George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 20 October 1789]

Tuesday 20th. After breakfast, accompanied by Colo. Wadsworth, Mr. Ellsworth 1 and Colo. Jesse Root,2 I viewed the Woolen Manufactury at this place which seems to be going on with Spirit. There Broadcloths are not of the first quality, as yet, but they are good; as are their Coatings, Cassimers, Serges and everlastings. Of the first that is broad-cloth I ordered a suit to be sent to me at New York and of the latter a whole piece to make breeches for my servants. All the parts of this business are performed at the Manufactury except the Spinning—this is done by the Country people who are paid by the cut.3 Hartford is more compactly built than Middletown and contains more Souls; the computed Number of which amount to about dble. The number of Houses in Middletown are said to be 250 or 60. These reckoning eight persons to a house would make two thousand at least. The depth of Water which Vessels can bring to the last place, is about ten feet; and is as much as there is over Seabrook bar. From Middletown to Hartford there is not more than 6 feet Water. At Middletown there is one Episcopal & two Congregational Churches. In Hartford there is none of the first and 2 of the latter. Dined and drank Tea at Colo. Wadsworth and about 7 Oclock received from, & answered the Address of the Town of Hartford.4

1Oliver Ellsworth (1745–1807) was at this time Federalist senator from Connecticut. A native of Windsor, he had attended Princeton, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1771. A delegate to the Continental Congress 1777–84, he served on a number of committees which had brought him into contact with GW. Ellsworth was a member of the Connecticut delegation at the Constitutional Convention and played a prominent role in the convention’s activities, particularly in negotiating the so-called Connecticut compromise. His home, Elmwood, was at South Windsor, Conn., where his wife, Abigail Wolcott Ellsworth (1756–1818), was a noted hostess.

2Jesse Root (1736–1822), a Hartford lawyer, was a delegate to the Continental Congress 1778–83. In 1776, when Root was in command of a company of Connecticut militia, GW had sent him to inform Connecticut officials of Howe’s landing on Staten Island (GW to Root, 7 Aug. 1776, and GW to Jonathan Trumbull, 7 Aug. 1776, DLC:GW).

3The Hartford Woolen Manufactory began with a capital of £1,200 which by 1791 had been expanded to £2,800 and, although not incorporated, had received encouragement from the state of Connecticut in the form of tax exemptions and bounties. GW’s examination of the new textile manufactory increased his interest in the possibility of introducing such a system of manufacturing in his own state or at least offering inducements to Virginia farmers to increase the number of sheep. He wrote Gov. Beverley Randolph of Virginia: “By a little Legislative encouragement, the Farmers of Connecticut have, in two years past, added one hundred thousand to their former stock. In my late tour thro’ the Eastern States, I found that the Manufacturers of Woolens (for the Manufacture of Woolens is carried on there to very considerable extent and advantage) preferred the Wool raised in Virginia for its fineness, to that raised in more Northern parts of the Continent. If a greater quantity of Wool could be produced and if the hands (which are often in a manner idle) could be employ’d in the manufacturing it; a spirit of industry might be promoted, a great diminution might be made in the annual expences of individual families, and the Public would eventually be exceedingly benefitted” (GW to Randolph, 22 Nov. 1789, DLC:GW). In the spring of 1789 GW had received from the directors of the Hartford Manufactory “A Pattern of fine Cloth of our Fabrick which the Company flatter themselves Your Excellency will Receive as A Token of their support & Esteem” (Daniel Hinsdale to GW, 23 Mar. 1789, and GW to Hinsdale, 8 April 1789, DLC:GW).

4The address of the mayor, aldermen, and common council of Hartford and GW’s reply are in DLC:GW.

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