George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, 8 February 1793

From the Commissioners for the District of Columbia

Washington 8th Feby 1793


We have received your favour of 31st January on the subject of the Compensation necessary to be made us for our part and future services as Commissioners, and requiring a candid communication of our Sentiments thereupon—As it is both Interesting and delicate and withall one in which we are jointly concerned we hope it will be a sufficient apology for our not entering on it at present, that Mr Johnson is not with us, owing to indisposition—From a letter just received from him, we expect him before we can possibly rise, when we shall give it very candidly.1

The continuance of Mr Ellicott’s ill humor with us on account of the opinion which his letter necessarily extracted from us at our last meeting has made the present a very disagreeable one to us—We have done every thing in our power to pr[e]serve a good agreement for the time he is with us but in vain—He refuses to give us any Account of the business of his department till he has finished in May[.]2 If he should persist in this opinion after reflection, it will be impossible for us to continue him even to that time3 As such an example cannot fail extending its influence to all others under our direction—As the season is fast aproaching for commencing operations and we feel strongly the necessity of using every exertion in our power to inspire confidence which a spirited prosicution of the several objects of our employment in the course of the Summer can give, we have to lament that only ten thousand Dollars have been yet received from Virginia on your second Draft—We have written to the executive of that State requesting a payment of the ballance—For fear we should not meet with sucess would it not be advisable to send your Draft on the Maryland treasury for the third Installment of that State.4 Our embarrassment will be very great if we cannot soon obtain money either from the one or the other. We are &c.

Dd Stuart

Danl Carroll

LB, DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent.

1On 5 Feb. 1793 commissioner Daniel Carroll sent Thomas Johnson a copy of GW’s 31 Jan. letter on compensation, with a note explaining that GW’s letter discussed “a subject on which we have been for some time anxious to hear. . . . As it respects what very strongly interests us mutually, we have defered a communication of our sentiments, till we can have a joint consultation—It appears to us that the sooner this can be had the better” (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent).

With inclement weather making Johnson’s arrival “very disagreeable, if not impracticable,” David Stuart and Carroll wrote to Johnson on 12 Feb., “The business respecting our Salarries can be considered of at our next meeting” (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent). Johnson next attended a meeting of the D.C. commissioners on 4 Mar. (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Proceedings). For the commissioners’ response to GW’s proposal, see GW to D.C. Commissioners, 31 Jan. 1793 (first letter), notes 2, 4.

2In his letter to the commissioners of 8 Jan., Ellicott announced that he would resign from his job as chief surveyor of the Federal City on 1 May (D.C. Commissioners to GW, 9 Jan. 1793, note 2).

3For GW’s advice that the commissioners find a replacement for Ellicott, if necessary, see GW to D.C. Commissioners, 3 Mar. 1793 (second letter). For the commissioners’ early dismissal and subsequent rehiring of Ellicott, see D.C. Commissioners to GW, 11–12 Mar., and note 6, and 9 April 1793 (first letter), GW to D.C. Commissioners, 3 April.

4In 1790 the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland had approved respective grants of $120,000 and $72,000 to the federal district for help toward the construction of public buildings. Each state was to provide payment in three installments (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; Md. Laws, 1790 description begins Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly, Begun and held at the city of Annapolis on Monday the first of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety. Annapolis, [1791]. description ends ). By February 1793 Maryland had paid two installments and soon paid its third (GW to Thomas Harwood, 2 Mar., to D.C. Commissioners, 3 Mar. 1793 [second letter]). For the D.C. commissioners’ letter of 7 Feb. 1793 to Gov. Henry Lee of Virginia, see Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 6:286. In late November 1793, after more than a year of demands from the commissioners, Virginia completed its second payment and was soon prodded by GW to pay its third (D.C. Commissioners to Lee, 3 Dec. 1792, 8 April, 23 Sept. 1793, DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent; John Hopkins to Lee, 13 Sept., 29 Oct., 20 Nov. 1793, ibid., 534, 612, 642; Robert Hooe and David Ross to GW, 31 Oct. 1793, GW to Jaquelin Ambler, 13 Nov. 1792, 1 Dec. 1793, to D.C. Commissioners, 1 Dec. 1793).

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