Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Claxton, 4 March 1801

From Thomas Claxton

President’s House 4th March, 1801

Honored Sir

I have thought it my duty to inform you, that at four oClock this morning the late president left this house, which, by order of the Secretary of the Treasury, I took possession of immediately—

I have the honor to be with the most sincere Respect & esteem, Your most obt. Hble. Svt.

Thos Claxton

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 4 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

 

Thomas Claxton (d. 1821), the doorkeeper of the U.S. House of Representatives for the Fourth through Sixteenth Congresses, was also the “Agent for furnishing the President’s House” for John Adams and TJ. An undated account that Claxton submitted to the president, probably sometime in 1801, recorded $17,702, composed of $15,000 “Cash Appropriated by Act of Congress for furnishing the President’s house,” $1,102 as the balance of an appropriation for John Adams, and $1,600 from the “Sale of Horses, Carriages &c. in the possession of the late President.” Expenditures appeared in the amount of $9,089.38, consisting of $5,959.38 drawn by Claxton “at sundry times,” $800 “drawn by Gen Lee for a picture of Gen Washington,” $2,050 for “accounts not yet satisfied,” and $280 “compensation to myself for Superintendance &c. not yet called for” (MS in MHi; in Claxton’s hand). On 2 Mch., Congress voted approval for Claxton and two other congressional doorkeepers, James Mathers and Thomas Dunn, to occupy, rent free, government-owned houses on the Capitol square with ground contiguous to each for a garden (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States… 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:55, 127; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 15:80; 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 , 2:1046n).

According to legislation approved on 3 Mch., the secretary of the treasury was to appoint an individual to receive and take an inventory of the outgoing president’s public property. Any furniture that was deemed “decayed, out of repair, or unfit for use” and property other than furniture would be sold under the direction of the heads of the departments of state, treasury, war, and navy, with the proceeds of the sale to provide furniture for the “house erected for the accommodation of the President of the United States.” Although Adams vacated the President’s House on 4 Mch., TJ did not occupy it until 15 days later, remaining instead at Conrad & McMunn’s (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States… 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:121–2; William Seale , The President’s House: A History, 2 vols. [Washington, D.C., 1986], 1:89).

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