George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Voigt, 13 April 1792

From Henry Voigt

Philadia April 13th 1792.

The Petition of Henry Voigt of the City of Philadelphia Clock and Watchmaker Humbly sheweth

Your Petitioner begs leave to represent to Your Excellency that he is well acquainted with all the different parts for Coining of Money—that he in his Younger days for several Years worked in the Mint of Saxe Gotha in Germany and has gone through all the various Branches belonging to the same—that he not only knows how to use every Engine belonging to a Mint, but is able to make every one himself in all its parts Compleat (except engraving the Dies)—and even has made some Improvements in the Machinery whereby a Considerable Expence was saved.

Your Petitioner further begs leave to represent that in the late Revolution from a Zeal to serve his Country in her distress, he manufactored Gears and Gunlocks for the Army of the United States—and erected and Carried on a Wire Manufactory to accomodate his Country with that Article for making Wool and Cotton Cards—and introducing several useful Machines for the purpose of expediting manufactoring of Cards—but that when Importation took place Your petitioner’s Manufactory was ruined and reduced him to straightened Circumstances from a state of Contentment and easy living.

These Circumstances have emboldened Your Petitioner hereby to solicit Your Excellency to appoint him to an Office in the Mint of the United States.

Your Petitioner from a Conviction of giving Satisfaction humbly solicits Your Excellency to appoint him Chief Coiner of the Mint of the United States.1 And as in Duty bound will ever pray &ca

Henry Voigt


Henry Voigt (Voight; 1738–1814) moved to Philadelphia shortly after closing his wire mill in Reading, Pa., in 1780. He associated himself with steamboat designer John Fitch in 1786–87 and entered into formal partnership with him in 1792 to manufacture steam engines, a project which proved to be unsuccessful. Voigt lived at 149 North Second Street, Philadelphia, in 1791 (see Fitch and Voigt to GW, 26 Feb. 1790; Eckhardt, Pennsylvania Clocks and Clockmakers, description begins George H. Eckhardt. Pennsylvania Clocks and Clockmakers: An Epic of Early American Science, Industry, and Craftsmanship. New York, 1955. description ends 195).

Voigt enclosed recommendations of this date from David Rittenhouse, former congressman Timothy Matlack (1730–1829), and the Philadelphia steelmaker John Nancarrow (all in DLC:GW). Rittenhouse wrote: “I have long been acquainted with Mr Voight’s superior abilities as a Mechanic, and know that they are not confined to the Watch-making business, in which he excells, but that he is capable of executing works of the greatest force. His Wire Mill and Steam Engine, both of which I have seen at work with Much satisfaction, may be given as proofs of his talents as well for planning as for Execution.”

1Voigt was temporarily appointed chief coiner in July 1792, and GW made the appointment permanent on 28 Jan. 1793. Voigt served in the position until his death (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:127; see also Rittenhouse to GW, 9 July 1792, in GW to Thomas Jefferson, that date, note 1).

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