Thomas Jefferson Papers

Petition from Abijah Babcock, 24 June 1793

Petition from Abijah Babcock

Philadelphia, 24 June 1793. Requests a patent for a machine he has invented “for propelling Boats or Vessels and Carriages, and working Mills, which he conceives will be found of great use in Navigation, and saving of labour in the branches to which it is applied.”

Tr (DP: Scientific Library, Propulsion of Vessels, 1791–1810); 1 p.; with Enclosure No. 1 subjoined; at head of text: “To Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Secretary of State”; with accompanying notation by Nicholas King that he copied the petition and enclosures in 1811 from the originals in the Patent Office of the Department of State; and another notation in the margin by Robert Schuyler indicating that he had received these texts “from the Heirs of Robert Fulton in 1841.” Enclosures: (l) Babcock’s “Explanation of the Springe Machine, which may be made of any given size,” Philadelphia, 24 June 1793, describing his method of using springs to impart motion to rag wheels, spur wheels, wallowers, and a spiral wheel (Tr in same; witnessed by State Department clerks George Pfeiffer and Jacob Blackwell; with Babcock’s subjoined deposition that he invented the machine sworn before Philadelphia alderman Hilary Baker, 24 June 1793). (2) Three drawings of Babcock’s invention, with explanatory key (Tr in same; undated).

Babcock received a patent for his invention on 2 Dec. 1793 (List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1792, to December 31, 1836, Washington, D.C., 1872 description ends , 8).

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