From Andrew Ellicott
Geo. Town Jany. 9th 1793
From a conversation which I had with you some time ago, I remember you was desirous of discovering the Indian name of the Eastern Branch of the Potomak: by some old surveys it appears to be Annakostia.
The reasons of my disagreement with the Commissioners, and ultimate determination to quit the business of the City of Washington, on the first day of May next, shall be published immediately after that date: And I have no doubt, but that from a clear investigation of facts, my conduct, and exertions, will be approved of, by the candid and discerning. I am with much esteem Your Real Friend
RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Honble Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 12 Jan. 1793 and so recorded in SJL.
The often strained relationship between Ellicott and the Commissioners of the Federal District threatened to reach a breaking point early in January 1793 when the Commissioners criticized his survey of the Federal District as having been too dilatory and sometimes erroneous. Despite the determination to resign as chief surveyor of the Federal District and publicly criticize the Commissioners that Ellicott expressed in the present letter, which the Secretary of State shared with the President, TJ and Washington were averse to any controversy that might delay work on the new capital. They dissuaded Ellicott from following this course and convinced him to continue as chief surveyor, even though the Commissioners actually dismissed him from their employ in March 1793. Soon after Ellicott’s reinstatement in April, however, he accepted a surveying commission from the government of Pennsylvania and never worked again in the Federal District (Ellicott to the Commissioners, 4, 5, 8 Jan. 1793, DNA: RG 42, PBG; Commissioners to Ellicott, 8 Jan. 1793, and to Washington, 9 Jan. 1793, DLC: Washington Papers; Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 15; Tobias Lear to TJ, 11, 15 Jan. 1793, and notes; TJ to Ellicott, 15 Jan., 22 Mch. 1793; Commissioners to TJ, 7 Feb. 1793, and note; TJ to Washington, 17 Mch. 1793, and note; Bryan, National Capital description begins W. B. Bryan, History of the National Capital, New York, 1914–16, 2 vols. description ends , i, 208–11; William Tindall, Standard History of the City of Washington [Knoxville, 1914], 151–7).
TJ submitted this letter to the President on 13 Jan. 1793, and Washington returned it the next day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 15, 16).