George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from the Greeneville College Trustees, [March 1795]

From the Greeneville College Trustees

[March 1795]

The memorial of the trustees of Greeneville College in the territory of the United States of America South of the river Ohio representeth.

That the Governor legislative council and Assembly of this territory have passed an Act for the purpose of a College to be called the Greeneville College.1

Our Country is exceeding healthy and abounds with inhabitants who have always been well affected to the general interests of the United States. But affluence and wealth so common to our fellow Citizens of the Atlantic States have not hitherto been so generally our portion. This may be ascribed to the as yet infancy of this country and its great remoteness from trade, the common source of wealth. Many parents in this territory who on account of their circumstances are unable to send their children abroad for an Education; could supply what might be necessary to have them educated provided there was a Seminary near home. We confess we have no fund to carry into effect the intent of the Act incorporating the College of which we are the trustees; And therefore do rely on Divine providence and such Donations as may be given by those who are friends to religion and education—Considering that the Congress of the United States in their Legislative Capacity have power to encourage the promotion of learning and usefull knowledge, by endowing Colleges for that purpose instituted in such manner as they may deem consistent, We have sent forward a Memorial to the Honorable the Senate and house of representatives in Congress Assembled praying their Attention to the said College and such benefaction or endowment thereof as they may think proper.2 And that the said Memorial may be the more attended to We pray you Worthy Sir whom we consider the Guardian of our Common happiness to grant your Assistance and patronage to the end that the object of the said memorial may be for us obtained. And we your Memorialists as in duty bound will ever pray.

Signed by order of Board

Hezekiah Balch p. g. C.
Robt Henderson Secretary of the board of trustees.

LS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. An endorsement with this undated document reads: “From Hez: Balch Mar. 1795—in behalf of the Trustees of Grenville College in the So. W. Territory.”

Hezekiah Balch (1741–1810), graduate of Princeton College, was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Greeneville and a driving force behind creation of Greeneville College (now Tusculum College). He was in 1795 undertaking a fundraising trip that took him to New England, where he became interested in New Divinity theology. Despite controversy over his views, he remained president of the college until his death (Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit description begins William B. Sprague. Annals of the American Pulpit; or Commemorative Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen of Various Denominations, from the Early Settlement of the Country to the Close of the Year Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-five. 9 vols. New York, 1859-69. description ends , 3:308–19; McLachlan, Princetonians description begins James McLachlan et al., eds. Princetonians, 1748–1794: A Biographical Dictionary. 5 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1976–91. description ends , 1:545–48). Robert Henderson (1764–1834), the other signatory, was Balch’s son-in-law and a Presbyterian minister for (at this time) the churches of Westminster and Hopewell (Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit description begins William B. Sprague. Annals of the American Pulpit; or Commemorative Notices of Distinguished American Clergymen of Various Denominations, from the Early Settlement of the Country to the Close of the Year Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-five. 9 vols. New York, 1859-69. description ends , 3:528–32).

1“An Act to establish a College in Greene county, in the Territory of the United States south of the Ohio” was approved 3 Sept. 1794 (Acts passed at the first session of the General Assembly of the Territory of the United States of America, South of the River Ohio, began and held at Knoxville, on Monday the twenty fifth day of August, MDCCXCIV [n.p., n.d.], 91–93).

2The memorial was read in the House of Representatives on 14 Dec. 1795 and referred to a committee that reported on 22 December. The report was tabled (Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 8:21–22, 49).

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