Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Moore, 28 April 1809

To Thomas Moore

Monticello Apr. 28. 09.


Your letter of the 20th was recieved two days ago. I distinctly recollect that on your satisfying me that the law for locating & opening the Western road could not be executed by barely the agents named in it, I authorised you to employ others, particularly a packhorseman, with a packhorse & tent, and one or more assistants in the surveying (I do not recollect the number exactly) and that I did it on this ground that it is the intention of every law that itself shall be executed; that so far as it directs by what agents & means, it’s directions are to be obeyed, & so far as it does not specify these, the Executive, on whom the constitution makes it incumbent to see that the laws are executed, must supply them according to a sound & responsible discretion. I remember too the authorising you to have 22. feet of the width felled and so opened as that horsemen might pass, for the sake of preserving the trace of a location made at such an expence. and I cannot help believing such an authority is given or plainly implied to have been given, in some of my letters to you. I think I never failed to consult with the Secretary of the treasury on such of these subjects as were of some importance, & to mention the others to him, and I believe the result was generally, perhaps always agreeable to our joint opinion or acquiescence. I return your letter for the sake of making a general reference to it as being I think correct in the facts it states, and I salute you with esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. I think Genl Mason could testify some of these facts.

PoC (CtY: Franklin Collection); at foot of text: “Mr Thomas Moore”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure: Moore to TJ, 20 Apr. 1809, not found but recorded in SJL as received from Washington on 26 Apr. 1809.

Thomas Moore (ca. 1759–1822), civil engineer and inventor, kept a farm in Montgomery County, Maryland. He corresponded regularly with TJ about his refrigerator. Moore patented the invention on 27 Jan. 1803 and TJ bought one the following year. Moore’s mercantile business had failed by January 1804, when he sought a western appointment. From 1818 until his death he was principal engineer of Virginia’s Board of Public Works (Thomas H. S. Boyd, The History of Montgomery County, Maryland, from its Earliest Settlement in 1650 to 1879 [1879, repr. 1968], 90–2; Henry Moore to TJ, 30 Jan. 1804 [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–09]; List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 31; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1132; Richmond Enquirer, 8, 29 Oct. 1822).

On 14 Apr. 1806 TJ appointed John mason, Moore, and Joseph Kerr commissioners for laying out the Cumberland Road from Maryland to the Ohio River. Mason resigned several months later (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:33 [14, 16 Apr. 1806]; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Misc., 1:474; Mason to TJ, 7 July 1806 [DNA: RG 59, RD]).

Index Entries

  • Cumberland Road; commissioners of search
  • Gallatin, Albert; in TJ’s administration search
  • inventions; refrigerator search
  • Kerr, Joseph; as commissioner of Cumberland Road search
  • machines; refrigerator search
  • Mason, John (of Georgetown); commissioner of Cumberland Road search
  • Moore, Thomas (of Montgomery Co., Md.); and Cumberland Road search
  • Moore, Thomas (of Montgomery Co., Md.); identified search
  • Moore, Thomas (of Montgomery Co., Md.); letters from accounted for search
  • Moore, Thomas (of Montgomery Co., Md.); letters to search
  • refrigerators search