TATHAM, William (1752-1819)
Statement Explanatory of the Public Interest in William Tatham's Topographical and Other Employments, in Aid of the Department of War....
Washington, D.C. 1813. 8pp. Disbound. Some foxing and dampstaining. Good plus.
The beginning of the topographical engineers.
A rare pamphlet in support of Tatham's goal of "the establishment of a topographical depot on public account." Among other proposals, Tatham suggests that the federal government might, through "liberal compensation," acquire his private library of topographic surveys and military plans as the basis for a national repository. Tatham was a persistent pursuer of Federal appointments. After serving in the Continental Army during the Revolution, he was active as a surveyor. When Jefferson, who he had evidently known for some time, became Secretary of State, Tatham badgered him for jobs, and secured a position laying out post roads. Later, when Jefferson was President, he became a commissioner of surveys of the Carolina coast. Tatham sought similar employment under Madison. Between 1790 and 1809 he must have amassed a body of material, including plans for defending the Chesapeake during a war, as well as a number of other military plans, some of them obviously impractical. He does not seem to have succeeded in selling any of this to the government. Rare, with only one copy in OCLC, at the American Antiquarian Society. Not in Shaw & Shoemaker.