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Thomas Jefferson to John Payne Todd, 15 August 1816

To John Payne Todd

Monticello Aug. 15. 16.

You have given me, my dear Payne, a very handsome keep-sake which has amused me much, and not the less by the puzzle it has afforded me, to find out the method of rectifying it. I at length discovered it, and that it was only necessary to loosen a little a single screw to throw it out of geer, and to throw it in again after setting the index. it was exactly 10° wrong. it is indeed a very convenient travelling thermometer.

You must now accept a keep-sake from me, which may suit you as a sportsman, better than myself who have ceased to be one. I send by the stage, to be lodged for you at Orange C. H. a box containing a pair of Turkish pistols. they were originally with wheel-locks, which not being convenient, I had locks of the modern form substituted, but so that they can be changed for the former in a moment. they are 20. inch barrels so well made that I never missed a squirrel 30. yards with them. I fixed one in a wooden holster to hang in the loop of the pommel of my saddle to be handily taken out & in, having used it daily while I had a horse who would stand fire. I had other holsters also made for both to hang them at the side of my carriage for road use; & with locks & staples to secure them from being handled by curious people. one of the wheel locks is a little out of order, and will require a skilful gunsmith to put to rights it is now cocked, and I could not find out how to discharge it.

the key is with them; and they wind up to the right, or with the sun. in the hope they will afford you sport in your daily rides, I pray you to accept the assurance of my friendship & respect and to present the same to the president and mrs Madison.

Th: Jefferson

RC (Christie’s, New York City, 1990; facsimile, lacking address cover, in its catalogue of Printed Books and Manuscripts including Americana, 8 June 1990, lot 91; photocopy including address cover from NUt, 1955, in TJ Editorial Files); addressed: “Payne Todd esq. at the President’s near Orange C. H.”; franked; postmarked Milton, 16 Aug. PoC (MHi); on recto of reused address cover of Charles Thomson to TJ, 16 May 1816; mutilated at seal; endorsed by TJ.

For TJ’s acquisition of the pair of turkish pistols from Isaac Zane, see TJ to Jacob Rinker, 27 June 1803 (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 39 vols. description ends , 40:620).

Index Entries

  • carriages; TJ installs pistols in search
  • firearms; Turkish pistols search
  • Madison, Dolley Payne Todd (James Madison’s wife); TJ sends greetings to search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); greetings sent to search
  • pistols; given as gift search
  • pistols; used by TJ search
  • scientific instruments; thermometers search
  • squirrels search
  • thermometers; TJ receives from J. P. Todd search
  • Todd, John Payne; letters to search
  • Todd, John Payne; TJ receives thermometer from search
  • Todd, John Payne; TJ sends pistols to search