property whatever, shall first be duly notified to the Society in one of their regular meetings, and proceeded on in their next.


Board of officers to meet monthly. Six to be a quorum
To appoint a monthly committee
The board of officers shall meet monthly or oftener if circumstances require, at such time and place as they shall judge proper, and not less than six shall be a quorum. They shall in each month appoint a visiting commitee of two members from their board, whose duty it shall be diligently to inquire into the situations and merits of such German emigrants as may arrive here, and of other poor or distressed Germans, and their descendants; particularly widows and Their duty orphans, who may need assistance from this Society. And the said committe shall report thereon to the President, The committee to report to the President. who may call a meeting of the board of officers, if he thinks proper, to whom they shall make a like report, and take the orders of said board for their further direction.

Donations by the committee limited to three dollars. And in case of pressing necessity the committee may present an indigent person with a sum not exceeding three dollars, which donation they shall report to the board of officers at their next meeting.


Treasurer to give bond. The Treasurer shall, before he enters upon the duties of his office, give bond to this corporation in the sum of five thousand dollars, conditioned for the faithful performance of the duties enjoined upon him.

He shall receive and pay all monies belonging to this Society, and shall keep a true and regular account thereof.

To account for all monies received. He shall render unto the Society a just and true account of all monies received by him, belonging to the society.

How to make payments. He shall make no payments of any of said monies, except upon an order from the President, or presiding officer of the Society, or board of officers.

To deliver up all monies, &c. to his successor. In case of resignation or removal from office, he shall faithfully deliver all monies and effects belonging to the Society within ten days into the hands of his successor.

When to account. He shall render unto the board of officers quarterly, and to the Society on the last Monday in January annually, a particular statement of his accounts of the current or preceding year.


Duties of the Secretary The Secretary shall keep regular minutes of the proceedings of the Society, and those of the Board of Officers, and record them in the proper journals. He shall prepare and send notices to the members for the meetings, cause advertisements to be published in the news-papers, and notify the officers, and new-elected members of their election.


The Board to appoint a Messenger The Board of Officers may appoint a suitable person to be Messenger of the Society, whose duties shall be such as the said Board may from time to time order and direct; and who shall receive such salary or other compensation as the Board shall think proper to allow.


Stated meetings of the Society. The Society shall hold four stated meetings annually, on the following days, to wit, the first on the second Monday in May—the second on the last Monday in July—the third on the last Monday in October, and the fourth on the last Monday in January; which is the annual meeting already established by the Charter of the Society.



On the appearance of a quorum the President shall take the chair and call the members to order.


If any of the Clergy belonging to the Society are pre- sent, the President shall request the meeting to be opened with prayer.


Reading the minutes of the Society at their last meeting, and those of the intervening meetings of the officers.


The introduction of new members, if any be present.


Balloting for Candidates.


Proposing of Candidates.


Discusslon of such subjects as may be proposed by the board of officers, or by any individual member.


All By-laws shall receive three several readings previous to their being passed; the second and third reading to be at different meetings, unless the Society unanimously direct otherwise.


Any By-law, Rule, or Regulation of this Society may be repealed at any regular meeting of the Society, provided notice of a motion for such repeal shall have been given at a previous stated meeting.


The President is to be obeyed in point of order when in the chair: he decides on all questions of order, subject to an appeal to the Society.


A member speaking shall rise and address himself to the chair, uncovered. When two or more members shall rise at the same time, the President shall name the speaker. No member shall speak more than twice on the same question, unless by leave of the Society.


Motions may be made and debates carried on in the German or English languages: Any member may demand an explanation of the subject that has been debated or read, which the President shall give, or request any member qualified to make the explanation.


The President or presiding officer shall have the nomination of all committees for transacting any business, subject to the approbation of the Society.


No motion shall be debated, or put, unless the same be seconded. When a motion is seconded it shall be stated by the President before debate; and every such motion shall be reduced to writing if the President or any five members shall desire it.


After a motion is stated by the President, it shall be deemed in possession of the Society, but may be withdrawn at any time before decision or amendment.


A motion to adjourn shall be always in order, and shall be decided without debate.


Petitions, Memorials, and other papers addressed to the Society, shall be read by the President or Secretary.


Whilst the President is putting a question, no member shall walk out of, or cross the room;—nor when a member is speaking, shall any entertain private discourse or pass between him and the chair.


All questions in the Society shall be put in the order they were moved, except that in filling up blanks, the largest sum, and longest time shall be first put.


When a By-law shall pass the Society, the President shall certify it, with the date thereof at foot, and the Secretary countersign the same.




The German Society in the City of

When elected Members' Names. Remarks
1784 Oct. 9. John B. Dash, Senior. Dec'd.
Philip Oswald. Dec'd.
David Grim.
Christian Baehr.
John Meyer.
Christian Schultz.
John Gassner.
Alexander Fink, Senior.
John B. Dash, Junior.
1785 Jan. 3. Rev. Dr. John Christopher Kunze. Dec'd.
Christian Wilhelm Wilmerding.
Feb. 7. Jacob Mark.
April 4 Blaze Moore.
John Peter Ritter.
Isaac Paris.
Rev. Henry Moller.
John Mayly.
John Harbeck.
Charles Newman.
Oct. 3. Henry Astor.
1786 April 3 George Gilfert.
1787 Jan. 1. Carl Ludwig Camman. Dec'd.
July 2. George Christian Anthon.
Nov. 7. Edward Livingston.
Sigismund Hugget.
John Jacob Astor.
1788 April 2 Christian Matthias Heyl.
David Lydig.
When elected Members' Names. Remarks
1788 July 2. George Powers.
Philip I. Arcularius.
Aug. 9 Henry White.
John William Zeis.
John Philips.
1789 April 1 Francis Childs.
July 1. John Speyer.
Jacob Morton.
Christian Rook.
1790 Jan. 6. Stephen Van Rensselaer.
July 7. Leonard Fisher.
Josiah Ogden Hoffman.
1791 April 1 Thomas Morris.
1792 April 4 Frederick August De Zeng.
Oct. 3 Samuel L. Mitchell.
1793 Jan. 2 George Arcularius.
Henry Limberger.
Philip Grim.
April 3 Henry Ortley, Junior.
1794 Jan. 8 John Fisher.
John Bartow Provost.
April Alexander Von Pfister.
Cornelius Christian Westphall.
July 9 Jacob Hauptman.
Oct. 1 Jacob Schieffelin.
Henry Heiser.
1795 Jan. 7 Frederick Schoenewolf.
John Schultz.
21 John Morton.
William Cammeyer.
Martin Hoffman.
Benjamin Walker.
Frederick Beinhauer.
Henry Scherer.
April 1 Jacob Bierman.
Frederick Rausch.
William North.
July 1 Daniel Bowie.
Rev. George Strebeck.
Anthony Ernest.
When elected Members' Names. Remarks
1795 July 1. George Clusman.
John Nicholas Crentzebach.
1796 Jan. 25 J. L. Steenback.
Ap'l 25 Cornelius Hoffman.
July 25 Joseph Sterlitz.
John Miller. dec'd.
Edward Dunscomb.
Oct. 10 John Remmey.
Matthias Luft.
Anthony Rutger.
Daniel Paris.
31 Daniel Baehr.
William G. Miller.
1797 Jan. 30 William Gultzow.
Jan. 30 George F. Toderhorst.
Nicholas I. Roosevelt.
1798 Ap'l 30 Peter Ritter, Junior.
John Hone.
Jacob Sherred.
1799 Jan. 19 John Nitchie.
Henry Siebeck.
28 Joseph Horn.
Lewis Eigenbrodt.
Charles Loss.
Joseph Metzler.
1800 Jan. 27 John I. Werth.
May 12 Casper Meier.
Oct. 27 Edward W. Laight.
1802 25 Peter A. Camman.
1803 Jan. 25 Jacob Clinch.
1804 Oct. 29 Clarkson Crolius.
1805 Ap'l 29 George Sassenberg.
July 29 George Meyer.
1806 Jan. 27 Anthony Steenback.
John Sidell.
May 12 John D. Miller.
Daniel Fasch.
1807 May 11 William Klein.
George Minuse.
John Luff.
When elected Members' Names. Remarks
1807 July 27 William G. Miller, Junr.
1808 Jan. 25 Philip E. Mulhenburg,
Ferdinand Holterhoff.
July 25 Balthazar P. Meleck.
Peter Lorilard.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.