Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Benjamin B. Ford to Thomas Jefferson, 17 November 1809

From Benjamin B. Ford

Richmond Nov. 17th 1809


Benjn B Bernard some time since obtained a patent from the U States for a Machine said to be either invented or improved upon by him. whether he did or not I am unprepared to say—sometime afterwards I in conjunction with my brother became possessed of the right for this State (Virga) and upon my application to sundry persons for the premium who had built upon his plan, They refused to pay alledging that since you had retired to Monticello you had expressed your disapprobation of the conduct of Mr Bernard in obtaining the patent, and that you morover thought it not worth any thing

As I am deeply interested in this event I hope you will have the goodness to inform me whether or not the above report be correct that I may take my measures accordingly

I am with Respect Your mo Obd Svt

Ben B Ford.

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Tho. Jefferson. Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Nov. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

Benjamin Bowles Ford (ca. 1780–1858) moved in 1811 to Georgetown, Kentucky, where at various times he farmed, ran a school, practiced law, and served as clerk of the Scott County Court (William Henry Perin, History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison & Nicholas Counties, Kentucky [1882], 191; Lindsey Apple, Frederick A. Johnston, and Ann Bolton Bevins, eds., Scott County Kentucky: A History [1985], 98; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ky., Scott Co., 1820, 1850).

On 4 July 1807 Benjamin B. bernard complained from Washington, D.C., to Thomas Mann Randolph about delays in obtaining his patent and accused William Thornton, the patent commissioner, of “using every effort to Swindle Me out of my rights” by preparing a patent but threatening to burn it when Bernard refused him a partnership (RC in DLC; addressed: “Thomas M Randolph Esqr Near Milton Virginia”; stamped and postmarked; endorsed by TJ: “Thornton Dr Wm a letter concerng him”). Bernard nevertheless received a patent related to “thrashing machines” on 30 Nov. 1807 (List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1792, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 62).

Index Entries

  • agriculture; threshing machines search
  • Bernard, Benjamin B.; threshing machine invented by search
  • Ford, Benjamin Bowles; and B. B. Bernard’s invention search
  • Ford, Benjamin Bowles; identified search
  • Ford, Benjamin Bowles; letters from search
  • machines; threshing search
  • patents; of B. B. Bernard search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); receives information about W. Thornton search
  • Thornton, William; as patent office superintendent search