Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edward Stevens, 14 April 1802

From Edward Stevens

Philadelphia April 14th: 1802


The Bearer, Mr: O Hebert is an english Gentleman of easy Circumstances, interested in a Patent Right for a Discovery of a Mode of applying Steam for the Cure of certain Disorders. Altho’ the Discovery is not altogether new, yet I believe the Mode of Application is perfectly so. I am willing for the Good of Humanity to suppose that it possesses all the Virtue attributed to it by it’s Proprietor. The Interest which you take in the Promotion of Science in general; and more especially when it tends to the immediate Good of Mankind will excite a favourable Impression as to the Subject of this Letter and will I hope plead my Apology for presenting him to you.

I am, with Sentiments of the highest Respect, Sir Your most obedt: Servt:

Edward Stevens

RC (MoSHi: Jefferson Papers); at foot of first page: “The President of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Apr. and so recorded in SJL with notation “by mr. Hebert.”

Edward Stevens spent most of his early years in the West Indies, where he was a childhood friend of Alexander Hamilton on the island of St. Croix. He attended King’s College in New York, studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, then entered practice on St. Croix and later at Philadelphia. In 1799, he was appointed U.S. consul general for Saint-Domingue, serving in the post until resigning in 1801. Although he enjoyed good relations with Toussaint-Louverture during his tenure, Stevens was also harshly criticized by Jacob Mayer, the U.S. consul at Cap-Français, and others for using his office for personal gain and harboring pro-British sympathies. TJ replaced him with Tobias Lear in May 1801 (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 9:287n; 26:117n; Tansill, Caribbean Diplomacy description begins Charles C. Tansill, The United States and Santo Domingo, 1798–1873: A Chapter in Caribbean Diplomacy, Baltimore, 1938; repr. Gloucester, Mass., 1967 description ends , 58–64, 78, 81–2; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 32 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 8 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 1:127–9; 8:563–4; Vol. 33:447–8, 670, 675).

Physician H. O. HEBERT presented TJ with an engraving of his proposed “Air Pump Vapour Bath,” as used in England to treat victims of gout, rheumatism, and other maladies. On 19 July 1802, he would write TJ that a working model of his machine was completed and “fit for immediate Operation” (Hebert’s Air Pump Vapour Bath [Philadelphia, 1802; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 2391]).

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