George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edward Carrington, 20 April 1795

To Edward Carrington


Mount Vernon 20th Aprl 1795

Dear Sir,

Although I have little reason to hope that, the offer I am going to make you will meet your approbation; yet, from full conviction in my mind, that no one could, or would discharge so important a trust with more energy and propriety than yourself, I am induced to make it. It is of the highest consequence to this Union, and to the Southern States in particular, that the public buildings in the federal city (intended for the accomodation of Congress after the year 1800) and the other interests of that establishment should be pushed with vigor. The execution of this business is entrusted by law to three Commissioners, under the direction of the President of the United [States].1 The present Commn is composed of Messrs Danl Carroll, Gustavus Scott & Doctr Thornton. The first of whom from age, & infirmities,2 wishes to withdraw; to fill his place with an energetic successor is not only very interesting to the public & difficult, but is also of much solicitude with me; & not being able to contemplate a character who possesses such peculiar qualities for this office as you do, I am induced (notwithstanding your declining lately to accept another appointment & you must excuse me therefor) to make you the offer of it:3 among other reasons but of a secondary nature because, if you should refuse, to accept,4 I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that nothing, on my part, has been omitted to obtain a fit character.

On the score of Salary, the Offic⟨e⟩ of a Commissioner of the federal city, is not equal—being annually sixteen hundred doll⟨s⟩. only—to the one I have attended to5—but it is not an office requiring the same confinement—& perhaps, when compared with the ex⟨pense⟩ of living in Philadelphia, & being nea⟨r⟩er to your own estate (which in your form⟨er⟩ letter you observed required your attention)6 may have advantages wch the other did not possess.

I came to this place la⟨st⟩ night, to take a transient view of the situation ⟨of⟩ my private concerns in this quarter & my present intention is to leave it again on my return to Philadelphia on Mo⟨n⟩day next;7 by the Post wch arrives in Alexand⟨ria⟩ on that d⟨ay,⟩ it would be satisfactory to me, sooner I presume it cannt ⟨be,⟩ to hear f⟨rom⟩ you on the subject of this letter if it be con⟨venient⟩ to give one. I am—Dear Sir, &ca &ca

G. Washington

ADfS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW. A purported ALS was offered for sale by Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., Autograph Letters Documents and Manuscripts of Historic Literary and Musical Interest, sale 1787, 3 Dec. 1957, item 251. Where the ADfS is mutilated, the text in angle brackets has been supplied from the letter-book copy.

1GW referred to sections 6 and 2 in “An Act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United States” of 16 July 1790 (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 130).

2GW initially wrote “age, infirmities & other considerations” but amended the text as presented.

3For Daniel Carroll’s resignation, see his letter to GW, 19 February. Carrington had refused GW’s offer to appoint him comptroller of the treasury (see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 26 Jan., n.2).

4Instead of the two previous words, GW originally wrote, “which I fear will be the case.”

5In the draft, GW originally wrote “that of Comptroler” instead of the six previous words. The letter-book copy has “alluded to” instead of “attended to.”

6GW was referring to Carrington’s letter to Hamilton of 7 Feb. (DLC:GW; see also Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 18:257–58).

7The following Monday was 27 April, but GW left Mount Vernon on Sunday, 26 April, instead (see Diaries, description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends 6:200).

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