George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 8 December 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Dec. 8. 1792.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President a letter from the Commissioners of Washington.1

Also begs leave to add to the list of candidates for the light house of Cape Henry, the name of John Waller Johnson, who has hitherto served in the Customs under Colo. Heath. he is recommended as a person of worth by a mister Waller Lewis of Spotsylvania, who is himself a man of worth. he has been a voyage or two to sea coastwise, which is all the knowlege he has of the distresses of that element.2

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

1In their letter to Jefferson written on 5 Dec. at Georgetown, commissioners David Stuart and Daniel Carroll acknowledged receipt of “the Presidents order on the Treasurer of Virginia for the second instalment due from that State. The plans are also received, and we shall have them distributed for sale immediately, at the price you have rated them.” They asked Jefferson to inform GW that at their next meeting they would consider the advisability of hiring Samuel Blodget, Jr., to act as a land agent for the district. In regard to previous land sales, the commissioners wrote: “We are sorry to inform you that there has not only been a great want of punctuallity among those who purchased at the first sale, in their second payments; but even among those who were purchasers at the last, of their first advance. They have all been written to pressingly.” After briefly discussing possible technical innovations for cutting stone and problems in recruiting “Mechanics from Scotland,” the commissioners wrote that they had learned that William Thornton had a suitable plan for the Capitol, and that “as we expect by our next meeting, Mr. Hallets plan will be ready to send on to the President, we have desired him to lay his before you, for the President’s inspection, in the first place, that he may have an opportunity of judging of their comparative merits.” They also stated that “the outlines of the Territory are nearly completed” and that they expected to send GW their report on that subject in January (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 24:699–700).

2John Waller Johnston (Johnson), the former deputy customs collector under William Heth at Bermuda Hundred, Va., had been unsuccessful in an earlier attempt to secure the position of lighthouse keeper at Cape Henry. The first appointee, William Lewis, died in November, but Johnston again failed to obtain the appointment, which went to Lemuel Cornick (see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 22 Sept. 1792, n.6). For Johnston’s 8 Dec. application to Jefferson, which was accompanied by a letter of recommendation from Waller Lewis (1739–1818), 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 24:707.

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