Alfred Balch - Friend of Andrew Jackson

Alfred Balch(September 17, 1785-June 21, 1853)was born in Georgetown, DC on September 17, 1785. Alfred's parents were Stephen Bloomer and Elizabeth Beall Balch who had eleven children in all. Alfred Balch would marry twice: first to Marry Lewis then eventually Anna Newman. It was with Anna Newman that Alfred had one son, Alfred Newman Balch. Alfred was a descendant of the John Balch who settled in Maryland in 1658.

Education and Career

Alfred graduated from Princeton College in the year 1805 with an A.M Degree. During his time at Princeton Alfred had studied for the bar. After graduation he practiced law in Nashville, Tennessee and and eventually became head of the Nashville Bar Association. While in Nashville he also purchased and developed a successful plantation. This plantation would be directly neighboring the plantation of Andrew Jackson. During their time, as neighbors, Jackson and Alfred would become close friends. In the future this friendship would help Alfred, in his career, when Jackson and later Martin Van Buren would give him various political appointments.

In 1828, when Andrew Jackson was once again running for president, Alfred Balch was appointed to a "White-washing Committee". The purpose of this committee was to seek to undermine the nasty election year rumors that were circulating about Jackson. In typical election year fashion nasty rumors were being spread about Jackson, his wife and even his dead mother. Alfred was appointed to a committee, with seventeen other men, to actively pursue the "white-washing" of Jackson's reputation. In the end Andrew Jackson succeeded in winning the election of 1828.

During Andrew Jackson's presidency Alfred was appointed to the role of Commissioner of Indian Treaties. During this time Alfred would be active in trying to resolve issues the Creek and Seminole tribes had with the United States (and may have helped resolve the Second Seminole War).

Later in 1840, during the presidency of Martin Van Buren, Jackson would pressure his former vice president to appoint Alfred to the role of United States District Judge for the Middle District of Florida.
Alfred would serve as a Florida District Judge, for only one year. During this time in the judgeship Alfred suffered from the hostility of those who had been friends to his predecessor. Other issues also plagued his time in Florida. In April of 1840 he complained to President Van Buren that "the leading men are divided into bitter parties and violence is the order of the day". Violence seems to have been a routine way of settling differences, even amongst political parties. In some instances political leaders were gunned down in dueling. Perhaps the stress of all the events surrounding him caused Alfred to begin having health problems. For a year Alfred struggled to do his job but finally, in 1841, he was forced to resign. During his time as a judge every indication is that he was a fair and honest judge who would occasionally go against the wishes of his own party.

Additional Involvement in Politics

Alfred Balch clearly was very involved in the politics of the day. In the years before and during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, there appear several instances in which he wrote letters to various influential individuals on Jackson's behalf.

The presidential election of 1824 had been very controversial as Andrew Jackson had been running against John Quincy Adams. Neither Adams nor Jackson won a majority of the electoral vote so the election had to be resolved by the House of Representatives. After Adams was declared the winner of the election Jackson began to claim that a corrupt bargain had helped Adams secure the presidency.

In the years leading up to the election of 1828 Alfred Balch wrote a letter to William H. Crawford soliciting a public endorsement of Jackson. Crawford had been a candidate for president in 1824 but had seen his possibilities for the presidency ended by a stroke. On December 14, 1827 Crawford made a response to Alfred's letter saying that he had no wish to publicly endorse Jackson and he went on to condemn Jackson's running mate, John C. Calhoun, as a threat to Jackson.

In 1835 letters appear between Alfred Balch and Andrew Jackson suggesting a level of comfort that only friends would have with one another. In one letter Jackson seems to write angrily about a secret conspiracy to undermine his chosen successor Martin Van Buren. What evidence there is seems to suggest a very close relationship between Andrew Jackson and Alfred Balch.

The Final years

After Alfred's attempts to have his illness treated failed, in 1841-2, he would return to Nashville to once again practice law. Alfred Balch would die, eleven years later, on June 21, 1853, at his country home in Rose Mont (near Nashville).

Genealogy of Alfred:

Father: Stephen Bloomer Balch
Mother: Elizabeth Beall

Wife 1: Mary W. Lewis
Married: January 12, 1812 (Davidson Co., TN.)


1. No Children

Wife 2: Anna Newman
Married: August 27, 1817 (Davidson Co., TN.)


1. Alfred Newman Balch (B: 1820 - D: June 19, 1840)

Primary Sources/Links:

Balch Genealogica - By Thomas Willing Balch

Life of Andrew Jackson - By: James Parton

Balch Family Papers - The Historical Society of Pennyslvania

Letter from William Crawford to Alfred Balch - December 14, 1827

David Crockett: The Man and the Legend - By: James Atkins Shackford

The Supreme Court of Florida and its Predecessor Courts 1821-1917 - By: Walter W. Manley II

The Balch Family of Maryland - Gene Edward Balch

Digital Library of Georgia (Image Source)

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License