Slater's Mark: Samuel Slater and the Founding of Webster  


Incorporation of the Town of Webster

Webster would not become its own town until 1832. Since the establishment of the Green Mill, Slater had been in nearly constant conflict with the towns of Dudley and Oxford. As early as 1815, Slater had attempted to draw funds from the school taxes collected by Dudley on the East Village as well as those raised by Oxford. Slater had hoped to establish his own school within his factory system to control both the content of the education and when it would be provided. While Dudley agreed, Oxford refused and this would mark the beginning of a history of hostility between Slater and the Town of Oxford. Slaterís attempt to build a turnpike through Dudley, which Dudley residents would still have to pay tolls to use, caused similar feelings of hostility in Dudley.

Thus, wishing to have greater control over town governance and avoid the continuous problems he was experiencing with the two towns, Slater spearheaded an attempt to incorporate a new town comprised of his three villages. In 1831, a petition, signed by 172 residents of Oxford and Dudley, was filed with the Massachusetts General Court to incorporate the new Town of Webster. Although Slater did not sign the petition himself, since he continued to profess residence in Pawtucket, two of his sons, George and John, did sign the petition. Residents of Oxford and Dudley protested the move, but Slaterís influence in the legislature proved too much and the petition was granted on March 6, 1832. At Slaterís request, the petitioners agreed to name the new town “Webster” in honor of Daniel Webster, the Massachusetts Senator whom Slater greatly admired.

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