Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Francis Vacher, 5 April 1790

From John Francis Vacher

New York, 5 Apr. 1790. Having learned that an “interpreter and Secretary in the foreign Languages” would be needed in the Department of State, he offers himself as a candidate: “Being a Native of France and having a Knowledge of the Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese Languages, I have flatter’d my-self that it would not be deemed presumptive in me, after fourteen years Residence in this Country to offer my-Self.” Refers to Cols. William S. Smith and Benjamin Walker for “testimony of Character.”

RC (DLC: Applications for Office under Washington); endorsed by TJ as received from “Vacher, Dr. John” on the same date and so recorded in SJL.

Vacher had served as surgeon of the Fourth New York regiment until dropped when the army was rearranged in 1781; in 1778 he was tried by court martial for “neglect of duty, disobedience of orders, behaving unbecoming a Gentleman and an officer, using menacing language to his Colonel and spreading false reports to his prejudice,” but was unanimously acquitted (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, xi, 249). Vacher’s character references may have evoked old episodes in TJ’s memory: both Walker and Smith had been Steuben’s aides-de-camp in Virginia in 1781.

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