Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to David Rittenhouse, 6 September 1793

To David Rittenhouse

Sep. 6. 93.

Th: Jefferson presents his friendly respects to Mr. Rittenhouse. He has two young ladies at his house whose time hangs heavily on their hands, and the more so, as their drawing master cannot attend them. If Mr. Rittenhouse then does not take his Camera obscura with him into the country, Th:J. will thank him to permit them the use of it a few days, that they may take a few lessons in drawing from nature.

RC (PWacD: Feinstone Collection, on deposit PPAmP); addressed: “Mr. Rittenhouse”; with unrelated calculations by Rittenhouse on address cover. Not recorded in SJL.

The two young ladies were probably TJ’s daughter Mary and her friend and schoolmate Sarah Corbin Cropper (TJ to Mary Jefferson, 15 Dec. 1793; Jennings C. Wise, Col. John Wise of England and Virginia [1617–1695]: His Ancestors and Descendants [Richmond, 1918], 96). On 3 Jan. 1794 TJ purchased this or another Camera Obscura from Rittenhouse (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, forthcoming in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 3 Jan. 1794; Stein, Worlds description begins Susan R. Stein, The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, New York, 1993 description ends , 426–7).

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