Racial Diversity in New York City Leading up to 1855

By Samuel Phineas Upham

New York and its harbors were the first point of contact most immigrants had for America, so it became a hotbed for a lot of racial tension well into the present day. New York is a very small space, with regards to square footage, and many different people live in the same area. Throughout New York’s history, this has been a consistent fact.



The Lenape people were the first to inhabit the area we know of as New York, and their first encounter with the Western World was with the French. The Dutch would come soon after, sparking a conflict that was short lived. In the end, a combined force of Lenape and Algonquin was crushed by reinforcements from Holland.


The English saw an opportunity to strike as the Dutch position was weakened. The Dutch built walls to defend against this aggression, so they brought slaves from Africa to do the work. By the time the English overtook the Dutch and seized the territory, nearly half the population was of African descent.


The Great Famine in Ireland forced Irish out of their home land and into other areas seeking better opportunity. They were largely a working class people in New York, and they started a riot over legislation passed by the US Congress in 1863. These riots were originally about military conscription and instead sparked a race riot targeting blacks wherever the Irish could find them. This brutal three-day period was known as the New York City Draft Riots, or just “Draft Week”.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn.

When Mexico Owned San Diego

By Phin Upham

Mexico declared itself officially independent from Spain in 1821, claiming Alta California and the city known as San Diego for itself. A large fort that stood on Presidio Hill was slowly abandoned as more people began settling on the flatland below.

The Mexican government secularized the mission in 1834, and the land around it was sold to wealthier citizens who planned to settle in the area. Although San Diego’s launch was less than stellar, it lost citizens throughout its first eight years, the town elected a magistrate named Juan Maria Osuna and formed a pueblo. Although that status was revoked in 1838.


San Diego’s slow growth was partially related to a lack of business there. Ranchos and agriculture were the largest drivers of employment, but the work could only sustain a certain population. When the US went to war with Mexico, one of the disputed territories was San Diego and it was easily captured because it was so desolate. San Diego would play a pivotal role in that conflict, acting as a staging area for both Mexican and American troops as the territory changed hands.

At one point, wealthy Mexicans withdrew their cattle en masse to starve the Americans. There were daily fights, and sniper fire was a regular occurrence. Things calmed down after the war, and the US was granted the territory that included San Diego during as a direct result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Though the Mexican side fought hard to include San Diego in its side of the negotiations, American business interests eventually won out and the border line was drawn one league south of San Diego Bay.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.