George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, 5 September 1793

From the Commissioners for the District of Columbia

Washington 5th Sepr 1793


we have now before us your Letters of the 13th & 29th of last month, the surveyor will be informed of your direction, in consequence of our Letter of the first of august and of the result of our views with him of the two short avenues on the spot which we intend this morning1—we have so good an opinion of the probity and disinterestedness of Capn Conway and Mr David Ross of Bladensburgh, whose christian name we suppose you have mistaken, that we could cheerfully submit to their examination of the Accounts, but suspect Capn Conway’s close attention to his own business, for which he is remarkable and his general disinclination which has been strongly marked, to enter into any publick affairs might totally hinder or very much delay the proposed investigation2—We have no wish for any particular man Mr Hartshorn, Colo. Hooe—Colo. Gilpin or any other Gentleman of Alexandria has not that we hear of been mixed in the business of the City nor is interested[.]3 We have always been of opinion that the donation or Loans from Virginia and Maryland and the other means make but one aggregate all equally liable to be disposed of for the necessary purposes of surveying and other expences of the City, as well as errecting the public buildings4 and have acted under that idea and the accounts are so kept—We propose to shew on this investigation, that all the money which has come to the hands of our treasurer,5 for we have never handled any of it ourselves, hath been expended, except what now remains that it has not been wantonly spent, and the Vouchers will shew we have had no Favourites—These things evinced, we shall rest easy for even if we are mistaken as to the state money being applicable to the expences of surveying and the like, we have only done what any others must have done, borrow of that money to be replaced by the sales or stop the work[.] It would be inconvenient to the Gent. to go into this business at our next meeting, frequent interruptions would prove very disagreeable, we would propose they should be attended by one or more of us, and confine attention to the single object—and thus we believe it might be finished in a few days for which we imagine they ought to receive some, at least as much compensation as the Commissioners for the like time. We are &ca

Th. Johnson

Dd Stuart

Danl Carroll

LB, DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent, 1791–1802.

1The commissioners’ letter of 1 Aug. had conveyed a request by surveyors Benjamin Ellicott and Isaac Briggs to make alterations to the printed plan of the Federal City. GW’s letter of 13 Aug. approved two of the changes but expressed doubts about the third: “to strike out two short Avenues leading from the Intersection of Massachusetts & North Carolina.”

2The D.C. commissioners had suggested an audit of their accounts in their letter to GW of 11–12 March. GW’s letter of 29 Aug. suggested Alexandria merchant Richard Conway and “Major John Ross, of Bladensburg” as auditors.

3GW appointed Robert Townsend Hooe and David Ross to examine the D.C. commissioners’ accounts (GW to the D.C. Commissioners, and GW to Ross and Hooe, both 9 Sept.).

4In 1790 the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland had agreed to advance $120,000 and $72,000, respectively, for the erection of public buildings in the federal district, the sums to be paid in three annual installments (Va. Statutes [Hening] description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 13:125; Md. Laws 1790 description begins Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly, Begun and held at the city of Annapolis on Monday the first of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety. Annapolis, [1791]. description ends , Resolutions).

5The treasurer was William Deakins, Jr.

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