Humphreys, David

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Humphreys, David,

1752–1818, American diplomat and poet, b. present Ansonia (then in Derby), Conn. His military talents and patriotism won the friendship of General Washington and a place on his staff during the American Revolution. From 1784 to 1786 Humphreys was secretary to a U.S. mission negotiating commercial treaties in Europe. While a member (1786–88) of the Connecticut assembly, he was one of the satirical Connecticut WitsConnecticut Wits
or Hartford Wits,
an informal association of Yale students and rectors formed in the late 18th cent. At first they were devoted to the modernization of the Yale curriculum and declaring the independence of American letters.
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. His own copious poetry was largely patriotic and didactic. Sent abroad (1790) as a secret agent, he later served (1793) as commissioner for Algerian affairs and then (1796) as minister plenipotentiary to Spain. On his return in 1802 he brought 100 merino sheep to improve New England flocks; in 1806 he set up a large woolen mill at Humphreysville (now Seymour), Conn., and developed a paternalistic community there for his orphan boy laborers.


See biography by F. L. Humphreys (1917, repr. 1971).

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