Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the District of Columbia Commissioners, 7 May 1801

From the District of Columbia Commissioners

Commissioner’s Office 7th: May 1801.


Several applications have lately been made to us to sanction the establishing of a market in the public reservation “beginning at the intersection of the north side of Canal Street, & the east side of ninth Street west, thence North, to the south side of an Avenue drawn in Front of Square No: 382, thence north-easterly with the South side of said Avenue until it intersects the South side of Pennsylvania Avenue, thence with the South side of said Avenue until it intersects the west side of Seventh Street west, thence with the west side of said Street until it intersects Canal Street, thence west with the north side of Canal Street to the beginning.”—

The above was reserved, and originally intended for a market, but not having been called for till lately, no Appropriation was made. It is thought to embrace so many Advantages, and is so central, that were a market established there, it would be a great accommodation to the City in general, & we therefore consider it as a Duty to submit to your Determination the propriety of appropriating it to a market, subject to such Regulations as the proper Authorities may hereafter establish.—

We have the honor to be Sir, with Sentiments of the highest respect & Consideration

William Thornton

Tristram Dalton

RC (DLC: District of Columbia Papers); in Thornton’s hand, signed by Thornton and Dalton; at foot of text: “President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 7 May and so recorded in SJL; with note by TJ below signatures: “May 8. 1801. The appropriation of the ground herein described for a market, as proposed by the Commissioners, is approved. Th: Jefferson.” FC (DNA: RG 42, DCLB).

A market house opened at Center Market, on the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, in December 1801. Center Market survived until 1931 (Bryan, National Capital description begins Wilhelmus B. Bryan, A History of the National Capital from Its Foundation through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act, New York, 1914–16, 2 vols. description ends , 1:419–20; RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 51–2 [1955], 22).

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