Tuesday 6 October 2015

Men of Yore: Robert Randall

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Robert Randall (or more accurately, a statue of him located in Snug Harbour Cultural Center.)

RANDALL, Robert Richard, philanthropist, born in New Jersey about 1740; died in New York city, 5 June, 1801.

He was a son of Thomas Randall, who was one of the committee of 100 chosen to control the affairs of the city of New York in 1775.

In early life Robert appears to have followed the sea, and he became a merchant and shipmaster, in consequence of which he is generally styled captain.

Captain Randall became a member in 1771 of the Marine society of New York for the relief of indigent and distressed masters of vessels, their widows and orphan children, and in 1780 was elected a member of the chamber of commerce. In 1790 he purchased from Baron Poelnitz the property known as the Minto farm, or Minthorne, consisting of snore than twenty-one acres of land in what is now the 15th ward of New York city, the southern boundary of which was then the upper end of Broadway. This, together with four lots in the 1st ward of New York, and stocks valued at $10,000, he bequeathed to found the home called the Sailors' Snug Harbor, "for the purpose of maintaining aged, decrepit, and worn-out sailors." It was his intention to have the home erected on the family estate, but, in consequence of suits by alleged heirs, the control of the property was slot absolutely obtained until 1831. Meanwhile the growth of the city made it more advantageous to rent the farm and purchase a site elsewhere, and 130 acres were bought on Staten island near New Brighton. In October, 1831, the corner-stone was laid, and the dedication ceremonies took place two years later.

In 1834 Captain Randall's remains were removed to Staten island, and in 1884 a heroic statue of him, in bronze, by Augustus St. Gaudens, was unveiled, with appropriate ceremonies, on the lawn adjoining the buildings

At present (1888) the property has increased by purchase to 180 acres, on which there are eight large dormitory buildings capable of accommodating 1,000 men, besides numerous other buildings, thirty-eight in all, including a hospital, church, and residences for the officers.

Source: http://www.famousamericans.net/robertrichardrandall/

Nearly all of will grow old enough to retire with a head of grey hair and a few marbles rolling around upstairs.  But who will take care of us?  In the pre-industrial era that probably would have been done by the extended family, assuming that we were lucky enough to live to old age.  Nowadays though loadsa people are living into their 60s, 70s and even 80s, and this means that they have to be taken care of either by family, friends or relocated to a retirement home.

Retirement homes, just like everything else in the civilised world, had to be created ex-nihlo by men.  On this occasion it was Robert Randall who took it upon himself to found a retirement home called the 'Sailors Snug Harbor' which was intended for old, 'worn out' sailors, who would otherwise end up homeless or living in squalor.

And what's more is that he accomplished all of this using his own money that he had either inherited from his father or earned by his own hand.  There was no need for taxes and government spending here.  No siree!  Just a man with a head full of common sense and heart full of compassion.  Outstanding!


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