George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Law, 6 October 1796

Hope Park Thursday 6 October 1796

Dear Sir

Mrs Stuart having written of her indisposition, Patty & Mr Peters & Eliza & I set off on Wednesday morng for this place with Mr Stuarts two Horses & mine but Mr Stuarts two were so viciously obstinate that we were detained 5 hours in sight of George Town—it is with pleasure that I inform you of Mrs Stuart being much better.

Enclosed is a Lre written at Mount Vernon in Augt last, but which I would not send from an apprehension lest I should intrude upon more important business at Philadelphia—the Commrs have now addressed you upon that subject, but with regret I found other parts of their Letter by no means so agreeable.

A desire to promote a City to which I have strongly evinced my partiality induced me to join in one public address to you from a thorough conviction of its propriety, & I feel a similar impulse on the present occasion together with many in the City, but am restrained from adopting the same mode of communicating my sentiments, lest an ill will should be excited injurious to the general good & lest it should bear an appearance of litigiousness, on the other hand when I consider the delicacy of my situation, I feel peculiar embarrassment in a private animadversion upon a public Letter—the accompanying jocular Petition being on this subject may be destroyed before or after perusal as you may deem best, it only remains for me to say that after thus conveying my ideas, I shall implicitly rely upon the justice & wisdom of your decisions & forbear to subscribe my name to any general address to you should it be proposed—Mr Moris thinks with me of which I am proud.

Eliza & I request that you & Mrs Washington will if possible make it convenient to stay a few days with us on your way to Philadelphia. With sincere esteem & unfeigned regard I remain Yours most faithfully & Obt

Thomas Law

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


c.6 October 1796

The humble Petition of the Capitol Sheweth

1st That your Petr under a republican Govt conceived the pleasing & natural expectation that the Presidents House would be a secondary consideration,, but with grief has beheld himself neglected & a preference given to the other.

2 That your Petr expected that the Commrs of the City & the public Superintendant of the works & other public Officers would reside near him, with a view to accelerate the works & by forming a Society around him to promote private buildings for Congress, but with indignation he sees them prefer a little Town three Miles off.

3rd That your Petr hoped the Commrs would improve some of the Avenues for the convenience of Waggonage, but with surprise he saw them expend the public money in a Causeway & a Bridge out of the city.

4 That your Petr has with astonishment heard that the head Commr has built an house out of the City near the little town aforesaid, & of the second Commr having purchase Lots & buildt almost as far off near the little town aforesaid, & is wounded to the soul to have it artfully circulated that the President has bought a Square there for his private Residence, & that he means to remove the University as far from your Petr as possible.

5. That your Petitioner with regret hears that the spot destined for an arsenal & for a Citadel because it is near the river & calculated for securely depositing Stores & for easy removal of them is to be done away,, & that a University is proposed to be fixed in its stead as if the Society of Seamen would improve morals, & your Petr verily believes that some Wharf or Whare house in the little town aforesaid or near it will be purchased for an arsenal hereafter at a great expence, because there ought to be one near the President who is Commander in Chief.

6. That your Petr is informed that the foreign Embassadors who are offered Lots are not to have the choice of the most healthy & convenient spots but are to be lumped together between the Canal & the Potomac & your Petr has only to remark that if the South Side of the Canal is as unhealthy as that of the North, last year the sickness was as fatal there as a Yellow fever, the foreign Embassadors will be frequently changed & a prejudicial impression against the health of the City will be made abroad.

7. That your Petitioner with sorrow understands that the Spot destined for an Hospital on the Eastern branch where invalids & such persons may be landed witht going thro’ the City, & which the Doctors approve of for its healthy situation is now to be done away, from a false œconomy to save 25£ per Acre which is to be paid for it by the Commrs & to increase the number of private buildings Lots, now your Petr has to observe that the Lots are already too numerous & that by encreasing them they will be more depreciated, & that Ground which now costs the Commrs 25£ per Acre is worth about 500 & cannot soon be bought for 1000, if the City prospers & that by doing away appropriations public confidence is shaken.

Lastly your Petr sees two Commrs residing at a distance & the third not fixed, & from the above mentd meditated changes is led to fear that the design is to push on the part of the City three Miles off from Men near the little town, & to have him deserted—The Prest not long ago ordered the Commrs into the City & immediately property rose in value, & Your Petitioner got a start but your Petr now is told that the Commrs have parried that judicious Order & your Petr is apprehensive that they mean to give him a side blow by doing away the appropriation to the East-ward,, & by removing the University, & the Embassadors to the Westward—the money Chest has been once emptied witht your Petrs foundation being finished & the general expectation is that the funds will fall short before your Petr is finished—the Prests House is further advanced than your Petr & the Head Commrs proposes finishing a Room or two & removing the Office there openly avoids a partiality to the end of the City near the little Town in short the public mind is impressd with a consciousness of the predominating bias & everyone is deterred from building near your Petitioner lest the report once industriously circulated should be realised by Congress meeting in the Presidents House—Your Petitioner acknowledges with gratitude that he has received peculiar attention this Year, & he does not doubt of having plenty of Houses about him, if Embassadors are allowed to build where they may chuse, & if the Commissioners are obliged to live in some centrical Situation—Your Petitioner would scorn to request any improper partiality, but humbly suggests that the prosperity of all & the existence (he may say) of the City depends upon his being ready for the reception of Congress, & that all doubts & suspicions of the reverse whether well or ill founded should be done away, & every future Cause of avoided, which can only be by the Commrs residing in the City.

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