Thomas Jefferson Papers

Shotwell & Kinder to Thomas Jefferson, 24 December 1813

From Shotwell & Kinder

New York 24th 12 mo 1813

Respected Friend

Knowing the pleasure thou has in Improvements that promise Comfort to the Human Race; we have taken the liberty of sending thee a few yards of Cloth, sufficient for an over Coat which we beg thy acceptance of; it is the production of a great many Experiments, to render the Hair of Black Cattle from the Tanneries useful as Clothing, and various other Fabrics, and composed of one part common Wool and two parts Hair, we find that it can be worked with the same ease and facility as Wool alone, and believe it will prove equally durable; For Carpeting and some other uses we use no Wool—

We doubt not that at the present time, when our Country fears a want of similar Articles, it will be gratifying to thee to find that we have resources where they were the least looked for, and so extensive as to be of great importance to the American Family

We likewise hand thee a small pattern of one part Wool & three parts Hair, and are very Respectfully

Thy Assured Friends

Shotwell & Kinder

RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); beneath dateline and salutation: “Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Feb. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

On 23 July 1813 William Shotwell (ca. 1760–1837) and Arthur Kinder (d. after May 1821), merchants in New York City, patented a process for making cloth from a mixture of cattle hair and wool. On 4 Nov. they took out two additional patents, one for spinning and the other for carding “the hair of neat or black cattle.” The two men established the brokerage partnership of Shotwell & Kinder that same year and opened a factory to produce coarse cloth and carpeting in Rahway, New Jersey. With an initial capital of $400,000, the separately incorporated Patent Cloth Manufacturing Company was capable of producing 500 yards of their “Taurino” cloth daily. Shotwell’s son and namesake joined the firm in 1815, two years prior to its dissolution by mutual consent. The elder Shotwell, a Quaker who had received several patents while visiting England during the first decade of the nineteenth century, was a longtime resident of New York City. He continued the business as Shotwell & Son, brokers, into the mid-1820s (List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 127, 128; New York Daily Advertiser, 4 Mar. 1789; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.Y., New York, 1790, 1810–30; London Repertory of Arts, Manufactures, and Agriculture 10 [1807]: 464; 14 [1809]: 217–21; Longworth’s New York Directory description begins Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, New York, 1796–1842 (title varies; cited by year of publication) description ends [1813], 173, 281; [1821], 258; [1825], 382; Baltimore Patriot & Evening Advertiser, 28 Oct. 1813; New York Commercial Advertiser, 29 June 1815, 24 Apr., 30 June 1817; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 13 Nov. 1815; New-Bedford Mercury, 25 Aug. 1837).

On this day Shotwell & Kinder sent a similar letter enclosing fabric samples to President James Madison (DLC: Madison Papers). A committee of the Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts in the State of New-York reported on 2 Mar. 1814 that Shotwell & Kinder’s Taurino cloth was strong, moisture resistant, lighter than wool cloth, durable, and thus a viable substitute material for carpets and overcoats and for felting in paper manufacture (Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts in the State of New-York, Transactions 3 [1814]: 251–2).

Index Entries

  • carpets search
  • cattle; hair used for textiles search
  • clothing; coats search
  • household articles; carpet search
  • Kinder, Arthur; identified search
  • Madison, James; Taurino fabric sent to search
  • manufacturing, household; cloth search
  • paper; manufacture of search
  • Shotwell, William; identified search
  • Shotwell & Kinder (New York firm); and Taurino cloth search
  • Shotwell & Kinder (New York firm); identified search
  • Shotwell & Kinder (New York firm); letters from search
  • Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts in the State of New-York; and Taurino cloth search
  • textiles; manufacturing search
  • textiles; Taurino search
  • wool; cloth search