George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Gustavus Scott, 6 February 1797

Washington 6th February 1797


Your Letter of the 29th Ulto did not reach the City till late on friday evening, of course, it could not receive an earlier attention—We hope with you that the Spring will be early, and exertions shall not be wanting, on our part, to forward the public buildings—Our own Ideas with respect to the mode of carrying them on, we expressed loosely, in our Letter of 31st Ulto. When we say, "we think it adviseable to lay the foundations of them (the executive buildings) this Season; and when the President’s house is so far advanced as to be covered in and placed in a State of Safety, to push forward the other buildings, as they will be wanted—before the removal of Congress." We had no intention, in the mean time, to slacken our exertions in forwarding the Capitol, and meant to include it under the general expression, the other buildings—The Capitol, this year, as it has been the two preceding Years, would have been the primary object of our attention; but as we know it to be the wish of Some, that all other operations should cease, ’till the capitol is finished, and as your Letter manifests a great solicitude for the completion of that building, we think it important to know whether you entertain the Same Sentiment, as we are about procuring the materials necessary to cover in the President’s house—during the ensuing Summer Our opinion is, that preparing the Capitol for the reception of Congress, and the executive buildings for the reception of the respective Departments, are equally necessary; and if a distinction in point of time, must be made that the executive buildings ought to have the preference of Some Months, because the papers must be on the spot before the removal of Congress, and they cannot be removed in a day; if, indeed, there were a certainty that the private buildings, which, by contract, ought to be erected, temporary accommodations might be procured for the executive Offices—The President’s house is not so necessary—There are houses already built, in which a President may live for a time, but we thought it ought to be covered in, the work upon it might then cease, and Hoban, (who, we presume, it is not intended to discharge) might superintend the executive buildings—We think it our duty thus to state our opinion, and having done so, will chearfully pursue any other mode of proceeding which the executive may direct. We are, &c.,

G. Scott

W. Thornton

A. White

DNA: RG 42--Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent.

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