Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William, Benjamin, and W. L. Bakewell, 8 February 1803

From William, Benjamin, and W. L. Bakewell

New Haven 8 Feby 1803


Although we are unknown to you, permit us to express our sense of the benefits resulting from your administration of the affairs of this Country; benefits the more valued, when contrasted with the state of other nations, which but for the happy example that America affords, might induce the friends of liberty, to despair of any amelioration of the political condition of mankind.

To you, Sir, it is needless to enlarge on this subject. In the sensations of your own mind, & in the thanks of a free people, you will doubtless find abundant compensation for the abusive fabrications of your enemies, of which we are concerned to observe several in this neighbourhood; though we hope & believe that the more candid & intelligent part of them, are becoming sensible of the mistaken principle on which their enmity is founded; but all arguments are useless upon those men, whose only object is, to be supported in idleness at the public expence; & with whom that government is the best, which has the greatest number of offices, pensions, & sinecures.

Having established a Brewery in this City, we have sent by the   from NYork a Barrel of Ale, of which we beg your acceptance, as a small token of our esteem & gratitude. It may be either drawn wholly from the Cask, or if not all drawn off by the middle of April, will be best kept in bottles after that time.

With best wishes for your health & happiness, we remain, Sir, Your obedt. Servts.

Wm, Benj, & W L. Bakewell

PS. We forward this by an English Gent of our acquaintance traveling to the southern states.

RC (DLC); in William Bakewell’s hand and signed by him; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Apr. from “Bakewell, Wm Benj. & W.L.” and so recorded in SJL.

Benjamin Bakewell (1767–1844), a native of Derby, England, and an importer of French dry goods in London, immigrated to the United States in 1793 and became a merchant in New York City. With the financial backing of his older brother, William (1762–1821), he opened a brewing business in New Haven in 1798. One week after sending this letter and ale to TJ, the Bakewell brewing business was destroyed in a fire and was not resumed. Upon the expiration of the partnership of William, Benjamin, & William Luccock Bakewell sometime before 15 Apr. 1806, W. L. Bakewell handled the settlement with their debtors. Benjamin Bakewell set up a dry goods shop in New York and later established a glassworks in Pittsburgh, which was renowned for its cut and engraved wares and whose products were used in the White House during the presidencies of James Monroe and Andrew Jackson. William Bakewell settled on a farm in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where his daughter met and married the naturalist John James Audubon (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; New York Daily Advertiser, 2 Mch. 1803; Hartford American Mercury, 17 Mch. and 7 Apr. 1803; New Haven Connecticut Journal, 1 May 1806; Arlene Palmer, Artistry and Innovation in Pittsburgh Glass, 1808–1882: From Bakewell & Ensell to Bakewell, Pears & Co. [Pittsburgh, 2004], 15–20; The Family Book of Bakewell, Page, Campbell [Pittsburgh, 1896], 25–9, 47).

english gent of our acquaintance: see Theophilus Harris to TJ, 12 Apr.

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