To Charles Bulfinch
Washington July 1. 1802.
The bearer hereof, mr Mills, a native of South Carolina, has passed some years at this place as a Student in architecture. he is now setting out on a journey through the states to see what is worth seeing in that line in each state. he will visit Boston with the same view, and knowing your taste for the art, I take the liberty of recommending him to your notice, and of asking for him whatever information on the subject may be useful to his views while in Boston. Accept assurances of my esteem & respect.
RC (photostat in MH); at foot of text: “Mr. Bulfinch.” PrC (DLC); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Recorded in SJL with notation “by mr Mills.”
TJ met architect Charles Bulfinch (1763–1844) in Paris in 1786, during Bulfinch’s grand architectural tour of Europe. Largely self-taught, Bulfinch returned to his native Boston in 1787 and spent the next three decades designing some of that city’s most prominent architectural works, including the Massachusetts State House and several elegant residences for Boston attorney Harrison Gray Otis. Elected to the city’s board of selectmen in 1791, he served as its chairman from 1799 to 1817. In 1818, he was appointed architect of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, in which capacity he oversaw completion of the Senate and House wings and redesigned the building’s central dome and rotunda. He returned to Boston in 1830 and shortly thereafter retired from active practice (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Vol. 10:211; Vol. 15:484–5).
Robert MILLS had been studying ARCHITECTURE in Washington under the tutelage of James Hoban. TJ continued to assist Mills with his education and career, granting the young South Carolinian access to his library and introducing him to Benjamin Henry Latrobe, with whom Mills later worked as an assistant for several years (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Rhodri Windsor Liscombe, Altogether American: Robert Mills, Architect and Engineer, 1781–1855 [Oxford, 1994], 10–15; Latrobe to TJ, 2 Oct. 1803; Mills to TJ, 3 Oct. 1806).