George Washington Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Randolph, Edmund" AND Correspondent="Washington, George"
sorted by: date (descending)

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 7 July 1795

From Edmund Randolph

July 7. 1795.

E. Randolph, with respectful compliments to the President, feeling himself better to-day, has accepted Mr Adet’s proposal of a meeting this morning, which has been deferred by Mr Adet’s indisposition once, his mistake a second time, and E.R.’s disorder a third day1—I shall see him at 9 o’clock.

Unless the President shall contradict it, Colin Williamson’s letter will be sent to the commissioners.2 It can create no additional ill-blood against him; and it can be conveyed in terms, not countenancing his suspicions.

P.S. De Saussure’s letter this moment received may perhaps be answered in substance thus; 1. that tho’ the nature of the duties of the mint, and the practice of the law are not incompatible, the time, due to both, may be so: 2. that as to the time the President will say nothing; expecting, that every officer not paying proper attention to his duty, would retire; 3. that future prospects are out of the question; each man must stand upon the display of his own talents, and take his chance for succeeding in his wishes of Office, according to his fitness, without the most distant obligation on government: and 4. that no man is compelled to continue in office, longer than he chooses. If he accepts, he must act immediately.3

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

2This letter has not been identified. Randolph forwarded it to the commissioners for the District of Columbia with his letter dated 6 July, writing that it would “shew you, what anxiety there is to animadvert on the Commissioners” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

Collen (Collin) Williamson (1727–1802), a mason and builder from Scotland, had supervised the masonry work in the foundations of the Capitol since 28 June 1794. The commissioners and GW apparently became dissatisfied with his work when they discovered that the groundworks for the structure did not have a basement story and that the center foundation remained lain out in a square shape instead of the preparation required for the central dome (see Harris, William Thornton Papers, description begins C. M. Harris, ed. Papers of William Thornton: Volume One, 1781-1802. Charlottesville, Va., 1995. description ends 312). The commissioners dismissed Williamson on 27 April but continued his salary for five weeks. In response to Williamson’s letter of 12 May, the commissioners on 15 May rejected the idea that a contract existed with Williamson and denied his claim that he remained in public service. They wrote again to Williamson on 3 June: “The Ground of your dismission … was not a want of attention to duty … but on Account of certain evidence of inability to carry on large Works, and also on Account of inability to keep the workmen at their labor and Duty.” The board agreed to continue his salary for three months. On 8 July the board’s secretary, Thomas Johnson, Jr., informed Williamson that he must “leave the house on the Presidents Square now in your occupation” by the first of August, since his extended salary ended at that time (all in DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent).

3This letter has not been identified.

Henry William DeSaussure (1763–1839) of South Carolina, who had been appointed to succeed David Rittenhouse as director of the U.S. Mint upon the latter’s leaving office on 30 June, had served as a private in a volunteer corps during the 1780 siege of Charleston. In 1789 he represented that city in the state constitutional convention, and two years later he was elected a member of the South Carolina legislature. DeSaussure experienced a severe attack of rheumatism in 1794 but accepted the appointment as director of the mint, only to resign later this year.

GW signed DeSaussure’s commission on 9 July (see JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 331). Randolph forwarded the document to him in a letter of the same date that included comments based upon those stated in this postscript (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

Index Entries