Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Morris, 6 May 1801

From Robert Morris

Philada. May 6th. 1801

Dear Sir,

As I know that you take pleasure in patronizing ingenious men of merit, I expect you will not think this an improper intrusion. The bearer of this letter is Mr Henry Foxall who has for a considerable time past been employed in Casting Cannon for the use of the United States, He is well skilled in the Iron business in all its branches & has performed his engagements with the Secy at War, Secy of the Navy &c I believe to their perfect satisfaction and certainly has made the best cannon they have received, He was in my Service for a time & has since been concerned with My Son and we have every reason to consider him as an honest, faithfull, industrious Man perfectly master of his business, and as he is usefully engaged for public Service I beg to recommend him to your notice & protection if found deserving

With perfect respect I am Dr Sir, Your obt hble servt

Robt. Morris

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thos Jefferson, President of the united States”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 May and so recorded in SJL.

In 1797 Henry Foxall emigrated from Great Britain to Philadelphia and established the Eagle Iron Works along the Schuylkill River in partnership with Robert Morris, Jr. The firm produced stoves, agricultural implements, and other iron products. In January 1799, Foxall signed a contract with Benjamin Stoddert, secretary of the navy, to deliver $23,000 worth of cannon at the rate of four per week until completion of the contract. The next year Foxall dissolved his business in Philadelphia, followed the federal government to Washington, and established the Foxall or Columbian Foundry along the Potomac River in Georgetown. He became the chief supplier of cannon, gun carriages, and ammunition for the Navy and War Departments until he sold the foundry in 1815. TJ ordered clock weights, cast-iron linings for fireplaces, and other items for Monticello from Foxall’s foundry (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Louis F. Gorr, “The Foxall-Columbia Foundry: An Early Defense Contractor in Georgetown,” RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 48 [1971–72], 34–59; Martin B. Clausen, ed., National State Papers of the United States, 1789–1817. Part II: Text of Documents. Administration of John Adams, 1797–1801, 24 vols. [Wilmington, 1980], 24:120, 122, 124; 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, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1097, 1131, 1182, 1204).

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