Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Isaac Briggs, 18 May 1817

To Isaac Briggs

May 18. 17.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 9th never came to hand till the last night, viz. two days after the meeting of the board at New York who were to decide on the persons to be employed in the direction of their grand canal: and as the arrangements of our mail render it impossible to get a letter to N. York before the last of the month, the certainty that the decision will be over, prevents my doing more than to acknolege your letter. I have thought it the less important, as my opinion of your high talents as a Mathematician and Astronomer was sufficiently proved by my having appointed you Surveyor General of the South Western department, and again by my employing you to designate the direction of the nearest1 road from Washington to N. Orleans which should not cross the mountains by observations of Latitude and Longitude only, and my well known2 approbation of what you did. this work required Mathematical talents of a high order. my solicitations to you too to undertake the astronomical observations & calculations for the map of our state, had that proceeded on the scale at first contemplated, was a proof that I continued my confidence in you. still, had your letter arrived in time I should with great pleasure and as an act of duty, have given testimony direct of my confidence in your qualifications, industry & integrity. as it is I can only tender my regrets that your application came so late, with the assurance of my constant friendship & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of John H. Cocke to TJ, 26 Mar. 1817; at foot of text: “Mr Isaac Briggs”; endorsed by TJ.

1Preceding two words interlined in place of “a.”

2Manuscript: “know.”

Index Entries

  • Briggs, Isaac; and Erie Canal search
  • Briggs, Isaac; letters to search
  • Briggs, Isaac; proposed as surveyor of Va. search
  • Briggs, Isaac; surveyor of federal lands search
  • canals; Erie search
  • Erie Canal search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation from search
  • Lake Erie; proposed canal to search
  • New York (state); and canals search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation from TJ search