1p, 7 x 12 in., folded; Newburyport, Sept. ??, 1797 (5?); addressed on blank integral leaf. Palmer is inquiring about whether the plans for a bridge over the Schuylkill were still being pursued. In part: I was informed by James Wilson Esqr. last winter that some gentlemen of Philadelphia was about to build a bridge over the Schuylkill. He wished to know if I would undertake to build the proposed Bridge should they proceed. I told him I would if it was Practicable the reason of my writing to you is this I have not heard anything from Mr. Wilson since I saw him in Newburyport last winter. and I have been informed that you will be concerned in sd. Bridge therefore I write to you on the subject hopeing that you will answer soon. I am the man that built Newbury Bridge over Merrimack River and drew the Plan of Haverhill Bridge which I am informed you have lately seen at Present I am building an arch over Piscataquog River eight miles above Portsmouth.... He goes on to say that the span he is working on should be complete by spring and he could then begin on the Schuylkill bridge if desired by the good gentlemen of Philadelphia.
As it turns out, Palmer did build that span, but it seems to have taken a couple more years to draw up the plans, etc. Apparently there was some disagreement over whether it was to be stone or wood. Timothy Plamer (1751-1821) was one of the best known wooden bridge builders in New England at the time. The bridge was in the planning by 1801, and far enough along to permit some traffic by 1805. The story goes that the president of the bridge company asked if it would last longer if it were covered over. Palmer replied that it might triple or quadruple the lifespan of the bridge. So the put sides and a roof over it, creating the first covered bridge in America.
Samuel Coates was a merchant in Philadelphia. From a old Philadelphia family, he was of the class that shared their wealth by serving the city and in philanthropic ventures. Besides this bridge committee, he also served on the committee to build the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1785 and continued serving on its board of directors/managers for four decades.
Condition: Folds and light toning, as expected. A few minor separations at folds. Slightly darker toning on outside panels when folded.