Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Claxton to Thomas Jefferson, 10 March 1809

From Thomas Claxton

10th March 1809

Honord Sir

The Bearer, one of my Sons attends with the List of furniture to aid Mr La Mare in the Delivery of the furniture of the Presidents House to such person as may be authorised by the President of the United States to recieve the same—My son is a smart boy and very capable of assisting in this Business, more especially as he was present at the taking of the inventory—I have told him, Sir, that the best way will be to go from room to room, as the list is made out—Such form of an acknowledgement of the receipt of these things as you may think proper ought to be signed by the person who receives, and placed after the whole list, which together with the list I shall copy fairly and forward to you shortly—Your caution Sir, on this occasion, is necessary, as in a few short hours, great depredations may take place—And should a general Sale take place, as has been reported, there will remain a document to shew what the house contained when you left it—

Very severe exertion in the line of my duty before the adjournment took place, brought on me a severe fit of sickness, of which I am now recovering, but am fearful of turning out, otherwise I should take a very great pleasure & interest in complying with your wishes

Believe me, Dear Sir, when I assure you, that, when I occasionally view my past life, one of the greatest pleasures I shall enjoy will be, that of having assurances from you that I was worthy of your particular notice and I trust that I shall, by the help of God, be able always to maintain principles which will at all times, render me worthy of the same favorable opinion—

I now beg leave, Sir, to bid you an affectionate farewell, flattering myself with a hope that the remainder of your days may be rendered happy by good health and rural pleasures

I have the honor to be Sir Your Humble and sincere friend

Thos Claxton

RC (MHi); dateline below signature; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Mar. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

Thomas Claxton (d. 1821) originally trained as a printer but spent most of his career as doorkeeper of the House of Representatives, a position he held for thirty-two years beginning as assistant doorkeeper during its first session in 1789. He was responsible for the Furniture Fund, a Treasury account approved by Congress from which he purchased furniture for the President’s House. After the burning of the United States Capitol in 1814, Claxton refurnished the House of Representatives (Linda Grant De Pauw and others, eds., Documentary History of the First Federal Congress [1972– ], 3:8; Conover Hunt-Jones, Dolley and the“great little Madison” [1977], 35–6; Margaret B. Klapthor, “Furniture in the Capitol: Desks and Chairs Used in the Chamber of the House of Representatives, 1819–1857,” RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895– description ends 47 [1969/70]: 192–8; Washington National Intelligencer, 3 Dec. 1821).

The bearer of the list of furniture was probably Thomas Claxton (ca. 1794–1813), Claxton’s eldest son. A list of existing furnishings in the President’s House was requested by Benjamin H. Latrobe, who had been appointed to furnish it in mid-February 1809 by James and Dolley Madison. Latrobe was authorized to sell any public furniture that needed replacing, using the proceeds to make new purchases for the incoming president. Étienne Lemaire added kitchen items to the inventory that TJ prepared (TJ to Claxton, 19 Feb. 1809, and enclosed inventory of furnishings [DLC]; Latrobe, Papers, description begins John C. Van Horne and others, eds., The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 1984–88, 3 vols. description ends 2:705–6; Washington National Intelligencer, 14 Oct. 1813).

Index Entries

  • Claxton, Thomas (ca.1794–1813) search
  • Claxton, Thomas (d.1821); identified search
  • Claxton, Thomas (d.1821); letters from search
  • furniture; and President’s House search
  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry; furnishes President’s House search
  • Lemaire, Etienne; and kitchen inventory of President’s House search
  • Lemaire, Etienne; maître d’hôtel search
  • Madison, Dolley Payne Todd (James Madison’s wife); furnishes President’s House search
  • President’s House; inventory of search
  • Treasury Department, U.S.; Furniture Fund search