Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to William Davenport, 2 February 1819

To William Davenport

Monticello Feb. 2. 19.


I some time ago forwarded a telescope to Doctor Robert Patterson with a request to put it into good hands to be repaired. he informs me he delivered it to you, and that the price for repairing it for land observations (which will be sufficient) will be 10. Dollars. I now inclose you a 10.D. bill of the US. bank at Richmond, the only kind of the US. denomination I could procure. you will have seen that the only method of advancing or withdrawing the movable tube was by hand. this being inconvenient a workman, not very dexterous, undertook to make it moveable by tooth & pinion wheels, in which he failed entirely. should this be now practicable I should greatly prefer it and would remit in the same way any additional charge it may incur. when done, I will pray you to have it put into an outer box, and forwarded by some of the vessels bound from Philadelphia to Richmond, addressed to me to the care of Capt Bernard Peyton, commission mercht there, who will pay the master of the vessel his charges. there is never a week that vessels are not coming from Phila to Richmd & particularly in the coal trade. accept my assurances of respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (facsimile on cover of catalogue 23 of Autographed Letters and Documents, American Historical Guild, Dix Hills, N.Y., [ca. Feb. 1988]); at foot of text: “Mr Davenport. Phila.” PoC (MHi); on verso of RC of Thomas W. Maury to TJ, 21 Oct. 1818; endorsed by TJ. Enclosed in TJ to Robert Patterson, 2 Feb. 1819.

William Davenport (1778–1829), scientific-instrument maker, was a lifelong resident of Philadelphia. He manufactured and repaired mathematical, nautical, optical, and surveying instruments at his shop on South Front Street from 1802 until his death (Charles E. Smart, The Makers of Surveying Instruments in America since 1700 [1962–67], 1:35; Silvio A. Bedini, Early American Scientific Instruments and Their Makers [1964], 61, 156, 168; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1351; James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory, City and County Register, for 1802 [Philadelphia, 1802], 67; DNA: RG 29, CS, Pa., Philadelphia, 1810, 1820; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 10 June 1814, 20 May 1829; Philadelphia Directory and Stranger’s Guide, 1829 [1829], 45).

Index Entries

  • Bank of the United States, Second, Richmond branch of; Richmond branch of (subentry to be split apart as time permits) search
  • Bank of the United States, Second; currency of search
  • banks; currency issued by search
  • boats; carriage to and from Richmond search
  • coal; shipment of search
  • currency; paper search
  • Davenport, William; identified search
  • Davenport, William; letters to search
  • Davenport, William; repairs telescope search
  • Patterson, Robert; and telescope search
  • Peyton, Bernard; and goods for TJ search
  • Richmond, Va.; boat carriage to and from search
  • scientific instruments; telescopes search
  • telescopes; repaired search