Observations on the Potomac River
[c.3 November 1793]
Observations on the River Potomack—the Country about it—and the City of Washington.
The River Potomack forms a junction with the Bay of Chesapeak 150 miles from the Sea. From thence to the head of tide-Water is about 160 miles.
“This River is 7½ miles wide at its mouth; 4½ at Nomony Bay; 3 at Aquia; 1½ at Hollowing-Point; 1¼ at Alexandria—and the same from thence to the City of Washington, which is within 3 miles of the head of tide Water. It’s soundings are 7 fathoms at the mouth; 5 at St Georges Island; 4½ at Lower Matchodic; 3 at Swan’s Point—and the same from thence to the City.” (Mr Jeffersons Notes on Virginia)1
From the Capes of the Chesapeak to the City of Washington is upwards of 300 miles; but the navigation is easy and perfectly safe. [“]A vessel of 1200 Hogsheads of Tobacco has loaded at and sailed from Alexandria, and one of 700 at George Town—which is above the City.[“] [(]Report of Committee[)]
At the City the water rises four feet in a common tide.
From the City of Washington to Cumberland, a flourishing town at the head of the River, is about 230 miles as the River runs.
Early in life General Washington contemplated the opening of this River from tide water to its source, so as to render it navigable for such vessels as were suitable for carrying the produce of the Country to the shipping ports below. His public employments in the part of the Country through which the Potomack and its branches run, had given him a more complete knowledge of this River than almost any other man possessed at that time and his mind was strongly impressed with its future importance. But the period for undertaking a work of such magnitude had not yet arrived. The Country was then but sparsely inhabited; Canals & Locks but little understood, especially in America and but few men of property were willing to embark in an undertaking, the cost of which they could not clearly calculate, and the profits of which were to many doubtful. General Washington however kept the object steadily in view, waiting until time & circumstances should enable him to bring it forward with a prospect of success. The war with Great Britain took place about the time when the importance of this object began to be understood and a willingness to embark in it began to appear among men of property. Until the close of that war nothing, however, could be attempted in the business. But no sooner had a happy termination of it enabled General Washington to retire from his high public station, than he resumed this object which had so long before occupied his mind. He found Gentlemen of the first property and respectability in the neighbourhood of the Potomack, both in Virginia & Maryland, ready to engage in the enterprize. In the year 1784 a Company was formed for the purpose of removing the obstructions and opening the navigation of the River from its source down to Tide-Water—and an act of incorporation passed by the Assemblies of Virginia & Maryland, authorizing the Company to take the necessary measures for carrying into effect the objects for which they were corporated—and granting to them forever the tolls which may arise therefrom; which tolls are fixed by the same law that empowers the Company to undertake the business. The sum agreed upon to complete the navigation was fifty thousand pounds sterling, divided into five hundred shares of one hundred pounds each, to be paid by such instalments and at such times as the Directors of the Company Shd find necessary for the prosecution of the work. Ten years were allowed to the Company to finish the business.2
The Company have prosecuted their work with great success; And, what is not common in undertakings of this nature, they will complete it for something less than the sum subscribed. The rate of toll being fixed, and knowing with some accuracy the quantity of produce that is now brought by land from those parts of the Country which will of course throw the same upon the River, they have a certainty of receiving a handsome per Centage on their Capital in the first opening of the River (even without calculating upon the articles which will be sent up the River)—and the increase will be almost incredible—Those who know the Circumstances of the Country best, and some who are not among the most sanguine with respect to the profits of this undertaking, have no doubt of the Capital’s producing fifty per Cent annually in less than ten years from the time of the Tolls commencing.
The principal work in completing the above mentioned navigation is at the Great Falls, 14 miles above the City of Washington—at the Little Falls 4 miles above said City, and in clearing the River between these two falls. At the Great Falls the water falls 72 feet in one mile and an half—and at the Little Falls 36 feet 8 inches in about two miles. At the former there will be 6 and at the latter 3 locks. The Locks at the Little Falls will be finished this season and fit for use; those at the Great Falls are in forwardness—and with the clearing the bed of the River between the two Falls, will be completed next year. This will finish the navigation of the main River from Cumberland down to tide water, and enable the Company to receive the reward of their expense & labour. Bateaux carrying from 150 to 200 barrels of flour already pass from Cumberland to the Great Falls—and many thousand barrels of flour have actually been brought in boats to the latter place during the present year.
Besides the main River of the Potomack, its numerous & extensive branches offer the prospect of transporting to the main River, and from thence to the Shipping ports, an immense quantity of produce.
The following are the principal Streams which empty into the Potomack, above tide water, and the distances to which they are navigable in their natural state, from their conflux with the Potomack—Patterson’s Creek, which falls into the River ten miles below Cumberland, is navigable twenty miles above its mouth; The South Branch, seventeen miles below Cumberland, navigable one hundred miles; Cape Capeon, sixty miles below, is navigable twenty miles; Connocochegue, ninety miles below, is navigable twenty four miles; Opecan, one hundred & twenty five miles below, is navigable twenty five miles from its mouth, and within a few miles of Winchester, which, after Lancaster, is the largest inland town in the United States; The Shannandoah, one hundred & thirty miles below, runs into the Country at right angles from the Potomack near two hundred miles—and the navigation of it for one hundred & fifty miles of that distance is but little interrupted: The chief obstru[c]tion is where it enters the Potomack, and so trifling is that compared with the great advantages of this noble branch, that its removal, and clearing other parts, will not cost more than twenty five thousand dollars. The Potomack Company have already made a beginning on this work. The Monocosy one hundred & fifty miles below Cumberland, is navigable thirty miles above its mouth. This branch is within two miles of Frederick Town in Maryland, one of the largest inland towns in the United States.3
These several Streams as well as the main River, pass through a Country not exceded in fertility of soil and salubrity of air by any in America, if by any in the World. And no part of America can boast of being more healthy than the Potomack in general.4
The number of inhabitants living in the several counties of Virginia & Maryland which touch upon the Potomack or its Branches, amount to upwards of three hundred thousand, according to the Census taken by order of the General Government in 1791. They are all, or so nearly so that not one fiftieth part can be excepted, Cultivators of the Soil. It is therefore easy to conceive that they must send an immense quantity of Produce to the Shipping ports on the River. But still so extensive is the Country through which the Potomack and its branches pass, that it is yet but thinly settled. Its inhabitants are however very rapidly increasing as well by imigration as by the natural course of population.
The Productions of the Country consist of Wheat—Indian Corn or maize, Rye—Oats—Tobacco—Potatoes, Beans—Peas—and in short of every article that the best farming lands are capable of producing. Hemp & Flax are cultivated here and yield large quantities. The Land is rich in pasturage—most parts of it admirably adapted to sheep—and a heavy growth of Timber fit for ship building, as well as for every other purpose, is found here. There is near Cumberland, and within 10 or 12 miles of the River, a tract of country that abounds with very large white pine trees suitable for masts of Ships: some of these trees are from 5 to 6 feet diameter and run up one hundred feet without a limb.
Slate, Marble, Freestone of the red & gray portland kind and Iron Ore are found in abundance on the Banks of the River. Several large Iron works are already established which furnish Bar Iron & Castings of an excellent quality. Limestone abounds everywhere. Of coal too there is an inexhaustible quantity near Cumberland laying on the Banks of the River—and in other parts at no great distance from it; from whence in future not only all the towns and manufactories on the River may be supplied; but it will become a capital article of exportation.
There is in the River a great plenty of very fine fish. Large quantities of shad and Herrings are annually taken here and exported to the West Indies.
From the preceding observations it is easy to conceive that the Commerce of this River cannot be inconsiderable: And a single view of the Situation upon which the City of Washington is laid out, points out that spot as the most eligible on the River for a large commercial town.
The City of Washington lays in Latitude 38_ 53’ it is situate on the East side of the Potomack about 4 miles from the head of tide water, and extends down the River nearly four miles, to an angle which is formed by the junction of the Eastern Branch with the Potomack; it then runs along the Eastern Branch for more than two miles. Its general width is about one mile and three qua⟨rters.⟩
The Eastern Branch affords one of the finest harbours for Ships imaginable. It is more than a mile wide at its mouth, and holds nearly the same width for almost the whole distance to which the City extends upon it; it then narrows gradually to its head, which is about ten miles from its conflux with the Potomack. The Channel of this Branch lays on the side next the City; it has in all parts of it, as far as the City extends, from 20 to 35 feet of Water. Above the City it is only navigable for small craft. The Channel is generally so near the City that a wharf extended 40 or 50 feet from the Bank will have water enough for the largest Ships to come & discharge or receive their Cargoes. The land on each side of the Branch is sufficiently high to secure shipping from any wind that blows. And one very important advantage which this Branch has, as a harbour, over all extensive Rivers which freeze and are liable to be broken up suddenly by freshes or land floods, is, that, on account of the short distance to which it extends into the land, no rapidity of current is ever occasioned by freshes; and while Vessels in the main River, if they should happen to be caught there by the ice, are liable to receive great injury, and are sometimes totally lost by it, those in the Branch lay in perfect security: it has also the advantage of being open some days earlier in the spring and later in the winter than the main River at George Town and the upper parts of the City. The River generally shuts up about Christmas and is open again the latter part of february or very early in March. Sometimes there are only short interruptions by ice through the winter—and sometimes it happens that it is not closed so as to prevent the navigation during the winter. This was the case last winter.
The main Channel of the Potomack opposite the City, running near the Virginia Shore, that part of the City which lays on the Potomack has only a small Channel carrying from 8 to 12 feet of water, until you come within about _ of a mile of George Town, when the Channel turning between Mason’s Island and the City, gives a depth of water from 20 to 30 feet close in with the shore of the City. This renders the water lots within that small space very valuable; for any ships that come up the River may here lay within twenty yards of the City; and the Bateaux which bring the produce of the Country down the River may at all times come here deep loaded as the⟨y⟩ come down, whereas they could not go thus loaded down to the Eastern Branch, unless in very smooth weather.
Before a particular description of the Spot &ca on which the City of Washington is laid out, be given, it may not be improper to note the constitutional and legal ground upon which the location of the City is made.
The Constitution of the United States grants to Congress the power “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the Government of the United States.” 5
In conformity with this Constitutional power the following Act was passed on the 16th of July 1790—
“An Act for establishing the temporary and permanent Seat of the Government of the United States.
Section 1st Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That a district of Territory, not exceeding ten miles square, to be located as hereafter directed in the River Potomack, at some place between the mouths of the Eastern Branch and Connogochegue, be, and the same is hereby accepted for the permanent Seat of the Government of the United States: Provided nevertheless, that the operation of the laws of the State within such district shall not be affected by this acceptance, until the time fixed for the removal of the government thereto, and until Congress shall otherwise by law provide.
Sect. 2d And be it further enacted, that the President of the United States be authorized to appoint, and by supplying vacancies happening from refusal to act or other causes, to keep in appointment as long as may be necessary, three Commissioners, who, or any two of whom, shall, under the direction of the President, survey, and by proper metes and bounds define and limit a district of Territory, under the limitations abovementioned; and the district so defined, limited & located, shall be deemed the district accepted by this Act for the permanent Seat of the Government of the United States.
Sect. 3d And be it enacted, That the said Commissioners or any two of them, shall have power to purchase or accept such quantity of land on the eastern side of the said River, within the said District, as the President shall deem proper for the use of the United States; and according to such plans as the President shall approve, the said Commissioners or any two of them, shall prior to the first monday in December, in the year one thousand eight hundred, provide suitable buildings for the accommodation of Congress, and of the President, and for the public Offices of the Government of the United States.
Sect. 4. And be it enacted, That for defraying the expense of such purchases and buildings, the President of the United States be authorized and requested to accept grants of money.
Sect. 5. And be it enacted, That prior to the first Monday in December next, all offices attached to the seat of the Government of the United States, shall be removed to, and until the said first monday in December one thousand eight hundred, shall remain at the City of Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania, at which place the session of Congress next ensuing the present shall be held.
Sect. 6. And be it enacted, That on the said first Monday in December in the year one thousand eight hundred, the seat of the Government of the United States, shall, by virtue of this Act, be transferred to the District and place aforesaid. And all Offices attached to the seat of Government, shall accordingly be removed thereto by their respective holders, and shall, after the said day, cease to be exercised elsewhere; and that the necessary expense of such removal shall be defrayed out of the duties on imposts & tonnage, of which a sufficient sum is hereby appropriated.” 6
Upon examining the ground within the above described limits, and taking into consideration all circumstances, the President fixed upon the spot upon which the City has been since laid out, as the most proper for erecting the public buildings which are authorized to be prepared by the foregoing Act.
But the Eastern Branch being made one of the boundaries within which the District of ten miles square was to be laid out, an amendment of the preceding act was thought necessary, so as to include a convenient part of the said Branch and the land of the South Eastern side of it within the said District of ten miles square. A formal Act for that purpose was accordingly passed on the third day of March 1791. By this means the Commissioners were enabled so to lay off the District of ten miles square, that the Centre thereof is made the centre of the spot on which the City is laid out as nearly as the nature & form of the ground of the City will permit. The District of ten Miles square thereby includes the River Potomack for 5 miles above & the like distance below the middle of the City—and extends into the State of Virginia about three miles over the River.7
The whole Area of the City consists of upwards of four thousand Acres. The ground is on an average about forty feet above the water of the River. Altho’ the whole taken together appears to be nearly a level spot, yet it is found to consist of what may be called wavy land—and is sufficiently uneven to give many very extensive and beautiful views from various parts of it, as well as to effectually answer every purpose of cleansing and draining the City.
Two Creeks enter the City, one from the Main River, the other from the Eastern Branch, and take such directions as to be made to communicate with each other by a short Canal. By this means a water transportation for heavy Articles is opened into the heart of the City.
No place has greater advantage of water either for the supply of the City or for cleansing the streets than this ground. The most obvious source is from the head waters of a Creek which seperates the City from George Town. This Creek takes its rise in ground higher than the City, and can readily be conveyed to every part of it. But the grand object for this purpose which has been contemplated by those best acquainted with the Country hereabouts and the circumstances attending it, and which has been examined with an eye to this purpose by good Judges, is the Potomack. The water of this River above the Great Falls, 14 miles from the City, is 108 feet higher than the tide water. A small Branch, called Watt’s Branch, just above the falls, goes in a direction towards the City. From this Branch to the City a Canal may be made (and the ground admits of it very well) into which the River, or any part of it, may be turned and carried through the City. By this means the Water may not only be carried over the highest ground in the City; but if necessary over the tops of the Houses. This operation appears so far from being chimerical, that it is pronounced by good judges, who have examined the ground through & over which it must pass, that it might be effected for perhaps less money than it has and will cost the Potomack Company to make the River Navigable at the Great & Little Falls—and to clear the bed of the River between them.
Should this be effected the produce of the Country will naturally be brought through it, and the situation afforded thereby for Mills and Manufactories of every kind that require the aid of Water, will be most excellent, and commensurate with any object.
The public buildings for the accommodation of the Congress and the President of the United States are begun—and progress with much spirit. They are on a scale equal to the magnitude of the objects for which they are preparing—and will, agreeably to the plans which have been adopted, be executed in a style of architecture chaste—magnificent & beautiful. They will be built with beautiful white Stone which is pronounced certainly equal if not superior to the best portland Stone, by persons who have been long experienced in working the first quality of the Portland Stone. The quantity of this Stone is fully equal to any demand that can arise for it. That used for the public buildings is from an Island about 20 miles 8 below the City, which has been purchased by the Commissioners, and from which, and a tract of land laying on the River in the neighbourhood of it (the right of getting stone from which for 20 years has also been purchased by the commissioners) it is supposed that enough of this Stone may be obtained to answer every demand, however great.
Besides the buildings for the accomodation of the Government of the United States, a very superb Hotel is erecting, the expense of which is defrayed by a lottery the Hotel being the highest prize. This building, with all its accommodations and dependencies, will perhaps be equal to any one of the kind in Europe.
The Original proprietors of the land on which the City is laid out, in consideration of the great benefits which they expected to derive from the location of the City, conveyed, in trust, to the Commissioners, for the use of the public & for the purposes of establishing the City, the whole of their respective lands which are included within the lines of the City, upon condition, that, after retaining for the Public any number of Squares that the President may think proper for public improvements or other public uses, the lots shall be fairly and equally divided between the public and the respective proprietors.
By this means the public had possession of upwards of ten thousand lots from which funds are to be raised to defray the expense of the public buildings (in addition to [ ]9 dollars given by the States of Virginia and Maryland for that purpose)—and to effect such other things as it may be incumbent on the public to do in the City—Between three & four thousand lots have been already disposed of by the Commissioners, and the average price at their public sales has exceded two hundred & forty dollars per lot. The price of lots has lately risen very much—and a great increase is still expected as the object comes to be more investigated & better known.
After furnishing very ample funds for the accomplishment of every object in the City on the part of the public, a large surplus of lots will remain the property of the City, which hereafter may, and undoubtedly will be so applied as to defray the annual expenses incident to the City—and the Citizens and their property thereby be free from a heavy tax which is unavoidable in other large Cities.
Among the many advantages which will be derived to this City, over almost all other large Cities, from the Circumstance of its being originally designed for the Capital of a great Nation—may be ranked as the foremost, the width of the Streets—(none of which are less than ninety feet, & from that to one hundred & sixty) and the attention which will be paid to leveling or regulating the Streets, upon a general principle, in the first instance, in such a manner as to avoid any future inconvenience to such buildings as may be erected in the early establishment of the City—and to give that declivity to them in the several parts of the City as will readily and effectually carry all filth into the common Sewers—These circumstances are of the highest importance as they affect the health and the lives of the inhabitants.
Besides the advantages which the City of Washington will have from its being the Seat of the Government of the United States—from its being within a few miles of the Centre of the Territory of the United States from North to South, and nearly the Centre of population—and from the immediate commerce of the Potomack—it will receive an immense benefit from its intercourse with the Country west of the Allegany Mountains through the River Potomack, which offers itself as the most natural and the nearest Channel of Commercial intercourse with that very extensive and rich Country.
At present the land carriage between the navigable Waters of the Monongahelia (a fork of the Ohio) and the navigable Waters of the Potomack is less than forty miles, and a good waggon Road is open between the two waters. Men of judgement on the subject of inland navigation have examined the ground between the highest branches of the Potomack and those of the Ohio, and have been decidedly of opinion that the land carriage between the two places, where boats may come to each, can be reduced to fifteen miles, and they have found nothing to convince them but that these waters may hereafter be made to communicate with each other.
The Settlers on the Ohio & Mississippi will of course carry their heavy produce to a market down those Rivers; but their returns will be most natural through the Potomack; for they cannot ascend the Western Waters without great expense and much loss of time, the current there being so rapid that a sharp boat with six oars can scarcely ascend fifteen miles per day.
The fur and peltry trade of the great Lakes may be brought to the City of Washington, through the Channel of the Potomack, four hundred miles nearer than to any other shipping port to which it has hitherto been carried.
Mr Jefferson, in his notes on the State of Virginia, mentions this subject in the following words,
“The Potomack offers itself under the following circumstances for the trade of the Lakes and the Waters Westward of Lake Erie. When it shall have entered that Lake it must coast along its southern shore on account of the number and excellence of its harbours; the Northern tho’ shortest having few harbours and those unsafe. Having reached Cayahoga, to proceed on to New York it will have eight hundred and twenty five miles and five portages; whereas it is but four hundred and twenty five miles to Alexandria its emporium on the Potomack, if it turns into the Cayahoga and passes through that, Big Beaver, Ohio, Yahogany (or Monongahelia & Cheat) and the Potomack, and there are but two portages; the first of which from Cayahoga to Big Beaver may be removed by uniting the sources of these waters which are Lakes in the nighbourhood of each other and in a Champain Country: The others, from the waters of the Ohio to the Potomack, will be from fifteen to forty miles, according to the trouble which shall be taken to approach the two navigations. For the trade ⟨of⟩ the Ohio, or that which shall come into it from its own waters or from the Mississippi, it is nearer through the Potomack to Alexandria than to New York by five hundred & eighty miles, and is interrupted by one portage only. There is another circumstance of difference. The lakes themselves never freeze; but the communications between them freeze; and the Hudson’s River itself is shut up by ice three months in the year; whereas the Channel to the Chesapeak leads directly to a warm climate, the southern parts of it very rarely freeze at all, and whenever the Northern do, it is so near the sources of the Rivers, that the frequent floods to which they are liable, break the ice up immediately, so that vessels may pass through the winter subject only to accidental and short delays.” 10
In addition to the foregoing remarks it may be only necessary to say, that there is not a River in America capable of being rendered more secure from an attack by water than the Potomack. Its banks are every where high and bold, with the Channel often not more than two hundred yards from the Shore. Diggs’ point, about ten miles below the City of Washington, is remarkably well calculated for a Battery; as all vessels coming up the River must present their bows to that point for the distance of three quarters of a mile;11 and after passing, their sterns are equally exposed for about the same distance; the middle of the Channel there is not more than two hundred yards from the point.
It may not be amiss to subjoin the following extracts from the Laws of Maryland, and the terms and conditions for regulating the materials and manner of the buildings and inprovements on the Lots in the City of Washington.
Extract from the Act of the Assembly of Maryland, entitled “An Act for opening and extending the navigation of the River Potomack,” in which the Shares are made real Estate.
“Be it enacted, That foreigners shall be and are hereby enabled to subscribe for and hold Shares in the Potomack Company.” 12
Extract from an Act of the General Assembly of Maryland, entitled “An Act concerning the Territory of Columbia, and the City of Washington.
Be it enacted, That any foreigner may, by deed or will, hereafter to be made, take and hold lands within that part of the said Territory which lies within this State, in the same manner as if he was a Citizen of this State, and the same lands may be conveyed by him and transmitted to, and be inherited by his heirs or relations, as if he and they were Citizens of this State Provided, That no foreigner shall, in virtue hereof, be entitled to any further or other privilege of a Citizen.” 13
“Terms and Conditions declared by the President of the United States, for regulating the materials and manner of the Buildings and Improvements on the lots in the City of Washington.
1st That the outer and party walls of all houses within the said City shall be built of Brick or Stone.
2d That all buildings on the streets shall be parallel thereto, and may be advanced to the line of the Street, or withdrawn therefrom, at the pleasure of the improver: But where any such Building is about to be erected, neither the foundation or party-wall shall be begun without first applying to the person or persons appointed by the Commissioners to superintend the buildings within the City, who will ascertain the lines of the walls to correspond with these regulations.
3d The wall of no house to be higher than forty feet to the Roof in any part of the city; nor shall any be lower than thirty five feet on any of the Avenues.
4th That the person or persons appointed by the Commissioners to superintend the Buildings may enter on the land of any person to set out the foundation and regulate the Walls to be built between party and party, as to the breadth and thickness thereof: Which foundation shall be laid equally on the lands of the persons between whom such party-walls are to be built, and shall be of the breadth and thickness determined by such person proper: and the first builder shall be reimbursed one moity of the charge of such party-wall, or so much thereof as the next builder shall have occasion to make use of, before such next Builder shall anyways use or break into the Wall—The charge or value thereof to be set by the person or persons so appointed by the Commissioners.
5th As temporary conveniences will be proper for lodging workmen and securing materials for building, it is understood that such may be erected with the approbation of the Commissioners: But they may be removed or discontinued by the special order of the Commissioners.
6th The way into the Squares being designed in a special manner for the common use & convenience of the occupiers of the respective squares. The property in the same is reserved to the public, so that there may be an immediate interference on any abuse of the use thereof by any individual, to the nuisance or obstruction of others. The proprietors of the lots adjoining the entrance into the Squares, on arching over the entrance and fixing gates in the manner the Commissioners shall approve, shall be intitled to divide the space over the arching and build it up with the range of that line of the square.
7th No vaults shall be permitted under the streets, nor any encroachment on the footway above by steps, stoops, porches, cellar doors, Windows, ditches or leaning Walls; nor shall there be any projection over the Street, other than the eves of the Houses, without the consent of the Commissioners.
8th These regulations are the terms & conditions under and upon which conveyances are to be made, According to the deeds in trust of the lands within the City.”14
AD, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DLC:GW. This document, with a few mostly minor alterations, was printed as Observations on the River Potomack, the Country Adjacent, and the City of Washington (New York, 1793). The differences that affect content are indicated in notes below.
1. See Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia, 1788), 5. Lear’s citations for this paragraph and the next paragraph are in the left margin of the document.
2. For a summary of GW’s involvement with the Potowmack Company, see GW to Benjamin Harrison, 10 Oct. 1784, editorial note. For the act, passed by the Maryland legislature on 28 Dec. 1784 and by the Virginia legislature on 4 Jan. 1785, see GW and Horatio Gates to the Virginia Legislature, 28 Dec. 1784, enclosure II.
3. In the printed version, this paragraph is footnoted with the following information: “Report of the Committee appointed by the Merchants of George-Town and Alexandria, which, being founded on the actual observations made by order of the Directors of the Potomack Company, may be deemed authentic” (p. 10).
4. In the printed version, the preceding sentence is replaced with a similar claim: “and few parts of America can boast of being equally healthy with the banks of this river, and the adjacent country” (p. 10).
5. Lear is quoting from Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution.
6. See Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:130.
7. For this act, see Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:214–15.
8. This is “40 miles” in the printed version (p. 20).
9. This blank is filled in the printed version as “192,000 dollars,” of which $120,000 came from Virginia and $72,000 from Maryland (p. 21).
10. For this text, see Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia, 1788), 14–15.
11. In the printed text this distance is given as “three miles” (p. 26). Digges Point is the site of what is now Fort Washington National Park, in Prince Georges County, Md., across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, north of where Piscataway Creek enters the river.
12. This act was passed 21 Dec. 1790 (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, . description ends , ch. 35, sec. 4).
13. This act was passed 19 Dec. 1791 (Md. Laws 1791 description begins Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly, Begun and held at the city of Annapolis on Monday the seventh of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one. Annapolis, . description ends , ch. 45, sec. 6).