American Historic Towns
Historic Towns of New England
Edited by Lyman P. Powell
G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
"THE BIRTHPLACE OF AMERICAN
By MARY K. TALCOTT
AMONG the historic cities of New England, Hartford claims a foremost place. Not only was its settlement of great consequence at the time, but for historical importance and far reaching results this colony's claims to attention are second only to those of Plymouth and Boston. The foundation of Hartford was a further application and development of the ideas that brought the Puritans to this country, and, to quote the historian, Johnston,-
"Here is the first practical assertion of the right of the people, not only to choose, but to limit the powers of their rulers, an assertion which lies at the foundation of the American system. . . . It is on the banks of the Connecticut, under the mighty preaching of Thomas Hooker, and in the constitution to which he gave life, if not form, that we draw the first breath of that atmosphere which is now so familiar to us. The birthplace of American democracy is Hartford."
This constitution, first promulgated in Hartford, was the first written constitution in history which was adopted by a people and which also organized a government. John Fiske says:
"The compact drawn up in the Mayflower's cabin was not, in the strict sense, a constitution, which is a document defining and limiting the functions of government. Magna Charta partook of the nature of a written constitution as far as it went, but it did not create a government."
On the 14th of January, 1639, the freemen of the three towns, Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, assembled at Hartford, and drew up a constitution, consisting of eleven articles, which they called the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut," and under this law the people of Connecticut lived for nearly two centuries, as the Charter granted by King Charles II., in 1662, was simply a royal recognition of the government actually in operation. Another writer says:
" We honor the limitations of despotism which are written in the twelve tables; the repression of monarchical power in Magna Charta, in the Bill of Rights, and in that whole undefinable creation, as invisible and intangible as the atmosphere but like it full of oxygen and electricity, which we call the British Constitution. But in our Connecticut Constitution we find no limitation upon monarchy, for monarchy is unrecognized; the limitations are upon the legislature, the courts, and executive. It is pure democracy acting through representation, and imposing organic limitations. Even the suffrage qualification of church membership, which was required by our older sister Colony of Massachusetts, was omitted. Here in a New England wilderness a few pilgrims of the pilgrims, alive to the inspirations of the common law and of the British Constitution, so full of Christianity that they felt the great throb of its heart of human brotherhood, and so full of Judaism that they believed themselves in some special sense the people of God, made a written constitution, to be a supreme and organic law for their State"
But for the immediate inspiration of this document we must look to a 'lecture," preached by Mr. Hooker on Thursday, May 21, 1638, before the legislative body of freemen. Dr. Bacon says of it:
"That sermon, by Thomas Hooker, is the earliest known suggestion of a fundamental law, enacted, not by royal charter nor by concession from any previously existing government, but by the people themselves, a primary and supreme law by which the government is constituted, and which not only provides for the free choice of magistrates by the people, but also sets the bounds and limitations of the power and place to which each magistrate is called."
But we must know something of a people to whom such doctrines were preached of a people capable of receiving and applying such truths. It is said that three kingdoms were sifted to furnish the men who settled New England, and it may also be said that the Massachusetts Colony was sifted to supply the Connecticut settlers. Three of the eight Massachusetts towns, Dorchester, Watertown, and Newtown (now Cambridge), were not in full agreement with the other five, especially on the fundamental feature of the Massachusetts polity, the limitation of office holding and the voting privilege to church members. At first the majority were unwilling to grant the minority "liberty to remove." John Haynes was made Governor of Massachusetts in 1635, probably with the hope of retaining his friends in the Colony. But their desire to leave was too strong; small parties of emigrants made their way to the banks of the Connecticut during the year 1635, but the main body of the colonists did not leave until the spring of 1636. Dr. Benjamin Trumbull, the first historian of Connecticut, writing more than one hundred years ago, says:
"About the beginning of June Mr. Hooker, Mr. Stone, and about a hundred men, women, and children took their departure from Cambridge, and travelled more than a hundred miles throb' a hideous and trackless wilderness to Hartford. They had no guide but their compass; made their way over mountains, thro' swamps, thickets, and rivers, which were not passable but with great difficulty. They had no cover but the heavens, nor any lodgings but those which simple nature afforded them. They drove with them a hundred and sixty head of cattle, and by the way subsisted on the milk of their cows. Mrs. Hooker was borne through the wilderness upon a litter. The people generally carried their packs, arms, and some utensils. They were nearly a fortnight on their journey."
Trumbull adds: "This adventure was the more remarkable, as many of this company were persons of figure, who had lived in England in honor, affluence, and delicacy, and were entire strangers to fatigue and danger." When dismissing these colonists Massachusetts sent with them a governing committee, or commissioners, as they were called. At a meeting of these commissioners, held February 21, 1637, the plantation, which had been called Newtown, was named Hartford. As Governor Haynes was born in the immediate vicinity of the English Hertford, he probably had much influence in naming the new plantation. On the nth of April, 1639, the first general meeting of the freemen under the constitution was held, and John Haynes was elected the first Governor of Connecticut. This selection shows his active sympathy and cooperation with Hooker, and we can entirely agree with Bancroft, when he says: "They who judge of men by their services to the human race will never cease to honor the memory of Hooker, and of Haynes."
But the soil of Hartford has had other occupants; not only the aboriginal owners of the soil, for when the English came they found a Dutch trading post established on what is yet known as Dutch Point. The English claimed the territory now comprehended in the State of Connecticut by virtue of the discoveries of John and Sebastian Cabot in 1497, and more especially in 1498. This territory was included in the grant to the Plymouth Company in 1606, but that organization undertook no work of colonization. When the settlers of 1635 came they took possession of this portion of the valley of the Connecticut under the English flag, and claimed the territory by virtue of patents from the English crown. They paid Sequassen, the Indian chief, who ruled the river Indians, for his lands, and when the Pequots, his overlords, disputed Sequassen's right to sell, the colonists attacked them, and practically exterminated the tribe. The Dutch settlement originated from discoveries by Adrian Block, who sailed through the Sound in 1614, and up the Connecticut, or Fresh River, as he called it, in his sloop, The Unrest, as far as the falls, and upon his report to the States general, a company was formed for trading in the New Netherlands. Only limited privileges were granted to this company, and it was afterwards superseded by the Dutch West India Company, to whom the exclusive governmental and commercial rights for the territory were granted. The Dutch were influenced much more by the desire for a lucrative trade with the natives than by any wish to found a colony, and in 1633 they built a fort on the spot still called Dutch Point, in Hartford, for the purpose of protecting their traffic with the Indians, which they had been carrying on for some ten years. This fort was known as the House of Hope, and when the English came they settled all about it, but did not interfere with the Dutch occupation. Naturally, there was friction between the two nationalities, and petty trespasses of various kinds were charged by both parties. Finally, after repeated complaints, the Commissioners of the United Colonies, Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven, met at Hartford, September it, 165o, with Peter Stuyvesant, Director of the New Netherlands, to consult upon the proper boundaries of the Dutch jurisdiction. The matter was referred to arbitrators, and resulted in a transfer to the English of all the territory lying west of the Connecticut except the land in Hartford actually occupied by the Dutch, the New Netherlands taking the country east of the river. But this arrangement did not last long, as, in 1653, war was declared between England and Holland, and the colonies were required by Parliament to treat the Dutch as the declared enemies of the Commonwealth of England. Trumbull says:
"In conformity to this order the General Court was convened, and an act passed sequestering the Dutch house, lands, and property of all kinds at Hartford, for the benefit of the Commonwealth; and the Court also prohibited all persons, whatsoever, from improving the premises by virtue of any former claim or title had, made, or given, by any of the Dutch nation, or any other person, without their approbation."
Even after this change of rulers a few of the Dutch traders remained in Hartford, as is shown by references to them on the records, but they all finally returned to the New Netherlands.
During the next thirty years the little settlement on the banks of the Connecticut continued to grow and prosper, having very little to do with the affairs of the outside world. In 1675 and 1676, King Philip's War caused great alarm and anxiety for a time, but after this conflict was concluded by the subjugation of the Indians, peace and quietness again reigned. Soon after the accession of James II., in 1685, this quiet was however rudely disturbed by the issue of a writ of quo warrant° against the Governor and Company of Connecticut, summoning them to appear before his Majesty, and show by what warrant they exercised certain powers. In reply, the Colony pleaded the Charter, granted by the King's royal brother, made strong professions of their loyalty, and begged a continuance of their privileges. Two more writs of quo warrant° were issued against Connecticut, but she still refused to surrender her Charter, and reelected Robert Treat as Governor. The Charter of Massachusetts had been vacated, and Chalmers, in his History of the American Colonies, says that "Rhode Island and Connecticut were two little republics embosomed in a great empire." Rhode Island, however, submitted to his Majesty, so Connecticut stood alone in refusing to surrender her Charter. In the latter part of 1686, Sir Edmund Andros arrived in Boston, bearing his royal commission as Governor of New England. After some correspondence with Governor Treat, who still stood firm, he left Boston for Hartford, with several members of his Council and a small troop of horse. When he arrived in Hartford, October 31, 1687, he was escorted by the Hartford County Troop, and met with great courtesy by the Governor and his assistants. Sir Edmund was conducted to the Governor's seat in the council chamber, and at once demanded the Charter. Trumbull says:
"The tradition is that Governor Treat strongly represented the great expense and hardships of the colonists in planting the country, the blood and treasure which they had expended in defending it, both against the savages and foreigners; to what hardships and dangers he himself had been exposed for that purpose; and that it was like giving up his life now to surrender the patent and privileges so dearly bought, and so long enjoyed. The important affair was debated and kept in suspense until the evening, when the Charter was brought and laid upon the table, where the Assembly were sitting. By this time great numbers of people were assembled, and men sufficiently bold to enterprise whatever might be necessary, or expedient. The lights were instantly extinguished, and one Captain Wadsworth, of Hartford, in the most silent and secret manner carried off the Charter, and secreted it in a large hollow tree, fronting the house of the Honorable Samuel Wyllys, then one of the Magistrates of the Colony. The people appeared all peaceable and orderly. The candles were officiously relighted, but the patent was gone, and no discovery could be made of it, or of the person who had conveyed it away."
Sir Edmund was disconcerted, but declared the government of the colony to be in his own hands, annexed Connecticut to Massachusetts and the other New England colonies, appointed officers, and returned to Boston. Afters the downfall of Andros, in 1689, Governor Treat resumed his position as Governor of Connecticut, and the Charter reappeared from its seclusion, and continued to be the organic law of Connecticut, although in Parliament, during the remainder of the colonial period, various attempts were made to have it abrogated. But the Charter Oak, where tradition declared that the document was concealed, continued to be a sacred and venerated object until its fall, August 21, 1856.
A people that have no history are the happiest, therefore we may assume that Hartford was a happy and flourishing town during the remainder of the colonial period, and even during the Revolution there is but little to tell of Hartford. Its situation, so far removed from the seacoast, secured it from the attacks of the British troops, and it was for that very reason a safe and desirable place for the meetings of Generals Washington and Rochambeau, when they wished to arrange the plans for the campaigns that ended with the surrender of Yorktown. The first of these historic meetings took place September 17, 1780. Rochambeau came from Newport through Eastern Connecticut, and Washington rode from New Windsor on the Hudson with a guard of twenty two dragoons. The meeting took place in the public square on the site of the present post office, and as the two tall, fine looking commanders in chief approached each other bowing, an eye witness said that it was like the meeting of two nations. The following year another meeting took place at Wethersfield.
During the colonial period there was very little literary production in America, except sermons and theological treatises, and Hartford was no exception to this rule. Her first author was one of her founders, the Rev. Thomas Hooker, "The Light of the Western Churches." His writings consisted exclusively of sermons. They were first published in London, and but few have been reprinted in this country. No preacher of great reputation succeeded him, nor any writers whatever. But during the Revolution a star arose on the horizon, McFingal. The first part of the poem appeared as independent verses in the Connecticut Courant in 1775. General Gage had issued a fierce proclamation, threatening to exempt from general pardon some of the Continental leaders, and Trumbull's poem burlesqued the manifesto. It was at once reproduced in the Philadelphia papers, and undoubtedly did a very important work in stimulating the thought and passion of the American Revolution. About i 782 the whole work was published by Messrs. Hudson & Goodwin, "near the Great Bridge, Hartford." Tradition states that the scene of the "Town Meeting" refers to the old South Church in this city. Nathaniel Patten, an enterprising, and not over scrupulous printer in Hartford, issued a second edition of AcFingal, without the author's consent, and it is an interesting fact that out of this piracy of Trumbull's work here in Hartford grew the national copyright law. Trumbull and Noah Webster both exerted themselves strenuously in favor of such a law, and, in 1783, the General Assembly of Connecticut passed an "Act for the Encouragement of Literature and Genius," which secured to authors their copyright within the State. The personal exertions of Noah Webster in defense of his spelling book led to the passage of similar laws by the legislatures of other States, and finally to the passage of a general law by Congress, modelled on the Connecticut act of 1783. All the literature of that period in America bears the impress of the golden age of Queen Anne, the Spectator and the Tatter, Addison and Steele; and McFingal reminds the reader now of fludibras, now of the Dunciadt
John Trumbull was born in Watertown, Connecticut, then Westbury, April 24, 1750. Both on his father's side and his mother's he was of the pure Brahmin stock of New England, and through his mother he was related to Jonathan Edwards, Timothy Dwight, his fellow poet, and many other writers of a later time. He exhibited marvellous precocity, and, his father being engaged in preparing a youth of seventeen for examination at Yale, the boy of seven was so eager to join in the elder youth's studies that his father allowed him to go through the same course of Greek, Latin, and Mathematics. Both the lads passed, and were admitted members of the college, but the boy of seven was not allowed to proceed with his college course until he was older. He early began writing essays of a satirical nature, and while a tutor at his Alma Mater he wrote The Progress of Dulness, a keen and stinging satire on contemporary life. It also shows, like McFingal, the technical precision of the literary artist. The year 1774 Trumbull, spent in the law office of John Adams, in Boston, then returned to New Haven, and in 1781 took up his residence in Hartford, where he remained until 1825, when he went to Detroit to live with a married daughter, and died there in 1831. In his later life he gave up literature for the law, and was at different times State Attorney for Hartford County, Representative to the State Legislature, Judge of the Superior Court (1801-1819), and Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors (1808-1819).
In the first decade of our independence the "Hartford Wits" made this little provincial capital a brilliant intellectual centre, and an important focus of political influence. The original members of the association or club were, Dr. Lemuel Hopkins, John Trumbull, Joel Barlow, and David Humphreys. We may call it remarkable, because, at that time, when Boston was as barren of literary talent as she has since been prolific, this little town of three thousand inhabitants boasted at least four poets who had gained a national reputation. Hopkins was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1750, was a distinguished physician, and one of the founders of the Connecticut Medical Society. He died in Hartford in 1801, and his grave may be seen in the old Center burying ground. No edition of his collected poems has ever been published. They consisted in great part of his contributions to the Anarchiad', the Political Greenhouse, and the Echo, which were serial satires in verse by the Hartford Wits. The Anarchiad resembled the Rol/lad of Frere and Canning, and with the Echo contained a series of social and political satires. Hartford at this time, became and for twenty years thereafter was, the literary headquarters of the Federalist or Conservative party, which favored a strong, general government, and opposed French democracy. In consequence, as party feeling ran so high, it became a mark for obloquy and vituperation among the Jeffersonians, which gave it an honorable resemblance to Boston in the antislavery times.
David Humphreys was born in Derby, Connecticut, in 1753, served honorably during the Revolution, and had the distinction of being Washington's aid de camp. He also held, after the war, the position of secretary to the commissioners - Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams - appointed to negotiate treaties of commerce with various European powers. Joel Barlow is perhaps the best known of any of the Wits, and but a small portion of his career was passed in Hartford. He took up his residence in our town in 1787, just after leaving the army. He was then engaged in writing his best known poem, the epic Vision of Columbus, but he did much other literary work, and was also the editor of a weekly newspaper, called The American Mercury, for which he wrote many essays, said to be the precursors of the modern editorial. In 1787, he completed the Vision of Columbus, and it was published by subscription and dedicated to Louis XVI., King of France. During the next year, 1788, Barlow left Hartford to go abroad; he remained in Europe for seventeen years, and when he returned took up his residence in Washington. Finally, going abroad as Ambassador to France, he died in Poland, while following Napoleon then engaged in his Russian campaign. Richard Alsop and Theodore Dwight, Senior, were admitted into the coterie of the Hartford Wits, and wrote much of the Echo, and a few lines in this series were also contributed by Drs. Mason F. Cogswell and Elihu H. Smith. The Echo was a sort of Yankee Dunciad It contained many local allusions, as to the Blue Laws, the Windham Frogs, etc., and was also the vehicle of much political satire on the Democrats. Theodore Dwight, one of the Echo poets, was editor of the Connecticut Mirror, and also secretary of the famous Hartford Convention.
No political subject has ever been the theme of more gross misrepresentation or more constant reproach than the assembly of delegates from the New England States which met at Hartford in December, 1814. After the war of 1812 had continued two years, our public affairs were in a deplorable condition. The army intended for defending the sea coast had been sent to the borders to attack Canada; a British squadron was lying in the Sound to blockade the harbors on the Connecticut coast, and to intercept our coasting trade; the banks, south of New England, had suspended the payment of specie; our shipping lay in our harbors, embargoed, dismantled, and perishing; the Treasury of the United States was nearly exhausted, and a general disheartenment prevailed throughout the country. In this situation of affairs a number of gentlemen in Massachusetts believed that a convention of prominent men might do good. Many petitions from numerous towns in Massachusetts were received, stating the sufferings of the country in consequence of the embargo and the war, and Governor Strong summoned a special meeting of the Massachusetts Legislature in October, 1814, when a resolution was passed appointing delegates to a convention to be held in Hartford. The Connecticut Legislature was in session at the same time, and received a communication from the Massachusetts body, requesting them to join in appointing delegates to the convention. This they did, and seven delegates were sent. On December 15, 1814, the convention, numbering twenty six delegates, representing Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, met in the council chamber of the State House, now the City Hall of Hartford. Among the delegates were men of such assured position as Harrison Gray Otis, George Cabot, William Prescott, the father of the historian, and Stephen Longfellow, the father of the poet, from Massachusetts; Chauncey Goodrich, Governor John Treadwell, Roger Minot Sherman, and James Hillhouse, of Connecticut. Their deliberations continued for three weeks, and their sittings were held with closed doors, a fact which was brought up against them by their political adversaries as evidence of dark and nefarious designs. During the sessions a small body of recruits for the army, then in Hartford, were paraded in a threatening manner by the officer in command. The proceedings resulted in the adoption of a report and the passage of resolutions recommending amendments to the Constitution of the United States. Among the recommendations was one proposing that representative and direct taxation should be apportioned according to the respective numbers of free persons in the States, excluding slaves and Indians. This document was immediately published, and was read with great eagerness. Those who expected to discover sentiments of a seditious and treasonable nature were disappointed. The report expressed an ardent attachment to the integrity of the republic, and its sentiments were liberal and patriotic. A short time after the publication of this document the news of the declaration of peace was received. The people, without waiting to hear the provisions of the treaty, showed their joy by bonfires and illuminations, a striking commentary upon the character of the war and the general feeling about it. The war being over, the work of the Hartford Convention was no longer needed, and the jarring interests of the State and Federal governments were harmonized.
During the last century the chief business of Hartford was the trade with the West Indies. There was also some trafficking with Ireland and with Lisbon, timber being exported to the first named, and fish to the latter. From 1750 to 183o, Hartford not only imported goods from the West Indies, but was also a distributing centre for the surrounding country, and for the region that stretches northward to the sources of the Connecticut. During the first thirty years of this century the wharves on the river bank were bustling with traffic and lined with vessels, often three or four rows deep. Large warehouses extended along the banks of the river, where beef and pork were packed for the export trade, great quantities being brought down the river in brine, and inspected and repacked here. The numerous scows and flat boats in which the up river trade was carried on, were loaded on their return voyage with sugar, rum, molasses, coffee, salt and other West Indian commodities. S. G. Goodrich, in his Recollections of a Lifetime, describes the city as a centre of the West India trade, and as smelling of rum and molasses. The inland transportation of goods was carried on by lines of freight wagons running to Westfield, Granby, Monson, Brimfield, Norfolk, Canaan, and the towns in Berkshire County. There were also packet lines running to Boston, New York, Albany, Nantucket, Baltimore, Norfolk, and Richmond. But the building of the Boston and Albany, and of the New York and New Haven railroads cut off gradually all the inland and up river commerce from Hartford, and diverted trade into other directions. This obliged the merchants of Hartford to turn their energies to other lines of business.
One of the most successful of these, and one in which Hartford now holds a unique position, is the insurance business. Nowhere else has the business of fire insurance reached such magnitude as in Hartford. The aggregate capital of the six fire insurance companies in the city is $10,250,000, which exceeds one quarter of the capital of all the fire companies in the country. It is supposed that the business began in marine underwriting, as Hartford formerly had such large shipping interests and so many vessels concerned in trade with the West Indies. An insurance office was opened in Wethersfield in 1777 by Barnabas Dean, presumably for shipping. Fire insurance policies were issued in 1794, and in 1795 a company was formed for the purpose of underwriting on "vessels, stock, merchandize, etc." In 1810 the oldest of the present Hartford fire insurance companies was formed, the Hartford, with a capital of $150,000. All the early insurance companies made the mistake of dividing profits in periods of prosperity, reserving little or nothing for a day of adversity. But the Hartford met with a severe lesson in December, 1835, when the great fire in New York swept away the capital of the company. All losses were paid in full, and the confidence inspired by this policy increased the business of the company fivefold. In 1871 the great Chicago fire endangered the existence of the strongest Hartford companies, and five of them were forced to discontinue. But the able management of the four that paid their losses and continued to do business has given the Hartford companies a good reputation. The life insurance business was also early organized in Hartford, which was the earliest place, except the already great cities of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, to establish this system firmly, and several of the Hartford companies rank among the leading institutions in this business in the country. In Hartford was founded the first accident insurance company organized in America.
Hartford possesses a number of well known educational and philanthropic institutions, Trinity College; the Wadsworth Athenaeum, containing the 1Natkinson Library of Reference, the Connecticut Historical Society's collections, the picture gallery and public library; the Theological Seminary, the School for the Deaf, the Retreat for the Insane; all founded in the first half of this century.
First, chronologically, comes "The American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons," the mother school of all similar institutions in this country. In 1887, when the recurring years brought about the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, the founder of this school for the deaf, the day was celebrated by all deaf mutes throughout the United States, and commemorated by public services and general festivities. In a building on Main Street, now constituting the southern end of the City Hotel, the American Asylum gathered its first seven pupils, April 15, 1817. The starting point of the enterprise was the eager desire of Dr. Mason F. Cogswell to secure an education for his daughter, Alice, a deaf mute, whose infirmity was caused by an attack of spotted fever. In 1815, several prominent gentlemen in Hartford took steps towards the organization of such a school at the instance of Dr. Cogswell, and decided to send the Rev. T. H. Gallaudet, then just out of the Andover Theological Seminary, to Europe, for the purpose of acquiring the art of instructing deaf mutes. Accordingly, Mr. Gallaudet proceeded to Paris, where he was cordially received by the Abbe Sicard, the Director of the famous Institution for Deaf Mutes, founded some years earlier by the Abbe de l'Epee. Here every facility was accorded to Mr. Gallaudet, and when he was ready to return to America, one of Sicard's pupils - Laurent Clerc by name, offered his services as an instructor in the school to be founded in America, and as he was himself a deaf mute he was a living demonstration of the fact that a very high degree of education was possible to deaf mutes. In 1818, the number of pupils having increased to sixty, it appeared to the directors that their work was likely to become national, and it seemed proper to invoke the aid of Congress. A petition was accordingly sent to Congress, and was strongly supported by the Connecticut members, by the Speaker, Henry Clay, and by many other influential and philanthropic men. Congress responded by an appropriation of an entire township, comprising 23,000 acres of land. This grant was judiciously converted into cash and invested, and the income thus received has enabled the institution to receive pupils at about one half the actual cost of their education. The building now in use was completed in 1821. Since 1825 pupils have been received from the States of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island, under an arrangement made with the official authorities in those States. While a large proportion of the instructors have always been college graduates, at the same time industrial instruction has, since 1823, been an essential feature in the training, thus rendering the pupils self supporting members of society.
Another evidence of the philanthropic feeling animating the citizens of Hartford about the same date as the foundation of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, was the establishment in 1824, of the Connecticut Retreat for the Insane. At that time there were only two other institutions in the country for the exclusive care of insane persons, and the importance of restorative treatment was but little understood.
Many citizens of Hartford signed the petition requesting the General Assembly to pass an act of incorporation for Washington College, and when the news of its passage was received, May 16, 1823, their joy was manifested by the lighting of bonfires and the firing of cannon. The people of Hartford surpassed all others in raising money for the new institution. More than three fourths of the sum appropriated by the State, $5o,000, was contributed by them, and their city was therefore selected as the seat of the College. A fine site was secured on an eminence overlooking the Little River, the hill now crowned by the beautiful State Capitol, and in 1825 two buildings were ready for occupation. The College was opened under the presidency of the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Brownell, Bishop of Connecticut, and at all times since its foundation the institution has been administered by men of learning and wisdom. The name was changed in 1844 to Trinity College. In 1871, when the city of Hartford decided to offer to the State a site for the new Capitol, it was proposed to purchase the College campus for that purpose and in February, 1872, the trustees sold the grounds to the city, reserving the right to use them for five or six years. In 1873 a site of some eighteen acres on the slope of Rocky Hill, commanding a beautiful view in every direction, was purchased by the College. Ground was broken on Commencement Day, 1875, with impressive ceremonies, and two large buildings were ready for occupation in 1878. The erection of the Northam Gateway, in 1881, unites the buildings and completes the western side of the proposed quadrangle. The lofty towers have added greatly to the appearance of the structure. The style of architecture is secular Gothic of the early French type.
The buildings of the Theological Seminary on Broad Street attract attention by their size and dignity. The institution was established in East Windsor in 1833, and was removed to Hartford in 1865, occupying the old Wadsworth house and other buildings on Prospect Street. In 1879, the present structure was occupied, and it has since been enlarged by the addition of the Case Library.
The first great manufacturing enterprise in Hartford, and still perhaps the best known and most important, is the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company, established by Colonel Samuel Colt in 1848. Colonel Colt planned his works on a magnificent scale, and time has proved the wisdom of his plans. To pistols, rifles, and shotguns the company has added, from time to time, the manufacture of gun machinery, Gatling guns, printing presses, portable steam engines, and Colt automatic guns. Aside from the output of weapons and machinery, the Colt works have been of great value as an educating force in applied mechanics, and they have turned out many men who have founded large manufacturing establishments. Th e armory grounds now include two memorial buildings, the Church of the Good Shepherd, built in 1868 by Mrs. Colt, in memory of her husband, and a companion to this, built in 1896, a parish house, inmemory of Commodore Caldwell H. Colt, a structure complete and satisfying in all its decorations and appointments. Another memorial structure in the city is just approaching completion, the Keney Memorial Tower. In this, Hartford will possess an architectural feature unique in American cities, a Norman bell and clock tower, with fine carvings.
The Messrs. Keney have left another memorial of themselves in the Keney Park, a fine addition to the Hartford park system. The beauty of Hartford and its desirability as a residence have both been much increased by the munificence of individual citizens, and the wise policy of the city government in creating a system of public parks. The first of these, Bushnell Park, the city owes to the wise forethought of Dr. Horace Bushnell, one of her most distinguished citizens. Laid out in 1859, it is, probably, after Central Park in New York, the oldest public city park in the country, and it was obtained in the face of much opposition by a man possessed of great intellect and foresight, for whom it was named in 1876. The building of the Capitol on the brow of the hill overlooking the Park, and the construction of the Soldiers' Memorial Arch in 1886, have added much to its beauty and completeness In 1894, Hartford acquired another park the gift of Col. Albert A. Pope, the head of the Pope Manufacturing Company. This park is situated in the south part of the city. Very soon afterwards, by the will of Charles M. Pond, the city became possessed of a valuable tract of land on Prospect Hill, the former residence of Mr. Pond. This he desired should be called Elizabeth Park in memory of his wife. Now the Pope, Elizabeth, Keney, and Riverside Parks, the latter on the north meadows and near the city water works, make a boulevard around Hartford, which will add much in the future to the beauty of this already beautiful city.
After the brilliant galaxy of the "Hartford Wits" disappeared, a graver class of litererary men took their places: Noah Webster, with his spelling book and dictionary (he was born in Hartford, West Division, Oct. 16, 1758); Samuel G. Goodrich (Peter Parley); Mrs. Lydia Huntley Sigourney, who obtained the title of "the American Hemans," an almost lifelong resident of Hartford, where her first volume of poems was published in 1815; George Denison Prentice and John Greenleaf Whittier both lived in Hartford for a time, doing editorial work, when they were yet young and unknown men; Henry Barnard, LL.D., distinguished for his labors in the cause of education, was born in Hartford in 1811, and is still enjoying an honored old age in his native city. But the man of highest genius in Hartford's list of authors during the first half of this century was Horace Bushnell. He came to the city in 1833, as pastor of the North Church, and remained until his death, in 1876. His sermons and essays all show great imagination and beauty of style, as well as great power of thought. In 1864, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, who had once before lived in Hartford as a teacher in the famous school of her sister, Miss Catharine Beecher, again took up her residence in the city, and continued to live here until her death, in 1896. During this period a number of her later works were written.
Of living authors, Charles Dudley Warner and Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) have a world wide reputation. Mr. Warner came to Hartford in 1860, as one of the editors of the Press, and subsequently became one of the owners and editors of the Courant, with which paper he is still associated. His Summer in a Garden, which first brought him into notice, appeared in the columns of his newspaper in 1870, and since that time he has written many essays, novels, and books of travel. Mr. Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, November 30, 1835, has lived in Hartford since 1871, and all his books which have appeared since 1872 have been written in our city, except his latest, Following the Equator. John Fiske, the historian and essayist, was born in Hartford in 1842, but he left the city at an early age, and his reputation has been won elsewhere. The same can be said of Edmund Clarence Stedman, the poet and critic, who was born in Hartford in 1833.
James Hammond Trumbull, LL.D., born in Stonington in 1821, but almost a lifelong resident of Hartford, dying there in 1897, was one of the most distinguished philologists and antiquarians in the country, and his great familiarity with the Indian tongues made him an authority on that subject. Dr. Trumbull's brother, Rev. Henry Clay Trumbull, D.D., of Philadelphia, since 1875 editor of the Sunday School Times, was a resident of our city from the year 185 to 1875, and during that period he published some of his religious and biographical works. Two other members of the same family, a sister and daughter of Dr. J. H. Trumbull, Mrs. Annie Trumbull Slosson, and Miss Annie Eliot Trumbull, have distinguished themselves in literature, by their novels and short stories, some being character studies of New England life. In this line also another Hartford writer excelled, Mrs. Rose Terry Cooke, who was born in Hartford in 1827, and died in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1892. She contributed many graphic stories of rural New England life to the pages of the Atlantic Monthly, Harpers', and other magazines, which stories were afterwards collected and published in book form. Richard Burton, born in Hartford in 1858, recently appointed Professor of English Literature in the University of Minnesota, has already made a name among the younger men as a poet and critic. Frederick Law Olmsted, born in Hartford, November 10, 1822, now a resident of Brookline, Mass., is well known as one of the foremost landscape gardeners in this country, and he has also made valuable contributions to the literature of travel and horticulture. Many other persons, either natives or residents of Hartford, have won renown in various fields of authorship. In the art world, Hartford claims Frederick E. Church and William Gedney Bunce, the painters, E. S. Bartholomew, the sculptor, and William Gillette, the actor and playwright, all natives of the city.
Hartford citizens have borne their part in the councils of the nation. Gideon Welles was Secretary of the Navy under President Lincoln during the Civil War, and until 1869. Isaac Toucey held the same office under President Buchanan. Hon. John M. Niles was Postmaster General in 1840, under Van Buren, and also Senator for a long period. The Hon. Marshall Jewell was appointed by President Grant United States Minister to Russia in 1873, and in 1874 he was recalled to enter the Cabinet as Postmaster General. In later years the Hon. James Dixon and General J. R. Hawley have been prominent in the United States Senate.
Hartford has increased largely in population during the last decade, and the numerous trolley lines that have been built, running like the spokes of a wheel into the surrounding country, have contributed much to the prosperity of the city. Many handsome residences have been built, new streets have been laid out, and our city appears to have entered upon a career that promises increased wealth and success.
Historic towns of New England
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