Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Nicholas J. Roosevelt, 17 February 1801

From Nicholas J. Roosevelt

New York Feby. 17th. 1801—


I understand sir! that the bill to incorporate a company to work mines and manufacture Metals in the United States is now before your house

I hope you will pardon the liberty I have taken of addressing you on the subject of the Bill when I inform you that I have for several years past been strugling with all the means I could command to make this business successful and find after committing my all, to the event of its success, that few, if any, individual fortunes are equal to the necessary expence of the establishments I have commenced. I must therefore sir! entreat you as the friend of useful manufactures to afford your kind aid and influence with the members of the Senate.—I would have written to you on this subject before had I not expected Chancellor Livingston at my house every day, from whom I intended getting a letter to you on the subject—This Gentleman has regularly visited the works (I have erected) every few months since their commencement and you will see by his subscription to the Mine & Metal Company that he has no doubt of the success of this business provided the Act passes—The Genn. (G Morris) who so warmly opposed the bill the last session is I am informed still opposed, and I fear many others of his party, who would I am convinced rather see me derive that aid from Great Britain which I now solicite from the goverment of the United States. I cannot otherwise see on what grounds Mr. M can oppose the Bill—he cannot possibly oppose it on the grounds of it being unconstitutional when he reflects that the US Bank dailey does business under the Charter granted by Congress:—nor can he oppose it on the principle of monopoly, when he sees that the capital is limitted to a sum, barely sufficient for the objects contemplated, and confined solely to those objects.—

To intrude any longer on your patience would be taking a liberty which I am not entitld to till I obtain a proper introduction—I will therefore close by assuring you that I am sir!

with the greatest respect Your Obedient & Humble St.

Nichs. J. Roosevelt

RC (MH); at head of text: “The Honl. Thos. Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Feb. and so recorded in SJL.

Nicholas J. Roosevelt (1767–1854) established the Soho metal works in New Jersey, operated a rolling mill near Philadelphia, and had a contract to supply the U.S. Navy with copper. He also designed and built steam engines, including one for Robert R. Livingston’s experimental steam-powered boat, the Polacca. Roosevelt later joined Livingston and Robert Fulton in developing steam navigation on western rivers. In 1808 he married Benjamin Latrobe’s daughter Lydia (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Vol. 31:548).

A bill for the incorporation of Roosevelt’s copper mining enterprise had passed the House of Representatives on 30 Jan. and was, when Roosevelt wrote the letter above, in the hands of a Senate committee. On 2 Mch. the Senate declined to advance the bill to a third reading (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:740, 766, 778–9; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:120, 136, 138). A similar measure had failed in the previous session of Congress. For Livingston’s involvement in the company and TJ’s comments on the incorporation attempt, see Vol. 31:547–50.

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