Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 4 February 1802

From Albert Gallatin

Feby. 4th 1802

Dear Sir

I enclose E. Burroughs’s proposals for two of the Chesapeak light houses. From every information, it is not probable that any other person will offer, and it is very desirable that we should, by availing ourselves of his proposals, secure the work being done next summer.

The only objection in the way is want of cession on the part of Virginia, but there is no doubt of its having been, or being hereafter obtained; and as Mr Burroughs leaves town on next Saturday, I would propose to agree to the terms proposed with only one additional condition that the execution of the contract shall depend upon the cession being obtained.

Your official approbation is by law necessary.

Respectfully Your obt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 4 Feb. and “lighthouses” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) “Proposals for building a Light House &ca. on Smith’s point,” by Elzy Burroughs, Washington, D.C., 3 Feb., with specifications for the construction of an “octagonal pyramid” lighthouse of stone to be completed by 1 Nov. 1802, for the sum of $8,750. (2) “Proposals for building a Light house &ca. on old point comfort,” by Burroughs, Washington, D.C., 3 Feb., with specifications for the construction of an “octagonal pyramid” lighthouse of hard brick to be completed by 1 Nov. 1802, for the sum of $4,850 (FCs in Lb in DNA: RG 26, LDC). With the submitted documents, Gallatin noted: “The enclosed proposals of E. Burroughs for building Light houses at Point Smith, and old point comfort respectively are submitted to the President of the United States for his consideration and decision.” TJ dated and signed his response on 4 Feb.: “Mr. Burroughs’ propositions as to both light houses are approved” (FC in same).

William Miller, commissioner of the revenue, sent Elzy Burroughs’s proposals to Gallatin on 3 Feb., stating that although he had contacted others “who had turned their attention to business of this kind,” Burroughs was the only one to offer proposals to construct the lighthouses for the “sum limited by the appropriation of congress.” Benjamin H. Latrobe was one of those contacted by Miller, but he declined, noting that the sum appropriated was insufficient to procure his services. In 1798, Congress appropriated less than $3,500 for the Old Point Comfort lighthouse. The sum was raised to $5,000. In 1801, Congress set aside $9,000 for the erection of the lighthouse at Smith’s Point (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 26, LDC; 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 , 1:553; 2:125; John C. Van Horne, ed., The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 3 vols. [New Haven, 1984–88], 1:197–9).

Cession On The Part Of Virginia: Miller informed Gallatin on 3 Feb. that he had instructed Edward Carrington to apply to the Virginia legislature for the cession of land for the construction of the lighthouse at Smith’s Point. The act ceding the land was passed on 15 Jan. 1802 (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 26, LDC; Shepherd, Statutes description begins Samuel Shepherd, ed., The Statutes at Large of Virginia, from October Session 1792, to December Session 1806…, Richmond, 1835–36, 3 vols. description ends , 2:316).

On saturday, 6 Feb., Miller signed agreements with Burroughs for the construction of the two lighthouses. A paragraph was added to the agreement for the lighthouse at Point Smith, making it contingent upon the cession of land by Virginia (FCs in Lb in DNA: RG 26, LDC).

Index Entries