George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Johnson, 12 February 1795

From Thomas Johnson

George Town [D.C.] 12th [February]1 1795.


Whilst I was here the latter End of Decr and Beginning of January claiming and endeavering to perfect my Title to the Square adjoining the Bridge to the Left as you go into the City2 Mr Scott several Times spoke to me to consent that a Street should pass thro’ it by the Water; the Street 30 feet wide, the smallest Breadth proposed, would take of the Square what cost me about 150£ for that Reason and others I refused to consent and thought the Idea was waved ’till my coming down now on other Business when I found that it is extended and persisted in and the Commissioners have gratified me with a Copy of the Paragraph of their Letter to you of the 29th of January on this Subject to which I understand they have yet no Answer3—I have to request, as I told them I should, that you will not determine in favor of this Alteration without having the Circumstances & Consequences very fully before you and indeed I believe they can be fully collected only on the Spot. I am sir with great Respect & Truth Your most obedt Servant

Th. Johnson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1Johnson wrote “January”; however, GW’s docket on the letter reads: “From Thomas Johnson Esqr. 12th Jany 1795. But from circumstans ought to have been 12th Feby 1795.”

2Johnson wrote the D.C. commissioners on this date to inquire whether his claim to square number 4 on Rock Creek had been admitted and announce his intention to prosecute the claim if denied (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Received, 1791–1802). On 18 Feb. the commissioners entered into their proceedings a formal statement of their discussions with Johnson in early January about his claim. Johnson’s claim derived from James Greenleaf’s contract with the commissioners, and the commissioners, contending that Greenleaf was excluded from the selection of water lots, declined to acknowledge his claim. The matter eventually came to a lawsuit (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Proceedings, 1791–1802).

3GW forwarded this letter to Edmund Randolph, who returned it on 24 Feb., reporting “No letter from the commissioners, of the date mentioned by Mr Johnson, appears to have been received by the department of state. It is said to have been addressed to the President” (AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State). Johnson was referring to the commissioners’ letter to GW of 4 Feb., which was recorded in their letter book under the date of 29 January.

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