George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Pierre L’Enfant, 28 November 1791

To Pierre L’Enfant

Philadelphia Novr 28th 1791

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 21st instant came duly to hand, as did one of the same date from Mr Carroll of Duddington on the same subject. A Copy of my answer to the latter is enclosed, by which you will perceive I have proposed an accomodation.1 As a similar case cannot happen again (Mr Carrolls house having been begun before the Federal District was fixed upon) no precedent will be established by yielding a little in the present instance; and it will always be found sound policy to conciliate the good-will rather than provoke the enmity of any man, where it can be accomplished without much difficulty, inconvenience or loss. Indeed the more harmoniously this, or any other business is conducted the faster it will progress, & the more satisfactory will it be.2

Should Mr Carroll adopt the first alternative mentioned in my letter to him—and there is no pressing cause for taking the building down this Winter, the materials will be less liable to injury by standing as they are—and less apt to be stolen than if they should be taken down before the period shall arrive for reerection.

As there is a suspension at present of the business which took Mr Ellicots brother to Georgia there will be no occasion for his proceeding thither, until he shall receive further advice from me, or from the Department of War.3 But it is my earnest wish, & desire, that he would give every aid in his power to prepare for a large sale of Lots in the Spring, agreeably to the sentiments which have been communicated to the Commissioners; And it is moreover exceedingly to be wished, that correct Engravings of the City could be had and properly dissiminated (at least) through out the United States before such Sale.4

A great pressure of business at this time, prevents me from adding more than that I am with esteem and regard Dear Sir Your Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, DLC: Digges-L’Enfant-Morgan Papers; ADfS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

For the background to this letter, see Pierre L’Enfant to GW, 21 Nov., editorial note.

1The letter of 21 Nov. from Daniel Carroll of Duddington has not been found. For the enclosure, see GW to Carroll, 28 November.

2In a letter to GW drafted about 22 Dec., which has not been found, L’Enfant reported that the house of Notley Young similarly encroached on a projected street. The house had been completed before the agreement of 30 Mar. was concluded between GW and the proprietors (see Commissioners for the District of Columbia to GW, 8 Jan. 1792).

3Joseph Ellicott had been dispatched to survey one of the lines specified by the Treaty of New York with the Creek Indians, but the work had been suspended after the interference of William Augustus Bowles (see Knox to GW, 14 Nov., n.1).

4The commissioners reported to Thomas Jefferson on 10 Dec. their belief “that it will not be advisable to have a Sale, sooner than the Middle of June” (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 , 22 :388–89). See also GW to Jefferson, 14 Dec., n.1.

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