Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Henry Voigt, 14 September 1810

To Henry Voigt

Monticello Sep. 14. 10.

I have too often troubled you, my good old friend, with the selection of watches for myself and those immediately of my family, and had hoped I should not again have occasion to lay your skill under contribution. but a nephew of mine, mr Carr, for whom I have great regard, desiring to get a good watch from Philadelphia has requested me to interest you in the selection of it. this favor I have therefore to ask of you. the bearer of this letter, mr Leitch will recieve it & pay for it. he is a respectable merchant in our neighboring town of Charlottesville, and has mr Carr’s instructions as to the kind of watch & price. I think mr Carr mentioned to me a plain gold watch of 80. or 100.D. price; but mr Leitch is more particularly instructed as to that. wishing you a healthy & happy old age, I tender you the assurances of my great friendship & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Mr Henry Voigt”; endorsed by TJ.

Henry Voigt (ca. 1744–1814), chief coiner of the United States Mint from 1793 until his death, was trained as a clockmaker and worked at the mint in Saxe-Gotha before immigrating to the United States. During the Revolutionary War he manufactured gears and gunlocks for the United States Army and wool carding machines. By 1786 Voigt was a watch- and clockmaker in Philadelphia. He worked in partnership with John Fitch to develop a steamboat, and in 1793 he invented a process to make steel from bar iron. TJ had his watches repaired by Voigt, who suggested improvements to the mint during his presidency and cleaned and adjusted a chronometer for the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Silvio A. Bedini, Thinkers and Tinkers: Early American Men of Science [1975], 326–7; Frank D. Prager, ed., The Autobiography of John Fitch [1976]; Philadelphia Freeman’s Journal, 29 Apr. 1789; Philadelphia National Gazette, 29 May 1793; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 32 vols. description ends , 15:641–2, 24:48–9, 27:798; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , esp. 2:829, 997, 1192; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:127 [28, 29 Jan. 1793]; Washington, Papers description begins W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, Philander D. Chase, and others, eds., The Papers of George Washington, 1983– , 47 vols.: Colonial Ser., 10 vols.; Confederation Ser., 6 vols.; Pres. Ser., 12 vols.; Retirement Ser., 4 vols. ; Rev. War Ser., 15 vols. description ends , Pres. Ser., 5:176–8, 10:261–2; Voigt to TJ, 29 Dec. 1801 [DLC]; Bedini, “The Scientific Instruments of the Lewis and Clark Expedition,” Great Plains Quarterly 4 [1984]: 60–1; Philadelphia Co. Will Book, 5:222; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 9 Feb. 1814).

Index Entries

  • Carr, Peter (TJ’s nephew); TJ seeks watch for search
  • Fitch, John; and steamboats search
  • gold; watches search
  • Leitch, James; agent for TJ search
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition; and chronometer search
  • Voigt, Henry; and watch for P. Carr search
  • Voigt, Henry; identified search
  • Voigt, Henry; letters to search
  • watches; gold search