Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Sarah Franklin Bache, 5 August 1801

From Sarah Franklin Bache

Settle August 5th. 1801


Knowing as I do the worth of the Person that will deliver you this, I cannot resist the impulse I feel in writing to you by him—

Mr Clay has been intimately known to this Family from an Infant and has invariably sustain’d the best Character. his intimacy with my Son Benjamin who had the highest opinion of his Integrity and who knew him thoroughly, taught us his Value—the knowledge of his being a Man of Genius, and always a firm Republican, must long ere this have reach’d you, he could I am sure have had a number of letters to you, but his modesty in this respect, I fear will stand in his way, as I know no person whose advancement would rejoice more true Americans, and all that know him say he has tallents to adorn any Situation—I shall not take up Your valuable time by apologies for this liberty, it will not I trust be thought too great a one from the daughter of a Man who had the highest Friendship for you—

I am with the greatest esteem & &c

Sarah Bache

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); endorsed by TJ as received 27 Aug. and so recorded in SJL with notation “Clay for office”; TJ canceled “Bache Sarah” and added “Clay Joseph” to the endorsement.

Sarah Franklin Bache (1743–1808) was the only daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read Franklin. A committed Whig, she followed Pennsylvania politics and during the American Revolution became active in the Ladies Association of Philadelphia, enthusiastically supporting its relief efforts for American troops. In 1794 her large family moved from Philadelphia to a farm on the Delaware River named “Settle” (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Vol. 31:246n).

Philadelphia native Joseph Clay was the executor of the estate of Benjamin Franklin Bache. In May, Clay had joined William Duane, Thomas Cooper, and other Philadelphia Republicans in recommending William Henderson for the post of naval officer (Richard N. Rosenfeld, American Aurora: A Democratic Republican Returns [New York, 1997], 231; Vol. 30:567n; Thomas Cooper and Others to TJ, 23 May 1801).

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