Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Horatio G. Spafford to Thomas Jefferson, 15 February 1815

From Horatio G. Spafford

Albany, 2 Mo. 15, 1815.

If my Hond & Esteemed Friend

Could be apprized how often the enquiry is made, “what does Mr Jefferson think of your improvement in Wheel Carriages;?” & did he know my own anxiety to learn, his goodness would certainly excuse my impatience. For myself, I am perfectly satisfied; but the public thinks little of my opinion, & much of thine. Thy bitterest foes allow thee the highest rank in science, & philosophy. I therefore want to know thy opinion, that I may anticipate the public opinion; & I pray thee to favor me with it, as soon as may be convenient to thyself. Did I not feel a far greater anxiety than could be supposed for this little thing, I would hardly have troubled thee about it. But, I have, in reserve, a grand disclosure relative to the laws of mechanics, for which this is merely preparatory.

I should esteem it an honor to present to thee my Certificate No. 1, for a Right to use my improvement; & if it will be accepted for use, I will gladly send it. The advertisement on the back of my pamphlet, is designed to extend a knowledge of my invention, & to announce my intention to defend my Right. Have the principles of my Patent ever been applied in this way before, in any age or Country? I write in haste, from a sick Room, devoted to the care of a most excellent Wife, & rely on thy indulgence. With gratitude & esteem, thy obliged friend,

H. G. Spafford.

Permit me to congratulate thee on the news of peace. Although we do not know the conditions of the treaty; yet my confidence in our Ministers & our Government, assure my hopes.

RC (DLC); postscript written perpendicularly in left margin; addressed: “Hon. Thomas Jefferson, LL.D. Monticello, Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Feb. 1815 and so recorded in SJL; written on a sheet folded to form four pages, with letter on p. 1, address on p. 2, canceled Spafford circular of 15 Apr. 1813 (see note to Spafford to TJ, 2 Aug. 1813) on p. 3, and endorsement on p. 4, which also has a copy of the enclosure to Spafford to TJ, 23 Jan. 1815.

At the back of Spafford, Wheel-Carriages, was an unpaginated advertisement dated Albany, 8 Feb. 1815, announcing that Spafford had received a United States patent for his improved carriage; naming the terms for obtaining the right to use the invention, including a base price of $5 per patent right, the granting of special privileges to “The first applicants in every considerable City or Town,” and discounts to cartmen; and asserting that he would “vigilantly … protect and guard it against every infringement.”

Index Entries

  • carriages; H. G. Spafford’s improvement to search
  • Ghent, Treaty of (1814); support for search
  • inventions; of H. G. Spafford search
  • patents; of H. G. Spafford search
  • Some Cursory Observations on the Ordinary Construction of Wheel-Carriages (H. G. Spafford) search
  • Spafford, Elizabeth Clark Hewitt (Horatio G. Spafford’s wife); health of search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; and patents and patent system search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; and War of1812 search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; family of search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; inventions of search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; letters from search
  • Spafford, Horatio Gates; Some Cursory Observations on the Ordinary Construction of Wheel-Carriages search