Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 24 November 1816

To George Logan

Poplar Forest Nov. 24. 16.

Dear Sir

I recieve your favor of Nov. 1. here, as I am about setting out on my return to Monticello for the winter. the specimen of flax from Sr John Sinclair is exquisite. we have learned from the newspapers that a new method of preparing flax has been discovered in England. I presume this is an example. about 25. years ago Sr John Sinclair sent me a specimen of Virginia wool which he had picked up accidentally, and had finely prepared, to shew that we have among us native sheep with wool equal to the Merino. now & then in a flock we find such wool; but have never made the selection of the breed an object, because, in our houshold manufactures, (& we have no other) we make only coarse woollen clothing for our laborers. for the same reason we are retiring from the Merinos, for whose wool we have neither use nor market. even our houshold cotton manufactures which are innate and nearly coeval with the state, are laboring under a difficulty. originally, and till within 30. years, we raised our own cotton. about that time our emigrants to Georgia & the upper part of S. Carolina carried the culture there, and could raise it there so much easier, that we nearly gave up the culture, and procured our supplies from them thro’ our merchants. these last finding our houshold manufactures shorten their sales of what is imported, have suddenly ceased to import the cotton wool of the South, and we are suddenly without a pound, and forced to go to the stores for imported substitutes. this trick will succeed for one year. & with the high price of the article is putting us on a resumption of the culture.—the account you send me of the Mangel-wurzell would encourage one to undertake it, even if it requires the culture of the spade. this plant was all the rage while I was in France; but soon went out of vogue, I know not why.—I think Sr John Sinclair’s plough appears too bluff in front, and too close pinched at the side. I apprehend it would cause much resistance in the draught, and does not expand itself enough to turn the furrow over compleatly. I have had a plough ready for mr Peale upwards of a year, which the difficulty of forwarding has still retained, but I will find means shortly. it is a light 2. horsed plough, for a furrow 6.I. deep & 9.I. wide, & on the principle of the least resistance possible. I think it will be liked, and may be enlarged or diminished, still preserving it’s principle. I tender friendly and respectful souvenirs to mrs Logan & yourself.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on portion of reused address cover of Charles Pinckney to TJ, [by 21] Aug. 1816; at foot of first page: “Doctr Logan”; endorsed by TJ.

American newspapers had reported thus on a new English method of preparing flax: “Mr. [James] Lee, an English gentleman, has lately obtained a patent for machinery on a new construction, which prepares flax and hemp, in a few hours, for all the purposes of manufacture, without the tedious and disagreeable process of watering and grassing, as is the present practice. By this plan, the quantity of dressed flax is increased, the quality improved, and the seed saved” (Philadelphia Weekly Aurora, 13 Sept. 1815).

souvenirs: “regards; remembrances.”

Index Entries

  • clothing; wool search
  • cotton; as crop search
  • cotton; manufactures from search
  • cotton; price of search
  • crops; mangel-wurzel search
  • flax; dressed search
  • flax; preparation of search
  • flax; seeds search
  • France; mangel-wurzel grown in search
  • Georgia; cotton grown in search
  • hemp; preparation of search
  • Lee, James (of England); patents machine search
  • Logan, Deborah Norris (George Logan’s wife); TJ sends greetings to search
  • Logan, George; and flax specimen search
  • Logan, George; letters to search
  • Logan, George; sends works to TJ search
  • machines; flax and hemp preparation search
  • mangel-wurzel search
  • Mangel Wurzel. Account of a Crop of this most valuable Root grown in the Year 1815 (G. Turnbull) search
  • manufacturing; TJ on search
  • merino sheep; wool of search
  • patents; of J. Lee search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; and plows search
  • plows; J. Sinclair’s search
  • plows; TJ’s moldboard search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ returns from search
  • seeds; flax search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; and flax specimen search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; plow of search
  • Sinclair, Sir John; sends wool to TJ search
  • South Carolina; cotton grown in search
  • textiles; home manufacture of search
  • textiles; wool search
  • Turnbull, George; Mangel Wurzel. Account of a Crop of this most valuable Root grown in the Year 1815 search
  • Virginia; wool from search
  • wool; from Va. search
  • wool; merino search
  • wool; used for clothing search