Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Phineas Miller, 27 May 1793

From Phineas Miller

Mulberry Grove Georgia May 27th 1793


I am desired by Mrs. Greene, whose sensibility to the late unhappy accident in her family prevents her writing herself, to solicit the favor of your particular attention to the application of Mr. Whitney. He has resided in our family during the last winter—and amidst all the inconveniences which a situation in the country without tools and without workmen, could throw in his way, has invented a machine for ginning cotton which promises to be highly useful to the Southern States—and I shall not only speak the opinion of Mrs. Greene, but of others who have known Mr. Whitney in saying that his amiable character has a particular claim to private friendship and patronage, at the same time that his strong inventive genius deserves the encouragement of the Public. With perfect respect I am Sir Your Obedt. Servant

Phins. Miller

RC (ViW: Tucker-Coleman Collection); at foot of text: “The Honble. Thos. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 June 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

The late unhappy accident was the death of George Washington Greene (Miller to TJ, 3 May 1793). On or shortly before this date Miller and Eli Whitney formalized an earlier understanding that in exchange for financing the initial expenses, Miller would share equally in all profits derived from “patenting, making, vending, and working” Whitney’s machine for Ginning Cotton. Whitney petitioned TJ for a patent three days after presenting this letter of introduction (Mirsky and Nevins, Eli Whitney description begins Jeannette Mirsky and Allan Nevins, The World of Eli Whitney, New York, 1952 description ends , 66–8; Petition from Whitney, 20 June 1793).

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