The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


Mr. Fulton's ingenuity is inexhaustible and his disinterested devotion of it to his country very laudable. If his present device depended on me, I should try it on the judgment of an officer so well skilled as Decatur. It is one of those experiments which neither the personal interest nor the faculties of a private individual can ever bring into use, while it is highly interesting to the nation. Intersected as we are by many and deep waters, and unable to meet the enemy on them with an equal force, our only hope is in the discovery of the means which ingenuity may devise whereby the weak may defend themselves against the strong. This is done at land by fortifications, and not being against any law of nature, we may hope that something equivalent may be discovered for the water.

to James Madison, 13 July 1813