George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, 18 September 1795

To the Commissioners for the District of Columbia

Mount Vernon 18. Sept: 1795.


The copy of the Letter which you wrote to the Secretary of State on the 21st ulto, enclosing regulations relative to the wharves and buildings in the federal City, came to my hands yesterday.1

If the proprietors of water-lots will be satisfied with the rules therein established for the extension of wharves & buildings thereon, the regulations will meet my entire approbation; and of their ideas on this head, you have, no doubt, made some enquiries, & decided accordingly.

The other regulations, respecting the removal of dirt &c. and the thickness of walls, appear to me to be very proper: but in settling the latter point, the opinion of workmen, I presume, has been taken. With respect, I am Gentlemen Yr obedt Servt

G. Washington

LS, in the hand of Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., DLC: U.S. Commissioners of the City of Washington records, 1791–1869; LB, DLC:GW.

1The letter from commissioners Gustavus Scott and William Thornton to Edmund Randolph of 21 Aug. noted that they had received a letter from Alexander White, the third commissioner, “signifying his consent, as we conceive, to the enclosed regulations of wharves, which, together with those respecting buildings in the City, are enclosed for the perusal of the President, previous to their publication. Not knowing when the president may be down, and, thinking that the publication of these regulations has already been too long delayed, they are forwarded, with a view to as early publication as possible. A Copy of Mr White’s letter is also enclosed. If the regulations are approved by the President they may at once be published in one of the Philadelphia papers” (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent). The enclosed regulations have not been identified. For the commissioners’ earlier attempt to create regulations concerning wharves and buildings in the Federal City, see their second letter to GW of 24 July; Thornton to GW, 26 July; and GW to the commissioners, 29 July (both letters).

White wrote the other commissioners on 17 Aug.: “My object is to promote the growth of the City—by rendering it agreeable to mercantile characters, to accomplish this I would sacrifice beauty to utility.” White advised the board: “If there is a necessity of an immediate publication” of the regulations, Scott and Thornton should complete them. His “presence could afford little aid” in matters about which he possessed “so imperfect a knowledge.” Moreover, he thought it unlikely he could reach the Federal City before GW returned (DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Received).

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