Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joshua J. Moore, 8 July 1807

Washington 8th July 1807,


Timothy Kirk called upon me and stated that he had devised an Instrument for finding the longitude on a principle hitherto not acted upon. Though, as it is Said, the Inventor of some ingenious Machineries, for which he has obtained Patents, he found it strangely difficult in the present Case to explain himself either in philosophical or in common language. This he seemed to be aware of frequently deploring his incapacity of conveying Ideas to the Comprehension of others: asserting with the most perfect Confidence that in case he could do so, his Invention would be seen and acknowledged to be a compleat resolution of the long agitated Problem.—I was willing to assist him in removing the Viel which interposed between him and the understanding of his fellow citizens. After much questioning, repetitions and Corrections, (—minuting down his Ideas as I obtained them), his meaning was drawn forth: he read the Explanation paragraph by paragraph, said that I had righty understood him, and that his Ideas were expressed to his Satisfaction.—I stated to him that I could not conceive how his wheel work would exhibit the angle:—that with all the attention I could bestow upon his Explanation, he still seem’d incapable of shewing that it would do so: although it was in fact the main point.—He assented to this; but said that the modus operandi of the machine was imprinted most vividly in his mind, and he was confident of its accuracy.

He wished me to certify that I believed the machine would answer the purpose intended; and I shewed him that on the Ground last mentioned I must of course refuse. He then left it in charge to me to present you with a copy of his explanation, herein enclosed; and which must speak for itself.

I have the Honor to be with the greatest Respect, Sir, Your obedient Servant,

Joshua J Moore.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

Index Entries