Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 5 September 1807

Washington Septr. 5h. 1807.

Dear Sir

Mr. Lenthall has been so ill in health, & so much worse in humor for sometime past, that I cannot leave the Work sufficiently to compleat today the drawings necessary to explain to You the Work on the North Wing for which I have to request Your direction.—Every thing is going on well & to my utmost satisfaction excepting my situation with Mr Lenthall. He has been always in the habit of threatening to leave me whenever his health or his humor happened to be a little deranged. His services however have been so important, & his place so difficult to be filled, that I have never seemed to understand him & during the five Years almost that have elapsed since his appointment, I have contrived never to have a single quarrel with him on any subject. For he has this good quality that he always obeys peremptory orders immediately & with good humor, so that it has always been in my power to put an end to every discussion without ever appearing to be hurt. This morning however he has behaved so ill & before the Workmen has threatened to plague himself no more with the Job, that I have thought it right to write to him a note desiring him to explain to me his intention, either of remaining at his post, or quitting it. Of this note I subjoin a copy,—Should he quit us my labor will be the more severe but I shall get through it; for I can depend upon the personal attachment of all our people to me; many of whom, & among them Blagden, would not remain in the public service, did I not, when necessary, correct the [sour] & offensive treatment which Lenthall almost indiscrimately bestows upon them, when at all sick or out of humor.

Besides this difficulty with Lenthall, there is a general spirit of mutiny among our carpenters who threaten to strike for Wages. I have told them, that if by next Wednesday they did not agree to remain with us during the remaining season I should discharge the refactory, & replace them at high wages by others from Phila. This I know I can immediately accomplish, by writing to my Clerk there (Mr Mills).

I shall do myself the favor to write again tomorrow and am with the highest respect faithfully Yrs

B Henry Latrobe

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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