Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph Dougherty to Thomas Jefferson, 10 February 1819

From Joseph Dougherty

Washington City Feb. 10th 1819

Dear Sir

Jack Shorter requests of me to acquaint you of his present state.

His wife left him, and went to the western country about a year ago.

He, afterwards became dissipated—and flew to me for protection. I succeeded in reforming him—but he has not been able to earn any thing to support him for several months past.

He both fears, & loves me—and I cannot reffuse him any thing in my power.

It will give me infinite pleasure to know the true state of your health.

Sir. your Humble Servt

Jos Dougherty

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 14 Feb. 1819 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to John Vaughan, 14 Feb. 1820, on verso; addressed: “Thos. Jefferson Esqr Late President of the United States Monticello va.”; franked; postmarked.

John (Jack) Shorter, livery servant and hostler, worked at the President’s House in Washington, D.C., from November 1801 until the end of TJ’s term in office, and he accompanied TJ during his return to Monticello in March 1809. President James Madison and his family later employed him for a time. Although born a slave, Shorter was apparently freed late in 1810, twelve years after his master’s death and in accordance with the provisions of his will (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 42 vols. description ends , 40:59; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends ; Lucia Stanton, “Those Who Labor for My Happiness”: Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello [2012], 44, 54, 150; TJ’s Account with Dougherty, [4–10 Mar. 1809]; Étienne Lemaire to TJ, 17 Mar. 1809; Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 1:418).

Dougherty wrote a similar letter on 4 Feb. 1819 to Madison, who, twelve days later, sent him $20 to defray some of the costs associated with Shorter’s care (Madison, Papers, Retirement Ser., 1:408–9, 418, 421).

Index Entries

  • alcohol; abuse of search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; assists J. Shorter search
  • Dougherty, Joseph; letters from search
  • health; alcohol abuse search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); assists J. Shorter search
  • Shorter, John (Jack); assistance provided to search
  • Shorter, John (Jack); family of search
  • Shorter, John (Jack); health of search
  • Shorter, John (Jack); identified search