1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hartford

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HARTFORD, a city and the capital of Connecticut, U.S.A., the county-seat of Hartford county, and a port of entry, coterminous with the township of Hartford, in the west central part of the state, on the W. bank of the Connecticut river, and about 35 m. from Long Island Sound. Pop. (1890), 53,230; (1900), 79,850, of whom 23,758 were foreign-born (including 8076 Irish, 2700 Germans, 2260 Russians, 1952 Italians, 1714 Swedes, 1634 English and 1309 English Canadians); (1910 census) 98,915. Of the total population in 1900, 43,872 were of foreign parentage (both parents foreign-born), and of these 18,410 were of Irish parentage. Hartford is served by two divisions of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railway, by the Central New England railway, by the several electric lines of the Connecticut Company which radiate to the surrounding towns, and by the steamboats of the Hartford & New York Transportation Co., all of which are controlled by the N.Y., N.H. & H. The river, which is navigable to this point, is usually closed from the middle of December to the middle of March.

The city covers an area of 17.7 sq. m.; it is well laid out and compactly built, and streets, parks, &c., are under a city-plan commission authorized in 1907. It is intersected by the sluggish Park river, which is spanned by ten bridges. A stone arch bridge, with nine arches, built of granite at a cost of $1,700,000 and dedicated in 1908, spans the Connecticut (replacing the old Connecticut river bridge built in 1818 and burned in 1895), and connects Hartford with the village of East Hartford in the township of East Hartford (pop. 1900, 6406), which has important paper-manufacturing and tobacco-growing interests. The park system of Hartford is the largest in any city of the United States in proportion to the city’s population. In 1908 there were 21 public parks, aggregating more than 1335 acres. In the extreme S. of the city is Goodwin Park (about 200 acres); in the S.E. is Colt Park (106 acres), the gift of Mrs Elizabeth Colt, the widow of Samuel Colt, inventor of the Colt revolver; in the S.W. is Pope Park (about 90 acres); in the W. is Elizabeth (100 acres); in the E., along the Connecticut river front, is Riverside (about 80 acres); and in the extreme N. is Keney Park (680 acres), the gift of Henry Keney, and, next to the Metropolitan Reservations near Boston, the largest park in the New England states. Near the centre of the city are the Capitol Grounds (27 acres; until 1872 the campus of Trinity College) and Bushnell Park (41 acres), adjoining Capitol Park. Bushnell Park, named in honour of Horace Bushnell, contains the Corning Memorial Fountain, erected in 1899 and designed by J. Massey Rhind, and three bronze statues, one, by J. Q. A. Ward, of General Israel Putnam; one, by Truman H. Bartlett, of Dr Horace Wells (1815–1848), the discoverer of anaesthesia; and one, by E. S. Woods, of Colonel Thomas Knowlton (1749–1776), a patriot soldier of the War of Independence, killed at the battle of Harlem Heights. On the Capitol Grounds is the state capitol (Richard M. Upjohn, architect), a magnificent white marble building, which was completed in 1880 at a cost of $2,534,000. Its exterior is adorned with statues and busts of Connecticut statesmen and carvings of scenes in the history of the state. Within the building are regimental flags of the Civil War, a bronze statue by Olin L. Warner of Governor William A. Buckingham, a bronze statue by Karl Gerhardt of Nathan Hale, a bronze tablet (also by Karl Gerhardt) in memory of John Fitch (1743–1798), the inventor; a portrait of Washington, purchased by the state in 1800 from the artist, Gilbert Stuart; and a series of oil portraits of the colonial and state governors. The elaborately carved chair of the lieutenant-governor in the senate chamber, made of wood from the historic Charter Oak, and the original charter of 1662 (or its duplicate of the same date) are preserved in a special vault in the Connecticut state library. A new state library and supreme court building and a new state armoury and arsenal, both of granite, have been (1910) erected upon lands recently added to the Capitol Grounds, thus forming a group of state buildings with the Capitol as the centre. Near the Capitol, at the approach of the memorial bridge across the Park river, is the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ memorial arch, designed by George Keller and erected by the city in 1885 in memory of the Hartford soldiers and sailors who served in the American Civil War.

Near the centre of the city is the old town square (now known as the City Hall Square), laid off in 1637. Here, facing Main Street, stands the city hall, a beautiful example of Colonial architecture, which was designed by Charles Bulfinch, completed in 1796, and until 1879 used as a state capitol; it has subsequently been restored. In Main Street is the present edifice of the First Church of Christ, known as the Centre Congregational Church, which was organized in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1632, and removed to Hartford, under the leadership of Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone, in 1636. In the adjoining cemetery are the graves of Thomas Hooker, Governor William Leete (1603–1683), and Governor John Haynes, and a monument in memory of 100 early residents of Hartford. In the same thoroughfare is the Wadsworth Atheneum (built in 1842; enlarged in 1892–1893 and 1907) and its companion buildings, the Colt memorial (built in 1908 to accommodate the Elizabeth Colt art collection) and the Morgan art gallery (built in 1908 by J. Pierpont Morgan in memory of his father, Junius Morgan, a native of Hartford). In this group of buildings are the Hartford public library (containing 90,000 volumes in 1908), the Watkinson library of reference (70,000 volumes in 1908), the library of the Connecticut historical society (25,000 volumes in 1908) and a public art gallery. Other institutions of importance in Hartford are the American school for the deaf (formerly the American asylum for the deaf and dumb), founded in 1816 by Thomas H. Gallaudet; the retreat for the insane (opened for patients in 1824); the Hartford hospital; St Francis hospital; St Thomas’s seminary (Roman Catholic); La Salette Missionary college (R.C.; 1898); Trinity college (founded by members of the Protestant Episcopal church, and now non-sectarian), which was chartered as Washington College in 1823, opened in 1824, renamed Trinity College in 1845, and in 1907–1908 had 27 instructors and 208 students; the Hartford Theological seminary, a Congregational institution, which was founded at East Windsor Hill in 1834 as the Theological Institute of Connecticut, was removed to Hartford in 1865, and adopted its present name in 1885; and, affiliated with the last mentioned institution, the Hartford School of Religious Pedagogy. The Hartford grammar school, founded in 1638, long managed by the town and in 1847 merged with the classical department of the Hartford public high school, is the oldest educational institution in the state. In Farmington Avenue is St Joseph’s cathedral (Roman Catholic), the city being the seat of the diocese of Hartford.

During the 18th century Hartford enjoyed a large and lucrative commerce, but the railway development of the 19th century centralized commerce in New York and Boston, and consequently the principal source of the city’s wealth has come to be manufacturing and insurance. In 1905 the total value of the “factory” product was $25,975,651. The principal industries are the manufacture of small arms (by the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Co., makers of the Colt revolver and the Gatling gun), typewriters (Royal and Underwood), automobiles, bicycles, cyclometers, carriages and wagons, belting, cigars, harness, machinists’ tools and instruments of precision, coil-piping, church organs, horse-shoe nails, electric equipment, machine screws, drop forgings, hydrants and valves, and engines and boilers. In 1788 the first woollen mill in New England was opened in Hartford; and here, too, about 1846, the Rogers process of electro-silver plating was invented. The city is one of the most important insurance centres in the United States. As early as 1794 policies were issued by the Hartford Fire Insurance Company (chartered in 1810). In 1909 Hartford was the home city of six fire insurance and six life insurance companies, the principal ones being the Aetna (fire), Aetna Life, Phoenix Mutual Life, Phoenix Fire, Travelers (Life and Accident), Hartford Fire, Hartford Life, National Fire, Connecticut Fire, Connecticut General Life and Connecticut Mutual Life. In 1906 the six fire insurance companies had an aggregate capital of more than $10,000,000; on the 1st January 1906 they reported assets of about $59,000,000 and an aggregate surplus of $30,000,000. In the San Francisco disaster of that year they paid more than $15,000,000 of losses. Since the fire insurance business began in Hartford, the companies of that city now doing business there have paid about $340,000,000 in losses. Several large and successful foreign companies have made Hartford their American headquarters. The life insurance companies have assets to the value of about $225,000,000. The Aetna (fire), Aetna Life, Connecticut Fire, Connecticut Mutual Life, Connecticut General Life, Hartford Fire, Hartford Life, Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., National Fire, Orient Fire, Phoenix Mutual Life and Travelers companies have their own homes, some of these being among the finest buildings in Hartford. The city has also large banking interests.

The first settlement on the site of Hartford was made by the Dutch from New Amsterdam, who in 1633 established on the bank of the Connecticut river, at the mouth of the Park river, a fort which they held until 1654. The township of Hartford was one of the first three original townships of Connecticut. The first English settlement was made in 1635 by sixty immigrants, mostly from New Town (now Cambridge), Massachusetts; but the main immigration was in 1636, when practically all the New Town congregation led by Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone joined those who had preceded them. Their settlement was called Newtown until 1637, when the present name was adopted from Hertford, England, the birthplace of Stone. In 1636 Hartford was the meeting-place of the first general court of the Connecticut colony; the Fundamental Orders, the first written constitution, were adopted at Hartford in 1639; and after the union of the colonies of New Haven and Connecticut, accomplished by the charter of 1662, Hartford became the sole capital: but from 1701 until 1873 that honour was shared with New Haven. At Hartford occurred in 1687 the meeting of Edmund Andros and the Connecticut officials (see Connecticut). Hartford was first chartered in 1784, was rechartered in 1856 (the charter of that date has been subsequently revised), and in 1881 was made coterminous with the township of Hartford. The city was the literary centre of Federalist ideas in the latter part of the 18th century, being the home of Lemuel Hopkins, John Trumbull, Joel Barlow and David Humphreys, the leading members of a group of authors known as the “Hartford Wits”; and in 1814–1815 the city was the meeting-place of the famous Hartford Convention, an event of great importance in the history of the Federalist party. The War of 1812, with the Embargo Acts (1807–1813), which were so destructive of New England’s commerce, thoroughly aroused the Federalist leaders in this part of the country against the National government as administered by the Democrats, and in 1814, when the British were not only threatening a general invasion of their territory but had actually occupied a part of the Maine coast, and the National government promised no protection, the legislature of Massachusetts invited the other New England states to join with her in sending delegates to a convention which should meet at Hartford to consider their grievances, means of preserving their resources, measures of protection against the British, and the advisability of taking measures to bring about a convention of delegates from all the United States for the purpose of revising the Federal constitution. The legislatures of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and town meetings in Cheshire and Grafton counties (New Hampshire) and in Windham county (Vermont) accepted the invitation, and the convention, composed of 12 delegates from Massachusetts, 7 from Connecticut, 4 from Rhode Island, 2 from New Hampshire and 1 from Vermont, all Federalists, met on the 15th of December 1814, chose George Cabot of Massachusetts president and Theodore Dwight of Connecticut secretary, and remained in secret session until the 5th of January 1815, when it adjourned sine die. At the conclusion of its work it recommended greater military control for each of the several states and that the Federal constitution be so amended that representatives and direct taxes should be apportioned among the several states “according to their respective numbers of free persons,” that no new state should be admitted to the Union without the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, that Congress should not have the power to lay an embargo for more than sixty days, that the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of both Houses of Congress should be necessary to pass an act “to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and any foreign nation or the dependencies thereof” or to declare war against any foreign nation except in case of actual invasion, that “no person who shall hereafter be naturalized shall be eligible as a member of the Senate or House of Representatives of the United States, nor capable of holding any civil office under the authority of the United States,” and that “the same person shall not be elected president of the United States a second time; nor shall the president be elected from the same state two terms in succession.” After making these recommendations concerning amendments the Convention resolved: “That if the application of these states to the government of the United States, recommended in a foregoing resolution, should be unsuccessful, and peace should not be concluded, and the defence of these states should be neglected, as it has been since the commencement of the war, it will, in the opinion of this convention, be expedient for the legislatures of the several states to appoint delegates to another convention, to meet at Boston in the state of Massachusetts on the third Thursday of June next, with such powers and instructions as the exigency of a crisis so momentous may require.” The legislatures of Massachusetts and Connecticut approved of these proposed amendments and sent commissioners to Washington to urge their adoption, but before their arrival the war had closed, and not only did the amendments fail to receive the approval of any other state, but the legislatures of nine states expressed their disapproval of the Hartford Convention itself, some charging it with sowing “seeds of dissension and disunion.” The cessation of the war brought increased popularity to the Democratic administration, and the Hartford Convention was vigorously attacked throughout the country.

Hartford was the birthplace of Noah Webster, who here published his Grammatical Institute of the English Language (1783–1785), and of Henry Barnard, John Fiske and Frederick Law Olmsted, and has been the home of Samuel P. Goodrich (Peter Parley), George D. Prentice, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dudley Warner, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) and Horace Bushnell. More than 100 periodicals have been established in Hartford, of which the oldest is the Hartford Courant (1764), the oldest newspaper in the United States. This paper was very influential in shaping public opinion in the years preceding the War of Independence; after the war it was successively Federalist, Whig and Republican. The Times (semi-weekly 1817; daily 1841) was one of the most powerful Democratic organs in the period before the middle of the 19th century, and had Gideon Wells for editor 1826–1836. The Congregationalist (afterwards published in Boston) and the Churchman (afterwards published in New York) were also founded at Hartford.

See Scaeva, Hartford in the Olden Times: Its First Thirty Years (Hartford, 1853), edited by W. M. B. Hartley; and J. H. Trumbull, Memorial History of Hartford County (Boston, 1886). For the Hartford Convention see History of the Hartford Convention (Boston, 1833), published by its secretary, Theodore Dwight; H. C. Lodge, Life and Letters of George Cabot (Boston, 1877); and Henry Adams, Documents Relating to New England Federalism (Boston, 1877).