Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Thornton to Thomas Jefferson, 19 February 1817

From William Thornton

City of Washington 19th Feby 1817

Dear Sir

I have been waiting till this Day to obtain a Copy of the List of Patents, and lose not a moment in writing to you.—

Colonel Trumbull has been here some time, & has expressed satisfaction on viewing the Copy I made of your Portrait. I have placed it in the Congressional Library, in a very superb gilt Frame, that when the members view the works by wch the inside of your head was so well stored, they might also have a good Idea of the outside of the Head.—I mean to send the original (put up with care, along with Mr West’s Sketch) by your worthy & highly esteemed Successor Mr Madison—

Col: Trumbull wishes to paint some large Pictures for the Congress, and I am pleased to find a general impression in favr of this important undertaking.—

The affairs of South America progress with great rapidity to the compleat emancipation of that extensive rich & beautiful Country.

We have had very severe weather for some time past, but the Thermometer was never lower than six Degrees above 0 of Farenheit, in the open air, at 6 o’Clock in the morning.—

Mr Whitlow, whom you may perhaps remember as the discoverer of a species of the Urtica, in the back parts of the State of N. York, & called the Urtica Whitlowi has lately found a species of the Asclepias, or milk weed, which produces a flax or vegetable Silk, from its fineness of texture, that promises to produce a revolution in fabricks: for it is not only very fine but long & strong—and is easily raised in large quantity.—The Urtica grows abt 5 feet high, & an acre will produce abt from 800 to a thousand Wt—It is perenl & requires not rotting—The texture is fine, & stronger than hemp. These Plants are produced in the back Countries in abundance—The Asclepias—in Canada in great quantities. If we had here a botanic Garden, we could send various valuable Seeds to all parts of our Country—and render incalculable benefits. Mr Whitlow is here.—My respectful Complts to every member of yr worthy Family—

I am dear Sir wth the highest Considn &c

W. Thornton

Mr Sampson of New York presents to you his most respectful Complts & begs your acceptance of the Pamphlet on Domestic Manufg which I have the pleasure of inclosing—

RC (DLC); with postscript on verso of address leaf; addressed: “Honorable Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 Feb. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Issued, for the invention of any new or useful art, or machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any improvement thereon, from January 1st, 1816, to January 1st, 1817 (Washington, 1817).

The enclosed pamphlet may have been an additional copy of the enclosure to William Sampson to TJ, 9 Jan. 1817.

Index Entries

  • Address of the American Society for the encouragement of Domestic Manufactures (W. Sampson) search
  • American Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Manufactures; addresses of search
  • Canada; agriculture in search
  • gardens; proposed Washington botanical garden search
  • hemp; substitute for search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; G. Stuart’s paintings search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; W. Thornton’s profile bust search
  • Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting A List of the Names of Persons to whom Patents have been Issued, … from January 1st, 1816, to January 1st, 1817 search
  • Library of Congress; portrait of TJ displayed in search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); plans to visit TJ search
  • manufacturing; protection of U.S. interests in search
  • milkweed search
  • nettle, wood search
  • paintings; by J. Trumbull search
  • patents; lists of search
  • political economy; works on search
  • Sampson, William; Address of the American Society for the encouragement of Domestic Manufactures search
  • Sampson, William; and American Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Manufactures search
  • South America; republics in search
  • Stuart, Gilbert; “Medallion” profile of TJ by search
  • textiles; hemp search
  • textiles; milkweed search
  • The Fright of Astyanax (B. West) search
  • Thornton, William; as patent office superintendent search
  • Thornton, William; borrows paintings from TJ search
  • Thornton, William; letters from search
  • Thornton, William; portrait of TJ by search
  • Thornton, William; sends publications to TJ search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); historical paintings of search
  • Washington, D.C.; proposed botanical garden in search
  • weather; cold search
  • West, Benjamin; The Fright of Astyanax search
  • Whitlow, Charles; and proposed Washington botanical garden search
  • Whitlow, Charles; and wood nettle search