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HON. CADWALLADER D, COLDEN,
When I received your letter of the 28th of October last, (in December,) your intimation in concluding it, that you should perhaps give it publicity, surprised, but did not displease me. I could scarcely believe that the intrepid advocate of monopoly would expose himself and a bad cause to the elucidations your mis-statements invite.
It is apparently to your 'self-complacency that I am indebted for the discovery of the worthy policy of the North River Company, which while it betrays a consciousness of the weak and untenable character of its exclusive pretensions, not only deemed it requisite to divert attention from the true nature of monopoly, and confound this with the essentially different principle of a patent privilege, but goes far out of the way to strike at the character, for capacity in business, of the only person who has yet appeared capable of asserting the rights of the public in his own, and of commanding and awakening that confidence, enterprise, and spirit alone wanting to limit and control, if not terminate your monstrous assumption of power.
Nor would the uncourteous and ironical style of your attack give me a moments uneasiness, if I could rationally expect this plain answer would be read by all, who are attracted to the perusal of a printed letter of the Honourable Mr. Colden: Yet it seems likely to be of as little use as credit, for you are egre. giously in error in point of fact. It seems to me you rely too far on your influence, or on the credulity of your readers, as well as on the conciliatory disposition
I have manifested. I shall not however express any regret that you have given me occasion to speak plainly and explicitly on a subject, now become of some importance to the city of New York, and which I cannot permit to be misled even in trifles connected with this subject. Though in fact the failure of your intended injury and this unexpected advantage, in a great measure disarms resentment, and leaves me the sufficient revenge which the simple truth affords. There does seem
to be an impropriety in obtruding private concernments on the public attention, unless limited to an advertisement or a circular. It would be presumption in me, to hope for the general notice, were there not somewhat in my cause itself, that allies it to the Commercial and the Agricultural Interests of the State. This I hope will be acceptable as my apology and excuse: you can scarcely find one in the public interest. I hope some little egotism will be forgiven, since the pride of monopoly could not grant a simple answer to a proposition of business.
I thought proper to offer you the purchase of patented inventions, for you might then instead of myself have beeome truly useful to the State. And it is difficult to conceive how it is reconcilable to principles of rectitude, since the declaration of the Court of Errors, both to pretend to exclude patents, and refuse to purchase Your answer might have been, we have not funds to buy—nor right to employ them in commercial transportation, therefore occupy the ground the laws of the United States give you. But your
conduct seems to me like one who continues to occupy his neighbour's field, after the boundaries have been designated and traced.
The ground I have of late asserted is no more than that which the annunciation of your limits by that court has given me. To have presented therefore the consideration of the subject to men of business, and to shew them by printed letters, and the opinion of counsel, as high as yourself in professional rank, that they have nothing to fear from the power of your
exclusive privilege, or the terrors with which it has been invested, was equally proper and convenient.
The Steam Boat dispute is not indeed new, and has in fact been so ably discussed in a late public controversy with you as to leave no doubt I believe on any mind that it is either totally unconstitutional, or limited to a non-interference with the laws of the United States---And I am aware that the community will feel very little interest in the discussion of the minor points the right of property and practical effects ; unless made sensible that it is itself a party concerned, and a sufferer at your hands.
I shall therefore after briefly correcting the trifling errors into which your pen has inadvertently fallen, endeavour to place the monopoly in its true light even to yourself; and perhaps even convince you that I did really offer you something of practical value.
Admitting your professional standing, to which you call my respectful attention, to be all you arrogate, I cannot equally feel that it sanctions your condemnation of the principles of a steam engine you could not I think have seen or understood-because you appear not to have known the difference between it and other things.
But let me seriously ask the question, Whether it is likely a man of some science, mechanical genius, conversant with the theory of the steam engine, even the constructor of a steam boat (in 1790) on the Hudson, which performed well, though small ; would thirty years later in life, in the maturity of his mind, as the best result of this long occasional attention to the subject, produce a machine of no power, no value, and unworthy of a patent, or
of patronage? 2ndly, Would a gentleman of great judgment in business have been likely to establish such an engine in a large factory, the operations of which depend on this moving power? 3dly, Was it likely that I should myself, after witnessing its performance, and after having seen Watt's engine and others applied to