Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Bruff, 7 June 1812

To Thomas Bruff

Monticello June 7. 12.


I have duly recieved your letter of May 30. and am very happy to learn that your manufactory of solid shot is likely to get into operation; while their quality will command a preference in the private demand, there can be no doubt but the same circumstance will ensure you the public supply. having other occasion to write to the president I have with pleasure added a recommendation of yourself and your manufactory to his attention. wishing you all possible success, I tender you the assurance of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Dr Thomas Bruff”; endorsed by TJ.

Thomas Bruff (ca. 1772–1816), dentist and inventor, moved about 1799 from Chestertown, Maryland, to a succession of residences in and near Washington, D.C. Between 1797 and 1813 he received five patents for improvements in tooth extraction, coffee grinding, silver-spoon manufacture, and production of musket balls and shot by pressure. Bruff met TJ in 1801 in connection with his unsuccessful efforts to obtain congressional support for his perpetual time and motion machine, and he subsequently described other inventions to TJ, including a fire engine and a horizontal windmill. TJ paid him for dental services on three occasions between 1803 and 1808 and later recalled his “inexhaustible ingenuity.” Bruff constructed a pressed-shot factory, which was destroyed in the Washington Navy Yard fire of August 1814. He died in New York City (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 , 15, 16, 25, 68, 126; Keene, N.H., Rising Sun, 23 Dec. 1797; Centinel of Liberty, or George-Town and Washington Advertiser, 29 Nov. 1799; New York Mercantile Advertiser, 26 Sept. 1801; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 32:512–3; Bruff to TJ, 16 Dec. 1801, 21 Mar., 14 Sept. 1808 [DLC]; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 4:44, 86–7, 9:478, 542, 10:116 [11 Jan., 8 Feb. 1802, 17 Oct., 23 Nov. 1814, 30 Dec. 1816]; 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 , 2:1093, 1144, 1235; Washington Monitor, 25 Mar. 1809; Alexandria Daily Gazette, Commercial & Political, 2 May 1812; Susan Maria Bruff to TJ, 31 Mar. 1816; TJ to Susan Maria Bruff, 17 Apr. 1816; Washington City Weekly Gazette, 20 Apr. 1816).

For Bruff’s letter of may 30, see note to TJ to James Madison , 6 June 1812.

Index Entries

  • Bruff, Thomas; as dentist search
  • Bruff, Thomas; identified search
  • Bruff, Thomas; letters to search
  • Bruff, Thomas; proposal for shot factory search
  • dental care; T. Bruff as dentist search
  • health; dental search
  • inventions; perpetual-motion machine search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; dental care search
  • Madison, James; mentioned search
  • manufacturing, household; shot towers search
  • patents; of T. Bruff search
  • shot manufacture search