Benjamin Huntington to John Chester14
Norwich [Connecticut] August 24th 1791
Your Letter of the 10th Instant has been Recd but being Necessarily Abscent last week could not Attend to the Subject you mention untill Monday last and being on the same Business this Day I found Col Leffingwell15 on the Same Employ through the Request of Mr. Learnand16 & we have agreed on a Report as near as we can state one, not only for this Town but for the whole County N London (exceptd) which you will Receive in a Short Time from him. It is Impossible to State the amount of Articles Manufactured in the Several Branches with Accuracy but have done it as near as we can.
There are no Manufactures of Consequence in Stonington Groton Lyme Colchester Franklin Lisbon or Montville saving such as are mentioned in Mr. Leffingwells report. Ship Building and the Cod fishing are the Principal in Stonington but I Suppose these are what the Secretary has had a better account of than we can Collect. The Domestic Manufacture of Coarse Linins and Wollens is very considerable more than Sufficient for the Consuption of farmers Families. As to Inpediments and Encouragements I know of None but what you are Perfectly Acquainted with. The Impediments Complained of by the Mechanics are the assessments on the Trade of Facutised Persons,17 the Poll tax on apprentices,18 Equipments & Loss of Time for Military Service and the want of an Increase of Duties on Goods Imported which might be manufactured here.
I will Remember the Design of Congress in Directing the Secretary to Report was the better to Enable the Next Session of Congress to judge what Manufactures to Encourage and to adopt measures for that Purpose (This will extend Principa⟨ll⟩y to Articles Imported which might as well be made here) and to Increase the Commerce between the Northern & Southern States & by that means at once to Increase our Internal Trade & Strengthen the Union as also to promote an Acquaintance and assimulation of Manners among the People in the several States. The good Effects of this Design when accomplished were very Obvious.
I am sir with Esteem & Regard your Friend & Hume Servt
14. ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
Huntington was a member of a prominent Norwich mercantile family and a member of the Connecticut Council.
15. Christopher Leffingwell, a prominent Norwich merchant and stocking manufacturer.
16. Amasa Learned had served in the Connecticut General Assembly and in 1791 was elected to the Federal House of Representatives.
17. The tax laws of Connecticut provided for “assessments proportioned to the estimated gains or profits arising from any, and all, lucrative professions, trades, and occupations, excepting compensations to public offices, the profits of husbandry, and common labor for hire.” See ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Finance, I, 423. The term “faculty” was applied to this tax.
18. The poll tax in Connecticut applied to two groups, persons twenty-one to seventy years old and those eighteen to twenty-one years old (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Finance, I, 454). Apprentices would fall into the latter group, and presumably their masters would be responsible for the payment of the taxes.