Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Caleb Kirk, 17 February 1809

Brandywine Feby. 17th. 1809

Esteemed Friend;

I Recieved thy favor of 13th. with the Inclosed Specimen of Spanish Merinos wool. I have compared it with those in my neighbourhood—I have likewise had the Opinion of our principal Hatters, without having any knowledge of breed before giving their Judgment, the result has generally been unfavorable they uniformly make use of our best lambs wool of the first years growth being short and more suitable for their purpose than longer wool

I am Induced to believe that thy Original Stock have not been from the genuine Merinos—I have Inclosed Specimens from my friend I. E. DuPont’s flock as well as from my own—

first of the fullblooded Imported eight years in this Country and the product from breeding with our common breed of this neighbourhood, bred in from the same Ram having no fullblood Ewe to help the breed I may Observe the Importance of this breed to our Country as this will appear by the great Improvement it makes in a mixture Consequently a greater in breeding the full blooded together—No diminution in point of Quality since the first Introduction of them into this neighbourhood—The price of full blooded has been from two to three dollars per pound with the Hatters—I have given one dollar per ℔ for half blood wool for my own Manufacture

I may further Remark the true Characteristic marks of the genuine Merinos the pile or staple is short and very thick set on the Animal so as to form an Impenetrable Coat for the Animal against Inclement weather—And as an additi[on] Nature furnishes an Oil or unctious matter exuding from the body which lodges on the Outer end of the wool and collects dirt so as to give them an unfavorable Appearance until examined by close Inspection—This unctious matter thee will Observe to decreas[e] on the Specimens as they depart from the Original Stock

I shall Observe further the Imortance in the first place to the farmer producing more wool, and the value as six to one in price

In the next place to the Manufacture—enabling him to make the Superfine Cloths with as much facility and more profit than the coarse kinds—Altho coarse wool is valuable in its place yet the fine is a very desirable as well as necessary Article and will Command great Attention as the Advantages are known by many but from the few that are here they cannot Spread [so] Rapidly as desired—and some of those that have been brought over are of an Inferior quality—which have led many into an error in forming a Judgment upon that breed

with much esteem from

Caleb Kirk

P.S. I have returned a piece of thy Specimen for a comparison with the true Merinos and their different grades

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.


Specimen of the wool Received in thy favor of 13th. Inst which I Return for Comparison least thou Shouldst have none by thee of same kind

C. Kirk

No 1. Common quarter Blood [. . .]

from the Ram No 3. with a common American Ewe.

N. 2. Weather, quarter Blooded

from the Ram No 3. with a common American Ewe.

N. 3. Half Blooded, Ram,

from the Ram No 6. with a Common American Ewe.

N. 4. three quarter Blooded Ewe

from the Ram No 6. with a half blooded Ewe.

N. 5. Seven Eight Blooded Ram

from the Ram No 6, with the Ewe No 4.

N. 6. E. I. duPont’s, full Blooded Ram of the Merinos breed, Imported in 1801.—

Index Entries