Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Austin, 17 June 1801

From David Austin

Washington June 17th 1801.

Lest the President should judge that a proceeding in the pacific design, solely, on his own judgment might leave him destitute of counsel in moments when it might be needful, it may be understood, that the undersigned is about to settle in this district: he is to preach at George Town, for Mr. Balch, next Lord’s day, and the succeeding sabbath at the Presbyterian Meeting House, in the City: and is invited to continue his labors, there. He hopes to bring the different denominations of professing Christians, in the City, to a more united concurrence in the general principles of Christian unity, & eventually to cause a general assemblage at the City Hotel; which is worth more, for a place of worship, than for any other use.

These things accomplished advice upon the pacific principles, would always be found at hand: And a general concurrence in the administration, would ever be inculcated as among the foremost duties of benevolent exertion.

[…]nd, the administration would find an unexpected aid in the unity of the people; and a consequent staying of the waves of political revolution throughout the land.

The President’s situation in Virginia is preeminent: his political situation is more lofty: and the crown of the total scene is found, in the measures now to be adopted.

With apology, for frequent intrusion, subscribe, with all due esteem

D. A.

RC (DNA: RG 59, LAR); torn; at foot of text: “The President”; endorsed by TJ as received 17 June and so recorded in SJL.

Mr. Balch: Presbyterian minister Stephen Bloomer Balch (Vol. 32:317–18n).

General Assemblage at the City Hotel: about this time, Austin commenced preparations for outfitting “Lady Washington’s Chappel” in the Great Hotel on the corner of Eighth and E streets, N.W., for the purpose of instructing attendees on “the progress of national operations, as sketched down in the language of holy writ.” TJ contributed $25 for the purpose and the chapel was dedicated on 12 July (National Intelligencer, 1 July 1801; Alexandria Advertiser and Commercial Intelligencer, 14 July 1801; Bryan, National Capital description begins Wilhelmus B. Bryan, A History of the National Capital from Its Foundation through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act, New York, 1914–16, 2 vols. description ends , 1:407–8; 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 , 2:1044).

Austin wrote TJ a second letter on 17 June, recalling his time at Yale College during the Revolutionary War, when the current college president, Timothy Dwight, was then “a Tutor of finished manners” and the oratory of Joel Barlow “swelled, from the same floor.” Austin concluded by extolling the blessings his “pacific design” would bestow upon Republicans, Federalists, poets, orators, and preachers. “You will not, I trust, longer repell the pressure of those waters which labor, from the National Mount to obtain a preeminent station, that they may flow with National force, through the Channels of expectation, which early hope & joy have already dug” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR, addressed: “The President of the United States,” endorsed by TJ as received 17 June and so recorded in SJL; printed in Washington Federalist, 24 July 1801).

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