Sedgwick, Thomas
Autograph Letter Signed, Hudson, New York, December 2, 1816, to his brother-in-law and sister, Charles Metcalf, Bainbridge, Yorkshire, England

Quarto, 3 pages plus stamp-less address leaf, separations along folds of second leaf, hole in letter due to rough opening which affects several words, some minor creasing and soiling, else in good legible condition.

“… I am informed that you have had very cold wet weather the last summer in England and has had your crops spoiled which it has not been the case with us in America … I never had any Cloths wet through since I came to America. For it has been extremely hot and dry weather till about the middle of November but now it is cold enough. I have been employed by one Thos. Wright an English Man who in former years resided in Sheffield… I am not sorry about coming to America only that I did not set of sooner for I like very well if it was never for seeing my friends again I surely should never come to England again … it will be Twenty to one against my ever coming back to England. For surely a man might support a family easier in America than what he can in England. If I was in England now and had a family of children it would be the first journey I should take to come to America, not that I say it to encourage others to come. I am only saying for myself. For I have had a good many difficulties to go through both in Climate and in Persons, since I left England. I have often times been sorry that I did not come to bid you Farewell. But I hope you will excuse me for I thought I would put both you and I in great trouble for I was sorry to leave as I had. Here is land of Various Prices from 50 Dollars to 1 per acre. But the average here is about 15 dollars per acre. But to go into the back settlements I am informed that they might purchase it for about 2 dollars per acre better land than what it is in this neighborhood. I think I can do better with going there I think I shall which is about 6 hundred miles back for I am now one hundred and thirty three miles from the Port I sailed to … There is not much land Rented in America. They had it upon shares. For the land lord to find one half of the stock and the Tenant the other half which I think is a great advantage for New beginners for money is equalizer dealt here than what it is in England. For here is neither Dukes nor Lords in this Country nor yet much Parish Poor. I can buy a spirituous liquor or wine cheap here such as rum for 4 shillings per gallon and wine for about six shillings per gallon and for all other spirits for the same money here as what I could 1 gallon of Ale in England for Ale is not common drink here… Tobacco for 1 shilling per Pound, tea for 2 shilling… You need not fret about me for as long as I have my health, no doubt but what I shall do better than what should if I had stopped in England … For I think I should get Married before I write to you again. There is no coals in this part of America only what comes from England. I believe about five hundred miles from here, coals are very plentiful. But there fireing in this country is wood, such wood as would sell for three shillings per foot if it was in England… Direct in the care of Charles Marriott near Hudson… in the state of New York …”

Sedgwick was 21 when he wrote this letter, born in Yorkshire in 1795, he came to America at the end of the War of 1812. (Thomas Wright, his employer at the time, was another Sheffield immigrant of the 1790s, married to a cousin, the daughter of a New Haven silversmith, who was also related to John James Audubon. Charles Marriott, whom Sedgwick names at the end of the letter, possibly his host at the time, was still another British immigrant, a Quaker who became an anti-slavery militant, making his Hudson home a “station” of the Underground Railroad). Sedgwick himself disappears from historical records until the 1840s, when, as Deputy Sherriff of Columbia County, New York, he arrested leaders of the “Anti-Rent War”, a revolt by tenant farmers of upstate New York, somewhat ironic in view of the egalitarian principles he expressed in his youth. But he remained adventurous and in 1849, sailed around the Horn to Gold Rush California, living in Stockton for nearly forty years until his death at age 92.