Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Smith, 4 September 1803

From Robert Smith

Balt. Sep. 4. 1803


From Genl Dearborns answer to my letter respecting the gun carriages I find that the War department cannot supply them, and that there are not, as I had imagined, any artificers belonging to that department. I also perceive that the Secretary at War cannot possibly by any means have them built. I have however since the receiving of this answer been making such arrangements that I am enabled to assure you that I will have altered One Hundred of the frigate Carriages in such manner as will, I hope, answer and they will be prepared in time to go, if you approve, in the frigate going to France to be delivered on the return-passage. The axle trees would be very costly if made of wrought iron. I shall therefore have them of Cast Iron. Foxall can cast them so as gives them great substance.

Pray, Sir, is there not some ground to apprehend that we shall have occasion to take some strong measures to check the audacious impressments of our Citizens by the Brittish. If we manifest, at the beginning, a becoming resolution the English must yeild to our wishes. Her present circumstances will force her to abjure towards us what is so reasonable.

The Enclosed letter from Com. Morris I have just received.

Be pleased to accept the assurances of my great respect

Rt Smith

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received from the Navy Department on 9 Sep. and so recorded in SJL; also endorsed by TJ: “gun carriages. impressmts.” Enclosure not found.

making such arrangements: on 5 Sep., Smith ordered Thomas Tingey at the Washington Navy Yard to prepare 100 naval gun carriages, “in the completest manner and with the utmost dispatch,” for the emperor of Morocco. The wooden axle trees were to be replaced with ones of cast iron to be supplied by Georgetown iron manufacturer Henry Foxall, and the carriage wheels were to be enlarged if necessary. If any advice was needed, Tingey was to consult with the secretary of war, “who will Chearfully afford you any Counsel you may need” (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 45, MLS; Vol. 34:46n).

frigate going to france: the Essex, which had been in ordinary at the Washington Navy Yard since its return from the Mediterranean in 1802. Smith had issued orders to outfit the warship and to prepare a marine detachment for it, but withdrew them once it was decided instead to send the Louisiana ratification and gun carriages by private vessel (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, 71-2; Smith to William W. Burrows, 1 Sep., 11 Oct. 1803, Smith to Thomas Tingey, 15 Sep. 1803, FCs in Lb in DNA: RG 45, MLS; Smith to John Cassin, 12 Oct. 1803, FC in Lb in DNA: RG 45, LSO; Vol. 38:195n; TJ to Smith, 10 Oct. 1803).

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