Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph Coppinger to Thomas Jefferson, 6 April 1815

From Joseph Coppinger

New York 6th April 1815.


It is now about fifteen years ago, since I did myself the honor of Addressing you on the subject of naturalization being then only Just arrived in this Country from England. you then occupied the Presidential chair and notwithstanding your eminent station you were pleased to answer my letter with a politeness, and condescension that I shall always gratefully remember, and is now my principal inducement for laying before you a subject that I conceive to be essentially connected with the best Interests of this Country. If so it needs no other recommendation to insure your active support and consequent success The object is a subscription Brewery proposed to be established at Washington with a moderate Capital for the purpose of improving, encouraging, and extending the brewing trade of America in a way well calculated to insure this result and whilst engaged in effecting this great National purpose the experiment could not fail (under proper management) of handsomely repaying its patriotick supporters See the outlines of the Plan inclosed

You will also find the copy of a preface proposed to be annexed to a small practical treatise on Brewing & Malting which I have now nearly ready for the press to be entitled the American brewer In contra-distinction to the work entitled the American Distiller If it only meet a like Encouragemt I will not be without Some reward for my trouble although I can with truth declare pecuniary considerations are not exclusively my object: but principally an earnest desire to improve and encourage the Brewing trade of America, which If my view of its importance be correct whether considered in a National, commercial, or agricultural point of view, most certainly deserves the encouragement of all classes of our population, Independent of its great influence on their health and Morals—Some of the new and most useful processes intended to be given in this work are the following

A new and better mode of Malting Indian corn by which this grain now principally devoted to the destructive purposes of the Distillery can be converted into good Malt and made a valuable addition to Brewing materials. Another is a simple, and easy process of making beer, only a week brewed, assume all the appearances of age, possessing transparency flavour, and above all the preserving quality so essential to good beer. A third process is makg a good and preserving beer from bran and Shorts without Malt, this Process in many situations Where Malt is not easily procured will be found useful.1 A fourth process peculiarly adapted to Gentlemen, farmers, and house-Keepers, as economical, and giving but little trouble is a method of brewing, and fermenting beer by close fermentation: suffering neither yeast nor feculencies to escape at the bung hole. this simple and easy process makes a transparent pungent beer, which seems to improve whilst any remains in the Cask and by no means subject to turn sour, or flat as is common with other beer. There are many other matters that I trust will be found new and useful in a work of this Kind. by the notice proposed to be given with the preface you will perceive it is contemplated to add an Accot of wine making and Tanning on an improved plan as is now practiced in France. The work will be printed with large tipe and on good Paper Price to subscribers $2.—in boards this is half the price that is asked for Morrises Small work on brewing which I trust in point of usefulness, will not bear a comparisson with the one I am now about to present the Publick. If you permit me I will have the honor of putting down your name as a Subscriber but whether permitted or not believe me with sentiments of high respect and regard

Sir Your most Obt Hbe Servt
Joseph Coppinger
198 Duane St
New York

P.S living somewhat out of the City compells me to have my letters Addressed to the house of a friend—

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Apr. 1815 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Preface to Coppinger’s publication on brewing, which expounds on the merits of brewing beer, citing the £7.5 million in tax revenue generated annually in England; the “immense fortunes” made by brewers in England, Ireland, and Scotland; the good health enjoyed by consumers of beer; the economic benefit to the farmer who “can raise no crop that will pay better than hops,” from which in a good year he can clear $100 per acre, and for whom barley is also a valuable crop; and the financial profit to the merchant who exports beer to the East and West Indies, South America, and especially to Russia, where “good beer is in great demand”; and commending the recent improvement by brewers in New York, who may eventually be able to produce a malt wine (Tr in DLC: TJ Papers, 201:35882–3, in Coppinger’s hand, dated New York, 15 Aug. 1814, at head of text: “Preface”; printed without the concluding five sentences in Coppinger, The American Practical Brewer and Tanner [New York, 1815], v–vii). Other enclosure printed below.

Joseph Coppinger (d. ca. 1825), brewer and inventor, immigrated to the United States in 1802 from Midleton, county Cork, Ireland. After a brief stay in New York City, he moved to Pittsburgh, where he used his twelve years of experience in the craft to run the Point Brewery. Disagreements with his financial partners led to a move within a year to Lexington, Kentucky. Coppinger was peripatetic thereafter, hailing from Saint Louis in 1807, from Washington and Baltimore in 1809, and from South Carolina, Georgia, and New York City in 1810. In the last year he attempted to enlist President James Madison’s support for a national brewery to be located in Washington. Coppinger finally settled by 1817 in New York City, where he initially kept a clothing store and wrote On the Construction of Flat Roofed Buildings, Whether of Stone, Brick, or Wood, and the Mode of Rendering Them Fire Proof (New York, 1819) and Catholic Doctrines and Catholic Principles Explained (New York, 1817; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 9 [no. 523]). He held United States patents for machines to split shingles, plane wood, thresh and clean grain, flail rice, and drive a whipsaw, and for methods to distill in cast iron and preserve food (John Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland [1835], 2:328; Journal of the Cork Historical & Archæological Society, 2d. ser., 8 [1902]: 149; William Coppinger to Bishop John Carroll, 22 Apr. 1802, 3 Jan. 1803, and Joseph Coppinger to Carroll, 12 Mar. 1803 [MdBS: Archdiocese of Baltimore Archives, Carroll Papers]; Gregg Smith, Beer in America: The Early Years—1587–1840 [1998], 134–7; Coppinger to TJ, 17 Oct. 1802 [DLC]; Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 10 May 1803; Coppinger to Benjamin Rush, 18 Aug. 1807 [PPL: Rush Correspondence]; Lexington Kentucky Gazette and General Advertiser, 13 Mar. 1809; National Intelligencer & Washington Advertiser, 3 July, 25 Sept. 1809; Madison, Papers, Pres. Ser., 3:71, 79; Longworth’s New York Directory description begins Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, New York, 1796–1842 (title varies; cited by year of publication) description ends [1817]: 139; [1825]: 131; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., New York, 1820; 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 , 76–7, 80).

Coppinger corresponded with TJ on the subject of naturalization because he needed to become a citizen of the United States in order to patent an invention there (Coppinger to TJ, 17 Oct. 1802, 3 Jan., 18 Feb. 1803, and TJ to Coppinger, 23 Oct. 1802 [all in DLC]). Coppinger published his treatise as The American Practical Brewer and Tanner (New York, 1815). In response to an 1813 advertisement, TJ had already expressed a desire to purchase this work when it was published (TJ to Nicolas G. Dufief, [18] Sept. 1813). Coppinger wrote in contra-distinction to Michael Krafft, The American Distiller, or, the Theory and Practice of Distilling, According to the Latest Discoveries and Improvements, Including the Most Improved Methods of Constructing Stills, and of Rectification (Philadelphia, 1804; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 1208). morrises small work on brewing: Alexander Morrice, A Treatise on Brewing, 2d ed. (London, 1802), which was in its fifth edition by 1815.

1Manuscript: “uself.”

Index Entries

  • alcohol; beer search
  • A Treatise on Brewing (A. Morrice) search
  • beer; books on search
  • beer; brewing process search
  • books; on beer search
  • books; on brewing search
  • books; on wine search
  • brewing; books on search
  • brewing; process of search
  • brewing; use of corn in search
  • brewing; use of malt in search
  • Catholic Doctrines and Catholic Principles Explained (J. Coppinger) search
  • Coppinger, Joseph; Catholic Doctrines and Catholic Principles Explained search
  • Coppinger, Joseph; citizenship of search
  • Coppinger, Joseph; identified search
  • Coppinger, Joseph; letter from search
  • Coppinger, Joseph; proposed national brewery search
  • Coppinger, Joseph; The American Practical Brewer and Tanner search
  • corn; in brewing beer search
  • Krafft, Michael; The American Distiller search
  • leather; tanning search
  • Morrice, Alexander; A Treatise on Brewing search
  • patents; guidelines for issuing search
  • The American Distiller (M. Krafft) search
  • The American Practical Brewer and Tanner (J. Coppinger) search
  • wine; books on search