Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Fennell, 6 June 1798

From James Fennell

Philadelphia June 6th. 1798


To you as a philosopher, and a man of science I take the liberty of submitting the treatise which accompanies this letter; and, urged by a consideration that the subject is of consequence to the United States, I further presume to request that you will be good enough to favour me with such observations as may occur to you on the perusal of it, tending to designate error or facilitate improvement.

I am Sir With the greatest respect Your obedient humble Servant

James Fennell
129. Chesnut St near 4th. St.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 June 1798 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: James Fennell, Description of the Principles and Plan of Proposed Establishments of Salt Works; for the Purpose of Supplying the United States with Home Made Salt [Philadelphia, 1798]. See Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 1203.

The English-born actor James Fennell (1766–1816) first took to the stage in Great Britain, then in 1793 went to Philadelphia to perform under contract at the Chestnut Street Theatre. He remained in the United States for the rest of his career. A performance by Fennell, incorporating the oration of Logan as printed in TJ’s Notes on the State of Virginia, prompted Luther Martin to write his vitriolic public letters to TJ (see TJ to John Gibson, 31 May 1797, and Martin to TJ, 24 June 1797). Although successful on the stage, Fennell often neglected acting to pursue other ventures, and over a course of years he lost a considerable amount of his own and other investors’ money in ambitious but failed projects to extract salt from seawater (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ).

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