Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Vaughan, 15 March 1803

From John Vaughan

Philad. March 15. 1803

D sir

The enclosed Accot. of a Method of preserving ship Bread from Weavils, I have extracted from Tilloc’s Philosophical Magazine for Decr. last—& I concieve it sufficiently important to trouble you with it—

When our ships bring salt petre from the East Indies they sell the Bags for a low price, for the sake of the Nitre which [. . .] be extracted from them by boiling them, possibly they might hereafter be purchased to carry bread in—or the Bags made for the purpose of carrying bread, be boiled, as was the Case with the Bag in question—To avoid Rats the Bags might be put into Puncheons or tight trimed bread rooms.

I remain with the greatest respect D sir. Your obt. Servant

Jn Vaughan

RC (DLC); torn; addressed: “The President of the United States Washington or Monticello”; franked; postmarked 16 Mch.; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Mch. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Extract, titled “On the Weavil in Sea Bread,” describing the accidental discovery of a means of protecting sea bread from weevils during long voyages; this problem has remained unsolved until now despite premiums offered for a solution; in the case that has now come to notice, a bag that fell into “a cauldron of liquid nitre” at a powder mill was dipped in cold water, allowed to dry, and then used to store sea biscuits on a long trip from England to the West Indies and back; when the bag was opened after nine months, as supplies ran low and weevils ruined other bread on the ship, the captain to his “great Surprise” found that the biscuits in the bag were “perfectly sound” and free of insects (Tr in same; in Vaughan’s hand; from Philosophical Magazine, 14 [1802–1803], 286).

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