To William Thornton
Mount Vernon 14th July 1799
Be so good as to learn from Mr Blagden, and inform me, at what time—and what sum, the next advance must be, that I may be making arrangements therefor.
If nothing happens more than I am aware of at present, I shall be in George Town on the first Monday in next Month (August the 5th) at the annual Meeting of the Pot[oma]c Compy and should be glad to know previously thereto, when, and what the requirement of Mr Blagden will be.1
The generally received opinion is, that my houses in the City are engaged by Mr Francis, and I have no objection to Mr Francis becoming the occupier of them; but the matter is quite loose yet, between us; and ought to be fixed; otherwise the idea of their being engaged, will prevent offers from others; and I may be compelled to accept of such Rent as he shall think proper to offer when their wants are supplied.
Viewing the matter in this light, it is expedient that I should fix on a certain percentage on the cost of this property, which can be ascertained to a fraction, and know, in time whether he will give it as a Rent.
I am not disposed to fix this at an unreasonable rate; on the contrary, I had rather be under, than over a just standard: but I must not lose, because I do not mean to extort. In a word, I wish to know what others, who are building in the vicinity of the Capital (on the principle which has governed me—namely—the accomodation of Congress—) mean to ask as an interest on their expenditures; and if it should fall in your way to make this enquiry I would thank you for the result, as it will enable me to speak decisively to Mr Francis.2 with esteem & regard—I remain Dear Sir Your Most Obedt & Obliged Humble Servant
ALS, DLC: Thornton Papers.
2. For GW’s preliminary negotiations with the Philadelphia tavernkeeper John Francis regarding the future rental of the pair of houses that GW was planning to erect on Capitol Hill in Washington, see Francis to GW, 15 Sept. 1798, and note 1 of that document. After Thornton advised GW on 19 July 1799 about what he should charge for rental of the houses, GW reentered negotiations with Francis on 14 Aug., but when GW spelled out his terms on 25 Aug., Francis chose to let the matter drop. See also Francis to GW, 17 Aug., and GW to John Avery, 25 Sept., and note 3 of that document. Instead of moving to Washington, Francis remained in Philadelphia, and in 1800 converted the Robert Morris house into a hotel. This was where GW had lived as president and where John Adams now resided. Francis ran the place for two years as the Union Hotel (Pa. Mag., description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 138 vols. to date. 1877—. description ends 46:169).