Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Barker Church, 11 December 1793

To John Barker Church

Philadelphia Dec. 11. 1793.


The President has received your letter of Aug. 16. with it’s inclosures. It was with deep concern that he learnt the unhappy fortunes of M. de la Fayette, and that he still learns his continuance under them. His friendship for him could not fail to inspire him with the desire of relieving him, and he was sure that in endeavoring to do this he should gratify the sincere attachments of his fellow-citizens. He has accordingly employed such means as appeared the most likely to effect this purpose; tho’, under the existing circumstances, he could not be1 sanguine in their obtaining very immediately the desired effect. Conscious however that his anxieties for the sufferer flow from no motives unfriendly to those who feel an interest in his confinement, he indulges their continuance, and will not relinquish the hope that the reasons for this severity will at length yeild to those of a more benign character. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir your most obedient & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (Peter B. Olney, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, 1950); at foot of text: “Mr. Church.” PrC (DLC). FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, DL). Enclosed in TJ to Thomas Pinckney, 12 Dec. 1793.

John Barker Church (1748–1818) was a member of Parliament whose wife, Angelica Schuyler Church, was Alexander Hamilton’s sister-in-law and TJ’s faithful correspondent. After going bankrupt as a London grocer in 1774, allegedly because of losses incurred in stock speculation and gambling, Church moved to America and (under the assumed name of John Carter) grew wealthy during the Revolutionary War as a supplier to Continental and French troops. Returning to England in 1783, Church aligned himself with the Whigs, befriending the Prince of Wales and Charles James Fox and representing Wendover in Parliament from 1790 to 1796. In addition to opposing the war with France throughout his parliamentary career, Church became involved in an abortive effort, shortly before he gave up his seat in Parliament in 1796, to help arrange the escape from Prussian captivity of the Marquis de Lafayette, whom he had known since the War for Independence. Moving with his family to New York in 1797, Church engaged in a variety of speculative ventures and fought a duel with Aaron Burr, before finally returning to England for good in 1814 after his wife’s death (Thorne, Parliament description begins R. G. Thorne, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1790–1820, London, 1986, 5 vols. description ends , iii, 441–3).

In his letter of Aug. 16 to the President, Church had enclosed a 15 Mch. 1793 letter from Lafayette to the Princesse d’Hénin (another text of which is printed as an enclosure to Angelica Schuyler Church to TJ, 19 Aug. 1793) and declared that Lafayette’s friends had no hope of effecting his liberation from Prussian captivity “but by the Interference of your Excellency and the Government of the United States” (NIC). See also TJ to Gouverneur Morris and Thomas Pinckney, 15 Mch. 1793, and note.

1TJ here canceled “very.”

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