George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Gaston Chambers, 5 August 1793

From Joseph Gaston Chambers

White horse high Street1 Philada Augt 5. 1793


Some time since I had the honor of applying to the President of the United States on the subject of an improvment in fire arms which seemed capable of being converted to public advantage.2 The result of farther experiments being favourable to the opinion first formed and the occasion for Military operations still existing in our country I am induced to trouble him once more on the same. I wish to be instructed as to the proper method of introducing a business of this kind and whether the president shall think proper to appoint any examination of its merits.3 I remain Sir, with the highest Respect your humbe servt

Joseph G. Chambers


Joseph Gaston Chambers (c.1756–1829) lived in West Middleton, in the town of Hopewell in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He received a patent for his “Gunnery, repeating” on 23 Mar. 1813 (U.S. Patent Office, List of Patents for Inventions and Designs, Issued by the United States, from 1790 to 1847 [Washington, D.C., 1847], 335).

1The White Horse tavern was located at 218–220 High Street in Philadelphia.

2Chambers’s previous letter to GW has not been found.

3A reply from GW and any subsequent correspondence between the two men have not been found. Chambers, however, continued to promote his inventions, and in 1801 he asked President Thomas Jefferson to “recollect the Correspondence or interview & affair of the Gun of seven Shots at his seat near Schuylkill in the Spring of 93” (Chambers to Jefferson, 20 May 1801, DLC: Thomas Jefferson Papers). His inventive and promotional efforts eventually proved successful. On the U.S. Navy’s purchase during the War of 1812 of Chambers’s repeating swivel guns and for other armaments invented by Chambers, see William Jones to James Madison, 1 Sept. 1814, PHi: William Jones Papers; Chambers to Jones, 27 April 1814, DNA: RG 124, Miscellaneous Letters Received by the Secretary of the Navy, 1801–1884; Charles Cunliffe Owen to James L. Yeo, 17 July 1814, in Michael J. Crawford, ed., The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, vol. 3 (Washington, D.C., 2002), 536–37; B. R. Lewis, “The First Repeaters,” The American Rifleman (Dec. 1949), 38–42.

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