George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 28 March 1791]

Monday 28th. Left Bladensburgh at half after Six, & breakfasted at George Town about 8; where, having appointed the Commissioners under the Residence Law to meet me, I found Mr. Johnson one of them (& who is chief Justice of the State) in waiting & soon after came in David Stuart & Danl. Carroll Esqrs. the other two.

A few miles out of Town I was met by the principal Citizen[s] of the place, & escorted in by them; and dined at Suters tavern (where I also lodged) at a public dinner given by the Mayor & Corporation—previous to which I examined the Surveys of Mr. Ellicot who had been sent on to lay out the district of ten miles square for the federal seat; and also the works of Majr. L’Enfant who had been engaged to examine, & make a draught of the grds. in the vicinity of George town and Carrollsburg on the Eastern branch making arrangements for examining the ground myself tomorrow with the Commissioners.

The Residence law, which authorized the establishing of a new capital, also provided for the president to appoint three commissioners to supervise the land surveying, the layout of the Federal City in the district, and the construction of public buildings (see entry for 12 July 1790). The three commissioners, appointed by GW in 1791, were Thomas Johnson of Fredericktown, Md., Dr. David Stuart, of Hope Park in Fairfax County, and Daniel Carroll (1730–1796).

Andrew Ellicott (1754–1820) was appointed by GW to survey the district lines, which he began in the late winter of 1791. Pierre Charles L’Enfant (1754–1825), born and trained in engineering and artistic design in France, volunteered as an officer of engineers in the Revolution, entering the American army during the winter encampment at Valley Forge. During the next decade his artistic activity in America included a sketch of GW and several architectural designs in Philadelphia and New York City. In 1791 GW appointed L’Enfant to design a Federal City to be built within the district. Carrollsburg, still only a paper town in 1791, was laid out c.1770 on the neck between James Creek and the Anacostia River for Charles Carroll, father of Daniel Carroll of Duddington.

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