Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Richard Claiborne, 14 May 1803

From Richard Claiborne

Alexandria 14. May—’3


I take a pleasure in informing you that my experiments here, of the Duck’s Foot Paddle, as far as the single stroke, have been attended with entire success,—and I am about to experience the contributions of my acquaintances and other gentlemen of Alexandria, to enable me to prosecute the invention to the double stroke. In the mean time I have another machine going on under the patronage of the Potomak Company, for propelling boats by the setting poles, which I trust will be successful, also.

I have not time to write to Mr. Madison, Genl. Dearborn, Mr. Granger, Mr. Tucker, and Capt. Tingey, to whom, with yourself, I am under obligations. For you Sir, and these gentlemen, I entertain the highest respect; and it will be my highest gratification to find, in the event of my productions, that you are not disappointed.

R Claiborne

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 16 May and so recorded in SJL.

During the spring, Claiborne conducted four experiments crossing the Potomac at Alexandria in boats propelled by his paddle, which TJ had experienced firsthand the previous summer. Claiborne’s demonstrations garnered some national attention, and the Alexandria Expositor praised the invention as well as the patriotism of those local citizens who had subscribed to Claiborne’s efforts (New York American Citizen, 20 May 1803; Alexandria Expositor, and the Columbian Advertiser, 27 May 1803; Vol. 38:271–2).

Index Entries