Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Jacob Alrichs, 10 August 1812

To Jacob Alrichs

Monticello Aug. 10. 12.


When you were so kind as to exhibit to me at Washington your Spinning machine with 6. spindles (for I believe it was yourself who attended there) I understood you meant to employ your mind in the construction of a carding machine on the same scale, to go by hand, and if it succeeded, that I should be furnished with one on request. I understand you have fully succeeded in it, and I now ask the favor of you to furnish me one to be worked by hand, and just large enough to employ my spinning machine of 20. spindles. I would ask as a great favor to be furnished without delay, because in the mean time my spinning drags on very heavily, having to do all the carding by hand. the machine when ready & packed should (for safety) be sent down the bay of Chesapeake, to either Norfolk or Richmond, addressed to the care of mr Gibson, mercht of Richmond to be forwarded to me. mr Gibson will pay the freight, and the moment you notify me that it is ready, and mention it’s price, it shall be remitted to you either to Wilmington or Philadelphia. have the goodness to drop me a single line on the reciept of this, that I may be on a certainty as to it’s getting to hand, and when I may hope for it’s effect. Accept my best wishes & respects.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Jacob Alrichs”; endorsed by TJ.

Jacob Alrichs (1775–1857), machinist and clockmaker, was a resident of Wilmington, Delaware, who learned the watchmaking business from his uncle Jonas Alrichs. After the latter’s death in 1802, Alrichs took over the family jewelry concern and began a machine business in a short-lived partnership with Samuel McClary. By 1810 Alrichs formed a partnership with machinist Isaac Dixon that manufactured cotton machines under the name of Alrichs & Dixon. In 1820 one of Alrichs’s firms supplied the Wilmington fire department with its first engine. He was active in Wilmington’s civic life, serving as a director of the Spring Water Company (1803), assistant burgess (1805), city councillor (1810–23), director of the Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine (1815), and state senator (1830). Alrichs was a member of the Abolition Society of Delaware, attended a national antislavery conference in Philadelphia in 1806, and belonged to the African School Society. In 1841 he was appointed deputy postmaster at Wilmington, and four years later he patented a door latch. He was buried in the Friends Burial Grounds in Wilmington (Naera Smith Alrich and William Henry Alrich III, Uncle Levi and the Alrich (Alricks) Family Genealogy [1985], 88–90; Herbert Standing, comp., Delaware Quaker Records: Early Members of Wilmington Meeting [n.d.], 3:3; Society of Friends of Wilmington, Del., Friends in Wilmington, 1738–1938 [1938], 36, 38, 155; J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware, 1609–1888 [1888; repr. 2001], 2:664–5, 685, 738, 754; Anna T. Lincoln, Wilmington Delaware: Three Centuries under Four Flags, 1609–1937 [1937], 124, 173–5, 208; Wilmington Delaware Gazette, 3 Dec. 1796; American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, Minutes of the Proceedings 11 [1806]: 19–20; Wilmington American Watchman, 28 Nov. 1810, 10 Apr. 1819; A Directory, and Register for the Year 1814 … of the Borough of Wilmington, and Brandywine [1813], 9; Philadelphia Mechanic’s Free Press, 9 Oct. 1830; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 5:381–2, 397 [14, 29 June 1841]; Mortimer D. Leggett, Subject-Matter Index of Patents for Inventions Issued by the United States Patent Office from 1790 to 1873, inclusive [1874], 2:836; DNA: RG 29, CS, Del., Wilmington, 1850).

Index Entries

  • Alrichs, Jacob; identified search
  • Alrichs, Jacob; letters to search
  • Alrichs & Dixon (Wilmington, Del., firm); and carding machine search
  • carding machines; from Alrichs & Dixon search
  • Gibson, Patrick; and shipments to TJ search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and textile machinery acquired by TJ search
  • machines; carding search
  • machines; spinning search
  • spinning machines; described search