To the Commissioners for the Federal District
Philadelphia July 24th 1791.
I have received from Mr Peter the inclosed letter proposing the erection of Warves at the New City, between Rock Creek and Hamburg. My answer to him is, that the proposition is worthy of consideration, and that the transaction of whatever may concern the public at that place in future being now turned over to you, I have inclosed the letter to you to do thereon whatever you may think best, referring him at the same time to you for an Answer.1
The consequences of such Wharves as are suggested by Mr Peter will no doubt, claim your first attention—next, if they are deemed a desireable undertaking, the means by which the work can be effected with certainty and dispatch—and lastly, the true and equitable proportion which ought to be paid by Mr Peters towards the erection of them. I am, Gentlemen, with perfect consideration Your most Obedt Servt
LS, DLC: Presidential MSS, General, Letters of the Presidents of the United States; LB, DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent.
1. Robert Peter wrote to GW from Georgetown, Md., on 20 July: “Col. L’Enfant, I understand has expressed a wish that I woud make propositions to join the public in the expence of Erecting wharves to extend from the Mouth of Rock Creek, to the point above Hamburg, called Cedar point, being about three Thousand feet—It is a work of great Magnitude for an Individual to engage in, but as I have the wood adjoining the Shore, & coud spare some labourers, & by furnishing such matters, might have, but little Money to Advance—And as I really believe the expence woud be more than compensated by the Increased Value of the Lots, and as it woud assist in Satisfying the World, that the great work of the Federal City was going on in earnest, I have made up my Mind to enter into the Business in Earnest, if you Sir think it an Object deserving attention. The Channel running very near the Shore, it woud not be Necessary to extend the Wharves far into the River. I woud propose that the best and most frugal mode for Compleating the whole, be adopted immediately, and the work set about without any delay, so as to Compleat the whole this Fall, if Practicable, and if possible to have a good part effected by the time of the Sale of the Lots in October—That the Wood should be furnished by me on the same terms that it could be had from others, and that the whole Expence shoud be divided between the public & me, in proportion to the property held by each, on the Water—The Streets I Consider as belonging to the public & one half the Lots—so that I suppose somewhere about one third of the Expence would be mine & about ⅔ds the Publics—Perhaps this Letter woud have been more properly addressed to the Commissioners, but as I presume they woud do nothing without your Concurrence, and as they are so dispersed that a good deal of delay might take place, I have thought it best to address myself immediately to you” (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Received). GW replied to Peter on 24 July: “I have received your favor of the 20th Inst: proposing the building of wharves at the New City, between Rock-Creek & Hamburgh; the proposition Certainly is worthy of consideration, and, as the transaction of what may concern the public at that place in future is now turned over to the Commissioners, I enclose your letter to them, to do thereon what they shall think best. To them therefore I take the liberty of referring you for an answer” (copy, DLC: Presidential MSS, General, Letters of the Presidents of the United States). The commissioners replied to GW on 2 August.