Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John S. Ravenscroft, 3 July 1812

To John S. Ravenscroft

Monticello July 3. 12.


Mr William Maclure (with whom I believe you are acquainted)1 has put into my hands a paper on one leaf of which is a printed statement of Baxter’s spinning & carding machines, & on the other one in manuscript from yourself notifying that, among other carding machines, you can furnish one with 6. Inch cards to go by hand at the price of 60. Dollars. I have need of such a machine exactly, to compleat my family establishment on the small scale suited only to it’s own wants. I have Barret’s machine for spinning with 12 spindles, capable however of any number, & roving also, the most simple & compact thing of the kind I believe, existing, price 50.D. only including a price of 20.D. for the patent, and I daily expect Herrick’s roving & spinning machine of 6. spindles price only 15.D. including that of the patent, which I have not seen but hear it well spoken of for it’s simplicity and work in wool.

I mention these machines to you because I am told you take an interest in such things. your small carding machine above mentioned would compleat my wants, and if you could furnish me with one I should consider it as a favor and would give you an order to recieve the price at Gibson & Jefferson’s counting house in Richmond. should you be so kind as to do this, I will send a light cart to your residence expressly for it, by any day you should name, only asking the favor of your previous information of the dimensions of the package, that a body to fit it might be put to the cart. the favor of an answer is requested by Sir

Your humble servt

Th: Jefferson

PoC (ViW: TC-JP); at foot of text: “John S. Ravenscroft”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 2 July 1812 and so recorded in SJL.

John Stark Ravenscroft (1772–1830) was born in Prince George County but soon moved with his family first to England and shortly afterward to Scotland, returning to Virginia about fifteen years later to manage his deceased father’s extensive property. He attended the College of William and Mary for an indeterminate period about 1790. Ravenscroft considered a legal career but instead purchased and settled on a Lunenburg County plantation. About 1810 he experienced a religious conversion, and after a period as a Methodist, in 1817 he was ordained an Episcopalian priest. Ravenscroft served as rector at Saint James Church in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, until 1823. In that year he became the first consecrated bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. Ravenscroft also served successively as rector of parishes in Raleigh and, from 1828, in Williamsboro. In the following year he presided at the organization of the Diocese of Tennessee (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 ; William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography [1979–96], 5:179–80; The Works of the Right Reverend John Stark Ravenscroft, … to which is prefixed a Memoir of His Life, 2 vols., 2d ed. [1856]; John N. Norton, The Life of Bishop Ravenscroft [1858]; Marshall DeLancey Haywood, Lives of the Bishops of North Carolina [1910], 37–88; Raleigh Register, and North-Carolina Gazette, 11 Mar. 1830).

Ravenscroft engaged about two years previously to sell textile machinery made by John George Baxter, of Philadelphia County, who marketed his spinning & carding machines to American “planters, farmers and heads of families,” with the carding engine said “to card six pounds of cotton per day” and priced at 60. dollars (Washington National Intelligencer, 14 May 1810; Ravenscroft to TJ, 21 July 1812; Baxter to TJ, 1 Aug. 1815).

1Omitted closing parenthesis editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Barrett, Oliver; spinning machine of search
  • Baxter, John George; textile machinery of search
  • carding machines; G. Baxter’s search
  • Herrick, Ebenezer; roving and spinning machine of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; textile machinery search
  • machines; carding search
  • machines; spinning search
  • manufacturing, household; J. S. Ravenscroft on search
  • McClure (McLure), William; and carding machine search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); domestic manufacturing at search
  • Ravenscroft, John Stark; and domestic manufacturing search
  • Ravenscroft, John Stark; identified search
  • Ravenscroft, John Stark; letters to search