Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Law, 12 April 1801

From Thomas Law

Washington April 12. 1801.


The enclosed Letter having met with the approbation of some sensible impartial characters, I have been induced reluctantly to intrude with it upon your retirement.

The measures you have already adopted have extorted an acknowledgement from those persons who persued a conduct diametrically opposite “that General Washington was the founder1 but that you Sir will be the maker of the City.”

On the exertions of less than eight months the fate of Washington City depends, the shortness of the time allowed for creating prosperity & harmony, will therefore plead my excuse I trust for the liberty I now take which shall not be repeated.

I remain with unfeigned respect & esteem yr most obedient & most humble St

Thomas Law.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 6 May and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: an eight-page, undated statement, recording the role and expense of Congress in selecting a permanent seat of government at a central location and in building the Federal City, while noting that few “persons of fortune” chose to reside there; acknowledging that George Washington placed the President’s House too far from the Capitol and that John Adams and his commissioners favored the West End of the city, thereby creating a bias toward Georgetown; and noting that after surveying the city map and reading TJ’s notes, he was convinced of the need for a large commercial metropolis near the Navy Yard so that Georgetown would not be favored over Alexandria (MS in same, TJ Papers, 111:19119–22; unsigned; in same hand as Washington, D.C., Inhabitants to TJ, printed at 21 Mch.; with additions in margin in Law’s hand).

1Law here canceled: “of the City.”

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