Category Archives: Traces of the Trade

Thaddeus Leavitt – What was his connection to the New London port?


Connecticut Western Reserve – Thaddeus Leavitt was one of the original eight purchasers.

On my previous HOT Log, I researched in detail “Mum Bett” and how she was able to publically gain freedom. Her freedom was made possible because of the Sheffield resolves. This got me thinking about the different classes, and wondering what the higher classes had to do with slavery. Our class then found Thaddeus Leavitt. He was born in 1750, and by 1774 he was a shop owner and entrepreneur in Suffield. His family was very well known. He married Elizabeth King, daughter of Ensign William King and Lucy Hatheway of Suffield. All three of these last names are very prominent in our research toward 1774. While I researched more, my classmate, Tanner, found diaries of Leavitts. That is when I decided to do some detailed research. I found out that he had a great partnership with individuals from Windsor, importing lots of goods from West Indies. He included receipts and whooping cough medicine ingredients and where exactly he imported the goods from. My initial question was if he ever went to the New London port to sell goods. After in depth researching in his diaries, I soon realized that on March 16th 1786 in his 5th diary entry that they were doing business! It reads,“I this day hear that the Brigg Mercury (his boat) has arrived at New London exceeding fine weather – as pleasant and warm as is usual on the 1st of May.”This indicates that he did business there, as well as repeated business. It seems that Brigg Mercury arrived at New London around this time yearly. From his diaries, I seemed to have found out that he owned a boat, Brigg Mercury, and was selling to and receiving goods from the West Indies. Next, I would like to get further in depth with how exactly he is getting the goods.




Caribbean Ties in Trade: How Can We Learn More about the Brig Mercury?

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Kent Memorial Library

How can we track down more information about the Brig Mercury? Recently we started to move in separate directions on our research. I began researching the different trade routes from Connecticut to the Caribbean slave plantations. By researching this I hope to find more ties to people from Suffield, Connecticut, who used these traders and ships to make a profit from slave plantation owners in the Caribbean. One link I found brought me to the diary of Thaddeus Leavitt. Thaddeus Leavitt would write about incoming trades, daily life, and other small things. Thaddeus Leavitt began using a trading company out of Windsor, which is the next town south of Suffield. He would sell goods like, lumber for barrels, sheep, horses, and sometimes medical supplies. In return he would also receive shipments back from the Caribbean. He would order sugar, molasses and other goods. The ship he hired was named the “Brig Mercury”. It was stationed somewhere along the Connecticut river. It would load and unload its cargo in Hartford, and would then make its trips to the Caribbean. It would also be interesting to find where the ships lands in the Caribbean. There was also another ship named the “Tyrall”. This was the first ship from Connecticut to ship to the Caribbean. Finding who owned, chartered, and captained these ships is very important, as well as finding where all these ships were docked, loaded, and unloaded. These are all important to helping debunk the stereotype that is triangle trading between the colonies. Most people know that the Caribbean sent sugar to England, and England would send Tea to the Colonies, while the Colonies ship supplies to the Caribbean. However it is far deeper than that. Many colonies began trading with the Caribbean and it’s important to find out who from Connecticut traded with them. It will also be interesting to see the network of traders and how they were all connected to each other. However it will be hard to find traders who can be linked back to Suffield. By using the network of traders it will be interesting to track them through the Revolutionary war as well. Trading became a different animal once the Colonies were revolting against England. Some ships even became vessels for the colonists to use against the British. Hopefully, I can find a some information regarding more of these men and their connections to Suffield. 

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