Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to David B. Lee, 27 April 1822

To David B. Lee

Monticello Apr. 27. 22.


your letter of the 15th is recieved, but age has long since obliged me to withdraw my mind from speculations of the difficulty of those of your letter. that there are means of artifici[al]1 bouyancy by which man may be supported in the air, the baloon has proved, and that means of directing it may be discovered is against no law of nature, and is therefore possibl[e] as in the case of birds. but to do this by mechanical means alone in a medium so rare and unresisting as air2 must have the aid of some principle not yet generally known. however I can really give no opinion understandingly on the subject and with more good will than confidence wish you success.

T[h: Je]fferson

PoC (DLC); on verso of portion of a reused address cover from Arthur S. Brockenbrough to TJ; three words faint; at foot of text: “D. B. Lee”; mistakenly endorsed by TJ as a letter of 26 Apr. 1822 and so recorded in SJL. Tr (DLC: Institute of the Aerospace Sciences archives).

1Mutilated at seal.

2Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • aging; TJ on his own search
  • balloons search
  • birds; and flight search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; aging search
  • Lee, David B.; flying machine of search
  • Lee, David B.; letter to search
  • machines; flying search