Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Clarke, 1 August 1817

To James Clarke

Monticello Aug. 1. 17.

Dear Sir

I have duly recieved your favor of July 6. and am glad you have turned your attention to the invention of means for surveying and platting at the same time. I have but occasionally looked at the subject as a desideratum; but never seriously aiming at it’s solution myself. the basis however of what has occurred to me is a four wheeled carriage, very light, the wheels to be like cotton spinning wheels & all other parts proportionably light. just over the bolt which connects the perch with the fore axle, suppose a machine fixed, so as to remain steadily in the direction of the perch, and the fore-axle made to govern a tracer which should draw on paper all the changes of angle and direction which the fore axle should commence. but as to the wheelwork & other contrivances necessary to effect this on paper, I never aimed at them. they are much more within your competence. I am afraid you will find the magnetic needle too weak and tremulous an agent to fulfill your views. Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of Chapman Johnson to TJ, 26 Apr. 1817; at foot of text: “Colo James Clarke”; endorsed by TJ.

Index Entries

  • carriages; platting instruments for search
  • Clarke, James (of Powhatan Co.); letter to search
  • Clarke, James (of Powhatan Co.); platting instrument of search
  • inventions; for platting roads search