George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Law, 8 February 1797

Washington Feby 8th 1797

Dear Sir—

I yesterday delivered a Lre into the Commissioners Office and returning from thence in company with Mr Hadfeild, that gentlemen told me that he could get the Capitol covered in this Season, "why not write so then to the Commissioners"? said I—his answer was "I shall be more likely to effect it by my own means without their knowing of my intention"—this upon my honor is a fact, but I do not wish it to become public as I might be deemed censurable for divulging a private Conversation & yet I am only acting faithfully by imparting it to You.

I went with Mr Hadfeild to survey Mr Carrolls buildings at the Capitol for our literary Society & there saw better rooms than the Commissioners now have for their Offices.

Mr Ralph chearfully offered to relinquish his House & to put up another close to the Capitol Square, I enclose his Lre. Dr Brown also promised immediately to build near the Capitol stating that he was only deterred by uncertainty, & that he resided near the tavern of Scot merely because the Commissioners Office was there; in short the fate of the City depends upon your resolves.

Excuse the liberty I have taken & the trouble I have given you; the time is at hand when you will approve of my conduct, if even now it should appear officious. I remain with unfeigned esteem & sincere regard Your mt faithful & Obt

Thos Law

The Office has been held a long time near the Presidents House without advantage to the City, a change to the Capitol cannot do harm, particularly as the Offices will be cheaper & better—the Officer’s may live where they please their own convenience will bring them near—& they must then superintend the Works frequently.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


City of Washington, Feby 6th, 1797.

Dear sir

With cheerfulness will I relinquish my house, either for a moderate rent, or by a fair sale, if it form a part of an arrangement so manifestly necessary to the interest, I had almost written, to the policital salvation, of this neglected City.

What can avail all other exertions if The Capitol be neglected? How easily might a part of it be fitted up before November next for the Commissioners’ office & its dependencies, &c. In the intermediate time far better accommodation can be obtained here But, Sir, your efforts will not avail. The City has been destroyed by the non-residence of those who ought, from its commencement, to have sacrificed partial convenience to the general advantage: suffer me to say, that The Comss will not forsake their beloved George Town & why fatigue yourself by ineffectual exertions.

I speak freely & allow me to say confidentially; yet, as a proof of the sincerity of these sentiments, altho’ my stake is little, I freely shall give up my All. Believe me to be with great respect, Dear sir, Your obliged humble servant

George Ralph

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