Thomas Jefferson Papers

Gamaliel H. Ward to Thomas Jefferson, 20 January 1818

From Gamaliel H. Ward

Wilmington N.C. Jan’y 20th 1818.

Respected Sir,

With a short preface I take the liberty of addressing You.—I am Gamaliel H. Ward of Wilmington No Carolina, Son of Samuel Ward Esquire of Salem Massachusetts who died Naval officer of the District of Salem & Beverly during your happy Administration.—He was one of the first persons who read the divine declaration of American Independence in public town meeting, brought forward a resolution to support and defend its principles—dissolved the meeting while the British troops were marching up to stop the proceedings of American Republicans & Revolutionists and were within a short space of the Salem Court house when the meeting was dissolved, he was the first and only person who brought forward, supported and got pass’d a resolution to proscribe the Refugee & tory persons, and in consequence thereof created Enemies whose small minds and great wealth continued them so ever after; yet they couldn’t vary his firm fix’d principles, to wit, Never to die a hypocrite in the cause of freedom and emancipation from British tyranny.—

He has departed—Rich and proud in spirit ’tho’ poor in purse as I his son am. While British myrmidons with contaminated American blood, roll’d in luxery he despised their grandeur as much as they despised his poverty.—Peace to his shades—I doubt not his safe and happy retreat because he believed in—worshipped and adored one great & good God and admired the principles of the son of Sirach.—

He was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature in times that tried mens Souls & an intimate friend of Govr Jno Hancock. He was active in opposition to Shays’ insurrection assembled the force in the neighbourhood of Salem in his own Distil house and parted with them outside the suburbs of the town amidst the admiration of the populace; march’d with his musket to Rhodeisland in ill health &c &c.—

After a series of good and ill fortune I his Son am an inhabitant of No Carolina, having denounced my native State for her treason and now despise her for hypocrisy towards Mr Munroe.—

Having devoted the last summer to making Salt (for want of more active employment) ’tis acknowledged by all who are in the business that I have improved & facilitated the method on a new plan, much to their satisfaction and astonishment, for with the same works with which I made 1250 bushs only the last year, I can by fair calculation make 22 to 28,000 bushs and with not more than 600 to 900 dolls additional expence; and nothing more than common sense is required to effectuate and determine it by calculating the strength of one gallon of Sea Water and the power of Winslow Lewis’ Patent binnacle glasses,—the process you will easily comprehend Sir by reading the following.—Having little attention devoted to the works, in Winter and hearing the Salt makers complain that they couldn’t make Salt enough then to defray the expence of attending the works,—an idea struck me by heating a Spoonful of Water with a small burning glass; I then put a pan full of Water into a Small green house which soon had the desired effect, producing Salt much Quicker than by the ordinary lengthy process of 3 or 4 weeks.—My works were as follows, 100 Reservoirs of 20 feet on each side and about 6 inches deep, caulk’d and made tight then heavy cumbersome roofs with Cranes hanging on a pivot in the Centre or between the two rooms which are open’d or shut easily by one man in 20’, Cost in toto about 8000$.

The Water is first pumped into what are called the Water rooms which are much the largest proportion, to wit

= 52 Water rooms in which the water settles and evaporates say about ⅓ or ½.—
= 36 Pickle rooms which receives the evaporated Water from the first rooms or reservoirs after the dirt has been Skimm’d off and has settled to the bottom.—
= 12 Salt rooms which receive the Pickle from the latter after it has continued evaporating from 10 to 20 Days as the

weather and heat of the Sun may be.—the Water from the Pickle rooms ought never to be let off into the Salt rooms ’til Salt begins to make or ’til a piece of Salt will lie in it without dissolving.—In the Pickle rooms the lime (so call’d) seperates & settles to the bottom, first collecting on top of the Water, and ’tis Suppos’d by many that the lime is heavy enough to settle from its own weight, the fact is otherwise and need not be named to You Sir; but as my immediate attention was & is now given to the object of making Salt, while your exalted ideas are on something superior for the general good of Mankind, it may not be amiss to say that the lime is created from the lightest particles of the water and doesn’t settle to the bottom til impregnated with Salt, and then if the weather is dull and the sun obscure the Water continues several days without making more Salt. the surest criterion therefore is to wait ’til the Salt begins to make before the water is let into the Salt rooms (otherwise ’twill dissolve the salt in the rooms) when twill immediately commence forming in small Globules and in a day or two exhausts itself—leaving only a small part of bitter water (so call’d) which must be let off, to another reservoir to make Glauber Salts which will form in one night—or thrown away which is generally the case as G. Salts are not worth attending to.—

This business, Sir, was to me entirely new and seeing the Negro’s spend so much time and money to effect a trifling object,—I determin’d to improve it and have done so to the satisfaction of all concern’d.—My object then is to take advantage of and to enrich myself thereby: I have written for a Patent which there’s but little doubt I shall obtain.—Nevertheless your opinion and advice would afford me the greatest imaginable satisfaction and be of the utmost benefit to me because as Mr Pitt said in the British Parliament Altho’ “’tis no crime to be a young man”—Yet a young mans opinions, motives and writings are not paid that deference & respect to which an old and experienced man has a right to expect and which the Public apparently feel bound to give.—   Therefore, Sir, all these circumstances consider’d I am confident in refering You for a knowledge of my character to Robert Cochran Esqre Collector here, Gilbert Geer, Jno London Richard Bradley, John Garnier & Thomas Robinson, all of them Merchants and Saltmakers on a large Scale and all anxious to have me improve their works.

In my native State to Hon. Wm Gray, E. H. Derby, Nathl West with whom I served 7 years in the Mercantile & sea faring business, H. A. S. Dearborn Esqr Collector Boston Wm R. Lee Esqr Collr Salem, The President and Members of the East India Marine Society, Salem, of which I have been a member ten years, The Bank and Insurance Companies generally and many others if necessary.—

You will perceive Sir, my object in writing to You, to wit Your good opinion; Nevertheless Should You think proper to withhold it from my age (36 years) Will You be pleased to express it to H. A. S. Dearborn Esqr or Wm R. Lee Esqre and believe me with the utmost respect and esteem for Your character ’tho’ a stranger to your Person

Your Mo. hble & Ob: Servt

Gaml H. Ward

Dupl (DLC); at head of text: “Copy”; between dateline and salutation: “Thoms Jefferson Esqre”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 May 1818 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in Ward to TJ, 22 Apr. 1818.

Gamaliel Hodges Ward (1782–1836), mariner and shipowner, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and joined a Masonic lodge there in 1805. Around the same time, having spent five years working in a merchant’s office, he became a captain trading to the East Indies. Over the decade that followed Ward commanded and owned a number of different commercial vessels and was a member of the East India Marine Society. During the War of 1812, while a resident of Portland, Maine District, he was the captain and proprietor of a privateer, the schooner Union. Ward evidently received no patent for his discoveries in the manufacture of salt, and his stay in North Carolina was brief. In 1821 he was acquitted on a charge of stealing a horse in his hometown, where he died fifteen years later (Vital Records of Salem Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849 [1916], 1:390; Essex Institute, Historical Collections 3 [1861]: 181; Ward to TJ, 22 Apr. 1818; A. Frank Hitchings and Stephen Willard Phillips, Ship Registers of the District of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, 1789–1900 [1906], 71, 74, 152, 197; Maine Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings, 2d ser., 6 [1895]: 181; Newburyport [Mass.] Herald, 6 Nov. 1821; Salem Gazette, 23 Nov. 1821; Ward, Trial of Gamaliel H. Ward, on an indictment in the usual form of hard words and law expressions, For taking a Horse from a stable in Salem, and returning him again [(Salem), 1822]; Amherst, N.H., Farmers’ Cabinet, 11 Mar. 1836).

The son of sirach was the author of a body of moral teachings included in the Roman Catholic canon of the Old Testament as the Book of Sirach. Protestants consider it apocryphal and refer to it as the Book of Ecclesiasticus. The times that tried mens souls is a variant of the opening of the first number of Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis (Norwich, Conn., [1776]). Ward apparently thought that the warm reception accorded James Monroe in Massachusetts during his recent presidential tour constituted rank hypocrisy.

On 24 June 1808 Winslow Lewis obtained a patent for binnacle lights, and on 8 June 1810 he patented a “reflecting and magnifying lantern.” The United States government subsequently acquired his patent and employed him to use his combination of lamps, metallic reflectors, and lenses to increase the brilliancy and efficiency of its lighthouses (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 , 66, 83; ASP, Commerce and Navigation, 1:879–85; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 2:691 [2 Mar. 1812]; Medical Repository, 3d hexade, 3 [1812]: 342–6).

’tis no crime to be a young man: in his reply to a 1741 speech in parliament by Horatio (Horace) Walpole (later first Baron Walpole of Wolterton), William Pitt (later 1st Earl of Chatham) famously declared that “The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honourable gentleman has with such spirit and decency charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate, nor deny, but content myself with wishing that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and not of that number, who are ignorant in spite of experience” (A Collection of the Parliamentary Debates in England, from The Year M,DC,LXVIII. To the present Time [Dublin and London, 1741–43], 20:375).

Index Entries

  • Bible; Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) referenced search
  • Bradley, Richard search
  • Chatham, William Pitt, 1st Earl of search
  • Cochran, Robert; collector of Wilmington, N.C. search
  • Dearborn, Henry Alexander Scammell; and G. H. Ward search
  • Declaration of Independence; mentioned search
  • Derby, Elias Hasket search
  • East India Marine Society search
  • food; salt search
  • Garnier, John search
  • Geer, Gilbert search
  • Gray, William; and G. H. Ward search
  • Great Britain; parliament of search
  • Hancock, John; and S. Ward search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Declaration of Independence search
  • lamps; W. Lewis’s search
  • lanterns search
  • Lee, William Raymond; and G. H. Ward search
  • Lewis, Winslow; patents held by search
  • lime (mineral); and salt manufacture search
  • London, John search
  • Massachusetts; and J. Monroe’s presidential tour search
  • Massachusetts; legislature of search
  • Monroe, James; presidential tour search
  • Paine, Thomas; quoted search
  • patents; of W. Lewis search
  • Robinson, Thomas search
  • salt; manufacturing search
  • Shays’s Rebellion search
  • Walpole, Horatio (Horace), first Baron Walpole of Wolterton; as member of parliament search
  • Ward, Gamaliel Hodges; and salt manufacture search
  • Ward, Gamaliel Hodges; family of search
  • Ward, Gamaliel Hodges; identified search
  • Ward, Gamaliel Hodges; letters from search
  • Ward, Samuel; G. H. Ward on search
  • West, Nathaniel search