Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 17 March 1793

To George Washington

Mar. 17. 1793.

Th: Jefferson with his respectful compliments to the President returns him Colo. Humphrey’s letter and those from George town. The last are indeed disagreeable: yet there does not seem any room for the President’s interposition.—Should Dr. Stewart and Mr. Johnson persist in their idea of retiring, it seems really desireable that they should do it separately, leaving such an interval between the two resignations as that the public mind may receive no unfavorable impression.

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); addressed: “The President of the US.”; endorsed by Tobias Lear. Tr (Lb in same, SDC). Not recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) David Humphreys to Washington, Lisbon, 23 Jan. 1793, seeking approval of his efforts to subsist American captives in Algiers and secure the property for the Moroccan mission left by Thomas Barclay, offering to assist Barclay’s successor in negotiating with Algiers and suggesting ways to facilitate these negotiations, and noting his intention to write to the Secretary of State about American wheat and flour in Portugal (DLC: Washington Papers). (2) Commissioners of the Federal District to Washington, Georgetown, 11 Mch. 1793, expressing approval of William Thornton’s plan for the Capitol but suggesting a modification and indicating concern about the sufficiency of funds for the plan, requesting that their accounts be regularly inspected to rebut any criticisms of their work, announcing their intention to dismiss Andrew Ellicott for slowness and inaccuracy in surveying the Federal District and to redo much of his work, and concluding with a postscript of 12 Mch. 1793 announcing the arrival of Ellicott, his brother Benjamin, and Isaac Briggs, enclosing an exchange of letters with Ellicott, and stating that they have taken possession of the large plat and will reorganize the Surveyor’s department tomorrow (DNA: RG 42, DCLB). (3) Same to same, 13 Mch. 1793, enclosing a further exchange of letters with Ellicott as well as his handbill, reporting that yesterday Ellicott tried to give them the plan of the territory Washington had sent him with orders for revisions but that they refused it and told him to complete it as specified by the President, and announcing that they have “nearly arranged the Surveying Business with Checks, and expect on trial it will produce dispatch” (same).

Washington had received these enclosures on 16 Mch. 1793 and sent them to TJ for “perusal & consideration” the same day (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 91). Nos. 2 and 3 enclosed in turn twelve letters between the Commissioners and Andrew Ellicott pertaining to their dismissal of him as chief surveyor of the Federal District on 12 Mch. 1793 (Commissioners to Ellicott, 6, 7 Feb., 11, 12, and 13 Mch. 1793, DNA: RG 42, DCLB; Ellicott to Commissioners, 12, 13 Mch. 1793, same, PBG). This controversy is discussed in Ellicott to TJ, 9 Jan. 1793, and note.

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