Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin H. Latrobe, 6 March 1803

To Benjamin H. Latrobe

Washington Mar. 6. 1803.

Dear Sir

The letter in which this is inclosed being a public one, and to be produced whenever necessary as a voucher, I have thought it would be useful to add a word in one of a private & friendly nature. from the sum of 50,000 D. we shall take between 5, & 10,000. for covering the North wing of the Capitol & the President’s house. the residue of 40. to 45,000. D. will be employed in building the South wing as far as it will go. I think it will raise the external walls to the uppermost window-sills, being those of the entresols; and I have no doubt Congress at their next session will give another 50,000. D. which will compleat that wing inside & out in the year 1804. before that period the repairs of their frigates will become so threatening that I have no doubt they will come into the proposition of the dry dock to rescue themselves from heavier calls. I mention these things to shew you the probability of a pretty steady employment of a person of your character here, tho’ the present job has the appearance of being for the present season only, say of 8. or 9. months; and that your being in possession of the post will put all other competitors out of the question. should you think proper to undertake it, if you come here on a flying trip as suggested in my other letter, you can advise with mr Monroe, who will set into motion whatever you may desire; and if you can be here finally the first week in April, you will then find me here, & every thing may be put under full sail for the season. Accept my best wishes & respects.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. I think a great quantity of sheet iron will be wanting.

RC (MdHi). PrC (DLC); endorsed by TJ in ink on verso. Enclosed in TJ’s letter of the same day to Latrobe.

Congressional negotiations over the funding of the public buildings were based upon an estimate of $40,000 for construction of the Capitol’s south wing, but testimony characterizing the roofs of the north wing and President’s House as “so leaky as to threaten both edifices with ruin” encouraged the appropriation of an additonal $10,000. Having decided to reroof Monticello with sheet iron, TJ seems to have also urged its adoption for the public buildings (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States…Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled…by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 12:608; Seale, The President’s House description begins William Seale, The President’s House, Washington, D.C., 1986, 2 vols. description ends , 1:115–7; Latrobe, Correspondence description begins John C. Van Horne and Lee W. Formwalt, eds., The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, New Haven, 1984–88, 3 vols. description ends , 1:325; TJ to James Dinsmore, 3 Jan.).

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