Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Stephen B. Balch, 18 December 1800

To Stephen B. Balch

Washington Dec. 18. 1800


I took a little time the other day to consider of the application of mr Cathcart, his proposition being new, himself an entire stranger, & no paper communicated which could explain the intentions of the respectable authority under which he stated himself as acting. your presence however, as well as his statement, satisfies me on these points. but having omitted to ask his lodgings, & unable to learn [them], I ask permission to make you the channel of my contribution. I therefore inclose an order which will be paid you on sight, and which you will be so good as to apply to the object explained to me. I have the honor to be with great personal respect & esteem Sir

Your most obedt.

PrC (MHi); faint; signature omitted in letterpressing; at foot of text in ink: “The revd mr Balch”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Enclosure: Order to John Barnes, this day, for payment of $50 to Balch or his designee “for value recieved” (PrC in same, letterpressed to same sheet as enclosing letter; at foot of text: “Mr. John Barnes No. 16. High street. Georgetown”).

Stephen Bloomer Balch (1747–1833) grew up in Maryland and North Carolina before attending the College of New Jersey in Princeton, from which he received a diploma in 1774. Licensed as a Presbyterian preacher in 1779, the next year he founded the first church of that denomination in Georgetown, Maryland, serving as its minister until his death. He was also involved in education and philanthropy. In October 1802 TJ asked Barnes to pay the clergyman $75 “in charity.” Although TJ recorded no other details in his financial memoranda, apparently that payment was for a subscription to enlarge Balch’s church, where non-Presbyterians were made welcome and officers of government sometimes attended services. The letter above is the only correspondence with Balch recorded in SJL (Harrison, Princetonians, 1769–1775 description begins Richard A. Harrison, Princetonians—1769–1775—A Biographical Dictionary, Princeton, 1980 description ends , 359–62; Richard P. Jackson, The Chronicles of Georgetown, D.C. from 1751 to 1878 [Washington, D.C., 1878], 145–6; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1084).

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