… I must supply now in writing, what I then could not express, the sense of my attachment to you & satisfaction with your services. they were faithful, & skilful, and your whole conduct so marked with good humour, industry, sobriety & economy as never to have given me one moment’s dissatisfaction: and indeed were I to be again in a situation to need services of the same kind, yours would be more acceptable to me than those of any person living. I have thought it my duty thus to declare what is just & true respecting you …
To Etienne Lemaire, March 16, 1809
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders value gifted employees and tell them so.
Lemaire was the manager of the President’s House during Jefferson’s administrations, overseeing the staff and meal preparations. Earlier in this letter, Jefferson apologized for saying only “Adieu” when he left Washington City. He explained that he was overcome at the prospect of returning to his family at Monticello and once again having a life of his own that “goodbye” was all he could manage for those who had served him so well.
Jefferson now corrected that oversight with flowing praise for Lemaire’s skilled and faithful service. He cited the specifics of Lemaire’s character and should the need arise, would hire him again above all others.
He closed with a request to know Lemaire’s new address that he might write him and invited his butler’s correspondence, as well.