James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alfred Balch, 21 April 1806

George Town District of Columbia April 21st. 1806


While it is my highest ambition to extend the Sphere of my usefulness & in some measure to imitate the illustrious characters of my own country I feel that this praise-worthy desire can be more speedily gratified by means of their recommendations; & that in the exertion it is well to be invigorated by the smiles of Presidential favor.

To encourage the young & inexperienced while they are sedulously removing the obstructions which impede their progress to eminence in life, has ever been the province and frequently the Study of those whose virtues have attracted the attention, and secured the affection of their fellow countrymen. When the human faculties are on the stretch; and constant exertion about to weaken their spring, they acquire a recuperative energy, if their operations are admired by those who have far outstripped them in the lists of fame.

Not long since it was suggested to me by some influential characters of my acquaintance that an envoy extraordinary would probably be appointed to settle the differences existing between this Country & Great Britain-- that by the influence

of your recommendation, and the exertions of the most distinguished citizens of this place with whom I have long been intimate I might be advanced to the Office of Secretary of the Legation.

To obtain this recommendation is my object at present presuming that the appointment will take place and after due enquiry shall have been made concerning my character and capability: Of these I shall say no more, myself, than that I had the honor of Receiving the degree of Batchelor of Arts from the trustees of Nassau Hall at the last Commencment; since which time, I have been assiduously prosecuting the study of the Law.

Though I am now addressing a fellow citizen elevated to the first office of my country by the suffrage of men independent and free; yet I feel it my duty to make the freedom of my style correspondent thereto: And while I candidly reiterate those praises which the greatest part of an immense nation have long since proclaimed I free my conscience from the charge of having offered up at your feet the incense of adulation. With high esteem I remain your Mo. Obedient Servant

Alfred Balch

DNA: RG 59—LAR—Letters of Application and Recommendation.

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