George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Deakins, Jr., 18 November 1790

From William Deakins, Jr.

Geo. Town [Md.] Novr 18th 1790


I saw my Brother a few days ago & he tells me he will have the Platts for the Situation’s above Lodged in my hands by Monday Next, to be delivered on your way through this place, I will also have another platt of our Situation with the Streets of Geo. Town & its Additions Laid down for your Information.1

If the Second proposition of the proprietors, should be prefered, that is for them to retain every third Lott in the Federal Town—You may Extend the Limits to 3,000 A[cre]s.2 I am with every Sentiment of Respect & Esteem Your Obt Servt

Will. Deakins Junr


1Neither plats of the upper Potomac or Monocacy sites of the federal seat nor of the Georgetown, Md., area has been found or positively identified (see William Deakins, Jr., to GW, 3 Nov. 1790 and note 1, and Francis Deakins to GW, 12 Nov. 1790).

2When GW met with with the Georgetown area landowners on 15–17 Oct. 1790, he probably asked them for more specific proposals, and William Deakins, Jr., indicated an intention to deliver them with plats of the Georgetown area on 7–8 Nov. 1790. Their “Second proposition” was probably made to GW then or shortly thereafter. Deakins may have delivered the plats and proposals to Mount Vernon or may have discussed them with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on 12–13 Nov. 1790 (see Agreement of Georgetown, Md., Property Owners, 13 Oct. 1790 and source note, William Deakins, Jr., to GW, 3 Nov. 1790 and note 1, and Jefferson to GW, 27 Oct. 1790, note 1). When GW arrived at Georgetown on 22 Nov. 1790 on his way to Philadelphia, he further discussed with William Deakins, Jr., and Benjamin Stoddert the placement of the federal city, questioning them about the disposition of lots in the projected town of Hamburgh, Md., below Rock Creek. These later deliberations left little doubt among Georgetown landowners that GW intended to fix the federal district in their neighborhood (see Deakins and Stoddert to GW, 9 Dec. 1790).

Samuel Davidson, a Georgetown merchant, wrote to an unknown correspondent on 28 Nov.: “We have not, now, a doubt remaining but that the Grand Federal City will soon rear its august head in the vicinity of this town. The President has fixed upon the place, although not yet certainly known. His speech to Congress on the first Monday in December will reveal the secret. In the meantime, if you have any confidence in my judgment, you may calculate that from Rock Creek to the Eastern Branch is the place and say that on the heights of Peter’s Slashes plantation will stand the Stadt House” (DLC: Samuel Davidson Letterbook).

The president did not, as Davidson and others expected, reveal the intended site of the federal district in his address to Congress of 8 Dec. 1790.

Having solicited a plat and proposals from landowners in the area of Shepherdstown, Va., and Sharpsburg, Md., GW could not announce the location of the federal seat with propriety until he received their response, which was not sent until 5 Dec. 1790. GW announced the location of the federal district by proclamation on 24 Jan. 1791 (see Joseph Chapline and William Good to GW, 4 Dec. 1790, Proclamation, 24 Jan. 1791; see also Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 19–25).

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