Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Smith, with Jefferson’s Note, 7 March 1803

From Robert Smith, with Jefferson’s Note

Monday Morng. [i.e. 7 Mch. 1803]


I came over this morning to submit to you the propriety of procuring Carronades for the Small Vessels we are about building. All practical men prefer them to Cannon. But the Cost of them not being Comprehended in my Estimate they cannot be Obtained but under the appropriation in Brackenridge’s Bill.—I wish to have your Opinion upon this Subject


Rt Smith

[Note by TJ:]

I should approve of the caronnades; but I recollect nothing in mr Breckenridge’s bill which could be applied to them. that related to militia & an armory on the western waters.


RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 110:18886); partially dated; endorsed by TJ as received from the Navy Department and “Caronnades for schooners” and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ as a letter of 7 Mch., but recorded in SJL as a letter of 6 Mch. received the 7th.

carronades: “A short piece of ordnance, usually of large caliber, having a chamber for the powder like a mortar; chiefly used on shipboard” (OED description begins J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

For the act of Congress authorizing the navy to build or purchase four small vessels of war, see Smith to TJ, 19 Jan. 1803. The navy acquired the brigs Argus and Siren and the schooners Nautilus and Vixen in 1803 under the terms of the act (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , Register, 68, 75, 77–8, 80).

brackenridge’s bill: by an act of 3 Mch., Congress authorized the president to call up to 80,000 militia into service and to erect one or more arsenals “on the western waters,” and appropriated $1,500,000 and $25,000, respectively, for these purposes. The act originated as a resolution offered by Senator John Breckinridge of Kentucky (TJ to Thomas McKean, 19 Feb. 1803).

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