Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Schultz, 12 October 1806

Philadelphia October 12—1806


As the friend of humanity and the patron of discovries beneficial to mankind, I have presumed to address you. Having sought a refuge in these United States from persecutions which I experienced in Europe, duty to myself, and to the people among whom I have found protection and kindness, have awakened the desire to be useful, and called into active operation the talents I possess. With the various branches of mechanicks I have rendered myself familiar. Observation and experience have enabled me to improve them, and to adapt them to the increase of power and to the amelioration of labour. Nor is this all; I have especially endeavoured to economise and to simplify.

Sensible however, that facts alone are necessary to obtain your approbation, I have ventured to inclose the plan of a machine for the introduction of water into this city at a much cheaper rate than it is done at present, and to ask your protection for it. If I am too bold, I pray you, Sir, to pardon the temerity which too well grounded a jealousy of mankind has induced. But, Sir, I am a foreigner, under necessitous circumstances. I have been in this country but eleven months, and consequently cannot claim the privilege of the laws for my inventions. Too many, I fear, would be willing to take advantage of my situation, I have therefore been emboldened to make this request; being assured that should you deign to honour me with your notice, it will prove an effectual barrier to the insidious wiles of designing men.

This machine, Sir, is of the most economical and simple construction, possessing a power of immense magnitude, and acting almost wholly within itself. It is peculiarly fitted to the carrying on large manufactories, and may be applied to the raising of mills in places heretofore impracticable.

Under the encouragement of the Watering Committee of Philadelphia I have just completed the model. In this business I have connected Mr. Mathew Shaw, of this place (carpenter), on condition of his taking out a patent right in such a way as to secure to me the honour of the invention, and one half the benefits arising therefrom. I have made him acquainted with every principle of the invention except one, which is the agent that sets the machine in motion (which may, indeed, be styled perpetual) and principally tends to continue its operations. This is a secret that I am apprehensive of developing. May I hope for your advice how to act. Whether it is actually necessary that I should inform Mr. Shaw of this agent; or whether I may put it off until we come to Washington, to take out the patent.

Your answer, Sir, with any observations you may be so good as to make on t[his] will be gratefully accepted by

your very humble and most obedient servant

William Schultz


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