Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Philip Wilson, 13 April 1802

From Philip Wilson

the 13th: April 1802

I am the unfortunate Claimant for the Ship Mentor; so long yr: Supplicant for Compensation, of the British Government for the Destruction of that Ship; and Cargo: in time of Peace; the pursuit of Superior Velocity, in the Sailing of Shipping, caused me to build that Ship; I having been bred in the Mercantile line of Trade from an early period of my life, made the Stepping of Masts, and form of Vessels for Fast Sailing my Studdy. Would your Excellency permit me the honour to lay before you three Drawings of Ships: i.e. An 80 Gun Ship on two Decks; A Ship for War or Trade, of 500: tuns burthen; And what would make a beautiful Tender, or Sloop of War of 18: Guns: I doubt not—Under your Excellencys Patronage—they, with the Hydrostatic Discussion thereto belonging, might be productive of Velossity in your Navy, Superior to any in Europe, or any other part of the World. The Experiment might be readily made by building the smalles Ship of 260: tuns, tunnage, which with all the other, are finished for the Floor & Carpenters; And when built and prepared in the properest manner for Sea: If she does not sail round or faster than the fastest sailing Ship of any in the Chesapeak, Delaware, or United States (whoes Shipping for Velocity is equal to any in the World) I shall forfeit all pretence to any place or Profit for my Research & trouble.

They are constructed on the principles of a Hydrostatic Discussion and Deliniation of 47: propositions founded on simple reasoning and Demonstration; and Supported by the Natural Phylosophy of1 Sir Isaac Newton;—With 10: or 11: general Rules for Drawing—From which a Ship of more Velocity, and other good properties, may be formed, than any that ever yet gave Chase to, or Ran from an Enemy in the most impetious Sea. I shall wait your Excellency’s commands And am with the most profound respect,

Honoured Sir, Your obedient Citizen and humble Servant

Philip Wilson
at Mr: Roades’s Inn,
near the Treasury

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson President of the United States &ca &ca.”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Apr. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not found.

A former Philadelphia merchant, Philip Wilson sent TJ several letters during the 1790s and early 1800s, most of which have not been found. His most recent letter was dated 25 Mch. 1801 from Philadelphia, which TJ recorded in SJL as received 28 Mch. Since at least 1790, Wilson had been petitioning various government officers for aid in settling his claim against the British government for the destruction of the Mentor, his merchant vessel that was lost to British warships in 1783 after fighting between the U.S. and Great Britain had been suspended. More recently, Wilson had unsuccessfully sought compensation from Congress for supplies provided to Continental forces during the war (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 3:732–3; 4:17; Vol. 18:347–8n; Vol. 20:637–9; Vol. 24:697; Vol. 33:690).

MR: ROADES’S INN: the hotel of William Rhodes, near the intersection of 15th and F Streets in Washington (Vol. 35:706n).

1MS: “of of.”

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