Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjeman Bryen, 16 March 1801

From Benjeman Bryen

Washington March the 16th 1801

Sir Understanding there is a Barracks to be built for the Marine Corps of the United States I take the liberty of addressing your Excellency Hoping you will be so kind as too Write a few lines to the gentlemen Who is nomenated to let the above Work by So doing it Will Be a Means of my Getting in the above business Which At present I stand in much need off Owing to Sundry losses And Disappointments Which of late, I have Experenced.

Thomas law Esqr, By Whom I am known these five or Six years Back Will I hope give me a Charecter Which Will meet Your approbation.

Sir I hope you will not think it presumtious of me Who to You is an utter Stranger though I had the pleasure of knowing You When Governor of Virginia Which State has given me birth If I Should be so happy as to derive any advantage By your Kindness to me it shall be Ever gratefully rememberd. by Your Very humble and Obedient Servant.

Benjeman Bryen

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “New Jersy Avenue—Washn’ton”; endorsed by TJ as received 16 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.


On 3 Mch. Congress appropriated$20,000 for the erection of a marine barracks in Washington. Benjamin Stoddert left the choice of its location to the commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant Colonel William Burrows. TJ accompanied Burrows on an inspection of potential building sites on 31 Mch. The location selected was a block near the Navy Yard bordered by Eighth and Ninth Streets and G and I Streets, S.E. An advertisement in the National Intelligencer of 3 Apr. offered a premium of$100 for the best plan of a barracks for 500 men and their officers, as well as a house for the commandant. On 8 May, the chief clerk of the Navy Department, Abishai Thomas, forwarded to TJ on behalf of Henry Dearborn, the acting secretary of the navy, “a plan of Marine Barracks.” This had been submitted by Lieutenant Colonel Louis de Tousard, a French-trained military engineer and commander of the Second Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 45, LSP). Tousard’s plan was not chosen, however, and the commission instead went to George Hadfield, Maria Cosway’s brother and earlier the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol. Calls for proposals for construction contracts appeared in the National Intelligencer on 13 May (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States… 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:122–3; Karl Schuon, Home of the Commandants [Washington, D.C., 1966], 54–6, 61–4; Vol. 29:310n; Vol. 30:507–9).

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