George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 12 November 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Nov. 12. 92.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President Judge Turner’s answer.1 his office has been thoroughly searched, and no copy exists there of the act of Virginia giving money for the federal buildings: that of Maryland only is there. he is in hopes it may be among the President’s papers.2

Dr Barton, a learned & very ingenious gentleman of this city, mentioning to Th: J. that he had never had the honour of being presented to the President, asked to be presented.3 if the President has no objections Th: J. will take that liberty tomorrow at three aclock.4

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW.

1GW recently had received a letter dated 6 July from Winthrop Sargent, secretary of the Northwest Territory, in which Sargent complained about the long absence from their duties of George Turner and John Cleves Symmes, two of the three territorial judges. At GW’s request Jefferson wrote Turner on 9 Nov. 1792 to urge him to repair to the Northwest Territory in order to carry out his responsibilities there. The enclosed reply of 11 Nov. from Turner to Jefferson has not been found (see Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 24:604).

2Jefferson was searching for a copy of the act passed by the Virginia legislature on 27 Dec. 1790 granting $120,000 “towards erecting public buildings” in the federal district. The Maryland legislature in its November session of 1790 had approved a similar grant of $72,000. Each state’s contribution was to be made in three equal payments (see Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 13:125; Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed . . . in 1790). Virginia governor Beverley Randolph had sent GW a copy of Virginia’s law in a letter dated 15 Feb. 1791, but GW could not find his copy at this time (see note 4). Jefferson wrote Virginia treasurer Jaquelin Ambler on 13 Nov. 1792 asking for a copy of the Virginia act (see Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 24:612). GW also wrote Ambler on 13 Nov., requesting payment of Virginia’s second installment of its grant.

3Benjamin Smith Barton was a noted Philadelphia physician and naturalist, and his work New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America (2d rev. ed.; Philadelphia, 1798), in which he inscribed “For General Washington, with the most respectful compliments of his very obedient and very humble Servant &c.,” was in GW’s library in 1799 (see Griffin, Boston Athenæum Washington Collection, description begins Appleton P. C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 17). For Benjamin S. Barton’s earlier correspondence with GW, see William Barton to GW, 29 July 1790, and notes 2 and 3.

4Tobias Lear, at GW’s request, replied to Jefferson later on this date: “The President returns Judge Turner’s letter which The Secretary of State submitted to his perusal. The President has no copy of the Act of Virginia giving money for the federal buildings. The President requests that the Secretary of State will at all times introduce such Characters to him as he may think proper to be introduced” (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

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