George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, 1 December 1791

To the Commissioners for the District of Columbia

Philadelphia Decr 1st 1791.


I receive with real mortification the account of the demolition of Mr Carrolls house by Major L’Enfant, against his consent, and without authority from yourselves or any other person: for you have done me but justice in ass⟨erting that⟩ he had no such authority from me.1 My letter of the 28th Ulto to Mr Carroll of Duddington will prove this.

I now enclose you the copy of one to Majr L’Enfant, in which you will see what I say to him on this subject.2

You are as sensible as I am of his value to us. But this has it’s limits, and there is a point beyond which he might be overvalued. If he is saved from the notice of the law on the present occasion, I would chuse he shd owe it entirely to yourselves, and that he be made sensible that there will be no interference from me on his behalf.

The enclosed for Mr Carroll of Duddington you may either deliver or destroy as it shall seem best to you.3 With very great esteem & regard I remain, gentn Yr. Most Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; Df, in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DLC:GW.

For the background to this letter, see Pierre L’Enfant to GW, 21 Nov. 1791, editorial note. This letter was drafted for GW by Thomas Jefferson, along with a letter to L’Enfant, which GW altered and dated 2 Dec. 1791 (see Jefferson to GW, this date, and note 1; Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 22:367–68).

1The commissioners informed GW of the demolition of Daniel Carroll of Duddington’s house in their letter of 25 Nov. 1791. The text within angle brackets is taken from the letter-book copy.

2See GW to L’Enfant, 2 Dec. 1791. In Jefferson’s draft this sentence reads: “I now inclose you one to Majr. L’Enfant, in which you will see what I say to him on this subject and will then be so good as to deliver it to him.” GW chose to send his letter to L’Enfant under its own cover rather than have it conveyed to him by the commissioners.

3For the enclosure, see GW to Daniel Carroll of Duddington, 2 Dec. 1791. This sentence does not appear in Jefferson’s draft.

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