Thomas Jefferson Papers

Peter B. Porter to Thomas Jefferson, 25 January 1811

From Peter B. Porter

Washington Jany. 25. 1811.

The enclosed is a specimen of an inexhaustible bed of Gypsum,1 lately discovered in Camillus, county of Onondaga & state of N. York—within 8 miles of the great Salt-Springs, and adjoining the great line of Canal by which it is proposed to connect the Lakes with the Hudson.

Doct. Mitchel has procured it to be analised in Paris, and it is found to correspond exactly with the Gypsum of Mount Blanc. See N. York, Medical Repository of Summer 1810. for Analysis.

P. B. Porter

RC (MHi); dateline below signature; endorsed by TJ as received 2 Mar. 1811 and so recorded in SJL.

Peter Buell Porter (1773–1844) was born in Connecticut, graduated from Yale College in 1791, and in 1795 established a legal practice in western New York. He served in the state legislature, 1801–03 and 1827–28, and in the United States House of Representatives, 1809–13 and 1815–16. Porter became a longtime political associate of Henry Clay and a strong proponent of internal improvement schemes. In 1810 the state legislature put him on a commission to survey a canal route across upstate New York. Before the outbreak of war in 1812 Porter become quartermaster general of the New York militia, and in 1813 he was given command of a brigade of volunteers and Six Nations Indians. In 1814 he served with distinction at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane and the siege of Fort Erie, receiving a state promotion to major general and a gold medal from Congress. Porter was appointed New York secretary of state in 1816, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1818, served as secretary of war under President John Quincy Adams, 1828–29, and concluded his public service as a presidential elector for William Henry Harrison in 1840 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ).

Samuel Latham Mitchill (mitchel) was coeditor of the New York scientific journal that published David Bailie Warden’s chemical analysis of “Sulphate of lime of Onondago, State of New-York,” which ended with Warden’s statement that he had showed a specimen “to Mr. Haüy, who, comparing it with that of Pevey, Department of Mont Blanc, found it to be exactly similar; and he has given it the same name, chaux sulfaté laminaire nacrée” (Medical Repository, comprehending Original Essays and Intelligence relative to Medicine, Chemistry, Natural History, Agriculture, Geography, and the Arts 13 [1810]: 76–7).

1Manuscript: “Gupsum.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John Quincy; mentioned search
  • canals; Erie search
  • Clay, Henry; mentioned search
  • Erie Canal search
  • France; gypsum in search
  • Great Lakes search
  • gypsum (plaster of paris); in France search
  • gypsum (plaster of paris); in N.Y. search
  • Harrison, William Henry; presidential electors for search
  • Hudson River search
  • Medical Repository (1810) search
  • Mitchill, Samuel Latham; and mineralogy search
  • New York (city); Medical Repository search
  • Onandaga County, N.Y. search
  • Porter, Peter Buell; identified search
  • Porter, Peter Buell; letters from search
  • Porter, Peter Buell; sends gypsum search
  • springs; salt search
  • Warden, David Bailie; “Sulphate of lime of Onondago, State of New-York,” search
  • “Sulphate of lime of Onondago, State of New-York” (Warden) search