Charleston S:C: 30th: September 1807.
At a period like the present, When every Citizen is called upon, to use his utmost efforts to prepare his Country against the assaults of the expected Enemy; You will pardon the intrusion I shall make on You, from the motive Which shall appear—
I have for some time past, reflected on the possible use of Cannon in firing ships, & I believe discovered the means of communicating fire, either to their Sails, rigging, or Hull, as the Shot may Strike, by a method not heretofore used—We perceive that fire is conveyed through the atmosphere by the fuse of a Shell, & it is grounded on this principle that I proceed—these are great, in the immediate view, & vastly important events in the consequences, that may issue from the use of this discovery—therefore, I rest the practice of it on Your determination, not having Yet, made it known to any one—Should You think it proper to be brought forth, & choose to communicate on the subject with the Secretary at War—I will through Any Agent he may name (Captn. McComb of the Corps of Engineers, or any other Gentleman) make such trials as he may deem satisfactory—
I believe Sir I have not been unknown to You & am with the greatest respect Sir, Your most Obedt hble Servt:
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.