George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Stuart, 6 February 1794

From David Stuart

Hope-Park [Va.] 6th: Feby: 1794

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 20th Ultmo I recieved on my return home from Ge: town, where I have been for near ten days past. As you was informed of the result of the meeting, it is unnecessary to observe, that it was one of the most unpleasant we have had—I hope the discharge of the Ellicotts (rendered unavoidable by their own conduct) will ensure not only peace, but honesty & industry too, to the surveying department in future.1

It gives me much pleasure, that my conduct has met with your approbation: my determination is certainly finally taken, and when I informed you of it, it was my wish to have complyed with the request you signifyed to me in conversation last fall, of suggesting some characters to you, who might fill up the vacancy created by Mr Johnson’s & my own resignation. But I could not at that time do it, to my satisfaction, nor can I now do it entirely so—My place may I think be easily supplied, but I know not where to look, for any one to supply Mr Johnson’s—and here has been my difficulty. With respect to the Proprietors, perhaps my prejudices, may have some influence on my opinion: but it appears to me, that those among them who are best fitted for the office in point of talents, would be improper from the general sentiment entertained of them as to their cunning & design. Perhaps, if they were as free from this imputation as could reasonably be expected from their interests, the jealousy of those whose interests lie in a different quarter would still be troublesome. I think I speak on this head experimentally, from what is constantly suggested with respect to Mr Carroll; and in my opinion without foundation: if he who is interested in a very small degree any where, and certainly as much in Hamburg as Carrollsburg, has not been able to escape censure, how can it be expected from those who are more deeply so, and that in one part only?2 I must therefore think upon the whole, that a proprietor to any extent would not be suitable. The only persons then, that I can think of, are Marsham Waring, & Major Ross of Bladensburg—the first of these, is a respectable sensible Merchant of Ge: town, who has never intermixed with any of the parties, and who has I believe no property in the City; the second you are acquainted with. Mr John Mason & a Mr Lowndes were spoke of, I understand by the People of Ge: town as fit persons—But from the connection of the latter with Mr Stoddert, and his being allso a very young man, and from Mr Mason’s being so deeply interested opposite to Ge: town, I cannot think them so proper as the other two—As you are totally unacquainted I believe with Mr Waring, it may be necessary to say something more respecting him—he has been long an inhabitant of Ge: town, and some of his relations (I believe his brother) possessed large property in the city, but has sold out—he is universally well thought of, as a man of character, good temper and understanding3—Not knowing whether you might be able to fill up our places to your mind; by the first of March, we fixed on the third monday of that month for the next meeting; which will be an important one on account of the election of proper characters as Bank directors—Cashier &c.4—Mr Blodget contrary to our expectations, and many intimations we recieved, will not hesitate to recieve the salary fixed for his Agency; tho’ he was seldom present, and rendered little or no service in that time—We are now quit of him, and I think it unfortunate that we ever had any connection with him in any way.5 I am with the greatest respect Your Affecte: & Obt: Servant

Dd: Stuart.


1Stuart met with fellow D.C. commissioners Thomas Johnson and Daniel Carroll (of Rock Creek, Md.) at Georgetown, D.C., from 24 to 31 January. On the dismissal of chief surveyor Andrew Ellicott in December 1793, see D.C. Commissioners to GW, 23 Dec. 1793, and n.8. For a recent report on their proceedings, including the dismissals of Benjamin and Joseph Ellicott, see D.C. Commissioners to GW, 28 Jan. 1794, and n.2 to that document.

2The towns of Georgetown, Md., and Alexandria, Va., both established ports on the Potomac River, and the relatively undeveloped Maryland towns of Hamburg and Carrollsburg were situated on land that was incorporated into the District of Columbia in 1791. Commissioner Daniel Carroll (of Rock Creek) owned land near the northern portions of the district where Georgetown and Hamburg were located. He was a shareholder in the Potowmack Company and co-owner of one of the Aquia Creek quarries that provided stone for the President’s House and the Capitol. His nephew Daniel Carroll of Duddington and his brother-in-law Notley Young, moreover, had extensive land holdings in the southern portion of the district, near Carrollsburg (William C. di Giacomantonio, “All the President’s Men: George Washington’s Federal City Commissioners,” Washington History 3 [1991], 59–61). For an example of the rivalry between the northern and southern proprietors of land within the district, see George Walker to GW, 8 Oct. 1792. On the acquisition of land within the federal district from its original landowners, see GW to Thomas Jefferson, 2 Jan. 1791, and Agreement of the Proprietors of the Federal District, 30 March 1791.

3Georgetown merchant Marsham Waring (Warring) was one of the founders of the Bank of Columbia, the second bank established within the District of Columbia. GW had already appointed David Ross of Bladensburg, Md., to audit the financial accounts of the D.C. commissioners (GW to the D.C. Commissioners, and GW to Ross and Robert Townsend Hooe, both 9 Sept. 1793). John Mason was an associate with the Georgetown mercantile firm of Fenwick, Mason & Company. On Benjamin Stoddert’s economic interest in the District of Columbia, see William Deakins, Jr., and Benjamin Stoddert to GW, 9 Dec. 1790, and notes. Francis Lowndes (1751–1815), along with his brother Charles (1765–1846), was also a Georgetown merchant and one of the founders of the Bank of Columbia. As of late September 1793, Ross and Francis Lowndes served on a committee to manage the district’s hotel lottery, which had been established by the district’s former superintendent, Samuel Blodget, Jr. (Bartgis’s Maryland Gazette, and Federick-Town Weekly, 25 Sept. 1793). None of the men suggested by Stuart received an appointment to the D.C. Commission. For the individuals who replaced Johnson and Stuart as commissioners, see n.2 of GW to Johnson, 23 January. John Waring sold the Jamaica tract, which included part of Florida Avenue, to a syndicate headed by Philip R. Fendall in 1791 (Scisco, “Site for Federal City,” 146–47).

4The commissioners met from Wednesday, 19 March, through Tuesday, 25 March. The Bank of Columbia received a charter from Maryland under “An ACT to establish a bank in the district of Columbia,” 28 Dec. 1793 (Md. Laws 1793 description begins Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly, Begun and held at the city of Annapolis on Monday the fourth of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three. Annapolis, [1794]. description ends , chap. 30). Samuel Blodget, Jr., became its first president and John Mason its second. The individuals elected to the first board of directors have not been identified. The bank’s charter permitted the D.C. commissioners to purchase 2,000 shares in the bank. They subsequently acquired 1,053 shares, thus ensuring a close connection between the interests of the new Federal City and the bank (Bryan, National Capital description begins Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan. A History of the National Capital: From Its Foundation through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act. 2 vols. New York, 1914–16. description ends , 1:222–23).

5On the dissatisfaction of both GW and the commissioners with Blodget’s performance as D.C. superintendent, see D.C. Commissioners to GW, 23 Dec. 1793, and n.7, and GW to Thomas Johnson, 23 Jan. 1794, and n.4 to that document.

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