Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the District of Columbia Commissioners, 22 January 1802

From the District of Columbia Commissioners

Commissioners Office 22d Jany 1802


The term having expired, during which the first and third articles of the terms and conditions declared by the President of the United States on the 17th. October 1791 for regulating the materials and manner of building and improvements on the Lots in the City, of Washington, have been suspended, we have taken the subject into consideration, and are of opinion that it may be expedient to extend the indulgence last given to the end of the present year, with this difference; that no wooden building covering more than three hundred and twenty square feet, or more than twelve feet high from the sills to the eve’s shall be permitted. Houses of that discription will be sufficient for tradesmen or others of small property, for whose encouragement and accommodation alone we should think it advisable to permit wooden buildings of any dimensions to be erected in the City—. We enclose a writing agreeably to former precedents for your signature, should you approve of the measure proposed.—

We are, with sentiments of the highest respect Sir, Yr mo Obt Servts.

William Thornton

Alexr White

Tristram Dalton

RC (DLC); in Thomas Munroe’s hand, signed by Thornton, White, and Dalton; at foot of text: “President of the U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Jan. and so recorded in SJL. FC (DNA: RG 42, DCLB). Enclosure not found, but see below.

On 23 Jan., TJ approved a one-year extension of the suspension of certain building regulations for the District of Columbia, which had expired on 1 Jan. 1802. He also approved the two additional rules on wooden buildings that the commissioners requested in their letter printed above. The National Intelligencer printed the proclamation on 29 Jan. (Vol. 33:154–5).

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