Thomas Jefferson Papers

Robert Patterson to Thomas Jefferson, 2 December 1815

From Robert Patterson

Philada Decr 2d 1815


Mr Hassler has just transmitted to the Sec’y of the Treasury, a descriptive list of the instruments which, in execution of his appointment for that purpose, he had procured in Europe, & has lately brought with him to this city.

Presuming that you might be pleased to have a copy of this list, I herewith send you one, for your acceptance.

Mr Hassler’s circumstances are, at present, somewhat imbarrassing. Congress have not, for some time past, made any appropriation for his stipulated compensation. The Sec’y of the Treasury, however, writes, that he has no doubt, that Congress will, at their ensuing session, make the necessary appropriation for that purpose.

From the long & intimate acquaintance which I have had with this gentlemans extraordinary abilities, I am confident, that Government could find no person better qualified than he is, to exercise a principal agency in the business for which these instruments have been procured, or in which they may hereafter be employed.

He is not only perfectly acquainted with the construction & use of all the instruments, & all the necessary calculations connected therewith, but can keep the same in order, & even make,1 with his own hands & instruments, most of the repairs or additions that may be wanted.

I would, therefore, Sir, take the liberty of requesting, that you would have the goodness, to use your interest with the Government, to procure for him some temporary or permanent employment; either in the contemplated survey of the coast, the running of boundary lines, or the superintendance of a national observatory.

I ask this favour, not merely from the regard I have for this gentleman, but also from the conviction that his talents would be a useful acquisition to the Government.

I am, Sir, with the greatest respect & esteem Your Most obedt servt

Rt Patterson

RC (DLC: James Madison Papers); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Dec. 1815 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in TJ to James Madison, 22 Dec. 1815.

The Secretary of the treasury was Alexander J. Dallas. After returning to the United States with the instruments and books he had been authorized to purchase for the United States Coast Survey, Ferdinand R. Hassler presented his accounts on 20 Nov. 1815, according to which the government owed him a balance of £13.13.6½ in compensation (ASP, Commerce and Navigation, 2:30). He officially became superintendent of the survey of the coast in August 1816 (Hassler, Principal Documents relating to the Survey of the Coast of the United States, since 1816 [1834], 9–11).

1Word interlined in place of “supply.”

Index Entries

  • Dallas, Alexander James; as secretary of the treasury search
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph; and instruments for U.S. Coast Survey search
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph; and U.S. Coast Survey search
  • Hassler, Ferdinand Rudolph; financial claim on U.S. of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Patterson, Robert; and F. R. Hassler’s claim search
  • Patterson, Robert; letters from search
  • scientific instruments; for U.S. Coast Survey search
  • surveying; U.S. Coast Survey search