Griswold family papers, 1782-1820 (inclusive)

Content Notes

The Griswold family papers consist of daybooks, ledgers, accounts, receipts, and correspondence of Stanley Griswold and his son Henry W. Griswold, dated 1782-1842. Included are notebooks kept by Stanley Griswold while was a student at Yale College from 1782 to 1796; records of expenses and goods he traded in New Milford, Connecticut; and letters and documents related to his position as minister of the First Congregational Church in New Milford. There are also receipts and letters concerning Griswold's investment in the Connecticut Land Company and papers pertaining to his position as acting governor of Michigan Territory and later a federal judgeship. The collection contains letters from Griswold to his wife while he was traveling through various towns in the Illinois Territory, Missouri, and Kentucky, which reference Native Americans, his impression of Shakers, and a visit to the plantation of Illinois Territorial Governor Ninian Edwards (1775-1833), where he estimated between thirty and forty people were enslaved. Griswold also mentions buying an indentured African American in Shawneetown, Illinois, although he was opposed to slavery.

Biographical Notes

Stanley Griswold (1763-1815) was a clergyman, editor, politician, and proprietor of the Connecticut Land Company. He was born in Torrington, Connecticut, on November 14, 1763. Griswold served in the state militia during the American Revolutionary War, and graduated from Yale College in 1786. He was briefly a teacher before beginning his study of theology, and in 1789 he became a minister at the First Congregational Church in New Milford, Connecticut. In 1803 Griswold moved to Walpole, New Hampshire, where he served as an editor of The Political Observatory, a Democratic newspaper. In 1805 President Thomas Jefferson appointed him the first Secretary of the Michigan Territory, and his term lasted until 1808; during that time, Griswold was also appointed acting governor in William Hull's absence, with duties encompassing the positions of Superintendent of Indian affairs and commander-in-chief of the militia. After disagreements with the Hull over Griswold's alleged interference with the militia led to a trial and fine, he left office and moved to Ohio, where he was appointed to an empty Senate seat vacated by Edward Tiffin in 1809. Following special election later that year to fill the seat, Griswold moved to the Illinois Territory, where he was appointed a federal judge (1810-1815). Griswold married Elizabeth Flagg (1770-1822) and their children included soldier Henry W. Griswold and James F. Griswold (1790-1811). Griswold died on August 21, 1815, in Shawneetown, Illinois. Henry W. Griswold (1795?-1834) graduated from West Point in 1815. He served in the United States Army, attaining the rank of Captain, until his death in 1834.