According to the reports, it was a two-year-old elephant. The animal was an attraction after its arrival to New York, because elephants hadn`t been previously seen in these areas.
It seems that the first elephant in the USA was unloaded at a port of New York on this day in 1796. The animal was brought from distant India to New York by ship. The ship with the elephant set sail from Calcutta in the previous year (in December). It circled the south of Africa, and sailed across the island of Saint Helena, then came to North America. The ship was called America, and its captain was Jacob Crowninshield.
According to the reports, it was a two-year-old elephant. The animal was some kind of attraction after arrival to New York, because elephants hadn`t been previously seen in these areas.
For comparison, Napoleon Bonaparte was a young general in 1796 (the wedding of Napoleon and Josephine also took place in 1796). Empress Catherine the Great ruled Russia during that time, and the famous George Washington was the President of the United States.
It is interesting to note that the western border of the United States was then on the Mississippi River, and the territory west of the river nominally belonged to France (Louisiana). The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory in the 19th century, thereby roughly doubling their territory.