Thomas Jefferson Papers

Letter of Recommendation for Richard Ware from James C. Fisher, Edward Burd, John Vaughan, and John Read, 17 March 1819

Letter of Recommendation for Richard Ware from James C. Fisher, Edward Burd, John Vaughan, and John Read

An advertisement having been published in a number of Newspapers, by Nelson Barksdale, Proctor of the University of Virginia, encouraging the applications of Mechanics of all kinds for employment in the erection of an edifice for that institution, Richard Ware, of the City of Philadelphia, Carpenter, is desirous to obtain from the Subscribers that recommendation of his character and capacity which is expressly required. We do not hesitate, therefore, to State that he has long been held in high estimation as a workman of intelligence, skill, and fidelity; that many of the handsomest and best buildings of our city have been of his construction; and that we Should deem him in every way worthy to be employed, and competent, as a carpenter, to assist in the contemplated Structure.

Philadelphia 17. March 1819.

James C, Fisher
Edw Burd
Jno Vaughan
John Read

MS (ViU: TJP); in an unidentified hand, signed by Fisher, Burd, Vaughan, and Read; endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Fisher & others. for Ware Richd” received 25 Mar. 1819 and so recorded in SJL.

Richard Ware, carpenter, house joiner, and hardware merchant, plied his trade in Philadelphia, 1809–19, during which time he joined the local Carpenters’ Company. After the War of 1812 he also operated a hardware store, where he sold imported English ironmongery. The economic panic of 1819 reduced the value of his stock, pushing Ware into insolvency and causing him to seek employment elsewhere. After being briefly imprisoned for debt, he arrived in Charlottesville in May 1819 and began work at the University of Virginia shortly thereafter. Ware oversaw the construction of thirteen student rooms and Pavilions II, IV, and VI, and he was master carpenter on Hotel F. In return he received more than $27,000 and TJ’s testimonial that he had done his work “faithfully, skilfully and to our entire satisfaction.” Following his departure from the university in 1823, Ware reportedly moved to New York City. By 1830 he had returned to Philadelphia (James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory for 1809 [(Philadelphia, 1809)]; An Act to Incorporate the Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia … [1866], 81; Donna J. Rilling, “Small-Producer Capitalism in Early National Philadelphia,” in Cathy Matson, ed., The Economy of Early America: Historical Perspectives and New Directions [2006], 327; James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1816 [(Philadelphia, 1816)]; John Adems Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1818 [(Philadelphia, 1818)]; TJ to Arthur S. Brockenbrough, 28 May 1819; Lay, Architecture description begins K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, 2000 description ends , 92, 101; TJ’s Letter of Recommendation for Ware, 13 Aug. 1823; TJ to Joseph Rodman Paxson, 22 Apr. 1826; DNA: RG 29, CS, Pa., Philadelphia, 1830, 1840; Robert Desilver, Desilver’s Philadelphia Directory and Stranger’s Guide, 1830 [1830], 205; McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory for 1843 [1843], 292).

James Cowles Fisher (ca. 1755–1840), merchant and bank director, was a Quaker who lived his entire life in Philadelphia. He was a director of both the First Bank of the United States, 1791–1811, and its successor, 1816–36. Fisher also served as a manager of the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike, 1796–1840; a trustee of the Mutual Assurance Company, 1809–40, and chairman, 1834–40; and president of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, 1824–29 (J. Bennett Hill and Margaret Howe Hill, “William Fisher, Early Philadelphia Quaker and his Eighteenth Century Descendants …,” Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 21 [1960]: 272–3; Edward Carpenter and Louis Henry Carpenter, comps., Samuel Carpenter and his Descendants [1912], 216; Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer; or, the Chronicle of Freedom, 18 Oct. 1783; Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 26 Oct. 1791; Baltimore Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette, 6 Jan. 1810; Albany Daily Advertiser, 4 Nov. 1816; The Biennial Register of all Officers and Agents in the Service of the United States [1838], 205; Lancaster County Historical Society, Historical Papers and Addresses 20 [1916]: 254; Framing the Board: A Look at Corporate Portraiture [1982], 5, 7, 12; Easton, Md., Republican Star and General Advertiser, 2 Mar. 1824; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 31 Oct. 1829; DNA: RG 29, CS, Pa., Philadelphia, 1790–1840; Philadelphia Public Ledger, 21 Oct. 1840).

Edward Burd (ca. 1750–1833), attorney and public official, was admitted to the bar of the Pennsylvania supreme court in 1774. He joined the Continental army in 1776 as a major in a Pennsylvania unit, but he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Long Island in August of that year and did not return to military service. Burd was prothonotary of the Pennsylvania supreme court, 1778–1806, and held other clerkships before retiring in about 1813. Having been elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1785, he also served as a trustee of the College of Philadelphia, 1790–91, and the University of Pennsylvania, 1791–1831. Burd died in Philadelphia (Lewis Burd Walker, ed., The Burd Papers: Selections from letters written by Edward Burd. 1763–1828 [1899]; John Hill Martin, Martin’s Bench and Bar of Philadelphia [1883]; Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914, repr. 1967 description ends , 133; James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory for 1806 [(Philadelphia, 1806)]; Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1808 [(Philadelphia, 1808)]; Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory, for 1811 [(Philadelphia, 1811)], 55; John Adems Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1813 [Philadelphia, 1813]; APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Minutes, 21 Jan. 1785 [MS in PPAmP]; University of Pennsylvania: Biographical Catalogue of the Matriculates of the College, 1749–1893 [1894], xiv; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 26 July 1833; gravestone inscription in Christ Church Burial Ground, Philadelphia).

John Read (1769–1854), attorney, public official, and banker, was a native of New Castle, Delaware. Having graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1787, he studied law and was admitted to the Delaware bar in 1791. Read relocated to Philadelphia by 1792. He was a federal agent for the settlement of claims made under the Jay Treaty, 1797–1809, and a member of the Philadelphia city council, 1809–15. Read also held a seat as a Federalist in the Pennsylvania house of representatives, 1815–17, and in the state senate, 1817–18. In the latter year the legislature selected him as a director of the Philadelphia Bank, and he was its president, 1818–41. After his retirement Read moved permanently to Trenton, New Jersey, where he owned real estate valued in 1850 at $45,000 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Princetonians description begins James McLachlan and others, eds., Princetonians: A Biographical Dictionary, 1976–90, 5 vols. description ends , 1784–90, pp. 222–5; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 42 vols. description ends , 30:428n; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 1:252 [29 Nov. 1797]; Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Journal [1815–16 sess.]: 5; [1816–17 sess.]: 5; Pennsylvania Senate, Journal [1817–18 sess.]: 4, 139; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 5 Jan. 1819; Philadelphia Pennsylvania Inquirer and National Gazette, 3 Feb. 1842; DNA: RG 29, CS, N.J., Trenton, 1850; Trenton Daily True American, 14 July 1854).

Index Entries

  • American Philosophical Society; members of search
  • Barksdale, Nelson; Advertisement for Workmen for the University of Virginia search
  • Burd, Edward; identified search
  • Burd, Edward; recommends R. Ware search
  • Fisher, James Cowles; and R. Ware search
  • Fisher, James Cowles; identified search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Advertisement for Workmen for the University of Virginia search
  • newspapers; advertisements in search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Read, John; identified search
  • Read, John; recommends R. Ware search
  • Vaughan, John (1756–1841); recommends R. Ware search
  • Virginia, University of; Administration and Financial Affairs; proctor of search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; builders for search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; carpenters and joiners for search
  • Ware, Richard; identified search
  • Ware, Richard; recommendations of search