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To Thomas Jefferson from Burgess Allison, 1 March 1801

From Burgess Allison

Frankford March 1. 1801

Respected Sir/

Knowing the Pleasure which evry improvement in the Arts and Sciences afford you, and especially those mechanical Arts which promise to become useful to Society; I have taken the liberty of communicating to you one, made by Mr. Hawkins upon Saddles, which appears to answer the purpose design’d exceedingly well. It is the application of spiral brass wire Springs to the Seat and Stirrups of Saddles, which renders them so elastic as to ride perfectly easy. You will in the course of a day or two have an oppertunity of trying their goodness, as Mr. Stephen Burrowes Sadler in Philadelphia, who has purchased the Patent-right from Mr. Hawkins, is about to forward one to the address of your Agent at the City of Washington; of which he desires me in his name, to beg your acceptance, he not having the honour of a personal acquaintance with you himself—

Mr. Hawkins also proposes to apply a Combination of those Springs to the Swings of Carriages, which will doubtless permit the Carriage to ride much more easy than when hung with stiff leathern straps in the ordinary way.

As it is probable that Artists of the first Abilities will be sought after to execute the Monument in Memory of General Washington, I feel a pleasure in mentioning one Gentleman, who ranks amongst the highest in his profession as a Sculptor or Modeller. It is a Mr. Extine a Prussian Artist, whose republican Principles have induced him to take up his residence in this Country. I have seen several elegant Pieces of his execution in the small way, which bear handsome Testimony of his Talents—

With evry Sentiment of Esteem, I remain Dr. Sir, your very Hbe. Svt.

B Allison

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 3 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

A native of Bordentown, New Jersey, Burgess Allison (1753–1827) studied at Rhode Island College and became pastor of a Baptist congregation and founder of a classical boarding school in his hometown. After he retired from his school in 1796, he devoted his energies to invention and the improvement of machines, among them the polygraph, physiognotrace, and paper ruling machine. John Isaac Hawkins shared with Allison a passion for scientific experiment and together they patented an improved method for making paper from cornstalks. When his financial resources plummeted, Allison resumed his Bordentown boarding school post in October 1801 and accepted the local pulpit. In 1816 he became chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives and was thereafter appointed chaplain at the Navy Yard in Washington, a post he held until his death. An elected member and once secretary of the American Philosophical Society, he was also a member of the Society for Promoting Agriculture and Home Manufactures, and a founding member of the Columbianum (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Transactions, 5 [1802], xii, 82–9; Peale, Papers description begins Lillian B. Miller and others, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family, New Haven, 1983–2000, 5 vols. in 6 description ends , v. 2, pt. 1:108n; Charles Coleman Sellers, Charles Willson Peale, 2 vols. [Philadelphia, 1947], 2:157–8; Sprague, American Pulpit description begins William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, or, Commemorative Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen of Various Denominations, New York, 1857–69, 9 vols. description ends , 6:121–4; List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1792, to December 31, 1836, Washington, D.C., 1872 description ends , 31).

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