Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to William Thornton, 9 February 1815

To William Thornton

Monticello Feb. 9. 15.

Dear Sir

I have to thank you for the drawing of the beautiful hydraulic machine with which you favored me in yours of Jan. 11. in simplicity and effect it promises to go far beyond Montgolfier’s hydraulic ram. I have endeavored to constitute a supply of water at Monticello by cisterns for recieving and preserving the rain water falling on my buildings. these would furnish me 600. galls of water a day, if I could by cement or plaister make them hold water. but this I have not been able to do as yet. they are of brick, 4. in number1 being cubes of 8.f. sunk in the ground.

I did not, till your letter, know of mr Crosbie’s claim to Janes’s loom. my own manufactory is for my family only, & employs but two looms. the ingenuity of Janes’s would have induced me to try one of his, if his patentee would have taken Janes’s price (40.D.) but his demand of 100.D. has revolted every one, and I have never yet heard of a single one sold. Crosbie’s claim will compleatly prevent their sale. whenever a settlement of the right shall render the use safe, and the price become reasonable, I shall be glad to procure one for myself, and to recommend them to my neighbors. mr Gouldsborough has favored me with a letter on Crosbie’s claim.

I thank you for the list of patents, as I also shall for your filter for water, cyder Etc. my expectation is that my cistern water may be made potable, which will add much to their value. I salute you with great esteem and respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAmP: Thomas Jefferson Papers); addressed: “Doctr William Thornton Washington Col.”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 15 Feb.; with unrelated drawing of a scorpion in an unidentified hand and notes by Thornton relating to his 3 Apr. 1815 reply to TJ on address cover: “Good mortar 2 or 3 of Sand to one of lime—This is suffered to stand until hard—It is then broken down again, and mixed with molasses, wch would not take a quart to a Bushell. This is to be <laid on> immediately, plastered on in a thin coat, & when sufficiently dry lay on another thin coat which will fill up all the cracks.” PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; endorsed by TJ.

Walter Janes’s patentee was Francis C. Clopper.

1TJ here canceled “holding.”

Index Entries

  • alcohol; cider search
  • building materials; bricks search
  • building materials; cement search
  • building materials; lime (mineral) search
  • building materials; molasses search
  • building materials; plaster search
  • building materials; sand search
  • cider; filtration system for search
  • cisterns; at Monticello search
  • Clopper, Francis C.; patent agent search
  • Crosbie, Richard; loom of search
  • Goldsborough, Charles Washington; and R. Crosbie’s loom search
  • inventions; of W. Thornton search
  • inventions; water filtration system search
  • Janes, Walter; loom of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works 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
  • lime (mineral); as building material search
  • looms search
  • machines; filtering search
  • machines; loom search
  • machines; self-acting hydraulic ram search
  • manufacturing, household; cloth search
  • molasses; used as construction material search
  • Montgolfier, Joseph; hydraulic ram of search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); cisterns at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); domestic manufacturing at search
  • patents; lists of search
  • sand search
  • Thornton, William; and TJ’s cisterns search
  • Thornton, William; and W. Janes’s loom search
  • Thornton, William; inventions of search
  • Thornton, William; letters to search
  • Thornton, William; sends publications to TJ search
  • water; filtration of search