James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Patterson, 15 January 1816

Mint of the United States, Jany 15th. 1816


On the morning of the 11th. I had the painful task of acquainting you with the destruction of a part of the Mint, by fire. At that hour, its origin was totally unknown & unsuspected by any of the officers or workmen belonging to the establishment. But, on examination, we have now very little doubt, that it must have originated from a barrel, in a neighboring yard, partly filled with wood ashes, taken occasionally from the hearths of an adjoining dwelling-house, & which had been set in actual contact with the weather-boarding of our mill-house, a wooden building, where the fire was first discovered. Several destructive fires in this city, & elsewhere, particularly that by which the Lutheran church in fourth street was some years ago consumed, have been ascertained to proceed from a similar cause.

There are not at present, nor are there likely to be, for some time any deposits of bullion in the mint of any consequence: the public therefore will not probably experience any inconvenience from the above disaster until the damages can be repaired; & I am happy to be able to assure you, that this can be done, & that on a much improved plan, without any special appropriation for the purpose, merely from the balances of former appropriations, not yet carried to the surplus fund. But, Sir, I would not presume to undertake these repairs without your approbation.

I have the honour to be, Sir, with the greatest respect & esteem, Your most obed. servt.

R. Patterson

DNA: RG 56—Correspondence of Mint at Philadelphia.

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