John Thaxter to John Adams
York Town Jany. 10th. 1777 
The morning after my arrival to this place, I waited on the President with your letter; upon reading of which, he informed me, that he did not think it in his power to give me the place which you so kindly sollicited for me, but assured me he would use his Endeavours to procure some place for me.1 I then waited upon General Roberdeau and the Massachusetts Delegates, who gave me the same assurances. Mr. Lovell, who has been particularly friendly, advised me to write in the Secretary’s Office for the present, till some other Employment could be found. In pursuance of his Advice, I have enter’d the Office, with an Allowance of fifty five Dollars pr. Month. Ten Dollars and better, I am obliged to give a Week for Board, besides paying a seperate Bill for washing. My board is cheaper than I could have expected from Mr. Lovell’s Representation of matters; who says a Man must pay ten dollars for glancing at a Tavern, and ten or twelve Shillings a night for his horse’s gnawing the Rack.—I am in great hopes something will turn up for me, in another department, or that my present allowance will be augmented; otherwise I must return home, as the present office will not support me.
Lord Cornwallis, it is said, was kill’d in an Action lately, in which the Marquiss de Fayette was engaged. The Report seems tolerably well founded. Dr. Rush says the following facts are well attested, viz., That an Officer was seen carried off the field, to a certain House—that about a fortnight after, a very elegant Coffin was carried to that House—that a most pompous funeral was made—and that the Officers of the Army wear black Crape on their Arms. The Doctor, however, is not positive. There is an Account also that his Lordship’s baggage is on board the Vessel bound to England, but no Certainty of his being on board; it is said he is not.
Mr. Duchè is gone to England: very penitent, Dr. Rush says. The illiberal manner in which he has treated Congress and General Washington has excited some Emotions of Grief and penitence. This may be depended on.–Please to give my respects to Mrs. Adams and Love to the Children.
I am, Sir, your most obedient Servt.,
John Thaxter Junr.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr. thaxter”; docketed by CFA: “Jany. 10th. 1777.”
1. Thaxter had arrived at York after “a long, cold and tedious Journey of 16 days” from Hingham (Thaxter to John Thaxter Sr., 10 Jan. 1778, MHi: Thaxter Papers). He was armed with five letters of introduction from JA, all dated 9 Dec. and all found in Adams Papers, Lb/JA/1; they were directed to Pres. Henry Laurens, to three Massachusetts delegates (Dana, Gerry, and Lovell), and to Daniel Roberdeau; and they commended Thaxter’s qualifications for a secretarial post in the office of the President or elsewhere. Laurens’ reply (which is in his own hand, not that of a clerk) contains a paragraph sufficiently remarkable to be quoted here even though the full text will presumably be included in Series III of The Adams Papers:
“I desired that Young Gentleman to call on me the Morning after he arrived intending to have conversed with him and to have aimed at some plan for procuring a suitable employment for him, but I found that by the Interest of his friends he had been introduced into the Secretary’s Office. You may depend upon it Sir, if it shall hereafter be in my power, I will not fail to join those friends in order to give him a lift in proportion to his merit. For my own part long experience has convinced me that inaccuracy and confusion attend supernumerary Clerks in any Office. The duties of mine demand the Eye and hand of the principal and afford sufficient, oftentimes heavy employment for every moment between adjournments and Meetings of Congress, borrowing deeply of the Night and stirring very early every Morning but there is not half work enough for a Clerk who would have the whole day for the easy business of Copying which is all he ought to be entrusted with. I have a Young Man who serves me tolerably well in that branch and at intervals he finds other necessary work to do” (to JA, 15 Jan. 1778, Adams Papers).