Adams Papers

William Cranch to John Adams, 5 Mar. 1797

Washington March 5th.1797.


I know not whether I should be justified in congratulating you on the new demand [for your services] now made by your Country; but of this I am certain that all the friends to the peace and happiness of the united States are congratulating <them> each other on that Event.—

You will pardon my writing to you when I declare that I have neither the expectation nor the wish of puting you to the trouble of an Answer—But as this City is under the immediate fostering Care of the President of the united States and is one object among the many which will require his Attention, and as I have some knowledge of it’s affairs & Interests it may possibly be in my power among a number of useless observations, to state some facts or start some Ideas which may be of service.—

The points which have last occupied the Attention of President respecting this City, are, I believe, the completing the Loan authorized by Congress—the Expediency of begining, this year, the public offices for the heads of departments—the necessity of the Commissioners becoming residents within the lines of the City—a trifling dispute between Mr. Walker (an original Proprietor) and the Commissioners—& some charges which he has brought against M r.Scott—a question on the Construction of the Contracts between the Commissrs. & Messrs. Morris & Nicholson—and the completing the Loan made by the State of Maryland in 6 p Cent stocks to the Commissrs.— —Of all these subjects none seems to be of great importance, except the first & last.—

Perhaps you may not be personally acquainted with the Commissrs..—Having had much business to transact with them, I have recd. from all an uniform degres of Politeness.—Mr. Scott, however, appears hasty and overbearing.—Mr. Thornton is also hasty <and> but has not the firmness of Mr. Scott.—He seems to be a little genius at every thing.—his chief merit as a Commissrs. consists in his knowledge in Architecture & drawing.—There is little Respect attach’d either to his person or manners, and as a member of the board he seems sometimes an appendage to Mr. Scott & sometimes to Mr. White.— —I have not had so long an acquaintance with Mr. White as with the other two; but in his manners he is more mild than Mr. Scott, more firm than Mr. Thornton and more respectable than either.— —My object in thus drawing the outlines of the characters of these Gentlemen is not to injure them in your opinion, but to enable you make a just Estimate of their importance.—They are all probably equal to their station, which seems to require rather men of business, than men of Science— —Their duty is to lay out the City into squares & Lots, to divide the building Ground with the original Proprietors of the soil—to erect the Buildings for the accommodation of Government, to protect the rights which the public has acquired under the original deeds of trust—to manage the funds of the City to the best advantage, and generally, as servants of the President, to obey his Instructions.

The progress made in improving this City is as great as could reasonably have been expected, while there was not Capital vested in merchandize and but small encouragement for persons of small fortunes, & not sufficient <for> to tempt large Capitals to remove to it.—The streets & squares have all been surveyed & <laid >[mark’d] out by corner stones—the squares subdivided into Lots, and a great part divided between the Commissrs. & the Proprietors.—One thing still remains to be done, which is to lay out a Water street on the Eastern branch, & to determine [in] what direction the wharves shall be built out, so as not to interfere with each other.—From your knowledge of human nature you will expect to find parties in every political association. We are not destitute of them here.—The influence of Georgetown is endeavouring to get all the improvements at the West side of the City—This Influence is opposed by a strong Party of the Proprietors who are strongly supported by the superior advantages of the Eastern branch. The interest of Mr. Scott & Mr. Thornton is with the first party, because both own real Estate in Georgetown and its vicinity.—The latter however will [probably] prevail, and the City will be built on the Eastern branch.—

You will, Sir, I hope pardon my intruding these observations upon you.—My principle object is writing to you is to inform you that it is the general Expectation here that you will visit this City [....] of the [spring or] summer—and that if you should, [...] you [...] my house, your home. In this request I a [. . .] by Mrs. Cranch.—We have room enough, and shall [....] if we can render your visit agreable.—

I had letters from your sons in Europe dated Decr. 1st.—but presume you had letters by the same Conveyance, as mine came by the way of Philada.

With the most affectionate Respect / I am, Sir, your obliged & obedt. servt.

W. Cranch.

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).

Index Entries