George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Johnson, 23 December 1793

From Thomas Johnson

Washington 23d Decemr 1793.


We are just about finishing the Business of this Meeting. it has been very important, much influenced by the Considerations hinted in our general Letter and I hope will meet your Approbation1—Funds are now secured, I think, to carry on the public Buildings to a considerable Length under the most disagreeable Events and if our public Affairs should brighten a powerful Influence is secured to do what is right and proper and which ought to have been done in the Outset.

Mr Blodget has involved us in unpleasant Circumstances Doctr Stuart and I cannot quit our Post to our own Satisfaction till we see the present Lottery in a Way of being settled and we had all determined that another should not be offered in the present Temper of the public or at all ’till without a farther Security than mere Honor—I will deal frankly with you, Sir, tho’ I dare say your own Observation renders mine unnecessary Mr Blodget will not be useful in the Affairs of the City he wants Judgment and Steadiness I cannot think of leaving him to a Successor we all wish to part from him and that quietly.2

As soon as the Lottery Business is smoothed, and I hope it will be so by the first of March, I wish to be relieved: my Affairs are pretty extensive and require much of my Attention: I wish too to avail myself of the Moment which I saw and has almost past away to benefit myself by the rise of the City to which a long Friendship for Potomack and every Exertion in my power in it’s favor fairly intitle me. I am sir. with the most perfect Esteem and Respect. Your very affectionate Servant.

Th. Johnson


2Not long after taking his position as superintendent for the District of Columbia in January 1793, Samuel Blodget, Jr., obtained the commissioners’ approval and began to advertise “A Lottery for the Improvement of the Federal City,” offering ownership of a hotel to be built in the District and many lesser cash prizes. The drawing was to begin on 9 Sept., and while the hotel would be delivered when completed, Blodget’s advertisement promised that the other prizes would be paid “in one month after the drawing” (Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 23 Jan. 1793). Initially the drawing was delayed because too many tickets remained unsold, but after a company of “gentlemen” took on all the remaining tickets, the drawing was commenced on 23 Sept. (Gazette of the United States, 14 Sept.). By mid-December, however, few of the highest prizes had been drawn, and it was alleged that “The drawing at present is carried on slowly, in order to enable the company to dispose of their tickets at a liberal advance” (General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 20 Dec.).

In June 1794 Blodget announced that all inquiries should be directed to him or to William Deakins, Jr., “The commissioners never having contemplated any further concern in this business, than in their assent to receive the bonds and approve the names of the managers” (Gazette of the United States and Evening Advertiser [Philadelphia], 7 June 1794). For the proposed second lottery, see Commissioners to GW, this date, and n.7.

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