Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Bradley, Jr., 26 August 1803

To Abraham Bradley, Jr.

Monticello Aug. 26. 03.

Having carried most of my maps to Washington I find myself much at a loss here for one of the US. if any more are in hand of those made (by yourself I believe) for the Post Office, I should be thankful to receive one by post.

I should prefer one in simple sheets pasted together but not on linen. Accept my salutations & best wishes.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Abraham Bradley esq.”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Connecticut native Abraham Bradley (1767-1838) was a lawyer and, briefly, a judge in Pennsylvania. In 1791, he became a postal clerk in Philadelphia under Federalist Timothy Pickering. By 1800, he was assistant postmaster general and supervised the move of the general post office to Washington, D.C. His postal career ended abruptly in 1829 when he was removed from office during the administration of Andrew Jackson. He remained in Washington and served a term as secretary of the Franklin Insurance Company during the last two years of his life (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Alexandria Gazette, 10 May 1838).

maps: Bradley’s attention to detail and knowledge of postal routes around the country contributed to his acclaimed authorship of a detailed map of the United States, in color, which became the official map of the Post Office Department by 1825. The best source of information about the nation’s borders, it was among the first maps in the United States to be registered for copyright. The first edition, Map of the United States, Exhibiting the Post-Roads, the Situations, Connections & Distances of the Post-Offices Stage Roads, Counties, Ports of Entry and Delivery for Foreign Vessels, and the Principal Rivers, was published in Philadelphia in 1796, printed on four sheets and 36 panels, and could be cloth mounted to make a wall map. A second edition of 1804 reflected the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and the addition of more post offices (Richard R. John, Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse [Cambridge, Mass., 1995], 69-70; Walter W. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century [Detroit, 1985], 70-1).

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