Thomas Jefferson Papers
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William Thornton to Thomas Jefferson, 22 March 1816

From William Thornton

City of Washington 22nd March 1816—

Dear sir

I expected long before now to have returned the fine painting of Stewart & the Drawing of West that you were so obliging as to send to me and for which I am very much obliged, but I have been disappointed in getting the Head modelled, which I wished to have got done by an Italian artist who promised to do it, but has since expressed a wish to do after the original: his name is Valaperta. He is now engaged in the Public works.—I was at different times disappointed also in making the Copies, by sickness by numerous public Duties, by confinement to my Bed, by an accident in consequence of the falling of my Horse; & among other dire complaints by laziness—all these put together will apologize I hope for my keeping them a little longer, under a promise of better behaviour. In the mean time, they are kept with the greatest care, & never exposed, but when while shewn to my Friends.—

I have been always mindful of your request to have a Copy of the List of Patents, but while I was laying confined, they were neglected, and not sent to my office, which occasioned a difficulty in getting them, and I never got a Copy till this Day.—

Your charming Grand-daughter is well, and very much admired—

I am dear Sir with the highest respect & consideration Yrs &c

William Thornton—

A beautiful Invention of a Saw has been lately presented for a Patent by Adam Stewart of Baltimore—It is a Circular Saw, that passes round two (three-feet) drums, the teeth on one edge—so that one log is sawed up, while the other is sawed down; & the Saw goes continually round, not by intermission as in the common way; thus one Saw must saw four times as much in the same time, but requiring double force—The circular Saw is composed of several, dovetailed together, in a very simple & effectual manner—

RC (DLC); with drawing on verso of blank page with TJ’s endorsement; between signature and postscript: “Hon: Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 Mar. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); part of address cover only; with PoC of TJ to William D. Meriwether, 3 June 1816, on verso; addressed: “Honorable T[. . .]”; postmarked Washington City, 23 Mar. Enclosure: Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Granted, for the Invention of Any New or Useful Art, or Machine, Manufacture, or Composition of Matter, or Improvement Thereon, from the 1st of January, 1815, to the 1st of January, 1816 (Washington, 1816; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 6 [no. 224]).

For the fine painting of stewart & the drawing of west, see Thornton to TJ, 11 Dec. 1814. TJ’s charming grand-daughter was Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge). On 5 July 1817 adam stewart received patents for a “Belt or band saw,” a machine for sawing and veneering, and a “Horizontal or verticle radial saw” (List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 180).

Index Entries

  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); described search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); health of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; G. Stuart’s paintings search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; W. Thornton’s profile bust search
  • Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Granted, … from the 1st of January, 1815, to the 1st of January, 1816 search
  • machines; sawing search
  • paintings; by B. West search
  • paintings; lent by TJ search
  • patents; lists of search
  • patents; of A. Stewart search
  • saws; patented by A. Stewart search
  • State Department, U.S.; and patents search
  • Stewart, Adam; saws of search
  • Stuart, Gilbert; “Medallion” profile of TJ by search
  • The Fright of Astyanax (B. West) search
  • Thornton, William; as patent office superintendent search
  • Thornton, William; borrows paintings from TJ search
  • Thornton, William; health of search
  • Thornton, William; letters from search
  • Thornton, William; portrait of TJ by search
  • Thornton, William; sends publications to TJ search
  • tools; band saw search
  • tools; radial saws search
  • Valaperta, Giuseppe; as sculptor search
  • West, Benjamin; The Fright of Astyanax search