James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Daniel Carroll, 8 March 1792

From Daniel Carroll

March 8th. 1792.

My dear Sir,

Yr. last come to hand was on the 28th Ulto.1 I have not sent to the office since the last post. As yr. sessions will now soon close, I hope you may separate in harmony for the public good, & yr. own satisfactions; I wish the subject on representation well finishd.

Mr Jefferson has favord me with the result of the Negotiations with Majr. L’Enfant,2 on which you will not expect any remarks from me. The season will soon permit us to enter on the business of the year, & I am fully impressd with the propriety of proceeding with spirit. The public buildings will advance I hope as fast as they ought. Judgement & managemt. will be necessary to bring forward & encourage a disposition for private improvements. The exorbitant and unreasonable expectations of some, particularly D. Carroll of Duddington at one end of the City & Robert Peter at the other,3 may check in a degree the public good & do prejudice to themselv[e]s. I shoud have the same fears with Mr Carroll if there was not so much in the hands of the public—but this inordinate & blind passion may cramp us.

I find on turning over matters by memory that since this measure took place, the alienation of property has been very considerable. Underneath is a rough sketch on this Subject for yrs. & Mr Carrollsburgh [sic] amusement—there may be circumstances perhaps which may induce not to say much about it at this time. It is not correct, but shall be so if desird—not much under or over.

In the City
Sale from Slater to Prout4 since the location of the district but before that of the City— Dollars
abt. 500. Acrs. @ 54 dollrs per acre 27000
Do. Carr to Walker5 soon after the Location of
the City (not sure but a little before)
abt 420 Acres—@ 80 Dollrs per Acr. 32000
Do Waring to Sundries6 abt 450 acres for 40 Dolrs
per Acr.
Since by them to Blodget7 @ 80 Dolrs per acre. 36000
Sundry small purchasers on the E Branch
abt 20 Acrs.—Abt. 100 Drs per
Abraham Young to King8 abt 60 Acs. @ 60 Drs per a. 3600
The 2 Peirceys to Saml & Jno
Davidson9 I beleive ab 300 Acrs. abt—80
Ds per Do.
exclusive of public & private Lotts 124,600
Land sold within these few days out of the City
but near it—
George Beall10 to Deakins11 Stoddert12 &ca
abt 800 Acrs—@ 21 Dollrs a ⅓
Berry to Carr & Bayly13—ab 1700 Acrs. 12 Dolrs ⅔.   21533
Several small parcells besides } woud certainly make with the above more than ——200 000 Dollrs
Hendersons14 Land to Stoddart
since the act but before the
Location, & by him lately
one half to Captn Campbell15
The Public & private Lotts

I am glad to find we shall have the engravd Plan soon in circulation—it must be of essential advantage. Yrs. Dr Sr. Affy.

Danl Carroll


1Letter not found.

2On 1 Mar. Jefferson had informed Carroll of L’Enfant’s dismissal, which occurred on 27 Feb. (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

3Of the nineteen original proprietors, Daniel Carroll of Duddington owned the area of what is now Capitol Hill, and Robert Peter owned property in the western end of the planned federal city (Allen C. Clark, “Origin of the Federal City,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society, XXXV–XXXVI [1935], 83–84 and plate 4).

4On 11 Mar. 1791 Jonathan Slater gave a bond of conveyance to his son-in-law William Prout (a Georgetown storekeeper) for lands in Carrollsburgh, later the site of the Washington Navy Yard (ibid., p. 94 and plate 4; Scisco, “A Site for the ‘Federal City,’” ibid., LVII–LIX [1957–59], 146).

5On 10 June 1791 Overton Carr sold lands northeast of what is now Capitol Hill to George Walker, a Philadelphia merchant who had emigrated from Scotland (Clark, “Origin of the Federal City,” p. 95 and plate 4; Bryan, History of the National Capital, I, 144).

7Samuel Blodget, Jr., a merchant and architect from Philadelphia, purchased the Jamaica tract from Fendall’s syndicate (Bryan, History of the National Capital, I, 135 n. 3).

8Abraham Young sold lands in the eastern end of the city to William King, a Georgetown lawyer (Clark, “Origin of the Federal City,” p. 96 and plate 4).

9On 2 May 1791 Samuel Davidson of Annapolis and Georgetown purchased land around what became Lafayette Square from Edward Peerce; on 14 Apr. he had supported President Washington in a dispute with other proprietors over the size of the city. On 2 Jan. 1792 he purchased an adjacent lot from James Peerce and on 5 Jan. sold it to his brother John Davidson (Clark, “Origin of the Federal City,” pp. 90–91 and plate 4; Bryan, History of the National Capital, I, 138, 144; Scisco, “A Site for the ‘Federal City,’” p. 130).

10Col. George Beall, Jr., was the son of an original proprietor of Georgetown (Bryan, History of the National Capital, I, 101).

11Col. William Deakins, Jr., of Georgetown, who corresponded with Washington about the location of the federal district, became treasurer of the board of commissioners and an incorporator of the Georgetown Bridge Company and the Bank of Columbia (ibid., I, 74 n. 2, 123, 145, 171).

12Benjamin Stoddert was a Maryland merchant and business partner of Uriah Forrest. In 1794 the lands that he acquired with Deakins were ceded to the federal government in a transaction conducted by the Bank of Columbia, of which he was an incorporator. He became secretary of the navy under John Adams (Rutland, Papers of George Mason, I, xcviii–xcix).

13William Bayly was an original proprietor of lands in the federal district (Clark, “Origin of the Federal City,” p. 46).

14Possibly Alexander Henderson.

15Capt. William Campbell of Prince Georges County, Maryland (Annapolis Md. Gazette, 4 Oct. 1792).

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