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To Thomas Jefferson from Étienne Lemaire, 10 May 1802

From Étienne Lemaire

du 10 Mais 1802

M’onsieur

Je prend la libertez l’honneur de vous Saluer pour prevenir, que Cremer est party apres a voir Engager Ses Enfeant, Et a leser Sa n’ouvel fâme vûe qu’il, ne pouvoi, pas vive Ensenble. Je Vous previens Mr. N’eyant pas d’ant Se moment personne pr., aider a Ebrame ou a Nétoÿer l’a maison Vottre Encien portiez Edward Etant Bien fachez de vous avoir quiter dant le tant, plutot par Etour deri que Refletion donc il, m’entemoigne tout les regret possible il, Sepromet, que Si Monsieur veux le Reprendre a Son, Service, qu’il, Rentreroit avecque Beâucoupe de Satisfaction Et que Mr. n’auroit lieu d’ettre Satifait de Son, Service et Son exatitude il Medit que Mr. tellor ne Se defait de lui que parcequil, est parti a la Canpâgne pr. 6. Moy—Mr. Voudera Monhoré petite reponce a Se Suget—Je fini avec tout latachement possible Je Sui Vottre tres unble tres afaitionné Serviteur

Etienne Lemaire

Editors’ Translation

10 May 1802

Sir

I am taking the liberty and honor of greeting you to inform you that Kramer departed after having hired his children. He left his new wife since they could not live together. I also inform you, Sir, that there is no one right now to help Abraham or to clean the house. Your former porter, Edward, dismayed at having left you when he did, out of an unthinking impulse rather than reflection, expressed all possible regret and assured me that if you should wish to re-engage him on your staff, he would be very pleased to return and would give you reason to be satisfied with his service and punctuality. He tells me that Mr. Taylor is letting him go only because he left for the country for six months. Please could you send me a brief response about this? I conclude with all possible faithfulness. I am your humble and devoted servant.

Etienne Lemaire

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 13 May and so recorded in SJL.

François Étienne Lemaire (d. 1817) was the steward of the President’s House from September 1801 through TJ’s presidency. After saying goodbye to Lemaire in March 1809, TJ wrote that “my heart was so full that I could utter but the single word Adieu.” TJ called Lemaire’s conduct “so marked with good humour, industry, sobriety & economy as never to have given me one moment’s dissatisfaction.” Were TJ “to be again in a situation to need services of the same kind,” he informed his former employee, “yours would be more acceptable to me than those of any person living.” Originally from the outskirts of Paris, Lemaire was in Philadelphia by July 1792, serving as primary cook for the French minister to the United States, Jean Baptiste Ternant. Lemaire was working for William Bingham in 1801, when, as Bingham prepared to leave the United States, Carlos Martínez de Irujo brought Lemaire to TJ’s attention and Philippe de Létombe helped recruit him as maître d’hôtel for the President’s House. Lemaire was the highest paid member of the domestic staff, earning $30 per month. He kept the household accounts, bought groceries and provisions, and was responsible for other expenditures, including the wages of the other members of the staff. One of TJ’s granddaughters surmised that Lemaire must have made “a small fortune” in his time at the President’s House. She also thought that her grandfather overrated the “portly and well-mannered frenchman,” although Lemaire was “a civil and a useful man and merited reward.” By 1814, Lemaire was back in Philadelphia, working as a barber and identified sometimes as Stephen Lemaire. A few years later, he lost $5,000 on a bad loan to a friend. The loss did not ruin him—he was thought to have $10,000 in assets at the time of his death—but he suffered a mental breakdown and apparently drowned himself. After learning of his former steward’s demise, TJ said that he would not have thought that Lemaire possessed “gloom enough to bring himself to so tragical an end” (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 , 2:1053–4n, 1054, 1056, 1242; RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004–, 6 vols. description ends , 1:55–6; list of household of Jean Baptiste Ternant, 1 July 1792, in DNA: RG 59, NL; Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 8 Aug. 1814; Kite’s Philadelphia Directory for 1814 [Philadelphia, 1814]; Robinson’s Original Annual Directory for 1817 [Philadelphia, 1817], 272; Vol. 33:269; Vol. 34:544–6, 568, 685; Vol. 35:6–7, 24–5, 437; Honoré Julien to TJ, 7 Nov. 1817, and TJ to Julien, 25 Dec. 1817, both in DLC).

CREMER EST PARTY: John Kramer, a footman, had begun his employment at the President’s House in May 1801. His wages were $12 per month plus a drink allowance of $2. TJ’s record of Lemaire’s accounts for January 1802 included $20 for “charity to J. Kramer” (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 , 2:1042, 1045, 1064; Vol. 34:489n).

POUR AIDER A EBRAME: Abraham Golden performed miscellaneous duties and was the servant to the president’s secretary (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 , 2:1043n, 1057; Vol. 33:531; Vol. 35:394–5, 590).

The previous October, EDWARD Maher had abruptly left his position on the household staff. His subsequent employer may have been the Alexandria merchant George Taylor (Vol. 33:235; Vol. 35:421–2).

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