Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John A. Houseman, 18 May 1803

From John A. Houseman

Washington May 18th. 1803

Honorable Sir,

The confidence I take in presenting these few lines to your view, will, I hope be excused by the cause that enforces me to it.

I have a Sister by name Sally Houseman living in your House. She has been ill used by one of your Domesticks (Abraham Golden) and knocked prostrate on the floor; and that without any assault from her side. Since she hath no Friend nearer related than myself she Disclosed the same to me, consulting me what to do in such a case. I advised her rather than litigate the matter to submit the same to your Honour. As I, Honourable, Sir, am highly grieved at the insult offered and done to my Sister, I thought proper to petition as a Brother for her Person. The design of this is not you will presume to reap satisfaction, but wholly directed to preserve in future peace and tranquility; without which it is impossible to live consoled. I desire, Honourable Sir, your Protection in behalf of my sister. Your humble and obedient Servant and Petitioner

John A Houseman

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 19 May and so recorded in SJL.

sally houseman was a resident washerwoman in the President’s House. abraham golden was a footman and a personal servant of Meriwether Lewis and his successor. In his personal financial memoranda, TJ recorded on 9 May that he had paid servants’ wages through 4 May, of $7 to Houseman and $14 to Golden (Gaulding). TJ later remarked to his son-in-law that while at Washington, he preferred white servants “who when they misbehave can be exchanged” (Lucia Stanton, “‘A Well-Ordered Household’: Domestic Servants in Jefferson’s White House,” White House History, 17 [2006], 8–9; 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 , 2:1100; Vol. 35:395n; TJ to John Wayles Eppes, 7 Aug. 1804).

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