Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Daniel Carroll, 28 March 1802

From Daniel Carroll

Washington March 28th 1802


Since you did me the honor the other day to mention the subject of the Canal from the falls of Poto. to the Eastern branch, I have thought much on the subject, & satisfied you will excuse the liberty I am now takeing, have determined to address you a few lines—I see innumerable difficulties attending the plan you propose, one which you mentioned, the want of funds, The ground where you propose introducing the Canal into the City to wit, Pensa. avenue I do suppose, must be about thirty feet, above the levels of water street in Geo Town, & woud continue to that height, or nearly untill you woud come to the south of the Presidents house, Should this be correct or nearly so, I apprehend to remove such a body of earth, to so great a depth, woud be attended with an expence that woud not be encountered—I am allso satisfied to take the canal along tiber creek & introduce it into the eastern branch by new Jersey avenue, woud cost considerably less, than takeing through Geo Town, independant of the high ground on Pensa. avenue—With high respect I am

Sir Your Mo Obt Servt

Danl Carroll of Dudn.

RC (DLC); at head of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 29 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

In February 1802, the Potomac Canal Company opened to traffic its canal at Great Falls, Virginia, six miles from the company’s canal at Little Falls above Georgetown. Meanwhile, a projected waterway between the Potomac River and the Eastern Branch, shown on the first published map of the city, remained unbuilt for lack of funds. While TJ was secretary of state, he had communicated with the District of Columbia commissioners about plans for the city canal and as early as 1792, he was aware of a proposal to extend the Little Falls canal into the city. In 1796, Carroll took part in a brief private effort to raise money to build the city canal (Robert J. Kapsch, The Potomac Canal: George Washington and the Waterway West [Morgantown, W.Va., 2007], 33, 107–8; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:258–9; 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 , 1:190–1, 288–9; Vol. 23:195, 224–5, 237, 239, 400).

A petition from inhabitants of “Washington and district of Columbia” to the Senate and House of Representatives, signed by Carroll and dated 19 Jan. 1802, asked Congress to pass an act to incorporate a company to build a canal between the Potomac River and the Eastern Branch “along the Tiber Creek, through the low grounds at the foot of the Capitol hill” (DNA: RG 233, PMRSL, 7th. Cong., 1st. sess.). On 9 Feb., the House committee to whom the petition was referred issued a report, and on 24 Mch. a bill based on the report was read before the House. On 1 May 1802, the House passed an act to incorporate the Washington Canal Company and named Carroll as a company manager (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:54, 89, 157; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:175–8).

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