Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Seth Jenkins, 7 November 1791

From Seth Jenkins

Hudson Nov. 7. 1791


This will be handed you by Mr. Cotton Gelston of this place, whom I have taken the Liberty of introducing to your acquaintance.

His business is to obtain a Patent for Mr. Benjamin Folger, for securing an important discovery he hath made in manufacturing Whale Oil—the particulars of which discovery will be communicated to you by Mr. Gelston.

From the information I have had, and the experiments Mr. Folger has made, I am fully convinced that the discovery is entirely new, and a very important one, and that it will prove highly beneficial to the United States.—I am very respectfully Sir Your Mo: Obed: Servt,

Seth Jenkins

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); endorsed by TJ as received 15 Nov. 1791 and so recorded in SJL.

Jenkins, a whaling captain based in Hudson, N.Y., had met TJ during his northern tour with James Madison in May and June 1791 (TJ to Jenkins, 21 June 1791). Benjamin Folger was granted a patent on 2 Jan. 1792 for his process for “Cleansing whale oil” (List of Patents Granted … from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836 [Washington, 1872]).

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