Elkanah Watson

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Portrait of Watson by John Singleton Copley.

Elkanah Watson (January 22, 1758 – December 5, 1842) was a visionary traveller and writer, agriculturist and canal promoter. He was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts and died at Port Kent, New York. During the American Revolutionary War he carried dispatches to Benjamin Franklin in France. He became a Freemason in France during the war, and afterward famously commissioned (with his business partner François Cassoul) a Masonic apron for George Washington.[1]

In 1807 he moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts to raise Merino sheep at his farm. Towards promoting better agricultural practices, he organized the first county fair in the United States, at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1810. In December 1791, he proposed that natural waterways could be used to create what later became the Erie Canal across New York State, to the New York State legislature. In 1792, with General Philip Schuyler, he formed a company to build locks and canals, starting with the Little Falls canal.


  1. ^ C.F. William Maurer, "Elkanah Watson: A Tale of Freemasonry and Revolution." Philalethes 63(2010): 94-107.

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