George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Stuart, 19 October 1791

From David Stuart

Ge. town [Md.] 19th Ocr-[1]79[1]

Dear Sir,

I have just recieved your letter, and have barely time to get the inclosed amount of our sales made out in time1—I have to observe that the general opinion is that the Lots have gone too high—The chief purchasers yesterday, and the day before were from the Eastward—I was happy to find today that they were intermixed with purchasers from Carolina and Norfolk—You will understand that they are all actual sales excepting about four among the lowest. The weather has been much against us—Could we have been on the ground, and exhibited a general plan; I believe it would have aided the sale considerably—We have thought proper as the business seemed to flagg a little today, to discontinue the sale; but with notice, that if any Gentlemen wished to purchase, we should still be ready to recieve their offers.2 I am Dear Sir, with the greatest respect Your Obt Servt

Dd Stuart

P.S. the squares on which sales are made are some distance from the Presidents house.


1Stuart enclosed a list of thirty-five lots (four of which were purchased by the commissioners to prevent them from selling low) and the prices paid for each; he did not name the buyers. Most lots sold for between £75 and £120. The highest price paid for any lot was £201. Stuart reported the sale brought in £3,292 in all (DLC:GW). For further details on the sale, see Commissioners for the District of Columbia to GW, 21 October.

2The first sale of lots in the Federal City had been scheduled for 17–19 Oct., but the commissioners closed the sale early on the third day because of declining public interest. The biggest buyer at the sale was Jacob Welsh, who represented Samuel Blodget and bought five lots (see Welsh to GW, 17 Nov., source note). James Gilchrest of Philadelphia spent over $1,000 on four lots, and Nicholas Kirby of Baltimore bought three lots. Most of the other buyers each purchased a single lot, including Thomas Lee Shippen, Thomas Sim Lee, Annapolis merchant John Davidson, brother of proprietor Samuel Davidson, and Henry Carroll, brother of commissioner Daniel Carroll. Francis Cabot bought one lot on his own account, one in partnership with Notley Young’s son-in-law Peter Casanave, and one for Tobias Lear, which was selected by Pierre L’Enfant, at Lear’s request (L’Enfant to Lear, 19 Oct. 1791, in Kite, L’Enfant and Washington, description begins Elizabeth S. Kite, comp. L’Enfant and Washington, 1791–1792: Published and Unpublished Documents Now Brought Together for the First Time. Baltimore, 1929. description ends 75–78). L’Enfant also bought a choice lot for himself. In all, thirty-one lots were sold to private purchasers. A complete record of the sale, with the names of the purchasers, the lot numbers, and the amounts paid, is in DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Proceedings, 1791–1802.

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