American Sports in 1833

Theo S. Dudley

July 31rd, 1833

As I walk closer to the fence between the crowd and the track, people are getting noisier. In my hand, there is a performance chart from two days ago. Uncle Henry, one of the horses that I am interested in, won his previous race, but his performance was not so good.  He started the previous race really well, but he got tired at the very end of the race. Even though he still won that race, he won in closing strides. However, Bedight, the other horse, had won his previous race with his fast and steady pace (viii). I rarely see slave jockeys here. Since American Eclipse’s victory over Henry, the fastest horse of the South, the competition between the South and the North has more competitive. American Eclipse’s owner had politely declined all of the revenge matches from the South.  American Eclipse is nineteen now and he is in Virginia. He was sold for around $8000. Many of his descendants are doing fairly well in Virginia as racehorses, such as, Ariel, Lance, Black Maria, Monmouth Eclipse and Bay Maria (ix). Moreover, I have seen some of the British aristocrats, bringing their horses here to race against American horses. It has become one of the most famous sporting events in this decade.

Hunter (x)

“The buffalo fish were bigger and longer than my arms! I shot them in Mississippi River two weeks ago. I was doing ‘sport’ with my old hunter friends. We shot tons of buffalo fish that could feed all Kas’ky,” a guy on my left is talking to his friends (i). They are all in hunting suits. It seems like they are taking a break from Kaskaskia and travel up to Chicago to see the horseracing. “I hunted fox last month too. Hahahaha,” he says and laughs obnoxiously, “I hunted them, unlike the English. They cannot hunt them anymore, because there are no more woods for the foxes to stay. Hahahaha. I do not understand people why they always hold the English superior in everything,” (i). Recently, people started to hunt foxes and other animals with fur for the fur trade (x). Especially in the far west where everything is still fertile, tons of animals are being hunted for sport, food and fur. Some of the hunters enjoy their free time by hunting animals for their leisure. I personally cannot enjoy putting animals to death just for fun. Laws about hunting in this country still have to develop a lot more from where they are now.

On the way to the station, a group of teenage kids are playing some kind of sport with a wooden bat and leather gloves. It looks like a baseball game, but the way they play and the rules are quite different from the baseball that I know. It seems like every place I go, they play this sport differently. I have seen a group in New York once and the way they played was totally different, too (vi). I doubt no one can actually identify or clarify how to play baseball properly.

This is my second time in New York since I first came sixteen years ago. Everything has changed so much. After I walk out from the station, I walk straight to the place where the sign is noted, Prizefighting. As I walk in, an Irish man is in the middle of the space formed by the crowd, with another black guy. Notably, the supporters of each side are distinctively separated, Irish and Black. It seems like it is an ethnic match between the Irish and the Black. I can see some tickets in the supports hands, which supposedly are gambling tickets (xii). However, it seems like that black guy in the middle is owned by one of the southern planters up on the balcony. After the loss of the Irish guy, I try to go and talk to the champion through his owner. Luckily, his owner gives me a permission to talk to him.

“I am fighting for freedom,” Louis Cotton says, “I want to be free like other blacks here in the North. I know I have to do something for my freedom. I can’t just sit and wait for my precious independence.” His hands are full of scars. He used to work in a cotton farm. “I heard the story about Tom Molineaux, when I was working in a farm. He lightened my hope up. Even though his life did not end well, I will give a try to set my family free. I had to fight over my friends to become the chosen one from the owner, to stand here as a winner. ” (iii). Louis seems to be a guy with high ambitions. I hope he will be the victor who holds his liberty in the future.

Suspiciously, a guy walks up to me, “You must be a tourist,” he says, “Do you want to see cockfighting? I can guarantee you that I will take you to see the strongest cock in this town.”

“Why do you have to be so suspicious?” I ask him.
“It is illegal! You idiot,” he responds to me bizarrely (v).

The Seneca Runner, Deerfoot (1835) (xiii)

“Let’s go, then,” I reply politely. I should not be surprise that it is illegal. Cockfighting is such a big moral topic about the cockfighting (xi). As he is leading me to the alley, which seems to be a place that I would never visit in my entire life, I see a commercial poster for pedestrianism or long-distance running. It is a poster of Deerfoot, a Native American runner, running. It is one of the most attractive sports to every ethnic group because of its high prize (xii).

We finally reach the place. It is a small wooden barn, full with people. A small circular fence is placed in the middle of the barn. Two cocks are placed at the end of each side of the circle with silver spurs on each leg (v). The fight will start soon, but I cannot stand there anymore. Enjoying animals killing each other is not my interest. Wasting the money for the ticket, I walk out from the barn. From outside, there is no sign or anything, showing that there is a clandestine sport in here.


i.         American turf register and sporting magazine 1834: from

ii.         Niles’ Weekly Register 1814: from

iii.         History of American Boxing: from

iv.         Tom Molineaux ‘Molineaux’: from

v.         Once Popular and Socially Acceptable: Cockfighting: from

vi.         Pre-1845 Baseball: Was Abver Doubleday Really the Originator?: from

vii.         File:A Race Meeting at Jacksonville, Alabama by W.S. Hedges – BMA.jpg: from,_Alabama_by_W.S._Hedges_-_BMA.jpg

viii.         Daily Racing Form: n. Monday, July 31, 1933 (edition 1): from;cc=drf1930s;idno=drf1933073101;view=toc

ix.         American Eclipse (USA): from

x.         VII. “The Fire Hole”: Era of the American Fur Company, 1833-1840: from

xi.         Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History Of The American People. P.241 Volume 1. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies. 2010. Print.

xii.         Rader, Benjamin G. American Sports From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Televised Sports. P.37-41 5th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. 2004. Print.

xiii.         The Seneca Runner, Deerfoot (1835): from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s