Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Walter Janes to William Thornton, 12 [July] 1814


Walter Janes to William Thornton

Ashford 12th [July] 1814


I recieved your Letter dated July 1st yesterday, enclosing a line from Mr Jefferson, proposing certain questions relative to my Patent Loom, to which you request of me specific answers—and first he enquires to know if “the treadles and shuttle are compleatly worked by the stroke of the Batten1—I answer they are—“Is it of such simplicity as that it can be made by our Country workmen, and kept in order by t[he co]mmon ingenuity in our families”? With a very little practice in either case, it is.—“Can the Machinery2 be fixed to a common Loom &c—”? It cannot—It will require a New Frame and Machinery throughout—But its construction is simple, and its operation3 easy to become acquainted with.—

You also enquire “what I would charge Mr Jefferson for the privilege of using the Improvement &c.4—For such privilege, I must refer him to Mr George Greer of Baltimore, or Robert Miller of Philadelphia, they having lately purchased My right for the southern and Western States—

They have some of the Looms in operation in Phila and in Baltimore, and probably will soon have some agoing at Washington Yours &c—

Walter Janes

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 203:36102); partially dated; mutilated, with missing text supplied from TJ to Thornton, 9 June 1814; addressed: “William Thornton Esqe Washington Columbia.”

Walter Janes (1779–1827), musician and inventor, moved between 1807 and 1810 from Dedham, Massachusetts, to Ashford, Windham County, Connecticut. He taught and conducted music and published two tune books that included many of his own compositions: The Massachusetts Harmony (Boston, 1803) and The Harmonic Minstrelsey (Dedham, 1807). Janes was a prominent Mason and author of A Masonic Poem, Delivered at Mansfield, (Conn.) Before Trinity Chapter of Royal Arch Masons (Brookfield, Mass., 1819). Between 1810 and 1826 he received six patents, for improved looms and wagon springs and for machines for weaving, shelling corn, and bending wheel tires (Frederic Janes, The Janes Family: A Genealogy and Brief History of the Descendants of William Janes [1868], 140, 195–7; 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 , 79, 85, 124, 205, 315, 316; Masonic Mirror: And Mechanics’ Intelligencer 3 [1827]: 383).

1Omitted closing quotation mark editorially supplied.

2Manuscript: “Machinry.”

3Janes here canceled “considered.”

4Omitted closing quotation mark editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Greer, George; as patent agent search
  • Janes, Walter; identified search
  • Janes, Walter; letter from to W. Thornton search
  • Janes, Walter; loom of search
  • looms search
  • machines; loom search
  • Miller, Robert (patent agent); as patent agent search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); domestic manufacturing at search
  • patents; of W. Janes search
  • Thornton, William; as patent office superintendent search
  • Thornton, William; letter to, from W. Janes search