Ploughs and Politicks: Charles Read of New Jersey and His Notes on Agriculture, 1715-1774

By Carl Raymond Woodward | Go to book overview
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Seven: Ironmaster

THE mining and manufacture of iron had begun in New Jersey as early as 1675, when James Grover started operations on lands in Shrewsbury, subsequently known as Trinton Manor, estate of the distinguished Morris family.1 Between 1700 and 1750 numerous iron mines had been developed in the mountainous regions of Sussex, Morris, and Bergen counties. Owners of land in the southern counties also began to consider exploiting the iron-ore deposits found on their holdings. Charles Read must have foreseen the increasing role iron would play in the development of the new country. As the years passed the lure of the iron industry grew upon him, and with it the ambition to become the greatest ironmaster in the province. In so doing he ran true to his natural inclinations and traditional interests. As previously noted, his father had been one of the founders of the first ironworks in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His friend Colonel Peter Schuyler had made a fortune from the copper mines owned by his family on the Passaic above Newark. His political colleagues, John Stevens, Richard Saltar, and Robert Hunter Morris, had an interest in a copper mine which was being developed at Rocky Hill, and another copper mine had been opened at New Brunswick. Jared Eliot, whose Essays upon Field Husbandry in New England Read had studiously followed, had published in 1762 an essay upon the manufacture of iron from black sea sand.2 All this marked a development in which Read aspired to play a leading role.

As secretary of the province and the governor's advisor,

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1
Charles S. Boyer, Early Forges and Furnaces in New Jersey ( Philadelphia, 1931), pp. 196-199. This work presents a detailed account of Charles Read iron enterprises, pp. 154-190.
2
An Essay on the Invention or Art of making . . . Iron, from black Sea Sand ( New York, 1762). See Essays upon Field Husbandry by J. Eliot, ed. of 1934, pp. 163-187.

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