Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Patterson, 25 March 1800

From Robert Patterson

March. 25 1800


I take the liberty of introducing the bearer Mr. Smith an acquaintance of mine from Bucks county. He wishes to see the model of your mould-board, as he and his brother have turned their attention a good deal to that subject. He has with him the description and model of a mouldboard for which he has had thoughts of obtaining a patent—It is I believe the spiral or twisted-board, which, in theory at least, is certainly inferior to yours.

Yours with perfect esteem

R Patterson

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thos. Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

Robert Smith obtained a patent for a mould-board plow on 19 May 1800. His brother Joseph Smith was the principal founder of the Tinicum industrial works along the Delaware River in Bucks County in the 1780s. He was credited with making the first cast-iron moldboard in Pennsylvania and was producing them at his works several years before his brother obtained the patent. Local sources credited Joseph, not Robert, with inventing the patented moldboard. In 1803 the industrial works shipped 758 moldboards to Philadelphia (List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1792, to December 31, 1836, Washington, D.C., 1872 description ends , 22; William W. H. Davis, History of Bucks County Pennsylvania from the Discovery of the Delaware to the Present Time, 2d ed., 3 vols. [New York, 1905], 2:6).

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