James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, 17 March 1812 (Abstract)

§ From Albert Gallatin

17 March 1812, Treasury Department. Encloses a letter from Winslow Lewis [not found] “proposing to sell his patent right for lighting the Light-Houses in the United States, and also to fit up all the said houses with the proper apparatus, for 24,000 Dollars.”1 That sum would include “his compensation and personal expenses; the purchase of the apparatus and expenses, other than his own, to be paid by the United States.” The enclosed documents [not found] will “explain the utility of the invention; and if the President is satisfied that the sum asked is reasonable, a contract will be made with Mr. Lewis on that basis.”

RC (DNA: RG 26, Early Light House Correspondence, Misc. Letters Received). 1 p. Docketed by JM, “Approved.”

1On 2 Mar. 1812 JM had signed an act authorizing the secretary of the treasury, at the direction of the president, to purchase Winslow Lewis’s patent for “lighting lighthouses, by reflecting and magnifying lanterns” and to contract with Lewis to outfit and maintain the lighthouses of the U.S. according to his plan for a term of seven years. A sum not to exceed $60,000 was appropriated to carry out the law (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 125, 128, 129–30, 618, 1058, 1072, 1107–8, 1112; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 2:691). The documents enclosed to explain the utility of Lewis’s patent undoubtedly included those that Gallatin had forwarded earlier to the House Committee on Commerce and Manufactures in an effort to persuade its members to recommend an appropriation to purchase Lewis’s patent (see ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Commerce and Navigation, 1:879–86).

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