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The Mechanisms of Monticello: Saving Labor in Jefferson's America

The Mechanisms of Monticello: Saving Labor in Jefferson's America The Mechanisms of Monticello Saving Labor in Jefferson's America STEPHEN B. HODIN In November of 1812, Dr. Robert Patterson wrote to the recently retired Thomas Jefferson relating the peculiar and amusing events surrounding fellow Philadelphia native Charles Redheffer and his illfated perpetual motion machine. Patterson, a friend who shared Jefferson's fascination for machines and scientific inquiry, would have recalled the throngs of intrigued spectators who had paid admission to witness the demonstration of Redheffer's ambitious device, for throughout the American industrial revolution, a machine that would operate in perpetuity without an external, expendable power source represented the holy grail of mechanics, engineers, and optimistic tinkerers of all stripes. Indeed, Jefferson himself received dozens of letters from would-be designers of such fanciful machinery. But Redheffer's machine employed a heretofore unexamined source of generation. What paying customers saw, through a barred window, was a gravity-driven pendulum affair that presumably provided the energy to power another, separate machine through a set of interlocking gears. Hidden from view, however, and locked in an adjacent windowless room was an old bearded man, connected to Redheffer's contrivance via a long catgut belt and actually supplying power through a simple hand crank. Redheffer, it soon http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

The Mechanisms of Monticello: Saving Labor in Jefferson's America

Journal of the Early Republic , Volume 26 (3)

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620
Publisher site
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Abstract

The Mechanisms of Monticello Saving Labor in Jefferson's America STEPHEN B. HODIN In November of 1812, Dr. Robert Patterson wrote to the recently retired Thomas Jefferson relating the peculiar and amusing events surrounding fellow Philadelphia native Charles Redheffer and his illfated perpetual motion machine. Patterson, a friend who shared Jefferson's fascination for machines and scientific inquiry, would have recalled the throngs of intrigued spectators who had paid admission to witness the demonstration of Redheffer's ambitious device, for throughout the American industrial revolution, a machine that would operate in perpetuity without an external, expendable power source represented the holy grail of mechanics, engineers, and optimistic tinkerers of all stripes. Indeed, Jefferson himself received dozens of letters from would-be designers of such fanciful machinery. But Redheffer's machine employed a heretofore unexamined source of generation. What paying customers saw, through a barred window, was a gravity-driven pendulum affair that presumably provided the energy to power another, separate machine through a set of interlocking gears. Hidden from view, however, and locked in an adjacent windowless room was an old bearded man, connected to Redheffer's contrivance via a long catgut belt and actually supplying power through a simple hand crank. Redheffer, it soon

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

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