Southern New England, 1734-1802.
The collection includes licenses for named individuals to operate taverns, public inns, or houses of entertainment; town approbations for tavern keepers; and power of attorney documents. Each item is dated and signed; many feature signatures from the town’s Selectmen, Constable, Justice of Peace, Grand Juror, and Civil Authority. The tavern was the center of social and political life in early American communities; the Vermont state constitution was drafted and signed at the Windsor Tavern in 1777, the tavern’s proprietor Elijah West features prominently in this collection. Within these documents are character assessments—“We judge that [...] Christopher Martin and Jesse Spafford are fit and suitable persons to keep houses of Public Entertainment” (Woodstock, 1802)— and term limits, as all licenses and approbations must be renewed annually. Though formally worded, documents appear on scraps of paper, often unevenly cut, and several with wax stamps. A fascinating collection that illuminates early American civic procedures. Condition varies, most items creased and browned with age but all legible. Very good.