W.A. Rind to George Wythe, 12 August 1800

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This document is a typescript transcription of a letter to George Wythe from 1800, the original of which was "written on a wrapper" and was later housed in the clerk's office of the Fredericksburg, Virginia district court.[1] The transcriber has the author of the letter as a "W.A. Rino," but this is probably an error in reading the original handwriting. It is likely the letter is from William Alexander Rind (1763-1842),[2] the prominent editor of the Federalist newspaper in Richmond at the time (and later in Washington, D.C.). Also mentioned is a "James Rind," who was in fact, the brother of William.

Rind wrote the note to borrow an an "Electrical Machine" belonging to Wythe, in the hopes of curing a "Mulatto girl" belonging to his brother James who has a "lockd Jaw." Wythe owned many scientific devices and apparatus,[3] and listed in the inventory of the books he left to Thomas Jefferson in his will is the manual for "Nairne's electrical machine" (1783), which the inventor states is not just for physics experiments, but was "constructed with a particular view to the purposes of medicine," and can be used to cure a number of ailments by delivering electrical shocks, including "the locked jaw stands confirmed by many successful cases."[4]

Transcription text, 1 November 1946

Page 1

W.A. Rino [sic] presents his Respects to Chancellor Wythe, and solicits the loan of his Electrical Machine for the purpose of electrifying a Mulatto girl who hathad [sic] a lockd Jaw for some time. The girl belongs to Mr. James Rind and is in a dangerous Situation. W.A. Rino [sic] therefor hopes that Mr. Wythe will excuse the Liberty taken as Nothing but the necessity of the case could have induced him to trouble Mr Wythe with a Request of this nature.

Tuesday morning
August 12, 1800

[Reverse addressed to]

Honble George Wythe

From the original in
Fredericksburg [Va.] District Court
1 November 1946

See also


  1. Robert Bevier Kirtland, George Wythe: Lawyer, Revolutionary, Judge (New York: Garland, 1986), 139n.
  2. Kirtland, George Wythe, 139n.
  3. In a letter from Judge William H. Cabell to William Wirt, written before
  4. Edward Nairne, The Description and Use of Nairne's Patent Electrical Machine: With the Addition of Some Philosophical Experiments and Medical Observations (London: Nairne and Blunt, 1783), 57.

External links