Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joshua Stow to Thomas Jefferson, 4 March 1817

From Joshua Stow

Middletown Ct March 4–1817.


Permit me, in the name of the Connecticut Society for the encouragement of American Manufactures, to enclose to you their Address and Constitution.

I am, very respectfully Your Obedient Servant

J Stow

RC (CSmH: JF-BA); addressed: “The Hon, Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, Virginia”; franked; postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Mar. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Address of the Connecticut Society for the Encouragement of American Manufactures (Middletown, 1817; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 6 [no. 223]; TJ’s copy in DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections), asserting that the encouragement of American manufactures should not be a partisan issue; calling for impartial support of agriculture, manufacturing, and commerce; arguing that the protection and encouragement of these domestic endeavors is the best defense against dependence on Europe; demonstrating that domestic manufacturing will strengthen the bonds between the northern and southern states; warning that New England risks depopulation unless it acts; noting that the society will encourage Americans to “compare American fabrics with foreign, and when the former, of equal worth, are offered at equal price, let them be purchased in preference to the latter” (p. 22); observing that although Connecticut has an advantage in manufacturing and a comparatively numerous population, its produce is “barely sufficient for its own consumption,” and adding that while “carrying and foreign commerce are permanently impaired,” the “Coasting trade will derive its principal aid from the manufactures of our country. They are the last, best hope of Connecticut” (p. 22); and concluding with the society’s constitution and slate of officers as adopted at Middletown, 18 Feb. 1817.

Joshua Stow (1762–1842), public official, served as commissary agent on Moses Cleaveland’s survey of the Connecticut Western Reserve in 1796. Stow purchased an Ohio township within that land claim and named it after himself. In 1813 he was a director of the Middletown Bank, and he became a federal tax collector in Middletown that same year. Stow served in 1818 as a delegate to a Connecticut constitutional convention, where he was among those selected to frame and draft the constitution. A strong anti-Federalist, he lobbied for protection of religious freedom, and he eventually won an award for damages when he sued the editor of the New Haven Connecticut Journal for libel after it published incendiary remarks on that subject attributed to him. Stow was a state senator in 1820, and he served as postmaster for Middletown from at least 1817 until 1841 (OClWHi: Stow Papers; Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio [1890–91], 3:337–8; Richard J. Purcell, Connecticut in Transition, 1775–1818 [1918], 376, 379, 380; J. Hammond Trumbull, Historical Notes on The Constitutions of Connecticut, 1639–1818 [1901], 52, 54, 56, 57; Report of the case of Joshua Stow vs. Sherman Converse, for a Libel [New Haven, 1822]; The Connecticut Register, for the Year of our Lord, 1813 [New London, (1812)], 134; The Connecticut Register, and United States Calendar, for the Year of our Lord 1817 [New London, (1816)], 150, 174; The Connecticut Register, and United States Calendar, for the Year of our Lord 1820 [New London, (1819)], 49; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:438, 440, 4:610, 615, 5:335 [13, 20 Dec. 1813, 16, 20 Feb. 1837, 3 Feb. 1841]; Middletown Constitution, 12 Oct. 1842; gravestone inscription in Middlefield Cemetery, Middlesex Co., Conn.).

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