Requests for Information related to Thomas Jefferson



> I am a high school student who is doing a research paper on the inventions
> of Thomas Jefferson.  If you know of any publications or the like, could you
> please send me the necessary information.  I am particularly interested in
> his polygraph(copying) machine.  Thank you for your help.

The following website has some information about Jefferson's inventions.

> Hello! I am writing a long research paper, and am now to the point that I > need some experts opinions. I was just wondering if you could send me one > of your own quotes on how you feel about Thomas Jefferson's inventions, and > architecture. For my research paper, I had to choose one of Thomas > Jefferson's lesser know contributions and tell why it should be more > recognized. I chose his inventions mostly because of this page: > > > > I would greatly appriciate your opinion! As with any other person, Thomas Jefferson's inventiveness was an integrated part of his life. In other words, his innovative genius manifested itself in his other activities and influenced his thinking in matters related to politics and government. For example, his talent for architecture enabled him to fully appreciate its need and value for his fellow-countrymen: "How is a taste in [the] beautiful art [of architecture] to be formed in our countrymen unless we avail ourselves of every occasion when public buildings are to be erected of presenting to them models for their study and imitation?" --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785. With respect to inventions, his own inventiveness no doubt gave him an insight into and appreciation of the need for patent rights as an encouragement to artists and inventors. He even proposed such a right as an addition to the Bill of Rights. "The following [addition to the Bill of Rights] would have pleased me:... Monopolies may be allowed to persons for their own productions in literature and their own inventions in the arts for a term not exceeding __ years, but for no longer term and for no other purpose." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. "In the arts, and especially in the mechanical arts, many ingenious improvements are made in consequence of the patent-right giving exclusive use of them for fourteen years." --Thomas Jefferson to M. Pictet, 1803. While possessing such a fertile mind, we are also compelled to recognize that he was not carried away with innovation, and knew when to turn it on and turn it off as dictated by the needs of the situation. When it came time to write the Declaration of Independence, he recognized that this should not be an invention or innovation, but rather a document that expressed the mind of the American people as it then existed. "Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." --Thomas Jefferson to Henry Less, 1825. Thus it appears that an inventive and creative mind was Jefferson's hallmark, and it manifested itself sensibly in all his thinking and activities.
>Did Thomas Jefferson ever invent anything of significance? According to Dumas Malone (Jefferson and His Time, vol. II, pg. 282) "In the course of the years he himself was credited with a number of inventions, but none of these was ever patented." Malone does not say what those inventions were, but I understand Jefferson made an improvement to the plow which was generally adopted. I believe his polygraph instrument (used for making a copy of a letter being written) was his own creation, but I could be mistaken on that. I am quite sure there is a website devoted to Jefferson and his inventions, though I do not know the location offhand. You could probably find it by going to a search engine and typing in "Thomas Jefferson, inventions." Jefferson is generally credited with several inventions, including the swivel chair, a pedometer, a machine to make fiber from hemp, a letter-copying machine, and the lazy susan. I'm sorry I can't be of more help, but my focus has been on Jefferson's political writings.


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