Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Abraham Ogier Stansbury, 29 October 1806

Birmingham October 29th 1806.

Respected Sir,

As a native of the United States, I cannot help feeling an interest in whatever concerns the welfare of my Country; and in addressing you, I am satisfied I need make no apology for the intrusion on your time, always devoted to the most useful purposes: I have only to regret my not being personally acquainted with the Man who has distinguished himself no less by his philosophical researches than by the application of their results to the true interest of his fellow creatures.

Although through the influence of party, opposed to your election to the Presidency, I am proud to confess that the wisdom and moderation of your public acts have placed me in the number of your warmest admirers, and I hope Sir you will do me the favour to receive this Letter as a proof of my respect for your talents & confidence in your judgment.   Since my arrival in this Country where I have obtained a Patent for a little invention, also secured in the United States, I met by accident with a fellow Citizen of great ingenuity, Mr. John I. Hawkins, the inventor of a new Piano forte, the Polygraph, Claviole &c. who informed me that you had honoured him with your correspondence, and I felt encouraged from his account of your personal condescention, to address to you the following Extract and Communication, which if worth publication in a newspaper may possibly be of some use at the present important period, when the Government have taken a step the most decisive and beneficial that its annals boast since the immortal declaration of Independence. One great inducement with me for sending this paragraph to the press is, that from my intercourse with the people in this place and in London whence I am lately returned, I find a generally prevailing sentiment, that the Law prohibiting the importation of certain articles was a mere trick of policy intended to serve the purposes of negociation with England, and that the Americans were from their situation unable to carry it into effect: How far this is the case you must certainly be better able to decide than I can possibly be; my only fear is, that from the perpetual fluctuation of party, so salutary a measure should be crushed before it has had a fair experiment; with respect to the result there is nothing to be apprehended provided proper support be given, and energetic measures be pursued: Those which I have ventured to hint, appear to me such as would be the most likely to ensure success.

From my situation here I have daily opportunities of witnessing the facility with which manufactures are conducted, and the immense importance of machinery and proper tools; the disparity between this boasted Country and the United States is by no means so physically great as we have been led to suppose; since the introduction of the Steam Engine a great portion of the manual labour before required in Manufactories is dispensed with, and this powerful aid We may avail ourselves of as fully as the people here: Our Coal mines are abundant sources of Fuel and we already possess mechanics who are complete masters of all the rest—Trevithick’s improvement being the most simple will probably answer best on that account in the U. States, it is much used here of late—

I should feel myself peculiarly happy in being of any service to my Country by communicating such information as I may happen to possess on these subjects, & when I return, as it is my intention to do in a few years, I hope to be of some benefit to the rising Interests of a favoured and happy Land whose only defect is the exuberance of liberty.

I am, Sir, With sentiments of sincere respect yr very humble Servt.

Abm. Ogier Stansbury

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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