Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Perkins, 18 February 1801

From Benjamin Perkins

Washington City February 18th 1801


Inclosed you will find a Plan for a Capitol for a Column or Pilaster upon a new Principle
the Stripes is an Emblem of the United States Supported by two Cornucopia’s Emblems of Plenty the Oak Leafes & acorns are an Emblem of Freedom an Extinguished Torch an Emblem of Death the Drooping willow Emblem of Mourning—

I have Made Some Progress in Drawing a Mausoleum Connected with a Semenary of Education the Room Designed for Commencment & Publick Speaking to have a Concave Ceiling Supported with Dime Pilasters upon this Plan which Should be Called the Washington Order If it is not too much Trouble Pleas to give me your Opinion of this Idea—if it is not Proper for me to Expects it of you Give yourself no Trouble

I am with Respect your Hbl Svt

Benjn. Perkins

a Post

NB I am a Scholar of Mr Daniel Trump of Philadelphia

RC (ViW); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Vice President of the United States Washington City”; postmarked 19 Feb.; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Feb. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: drawing of the capital of a column as described in the letter above (MS in same; signed by Perkins and dated by him 15 Dec. 1801).

Perkins was apparently the brother of Thomas Perkins and may have come originally from Delaware. Benjamin Perkins lodged in Washington on New York Avenue near the Octagon, John Tayloe’s town house designed by William Thornton. Perkins was still in Washington in 1805, when he joined a subscription to establish a school (RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 33–4 [1932], 289; C. M. Harris, ed., Papers of William Thornton: Volume One, 1781–1802 [Charlottesville, 1995], 584–6; Thomas Perkins to TJ, 24 Mch. 1801, and Benjamin Perkins’s letter of 15 May noted there).

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