Lottery Fever – Albany 1827

12523121_940450632669866_406725969622077903_nThe winning numbers are: 4, 13. 22, 54, 81, 18, 50, 46 in the 7th NYS Consolidated Lottery. Buy your ticket at 113 South Market (now Broadway) for the next lottery at prices from $1.50 to $5.00.

Lotteries were a big deal in America, even in the Colonial period. George Washington sponsored a lottery in 1768 to build the Cumberland Mountain Road. Ben Franklin and John Hancock sponsored lotteries to fund the Revolution.

In NYS, the Legislature sanctioned all sorts of lotteries in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The first NYS public lottery was held in 1746, designed to raise 3,375 pounds to fund the defense of NYC. There was the Literature Lottery and the Medical Science Lottery. Even the construction of the first NYS Capitol was funded, in part, through a lottery. There were lotteries for a fever hospital, widows and orphans and an historical society.

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There was an Albany Land Lottery in 1826, authority given to the City to pay off debts incurred in making grants to The Lancaster School (the first “public” school in the City) and Albany Academy. But a year later most of the lotteries were amalgamated into the single NYS Consolidated lottery. And things got ugly about payoffs, payouts and malfeasance of agents. Even Eliphalet Nott, founder of Union College, AND a lottery sponsor, was caught in the fray and charges flew.

By 1834 NYS ended public lotteries and banned private lotteries, That didn’t mean that people weren’t still buying Austrian, and French and Irish lotteries tickets for decades. But in the late 1800s, even the federal government got in the act and enacted laws that effectively ended all lotteries in the US.

Fast forward to 1966, when NYS once again sanctioned a State Lottery to fund education But not the lottery we know today. I am old enough to remember when you could only buy lottery tickets at banks (yup banks), and hotels and motels (go figure) and you had to provide your name and address and wait weeks to see if you won certain prizes. A far cry from buying a quik pik at Stewarts.

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Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor