From John Davidson1
Annapolis August 18, 1794
I have always with cheerfulness obeyed your Mandates, and to keep up a proper Republican System, I have in my turn to request that you will be pleased to obey mine; it goes to your providing Funds for the improvement of an high eligible Lot in our Presidents City convenient to his House,2 over which you may look as to position only, which I mean to convey to you in Fee, on Condition that you improve it to your own liking by the year 1800; for your choice of the Lot I will locate my property there, and if you approve not of my choice you may roam over the whole and perch where you please; my choice lays on the north edge of K Street No. 284 east or west of it the highest situations in the City. Hambugh heights excepted, upon the plan of that City published at Boston3 you will please to cast your Eye from South G Street to North N Street and from East 9 Street to West 15 Street, you will perceive the limits to which I must confine you: K Street divides the City North & South, and the first Circle on Vermont Avenue from the Presidents Square ranging with K Street Eastward are the highest and in my Opinion the most desireable Situations, but should you wish to be nearer the Presidents House on either side of New York Avenue you shall be accomodated by
Sir Your most respectfull & very Obedient Servt.
Mr. Secretary Hamilton
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Davidson, who had served as collector of customs and inspector of the revenue for Annapolis, was one of the original owners of sizable tracts of land on the site of the present city of Washington.
2. The building of the White House was begun in the summer of 1793, after the laying of the cornerstone on October 13, 1792.
3. This is a reference to Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s plan of the Federal City. When L’Enfant, despite the urging of George Washington, failed to have the plan engraved, it was turned over to Andrew Ellicott, a surveyor. Ellicott then sent the plan to Samuel Blodgett, Jr., in Boston, who had it engraved there in 1792 by Samuel Hill (John Stewart, “Early Maps and Surveyors of the City of Washington, D.C.,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C. [Washington, 1899], II, 48–71; GW description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington, 1931–1944) description ends , XXXI, 499).