Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 15 February 1792

From George Washington

Wednesday 15th. Feby. 1792

Dear Sir

Before I give any decided opinion upon the letter you have written to Majr. L’Enfont, or on the alterations proposed for the engraved plan, I wish to converse with you on several matters which relate to this business.—This may be, if nothing on your part renders it inconvenient, immediately after 8 Oclock to morrow, at wch. hour I breakfast, and at which if agreeable to yourself I should be glad to see you.

In the meanwhile, I send for your perusal an address from Mr. Welsh, which, (though dated yesterday) is but just received.—You will recollect the communications of Mr. Walker on Saturday afternoon.—From these, those of Sunday differed but little.—But as he said Major L’Enfont had declin’d committing, or suffering to be committed to writing any ideas of his, forasmuch as he had given them to me before in a letter, I have looked these over, and send the only one I can find in which he has attempted to draw a line of demarkation between the Commissioners and himself.—I also send you the general ideas of another person, principally on the subject of a loan, that you may, if leisure and inclination will permit give the whole a perusal before I see you.—Yours sincerely &c.

Go: Washington

PS. If Mr. Madison can make it convenient to come with you I should be glad to see him also.—In that case, it might be well to Give him a previous perusal of the enclosed papers.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 16 Feb. 1792; recorded in SJPL.

The letter of TJ to L’Enfant was undoubtedly an early draft of that of 22 Feb. 1792. L’Enfant had drawn a line of demarkation between himself and the Commissioners in his report to the President of 17 Jan. 1792, which is probably one of the documents Washington enclosed: “It is necessary to place under the authority of one single director all those employed in the execution, to leave him the appointment or removal of them as he being answerable for the propriety of execution must be judge of their capacity and is the only one to whom they can with any propriety be subordinate—the exercise of any prepondering authority being in this respect to be restrained by the consideration that the good of the object to accomplish is only to be procured by trusting to the attention of one head who having a constant pursuit and the connection of those objects with the whole of the plan to effect” (Kite, L’Enfant and Washington, p. 122). For Washington’s own attempt to distinguish L’Enfant’s authority from that of the Commissioners, see Washington to L’Enfant, 13 Dec. 1791 (Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, 1931-44, 39 vols. description ends , xxxi, 442–3), and Editorial Note on fixing the seat of government, Vol. 20: 501.

On the ideas of another person for a loan to finance development of the Federal City, see Contract with Samuel Blodget, Jr., 6 Mch. 1792.

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