Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edward Maher, [9 October 1801]

From Edward Maher

[9 Oct. 1801]

Sir as you Cant a ford me more weages I must See and1 beter my Self I am sorrey to leave you

Edward Maher

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as a letter of 9 Oct. 1801.

Edward Maher began work at the President’s House on 12 Mch. 1801. His pay was $12 each month, plus an additional $2 “for drink” that was a routine gratuity for some members of the household staff. He was also to receive two suits of clothes. Maher, who held the job of porter, apparently thought that the range of duties associated with that position should be narrowly defined, whereas TJ and the stewards wanted him to work on any tasks that might need attention. In April, Maher was dismayed when TJ had John Freeman, rather than Maher, accompany him to Virginia. Maher also grumbled about his livery outfit, objecting to wearing the same uniform as a black man. In the spring of 1802, Maher’s successor as porter left abruptly, but TJ refused to take Maher back. Citing Maher’s apparent inability to stay with any employer very long, TJ called him “fickle.” TJ wanted “servants who will do every thing they are wanted to do,” and Maher, though “capable,” did not meet that standard. TJ also confided to Étienne Lemaire that Maher had been in the habit of reading papers on TJ’s desk when TJ was out of the room. Joseph Dougherty, the coachman, found Maher “a verry Disagreeable Man in a family although he is a good Servant” (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 , 2:1035, 1036, 1040, 1042, 1045; Vol. 33:504n, 530–1, 605; Étienne Lemaire to TJ, 10 May 1802; Joseph Dougherty to TJ, 11 May 1802; TJ to Lemaire, 14, 20 May 1802).

1MS: “Seeand.”

Index Entries