Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Hadfield, Leonard Harbaugh, and George Blagden, 27 October 1802

From George Hadfield, Leonard Harbaugh, and George Blagden

City of Washington October 27 1802


The under signed have examined the construction of the Eliptical Room south of the Capitol agreeable to your wish expressed through Mr Clackston and are of opinion that the signs of instability which have appeared in the building are entirely owing to the Roof which presses the walls outward, but they believe that no immediate bad consequnces can hapen.

They would recommend all the cracks to be stopped up, and if any further marks should appear that the Building is still giving way the walls may be propped up on the out side to insure the Building till after the next session of Congress—

Sir We are Yr. Obt. Servants

Geo Hadfield

Leonard Harbaugh

George Blagden

RC (DLC); in Hadfield’s hand, signed by all; addressed: “The President of the U: N: States.” Recorded in SJL as received 28 Oct.

Leonard Harbaugh (d. 1822), a contractor from Baltimore, came to Washington in 1792 at the invitation of the Board of Commissioners to work on the capital city. He built the flawed Rock Creek Bridge, but achieved success building Trinity Church and finishing the Little Falls locks on the Potomac. Named chief engineer for the Potomac Company by 1797, he also oversaw the construction and opening of the Great Falls locks. In 1798 and 1799 he received contracts for the construction of the Treasury and the War Department buildings (Douglas R. Littlefield, “Eighteenth-Century Plans to Clear the Potomac River: Technology, Expertise, and Labor in a Developing Nation,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends , 93 [1985], 315–16; William W. Warner, At Peace with All Their Neighbors: Catholics and Catholicism in the National Capital 1787–1860 [Washington, D.C., 1994], 22–3, 125–30; Vol. 23:379; Vol. 26:426–7n).

George Blagden (d. 1826), an English-born stonemason who came to the United States sometime before 1794, was superintendent for stonework and quarries at the Capitol. He was active in Washington civic, business, and church affairs and was killed by the collapse of an embankment of the Capitol (Henry Hope Reed, The United States Capitol: Its Architecture and Decoration [New York, 2005], 192; Latrobe, Correspondence description begins John C. Van Horne and Lee W. Formwalt, eds., The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, New Haven, 1984–88, 3 vols. description ends , 1:284n).

YOUR WISH: see TJ to Thomas Claxton, 26 Oct.

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