Feuds between workers and their supervisors sometimes entered the commissioners' records. Thanks to the Englishman George Hadfield's dislike of the Irishman Patrick Farrell, who supervised the bricklayers at the Capitol, we have two long letter from Farrell to the commissioners describing how Hadfield insulted him in the presence of the bricklayers and undermined his authority.
In a May 1797 letter he wrote: "Mr. Hadfield told me in presence of the Bricklayers and I adjusting their work that if I had less Activity I should be better liked..." and "his insults and affronts on me have caused the men to take liberty that is hurtful to the building."
Clearly Farrell was not referring to hired slaves who would have no liberty at all, much less liberty to offend their supervisor.
Here is the letter transcribed followed by an image of it.
Washington City, May 26, 1797
Gentlemen, from my first Commencement in Business until my Conducting and Superintending the Brick and Rough stone work of the Capitol, being recommended by Capt. Hoban who had a Knowledge of my ability, always made it a Rule to act perfectly conformable to my Employer in a most Just and honest manner. But by which reasons I have incurred the displeasure and indignation of Mr. Hadfield, I solemnly declare I know not. Notwithstanding have experienced from him repeatedly the most insulting and ----- language and abuse in the presence of the tradesmen that could be given to any man of the least decency - declared in particular that he would break all the bones in my skin, without giving him the least provocation. Mr. Hadfield told me in presence of the Bricklayers and I adjusting their work that if I had less Activity I should be better liked and that my activity was well noticed he likewise said some time that I was kept on employment for mere charity. However his conduct and --- on the whole I pray may be discussed by the Honl Board and by the Principal tradesmen of the building that can inform ye of my conduct and behavior since my commencement. His insults and affronts on me have caused the men to take liberty that is hurtful to the building. Making it my constant study to act for the publick good and pleasing to your Honrs to whom I prefer the whole to be regulated and adjusted as ye shall judge most consistent. As Mr. Hadfield has publickly declared I shall be discharged from this employment, these matters only could induce me to trouble you Hope for your candid decision as soon as you shall think convenient which will be most gratefully acknowledged by your....
p.s. Mr. Hadfield never detected me in on error, tho he well knows there has been a great many, but his delicacy forbids him to tell who was guilty of them - I am despised by the architects and reprobated by the two employers for doing my duty. But now expect to have a free trade
Farrell also wrote a January 1798 letter to the commissioners which again suggests that there were no slave bricklayers: