Morris, Edmund
Autograph Letter Signed, Burlington, New Jersey, Nov. 17, 1840 to William Imlay, Allentown, New Jersey

quarto, one page, plus address leaf, in very good, clean and legible condition.

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“Dear Sir,

           I should be glad to have the 7 Bu. of cocoons for the use of the Burlington Filature, which now runs 3 reels, & will I hope run 6 or 8 next year. Please send them in barrels … before winter sets in. Their face value shall be paid you in cash. The business of raising silk is going on at a very encouraging rate, all over our country, in spite of some failure owing to the mode of feeding. Your orchard of trees is valuable, and will of course be carefully preserved by you. Your worms no doubt died from diseases originating in the impossibility of keeping them clean upon the shelf and bundle system, which my plan completely obviates. I am now selling frames and eggs in all quantities, and many new cocooneries will be supplied with them. It is impossible to give directions how to buy cocoons. There is no other way I can see but for you to receive them, and when you have a good lot, let me know and I will come up for them, and then explain to you the different values. They should all be flossed. When people raise the best breeds of cocoons, they will get the best price. Now, the white is not worth raising … We shall have a tariff on silk, which will benefit the cause. I am thankful to you for your disposition to aid my views, and we can no doubt in time face into the right channels. But at present, please put up a bill that you will receive flossed cocoons for the Filature, and will engage crops for next season. I fear your small lot of balls is too small to make it any object for you to reel them on your new machine …”


The Cheney Brothers firm of Burlington, New Jersey pioneered the American silk manufacturing industry in the 1830s, publishing the “American Silk Growers and Farmers Manual”, which Morris bought and renamed the “Burlington Silk Record”, a leading silk manufacturing journal of the 1840s. Morris also invented the Burlington Silk Worm Frame, an apparatus based on his own method of feeding silk worms. Twenty years later, Morris gained fame as the author of the Civil War era book “Ten Acres Enough, Small Farm Self-Sufficiency Through High Quality Produce”, which, a century later, became a sort of bible for disgruntled urbanites who embraced the “back to the land” movement. It remains a popular work to this day. Imlay was a rich enthusiast who planted an orchard of over 7000 Mulberry trees near Allentown, east of Trenton. His family papers are held by Rutgers University.