Thomas Jefferson Papers

XIII. The Proclamation by the President, 30 March 1791

XIII. The Proclamation by the President

By the President of the U. S. of A. a Proclamation

Whereas by a proclamation bearing date the 24th. day of Jan. of this present year, and in pursuance of certain acts of the states of Maryland and Virginia, and of the Congress of the U. S. therein mentioned, certain lines of experiment were directed to be run in the neighborhood of George town in Maryland for the purpose of determining the location of a part of the territory of 10. miles square for the permanent seat of government of the U. S. and a certain part was directed to be located within the said lines of experiment on both sides of the Potomac and above the limit of the Eastern branch prescribed by the said act of Congress:

And Congress by an amendatory act, passed on the 3d. day of this present month of March, have given further authority to the President of the U. S. ‘to make any part of the territory below the said limit and above the mouth of Hunting creek, a part of the said district, so as to include a convenient part of the Eastern branch, and of the lands lying on the lower side thereof, and also the town of Alexandria.’

Now therefore for the purpose of amending and completing the location of the whole of the said territory of ten miles square in conformity with the said amendatory act of Congress, I do hereby declare and make known that the whole of the said territory shall be located and included within the four lines following, that is to say:

Beginning at Jones’s point, being the upper cape of Hunting creek in Virginia, and at an angle, in the outset, of 45. degrees West of the North; and running in a direct line ten miles for the first line: then beginning again at the same Jones’s point, and running another direct line, at a right angle with the first, across the Potomac, ten miles for the second line: then from the terminations of the said first and second lines, running two other direct lines, of ten miles each, the one crossing the Eastern branch aforesaid, and the other the Potomac, and meeting each other in a point.

And I do accordingly direct the Commissioners named under the authority of the said first mentioned act of Congress to proceed forthwith to have the said four lines run, and by proper metes and bounds defined and limited, and thereof to make due report under their hands and seals: and the territory so to be located, defined and limited, shall be the whole territory accepted by the said acts of Congress as the district for the permanent seat of the government of the U. S.

<And Whereas the said first mentioned act of Congress did further enact that the said Commissioners should, under the direction of the President of the U. S. provide suitable buildings for the accomodation of Congress and of the President and for the public offices of the government of the United States; I do hereby further declare and make known, that [the highest summit of lands in the town heretofore called Hamburg, within the said territory, with a convenient extent of grounds circumjacent, shall be appropriated for a Capitol1 for the accomodation of Congress, and such other lands between George town and the stream heretofore called the Tyber, as shall on due examination be found convenient and sufficient, shall be appropriated for the accomodation of the President of the United States for the time being, and for the public offices of the government of the United States.]2 And I do hereby direct the said Commissioners1 accordingly.>3

In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the U. S. to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand. Done at Georgetown aforesaid the 30th. day of March, in the year of our Lord 1791, and of the Independence of the U. S. the fifteenth.

MS (DNA: RG 59, MLR); entirely in TJ’s hand except as indicated in notes below; endorsed by Lear: “Proclamation March 30th. 1791”; not signed. PrC (DLC). Tr (DLC: Washington Papers).

TJ received Washington’s revised text of the proclamation on the night of the 5th of April, too late to be inserted in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser and Bache’s General Advertiser of the next morning, both of which were already filled. But he did succeed in getting it inserted in “Brown’s evening paper of the 6th,” the Federal Gazette (TJ to Washington, 10 Apr. 1791). From that printing the text of the proclamation as issued over Washington’s name and TJ’s attestation—none of the manuscript texts is signed—was reprinted in various newspapers, including the New-York Journal, 13 Apr. 1791, and Davis’ Virginia Gazette, 20 Apr. 1791. Although officially published as of 30 Mch. 1791, the proclamation was drafted by TJ on the morning of 21 Mch. 1791 (see Editorial Note).

1This word capitalized by Lear.

2Brackets in MS, preceded by an asterisk keyed to this note at foot of text by TJ: “The part within [ ] being conjectural, will be to be rendered conformable to the ground when more accurately examined.” In MS Lear drew lines through this paragraph and also that indicated in the following note.

3This paragraph in angle brackets (supplied) has lines drawn through it by Lear and was deleted from the text of proclamation as issued (for explanation of this deletion, see Editorial Note and Washington to TJ, 31 March 1791).

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