Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Garnett to Thomas Jefferson, 17 December 1814

From John Garnett

N. Brunswick. N.J. 17 December 1814


I take the liberty to inclose a new method of reducing the “Moon’s distance” which I flatter myself is more simple and uniform than any hitherto used.

Having conducted the American Edition of the Nautical Almanac from its beginning in 1803 at a considerable pecuniary loss, besides the great attention it necessarily takes, Mr Patterson the Professor at Philadelphia has recommended it to published1 in future by subscription, from the present situation of Commerce, and the Necessity of its being continued for its great use in the Navy of the United States:

If at your suggestion the Secretary of the Navy would so far promote it by takeing a Certain number yearly, it would assist me essentialy; a former Secretary took 150 Copies for the use of the Navy but it was not continued for more than that year. Your well known attachment to Science and the kind attention shewn me when I was introduced to you at Washington, and in your correspondence with the late General Gates which he shew’d me, has encouraged me to make this application

I am with the greatest Respect Sir Your obliged Servt

John Garnett

PS. I am going in a short time to pay a farewell visit to England, if there are any late publications or any thing you wish to procure, it would give me great pleasure to be of the least use to you—

The N. Almanac of 1815 is now published. of 1816 I have y[. . .]

RC (DLC); lacking final page; dateline adjacent to closing; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Dec. 1814 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

John Garnett (ca. 1750–1820), a native of England and cousin of the Revolutionary War general Horatio Gates, immigrated late in the 1790s to the United States and in 1798 purchased a farm near New Brunswick, New Jersey. For about a decade he edited an American edition of the Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris, and he published similar scientific works, several of which TJ owned. Garnett was also an avid agriculturist and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He died of apoplexy at his New Jersey home (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 37 vols. description ends , 30:110, 36:50–1; New Jersey Historical Society, Proceedings, new ser., 6 [1921]: 17–20; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends nos. 3807, 3809–10, 3778; American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Memoirs, new ser., 11 [1882]: 40; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 16 July 1802 [MS in PPAmP]; New York American, 19 May 1820).

The United States Navy, under the direction of former secretary Paul Hamilton, used Garnett’s edition of the Nautical Almanac in 1811 (Edmund M. Blunt to TJ, 28 June 1811). Garnett met TJ early in 1803 during what Gates called Garnett’s “Vissit of Curiosity to washington” (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 4:295; TJ to Meriwether Lewis, 30 Apr., 16 May 1803, and TJ to James Cheetham, 17 June 1803 [all DLC]).

1Thus in manuscript.

Index Entries

  • Garnett, John; European travels of search
  • Garnett, John; identified search
  • Garnett, John; letter from search
  • Garnett, John; lunar calculations search
  • Garnett, John; Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris search
  • Garnett, John; visits Washington search
  • Gates, Horatio; TJ’s correspondence with search
  • Hamilton, Paul (1762–1816); as secretary of the navy search
  • moon; calculations of motion, position, and distance of search
  • Navy Department, U.S.; use of J. Garnett’s Nautical Almanacby search
  • Patterson, Robert; and Nautical Almanac search
  • The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris (J. Garnett); and R. Patterson search
  • The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris (J. Garnett); publication of search
  • The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris (J. Garnett); use of by U.S. Navy search