Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Joseph B. Barry, 16 March 1801

From Joseph B. Barry

Philada. March 16th. 1801

Sir, having had the honour of being employ’d by you while in Philadelphia, but fearing through the great press of business attendant on your Station; and the many applications likely to be made by people in my line, an obscure individual like me, might be pass’d by unnoticed. I am in hopes you will not think me impertinent for taking this method of reminding and solisiting a small part of your business; either in the cabinet or upholstery line: which if you will please to grant me, I will do my endeavour to give you Satisfaction, by paying the strictest attention to your orders—

I am with due respect Sir your humble servant

Jos. B. Barry

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “To his Exellency, Th: Jefferson. President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.


Joseph B. Barry (1757–1838), a cabinetmaker and upholsterer in Philadelphia, had a shop at 148 South Third Street in 1801. Born in Ireland, Barry advertised his training in London and his use of “the newest London and French patterns.” Around 1810, Barry began to incorporate Egyptian and Gothic styles into his furniture (Stafford, Philadelphia Directory for 1801, 60; Robert T. Trump, “Joseph B. Barry, Philadelphia Cabinetmaker,” Antiques, 107 [1975], 159–63).

Between 1797 and 1800 TJ paid a total of$299.25 for furniture by Barry. One payment specified “for mahogany work” (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 , 2:964, 979, 986, 999, 1019).

A letter from Barry to TJ of 16 Sep. 1800, recorded in SJL as received on 2 Oct. 1800, has not been found.

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