George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Francis, 15 September 1798

From John Francis

City of Washington Sept. 15th 1798


Having been obliged to leave Philadelphia during the continuance of the present calamity, I have travelled to this city; partly with a view of looking round for a situation suitable for my business; to which I might remove by the time the seat of Government shall be fixed here; and having fallen in company with Mr Law, he informed me that you had, very lately written to have two houses begun immediately, which you intend for the accomodation of the public.

I judged it not improbable but that if informed of my intention you might be willing to erect such a building, as would suit for a boarding house, capable of accomodating, about thirty members of Congress.

It is unnecessary, at this time to particularize, but if the proposition meets your approbation, & you will favor me with a line addressed to the post office in this city, or under cover to Mr Law, it shall be duly attended to by Sir Your most obt Hble Sevt1

John Francis
(of the Hotel 4th Street Philaa)

I presume it is unnecessary to remind you, that it is at my house, Mr Adams has lodged these years past.


1On the next day GW addressed a letter to: “Mr John Francis of Philadelphia now in the Federal City. Favored by Alex. White Esq.”: “Sir, Your letter of yesterdays date, was received by me to day.

“It is my intention to build two houses on an elevated lot, not far from the Capital, but not on so large a scale as you contemplate; and I certainly shall complete them in time for Congress: as I am never long in executing a measure I have once resolved on.

“The ground work of my plan may be seen in the hands of Mr White, or Doctr Thornton; from whence you will be enabled to form an opinion yourself, of the number of Boarders they will accomodate; as there will be three flush stories in each building, besides Garret Rooms for Servants. If these buildings would sute you, there is little doubt of thier being ready in time. I am Sir Your very Humble Servant Go: Washington” (ALS, ViMtvL). When it came to fixing terms in the summer of 1799, the two men were unable to reach an agreement. See GW to Francis, 14, 25 Aug. 1799, and Francis to GW, 17 Aug. 1799; see also GW to William Thornton, 14 July 1799, n.2.

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