Skip to main content

Roger Griswold papers

Call Number: MS 256

Scope and Contents

The Gov. Roger Griswold Papers, consisting of letters written by Roger Griswold between 1784 and 1812, are housed in three flat boxes.

Although there are a handful of letters from the period when Griswold was a lawyer in Norwich and governor of Connecticut, the bulk of the correspondence covers his congressional years. Roger Griswold was elected to Congress in 1794, took his seat in the Fourth Congress in December 1795, and served until 1805. More than three-quarters of the letters are written by Griswold to his wife Fanny (Rogers) Griswold (1767-1863) and most of the rest to his older brother Matthew Griswold (1760-1842). The papers also contain three letters to Roger's father Governor Matthew Griswold (1714-1799), two to General Ebenezer Huntington (1754-1834) in 1812, drafts of a letter to Secretary of War William Eustis (1753-1825) concerning the placing of the Connecticut militia under federal control, one short note from Eustis to Griswold, and single letters to several other persons.

The correspondence contains a mixture of news on political and personal subjects. The letters Roger wrote to Fanny Griswold rarely contain long discussions of political matters. As a general rule, those of Roger Griswold to his brother Matthew are more substantive in nature. Griswold writes about family and friends in Lyme and Norwich in almost every letter. Those meriting particular attention are the Woodbridges of Norwich, farm workers, and "the old Gentleman," former Governor Matthew Griswold. The Griswolds moved back to Lyme in 1796 and many letters contain advice on running the family farm. Although he was an ardent Federalist, Roger Griswold was a deist. In several letters, he writes about his lack of religious feelings, mocks his wife's piety, and tells of his Sunday activities which almost never included attendance at church. In other letters written between 1797 and 1799, Griswold, prompted by news from home, gives his views on suffering and death. To amuse his wife, he also talks about the Philadelphia theater, the weather, and in December 1800 gives good descriptions of Mount Vernon, Washington, D.C., and the poverty of slave state Maryland in comparison to free Pennsylvania.

Those interested in the views of a strict New England Federalist will find this collection of papers useful, although only occasionally is there an extended discussion of political events. One can, however, find material on the Jay Treaty, the quasi-war with France, and the election of 1800. The most notorious episode in Griswold's political career, the brawl on the floor of the House of Representatives with Congressman Matthew Lyon of Vermont, is not discussed in detail. The papers do not contain many useful character sketches. In one letter of 1796 Jan 20, however, he describes First Lady Martha Washington and in three in December 1799 eulogizes and reports on the funeral of President Washington. There are only two other descriptions of note, of Governor Samuel Huntington of Connecticut, 1796 Jan 5, and John Randolph of Roanoke, 1800 Jan 16 and 1805 Feb 7.

In addition to the correspondence, the Gov. Roger Griswold Papers contain one other item of note, a copy of the Constitution of the United States printed in 1799, containing annotations in Griswold's hand.


  • 1784-1812


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of W. E. S. Griswold, 1957.

Related Materials

Those seeking further Roger Griswold correspondence should consult the William Griswold Lane Memorial Collection, Manuscript Group 189.


1.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Chiefly letters by Roger Griswold, of which three-fourths were written to his wife, Fanny Rogers Griswold, while he served in Congress, in Philadelphia and Washington, 1794-1805. While the letters to his wife are largely on family and practical matters relating to the family farm in Lyme, Connecticut, his letters to his father, Matthew Griswold, and to his brother, also Matthew, discuss politics briefly. A letter to Secretary of War, William Eustis, discusses the issue of placing the Connecticut militia under federal control. Also in the papers is a printed copy (1799) of the Constitution of the United States with marginalia in Griswold's hand.

Biographical / Historical

Lawyer and politician; graduated from Yale in 1780 and was admitted to the bar in 1783; elected to Congress in 1794 and served until 1805; in 1811 and 1812 he was elected governor by a popular majority in Connecticut.

Guide to the Roger Griswold Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Bruce P. Stark
May 1982
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours