Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the District of Columbia Commissioners, 15 October 1801

From the District of Columbia Commissioners

Commissioner’s Office, 15th. Octo 1801


An application was this day made to us to grant Lots at a cash price, and permit the value to be laid out in improving F Street north from the President’s Square to 11th. Street west, along E Street north to 8th Street west, and to Pennsylvania Avenue.

We are of opinion that the Improvement of F Street north as far as 11th Street west, and to the Avenue would be highly advantageous; but, while we contemplate and acknowledge the utility of this undertaking by the mode proposed, we however cannot forbear alluding to the specific purposes to which the funds arising from the property vested in the public, by the original proprietors, were defined; and, though in many instances the strict Letter of the original intention has been deviated from, these deviations have comprehended many general advantages to the public; and being peculiar in themselves, they could not lead as examples to general consequences. Yet, if the present application be admitted, we fear the danger of similar applications to an extent that would create many inconveniences by taking out of the public funds, the most favorable lots.

To the president however, we submit the decision with the great deference.

We are, with sentiments of the highest respect, Sir, Yr. mo: Obt. Servants

William Thornton

Alexr White

Tristram Dalton

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “To the President of the United States”; in William Brent’s hand, signed by Thornton, White, and Dalton; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Oct. and so recorded in SJL with notation “F. street.” FC (DNA: RG 42, DCLB).

Peter Lenox, in an application to the District of Columbia Commissioners dated 15 Oct. in Washington, cited the “Disadvantage” of “the Want of a good Carriage Way” in the area west of the President’s House between F Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. If the commissioners were to sell him lots “at Cash price,” Lenox proposed, he would contract for the improvement of F and 11th streets (RC in DNA: RG 42, LR).

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