George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Deakins, Jr., and Benjamin Stoddert, 17 March 1791

To William Deakins, Jr., and Benjamin Stoddert

Philadelphia March 17th 179[1]


In order to avail the public of the willingness expressed by the inhabitants of Washington county, as mentioned in your letter of the 11th to sign a paper ceding their lots in Hamburg, on being requested by any person under my direction, I have written the inclosed letter, which, if you think it will answer the desired end, you will be so good as to dispatch to them, with the necessary propositions in form. I am aware that, by this means it will become known that you are acting for the public: but there will be no reason for keeping this longer secret after my arrival at George town.1

With respect to Mister Burns I will confer with you on my arrival as to what is best to be done in his case, should you not have obtained a cession from him in the mean time.2

Df, in the hand of Thomas Jefferson, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. The dateline and docket of the draft are in GW’s hand.

For the background to this letter, see GW to Deakins and Stoddert, 17 Feb. 1791, and GW to Jefferson, 16 Mar. 1791. Jefferson apparently drafted this letter for GW on 16 Mar. 1791 and presented the draft to GW when the two men met on the morning of 17 Mar. 1791 (see GW to Jefferson, 17 Mar. 1791).

1No letter from Deakins and Stoddert of 11 Mar. 1791 has been found. This letter apparently informed GW that owners of lots in Hamburg who lived in Washington County, Md., had agreed in principle to cede their property to the federal government. The enclosed letter from GW reads: “On passing thro George town I propose to examine the ground between that town & the Eastern branch, & on that examination to fix on a site for the public buildings. should there be any circumstances in favour of the ground next adjoining to George town, I foresee that the old town of Hamburg will be a considerable obstacle, as the streets of that will probably not coincide with those which might be proposed for the federal city. On behalf of the public I should be much pleased if the proprieters of lots in that town would voluntarily consent to cede them at such price as may be set on the adjacent lands which have been or shall be ceded. I will ask the favour of you to have application made to them in time for their decision to meet me at George town” (Df, in the hand of Thomas Jefferson, DLC:GW).

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