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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

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4043. INVENTIONS, Wooden wheels.—

I was in Philadelphia when the first set of
wheels arrived from London, and were spoken
of by the gentleman (an Englishman) who
brought them as a wonderful discovery. The
idea of its being a new discovery was laughed
at by the Philadelphians, who, in their Sunday
parties across the Delaware, had seen every
farmer's cart mounted on such wheels. The
writer in the paper supposes the English workman
got his idea from Homer. But it is more
likely the Jersey farmer got his idea thence,
because ours are the only farmers who can read
Homer; because, too, the Jersey practice is precisely
that stated by Homer: the English practice
very different. Homer's words are ( comparing
a young hero killed by Ajax to a poplar
felled by a workman) literally thus: “He fell
on the ground, like a poplar, which has grown
smooth, in the west part of a great meadow;
with its branches shooting from its summit.
But the chariot maker, with the sharp axe,
has felled it, that he may bend a wheel for a
beautiful chariot. It lies drying on the banks
of the river.” Observe the circumstances which
coincide with the Jersey practice. 1. It is a
tree growing in a moist place, full of juices and
easily bent. 2. It is cut while green. 3. It is
bent into the circumference of a wheel. 4. It
is left to dry in that form. You should write
a line for the Journal to reclaim the honor of
our farmers.—
To M. de Crevecoeur. Washington ed. ii, 97.
(P. 1787)