Monday, March 25, 2013

Jefferson and Madison in Hudson

Last month, on Presidents' Day, Gossips did a post--and another and another--about the presidents who had visited Hudson. Today, an erudite Gossips reader shared his discovery that two more presidents had visited Hudson--together and before either had become president: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

In the spring of 1791, Jefferson and Madison took a month-long northern tour together, traveling to New England and upstate New York. The purpose of the trip was, in Madison's words, "health, recreation & curiosity." Madison suffered bilious attacks, and Jefferson was plagued by migraine headaches. There were rumors at the time, however, that the trip had a political purpose. 

In her book Founding Gardeners, Andrea Wulf talks about the trip and the rumors about its goals, and in the process reveals the fascinating fact that the reader brought to Gossips attention this morning: 
There was some truth to these allegations, in that Jefferson wanted to shift more trade from Britain to France (as he had already tried to do during his time as American Minister in Paris). On their way up the Hudson River valley, for example, they stopped at the small port town of Hudson, where Jefferson tried to persuade a large distillery owner that wine imported from France would produce better spirits than the molasses from the British West Indies.
That "large distillery owner," the endnotes to the book reveal, was none other than Seth Jenkins, who we know from Ellis' History of Columbia County, was one of several of the Proprietors "licensed in 1786 'to retail all kinds of spirituous liquors.'"

No comments:

Post a Comment