Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to George Hargraves, 29 August 1814

To George Hargraves

Monticello Aug. 29. 14.


Your favor of Aug. 4. came safe to hand, covering the description of a torpedo. I should readily have forwarded it to the government had it been within their plan to try the experiments which these machines require. but I understand that so many of these flowed in upon them as to oblige them to decline attention to them; and to leave it to individuals to put them in practice, offering a great reward for every vessel destroyed, the value of the vessel I believe. I therefore return the paper to you. I doubt moreover whether the description is such as that a machine could be made from it. from a circumstance mentioned in your letter I presume the paper is of mr Bushnell who sent me, while in Europe, a description of his Turtle, which I had inserted in the Philosophical transactions, and is one of the most ingenious devices which has been yet proposed in this way.

Accept the assurance of my respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of missing letter from Alexander Garrett to TJ, 21 Aug. 1814; at foot of text: “Mr George Hargrave”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure not found.

TJ sent David Bushnell’s description of his turtle to the American Philosophical Society, which reported it “worthy of publication” on 22 June 1798 (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes [MS in PPAmP]) and published it in APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Transactions 4 (1799): 303–12.

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; TJ forwards material to search
  • American Philosophical Society; Transactions search
  • Bushnell, David; submarine inventor search
  • Bushnell, David; torpedoes of search
  • Hargraves, George; forwards D. Bushnell’s torpedo drawings search
  • Hargraves, George; letters to search
  • submarines; invented by D. Bushnell search
  • torpedo (mine) search