Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Daniel Carroll, 8 February 1802

From Daniel Carroll

Washington Feby 8th 1802


In consiquence of an application to the Comrs of Washington by Mr Barry in the year 1800 for the removeal of the houses of Mrs Fenwick, situated in south Capitol street, and a valuation being had to that effect, & Mrs Fenwick haveing gone to a considerable expence in building a new house, under the expectation of receiving that valuation, which has since been refused her by the Commrs, as will appear by the inclosed letters. In the mean time her enclosures were removed, her garden broke up, & much incommoded in other respects—I beg leave to submit the letters and valuation to you, & beg if you see proper, you will direct payment to be made—I have the honor to be

Sir Your Mo Obt. Sert.

Danl Carroll of Dudn

RC (DLC); at head of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Feb. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not identified, but according to the minutes of the 9 Feb. meeting of the District of Columbia commissioners, they included “several letters which have passed between the Commissioners Mr Carroll and Mrs. Fenwick on the subject of removing her houses, also the valuation of those houses by Harbaugh & Duncanson” (DNA: RG 42, PC); see below. Enclosed in TJ to District of Columbia commissioners, 9 Feb.

Daniel Carroll of Duddington (1764–1849), a planter and merchant, owned over 1,400 acres of land in the federal district when its boundaries were established in 1791, more than any other single proprietor. His property included the site of the Capitol and a large part of the area to the south and east of it bounded by the Eastern Branch of the Potomac. In 1791, TJ as secretary of state advised President George Washington on a dispute between Carroll and Pierre Charles L’Enfant, during which L’Enfant tore down a house under construction by Carroll (Allen C. Clark, “Daniel Carroll of Duddington,” RCHS description begins Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 1895–1989 description ends , 39 [1938], 1–48; Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser, 9:220–5; Vol. 20:44–53; 22:390–2).

In an application to the District of Columbia commissioners dated 26 June 1800, James Barry, a Washington real estate developer, asked the board to remove Mary Fenwick’s “Houses and Enclosures” on South Capitol Street. The commissioners informed Fenwick that the two buildings and the fences impeded “free passage” for carriages traveling between public streets and otherwise hampered development of the area. The board threatened to remove the structures if Fenwick did not do so. On 21 Aug., the commissioners requested that Fenwick appoint a person to give a valuation for the property. A few days later, Carroll became involved in the case, with the commissioners informing him of the board’s appointment of an assessor. On 20 Oct., the commissioners complained to Carroll of delays in obtaining a valuation and requested that he permit access to the buildings for an immediate valuation. The commissioners informed Carroll in the spring of 1801 that though the board favored the removal of “all obstructions in the Streets” of the city as a general rule, they lacked the funds to pay for Fenwick’s houses. Because Fenwick’s house predated the 1791 deeds of trust between the commissioners and the original proprietors of land in the federal district, its removal had to be considered necessary for the “public Interest” in order for the owner to be compensated. The commissioners considered the value of Fenwick’s houses too high to justify the expense (commissioners to Fenwick, 31 July, 8, 21 Aug., 30 Oct. 1800; to Carroll, 26 Aug., 20 Oct. 1800, 31 Mch., 8 Apr., 22 June 1801, in DNA: RG 42, DCLB).

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