Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Robert Patterson, 21 March 1811

To Robert Patterson

Monticello Mar. 21. 11.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 12th is recieved and also the Nautical Almanacs for 1811. 12. for which accept my thanks as well as for the artificial horizon proposed to be forwarded. as it would be liable to be broken, it would come best by some of the vessels sailing daily from Philadelphia to Richmond addressed to me to the care of Messrs Gibson & Jefferson merchants at Richmond, adding ‘to be forwarded by water’ they will in that case put it into the hands of some careful master of the boats constantly plying between that & this place. the cost of it shall be remitted to you as soon as you will be so good as to make it known to me. before I entered on the business of the world I was much attached to Astronomy & had laid a sufficient foundation at College to have pursued it with satisfaction & advantage. but after 40. years of abstraction from it, and my mathematical acquirements coated over with rust, I find myself equal only1 to such simple operations & practices in it as serve to amuse me. but they give me great amusement, and the more as I have some excellent instruments. my telescope however is not equal to the observation of the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites, nor my best time piece sufficiently to be depended on, for that purpose. I am limited to what can be done with a fine Equatorial, & a Theodolite with telescopes, both by Ramsden, and a 10. I. circle of Borda, or rather of Hadley, for it is his principle. Accept the assurance of my constant friendship and respect

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Papers); addressed: “Dr Robert Patterson Philadelphia”; franked and postmarked. PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ.

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • artificial horizon; made for TJ search
  • astronomy; Jupiter search
  • astronomy; TJ on search
  • boats; transfer goods to and from Richmond search
  • Borda, Jean Charles; and surveying instruments search
  • Borda’s circle (surveying instrument) search
  • Garnett, John; Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and scientific instruments acquired by TJ search
  • Hadley, John; and astronomical instruments search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; astronomy search
  • Jupiter (planet) search
  • Patterson, Robert; and artificial horizon search
  • Patterson, Robert; and Nautical Almanac search
  • Patterson, Robert; letters to search
  • Ramsden, Jesse; equatorial of search
  • Ramsden, Jesse; theodolite of search
  • Richmond, Va.; boats transfer goods to and from search
  • scientific instruments; astronomical search
  • scientific instruments; telescopes search
  • telescopes; limitations of TJ’s search
  • The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris (J. Garnett); and R. Patterson search
  • theodolite search