Algonquin Round Table

Algonquin Round Table


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Robert E. Sherwood, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley all worked at Vanity Fair during the First World War. They began taking lunch together in the dining room at the Algonquin Hotel. Sherwood was six feet eight inches tall and Benchley was around six feet tall, Parker, who was five feet four inches, once commented that when she, Sherwood and Benchley walked down the street together, they looked like "a walking pipe organ."

According to Harriet Hyman Alonso , the author of Robert E. Sherwood The Playwright in Peace and War (2007): "John Peter Toohey, a theater publicist, and Murdock Pemberton, a press agent, decided to throw a mock "welcome home from the war" celebration for the egotistical, sharp-tongued columnist Alexander Woollcott. The idea was really for theater journalists to roast Woollcott in revenge for his continual self-promotion and his refusal to boost the careers of potential rising stars on Broadway. On the designated day, the Algonquin dining room was festooned with banners. On each table was a program which misspelled Woollcott's name and poked fun at the fact that he and fellow writers Franklin Pierce Adams (F.P.A.) and Harold Ross had sat out the war in Paris as staff members of the army's weekly newspaper, the Stars and Stripes, which Bob had read in the trenches. But it is difficult to embarrass someone who thinks well of himself, and Woollcott beamed at all the attention he received. The guests enjoyed themselves so much that John Toohey suggested they meet again, and so the custom was born that a group of regulars would lunch together every day at the Algonquin Hotel."

Howard Teichmann has pointed out: "That the Algonquin should have been brought to such prominence by press agents was no more surprising than the fact that Broadway was beginning to make more and more use of those ever-ready friends of the Fourth Estate. Actually, the Algonquin was the first of many restaurants to gain postwar attention through the efforts of press agents." Murdock Pemberton later recalled that he owner of the hotel, Frank Case, did what he could to encourage this gathering: "From then on we met there nearly every day, sitting in the south-west corner of the room. If more than four or six came, tables could be slid along to take care of the newcomers. We sat in that corner for a good many months... Frank Case, always astute, moved us over to a round table in the middle of the room and supplied free hors d'oeuvre. The table grew mainly because we then had common interests. We were all of the theatre or allied trades." Case admitted that he moved them to a central spot at a round table in the Rose Room, so others could watch them enjoy each other's company.

The people who attended these lunches included Robert E. Sherwood, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Harold Ross, Donald Ogden Stewart, Edna Ferber, Ruth Hale, Franklin Pierce Adams, Jane Grant, Neysa McMein, Alice Duer Miller, Charles MacArthur, Marc Connelly, George S. Kaufman, Beatrice Kaufman , Frank Crowninshield, Ben Hecht, Frank Sullivan, Jack Baragwanath, John Peter Toohey, Lynn Fontanne, Alfred Lunt and Ina Claire. This group eventually became known as the Algonquin Round Table.

According to Brian Gallagher, the author of Anything Goes: The Jazz Age of Neysa McMein and her Extravagant Circle of Friends (1987) "the Algonquin group was at the center of a social revolution". Gallagher quotes Alice Duer Miller, as saying the First World War was partly responsible for the creation of the Algonquin Round Table: "Alice Duer Miller, the eldest member of the Round Table set, noted, the war broke up the old social crowds in New York and allowed new ones to form, and she threw her patrician lot in with a younger group of writers and wits. New kinds of elites were forming: often less rich and less grand than the older elites, but also more numerous and more varied. Over the next two decades the members of the Algonquin group would go far, usually under self-propulsion, on the group's reputation as an intellectual elite."

The group played games while they were at the hotel. One of the most popular was "I can give you a sentence". This involved each member taking a multi syllabic word and turning it into a pun within ten seconds. Dorothy Parker was the best at this game. For "horticulture" she came up with, "You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think." Another contribution was "The penis is mightier than the sword." They also played other guessing games such as "Murder" and "Twenty Questions". A fellow member, Alexander Woollcott, called Parker "a combination of Little Nell and Lady Macbeth." Arthur Krock, who worked for the New York Times, commented that "their wit was on perpetual display."

Edna Ferber wrote about her membership of the group in her book, A Peculiar Treasure (1939): "The contention was that this gifted group engaged in a log-rolling; that they gave one another good notices, praise-filled reviews and the like. I can't imagine how any belief so erroneous ever was born. Far from boosting one another they actually were merciless if they disapproved. I never have encountered a more hard-bitten crew. But if they liked what you had done they did say so, publicly and wholeheartedly. Their standards were high, their vocabulary fluent, fresh, astringent and very, very tough. Theirs was a tonic influence, one on the other, and all on the world of American letters. The people they could not and would not stand were the bores, hypocrites, sentimentalists, and the socially pretentious. They were ruthless towards charlatans, towards the pompous and the mentally and artistically dishonest. Casual, incisive, they had a terrible integrity about their work and a boundless ambition."

The literary critic, Edmund Wilson, was not so impressed with the group: "I was sometimes invited to join them, but I did not find them particularly interesting. They all came from the suburbs and provinces, and a sort of tone was set - mainly by Benchley, I think - deriving from a provincial upbringing of people who had been taught a certain kind of gentility, who had played the same games and who had read the same children's books - all of which they were now able to mock from a level of New York sophistication."

Marc Connelly, was an important figure in the early days of the group: "We all lived rather excitedly and passionately. In those days, everything was of vast importance or only worthy of quick dismissal. We accepted each other - the whole crowd of us. I suppose there was a corps of about twenty or so who were intimate. We all ate our meals together, and lived in a very happy microcosm.... We all shared one another's love for bright talk, contempt for banality, and the dedication to the use of whatever talents we had to their best employment." Another regular member was George S. Kaufman. Connelly and Kaufman wrote five successful comedies, Dulcy (1921), To the Ladies (1922), Merton of the Movies (1922), The Deep Tangled Wildwood (1923) and Beggar on Horseback (1924).

Samuel Hopkins Adams, the author of Alexander Woollcott: His Life and His World (1946), has argued: "The Algonquin profited mightily by the literary atmosphere, and Frank Case evinced his gratitude by fitting out a workroom where Broun could hammer out his copy and Benchley could change into the dinner coat which he ceremonially wore to all openings. Woollcott and Franklin Pierce Adams enjoyed transient rights to these quarters. Later Case set aside a poker room for the whole membership." The poker players included Heywood Broun, Alexander Woollcott, Herbert Bayard Swope, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Harold Ross, Deems Taylor, Laurence Stallings, Harpo Marx, Jerome Kern and Prince Antoine Bibesco.

On one occasion, Woollcott lost four thousand dollars in an evening, and protested: "My doctor says it's bad for my nerves to lose so much." It was also claimed that Harpo Marx "won thirty thousand dollars between dinner and dawn". Howard Teichmann, the author of George S. Kaufman: An Intimate Portrait (1972) has argued that Broun, Adams, Benchley, Ross and Woollcott were all inferior poker players, Swope and Marx were rated as "pretty good" and Kaufmann was "the best honest poker player in town."

On 30th April 1922, the Algonquin Round Tablers produced their own one-night vaudeville review, No Siree!: An Anonymous Entertainment by the Vicious Circle of the Hotel Algonquin . It was opened by Heywood Broun who appeared before the curtain "looking much like a dancing bear who had escaped from his trainer". He was followed by a monologue by Robert Benchley, entitled The Treasurer's Report . Marc Connelly and George S. Kaufman contributed a three-act mini-play, Big Casino Is Little Casino, that featured Robert E. Sherwood. The show also included several musical numbers, some written by Irving Berlin. One of the most loved aspects of the show was the Dorothy Parker penned musical numbers that were sang by Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, June Walker and Mary Brandon.

New York Times assigned the actress, Laurette Taylor, to review the show. She suggested that the lot of them to give up any theatrical ambitions, but if they persisted in placing themselves on public view, "I would advise a course of voice culture for Marc Connelly, a new vest and pants for Heywood Broun, a course with Yvette Guilbert for Alexander Woollcott... I suppose there must have been some suppressed indignation in my heart to see the critics maligning my stage, just as there will be at my daring to sit and judge as a critic."

John Keats, the author of You Might as Well Live: Life and Times of Dorothy Parker (1975) has argued that Heywood Broun, who was popular columnist, with national syndication, greatly helped in spreading the influence of the Algonquin Round Table. "His friends thought coloured Mr. Broun's own thinking. When he therefore spoke to his several million readers, Mr. Broun was not giving them just an Eastern seaboard point of view, but a specifically Round Table point of view... The Algonquinites could cause to be published, and could comment on, such new writing as, for example, that of the Paris group, and thereby help to create a climate in which it would find acceptance."

Marc Connelly claims that the group spent a lot of time at the studio of Neysa McMein. "The world in which we moved was small, but it was churning with a dynamic group of young people who included Robert C. Benchley, Robert S. Sherwood, Ring Lardner, Dorothy Parker, Franklin. P. Adams, Heywood, Broun, Edna Ferber, Alice Duer Miller, Harold Ross, Jane Grant, Frank Sullivan, and Alexander Woollcott. We were together constantly. One of the habitual meeting places was the large studio of New York's preeminent magazine illustrator, Marjorie Moran McMein, of Muncie, Indiana. On the advice of a nurnerologist, she concocted a new first name when she became a student at the Chicago Art Institute. Neysa McMein. Neysa's studio on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street was crowded all day by friends who played games and chatted with their startlingly beautiful young hostess as one pretty girl model after another posed for the pastel head drawings that would soon delight the eyes of America on the covers of such periodicals as the Ladies' Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, The American and The Saturday Evening Post."

Some members of the Algonquin Round Table began to complain about the nastiness of some of the humour as it gained the reputation for being the "Vicious Circle". Donald Ogden Stewart commented: "It wasn't much fun to go there, with everybody on stage. Everybody was waiting his chance to say the bright remark so that it would be in Franklin Pierce Adams' column the next day... it wasn't friendly... Woollcott, for instance, did some awfully nice things for me. There was a terrible sentimental streak in Alec, but at the same time, there was a streak of hate that was malicious."

Anita Loos commented that on arriving in New York City: "I soon found out that the most literary envirament in New York is the Algonquin Hotel, where all the literary geniuses eat their luncheon. Because every literary genius who eats his luncheon at the Algonquin Hotel is always writing that that is the place where all the great literary geniuses eat their luncheon."

Dorothy Parker eventually became disillusioned with the Algonquin Round Table: "The only group I have ever been affiliated with is that not especially brave little band that hid its nakedness of heart and mind under the out-of-date garment of a sense of humor... I know that ridicule may be a shield, but it is not a weapon." Parker eventually left because of a disagreement over the Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco case: "Those people at the Round Table didn't know a bloody thing. They thought we were fools to go up and demonstrate for Sacco and Vanzetti." She claimed they were ignorant because "they didn't know and they just didn't think about anything but the theater." Parker added: "At first I was in awe of them because they were being published. But then I came to realize I wasn't hearing anything very stimulating. The one man of real stature who ever went there was Heywood Broun. He and Robert Benchley were the only people who took any cognizance of the world around them. George Kaufman was a nuisance and rather disagreeable. Harold Ross, the New Yorker editor, was a complete lunatic; I suppose he was a good editor, but his ignorance was profound."

Richard O'Connor, the author of Heywood Broun: A Biography (1975) argued that the Algonquin Round Table went into decline at the beginning of the 1930s. "All those satirical darts hurled around the table were bound, sooner or later, to leave their marks on the more sensitive spirits. Some members, as the joy went out of the twenties and curdled into the despair of the thirties, thought they should occupy themselves with something more serious than chitchat. Others had moved to Hollywood or had been dislodged from their corner in the marketplace; failure was never viewed with sympathy by members of the Round Table." Those who went to Hollywood included Robert E. Sherwood, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Donald Ogden Stewart, Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht.

Heywood Broun stopped going to the Algonquin Hotel after complaining that some members of the Round Table, including George S. Kaufman and Ina Claire, had undermined a strike by filling in as waiters in the dining room. Margaret Chase Harriman, the author of The Vicious Circle The Story of the Algonquin Round Table (1951), has pointed out: "The emotional lives of many of them had grown so complex as to interfere with their gags... Perhaps it was politics, and a broadening sense of public issues, that helped to break up the Round Table... As the small, independent worlds we all used to live in gradually expanded and fused into One World with its one vast headache, there was no longer any room for cozy little sheltered cliques of specialists... The day of the purely literary or artistic group was over, and so was the small, perfect democracy of the Algonquin Round Table."

The place where Parker, Benchley, and Bob lunched together each workday thereafter was the dining room at the Algonquin Hotel. Located close to their office, the hotel had been founded in 1902 as a temperance establishment called the Puritan, but in 1919 its manager, Frank Case, renamed it the Algonquin in honor of the Native Americans who had originally lived in the area. Unfortunately for Case, the name change did not alter the hotel's temperance history, for in that same year the nation adopted the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, making the production, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages illegal in the United States. Initially, the three writers dined alone on hors d'oeuvres or scrambled eggs and coffee, the only items they could afford on their meager Vanity Fair salaries. Soon after, however, an event took place at the Algonquin Hotel which changed all their lives, especially Bob's. John Peter Toohey, a theater publicist, and Murdock Pemberton, a press agent, decided to throw a mock "welcome home from the war" celebration for the egotistical, sharp-tongued columnist Alexander Woollcott. But it is difficult to embarrass someone who thinks well of himself, and Woollcott beamed at all the attention he received.

The guests enjoyed themselves so much that John Toohey suggested they meet again, and so the custom was born that a group of regulars would lunch together every day at the Algonquin Hotel. In addition to Bob, Benchley, Parker, Woollcott, F.P.A, and Ross, others who joined as the weeks passed included the journalist Heywood Broun, the play-writing team of Marc Connelly and George S. Kaufman, the playwright Howard Dietz, and authors Edna Ferber and Alice Duer Miller. Once in a while the writer Ring Lardner or Bob's songwriter hero Irving Berlin would drop by. Aspiring actresses Helen Hayes, Peggy Wood, Tallulah Bankhead, and Ruth Gordon sat in from time to time, as did innumerable young showgirls and chorus boys hoping to latch onto either a rising star or one already in the magic circle of fame on Broadway or in Hollywood. Mary Brandon was one such young woman whose rising star became Bob Sherwood. For Frank Case, the opportunity to cultivate a group of journalists, writers, and actors who might bring more customers to the hotel was a godsend, and he decided to make them a feature of his establishment. After several months of catering to them at a long side table, he moved the group to a central spot at a round table in the Rose Room, where tourists and other diners could stare and pretend to be sharing in the making of cultural history along with the Algonquin Round Table.

Outsiders took a kind of resentful dislike to the group. They called them the Algonquin crowd. I was astonished to find myself included in this designation. The contention was that this gifted group engaged in a log-rolling; that they gave one another good notices, praise-filled reviews and the like. Casual, incisive, they had a terrible integrity about their work and a boundless ambition.

The emotional lives of many of them had grown so complex as to interfere with their gags... The day of the purely literary or artistic group was over, and so was the small, perfect democracy of the Algonquin Round Table.

The world in which we moved was small, but it was churning with a dynamic group of young people who included Robert C. Neysa's studio on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street was crowded all day by friends who played games and chatted with their startlingly beautiful young hostess as one pretty girl model after another posed for the pastel head drawings that would soon delight the eyes of America on the covers of such periodicals as the Ladies' Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, The American and The Saturday Evening Post.

At times every newsstand sparkled with half a dozen of Neysa's beauties. Any afternoon at her studio you might encounter Jascha Heifetz, the violin prodigy, now grown up and beginning his adult career; Arthur Samuels, composer and wit who was soon to collaborate with Fritz Kreisler on the melodious operetta Apple Blossoms and a few years later became managing editor of The New Yorker; Janet Flanner, blazing with personality, later, over several decades, a journalistic legend as Genet, Paris correspondent of The New Yorker; and John Peter Toohey, a gentle free-lance press agent, deeply loved by everyone who ever crossed his path. Toohey wrote stories for The Saturday Evening Post and collaborated on a successful comedy entitled Swiftly. John was the acknowledged founder of the Thanatopsis Inside Straight Literary and Chowder Club and a target of many harmless practical jokes. One would also see Sally Farnham, the sculptress, whose studio was in the same building. Today one of her great works stands almost around the corner from her old workshop. It is the heroic equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar at the Sixth Avenue entrance to Central Park. Another habituee was the most photographed society beauty of that time, the beautiful Julia Hoyt. Among Neysa's noteworthy full-figure portraits in oil were those of Julia and Janet Flanner.

I was sometimes invited to join them, but I did not find them particularly interesting. They all came from the suburbs and provinces, and a sort of tone was set - mainly by Benchley, I think - deriving from a provincial upbringing of people who had been taught a certain kind of gentility, who had played the same games and who had read the same children's books - all of which they were now able to mock from a level of New York sophistication.

© John Simkin, March 2013


About the Algonquin

The period that followed the end of World War I was one of gaiety and optimism, and it sparked a new era of creativity in American culture. Surely one of the most profound — and outrageous — influences on the times was the group of a dozen or so tastemakers who lunched together at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel. For more than a decade they met daily and came to be known as the Algonquin Round Table. With members such as writers Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross (founder of THE NEW YORKER) and Robert Benchley columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Heywood Broun, and Broun’s wife Ruth Hale critic Alexander Woollcott comedian Harpo Marx and playwrights George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Robert Sherwood, the Round Table embodied an era and changed forever the face of American humor.

It all began with an afternoon roast of the NEW YORK TIMES drama critic, Alexander Wollcott. A number of writers met up at the Algonquin Hotel on 44th street and had such a good time that the event was repeated the next day, and the day after that, until the lunch table at the Algonquin was established as a ritual. The core group of friends was sometimes joined by others who attended for short periods or drifted about the periphery of the group, including such notables as actress Tallulah Bankhead and playwright Noel Coward. The Round Table was made up of people with a shared admiration for each other’s work. Outspoken and outrageous, they would often quote each other freely in their daily columns.

Round Tabler Edna Ferber, who called them “The Poison Squad,” wrote, “They were actually merciless if they disapproved. I have never encountered a more hard-bitten crew. But if they liked what you had done, they did say so publicly and whole-heartedly.” Their standards were high, their vocabulary fluent, fresh, astringent, and very, very tough. Both casual and incisive, they had a certain terrible integrity about their work and boundless ambition. Some of the most notable members of the Round Table came together to work on significant collaborative projects. George Kaufman teamed up with Edna Ferber and Marc Connelly on some of his best stage comedies, including DULCY and THE ROYAL FAMILY. Harold Ross of THE NEW YORKER hired both Dorothy Parker as a book reviewer and Robert Benchley as a drama critic.

By 1925, the Round Table was famous. What had started as a private clique became a public amusement. The country-at-large was now attentive to their every word—people often coming to stare at them during lunch. Some began to tire of the constant publicity. The time they spent entertaining and being entertained took its toll on several of the Algonquin members. Robert Sherwood and Robert Benchley moved out of the hotel in order to concentrate on and accomplish their work. In 1927, the controversial execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, whose case had divided the country and the Round Table for six years, seemed to cast a pall over the group’s unchecked antics. Dorothy Parker believed strongly in the pair’s innocence, and upon their deaths she remarked “I had heard someone say and so I said too, that ridicule is the most effective weapon. Well, now I know that there are things that never have been funny and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield but it is not a weapon.”

As America entered the Depression and the more somber decade of the 1930s, the bonds that had held the group together loosened many members moved to Hollywood or on to other interests. “It didn’t end, it just sort of faded,” recalled Marc Connelly. A decade after it began, the Algonquin Round Table was over. Not forgotten, the Round Table remains one of the great examples of an American artists’ community and the effects it can have on its time.


History of Neshobe Island

For our wedding ceremony, everyone will be transported out via boat to Neshobe Island. There is some interesting history to this island feel free to read below.

Neshobe Island is an island in Lake Bomoseen in the town of Castleton, U.S. state of Vermont. It is particularly known for its association during the 1920s and 1930s with the Algonquin Round Table, a group of literary figures.

It became well known in the 1920s and 1930s for its association with the Algonquin Round Table. In 1924, Alexander Woollcott bought part of the island with six friends, and by the early 1930s, he had purchased most of the island. He built himself a large stone house, where he hosted a number of other members of the circle during the 1930s Woollcott himself lived permanently on the island from 1938. A fictionalized account of life on the island during this time forms the basis for Charles Brackett’s 1934 novel Entirely Surrounded.

During the 1920s and 1930s, rumors about tiny Neshobe Island flew through the resort hotels along Vermont’s Lake Bomoseen.

The summer vacationers heard that famous people lived on the dinky island and that lots of crazy things went on out there.

They were right, but they could not confirm the rumors for themselves. Neshobe Island was the private club of New York’s famous Algonquin Round Table and their even more famous guests.

Vivien Leigh visited Neshobe Island after winning an Oscar for Gone With the Wind. Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht finished their screenplay for Wuthering Heights there. The landscaping was done by Gerald Murphy, the Mark Cross heir who inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fictional character Dick Diver.

And Harpo Marx took off all his clothes and waved an ax at snooping tourists.

“The thing we cherished most about the island, along with its natural beauty, was its isolation,” Marx wrote in his autobiography.

The Algonquin Round Table was a group of New York City writers, critics, actors, and wits. Gathering initially as part of a practical joke, members of “The Vicious Circle”, as they dubbed themselves, met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929. At these luncheons, they engaged in wisecracks, wordplay, and witticisms that, through the newspaper columns of Round Table members, were disseminated across the country.

Daily association with each other, both at the luncheons and outside of them, inspired members of the Circle to collaborate creatively. The entire group worked together successfully only once, however, to create a revue called No Sirree! which helped launch a Hollywood career for Round Tabler Robert Benchley.

In its ten years of association, the Round Table and a number of its members acquired national reputations, both for their contributions to literature and for their sparkling wit. Although some of their contemporaries, and later in life even some of its members, disparaged the group, its reputation has endured long after its dissolution.

In addition to the daily luncheons, members of the Round Table worked and associated with each other almost constantly. The group was devoted to games, including cribbage and poker. The group had its own poker club, the Thanatopsis Literary and Inside Straight Club, which met at the hotel on Saturday nights. Regulars at the game included Kaufman, Adams, Broun, Ross, and Woollcott, with non-Round Tablers Herbert Bayard Swope, silk merchant Paul Hyde Bonner, baking heir Raoul Fleischmann, actor Harpo Marx, and writer Ring Lardner sometimes sitting in. The group also played charades (which they called simply “The Game”) and the “I can give you a sentence” game, which spawned Dorothy Parker’s memorable sentence using the word horticulture: “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.”

Members often visited Neshobe Island, a private island co-owned by several “Algonks”—but governed by Woollcott as a “benevolent tyrant”, as his biographer Samuel Hopkins Adams charitably put it—located on several acres in the middle of Lake Bomoseen in Vermont. There they would engage in their usual array of games including Wink murder, which they called simply “Murder”, plus croquet.


The Algonquin Round Table New York: A Historical Guide

The Algonquin Round Table New York: A Historical Guide
Author: Kevin C. Fitzpatrick
Foreword: Anthony Melchiorri
Cover: Natalie Ascencios
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press | Lyons Press
Year: 2015
Formats: Paperback and E-Book
Pages: 288, illustrated with photos and maps
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4930-0757-8
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-4930-1673-0
Order: Publisher | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

After serving in the Army, Alexander Woollcott went back to the New York Times in the summer of 1919. It was a few Broadway publicists that set events in motion that would lead to the formation of the Algonquin Round Table.

“That is the thing about New York,” wrote Dorothy Parker in 1928. “It is always a little more than you had hoped for. Each day, there, is so definitely a new day.”

Now you can journey back there, in time, to a grand city teeming with hidden bars, luxurious movie palaces, and dazzling skyscrapers. In these places, Dorothy Parker and her cohorts in the Vicious Circle at the infamous Algonquin Round Table sharpened their wit, polished their writing, and captured the energy and elegance of the time.

Robert Benchley, Parker’s best friend, became the first managing editor of Vanity Fair before Irving Berlin spotted him onstage in a Vicious Circle revue and helped launch his acting career. Edna Ferber, an occasional member of the group, wrote the Pulitzer-winning bestseller So Big as well as Show Boat and Giant. Jane Grant pressed her first husband, Harold Ross, into starting The New Yorker. Neysa McMein, reputedly “rode elephants in circus parades and dashed from her studio to follow passing fire engines.” Dorothy Parker wrote for Vanity Fair and Vogue before ascending the throne as queen of the Round Table, earning everlasting fame (but rather less fortune) for her award-winning short stories and unforgettable poems. Woollcott, the centerpiece of the group, worked as drama critic for the Times and the World, wrote profiles of his friends for The New Yorker, and lives on today as Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Explore their favorite salons and saloons, their homes and offices (most still standing), while learning about their colorful careers and private lives. Packed with archival photos, drawings, and other images–including never-before-published material–this illustrated historical guide includes current information on all locations. Use it to retrace the footsteps of the Algonquin Round Table, and you’ll discover that the golden age of Gotham still surrounds us.

The foreword is by Anthony Melchiorri, creator and host of “Hotel Impossible” on the Travel Channel, and former general manager of the Algonquin Hotel.


Algonquin "Round Table" Cocktail Glass (Set of 2)

The 6-inch-tall stature and sleek design of the Algonquin Cocktail Glass offers a stunning visual presentation for the home dinner or cocktail party. Enjoy favorite cocktails while imagining the days of Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, a notoriously witty group met for lunch daily at New York's Algonquin Hotel, engaging in wisecracks, witty banter, and wordplay, much of which received international attention.

What made this particular literary coterie so likeable was their lack of pomposity combined with a love and lust for life. Ultimately, the cocktail is a sociable drink, and to be enjoyed in pleasant circumstances and in the finest company. Serve your guests cocktails in generous 8.5-ounce (251 ml), versatile Algonquin Cocktail Glasses for an occasion to be savored and remembered.

Each Gift Box includes 2 glasses, Algonquin "Blue Bar" coasters, and "The Round Table" souvenir with recipe for the famous Matilda Cocktail.


The “Algonquin Round Table”

There was a domestic version of 1920’s Paris expat literary, social scene. It was called “The Algonquin Round Table”, aka “The Vicious Circle”. It was a gathering of American literary and artistic intellectuals, who regularly met in the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan, NYC and critically commented on the state of American society. (Moore, pp.233-38) The group included magazine columnist and drama critic Dorothy Parker, founder of The New Yorker magazine Harold Ross, newspaper social columnist Franklin Pierce Adams (known as “FPA”), director and playwright George S. Kauffman, New York Times theatre critic Alexander Woollcott, drama critic and editor George Jean Nathan, fiction writer Ring Lardner, actress Tallulah Bankhead , humorist Robert Benchley, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Marc Connelly (The Green Pastures), novelist and screenwriter Edna Ferber (So Big, Showboat, Cimarron and Giant), Jane Grant , a society columnist for The New York Times, and “the very chic model of modernity during the 20s”, Helen Hayes.

Several Broadway plays were based on the activities of the people of the Algonquin Round Table. “Room Enough for Two – The Life of Dorothy Parker” was a musical tribute that explored the life and loves of Dorothy Parker, the pre-eminent female humorist of the early 20th Century. The musical covers Dorothy Parker’s fascinating life from her days as a film critic for Vanity Fair Magazine in New York when she founded the Algonquin Round Table, to being nominated for an Oscar in Hollywood for the screenplay ‘A Star Is Born’, to being blacklisted during the McCarthy hearings, to returning to New York with friend Lillian Hellman, to eventually dying alone at the Hotel Volney in New York City. The intro to the play can be found at https://youtu.be/p2GioZtwKWo “Nights at the Algonquin Round Table”, another play about the 1920’s New York social scene, which won the 2017 critic’s award, can be found at https://youtu.be/YtvdizbAweI

Other prominent 1920s social critics were H.L (Henry Louis) Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. H.L. Mencken, known as “The Sage of Baltimore”, was the featured writer in American Mercury magazine. He wrote hundreds of essays mocking practically every aspect of American life. He looked at society with “raucous and profane laughter”. (Allen IX, 2) Calling the South a “gargantuan paradise of the fourth rate,” and the middle class the “booboisie,” Mencken directed his choicest barbs at reformers, whom he blamed for the bloodshed of World War I and the gangsters of the 1920s. “If I am convinced of anything,” he snarled, “it is that doing good is in bad taste.” When asked why he stayed in the United States when he was so critical of it, he responded “Why do men go to the zoo”.

Mencken’s Pen, written and sung by Christine Lavin, 2009, paints an accurate portrayal of Mencken. https://youtu.be/2Eysay1OyJk

SPOKEN INTRODUCTION: H. L. Mencken was born in Baltimore in 1880, died there in 1956, and was the most influential American journalists during the first half of the 20th century.


The Algonquin Round Table is fabled to have been a “10-year lunch” of fabulous, if also ferocious, fun.

But the historical reality of the Algonquin lunch bunch is more interesting than the fable. The go-go image of the Roaring Twenties has much to do with this historical amnesia, for it obscures how the decade not only roared with new consumer toys, sexual liberation and artistic experimentation, but also bellowed with timid provincialism, bellicose nationalism and intractable sexism, racism and xenophobia. The Algonquinites’ exhilaration in verbal exchange as blood sport hides a darker truth they knew all too well: the kind of culture their cosmopolitan liberalism was up against, and what it would take to turn their creative expression into trenchant social criticism.

Dorothy Parker’s claim that “you can’t teach an old dogma new tricks” was no giggly sendup of Victorian notions of propriety and respectability. Rather, it was, much like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s observation in “This Side of Paradise,” from 1920, a confession of the profound uncertainties wrought by modernity: “Here was a new generation,” he wrote, “grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken.”

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Much like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway, the Algonquinites experienced the moral and aesthetic vertigo brought on by a cataclysmic war. But unlike Pound, Eliot and Hemingway, who welcomed being lost in foreign cities abroad, the Algonquin writers rooted themselves in New York City, a place that, according to the historian Ann Douglas , “became for many people impossible,” but “often for the same people, essential.”

The First World War loomed large in the moral imagination of many Algonquin regulars, especially those who served in the war effort, either as servicemen, war correspondents or both (as was the case with Woollcott, Adams and Ross, who wrote for the new military newspaper Stars and Stripes). One Algonquin regular, the playwright Laurence Stallings, got his start as a writer drafting advertising copy for his local military recruiting office before enlisting in the Marines himself in 1917. The reality of war did not live up to his patriotic platitudes. Stallings’s right kneecap — and with it his high idealism — was shattered while he manned a machine gun nest during the Battle of Belleau Wood. He spent eight months in a French hospital enduring multiple operations, only to have his injured leg finally amputated back home in 1922 after a fall on the ice.

While recuperating from the surgery at Walter Reed Hospital, Stallings wrote his novel (and thinly veiled autobiography) “Plumes,” about a soldier who returns from the war disabled, disenchanted and struggling with a corrupt and mismanaged office of veterans affairs. The novel described veterans like himself as “misshapen humans” whose “grotesquely mutilated limbs” broadcast the “gap between the medical knowledge of the time and perversely ingenious war machinery.” Similarly, his play “What Price Glory,” which he co-authored with Maxwell Anderson, opened on Broadway in 1924 to controversy over — but also was a critical success because of — its unforgiving, unglamorized portrayal of the false pieties of a hawkish patriotism.

Similarly, for Robert Sherwood, another regular, the “theater of war” was no Broadway stage set, but rather a personal reckoning with the senselessness of self-inflicted human suffering. After being rejected from the Navy and Army because of his height (he was almost 6 feet 7 inches), he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was shipped to France. Sherwood experienced the horrors of trench warfare, was a victim of a gas attack, became injured after falling into a German booby trap filled with stakes and barbed wire, and witnessed the injury and death of fellow soldiers in the thousands. At Algonquin lunches and in his work as the editor for the humor magazine Life, Sherwood let his wit unfurl. But in his commentaries on film we see the seriousness of his moral obligations as a critic. Especially with movies about war, he argued, “it is quite important” to “get the record straight, and make sure that nothing goes down to posterity which will mislead future generations into believing that this age of ours was anything to brag about.”

For the journalist and poet Alice Duer Miller, the lunchtime battle of the wits at the Algonquin Hotel was a mere sideshow to the real battlefront for feminists like herself. Twenty years older than most of the Algonquin crowd, Miller was a veteran of the fight for women’s suffrage. She rose to prominence through her column for The New York Tribune, starting in 1914, which featured commentary, news items, poetry and fictionalized conversations about female inequality — all leavened with sarcasm and irony. This inspired her 1915 collection, “Are Women People?,” in which she ridiculed anti-suffragist arguments as well as progressives’ blind spots, like those that kept Woodrow Wilson from endorsing a woman’s right to vote during his first term.

Miller’s humor best expressed itself not in verbal karate chops at the Algonquin lunch table but rather as feminist satire. With tongue in cheek, she dismissed women’s fight for suffrage as “such nonsense” and tried to spare women the fate of all the silly men in history struggling for self-sovereignty. “Poor Washington, who meant so well / And Nathan Hale and William Tell” as well as poor “Garibaldi and Kossuth,” who foolishly “threw away their youth.” As Miller saw it, “They could not get it through their heads / That if they stayed tucked up in beds / Avoiding politics and strife / They’d lead a pleasant, peaceful life.” Miller admonished her “dear sisters” to “never make / Such a ridiculous mistake / But teach our children o’er and o’er / That liberty is just a chore.”


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bryan, J., 3d. Merry Gentlemen (and One Lady). New York: Atheneum, 1985.

Gaines, James R. Wit's End: Days and Nights of the Algonquin Round Table. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.

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The Algonquin Round Table New York: A Historical Guide

After serving in the Army, Alexander Woollcott went back to the New York Times in the summer of 1919. It was a few Broadway publicists that set events in motion that would lead to the formation of the Algonquin Round Table.

“That is the thing about New York,” wrote Dorothy Parker in 1928. “It is always a little more than you had hoped for. Each day, there, is so definitely a new day.”

Now you can journey back there, in time, to a grand city teeming with hidden bars, luxurious movie palaces, and dazzling skyscrapers. In these places, Dorothy Parker and her cohorts in the Vicious Circle at the infamous Algonquin Round Table sharpened their wit, polished their writing, and captured the energy and elegance of the time.

Robert Benchley, Parker’s best friend, became the first managing editor of Vanity Fair before Irving Berlin spotted him onstage in a Vicious Circle revue and helped launch his acting career. Edna Ferber, an occasional member of the group, wrote the Pulitzer-winning bestseller So Big as well as Show Boat and Giant. Jane Grant pressed her first husband, Harold Ross, into starting The New Yorker. Neysa McMein, reputedly “rode elephants in circus parades and dashed from her studio to follow passing fire engines.” Dorothy Parker wrote for Vanity Fair and Vogue before ascending the throne as queen of the Round Table, earning everlasting fame (but rather less fortune) for her award-winning short stories and unforgettable poems. Woollcott, the centerpiece of the group, worked as drama critic for the Times and the World, wrote profiles of his friends for The New Yorker, and lives on today as Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Explore their favorite salons and saloons, their homes and offices (most still standing), while learning about their colorful careers and private lives. Packed with archival photos, drawings, and other images–including never-before-published material–this illustrated historical guide includes current information on all locations. Use it to retrace the footsteps of the Algonquin Round Table, and you’ll discover that the golden age of Gotham still surrounds us.

The foreword is by Anthony Melchiorri, creator and host of “Hotel Impossible” on the Travel Channel, and former general manager of the Algonquin Hotel.


Our Proud History

Algonquian is the name of the cultural linguistic group that includes many “tribes”, of which the Algonquins are one. In fact, the Algonquian linguistic group is spread over an extensive territory beyond the Ottawa River, perhaps stretching across a significant part of North America and comprising scores of Nations related by language and customs. Other members of the Algonquian cultural/linguistic group are Mississauga, Ojibwe, Cree, Abenaki, Micmac, Malecite, Montagnais, and the Blackfoot, among others.

WHAT DOES ‘ALGONQUIN’ MEAN?

The source of the word Algonquin is unclear. Some say it came from the Malecite word meaning “they are our relatives,” which would suggest Algonquins were part of a broad group of native peoples. Others say Algonquin means “at the place of spearing fishes and eels from the bow of a canoe”. Another interpretation is “those that are dancing.”

The website of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, states:
“The arrival of Europeans severely disrupted the life of the Algonquins, the Native people who lived in the Ottawa Valley at the time. By the mid-seventeenth century, several deadly diseases had been introduced, and great numbers of Algonquins perished. Struggles with the neighbouring Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy for control of water routes to the rich fur resources of the hinterland resulted in political intrigue and armed conflict. Together, these factors changed the way of life of the Ottawa Valley Algonquins forever.”

THE ARRIVAL OF EUROPEANS

The Algonquins were on the Ottawa River and its tributary valleys when the French moved into the area. Samuel de Champlain made contact with the Algonquins in 1603 shortly after he established the first permanent French settlement on the St. Lawrence at Tadoussac. In 1610, Algonquin guides accompanied Étienne Brûlé on his voyages to the interior of Canada.

It was the start of deep involvement by the Algonquins with the French in the fur trade. Every fur trader, who hoped to be successful in exploring the interior of Canada, prepared for the journey by familiarizing himself with the Algonquin language, since it was recognized as the root language for many other Aboriginal languages.

Today, the political boundary between Quebec and Ontario exists, but in those days, as today, Algonquins lived on both sides of the Ottawa River. In these early days, they were semi-nomadic, moving from one place to the next in search of food from hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering.

Travel was by foot and by birch bark canoe in the summer months and toboggans and snowshoes in the winter. Clothing and tents were made from animal skins, though tents, also known as wigwams, were sometimes made of birch bark. During the summer months, groups gathered along the river to fish, hunt and socialize. When winter arrived, groups spread out into smaller hunting camps made up of large families. The climate was harsh and starvation was not uncommon.

THE FUR TRADE

When he first met the Algonquins at Quebec, Samuel de Champlain was so impressed with the Algonquins’ furs that he explored the St. Lawrence as far west as the Lachine Rapids. Champlain left for France shortly afterwards, but upon his return in 1608, he immediately moved his fur trade upstream to a new post to shorten the distance that the Algonquins were required to travel for trade.

Champlain again encountered Algonquins in the land claim area in 1613 and 1615 when he travelled up the Ottawa River. Champlain again encountered Algonquins in the land claim area in 1613 and 1615 when he traveled up the Ottawa River. They were living in regional groups around the Madawaska, Muskrat Lake, Morrison Island, along the Ottawa River above and below Morrison Island, and also along the Mattawa to Lake Nipissing. The National Atlas of Canada’s map “Canada Native People 1630” published in 1988 shows Algonquin regional groups in the land claim area, including the Matouweskarini, Keinouche (Quenongein), Ottagoutouemin, Onontcharonon, and Nipissings at Lake Nipissing.

Champlain was anxious to conclude treaties with both the Algonquins and their Montagnais allies, both of whom were allied against the feared Iroquois Confederacy. The Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy included Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca they were later joined by the Tuscarora to become the Six Nations.

Champlain felt a treaty with the Algonquins would preclude competition from his European rivals, who were mainly the Dutch but also the English. The Algonquins, Montagnais, and their Huron allies, were reluctant to commit themselves to the long, dangerous journey to trading posts north of the Ottawa River unless the French were willing to help them in their war against other members of the Iroquois Confederacy. In this, the French provided support and gained great commercial opportunities.

Fur from the Great Lakes flowed down the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers to the French during the years that followed, and the Algonquins and their allies dominated the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys. However, the Iroquois remained a constant threat, and in winning the trade and friendship of the Algonquins, the French had made a dangerous enemy for themselves.

It did not take long for the focus of the fur trade to move farther west, because the French had already learned about the trapping areas to the west controlled by the Hurons, who were Algonquin allies against the Iroquois. The quantity and quality of the fur available from the Hurons could not be ignored, and in 1614 the French and Hurons signed a formal treaty of trade and alliance at Quebec.

THE RETURN OF THE IROQUOIS

The following year, Champlain made his second journey up the Ottawa River to the Huron villages south of Georgian Bay. While there, he participated in a Huron-Algonquin attack on the Oneida and Onondaga villages (these tribes were part of the Iroquois Nation Confederacy), confirming in the minds of the Iroquois (in case they still had doubts) that the French were their enemies.

The Iroquois, who had been displaced from the St. Lawrence Valley by the Algonquins, Montagnais and Hurons before the French had come to North America, had never accepted their loss of this territory as permanent. The Iroquois by this time had exhausted the beaver in their traditional homeland and needed additional hunting territory to maintain their position with the Dutch, who at that time were transporting their purchases through modern day New York. Their inability to satisfy the demand for beaver was the very reason the Dutch had tried in 1624 to open trade with the Algonquins and Montagnais.

For the Iroquois, the obvious direction for expansion was north, but the alliance of the Hurons and Algonquins with the French made this impossible. The Iroquois at first attempted diplomacy to gain permission, but the Hurons and Algonquins refused, and with no other solution available, the Iroquois resorted to force.

By 1630 both the Algonquins and Montagnais needed French help to fight the invader, but this was not available. Taking advantage of a European war between Britain and France, Sir David Kirke captured Quebec in 1629, and the British held Canada until 1632 when it was returned to France by the Treaty of St. Germaine en Laye.

These three years were a disaster for the French allies. Since their own trade with the Dutch was not affected, the Iroquois were able to reverse their losses of territory in the St. Lawrence Valley. They drove the Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. Lawrence.

DIVISION OF ALLIES

When they returned to Quebec in 1632, the French attempted to restore the previous balance of power along the St. Lawrence by providing firearms to their Algonquin and Montagnais allies. However, the initial sales were restricted to Christian converts which did not confer any real advantage to the Algonquin. The roving Algonquin bands had proven resistant to the initial missionary efforts of the “Black Robes” and the Jesuits had concentrated instead on the Montagnais and Hurons.

But trouble continued as the Algonquins developed divisions among themselves over religion. The Jesuits were not above using the lure of firearms to help with conversions. Many Algonquin converts to the new religion left the Ottawa Valley and settled first at Trois Rivieres and then Sillery. This weakened the main body of traditional Algonquins defending the trade route through the Ottawa Valley. The consequences quickly became apparent.

The Dutch had reacted to the French arming their native allies with large
sales of firearms to the Mohawks, who passed these weapons along to the
other Iroquois, and the fur trade degenerated into an arms race. After seven years of increasing violence, a peace was arranged in 1634. The Algonquins used this period to start trading with the Dutch in New York, a definite “no-no” so far as the Iroquois were concerned, and the war resumed.

A WAR AMONGST TRIBES

Weakened by the departure of Christian converts to Trois Rivieres and Sillery, the Algonquins could not stop the onslaught that followed. Iroquois offensives, during 1636 and 1637, drove the Algonquins farther north into the upper Ottawa Valley and forced the Montagnais east towards Quebec. Only a smallpox epidemic, which began in New England during 1634 and then spread to New York and the St. Lawrence Valley, slowed the fighting.

A real escalation in hostilities occurred in 1640 when British traders on the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts attempted to lure the Mohawks from the Dutch with offers of guns. The Dutch responded to this by providing the Mohawks (and thus the Iroquois) with as many of the latest, high-quality firearms as they wanted.

Some Algonquin tribesmen such as the Weskarini along the lower Ottawa River were forced to abandon their villages and move north and east. By the spring of 1642, the Mohawks and their allies had succeeded in completely driving many groups of Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. Lawrence and lower Ottawa Rivers, while in the west, other allies (Seneca, Oneida and Onondaga) fought the Hurons.

To shorten the travel distance for Huron and Algonquin traders, the French in 1642 established a new post at Montreal (Ville Marie). However, this only seemed to make matters worse. The Iroquois soon sent war parties north into the Ottawa Valley to attack the Huron and Algonquin canoe fleets transporting fur to Montreal and Quebec. Other setbacks to the Algonquins and Hurons brought the French fur trade to a complete standstill, and Champlain’s successor Charles Huault de Montmagmy had little choice but to seek peace.

A MOMENT OF PEACE

Montmagmy eventually agreed to a treaty permitting the French to resume their fur trade but it contained a secret agreement requiring French neutrality in future wars between their Algonquin and Huron allies and the Iroquois. This agreement was in exchange for a Mohawk promise to refrain from attacks on the Algonquin and Montagnais villages where the Jesuits had missions.

There was a pause in the fighting during which Huron and Algonquin furs flowed east to Quebec in unprecedented amounts, while the Iroquois renewed efforts to gain the permission of the Hurons to hunt north of the St. Lawrence. Refused after two years of failed diplomacy, the Iroquois resorted to total war, but this time with the assurance that the French would remain neutral. The Mohawks chose to ignore the distinction between Christian and non-Christian Algonquins and almost exterminated a group near Trois Rivieres in 1647.

The Iroquois overran and completely destroyed the Hurons. During 1650, the remaining Algonquins in the upper Ottawa Valley were attacked and overrun. There is evidence that some Algonquins remained in the headwaters of the tributary rivers. During the following years, the French tried to continue their fur trade by asking native traders to bring their furs to Montreal. Iroquois war parties roamed the length of the Ottawa River during the 1650s and 60s, making travel extremely dangerous for anyone not part of large, heavily-armed convoys.

SEVEN FIRES OF CAUGHNAWAGA

By 1664, the French had decided they had endured enough of living in constant fear of the Iroquois. The arrival of regular French troops in Quebec that year and their subsequent attacks on villages in the Iroquois homeland brought a lasting peace in 1667.

This not only allowed French traders and missionaries to travel to the western Great Lakes, but permitted many of the other Algonquins to begin a gradual return to the Ottawa Valley. During the next fifty years the French established trading posts for the Algonquins at Abitibi and Temiscamingue at the north end of the Ottawa Valley. Missions were also built at Ile aux Tourtes and St. Anne de Boit de Ille, and in 1721 French missionaries convinced approximately 250 Nipissings and 100 Algonquins to join the 300 Christian Mohawks at the Sulpician mission village of Lake of Two Mountains (Lac des Deux Montagnes) just west of Montreal.

For the most part, the Algonquin converts remained at Oka only during the summer and spent their winters at their traditional hunting territories in the upper Ottawa Valley. This arrangement served the French well, since the Algonquin converts at Oka maintained close ties with the northern bands and could call upon the inland warriors to join them in case of war with the British and Iroquois League.

All of the Algonquin converts were committed to the French cause through a formal alliance known as the Seven Nations of Canada, or the Seven Fires of Caughnawaga. Members included: Caughnawaga (Mohawk), Lake of the Two Mountains (Mohawk, Algonquin, and Nipissing), St. Francois (Sokoki, Pennacook, and New England Algonquian), Becancour (Eastern Abenaki), Oswegatchie (Onondaga and Oneida), Lorette (Huron), and St. Regis (Mohawk).

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF BRITISH CONTROL

The Algonquins remained important French allies until the French and Indian War as the Seven Years’ War was known in North America (1755-63). By the summer of 1760, the British had captured Quebec and were close to taking the last French stronghold at Montreal. The war was over in North America, and the British had won the race for control of North America. In mid-August, the Algonquins and eight other former French allies met with the British representative, Sir William Johnson, and signed a treaty in which they agreed to remain neutral in futures wars between the British and French.

This sealed the fate of the French at Montreal and North America. After the war, Johnson used his influence with the Iroquois to merge the Iroquois League and the Seven Nations of Canada into a single alliance in the British interest. The sheer size of this group was an important reason the British were able to crush the Pontiac Rebellion around the Upper Great Lakes in 1763 and quell the unrest created by the encroachment of white settlers in the Ohio Country during the years which followed. This sheer size was also a factor in King George’s decision to proclaim that Indian territory should be reserved for their use in perpetuity.

Johnson died suddenly in 1774, but his legacy lived on, and the Algonquins fought alongside the British during the American Revolution (1775-83) participating in St. Leger’s campaign in the Mohawk Valley in 1778. The Algonquin homeland was supposed to be protected from settlement by the Proclamation of 1763, but after the revolution ended in a rebel victory, thousands of British Loyalists (Tories) left the new United States and settled in Upper Canada.

A LOSS OF LAND

To provide land for these newcomers, the British government in 1783 chose to ignore the Algonquins in the lower Ottawa Valley and purchased parts of eastern Ontario from Mynass, a Mississauga (Ojibwe) chief. Despite this, Algonquin warriors fought beside the British during the War of 1812 (1812-14) and helped defeat the Americans at the Battle of Chateauguay. Their reward for this service was the continued loss of their land to individual land sales and encroachment by British immigrants moving into the valley.

The worse blow occurred when the British in 1822 were able to induce the Mississauga near Kingston on Lake Ontario to sell most of what remained of the traditional Algonquin land in the Ottawa Valley. And for a second time, no one bothered to consult the Algonquin who had never surrendered their claim to the area but still received nothing from its sale.

Further losses occurred during the 1840s as lumber interests moved into the Upper Ottawa Valley. Legislation in 1850 and purchases by the Canadian government eventually established nine reserves in Quebec. A tenth in Ontario was established in 1873 at Golden Lake (now known as Pikwàkanagàn ) for Algonquin use and occupation. These reserves only secured a tiny portion of what once had been the original homeland of the Algonquins.

TODAY

Algonquins continue to live on the Ottawa River and its tributaries. These include the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and the Algonquin communities of Antoine, Bonnechere, Greater Golden Lake, Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini, Mattawa/North Bay, Ottawa, Shabot Obaadjiwan, Snimikobi and Whitney and Area. Learn more about the Algonquins in present day Ontario here.

The following historical documents are available for you to view and download:


Watch the video: The Algonquin Round Table - Sit at an Iconic Literary Landmark Extended Interview