James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Leander Cathcart (Abstract), 21 March 1805

§ From James Leander Cathcart

21 March 1805, New York. “Not having cash sufficient to transport my family to the seat of government their place of residence, I have taken the liberty to draw upon you in favor of Mr. Jacob Barker1 for the sum of two hundred & fifty spanish dollars which you will please to pay & deduct the said from the five hundred dollars allow’d by government to pay part of my expences home.”2

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD, Tripoli, vol. 2). 1 p.

1Merchant and financier Jacob Barker (1779–1871) was born in Maine and raised on Nantucket. In 1797 he joined his brother in New York, entered a merchant house, and through many minor trades accumulated enough capital to start his own firm in 1801. Republican in politics, he supported Jefferson’s embargo and raised several millions in government loans during the War of 1812. He also helped Dolley Madison rescue the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington from the White House during the British invasion of the capital. Following the war he served in the New York state senate and participated in local politics. He founded a bank in New York and served as director of an insurance company, both of which failed, for which he was sued in both New York and New Orleans. In 1834 he moved to Louisiana, studied law, and recouped his business losses, eventually becoming president of the Bank of Commerce. He opposed both secession and Reconstruction. Over the course of his lifetime he accumulated and lost several fortunes; in 1869, impoverished again, he moved to Philadelphia to live with his son and there died (Incidents in the Life of Jacob Barker, of New Orleans, Louisiana; with Historical Facts, His Financial Transactions with the Government, and His Course on Important Political Questions, from 1800 to 1855 [Washington, 1855], 5–6, 12–13, 15, 17–18, 31, 39–41, 109, 123, 141–213, 218–19).

2On 8 Apr. 1805 JM asked Gallatin “to issue a warrant for two hundred & fifty dollars, on the appropriation for Barbary Intercourse, in favor of John Brown, holder of the enclosed bill of exchange drawn by James L. Cathcart upon me, for the same sum, on the 21st. ult: Mr. Cathcart to be charged with the same and held accountable” (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 14; 1 p.).

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