George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Coleman Martin, 21 May 1798

From Thomas Coleman Martin

King & Q[uee]n County May 21st 1798


Your favor of the 10th is before me,1 in answer to which I beg lieve to express my thanks for your earnest wish for my success in the threshing machine which I have invented. I am sorry however that it is not yet in my power to give a full & satisfactory account of the extent of its utility: since I last wrote you I have had no more wheat with which I coul[d] make further experments.

I am now engaged in erecting a very considerable number to be usd as soon as our wheat harvest which is much earlier then yours comes on their powers then will be thoroughly tried the result of which I shall as soon as known communicate by letter to you.

Suffice it at present to say that the machine is simple & I have full confidence of ist utility—I am of opinion that manuel labour will be found to answer well & the aid of horses unne[c]essary.

I have in a few instances licenced some workmen to erect the machine on my plan for & in consideration of the sum of ten dollars for each & should have no objections to licence others. for those I make my Self I shall expect to receive sixty dollars.2

Inclosd you will find a bill of scantling which will be necessary for building the machine.3

I fear I shall not be able to send you a skilful workman as early as you might wish but have no dought should you not be sooner provided that I could send one some time in the summer. And am with great respect yours &c.

Thos C. Martin

ALS, DLC:GW. Written on cover: “Todds 24 May ⟨Gideon Polk⟩ 31 May 98 forwarded.”

1GW’s letter is dated 15, not 10, May.

2On 13 May 1798 James Madison wrote Thomas Jefferson: “You must so arrange your time as to be able to ride a mile while with me to see a Threshing machine I have lately built on Martins plan. It is worked & attended by five or six hands at most, and I think promises more for general use than all the other modifications” (Mattern, Madison Papers, description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends 17:130–31).

3The enclosure has not been found. GW replied on 17 June, urging Martin to send a workman up “as soon after harvest as your experiments shall have proved the Utility of their operation,” but no evidence that he did so can be found in GW’s accounts. GW did, however, continue to deal with William Booker by having him repair the threshing machine that he had made in 1797 and make another one (see GW to Booker, 15 April 1798, Booker to GW, 15 June, 6 July 1798, and Ledger C description begins Manuscript Ledger in Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 47, 49).

Index Entries