I inclose you a pamphlet giving some account of the new operation of making cloths &c. waterproof; as also a piece of paper, one half of which is waterproof. I have recieved cloth for a surtout coat [overcoat], which I find, on wearing it in rain, to answer perfectly. the prices for making cloathes waterproof are so moderate, that if it does not injure the quality of the stuff, it will become extensively useful.
To Thomas Mann Randolph, January 1, 1802
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders keep a sharp eye out for broadly beneficial inventions.
Ever the scientist, Jefferson reported a new waterproofing process to his daughter Martha’s husband. He sent a pamphlet describing it and a piece of treated paper as proof. Not only that, he had a raincoat made for himself and found it worked well.
Although cost was never an issue for Jefferson when he encountered something he wanted, that was not an issue here. The cost of waterproofing fabric was “moderate.” All that remained to be determined was if the treatment damaged the cloth. If not, he saw great potential.