Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Bache, 19 June 1802

From William Bache

Franklin June 19th. 1802.

Dear Sir.

As you requested me to be silent respecting New Orleans until the affair was in train, I have scrupulously kept the council, and should not now obtrude the remembrance of it upon you but for circumstances of some moment to me. By the last post my Brother informed me that my sister Harwood and family intended me a visit this summer, and would shortly make preparations for that purpose. Now if it will be necessary for me to leave Albemarle as soon as you stated, I think it will be but right to prevent an expensive Journey, which may end only in dissappointment to them. This cannot be so well done as by stating to them my intention & views, & indeed I owe this intelligence to my family, as soon as it can be communicated with propriety, as they may with justice be offended at my silence of a circumstance so nearly allied to my future destiny. Without permission from you, however, I do not feel my self at liberty to inform them. with sentiments of the higest respect I am yours.

William Bache

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 28 June and so recorded in SJL.

FRANKLIN was what Bache called his farm in Albemarle County (Vol. 33:241n).

Apparently during his stay in Albemarle County in May, TJ offered Bache the position of physician for the new marine hospital at NEW ORLEANS. As TJ explained to Caspar Wistar, he had determined to appoint William Barnwell as the hospital’s surgeon before he learned of Bache’s desire to move to the Mississippi Territory, as Bache’s friend Hore Browse Trist was doing. Bache was “eminently qualified,” TJ explained to Wistar, and “I could have no hesitation to offer the place to him.” By the first of July, TJ arranged with Gallatin to appoint Bache to the post. The U.S. consul in New Orleans, Daniel Clark, would superintend the facility. Mindful that the annual season of severe illness in New Orleans was advancing and hopeful that the seamen’s infirmary might be established while Louisiana was still administered by Spanish officials, with whom Clark had a relationship, rather than a new French regime, TJ urged Bache to go to New Orleans right away. The doctor did not reach the city until March 1803 (Jane Flaherty Wells, “Thomas Jefferson’s Neighbors: Hore Browse Trist of ‘Birdwood’ and Dr. William Bache of ‘Franklin,’” Magazine of Albemarle County History, 47 [1989], 8; Vol. 34:562n; TJ to Bache, 1 July, 11 Oct.; Gallatin to TJ, [1 July]; TJ to Wistar, 14 July; TJ to John Brown, 14 Aug.; Gallatin to TJ, 19 Aug. 1802; Bache to TJ, 29 Mch. 1803).

The BROTHER who had corresponded with Bache was probably Louis Bache. Born in 1779, he was six years younger than William. Another brother, Richard Bache, Jr., was 18 years old in 1802. One of their sisters, Elizabeth (or Eliza), had married John Edmund HARWOOD, a well-known comic stage actor, in January 1800 (Leonard W. Labaree and others, eds., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 39 vols. to date [1959– ], 1:lxiii-lxv; Gerald Bordman and Thomas S. Hischak, eds., The Oxford Companion to American Theatre, 3d ed. [New York, 2004], 296; Don B. Wilmeth, ed., The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre, 2d hardcover ed. [Cambridge, 2007], 317–18).

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