Thomas Jefferson Papers
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William Thornton to Thomas Jefferson, 11 January 1815

From William Thornton

City of Washington 11th Jany 1815—

Dear sir

I am very much obliged by the kind promise you have been so good as to make me, of the loan of the two paintings; of which I shall take great care.—

A few Days ago a Mr Crossbie, formerly from England, called at my Office, and asserts that mr Janes, who took out the Patent for the Loom, obtained the same from one that he (Crossbie) had invented, & had then in operation. He means to proceed against Janes, with an intention to set aside his Patent. Crossbie is a very ingenious man, & liberal in his conduct. I wish to examine his plans, and, when satisfied of their goodness, shall endeavour to obtain from him such proposals for you and the Gentlemen of your neighbourhood as may serve you all.—

I have at length found a Copy of the Patents issued in 1812 which with 1813 I have the pleasure of inclosing for you. I send also a short account of Steam-boats.—

As soon as the List of Patents for 1814 shall have been published I shall not fail to send one.

I have seen in the Artist’s manual a machine for raising Water which is so simple in its construction, that it would answer admirably at monticello. Thinking you may not have a copy of this work (in 2 Vol: 8vo published in Philaa—Author, James Cutbush) I have drawn it and now inclose the same.—

Wishing you the Complimts of the Season, with every blessing—I am dear Sir Yours very sincerely

William Thornton—

If the Bucket of a machine on the principle of the one I have drawn, were to be much larger, & the stroke of the Piston also longer, by allowing the Bucket a greater fall, you might raise a large quantity of water to the top of your elevated Situation, and water your Gardens & grounds round it.—I have contrived a very cheap and effectual Filter for Water Cyder &c &c, which operates well, and without any trouble. If you wish it I will send a description of it.—

Yrs &c

W.T.

RC (DLC); above postscript: “Honorable Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Jan. 1815 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Issued … from January 1, 1812, to January 1, 1813 (Washington, 1813). (2) Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Issued … from January 1st, 1813, to January 1st, 1814 (Washington, 1814). (3) Thornton, Short Account of the Origin of Steam Boats (Washington, 1814).

The enclosed drawing and description of a machine for raising water reproduces portions of two 1801 letters from Henry Sarjeant, of Whitehaven, England, to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, wherein he describes the device used by him at Irton Hall to pump water up an ascent of about sixty feet to the main house, compares the apparatus to one used formerly by James Spedding at a lead mine near Keswick, England, and claims that the “only Artists employed, except the plumber, were a country Blacksmith & Carpenter; & the whole cost, exclusive of the pump & pipes, did not amount to five pounds”; and quotes Thomas Green Fessenden’s observation in The Register of Arts, or a compendious view of some of the most useful modern discoveries and inventions (Philadelphia, 1808), 9, that “the simplicity of construction, and the cheapness of this machine, must render it worthy of attention, not only for raising Water for domestic purposes, but in many cases it might be turned to account in Agriculture” (Tr in DLC: TJ Papers, 203:36117–8; entirely in Thornton’s hand; undated; endorsed by TJ: “Machine to raise water. voce [i.e., ‘under the heading,’ OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ] ‘Engine’ 1st Cutbush”; copied from James Cutbush, The American Artist’s Manual [Philadelphia, 1814; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 6 (no. 221)], vol. 1, section on “Engines”).

Index Entries

  • alcohol; cider search
  • books; on art search
  • cider; filtration system for search
  • Crosbie, Richard; loom of search
  • Cutbush, James; The American Artist’s Manual search
  • Fessenden, Thomas Green; and water-raising machine search
  • Janes, Walter; loom of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; G. Stuart’s paintings search
  • Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Issued … from January 1, 1812, to January 1, 1813 search
  • Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Issued … from January 1st, 1813, to January 1st, 1814 search
  • looms search
  • machines; filtering search
  • machines; loom search
  • machines; water-raising search
  • paintings; by B. West search
  • paintings; lent by TJ search
  • patents; lists of search
  • patents; of W. Janes search
  • Sarjeant, Henry; and water-raising machine search
  • Short Account of the Origin of Steam Boats (W. Thornton) search
  • Spedding, James; and water-raising machine search
  • Stuart, Gilbert; “Medallion” profile of TJ by search
  • The American Artist’s Manual (J. Cutbush) search
  • The Fright of Astyanax (B. West) search
  • Thornton, William; and W. Janes’s loom search
  • Thornton, William; and water-raising machine search
  • Thornton, William; borrows paintings from TJ search
  • Thornton, William; Drawing and Description of a Water and Cider Filter search
  • Thornton, William; letters from search
  • Thornton, William; sends publications to TJ search
  • Thornton, William; Short Account of the Origin of Steam Boats search
  • water; filtration of search
  • water; machine for raising of search
  • West, Benjamin; The Fright of Astyanax search