George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 11 February 1792

To Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Saturday 11th Feby [1792]1

Dear Sir

If you & Mr Madison could make it convenient to take a family dinner with me to day—or, if engagements prevent this—wd come, at any hour in the afternoon most convenient to yourselves we would converse fully, and try to fix on some plan for carrying the Affairs of the Federal district into execution.2

Under present appearances it is difficult, but it is nevertheless necessary to resolve on some thing.3 Yrs—sincerely & Affectionately

Go: Washington

ALS, DLC: Thomas Jefferson Papers.

For the background to this letter, see Pierre L’Enfant to GW, 21 Nov. 1791, editorial note.

1Jefferson noted in his Summary Journal of Public Letters that he received this letter on 11 Feb. 1792 (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

2Jefferson apparently had earlier asked Tobias Lear about GW’s birthday, because Lear replied in the morning of 11 Feb. that “the President considers the 22d day of this month as his birth day—having been born on the 11th old Style. T. Lear further adds, that the President does not expect to see any Company today on the above occasion—and moreover, that the President’s birth day was last year noticed in this City on the 22d—and T. L. has understood, in an indirect manner, from some of the Gentlemen of the City that the same day would be observed this year” (DLC: Jefferson Papers). For earlier celebrations of the president’s birthday, see Lear to Clement Biddle, 14 Feb. 1790. On 21 Feb. 1792 the Rev. William White wrote Lear that the clergy of Philadelphia had intended to wait on the president on 11 Feb., “A wrong intimation in the newspapers having led them into the mistaken supposition of that’s being his birth-day.” White explained that he had been deputed to ask Lear “to account to the President for their not being of the number of those who will have the honour of waiting on him to-morrow,” as 22 Feb. 1792 happened to fall on Ash Wednesday, “and farther, to signify the request which they most respectfully make to the President, that they may be allowed to offer him their congratulations on the next levee day: unless he should condescend to appoint an earlier time; as it would be most agreeable to them to take the first opportunity for the purpose, that his high engagements will permit.” White added that congressional chaplain Samuel Blair also requested him to tell Lear that indisposition would prevent his joining in GW’s birthday congratulations (Pa. Mag., 4:251).

3At their meeting this day GW apparently directed Jefferson to draft a letter to L’Enfant insisting upon his subordination to the Commissioners for the District of Columbia and demanding to know whether L’Enfant would submit to their authority (see GW to Jefferson, 15 February).

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