Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 6 November 1791

To George Washington

Nov. 6. 1791.


I have the honour to inclose you a draught of a letter to Governor Pinkney, and to observe that I suppose it to be proper that there should, on fit occasions, be a direct correspondence between the President of the U.S. and the Governors of the states; and that it will probably be grateful to them to recieve from the President answers to the letters they address to him. The correspondence with them on ordinary business may still be kept up by the Secretary of state in his own name.

I inclose also a letter to Majr. Pinkney with a blank to be filled up when you shall have made up your mind on it.

I have conferred with Mr. M. on the idea of the Commissioners of the federal town proceeding to make private sales of the lots and he thinks it adviseable.—I cannot but repeat that if the surveyors will begin on the river, laying off the lots from Rock creek to the Eastern branch, and go on, a-breast, in that way from the river towards the back part of the town, they may pass the avenue from the President’s house to the Capitol before the Spring, and as soon as they shall have passed it a public sale may take place without injustice to either the Georgetown or Carrolsburg interest. Will not the present afford you a proper occasion of assuring the Commissioners that you leave every thing respecting L’Enfant to them? I have the honor to be with the most sincere respect, Sir, Your most obedt. humble servt,

Th: Jefferson

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); addressed: “The President of the U.S.”; endorsed by Washington: “From Thoms. Jefferson Esqr. 6th. Novr. 1791.—Opinion on the propriety of the President of the U.S. corrisponding with the Governors of the Individual States and on the Sale of Lots in the Federal City.” PrC (DLC). Tr (DNA: RG 59, SDC). FC (DNA: RG 360, DL). Noted in SJPL. Enclosures: (1) draft of George Washington to Charles Pinckney, 6 Nov. 1791. (2) TJ to Thomas Pinckney, 6 Nov. 1791.

TJ’s draught reply to Charles Pinckney’s 18 Aug. and 20 Sep. 1791 letters to Washington dealt primarily with the governor’s request for aid to Saint-Domingue and is printed, with several alterations, at 8 Nov. 1791 in Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, 1931–1944, 39 vols. description ends , xxxi, 412–3. Pinckney’s letters to Washington are quoted in Editorial Note on threat of disunion in the West, 10 Mch. 1791 (Vol. 19: 433–4). Washington addressed the issue raised in Pinckney’s 18 Aug. 1791 letter by enclosing a copy of TJ’s letter to him of 7 Nov. 1791, as TJ had suggested.

Regarding blank to be filled up in the enclosed letter to Thomas Pinckney, see note to preceding letter.

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