George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Carter of Ludlow, 19 December 1790

To Charles Carter of Ludlow

Philadelphia December 19. 1790.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the first instant came duly to hand; but it found me under such a pressure of business that I was unable to give it an immediate acknowledgement.1

I am sorry for the information you have given me, and wish sincerely it was in my power to relieve you from the disagreeable situation into which you are thrown—but it really is not.2 The particular object to which your views are pointed, besides its being under some previous arrangement would by no means subserve your purpose. The law authorising the appointment of Commissioners for conducting the federal buildings &ca supposed that the zeal of those who are friends to the measure, would alone be sufficient to prompt them to undertake the duties of it, and therefore it has made no provision for the trouble imposed on them—The most therefore that can be calculated upon is an allowance of their actual expenses.3 I am &ca

G. Washington


1Charles Carter of Ludlow’s letter to GW of 1 Dec. 1790, dated “Council Chamber Richmond,” reads: “Last Novr was twelve months, I was elected to a seat, at this board, my sole inducement, was to keep my four Sons at School, that they might be enabled to pursue, some genteel line, for support of this, (by the change of Members, in the Legislature) I am deprived. Poor Old C. Braxton, shared the same fate: unless I can procure some appointment I shall be under the necessity of binding out my sons, to Trades. I hope I shall neither, be thought intruding, nor impertinent, when I express a wish, that if any appointments, (in which I can render any service) in the erection of the buildings, at the Federal seat, or in that line it will always be rememberd with gratitude shoud I be so fortunate, I shall immediately move to Loudon, wch must be within a short days ride of the destind spot” (DLC:GW). Carter enclosed this application in a letter to Virginia congressman Richard Bland Lee dated 2 Dec. 1790, in which he wrote that “I am discarded by the House of Delegates, from the Council board” and asked Lee’s assistance in obtaining employment in the work of establishing the Federal City, adding that “I coud not accept any under 200 Clear” (DLC:GW). Lee forwarded this letter along with Carter’s application, to GW under cover of a note dated Philadelphia, 20 Dec. 1790, indicating that “The inclosed letter will explain Mr Carter’s wishes you are well acquainted with him and it would be presumption in me to add any thing more than that” (DLC:GW).

2On Carter’s financial difficulties, see GW to Charles Carter of Ludlow, 14 Sept. 1790.

3GW formally appointed Thomas Johnson, Daniel Carroll, and David Stuart to be commissioners for the federal district on 22 Jan. 1791 (see Commission, 22 Jan. 1791). GW’s comment that the appointment was “under some previous arrangement” suggests that he had consulted with these men before he left Mount Vernon on 22 Nov. 1790.

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