Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Isaac Hawkins, 17 June 1802

To John Isaac Hawkins

Washington June 17. 1802


I have this moment recieved the inclosed bill of lading by which it appears that my Piano forte was shipped at Richmond on the 11th. inst. on board the Schooner Pearl capt. Nathaniel Thompson to your consignment. I have desired mr Barnes of this place, who acts for me in money matters, to give orders for the paiment of the freight. I see by the newspapers you have exhibited or were about exhibiting your Claviol. I shall be glad to learn it’s success. perhaps, while my Piano forte is in your possession, you may be called on for a Piano forte for some one. in which case I should be willing you should dispose of mine, and consider me as free to ask a Claviole or another Piano forte: but perhaps also your departure for London may be too near to admit your executing a new order. of this you will be best judge. Accept my respects and best wishes.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr. John Hawkins”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Enclosure not found, but see George Jefferson to TJ, 14 June.

Hawkins advertised his invention of the CLAVIOL and introduced it in a concert performance of vocal and instrumental music held in Philadelphia on 21 June 1802. The finger-keyed viol, which produced music from gut strings by rosined horse-hair bows, reputedly had “the sweet enchanting tones of the harmonica, the rich sounds of the Violin, and the full grand chords of the Organ” (Gazette of the United States, 11 and 21 June 1802). For the construction of the claviol, see Hawkins to TJ, 16 July 1802.

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