Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Smith, 22 February 1809

Navy Department 22 febry. 1809


The Act intituled “An Act for procuring an additional number of Arms, and for the purchase of salt petre & sulphur” passed 11 March 1808— appropriates “for the purchase of salt petre & sulphur” 150,000 dollars—

During the session of 1808, I received from genl Smith, chairman of a committee of the Senate, a letter asking information as to the additional quantity of salt petre & sulphur which it might be expedient to provide for the Navy service—In answer to this letter, I recommended the providing an additional stock of

500,000 lbs. of salt petre & 150,000 lbs. of sulphur—and shortly after this communication the Act in question was passed. Hence I inferred that the appropriation of 150,000$, which is about the sum required for the purchase of the salt petre & sulphur above stated, was intended for the navy service entirely—and was to be considered as a navy appropriation—

Under this impression I had the honor during the last summer of submitting to your consideration, the proposals of Doct. Hunter of Philadelphia, for supplying 500,000 lbs. of refined petre @ 25 cents per lb—and Doct. Hunter’s proposals having been approved by you, our navy agent at Philaa was instructed to close & accordingly did close a contract with Doct. Hunter for the delivery of 500,000 lbs. of refined Salt petre—

The amount of this contract is $125000—the contingent expences attending it may amount to 8000$—this leaves of the appropriation of 150,000$, a balance of 17000$—

Whether this balance of 17000$ shall be applied to the purchase of sulphur, is with you now to determine—The Navy Department may want an additional stock of this article—

I have the honor to be with great respect, sir, yr. mo. obt. servt.

Rt Smith

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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