Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Isaac Briggs, 2 May 1803

From Isaac Briggs

Philadelphia, 2nd. of the 5th. Mo. 1803

My dear Friend,

Thy letter, dated 20th. of April, I received yesterday. I have had several applications for employment under me, to which my standing answer has been, that I shall make no appointments until I arrive at the scene of operation, and that those who wish a clerkship or deputyship must make their application to me there, where evidence of their suitableness, in all respects, will be my standard and only rule of preference.

Perhaps, if John Dinsmore have this hint it may answer his purpose. I should be glad to see Gideon Fitz there, no recommendation, in addition to what I have heard and seen, will be necessary for him. Poor Claiborne, I wish he could go there! he told me that the loan of $100 would be sufficient; but he appears to have a spirit too independent to solicit much, and I am at present not able to help him.

I have procured a clock for thee with a neat black walnut case: the whole including box and packing will be about $70. Benjamin Ferris, No. 17 North Second Street, Philadelphia, will transmit it according to thy order, immediately on his receiving it.

Henry Voight is engaged in making for me a portable transit—I hope in the course of ten days it will be finished, as this alone detains me. I have made an application to Andrew Ellicott for his Transit, but he absolutely refuses to sell it.

I have drawn up a proposition, in writing, to the American Philosophical Society to consent to the removal of their Observatory Transit to the City of Washington to be used under thy direction.

Accept assurances of my esteem and gratitude,

Isaac Briggs.

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Pr. U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 May and so recorded in SJL.

Richard claiborne previously sought an appointment in the Mississippi Territory and had asked Meriwether Lewis to bring his request to the attention of the president (Claiborne to Lewis, 9 Jan. 1803, RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Claiborne Richd. office. Missipi.”).

For the clock TJ acquired from benjamin ferris, see TJ to Ferris, 8 June 1803 and Ferris to TJ, 20 June 1803.

At the 6 May 1803 meeting of the american philosophical society, Briggs asked that the society “consent to the removal of the Transit Instrument to the city of Washington.” The request was referred to a committee consisting of Robert Patterson, Jonathan Bayard Smith, and John Vaughan. Reporting on 17 June, the committee explained that the society “have only the use of a Transit Instrument, but possess no property therein” (APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, 22, pt. 3 [1884], 337–8).

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