Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, [7 October 1802]

From Albert Gallatin

[7 Oct. 1802]

Dear Sir

An advertisement for the plan of a marine hospital published in the Boston papers has produced only the within plan. Is it sufficiently perfect to deserve the 50 dollars & ought we to carry it into effect? As to a contract, it must, like those for light houses, be advertised by the Collector at Boston who will transmit to us the proposals. I had had the advertisement for a plan inserted only in the Boston papers, as I thought it would please the people there better to have the hospital built after a plan of one of their own architects. If we now advertise here for a plan, it will delay another month, & we shall not have entered into a contract for that object by the time Congress shall meet. You know that the eastern people made that hospital a sine qua non of generalizing the fund.

With respect your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 7 Oct. and “marine hosp. at Boston” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found, but see below.

For the ADVERTISEMENT seeking designs for a marine hospital at Boston, see Vol. 37:649. WITHIN PLAN: Asher Benjamin, author of The Country Builder’s Assistant, published in Greenfield, Massachusetts in 1797, submitted the design enclosed. A native of Connecticut, Benjamin wrote Gideon Granger, requesting that he intercede with the Treasury secretary. Since leaving Suffield, Benjamin informed Granger, he had designed and built houses in Massachusetts, including Deerfield Academy, and a “Meeting House & 3 other Large Houses” in Windsor, Vermont. On 13 Aug., Granger forwarded Benjamin’s letter to Gallatin, describing him as “one of the first mechanicks in New England” who, as “a poor boy unaided by friends,” through industry and talent, “raised himself to the first rank of his profession.” The marine hospital, built on the grounds of the Charlestown Navy Yard, was reportedly modeled after the almshouse designed by Boston architect Charles Bulfinch (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends , s.v. “Benjamin, Asher” and “Bulfinch, Charles”; Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 7:457, 846; Florence Thompson Howe, “More about Asher Benjamin,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 13 [1954], 16–19).

Massachusetts Republican William Eustis led the debate making the hospital a SINE QUA NON for changes in the distribution of the seamen’s fund (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States . . . Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled . . . by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 11:1163–4; Vol. 36:632n).

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