Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Peter Templeman, 29 October 1766

To Peter Templeman8

ALS: Royal Society of Arts

Cravenstreet, Oct. 29. 1766


I received with the enclos’d Letter9 an improv’d Compass for the Surveying of Land, sent me by Mr. Aaron Miller of New-Jersey,1 with a Request that I would lay it before the Society of Arts, which I will do whenever call’d upon for that purpose; I am, with great Respect for the Society, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

[Cut off] Templeman

Endorsed: Octor. 29, 1766


New Jersey July 31st. 1765


Mr. Aaron Miller an Ingenous Man in the Province of New Jersey some time ago contrived a Method of fixing a kind of Index to the Circumferenter or Common Land Surveying Compass, which in the Manner of the Second hand to a Clock or Watch divides each Degree into 60 Equal parts or Minutes, he has lately very much improved on the first invention, and it’s application to the Instrument is now so far Perfect, that it does not in the least incumber the use of it; but so far improves it that a Land Surveyor may now with Certainty divide each Degree into Minutes, whereas without this improvement, he was left to divide the Degrees on the Limb of the Circumferenter into 60 equal parts by his Eye only. The improvement of the Instrument will no doubt be of use to Surveyors of Land in General, more Especially in America where the Compass is constantly used in Surveying Lands; I have advised Mr. Miller to send one of his to Dr. Franklin who I make no doubt will be ready to Shew the use of it to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufactures and Commerce whenever they will be pleased to give him an Opportunity, and I must beg the favour of you to lay this recommendation of it before them. I am, Sir, Your Most Humble Servant


To Peter Templeman Esqr. Principal Secretary to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufactures and Commerce, London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8On Peter Templeman, secretary of the Society of Arts, see above, IX, 322 n.

9The writer of the enclosure was William Alexander, called Lord Stirling, a large landholder in New Jersey; above, VI, 244 n; x, 151 n.

1Almost certainly Aaron Miller (d. 1778 or 1779) of Elizabeth, N.J., a maker of clocks, compasses, church bells, and surveyor’s chains. N.J. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1936, p. 154; i N.J. Arch., xii, 418; xxxiv, 346.

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