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Mss:301 1761-1795 S657

Smith, Richard. Richard Smith Business Papers, 1761-1795 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University

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Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:301 1761-1795 S657
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Richard Smith
Title: Richard Smith business papers,
Date(s): 1761-1795 (inclusive)
Quantity: 1 linear feet (1 box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, financial records, and legal records related to the operation of a blast iron furnace and forge in Connecticut by Boston, Massachusetts, merchant Richard Smith, dated 1761-1795. Smith gained control of the furnace, which he co-owned with George and Charles Caldwell, in 1771, after filing a petition with the Connecticut General Assembly, and the collection includes records of the Assembly's review of the petition and decision. There are additionally accounts, bills, receipts, and invoices of Smith & Caldwell, Richard Smith, and his Boston partnership of Smith & Atkinson, as well as property documents and deeds for land in Connecticut.

Provenance:

The Richard Smith business papers were acquired by Baker Library Special Collecions from John Wright in 1979.

Processing Information:

Processed: June 2017
By: Brooke McManus
The collection was processed in June 1983 by Gale Lister and was re-processed as part of the Arcadia-funded Colonial North American Project at Harvard University.

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open for research.
Materials stored onsite. Please contact histcollref@hbs.edu for more information.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Richard Smith Business Papers. Baker Library, Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Richard Smith was a merchant in Boston, Massachusetts, active from the 1760s to the 1790s. He traded in dry goods, household wares, liquor, and clothing. Smith entered into a partnership with Charles and George Caldwell, proprietors of a blast furnace in Salisbury, Connecticut, that manufactured pig and bar iron, in 1768. The Caldwells were in debt to him for items purchased from his Boston store, and to resolve the debt, they signed over a share of their business. Smith continued the partnership with George Caldwell, who accumulated additional unpaid debts, and in 1771, Smith successfully petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly to gain control of the furnace's accounts.
Smith remained in Boston, where he continued to acquire property to expand the Salisbury Furnace, managed on-site by Jared Lane, who arranged to acquire charcoal, fuel, and ore for the furnace, and sell iron and kettles at wholesale or retail. In 1770, Smith built a forge in Colebrook, Connecticut, and hired Jacob Ogden to oversee the manufacture of wrought iron. In 1775, Smith, suspected to be a Loyalist, left Connecticut for England, and the Salisbury Furnace was seized by the government to make cannons for the Continental Army. His Massachusetts citizenship was also revoked. Smith, in a letter to Captain William Tiley in 1775, claimed to be sympathetic to the colonies, and when he returned from England, his citizenship and ownership of the furnace were reinstated in 1783.
Smith also maintained a partnership in Boston with John Atkinson (1742-1823), a British merchant and Loyalist, from about 1770 until the start of the Revolutionary War, when Atkinson fled to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

This collection contains correspondence, financial records, and legal records related to the operation of a blast iron furnace and forge in Connecticut by Boston, Massachusetts, merchant Richard Smith, dated 1761-1795. Smith gained control of the Salisbury Furnace, which he co-owned with George and Charles Caldwell, in 1771, after filing a petition with the Connecticut General Assembly, and the collection includes records of the Assembly's review of the petition and decision. There are additionally accounts, bills, receipts, and invoices of Smith & Caldwell, Richard Smith, and his Boston partnership of Smith & Atkinson, as well as property documents and deeds for land in Connecticut.
Correspondence is primarily from Jared Lane, Smith's agent at the Salisbury Furnace, regarding day to day operations of the business. There is also correspondence between Smith and Captain William Tiley (1711-1781), of Hartford, Connecticut, regarding trade and Smith's assertion he was loyal to the colonies, and letters among other associates involved in his business affairs.
The financial records include accounts, bills, receipts, invoices, and memoranda reflecting the trade of iron as well as dry goods, food, liquor, clothing, and household wares by Richard Smith, and by Smith & Caldwell prior to the firm's dissolution in 1771. There are also promissory and demand notes for outstanding debts due to Smith, and the memoranda, often written by Lane, reflect his attempts to recover monies owed to Smith.
Legal records mainly relate to the General Assembly approval of a petition by Smith to seize all accounts of Smith & Caldwell, after George Caldwell was unable to fulfill his financial obligations to Smith. A copy of a General Assembly committee review and decision in favor of Smith is accompanied by a number of accounts due to Smith & Caldwell that were turned over to him. There are also several land deeds for property Smith acquired to expand the furnace, plans for an estate in Salisbury, and writs for Smith's debtors to appear before a justice of the peace.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Blast furnaces -- Connecticut -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Blast furnaces -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Cast-iron.
Credit.
Debt.
Forging industry -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
General stores -- Massachusetts -- 18th century.
Iron industry and trade -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Iron industry and trade -- Connecticut -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Merchants -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Merchants -- Massachusetts -- 18th century.
Retail trade -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Wholesale trade -- Connecticut -- 18th century.
Accounts.
Correspondence.
Deeds.
Invoices.
Legal instruments.
Receipts (financial records).
Writs.
Boston (Mass.).
Connecticut -- Business, industries, and trades -- Iron.
Connecticut -- General Assembly.
Connecticut -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
Connecticut -- Land records.
Salisbury (Conn.).
Alsop, Richard, 1726-1776.
Atkinson, John, 1742-1823.
Burr, Oliver.
Caldwell, Charles.
Caldwell, George.
Chester, John, 1749-1809.
Dyer, Eliphalet, 1721-1807.
Lane, Jared.
Ogden, Jacob.
Pease, Sharon.
Smith, Richard, of Salisbury, Conn.
Stevens, Hannah.
Tiley, William, 1711-1781.
Smith & Atkinson.
Smith & Caldwell.

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