George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Pemberton, 26 December 1796

No. 26 Garden Street New York 26th Decr 1796

May it Please your Excellency

The enclosed sent me by a Friend with direction to deliver it myself I received sometime since, but however desireous I might be to avail myself of the Honor it intended me, I cou’d not think of intrudg, on you when I knew how fully and importantly your time must be engaged, nor shou’d I have troubld you with it now, but that I conceive you may think the following communication of sufficient importance to excuse it.

The dreadfull Fires that have lately prevaild in several Towns of the United States, induced me to turn my thoughts to some more efficacious means of Supplying the Engines with water, and the Idea of doing it by means of Pipes sugested itself to me, it is extreamly simple and capable of being Universally adopted, by Obligeing every House to be provided with Two Tin Tubes, seven feet long of a competant bore of from three to Six Inchs, and All form’d on exactly the same make, haveing one End for about two Inches deep a little Widend, so that the smaller end of the Other cd be admitted into it, the whole to be painted, and the Number of the House to which it belong’d painted on it.

Thus each House wou’d be provided with fourteen feet of Pipe, which with the Opposite House wou’d make a length of twenty Eight feet, equal to the average [porrt] or length of each House to the Street, In case of a Fire every house to furnish their Pipes commenceing at the nearest pump that was sufficiently elevated to conveigh the Water towards the fire, and by inserting the smaller end of One into the larger of the Other—with a smart stroke of a light Mattch, wou’d make them Water tight. Observeg that the small end shoud be pointed towards the Fire or decent, by this means a length of Pipes cou’d be laid in a few Minuets to conveigh the Water from the Pump at any distance imediatly to the Fire to supply the Engines, & all the Labor and Confusion that attends handg the Bucketts avoided. This Line of pipe can be continued from Pump to Pump to any length and in Any direction, by a provision of certain peices of Pipe forming Angles with the Others, so as to be capable of being inserted into the side of the Others, by which the water from the Crossing streets may be conveighd into the Principle one, water may likewise be brought from a lower situation by Casks on Cariages, or Buckets to the Nearest pipe in a commanding situation, no Matter how distant from the Fire as every house is to be provided.

I shall not take up Your Excellencys time by a minute detail of the construction of certain peices of pipe to be provided by & brought with the Engines to stop or turn the water at Pleasure in diffirent direction to the several Engines, as likewise Reservoir pipes to receive the water from the Pumps, Casks, or Bucketts.

I can have no difficulty in confideing to your Honor & Judgement a Plan on which I have built some expectations and that I hope will be found Usefull to the State, shou’d it meet your Approbation and be adopted I have no doubt you will secure an adequat Compensation for your Excellency’s Most Humle and Most Obedient Servant

Benjn: Pemberton

DNA: RG 59—ML—Miscellaneous Letters.

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