Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Andrew Ellicott, 10 October 1801

From Andrew Ellicott

Lancaster October 10th. 1801

Dear Sir

I have enclosed the observations made by Mr. Patterson and myself on the lunar eclipse of september last,—if you think them of sufficient importance you are at liberty to communicate them to the American Philosophical Society.—

The Map on which I informed you some time ago I was engaged is completed:—it comprehends the Mississippi from the mouth of the Ohio down to the Gulf of Mexico, the provence of West Florida and the whole southern boundary of the United States accompanied with thirty two pages, (in folio), of manuscript remarks on the navigation of the rivers, proper positions for military works &c.—I have endeavoured to make it interesting both as a geographical, and national document:—it cost me more than forty days labour, and I intended, to hand it to you myself, immediately on your return to Washington; but have been prevented by accepting an appointment under the State Government.—I intend nevertheless to be at Washington before the commencement of the next year; but could not with any propriety leave the Office at present, owing to a dangerous indisposition of the first Clerk, whose life was for some time despaired of, and whose duties have in part devolved upon myself.—To which may be added a resolution of the republican officers of this State, to suffer no arreages of business to accrue in their offices during the administration of Govr. McKean, which would be unavoidable in mine should I be absent before the first clerk is able to attend to his duty.—From this I would not wish it to be inferred that I have any desire to retain the map and remarks till I go to Washington myself,—on the contrary I am anxious to have them forwarded as soon as possible;—but from the size of the map, being upwards of six feet north, and south, and the same east and west, I fear it would be difficult to find a person willing to take charge of it,1 unless it was made his perticular business.—If therefore any person in the employ of the United States, who might be going on to the seat of government2 thro this place, and directed by either of the departments to3 receive the Chart, and remarks, they shall be delivered to him.—

Every leisure hour which I can spare from the labourious duties of a complicated, and intricate office, I am devoting to the arrangement of my journal, and other papers for publication.—

With sentiments of the most perfect respect, and esteem I am sir your Hbl. Servt.

Andw; Ellicott

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thos. Jefferson President of the U.S. and of the American Philosophical Society”; endorsed by TJ as received 14 Oct. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Robert Patterson and Andrew Ellicott, “Observations made on a Lunar Eclipse at the Observatory in the City of Philadelphia on the 21st, of September 1801,” a brief report on the time when total darkness ended during the eclipse; read at a meeting of the APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends on 18 Dec. 1801 and referred to a committee (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, 22, pt. 3 [1884], 319); printed in APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Transactions, 6 (1809), 59.

Office: Ellicott had become secretary of the Pennsylvania Land Office in Lancaster, succeeding Tench Coxe in that position. In the summer of 1801, Ellicott declined an offer from TJ to be surveyor general of the U.S., a job that would have required him to move nearer to the western territories and carried, in Ellicott’s opinion, other disadvantages (Mathews, Ellicott description begins Catharine Van Cortlandt Mathews, Andrew Ellicott: His Life and Letters, New York, 1908 description ends , 204–6; Rowe, McKean description begins G. S. Rowe, Thomas McKean, The Shaping of an American Republicanism, Boulder, Colo., 1978 description ends , 344).

1MS: “take charge it.”

2MS: “seat government.”

3Ellicott here canceled “take charge of it.”

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