Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Munroe, 4 March 1815

To Thomas Munroe

Monticello Mar. 4. 15.

Dear Sir

I observe the bill has past for repairing the public buildings in Washington, at which I am sincerely rejoiced, and trust it will for ever silence the question of a removal of the seat of government. you will have much to do for the accomodation of Congress & the government and it will be required in the least time possible. you will therefore I presume be glad of the offer of good workmen from every quarter. two such propose to offer themselves from hence, James Dinsmore and John Nielson. the former I brought from Philadelphia in 1798. and he lived with me 10. years. a more faithful, sober, discreet, honest and respectable man I have never known. he is at present half owner of a valuable manufacturing mill in this neighborhood. Nielson I also got from Philadelphia in 1804. and he lived with me 4. years, and I have found him also, an honest sober, and excellent man. both are house joiners of the first order. they have done the whole of that work in my house, to which I can affirm there is nothing superior in the US. after they had finished with me they worked 2. or 3. year’s for the President, to whom therefore they are well known. mr Mills knows them also personally and their works. Doctr Thornton knows their works, perhaps their persons.1 whatever they will undertake with you, you may be assured they will perform and in the best and most faithful manner. the most difficult job you have is the dome of the Representatives, and I doubt if there be any men more equal to it than these. Dinsmore built the one to my house, which tho’ much smaller, is precisely on the same principles, to wit those of the dome of the meal market of Paris. I strongly recommend these men to you, and if you employ them I shall have the double gratification of having served men worthy of trust, and of putting a public trust into worthy hands.—I am still further gratified by the occasion it has furnished me of addressing you after a long intermission of intercourse between us, and of assuring you that I retain the same sentiments of esteem for you, with which your long & faithful services under my eye inspired me, and the same wishes for your welfare & happiness; with these I pray you to accept my friendly salutations.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (CSmH: JF); on verso of reused address cover of John Barnes to TJ, 10 Jan. 1815; at foot of text: “Mr Thomas Munro”; endorsed by TJ. Tr (DNA: RG 42, LRSCW); at foot of text: “True Copy of the original”; addressed: “Mr Thomas Munroe Washington”; endorsed by the transcriber as “Mr Jeffersons recomendation of J. Dinsmore & J. Neilson as Joiners and Architects 4 March 1815”; notation at foot of address cover in a different hand: “address to either J. Dinsmore J. Neilson or Mr Jefferson”; filed with docket slip.

Thomas Munroe (1771–1852), public official, belonged to a prominent family of merchants in Annapolis. He moved to Washington by the middle of the 1790s and became clerk of the commissioners of the Federal District. Munroe served as the postmaster of Washington, 1799–1829, and as the city’s superintendent from the creation of the post in 1802 until 1816. He was also a director of the local branch of the Bank of the United States, a trustee of the public schools, and a founder of the Columbia Manufacturing Company, which made cotton fabric (Records of the Columbia Historical Society 6 [1903]: 156–70; Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan, A History of the National Capital [1914–16], 1:478–9; Centinel of Liberty and George-Town Advertiser, 24 June 1796; Washington Federalist, 7 June 1802; Munroe to TJ, 19 June 1802 [DLC]; Message from the President of the United States, transmitting a Report of the Secretary of the Treasury of Certain Expenses which have been incurred for public edifices and improvements in the City of Washington [Washington, 1816]; Washington City Weekly Gazette, 4 May 1816, 1 Feb. 1817; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 15 Apr. 1852).

The 13 Feb. 1815 “Act making appropriations for repairing or rebuilding” Washington’s public buildings authorized a loan of $500,000 at 6 percent interest for this purpose (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 3:205). While he was minister plenipotentiary to France, TJ met Maria Cosway in and drew architectural inspiration from the famed meal market of paris (La Halle au Blé) (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 37 vols. description ends , 10:444–5, 454n).

1Sentence interlined, with omitted period preceding caret supplied from Tr.

Index Entries

  • An Act making appropriations for repairing or rebuilding the public buildings within the city of Washington (1815) search
  • architecture; construction at U.S. Capitol search
  • Capitol, U.S.; construction and repair of search
  • Capitol, U.S.; dome of search
  • Dinsmore, James; manufacturing mill of search
  • Dinsmore, James; TJ recommends search
  • Dinsmore, James; works at Montpellier (Madison family estate) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation from search
  • Madison, James (1751–1836); mentioned search
  • Mills, Robert; mentioned search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); builders at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); dome of search
  • Montpellier (Montpelier; J. Madison’s Orange Co. estate); work at search
  • Munroe (Monroe), Thomas; identified search
  • Munroe (Monroe), Thomas; letter to search
  • Munroe (Monroe), Thomas; superintendent of the District of Columbia search
  • Neilson (Nelson), John; and work at Montpellier (Madison family estate) search
  • Neilson (Nelson), John; TJ recommends search
  • Paris; meal market of (La Halle au Blé) search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation from TJ search
  • Thornton, William; mentioned search
  • Washington, D.C.; proposed removal of U.S. capital from search
  • Washington, D.C.; repair of public buildings in search