Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Nicholas Collin, 7 August 1793

To Nicholas Collin

August 7. 1793.

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to Dr. Colin and asks the favor of him to act as an Arbitrator with Mr. Patterson and Mr. Boardley in the case of three interfering applications for a Patent for the discovery of a wheel with vertical valves to be turned by any moving fluid in which it is immersed. The parties will attend the Arbitrators at any time and place they may appoint: and as the models and papers are all at the Secretary of State’s office, Th: J. supposes it might be agreeable to the Gentlemen to meet there—if not they shall be attended wherever they please. He asks the favor of Dr. Colin to inform him whether he may insert his name in the appointment.

RC (RSAS: Collin Papers); in a clerk’s hand. Not recorded in SJL.

The government of Sweden sent Nicholas Collin (1746–1831) to America in 1769 as a missionary of the Swedish Lutheran Church. From 1770 to 1786 he served the congregation at Raccoon, now Swedesboro, New Jersey, after which he officiated as rector of three churches in and near Philadelphia until his death. Active in the American Philosophical Society, he shared with TJ an interest in natural history, meteorology, and philology (Amandus Johnson, The Journal and Biography of Nicholas Collin, 1746–1831 [Philadelphia, 1936]).

The three interfering applications were those of Daniel Stansbury, Apollos Kinsley, and John Clarke, with Clarke ultimately receiving the disputed patent on 31 Dec. 1793. This was the first case to trigger a provision in the 21 Feb. 1793 patent law mandating the use of arbitrators to resolve conflicting claims (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; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United StatesCompiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , iii, 1434).

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