Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Tatham, 4 July 1807

Norfolk July 4th. 1807.

Dr. Sir.

The perpetual anxiety which subsists here, to hear speedily from the Federal City, has induced me to submit to Your consideration the adoption of a public, & commercial, Tellagraph, in some plan similar to the idea transmitted.

I would recommend the adoption of the following method vizt.

[GRAPHIC IN MANUSCRIPT] As these numerical Characters are competent to denote any extent in Numbers, some particular Dictionary may be numbered as a Key; and Common Place Sentences, Questions & Answers, &c, may be found to suit numbering (under some Especial Signal) denoting sentences, & printed in a Sentence book, which may be afterward numbered by hand, to suit the Confidential intercourse of Government. Flag Staffs may be also planted at the Tellegraphs, & Signals denoting Nations, Ships, Brigs, &c. &c may be hoisted in further explanation; & to confer with our Ships at Sea; with our Forts &c.

Thus if we allow fifteen Stations between the City of Washington & Cape Henry; & each movement (per Question & Answer) to require One minute of time, on a clear day, The Question will be put & Answered in half an Hour.

If you think it proper to go into farther detail Enquiries I will chearfully pursue them, or carry them into effect.

All is Quiet here, in haste Dr Sir Your obt H Servt

Wm Tatham

3d. July (for 4th. Post) 1807

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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