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-.--- ■ — — 





> Law 1 









1 fetjiS^ 







In JHemerv if 

STEPHFS spAiimim; 




Greenleaf and Law 


Federal City 



ntIM 0» W. p. IIOMRTt 








Greenleaf ..... 

Morris ...... 

Nicholson ..... 

Speculation .... 

Holland ..... 

Letters ..... 

Commemoration .... 

Twenty Buildings .... 

Architect ..... 

Merchant ..... 

Quarrels ..... 

Misfortune ..... 

Justice ...... 

Dreams ..... 

Litigant ..... 

Aftbrdays ...... 

India ..... 
Marriage ..... 
Public Spirit .... 
Duncanson ..... 
Separation .... 
Permanence .... 

rAKMfiK • • • • • 

Bereavement .... 

Columbian Institute 

Writer ..... 
Character .... 


Will of Morris .... 

Stoddbrt-Greenleaf Controversy 

Will of Law .... 


. 9 

. 39 


. 67 


. 9« 

. 123 


. 145 

. 169 


• 179 

. 203 


• 233 

. 263 

. 291 

• 303 

. 319 



Memorable is Rufus Choate's banquet witticism : * 

Pennsylvania's two most distinguished citizens, Robert Morris, a native of 
Great Britain, and Benjamin Franklin, a native of Massachusetts. 

Robert Morris's birth-place is Liverpool and birth-date Janu- 
ary 31, 1734. At fourteen years of age he entered the mercan- 
tile house of the Willings at Philadelphia. At twenty, he and 
Thomas Willing formed the new firm, Willing and Morris, or 
Willing, Morris and Co., or subsequently so styled. The stock 
was as diverse as the heterogeneous commodities of a cross- 
roads emporium and as varied as a modern department store. 
They imported and exported from and to every mart in the 
world ; they bought and sold bills of exchange and engaged in 
other branches of banking. The business was comprehensive 
enough to include the barter in human chattels. Morris never 
concealed that to him public office meant no relinquishment of 
private pursuit. The operations of the war gave opportunity 
for enrichment, and Morris never was slow either in business 
or politics. As Financier-General he acquired additional credit 
and he actually circulated his own notes throughout the conti- 
nent as currency and even had the assurance to have the 
Assembly of Virginia and perhaps the legislatures of other col- 
onies enact them current in payment of tax.f Before the ter- 
mination of the war his firm was favorably known in the 
considerable trading towns in Europe, and he, himself, was 
reputed to be the possessor of prodigious wealth. 

Of his personal appearance and manner of living, I will now 
let others say : 

Marquis de Chastellux, 1781, writes: % 

Mr. Morris is a large man, very simple in his manners ; but his mind is subtle 
and acute, his head perfectly well organized, and he is as well versed in public 
affairs as in his own. He was a member of Congress in 1776, and ought to be 
reckoned among those personages who have had the greatest influence in the 
revolution of America. * * * His house is handsome, resembling perfectly 
the houses in London; he lives there without ostentation, but not without ex- 
pense, for he spares nothing which can contribute to his happiness, and that of 
Mrs. Morris, to whom he is much attached. A zealous republican, and an epicu- 
rean philosopher, he has always played a distinguished part at table and in 

* From addreM of Charkt H. VUxXr^Robert Morris. 

tThs Financier and Finanoas of the American Revolution.— /Vo/. William Graham Sumner, 

iTraveto in North America, in the years 1780-81-82, by the Marquis de Chastellux ^ trana- 
lated from the French, by an English gentleman^ who resided in America at that period. With 
notes by the transbtor. 


The Marquis' translator supplements:* 

The house the Marquis speaks of, in which Mr. Morris lives, belonged formerly 
to Mr. Richard Penn ; the Financier has made great additions to it, and is the 
first who has introduced the luxury of hot-houses and ice-houses on the conti- 
nent. He has likewise purchased the elegant country house formerly occupied 
by the traitor Arnold, nor is his luxury to be outdone by any commercial 
voluptuary of London. 

Prince de Broglic, 1782, writes: 

M. de la Luzerne conducted me to the house of Mrs. Morris to take tea. She 
is the wife of the Financier of the United States. The house is simple, but neat 
and proper. The doors and tables are of superb mahogany, carefully treated. 
The locks and trimmings are of copper, charmingly neat. The cups were 
arranged symmetrically. The mistress of the house appeared well. Her cos- 
tume was largely of white. 1 got some excellent tea ; and 1 think that 1 should 
still have taken more, if the Ambassador had not charitably warned me, when I 
had taken the twelfth cup, that I must put my spoon across my cup whenever 
1 wanted this species of torture by hot water to stop; *' since," said he to me, 
** it is almost as bad manners to refuse a cup of tea when it is offered to you as 
it would be indisaeet for the master of the house to offer you some more, when 
the ceremony of the spoon has shown what your intentions are in respect to this 
matter." Mr, Morris is a large man, who has a reputation for honourableness 
and intelligence. It is certain that he has great credit at least, and that he has 
been clever enough while appearing often to make advances of his own funds for 
the service of the Republic, to accumulate a great fortune and to gain several 
millions since the Revolution began. He appears to have much good sense. He 
talks well, so far as I could judge, and his large head seems as well adapted for 
governing a great empire as that of most men. 

W. Sullivan, Public Men of the Revolution, records: 

In his person (as now recollected) he was nearly six feet in stature; of large, 
full, well-formed, vigorous frame, with clear, smooth, florid complexion. His 
loose, gray hair was unpowdered ; his eyes were gray, of middle size, and un- 
commonly brilliant. He wore, as was common at that day, a full suit of broad 
cloth of the same color, and of light mixture. His manners were gracious and 
simple, and free from formality which generally prevails. He was very affable, 
and mingled in common conversation with the young. 

Samuel Breck, in his Recollections, recalls: 

There was a luxury in the kitchen, table, parlour and street equipage of Mr. 
and Mrs. Morris that was to be found nowhere else in America. Bingham's 
was more gaudy, but less comfortable. It was pure and unalloyed which the 
Morrises sought to place before their friends, without the abatements that so 
frequently accompany the displays of fashionable life. No badly cooked or cold 
dinners at their table; no pinched fires upon their hearths; no paucity of 
waiters ; no awkward loons in their drawing-rooms. 

• Trav«b In North America In the yean 1780-81-81, by the Marquit de ChatUUux, tran*- 
htad fiom the French by an EngHth gentUman, who rcaidad in America at that period. With 
nolaa by the translator. 


remote little brick courthouse, there to ascertain if the title is a 
continuous chain from the original owner — Robert Morris. 

February 20, 1795, Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf formed 
the celebrated North American Land Company. The number 
of shares was thirty thousand and the capital three million dol- 
lars. The three promoters conveyed land to the company at 
fifty cents an acre. The land was located in Pennsylvania, 
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Ken- 
tucky, six million acres in all, and two million of which in 
Georgia. Morris was the President of the Board of Managers. 

Although but half a dollar an acre was the consideration paid 
by the company and that in its stock the alluring prospectus 
valued it at £100 an acre and assured the reader: 

The proprietor of back lands gives himself no other trouble about them than 
to pay the taxes, which are inconsiderable. As Nature left them, so will they lie 
till circumstances give them value. The proprietor is then sought out by the 
settler who has chanced to pitch upon them, or who has made any improvement 
thereon, and receives from him a price which fully repays his original advance, 
with great interest. 

What a fallacy I It is the reverse. The taxes are onerous. 
The settler never pays anything or seeks anybody. He 
assumes squatter's sovereignty, and maintains it peaceably if 
he can, forcibly, if he must, but maintains it. 

George Washington Parke Custis is the authority that Morris 
requested Washington to go into the North American Land 
Company; that Washington not only refused but remonstrated 
with him for heavily speculating at his age — three score. 
Morris replied : '* I can never do things in the small ; I must be 
either a man or a mouse." 

Mr. Morris had of his own volition yielded his residence to 
President Washington and taken that of a tory refugee, Gallo- 
way, most conspicuous in the ante-revolutionary days. In 
1795, Morris purchased the square within the bounds of 
Chestnut, Walnut, Seventh and Eighth streets. 

Major Charles Pierre L'Enfant, so it is published, at the 
Financier's dinner of state suggested a great house. His sug- 
gestion was rewarded by an engagement to devise the structure 
and supervise the construction. The Major was a man of big 
ideas. What others saw in ordinary vision, he did through a 
magnifying glass. Morris was on the tongue of everybody — 
his political preferment, his speculative success. The Major 


(T^rlNG" they titled him. If greatness of project, bold- 
ly ness of execution and steadfastness in tribulation are 
the attributes of kingship, Greenleaf was indeed a 
king, in the annals of the city of Washington James Green- 
leaf in scheme and speculation is first and foremost, in litiga- 
tion the most persistent. In his land ventures he invested 
more than his genius; and he did contribute, generously, 
opportunity or the material from which the Supreme Court of 
a young republic fixed the foundation and formed the frame- 
work in the structure of its jurisprudence. 

Of Huguenot origin is the Greenleaf family, and its name is 
a translation of the French Feuillevert. 

Edmund Greenleafe is the common ancestor. He settled in 
Newbury, Massachusetts, in 1635. 

William Greenleaf was born January 10. 1735, and married 
Mary Brown of Plymouth; was bred a merchant and resided 
many years in Boston. He was an ardent Whig and active in 
the Revolution; and, of the committee secretly selected at 
town meeting in Boston, November 2, 1772, to advise and de- 
vise with other colonies by correspondence measures for 
mutual pursuance. The committee offlimes convened at hb 
house. It was a hazardous part, exposing to treactiery within 
and attack without, and each signed a bond in most solemn 
phrase never in emergency even unto death to betray con- 
stituent or cause. 

He was appointed High Sheriff of Suffolk county, including 
Boston, by the Governor and Council. October 31, 1775. His 
shrievalty ceased December 14, 1780. Monday, July 15, 1776, 
a committee of the Council was appointed to consider in "what 
way, manner and form the declaration of the honorable Con- 
tinental Congress should be made public." The committee 


The Major was a creditor for his services although he pre- 
sented no account; and Morris, 1800, writes : 

Various circumstances render me little solicitous on the score of his services, 
but he lent me thirteen shares of bank stock disinterestedly, and on this point 
1 feel the greatest anxiety that he should get the same number of shares with the 
dividends, for want of which he has suffered great distress. 

The Syracusan friends and their fidelity to friendship is a 
tradition or a type of unselfish devotion. The friendship of 
these brother Americans, Morris and Nicholson, is as real as 
rare. The gradual culture of their reciprocity through the ups 
and downs of business alliance had its fruition in adversity. 
Theirs was not 

A shade that follows wealth or fame, 
And leaves the wretch to weep, 

it was as firm as the rocks of Gibralter. Nicholson's action in 
sending all his available money to Morris on his commitment 
to prison and that of Morris in making prompt return of it, ex- 
cites admiration for their devotion and sympathy for their 

To illustrate the affectionate relation 1 will quote from Mr. 
Morris's letters, sentences few, comparatively speaking, for 
great is the number of letters extant. When Mr. Nicholson 
made his prolonged stay in the city of Washington, Mr. 
Morris daily wrote — come, come, yet stay if the exigencies 
there require and I here will parry the creditors' attacks. Mr. 
Morris frequently dubs Mr. Nicholson "the great lawyer" in 
playful sarcasm of pretention to legal knowledge. With Sep- 
tember, 1797, the letters are from the ** Hills,"* his citadel 
where he fortified himself from the "cormorants" who would 
torment his soul and from the ** myrmidons " of the law who 
would murder his liberty. 


January i. 1 very sincerely wish that the opening of a New Year 1795 may 

be more propitious to your views & wishes than the close of 
1794 hath been, and to begin it well, 1 tell you in answer to 
your note of yesterday that 1 will most cheerfully give my name 
upon the notes you mention and to any others necefsary to re- 
lieve you from the present situation. 

August 29 We must work like Men to clear away these cursed Incum- 
brances & satisfy the Cormorants. 

•Reproduced. The Htotoric Mansioiu and Building! of PhUadelphi«.~fF«fleo/A P- S^B. 


November 20. For he telleth stories against John the manufactorer, who under- 

taketh to build Houses and leaveth them unbuilt, even altho' he 
hath promised to raise them unto the third story & put a roof 
thereon — Still they do not rise above the Surface of the Earth 
but various and numerous are the Tales and Traditions against 
not only John but Robert — Know thou these men. Adieu, may 
truth prevail, & Robert & John obtain the voice of impartial 
Justice ought to bestow. 

November 22. We must depend on ourselves, put the World at defiance and set 

ourselves on the Front Seat of the Worlds amphitheatre * * * 
May the Father of the universe receive you into the Holy Taber- 
nacle after you can bid adieu to this Terrestrial Globe, free from 
the reproaches of your own Conscience or of your fellow man. 

December 4. I find a number of your notes are coming in for Payment, and of 

course go to the Fraternity of "Notarius Publicus,'' and as the 
Supreme Court is now sitting, honorable mention will be made 
of our names. 


January i. I do most devoutly pray that the present may prove more propi- 
tious to you and me than the last year did, and I am sure there 
are few if any mortals in this Worid that stand more in need of 
fortunes favors — We must therefore throw ourselves in the way 
and by Exertions conciliate her good will. 

August 31. I have felt as melancholy as a Gib Cat ever since you went and 

the news Papers lie here unread and untouched. ♦ ♦ ♦ | 
rejoiced when I found you had got Safe to Castle Defence. 

September 13. Your letter No. 8 of yesterday is written with more animation 

& Spirit than the others. Oh what a charming delightful 
thing is a gleam of hope, how it clears the Soul & drives away 
that friend of Hell, despair. 

September 18. You are a great Lawyer & therefore I put a question? Can 

the Sheriff upon the rejection of the special bail legally make 
forcible entry into the Defendts castle, or has the Defent a right 
to Shoot & consider well before you answer, and if necessary 
you can take the opinion of other counsel, which even if Uss 
able may be usefull, as perhaps the opinions to be given may 
tend to the preservation of the Body and the Soul will take 
care of itself. 

September 27. You need not fear that I should suspect you were going to quit 

writing to me. I shall not suspect that to happen until you 
quit your existence or untill I do, and I think even then, if there 
was an Office door under which the letters would be thrust I 
would not rest in quiet on the other side of the River Styx. 

September 30. If our afflictions are as heavy & follow as quick as those of Job 

we must follow him & bear them with patience & resignation 
this I can do perfectly as to myself but when 1 think of my fam- 
ily my Soul is wrung to the quick here I must Stop this Subject 
comes home to my feelings which are too Strong to proceed and 
I lay down the pen. 











3. Good Morning to you, my good friend, What is the matter is 
your ink out, Quills exhausted, or paper quite done, excuse those 
questions they arise out of circumstance of my not having heard 
from you all day. 

4. Your note of this day just received tells me that you pofeeiis 
your liberty, that is the liberty of locking up yourself. 

25. While I am writing I receive your further notes of today — num- 
bers 7, 8 and 9. 1 wish to God these notes would take up those 
which bear promise of payments. They are numerous already, 
but if they would answer the other purpose, you would want 
more copying-presses and half a dozen paper-mills. ♦ ♦ ♦ 
To number 9 1 answer that they will have done advertising and 
selling our property after it is all sold and gone. Two hundred 
thousand aaes of my land in North Carolina, which cost me 
$27,000, are sold for one year's taxes. By Heaven, there is no 
bearing with these things! 1 believe 1 shall go mad. Every 
day brings forward scenes and troubles almost insupportable, 
and they seem to be accumulating, so that they will like a tor- 
rent carry everything before them. God help us! for men will 
not. We are abandoned by all but those who want to get from 
us all we yet hold. 
I. Your several fiaivours of this day (if distressing Billets can be called 
fiaivours) No i to 6 were brought out. ♦ « ♦ i have sworn 
to let no body inside my House and not to go outside of the 
walls myself. If 1 see them it is out of a window, I being up- 
stairs and they down. When I snuff the open air it is on the 
top. « « « 5f«f/!5 again, a curse on all ^f«i/5 say /. If they 
were good comfortable Winter Suits one might dispose of them, 
the more the better; but these damned suits wherein a Lawyer 
is the Taylor are neither good for man. Woman, Child or Beast 

15. 1 am as sensible as you are how careflill we should be of preserv- 
ing the liberty to imprison ourselves, but some risque we must 
run if necessary to see each other. 

2a I hope in the mean time that your apprehensions of what was to 
happen today are not realized, but that on the contrary your 
dwelling is as quiet and peaceable as Castle Defiance, where no 
attack has been made except by the North Wester & the Frost 
this Cold Morning. 

1 1. For my part I begin to think the best way to get clear of the 
whole Host of them is to submit and take up quarters in Pruen 
Street at once, nothing there can be worse than this continual 
haraiisment & torment which we or least / now suffer. 

12. I fear my good friend it will be long before we sit down under 
our own Vines and Fig trees, altho' it may not be long before 
we get among the Pruens. 

14. But you must not go to Pruen street Parry the present diffi- 
culties, and fortune will smile hereafter, but if the key b once 
turned on you by the hand under any authority but your own 
God only knows when that door shall be opened to you; per- 



haps never, untfl you shall be insensible to the affairs of the 

December 17. The peace of your family & all future happinefs depend so 

much on the enjoyment of the small degree of liberty which you 
now have, that I am agitated to the last degree in waiting to 
know the result of your attempts, may the Great Ruler of the 
Universe order & dispose events in your fiaivour as well as in 
favour of those that depend upon your exertion & mine. 

December 21. Good heavens what Vultures Men are in regard to each other. 

1 never in the days of prosperity took advantage of any persons 
distrefses and 1 suppose what 1 now experience is to serve as a 
lefson where to see the folly of humane and generous conduct. 


I. 1 reciprocate all your good wishes upon the coming in of this 
New Year, but it enters with a gloomy shade over our affairs 
that does not auger well 

January 11. Confidence has furled her banners, which no longer wave over 

the heads of M. and N. 

January 25. As you are a Great Si sometimes a good Lawyer 1 ask you to 

consider the subject well and give me your advice but 1 fear all 
the common Lawyers are against us. 

January 31. My mind is so much disturbed about going to Prison that I do 

not get along with businefs, indeed 1 hardly think it worth while 
any longer to submit to the drudgery of it, for if 1 am once 
locked up by any body but myself 1 shall consider my ruin as 
sealed, and if so, why should 1 any longer submit to the racks & 
tortures occasioned by the importunities and insatiable avarice of 
Creditors that I never knew or dealt with, 1 will not do it, but if 
1 keep my present position my exertions shall be continued to 
make the most of my affairs in the hope of paying everything 
and of having a suitable surplus for the benefit of my family. 

February 5. 1 got safe here and found it the only place of calmnefs and quiet 

my foot was in all yesterday, it has made me more averse to the 
Gty than ever and 1 detest Pruen Street more than ever, there- 
fore keep me from it if pofsible my Dr friend. 

February 5. If writing notes could relieve me you would do it sooner than 

any man in the world, but all you have said in these now before 
me, No 5 to 9 inclusive amount when summed up to nothing. 
My money is gone my furniture is to be sold, 1 am to go to 
prison & my &mily to starve — good night 

February 8. Altho' 1 am expecting to hear what kind of reception and an- 
swers your circular letter has met with, 1 cannot say that I have 
conceived the smallest degree of hope from that measure, on the 
contrary I consider my fate as fixed, hard and cruel it is. The 
punishment of my imprudence in the use of my name and lots of 
credit b perhaps what I deserve, but it b nevertheleds severe on 
my iamfly and on their account I feel it most tormentingly, on 
their account I would do any thing to avert what I foresee must 







happen next Week, except an act that would still affect them 
more deeply — 1 will try to see you before I go to Prison and in 
the mean time I remain your distrefsed fiiend. 

15. I am here in custody of a Sheriffs officer in my own house 
Charles Eddy is the most hardened Villian God ever made. 1 
believe that if 1 had had bank notes at the HiUs to the amount 
of his brothers bail for me he would not have taken them, not 
being a legal tender, he was positively determined to carry me to 
Pruen Street last night but the Sheriff humanely refieyed me from 
his rascally clutches. As 1 believe you want money as much, if not 
more than 1 do at this moment I return the forty dollars received 
in your note of thb day, with thanks for the kind intention. 

16. Morris went to prison. 

20. My confinement has so far been attended with disagreeable and 
uncomfortable circumstances, for having no particular place 
allotted for me, 1 feel myself an intruder in every place into 
which 1 go. 1 sleep in another persons bed, 1 occupy other 
peoples rooms, and if 1 attempt to sit down to write it is at the 
interruption and inconvenience of some one who has acquired a 
prior right thereto.* 

15- 1 get frighted as 1 go through my memorandums at the number 
and amount of our notes. Then I leave off the work and lay 
the papers aside, not for them to cool, but that my mind may 
do it. I received your letter of yesterday, by which I see the 
prison scene has made its impression on your mind. You must 
come every Sunday; and it will grow so familiar that you will 
think little of it so long as you keep out on week days. 

30. I am looking forward with fear and trembling to the i8th day of 
February, when another quarter's rent will be due and must be 
paid or my sponsor will be called upon, and that would be 
worse than to be turned into the street 

During his imprisonment, probably in 1800, he relieved the 
monotony by writing something explanatory of his enter- 
prises and stating his open accounts. The document in two 
parts was published as an exhibit in litigation. The explana- 
tion exhibits a heedlessness and recklessness in buying, mort- 
gaging and disposing beyond belief; and it discloses he became 
lost to a knowledge of his transactions and to the extent of his 

This examinant thinks that he could in thb place detail circumstances in exten- 
uation of hb own conduct that might tend to protect him in some degree against 
the charges of rashness and imprudence which, with appearance of justice, hath 
been imputed to these speculations; but as recrimination would be no use, and 

* Mr. Morris timlbrly writes to Mr. Pitssimons: 

I feel lilce an intruder evenr where; sleeping in other people's beds and sitting in other people's 
rooms. I am writing on other people's paper with other people's ink,~the pen is my own ; that 
and the clothes I wear are all I cUim as mina here. 

35 Mowiis 

as all the parties have suffered the severest penalties that opinion and law could 
inflict, he must continue, as he hitherto hath done, to submit to his fate, and 
meet it with that fortitude which is supported by consciousness that he neither 
intended evil to himself or to any creditor or other person whatever, that any one 
should lose or suffer by operations in which he had a concern is to him a most 
distressing and mortifying circumstance. 

To me nothing in the memoirs of Morris is more pathetic 
than the mention in the schedule of scanty supplies, for furni- 
ture he had none, of some wine belonging to his daughter in 
the care of his wife. 

There is some bottied wine which 1 do not consider as mine, but 1 choose to 
mention it that 1 may avoid suspicion or reproach. This wine is what remained 
in a quarter cask which 1 gave to my daughter Maria at the same time that 1 
gave one to her sister some years ago, destined to be used on a particular occa- 
sion. The cask leaked, and the remainder was bottled. 

In the bankruptcy proceedings debts were proven to the 
amount of three million dollars ($2,948,711.11). Very likely 
the smaller proportion of the actual indebtedness as no assets 
were visible. Mr. Morris was '* restored to home and family" 
August 26, 1 801. The prison period is three years, six months 
and ten days. 

Morris was a martyr. His privation of liberty tended to the 
liberties of unfortunate thousands. His imprisonment has been 
charged to the ingratitude of the republic. Only one course 
was there to save him and that public subscription. His debts 
were three millions sure and perhaps millions more. A great 
sum now and many fold greater then. The tax was too severe 
for public generosity. However public beholdment to The 
Financier of the American Revolution aroused attention to the 
inhumane institution and the Debtor's Prison ceased to be. 

Mrs. Morris through the assistance of Gouverneur Morris 
was enabled to secure from the Holland company an annuity 
for an unreleased dower of fifteen hundred dollars. She pro- 
vided therewith a home on Twelfth street between Chestnut 
and Market Here Morris passed his declining years. In his 
days of dire distress he struggled to retain certain greatly prized 
tokens and with what success or iii-success he tells in the 
solemnity of a testamentary writing — ^an appendix hereto. He 
is buried beneath Christ Church on Second street. A tablet 
reads : ' ' The family Vault of William White and Robert Morris. 
The latter, who was Financier during the Revolution, died the 
8th of May, 1806, aged 73 years." 



BIOGRAPHICAL items are meagre. In early years of 
manhood Nicholson was busied in important activities. 
His was a strenuous life. I presume he was a native 
or the province of Pennsylvania and his advent had the advan- 
tage of affluent environment. 

The change from province to commonwealth, dependence 
to independence, the war exaction and the currency depreciation 
of this evolutionary and revolutionary period caused chaotic 
condition in the affairs, fmancial and otherwise. In 1780 a 
system of account and an office of comptroller-general was 
established. John Nicholson first served * in this capacity " for 
the time being" and from 1785 on a fixed tenure of seven 
years. The scope of ofRce was "to keep fair, distinct and 
clear accounts of all revenues and expenditures of the Com- 
monwealth of every kind and nature;" to collect debts 
except taxes; to settle with soldiers; and to issue interest 
bearing negotiable certificates. The authority of the comp- 
troller-general was executive and judicial subject to appeal to 
the Supreme Court.f Under the manipulation of Nicholson 
the knotty skein of tangled finance was gradually unraveled. 
He financiered the finances with skill. He disbursed an 
excess of twenty-seven millions of the public funds. 

Federalist and republican had patriotic principle alike; and 
toward each other a cordial dislike. Partisanship in the 
republic's formative period was intensely acrimonious, more 
so, than at any subsequent. 

Fair i$ foul, and foul is £dr 
was a motto not inscribed on banner yet appropriately might 
have been. Party spirit incited malevolence and a malevolent 


feature was rude caricature. He of horns and hoofs and tail 
and the Financier were pictured in company; the former 
beckoning and calling " Come this way, Bobby." The City 
of Brotherly Love was the cauldron wherein seethed with 
fiercest heat the political rancors. And this is prefatory to the 
assertion an efficient official might be charged and censured 
and still be guiltless. Nicholson was accused in the House of 
Representatives and an impeachment trial ensued. A sum- 
mary is in Jacob Hiltzheimer's Diary. It began February 26, 
1794. Four Philadelphia lawyers represented the House and 
four the Comptroller-General. April 11, the Senate (the jury) 
gave favorable decision to Nicholson and thereupon to escape 
further political persecution he retired from office. 

It is stated, unauthentically, that Nicholson was of the first 
board of direction of the Bank of North America organized, 
November i, 1781, mainly through the means of Morris. 

Transactions in Nicholson's private right are of amazing 
magnitude. At the time of his public service he owned in 
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania three million seven hun- 
dred thousand acres. In a report, 1806, to the Common- 
wealth it is alleged by a brother of Nicholson that he had 
indisputable title to one-seventh of its surface. Other posses- 
sions in the States were of enormous extent. After official 
retirement he became besides speculator, a manufacturer. 

To provide for engagements incurred in the Pennsylvania 
land purchases he organized joint stock concerns to which he 
conveyed considerable of his holdings. Of this class are the 
conveyances of March 17 and 18, 1797, to the Pennsylvania 
Land Company. 

The business association with Morris dates 1793. Upon 
Greenleaf's retirement from the Federal City enterprise and 
consequent relinquishment of the active management, Nichol- 
son with Cranch for Morris succeeded thereto. When Mr. 
Nicholson had assistance at Washington it was that of Lewis 
Deblois, a resident merchant. 

Mr. Nicholson was alert and aggressive. He mastered the 
details of all the operations at Washington notwithstanding 
his ramified interests elsewhere and neglected nothing. He 
sought those who had money to invest in lots and improve- 
ments and consummated the contracts; he found those who 
had cash to loan and persuaded an exchange for his paper; 

41 mcHOLSow 

he looked well to the division lines and insisted on every 
square foot undoubtedly his or doubtfully his. And when the 
Commissioners' ideas did not conform to his he wrote in a 
straight style comporting with his characteristic vim and 

One of Mr. Nicholson's characteristics can be guessed and 
needs not the confirmation of Mr. Morris, February 9, 1797 : 

I know that you are never idle, it is not in your nature or habits to be so, 
but I think you are too often employed in doing what ought to be done by 
others, correct this error and you will accomplish more real businels in a short 
time than any other man living. 

At the comer of Seventh and Race streets in Philadelphia, 
Mr. Nicholson lived in affluent style and subscribed to the 
projects that conduced to the pleasure and pride of the 
Quaker City. 

Mr. Nicholson's handwriting was plain, straight up and 
down — vertical. And he did write — write — write. The river 
of his thought flowed on easily, ceaselessly. To Mr. Morris 
when at the Hills, "Castle Deflance," self-immured to escape 
the attentions of creditors, Mr. Nicholson, likewise so dis- 
posed in his city mansion, " Castle Defense," sent by messen- 
ger daily, his letters numbered i to 6 and sometimes i to 11. 
With Mr. Morris it was to 

Read o'er this: 
And after, this: 

and this, and this. On one occasion to letter No. 9 he writes: 

1 wish to God these notes would take up those which bear promises of 

and makes allusion to copying presses and paper mills. Yet 
Mr. Morris waited longingly for the messenger with Mr. 
Nicholson's budget. From the one side of the epistolary 
dialogue accessible sometimes the other can be surmised. 
Nicholson writes a word badly ; Morris suggests the necessity 
of the devil's decipherment. What Nicholson then replies is 
suggested by Morris's words, March 5, 1798: 

In No. 3 you say "that I shall see you are a great scrivener ^^ had you 
said a great scribbler I should have said Ay at once. 

The abrupt cessation of Mr. Nicholson's letters had its 
cause. The necessity was obviated. Mr. Nicholson came to 


mcHOLSoM 42 

stay with Mr. Morris, for, he, too, was a prisoner for debt 
In " Prune Street" he to gain for his own and his daily bread 
turned his facility and published a paper with a truth and jest 
at the top — The Supporter or Daily Repast, Surely it served 
up a feast, spicy and sumptuous, to satisfy the most exacting. 
The journalistic enterprise survived until the editor's death in 
the debtor's apartment, the 5th day of December, 1800. This 
circumstance seems to discredit the representation he died 
Prophetic were the words of Mr. Morris : 

But if the key is once turned on you by the hand under any authority but 
your own God only knows when that door shall be opened to you; perhaps 
never, until you shall be insensible to the affairs of the world. 

The bankrupt law of April 4, 1800, was effective July ist, 
that year, and these brother unfortunates could have promptly 
availed themselves of it yet neither for some cause, not appa- 
rent, seemed disposed to act with promptitude. Mr. Nichol- 
son's debts are said to have totalled twelve million dollars. 
Multiply for the relative value of money, then and now, and 
exclaim I 

Mr. Morris writes : 

John Nicholson, deceased. A heavy balance will be found due to me on 
the accounts depending between this my fellow-sufferer and myself, probably 
upward of $600,000 specie, when all entries are made that the transactions 
require. With the purest intentions, he unfortunately laid a train that ended as 
it hath done. 1 here say he laid the train, because there are living witnesses 
that 1 opposed as soon as 1 knew it, although from infatuation, madness or 
weakness, 1 gave away afteiward. 

It would be a mistaken inference to take this large sum as 
money advanced. It includes land purchases with one hundred 
per cent, profit. 

The absence of Nicholson's masterly manipulation, the con- 
dition of his affairs, and the growth and spread of population 
resulted in endless confusion and litigation. Tracts, through- 
out the thirty-nine counties, for unsettled land warrants and 
other accounts in liquidation reverted to the Commonwealth 
and by it were re-sold. Pre-existent claims to that of the Com- 
monwealth had the effect of creating uncertain titles. " Nich- 
olson Courts," special courts, to afford relief from embarrass- 
ment of title, have been authorized by legislative enactment 
and these have been re-opened time after time. So it is said, 


in more recent years the Nicholsons have appeared and pre- 
sented sweeping claims to about all to which there is a grant 
that bears an impress of their ancestral name. The annalist 
exclaims : * 

Thus, at the end of forty years, does the ail-grasping cupidity of one man 
dbturb the peace and weHare of whole communities. 

The annalist's indignation is hardly founded on a just con- 
ception. Nicholson's investments were legitimate and proper 
and the complications which followed were not suspected or 
foreseen. And, if true, that Nicholson's descendants do seek 
that which seems rightfully theirs ft is reasonable and not con- 
demnable. The annalist himself stands accused of writing 
besides truth — tattle. 

Not all speak ill of Mr. Nicholson : 


Dear Sir, 

Nothing could be more opportune than your kind offer to the poor Africans. 
They had nearly despaired of being able to complete their church. The person 
who once offered to lend them money was Col. Cox. Finding that you antici- 
pated him in that benevolent act, he followed your kindness by bequeathing to 
them one hundred pounds. From their numbers, their increasing prosperity, and 
their punctuality in all their engagements, 1 have no doubt but your interest will be 
paid to a day every quarter. The lot and building amply secure the prindpaL 
In all my intercourse with the blacks, 1 have found them affectionate and grate- 
ful. You will find them more so, — for you have greater demands than 1 have 
ever had, upon their gratitude and affections. I find they have alloted a pew for 
each of us, on different sides of the pulpit of their church. On Saturday next 
they purpose to raise their roof, after which they are to have a dinner under a 
tree at a private house in the Neck, about a mile from town, I hope I shall have 
the pleasure of meeting you there, for they intend to invite you with two or three 
more of their white benefactors. 1 wish to suggest to you an idea of offering 
io,ooo, or more acres for sale on moderate terms, and on a credit for a few years, 
to Africans only who have been brought up as farmers. The attraction of color 
and country is such that 1 think the offer would succeed, and thereby ^precedent 
be established for colonizing in time, all the Africans. 

Adieu — my dear friend — May Heaven prosper you in all your great and exten- 
sive pursuits, and may you long continue to enjoy the highest and only rational 
pleasure that wealth can confer — I mean the luxury of doing good. . 

From yours 


August 1 2th 1793 

* WttMa*t Aanalt of Phlkiddpliia. 


Poulson*s American Daily Advertiser^ Monday, December 8, 1800. 

Died, on Friday last, John Nicholson, esquire, formerly Comptroller General 
of this state, and lately editor of a newspaper, emphatically stiled " The Sup^ 
porter^ or Daily Repast^^* in allusion to his, then, situation and circumstances. 
This gentleman by the attention of his parents had received in his youth a liberal 
education, was trained in the paths of piety, industry, and application to business; 
nature had bestowed talents, and he acquired by practice a facility in adjusting 
and settling the most intricate affairs with dispatch unequalled. Fortune smiled 
on his industry for a time and he acquired wealth; wealth afforded the oppor- 
tunity (which he embraced) to gratify the qualities and propensities of his mind; 
generous without ostentation hb donations altho' numerous were little known to 
any but the immediate objects of them ; sympathy for the distressed led him to 
visit the sick and necessitous within his circle, and upon every such occasion he 
administered the aid or comfort which the case required, insomuch that by the 
indigent he was called the father of his neighborhood. Modest, unassuming and 
good tempered, he was a kind and affectionate husband and parent, a sincere 
friend and use^l dtizen. Without being stimulated to avarice or ambition, he 
became too ardent (from habit) to the pursuit of wealth, and as many have done 
before by outstepping the bounds prescribed by prudence, he lost a fortune that 
ought to have contented him. He bore the reverse with fortitude, and had it 
been his fate to continue in this world, there is little room to doubt, that industry 
like hb, aided by past experience would have repaired the ravages of misfortune. 
A short sickness has snatched him from all possibility of exertion, leaving an 
amiable and affectionate wife with eight infant children, (unaccustomed untfl of 
late to know any ungratified wants) to struggle with the difficulties of their situa- 
tion. — May the author of all good, continue them in his holy protection and shed 
his divine influence in the minds of their fellow dtixens so as to dispose of them 
to administer to their relief and comfort 

A Friend of the Deceased. 

A lineal descendant of Nicholson says she is credibly 
advised that he was only in his twenty-second year when 
honored with the comptrollership; if correctly, he was but 
forty at time of decease. I approximate his years at two 
score; he may have been slightly more advanced. Morris 
mentions many times the lease of life that Nicholson has in 
which to rebuild his fortune. 

'' You are young enough to bury the Acorn and see the Tree grow up again." 

It is sad that a life of such executive efficiency and variant 
utility should so soon be closed, though freed from the cor- 
poreal prison for the better state. 

The picture of Mr. Nicholson is a reproduction of a paint- 
ing by Charles Wilson Peale and is presented through the 
courtesy of Mrs. M. Nicholson Collins of New Orleans, La. 


:i ,'.»•.«..<> 


WHEN the Cranch family finds the link that must needs 
be had to make a chain complete that master of the 
brush, Lucas Cranach, will be at one end of it. 

Richard Cranch, the father of William, in his twentieth 
year, 1746, emigrated to America. He was a watchmaker at 
Braintree, Massachusetts. By dint of incessant study he be- 
came learned; and was degreed. 1780, A. M. by Harvard 
College. He was postmaster, representative in the General 
Court, Senator of the Commonwealth and Judge of the Court 
of Common Pleas. President John Adams esteems "the 
friend of my youth as well as of my riper years," extols the 
student of "divinity, and Jewish and Christian antiquities," 
and exalts his " mathematical, metaphysical, mechanical, 
systematical head." Mr. Cranch married, 1826. Mary, 
daughter of Rev. William Smith of Weymouth. She was 
the sister of Abigail, wife of John Adams, and akin to her jn 

William Cranch was born July 17, 1769, in Weymouth. 
His youth was in the epoch-making days, the days of the 
minute-men, the days of Paul Revere and the crude-armed 
heroes of Lexington and Bunker Hill. His chance it was 
daily to hear appeal to patriots and defiance to despots. The 
clash he did 

Hear it in that battle peal! 
Read it on yon bristling steel! 

And in after-years from the bench did announce " this is 
the day of the year I heard the guns at Bunker Hill." 

The Cranch and Greenleaf families were more than neigh- 
borly and at years of man's estate and bloom of womanhood, 
William Cranch married James Greenleaf 's sister Nancy, and 
Greenleaf 's brother, John, married Cranch's sister, Lucy. 

Master Cranch's mother at home superintended his prelimi- 
nary instruction; and his uncle, Rev. William Shaw, of 


Haverhill, the preparatory, for college. At fifteen he was a 
freshman at Harvard with John Quincy Adams as classmate. 
Application to study in the collegiate course corresponds with 
that in other years in the discharge of duty. He graduated 
with honors, 1787. The same year he studied law in Boston 
under Hon. Thomas Dawes, with whom he lived. While a 
student of Mr. Dawes, apropos to bar associations, Mr. 
Adams, then Vice-President, to him, writes: 

New York, March 14, 179a 

Dear Sir, — Your favors of December 15, January 24, and February 17, are 
before me, and 1 thank you for your attention, and hope for a continuance of it, 
though 1 am not a punctual correspondent to you. 

To the original of the bar meetings 1 was a witness, as 1 was to their excellent 
effects in the progress of them. They introduced a candor and liberality in the 
practice at the bar, that were never t>efore known in the Massachusetts. Mr. 
Gardner's master, Mr. Pratt, was so sensible of their utility that when we took 
leave of him at Dedham, his last words to us were, ** Brethren^ forsake not 
the assembling 0/ yourselves together,** 

My advice to you, and all the young gentlemen coming up, as well as those 
now on the stage, is, never to suffer such meetings to go into disuse, let who will 
clamor about them: for as I know the body of the law will never consent to any 
illegal or dishonorable combinations, so on the other hand their deliberations 
together, on what is for the honor and dignity of the bar and for the public good, 
as far as their practice is connected with it, cannot but produce benign effects. 

What ? is it unlawful for the gentlemen of the profession to spend an evening 
together once a week? to converse upon law, and upon their practice; to hear 
complaints of unkind, unfair, and ungentlemanlike practice; to compose differ- 
ences; to agree that they will not introduce ignorant, illiterate, or ill-bred or 
unprincipled students or candidates? that they will not practice any kind of 
chicanery, or take unmanly disadvantages of one another, to the injury of 
clients for accidental or inadvertent slips in pleading or otherwise ? On what 
unhappy times are we fallen, if that profession without which the laws can never 
be maintained nor liberty exist, is to be treated in this tyrannical manner ? 

But I must stop. — Ask my son if he has received two letters from me, I am 

With much esteem and affection, yours, 


Mr. William Cranch, at Judge Dawes's, Boston. 

Mr. Cranch was admitted in his twenty-first year. 1790, to 
the Court of Common Pleas, and 1793, to the Supreme Court. 
He began practice at Braintree. Upon the decease of a rela- 
tive, John Thatcher, a lawyer, at Haverhill, he moved there 
and assumed the unfinished business. His practice was in 
Essex county, Massachusetts, whereof he was justice of the 

49 CtAMCH 

peace, appointed April, 1794, and in the considerable towns, 
as Exeter and Portsmouth, of New Hampshire. 

Mr. Greenleaf deputed his relative, Dr. Nathaniel Walker 
Appleton of Boston, to supervise the syndicate affairs at 
Washington. He was in the city, July, 1794, and received 
ample authorization, September 9, 1794, for three years; be- 
cause of ill health it became imperative immediately to retire 
and return. He was a graduate of Harvard, a doctor of medi- 
cine and the husband of Greenleaf s sister, Sarah. The 
unseasonable end of life before full fruition grieved the com- 
munity of which he was a respected constituent. Born, 
June 14, 1755; died, 1795. 

Mr. Greenleaf, always disposed to select relatives for his 
trusts, turned then to Mr. Cranch and offered the law agency 
of the Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf affairs at Washington 
at a salary of one thousand dollars. Mr. Cranch accepted; 
and en route conferred with Mr. Greenleaf at New York and 
became apprized the business was more extensive than he 
had apprehended. A new contract between Greenleaf and 
Cranch as to pay and privilege was made and a power, 
general in scope, was drawn and dated November 18, 1794. 
Mr. Cranch at this time writes: 

1 am to take charge of all the immense negotiations of Mr. G. , control all 
the cash, pass all accounts, oversee the bookkeepers etc. 

The new contract allowed fifteen hundred dollars, travelling 
expenses and several horses. 

Mr. Cranch, except the contents of a trunk he brought with 
him, lost all his belongings — books, papers and clothes — sent 
by water. These were consumed by lime, part cargo of the 
vessel wrecked in the Chesapeake Bay, which catastrophe is 
adverted to in Mr. Lear's letter. Mr. Greenleaf generously 
offered to sustain the loss and besides to make a loan payable 
at convenience without charge. 

Thus Mr. Cranch was thrust at an early age, twenty-five, 
into a sphere of activity, requiring the exercise of discreet 
diplomacy, keen acumen and critical discrimination. And 
naught there is more remarkable in a remarkable life than that 
in this period of speculative riot, although the principals drew 
swords for each other, they all confided in their adviser and 


John Adams from Philadelphia, December 10, 1794, to 
Charles Carroll of Carrollton, writes: 

The bearer of this letter William Cranch, is a nephew of mine, and to me 
very much like one of my sons, and I should therefore think myself, in a sort, 
wanting in parental affection if I suffered him to go to Annapolis, without a letter 
of introduction to you. He is destined to settle at least for some years in the 
Federal city, to the prosperity of which his education, talents, application, and 
virtues may make him very useful. Permit me to solicit your patronage in his 
favor in proportion to his merits. 

William Cranch and Ann (Nancy) Greenleaf married April 
6> i795i 11^ Boston. And, May 29th the bride and groom or 
" he and his family" arrived at their permanent home. During 
his bachelorhood he boarded with Mr. Notley Young at the 
manor-house on the Potomac bluffs. That the newly wedded 
a year later set up housekeeping independently appears from 
Mr. Cranch's advertisement for a domestic with the qualifica- 
tions of industry and sobriety. The same summer he rented 
from Mr. Greenleaf a tract across the Eastern Branch on the 
road from the ancient lower ferry to Upper Marlboro *'to dress 
it and to keep'' after the example of the first man. Here he 
devoted his leisure time in developing the land, enjoying the 
fruit as the labor itself, for with his own hands he spud with 
the hoe and turned furrows with the plough. 

Far from the world's tempestuous strife. 
Free 'mid the scented fields! 

Here for the time was exemption from the wracking com- 
plications of the triune speculators, and from the clamors of 
their creditors. 

In the early matrimonial period the young Cranchs' abode 
was transitory; their furniture was frequently on the wheels 
and before a degree of permanency was preserved, relics only 
must have remained of the original assortment. Apparently 
they resided in the city prior to residing in George-Town. 
About the year 1800, Mr. Cranch speaks of becoming a next 
door neighbor of Rev. Mr. McCormick who lived on B street 
south near First east, square 690. They were already living 
in the mansion, 468 N street, southwest, when, January 15, 
1808, Mr. Greenleaf leased it to Mr. Cranch upon terms munifi- 
cently liberal. The reciprocal helpfulness of Mr. Greenleaf and 
Mr. Cranch, brothers by marriage, throughout their joint days 


cannot be stated too strongly. Afterwards they occupied the 
house "between the Marine Garrison and Eastern Branch 
bridge* and situated in square 1044;" the old frame dwelling 
facing Pennsylvania avenue remains to this day. 

Mr. Cranch's engagement is explained in Mr. Morris's letter 
in reply to repeated request for increased salary. Although 
only in the employment of Mr. Morris, Mr. Nicholson's inter- 
ests being generally identical and joint, he necessarily was of 
service to both. 

WASHmoTON IX Nov 1796 


After considering the Contents of your letter of the 9 Inst I think it incum- 
bent on me to mention that it was not me that occasioned your removal to this 
City and to remind you that you became my agent in consequence of the pur- 
chase made by Mr Nicholson & myself of Mr Greenleaf, when the latter 
informed me that yr Salary was |t5oo & referred me to Mr Adams for your 
Character in order to induce me to continue your agency at that Salary — I 
applied accordingly to Mr Adams who gave me entire satisfaction and I imme- 
diately declared that I would pay the Salary for your Services altho' Mr Nichol- 
son declined — You were then informed that 1 expected my son to settle here 
and to assume the management of my Business — I suppose under this State of 
things that Mr Greenleaf Mr Nicholson and myself are chargeable with your 
salary until I 1 assumed it, and that 1 am accountable from that time to the 
present — You are certainly the best Judge of the value of your time and were I 
to confine my rule of judging to the Services hitherto required by my affairs in 
this place I should certainly say that nothing has occurred to recompense the 
Expence, however 1 discard that mode in the belief that if more important 
matters had offered you would have given your time and attention to them, 
consequently my cheerful acquiescence goes with the Salary agreed on — I have 
always supposed that Mr Greenleaf also made you an annual allowance for the 
services you continue to render in his affairs, but this is his and your affair — 1 
must now tell you that 1 do not wish any mans Services without making ade- 
quate Compensation ; that I have the most perfect Confidence in your Honor 
!nt^;rity & Capacity and that my belief that you pofsefs these qualities induces 
me to desire your Continuance in this agency, I will agree therefore to an addi- 
tion to your salary for the ensuing year say from the first of this months & 
instead of I1500 1 propose |i8oo Sc the Rent of the House you live in — Should 
this fall short of your Expectations tell me so freely for 1 would rather go further 
than leave you difsatisfied. * * * 

With great Esteem 1 am Sir 



The failure of Morris and Nicholson in 1797 stranded Mr. 
Cranch. He was in a quandary. Mr. Noah Webster, then 
editor of the Commercial Advertiser, New York, proposed the 


publication by them of a daily paper for Boston and another, 
semi-weekly or weekly, for the country, and that Mr. Cranch 
be the editor for both. His friends discouraged the temptation 
to return to Boston with its ties and encouraged the pursuit of 
his profession. He abandoned the paper project and accepted 
the friends' advice, in which was the concurrence of his father, 
overruling the desire to have him by in the declining days. 
Mrs. Adams writes : 

If upon mature consideration of the subject, you should think it best to go 
into the practice of the law, your uncle desires me to tell you that he will lend 
you two hundred dollars to purchase you such books as you may be in imme- 
diate want of; that you shall take your own time to repay him. 

Mr. Morris, May 14, 1797, writes: 

My wish is to enable you to discharge all Engagements made by you on 
my account and to pay the Workmen, finish the Houses &c which 1 still expect 
to accomplish^ and as you wish to prepare yourself for the Practice of the Law, 
send me a List of the Books you want, I will procure them for you on the best 
Terms 1 can and send them to you. 

Mr. Morris did negotiate for the books upon the most 
favorable terms of credit. Not until November 23, 1799, did 
Mr. Morris direct Mr. Cranch surrender the keys to the 
trustees of the aggregate fund. 

Endorsements for Mr. Morris compelled Mr. Cranch to 
relinquish, 1800, his property under insolvency proceedings 
or be subject to more severe consequences. Stringency of 
finance, dislike of the society and illness in family made the 
three years, 1797-1800, a gloomy period. Yet, serene and 
steadfast, he had some success in his practice. 

In 1800, President Adams at the request of land owners 
appointed Mr. Cranch a Commissioner. The salary was sixteen 
hundred dollars. 

He writes : 

But how long the office will continue is uncertain. The only subject of 
regret which the circumstance suggests, is, that it will call forth the calumnies 
of malevolence upon the president. But it will be remembered that President 
Washington appointed Mrs. Washington's son-in-law (Dr. Stuart) to the same 
office, — so that a precedent is not wanting, without recurring to the authority 
of the patriotic McKean, who appointed his own son to the office of attorney- 
general of the State of Pennsylvania. 

Under the Act of February 27, 1801, President Adams March 
3, 1801, appointed Mr. Cranch, Assistant Judge of the Circuit 


Court of the District of Columbia, who with William Kilty, 
Chief Judge, and James Marshall, brother of the Chief Justice, 
Assistant Judge, constituted the original court. 

In 1805, Chief Judge Kilty was promoted to the chancellor- 
ship of Maryland ; and February 4, that year. President Jefferson 
named Judge Cranch, Chief Judge, although he was a pro- 
nounced Federalist. The salary was twenty-seven hundred 
dollars. Congress specially imposed upon his office the final 
hearing of appeals from the Commissioner of Patents; and 
allowed extra compensation one hundred dollars. 

In the winter of 1806-7 Judge Cranch was in antagonism 
with public opinion and the purposes of President Jefferson. 

He to his father, February 2, 1807, writes: 

The last week was entirely occupied about the arrest and commitment of 
Dr. BoUman and Mr. Swartwout upon the charge of treason against the United 
States. Never in my life have I been more anxious. You will see by the 
newspapers that 1 have dared to differ from my brothers on the bench. 1 have 
dared to set the law and the Constitution in opposition to the arm of executive 
power, supported by the popular clamor. 1 have dared to attempt to maintain 
principle at the expense of popularity. 1 have stood alone, determined to judge 
fof myself, and to take counsel of no one. My own conduct has been the result 
of my own judgment only, unaided by a single conference, except with my 
brother judges. In my own mind I had no doubt whatever, that the Consti- 
tution did not justify a commitment upon such evidence ; and although I felt 
that the public interest might be benefited by committing those gentlemen for 
trial, yet 1 could not consent to sacrifice the most important constitutional pro- 
vision in favor of individual liberty, to reasons of State. 1 was not willing that 
the executive department should transfer to us its own proper responsibility. 

Never before has this country, since the Revolution, witnessed so gross a 
violation of personal liberty, as to seize a man without any warrant or lawful 
authority whatever, and send him two thousand miles by water for hb trial, 
out of the district or State in which the crime was committed ; — and then for 
the first time to apply for a warrant to arrest him, grounded on written affidavits. 

* * * My reasons for my opinion as to the facts (although I did not 
state them, because 1 did not think 1 could state them with propriety in that 
stage of the prosecution) were these. Treason against the United States can 
consist only in levying war against them. There can be no treason without an 
overt act of levying war. There can be no overt act of levying war without 
an assemblage of men, either armed, or in very great numbers, and ready to do 
some treasonable act. * * * 

So anxious was the president to have this prosecution commenced, or, to use 
his own language, to deliver them up to the civil authority, that he came to the 
Capitol on the day of their arrival, and with his own hand delivered to the 
district attorney, Mr. Jones, the affidavits of General Wilkinson, and instructed 
the attorney to demand of the court a warrant for the arrest of Bollman and 
Swartwout on the charge of treaion.— This was publicly confessed by Mr. Jones 


in open court, upon being questioned by Judge Fitzhugh, by whose orders he 
made the motion. 

When this circumstance is considered, — and the attempt made in the legis- 
lature to suspend the privilege of habeas corpus on the very day on which the 
motion was made for a warrant against Bollman and Swartwout, — when we 
reflect on the extraordinary exertions made by all under presidential influence to 
exaggerate Burr's conspiracy into a horrid rebellion, so that the administration 
may have the merit of quelling it without bloodshed, — when they have so tar 
succeeded as to excite the public mind almost to frenzy in many parts of the 
country, — ^you may form some idea of the anxiety which has attended my dis- 
sent from the majority of the court. — But having no doubt as to my duty, I 
have never once thought of shrinking from my responsibility. 

On the 2ist of the same month, again: 

It happened from a singular and unforeseen coincidence of strange circum- 
stances, that I should be the first to resist the hand of arbitrary power, and to 
stem the torrent, which has at length yielded, and is now turning the other way. 
Bollman and Swartwout have been this day absolutely released by the Supreme 
Court from imprisonment on the charge of treason. Although I have not for a 
moment doubted the correctness of my opinion, yet it is a great source of satis- 
faction to find it confirmed by the highest judicial tribunal in the nation. I con- 
gratulate my country upon this triumph of reason and law over popular passion 
and injustice, — upon the final triumph of the dvil over the military authority, — 
and of the practical principles of substantial personal liberty over the theoretical 
doctrine of philosophic dvil liberty. 

The first literary venture, of Judge Cranch is An Examination 
of the Presidents (Adams) Reply to the New Haven Hetnon" 
strance with an Appendix, 1801, Next, under the signature, 
Lucius Junius Brutus^ eleven articles in the Washington 
Federalist on the Independence of the Judiciary, 1802. 

In the Intelligencer, July 22, 1804, is the announcement of 
the first volume of the reports of the Supreme Court of the 
United States. The judge was the first regularly appointed 
reporter of the decisions of this court and the pioneer in the 
same direction in the District of Columbia. Of reportorial 
work, he in the preface to his first Supreme Court report, in 
part, says: 

Much of that uncertainty of the law, which is so frequently and perhaps so 
justly the subject of complaint in thb country may be attributed to the want of 
American reports. * * * It is therefore much to be regretted that 
so few of the gentlemen of the bar have been wilHng to undertake the task of 

In a government which is emphatically styled a government of laws, the 
least possible range ought to be left for the disaetion of the judge. Whatever 
tends to render the laws certain equally tends to limit that discretion; and per- 

55 CtAMCH 

haps nothing conduces more to that object than the publication of reports. 
Every case decided is a check upon the judge. He cannot decide a similar case 
differently, without strong reasons, which, for his own justification, he will 
wish to make public. The avenues to corruption are thus obstructed, and the 
sources of litigation closed. 

Cranch reports : 

Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States ; 1801-1815 ; 9 volumes. 
Reports of Cases Civil and Criminal in the United States Circuit Court of the 
District of Columbia ; 1801-1841 ; 6 volumes. 

Judge Cranch with President Jefferson was a member of the 
first board of trustees of Public Schools which organized, 
August 5, 1805, in the Supreme Court chamber at the Capitol. 
He retained the trusteeship seven years. The school corner 
of G and Twelfth streets southeast fittingly commemorates 
his service by its name — Cranch Building. 

Charges to Grand Jury at their request are published in the 
Intelligencer^ February 6, 1809, and January 14, 1813. 

Judge Cranch was of the original board of directors of the 
Bank of Washington, chosen September 15, 1809. He was a 
director in this institution until January, 1812. 

The judge was in sympathy with the establishment of 
manufacturing enterprises. The Mayor, Robert Brent, June 5, 
1808, called a meeting of citizens at Stelle's Hotel for the 21st 
to consider the expediency of a plan for encouraging domestic 
manufactures. Mr. Brent was chairman and John Law, secre- 
tary. Mr. Samuel H. Smith, editor of the Intelligencer ^ offered 
a series of resolutions, in part, declaring : 

That it is the duty of all sections of the Union to encourage the establish- 
ment and extension of domestic manufactures ; that the city of Washington, 
for various reasons, is eminently fitted for attaining manufacturing importance 
and that a plan should be reported to a subsequent meeting. 

And, Samuel H. Smith, Cornelius Coningham, N. Cutting, 
George Blagden, Buller Cocke and Robert Brent were a com- 
mittee to formulate a plan. At an adjourned meeting was 
submitted articles of association for the Columbia Manufac- 
turing Company, scheme of capitalization and subscription, 
method of incorporation and government. Chairman Brent 
appointed nine commissioners to receive subscriptions, the 
three from Washington were William Cranch, William Brent 
and George Blagden. The company under the charter form* 


ally organized and elected its first board of directors : Robert 
Brent (President), Nicholas King, Michael Nourse, William 
Cranch, Charles Jones, Samuel H. Smith, John P. Van Ness, 
Thomas Munroe and Joseph Huddleston. Its plant of the 
cotton industry was located at Greenleaf Point. I have written 
every name identified. All honor to these good citizens of 
the former days so mindful of the material needs of the people 1 

Another movement of similar import was made later on. 
Upon public notice a considerable number convened the 
evening of February 4, 1817, at Davis's Hotel. Gen. John P. 
Van Ness presided. To form a society it was resolved ; and 
to draft a constitution this committee was appointed: James 
H. Blake, Commodore David Porter, Fernando Fairfax, Gen. 
Walter Smith and Hon. William Cranch. More than the 
expression of a praiseworthy purpose seems not to have been 

Judge Cranch was of the committee appointed at the pre- 
liminary meeting, March 5, 181 1, to organize the Washington 
Library Company. At this time, the judge was president of 
the Benevolent Society of the City of Washington. 

In 181 1, the judge moved to Alexandria, Virginia. He had 
purchased, 1807, a farm of 246 acres in Alexandria county, 
one mile from the Washington Bridge, bounded by the Wash- 
ington and George Town turnpikes. Having established 
himself in Alexandria, he set about to gratify his agricultural 
ambition. He united tillage and sheep-raising. His mania 
was the merino breed. His father in a postscript added a 
witticism of the elder Adams : 

Your uncle, the late president, desired me to send his love to you, and hopes 
that your attention to your sheep will not take off your mind from the wool- 

The eighth anniversary of the Arlington Sheep Shearing 
occurred April 30, 1812. In that day were reporters too and 
this is a slight excerpt from the write-up : 

The day was uncommoningly mild for the season. The awning composed of 
the canvass which had so often sheltered the immortal founder of the liberties 
of his country, beautifully ornamented with festoons of Laurel and a striking 
likeness of the General suspended over the foot of the table, altogether inspired 
feelings of unutterable expression. Mr. Custis presided, supported by the hon. 
Judge Cranch as senior, assisted by Governor Lee and J. C Herbert, Esq. of 
Alexandria, an old and intimate friend of the departed General. After dinner 
toasts were drank in excellent wine, the product of our native grape. 

57 CRAliCH 

Judge Cranch's was: 

The Arlington Sheep Shearing, many happy returns of this anniversary to its 
patriotic founder. 

The judge received praise for his remarks but got no prize 
for ram or ewe. 

As a tiller of the ground the judge experienced ** the sweet 
employ" and "surest guard'' to equilibrate the mental wear 
in solving legal conundrums ; as a farmer of sheep, he encoun- 
tered a diminution of pocketbook. He soon abandoned that 
diversion. He inserted an advertisement in the Intelligencer 
of a farm for sale (which must have become familiar to its 
readers) describing the charm of the view and the convenience 
of location. He finally did fmd an acceptance of his invita- 
tion to buy; and, with the proceeds, or a part thereof, secured 
a small farm on the outskirts of Alexandria where he spent 
the Summer seasons. 

Congress, April 29, 1816, authorized the judges of the 
Circuit Court and the District Attorney to compile a code of 
laws for the District of Columbia. In this laborious work, 
Judge Cranch engaged without the others designated ; and, 
November, 18 18, reported to Congress the code. It was 
ordered to be printed ; and that is all. 

The event of that generation was the visit of General 
Lafayette to this country. All incident to the tour was 
chronicled with the completeness of present-day journalism. 
The unbounded hospitality to the nation's guest the first day 
of his stay at the Capital City, October 12, 1824, culminated 
by a banquet. 

General Lafayette gave the toast : 

The Gty of Washington : The central star of the constellation which 
enlightens the whole worid. 

Chief Judge Cranch did double honor in two : 

Reason, Philosophy and Truth: The miners who are sapping the citadels of 

George Washington Lafayette: May he long live to imitate the virtues of 
his father. 

The period of residence in Alexandria, fifteen years, was 
marked by fatality ; five children died, three of whom, adults. 
The judge returned to Washington in 1826 and resided at 217 


Delaware avenue, northeast, until 1854 when he moved to the 
corner of D and Second streets where is now the Providence 
In the Intelligencer March 20, 1826, appears : 


The Law Department op the Columbian College, 

In the District op Columbia. 
««««« «««« 


Washington City, March 9, 1826. 

The administration of this department was under these two 
gentlemen. The latter was the clerk of the Supreme Court. 

Judge Cranch upon his return to Washington became an 
active member of the Columbian Institute and December, 1826, 
was elected vice president. In the Capitol before the Institute, 
March 16, 1827, he presented a Memoir of the Life, Character 
and Writings of John Adams prepared at its request 
and published, 1827. His other memberships included the 
American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Antiquarian 

Harvard University conferred upon him the degree LL. D., 

At formation meetings Judge Cranch was honored ; of the 
Apprentices' Library Association, April 24, 1828, director; of 
the Society for the Promotion of Temperance, July 21, 1828, 
president; of the auxiliary to the American Colonization Soci- 
ety, January 24, 1829, first vice president ; of the Capitol Hill 
Seminary for Young Ladies, president. 

The Washington National Monument Society was organized, 
October 31, 1833, and Judge Cranch chosen first vice president. 

Washington, D. C. July 13th 1836* 
Mrs. D. T. Madison 

The Washington National Monument Society has done me the honor of 
aisigning to me the melancholy, yet grateful duty of communicating the 
enclosed resolutions, as a faint exprefsion of their sympathy in your recent 

If your sorrows could be alleviated in proportion to the sympathy of others, 
they would be light indeed; for you may be afsured that that sympathy is 

^In autogrcphk coUtctlon of Mr. lamta P. HoocL 


There was not a citiien of the United States, it is believed, who did not 
honor the illustrious deceased, while living, nor is there one who does not sin- 
cerely lament his death. 

Such a life and such a death afford a consolation which can be surpafsed only 
by the aisurance that he has gone to receive his reward. 

I b^ you, Madam, to be afsured, of my deep personal sympathy in your 
affliction, and of the perfect respect with which 1 am your obedt servt 

W. CRANCH, lit V. Prest "of 

the Washn Natl Monument Society. 

Judge Cranch delivered an address at the annual meeting of 
the Washington temperance society, November 15, 1830, and 
repeated it to the Alexandria society, December 6 ; published 
1831. His last publication is an opinion, June, 1851, on the 
alleged grievances of South Carolina which agitated secession. 

Judge Cranch, July 10, 1850, administered the constitutional 
oath to Millard Fillmore in the House of Representatives as 
the successor of President Zachary Taylor who died the day 

With Mr. Cranch, John Qyincy Adams advised about his 
political manifestoes. An index to all is the colloquy Mr. 
Adams indicates. The mild judge suggests to strike out here 
and tone down there. The ardent partisan demands, shall I 
not declare the facts ? Oh, yes, replies the judge, mention the 
facts, certainly. 

Edward Pope Cranch writes : 

1 knew more than any other of the children, of father's offlcial life and latx>rs, 
because 1 studied law for three years in his chambers at the City Hall in Wash- 
ington. I don't believe he ever spent an idle hour in his life. His life was 
uniform. He never dropped out of line to go in search of events. He did not 
like events. * * * His great idea was duty. His recreations were music, 
chess, study, contemplation. He prayed much when alone. He repeated old 
poems to himself in his walks. But for ten hours of every day for sixty years he 
was in public, and working for the public. He was working for the right and 
antagonizing the wrong; and he kept the waters pure about him. 

Christopher P. Cranch writes: 

His habits of life were simple and inexpensive. His dress was plain but neat, 
and becoming his tall, commanding figure, expressive features, and dignified 

John Hitz writes : * 

I frequently saw and conversed with the Judge. He was a dignified old 
gentleman, spoke but little, very kindly in his intercourse with young people, 

*To Alkn C. Clark, Ptbrmry ai, X901. 


most exemplary in his habits, and incarnated justice itself in his dealings with 
others. His will was witnessed by me and I remember considering it quite an 
honor to have been called upon so to do. 

The judge was indefatigable. With the rising of the sun, 
his course also begun; and he pursued it frequently by the 
glimmer of midnight lamp. If his industry did not himself 
make rich, it did enrich the stores of legal learning. 

The Cranch ancestry were dissenters. The judge inherited 
the ancestral religious spirit. He was deeply imbued and the 
spirit strengthened as the years succeeded. He had family 
prayer service morning and evening. Whether this be religious 
dissipation or not, a son says, the repetition did not dull the 
spontaneity. With all the observance the judge was committed 
to no creed and commended none. 

While a resident of Georgetown, 1800, Mr. Cranch to his 
mother writes: 

We have no church here of our own persuasion. The principal inhabitants 
are Roman Catholics. There is a society of Presbyterians, whose preacher (Mr. 

B *) is of the high old Orthodox plan of divinity, — preaches without notes, 

in the enthusiastic style and relies more on the strength of his lungs and the 
canting tone of his voice than upon any other of the arts of persuasion or convic- 
tion. He rings all the changes of the mysterious conception, the doctrine of the 
Trinity, of justification by faith alone, and the ineflicacy of good works, predesti- 
nation and election. And, in short, whatever doctrine is least consistent with 
reason pleases him best. I attend him only with disgust. When we remove 
into the dty 1 shall attend the Episcopalian Society under the instructions of Mr. 
McCormick, who appears to be an amiable man, and who has a good wife. 
They will be our next door neighbors. — And although I cannot subscribe to all 
the thirty-nine articles, yet 1 like their mode of worship better than that of any 
other sect, and shall not suffer small shades of difference in non-essentiak to pre- 
vent me from a frequent attendance on public worship. As soon as 1 can find a 
church whose rational principles shall quadrate with my own, 1 shall certainly 
have no objection to fulfil every article which may seem to be incumbent on a 
professor of our holy religion. The objects of faith must be left to every man's 
own conviction and as faith has no connection with nor in any d^ee dependent 
on the will, it is a subject which ought to be left with man and his Creator. It 
cannot be regulated by any human tribunal 

While a resident of Alexandria he attended the Episcopal 
church. He there declined overtures toward conversion to 
Episcopacy. Upon return to Washington he was a constant 
attendant of the services of the Unitarian Society, corner of D 

tThit irrevcrtnt rtmaxk relates to the Reverend Stephen Btooner Belch, pettor of the Bridge 
Street Prcel^rterien Church. 


and Sixth streets, northwest, the tenets of its faith being more 
nearly in accord with his. 

The judge unpossessed by pride did that seemingly beneath 
his station. He would carry his own market basket and even 
assist a wearied woman on the way with hers; he would split 
his own wood and build his own fires ; and he would repair 
his own gate or fence. 

The judge enjoyed the English classics; delighted in poetry; 
and neglected novels. He entranced with the sunset and en- 
raptured with the beauty expressed in nature or by brush and 
chisel. He loved the flowers and in his rambles he would 
gather on the roadside the budded waif, study its shape and 
admire its shade. He was capital at chess and despised cards. 
His chief recreation was music. In his younger life he played 
the flute and organ and in advanced life evoked sacred melody 
from the keys. He did not himself joke yet was a good 
listener. His merriment was expressed in a smile and seldom 
beyond that bound. Always temperate, he at one time per- 
mitted a little wine at dinner; and afterwards foreswore that 
and became a total abstainer. He was not addicted to tobacco 
and discountenanced its use. He was neither abolitionist nor 
apologist for slavery ; he abhorred the institution but being 
sanctioned by the Constitution and laws he did not interfere in 
its operation. When he could and not violate the statutes he 
befriended the slave. 

The kith and kin spread out to many a New England town, 
village and hamlet. These ** even to the fortieth remove " and 
even to the parts most remote heard of the judge's good cheer 
and they said : 

We will come and make our abode with him. 

The neighbors, and they are the best authority, say that 
familiar faces and new faces were continually appearing and 
disappearing. A son says his father's hospitality sometimes 
was inconsistent with his pecuniary limitations and that 
strangers were recipients of his kindness. 

His was an affectionate and sympathetic nature; and 
although "his heart was as tender as a woman's "he never 
wavered in the administration of justice in his judicial function 
yet his judgments were rather tempered with clemency than 


The biography by his son, the late Christopher P. Cranch, 
artist and author, to which I am indebted, has this: 

His patience and perseverance were only matched by his love of clearness and 
order. « « « These characteristic traits in unison with the higher ones of 
thoroughness and exactness of knowledge, of conscientious and discriminating 
judgment in difficult cases, of singular ability to see the main facts and authori- 
ties, and to detect always the principle and spirit of the law, made him by 
nature and by long training, a judge whose decisions have always held a 
deserved reputation for soundness. The best proof of this is that during more 
than fifty years' service on the bench, it is well known that not one of his 
decisions were reversed by the Supreme Court. There were, it is true, two 
decisions of the Court and only two, I think, which were reversed. But in both 
cases Judge Cranch's opinion differed from that of the two other judges. Surely 
this is one of the most remarkable facts in the history of courts of law, and one 
that deserves the applause of the age and country. 

Here is improbability and impossibility verging on the 
synonymous — a half century of an active court in a populous 
territory and two reversals. Long before the termination of 
that period uniform affirmance by appellate court would effec- 
tually discourage appeal. The fact is the reversals of the deci- 
sions of the Circuit Court, 1801-1855, occupy pages in the 
printed index and Judge Cranch had his full share. The logic 
of Mr. Cranch is also defective ; contrariety of opinion is the 
dial which indicates independent and intelligent thought. The 
law has not the rule of mechanism but a changeability or 
rather progression that marks the material and moral advance 
of the human race. The statement of Mr. Cranch has been 
copied into all the cyclopaedic sketches and even in the elabo- 
rate history of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Judges Cranch, Morsell and Thurston were long associated 
on the bench and this association justified pleasantries and 
witty raps. Judge Cranch, worn by years and worn by work, 
became slightly deaf. So Judge Morsell to exonerate himself 
from a criticism of the court replied : 

One is deaf and cannot hear and one is imperturbable and will not be moved 

The time of judgeship is noteworthy. The period is fifty- 
four and a half years. Twice that of Judge Taney's long tenure 
and twenty years more than that of Judge Field, the longest of 
the Supreme Court judges. Likely it is the longest in judicial 
history; few can surpass it. Of the Chief Judge's associates, 

65— CtAHCM 

Morsell's period of judgeship is forty-seven years, Thurston's, 
thirty-six years. 

In contrast to the dignity and gravity of the judge was the 
buoyancy and sprightliness of Nancy Greenleaf Cranch, the 
wife. She died * in her seventy-first year and was survived 
by the judge twelve years. 

For quite a while the judge prior to his decease was confined 
to his room. 

To the last his mind was dear and his spirits tranquil. Sometimes in his 
sick room he would have visions of wonderful vividness. He would see pictures 
of exquisite beauty. He would hear glorious music in the air from unseen hands 
and voices. 

First day of September, 1855, at five o'clock P. M. the Hon- 
orable William Cranch, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of the 
District of Columbia, died. Aged 86 years, i month, 14 days. 
His funeral from his late residence took place Monday follow- 
ing, the 3d, at four o'clock. The funeral sermon by Rev. 
Moncure D. Conway was preached, and the hymn written by 
Rev. S. G. Bulfinch. was sung: 

Wise, learned, thoughtful, pure and kind, 

The soul of honor, heart of love, 
The noble form, the taste refined, 

And the firm faith that looks above; 

Such was he: yet O mourn not him! 

Thanks that his light around us shone! 
Thanks that his eye, to earth grown dim, 

Undazzled views the sapphire throne! 

The interment was at the Congressional Cemetery. There 
the remains of the judge and his wife repose, side by side. 

In the coronet of virtues which did grace this venerable man 
none shone forth in rays more refulgent than patience and 
purity; industry in labor, integrity in life. The encomiums 
seemed extravagant and were not. Esteem was never ex- 
pressed in English more strongly. The Intelligencer editorially 

As a private citizen, friend, and neighbor, there never lived a more upright, 
honest man than Judge Cranch. 

A meeting of the bar was held at the City Hall, September 
3d. John Marbury was chairman and John A. Smith, secretary. 
Richard S. Coxe made the address. A few of the sentiments 
expressed are : 

•Dstt of dwth, Scptembtr 16, 1843. OUtiuuy in Tks Iniittigencer^ September S3, 1843. 


Few ever equalled him in all the essentials which go to constitute the character 
of a great judge. He was eminent for learning in all the departments of law — 
admiralty, chancery, criminal and common — ^and was imbued with the learning 
of the profession from the earliest days. With regard to his personal character 
no imputation ever rested upon it, for his integrity was never impugned. His 
fiiithfulness, his impartiality, his urbanity of manner towards those who practiced 
in the courts over which he presided, his uncommon industry in preparing and 
pronouncing judgment after argument had been closed — in all these he stood 

The chair appointed Richard S. Coxe, William Redin, Joseph 
H. Bradley and John F. Ennis, a committee which through the 
first-named presented a series of resolutions ; these after a sec- 
ond with appropriate remarks by Mr. Carlisle were adopted. 
The fifth resolution was an offer with consent of the family to 
erect a monument. 

On the same day at the City Hall in Georgetown, the Levy 
Court passed resolutions of tribute offered by Dr. Henry Haw. 

ad. Resolved, That in his death the Judiciary has lost one who, by his integ- 
rity, zeal, uprightness, and purity of character, has added a lustre to the white- 
ness of the judicial ermine. For more than half a century he held the scales of 
justice with a steady hand, and, knowing no man in a cause, has dispensed only 
the equal law of the land with firmness tempered by urbanity. 

The bar and officers of the Alexandria courts met in the 
court-house there. Francis L. Smith delivered an eloquent 
eulogy and presented written panegyric abounding with 

I'll make assurance double sure, 
And take a bond of fate. 

The will of the judge defies successful attack. He states his 
title and age and asserts that ''although feeble in body" he is 
''sound in disposing mind *' and that this is in his " own hand- 
writing." In the attestation is incorporated the paragraph 
usually subjoined and testator and witnesses together sign. 
And, then : 

At the request of our father, the Hon: Wiliam Cranch, we, the undersigned 
his children, have read the foregoing testament, prepared by him and do hereby 
express our assent thereto : William Greenleaf Cranch, Elizabeth Eliot Dawes, 
John Cranch, Edward Pope Cranch, Christopher Pease Cranch, Abigail Adams 
Eliot and Margaret Dawes Brooks. 

Amongst those who by their wealth, talents, or industry have contributed to 
the formation of our infant Metropolis, may be reckoned — William Cranch. 7^ 
Washington Guide by William Elliot 

The reports of William Cranch are a monument to his honor 
and usefulness as imperishable as the judiciary. 

6?— -sricuLATioir 


TO dissipate disappointment on the outset I confess inability 
to make a clear and concise exposition of the entangle- 
ment of Greenleaf. ) believe for an exact exhibition the 
data does not exist. The entanglement is like "the unwedge- 
able and gnarled oak." The narration of dry detail is un- 
avoidable, though it be as wearisome "as the twice-told tale 
vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man." Hardly knowing how 
to advance 1 enter the wilderness of barren facts and figures. 
My readers, if ever 1 have any, will, I fear, be discouraged 
before they emerge. 

By an agreement, September 23, 1793, the Commissioners 
to Greenleaf sold three thousand lots at £25, current money, a 
lot, to be paid, a seventh May i, 1794, and from then in six 
equal annual installments, without interest, and to be selected 
alternately; upon condition that he would erect ten houses, 
yearly, two stories high and twelve hundred feet area, and not 
sell before January i, 1796, without a stipulation that on every 
third lot a like house should be built within four years from 
date of sale. 

The agreement contained this provision : 

He the said lames Greenleaf also undertakes and enj^aftes if the same shall be 
desired by the said Commissioners or their successors for the time being to furnish 
one thousand pounds cuirenl money of Maryland monthly on loan at six per cent 
interest to commence the lint day of May next and to continue untill the public 
buildings now erected shall be compleated, limiting the same however to the first 
day of January eighteen hundred, or will make the said monthly loans for any 
part of the said time as he shall and may be so requested as aforesaid — and H is 
agreed that Ixts shall be set apart and kept dear of olher incumbrances sufficient 
to cover all such loans with interest at the rate of twenty five pounds of the 
principal so loaned on one U)t and that the same Lots shall stand as security by 
way of mortgage for such {nindpal and interest 

SncULATlON 68 

Greenleaf made the agreement on his own responsibility. 
By the 26th of the month ensuing he had arranged with Morris 
and Nicholson to take thirds and had launched a scheme on 
their joint concern to float a great loan in Holland on pledge of 
the lots. 

In more formal phraseology the Commissioners and Green- 
leaf entered December 24, 1793, into Articles of Agreement. 
Under a series of whereas they recite the former agreement, 
that Greenleaf has under authority from Morris purchased on 
his behalf the same number of lots upon the same credit and 
conditions for building and reselling except that the price is 
/35 a lot ; that 

it is understood Morris and Greenleaf may at their pleasure associate to them one 
or more persons in the whole purchase without creating on any of them an obli- 
gation to erect on and for every third lot ; 

that the object of the new articles is consolidation into one 
contract, to fix the average lot and to modify the building 
requirement. The articles proper provide, in addition to the 
recitals incorporated, that the lots shall include all of Notley 
Young's land and that part of Daniel Carroll's within the 
branches of the canal; a limitation on the selection of lots 
adjoining the proposed National University; that the price is 
averaged at ^^30 each lot, that houses three stories shall be 
discounted one-fourth in area. 

The articles state that the loan provision of the prior contract 
shall be referred to a new contract entered into this day and 
shall have no other effect than what such new contract specifies 
and ascertains. 

Between the three this was a joint purchase. Nicholson 
was reserved as surety for the engagements of the two dis- 
closed principals with the Commissioners. 

April 24, 1794, the Commissioners and Greenleaf adopted 
this method : 

ist. An account between the Commissioners and Morris and 
Greenleaf charging lots conveyed on their account and crediting 
payments made. 

2d. The Commissioners grant a certificate (deed) in fee for 
the lots on Notley Young's land estimated at one thousand on 
their giving a bond with Nicholson for the amount of the same 
and for performing the building contract. 


3d. The Commissioners on the personal security of Morris, 
Greenleaf and Nicholson allow at all times a credit of one 
thousand lots granting as they require certificates with the 
building stipulation subjoined thereto. 

Whereas a Loan is in negotiation in HoUand, and by recent advices is in for- 
wardness for the subscriber, James Greenleaf, for a sum of money to the amount 
and value of Three Hundred Thousand Pounds current money of Maryland, on 
the terms of securing the principal money by a Mortgage of Lots in the Qty of 
Washington, at the rate of One Hundred Pounds each Lot, to be ascertained and 
averaged at five thousand two hundred and sixty five square feet for each Lot, 
and the interest to be secured by a deposit of productive stock or funds in such 
manner and to such amount that the produce and capital thereof amount to the 
stipulated interest for the time of the Loan, and the Commissioners appointed in 
virtue of the Act of Congress for establishing the temporary and permanent seat 
of the Government of the United States, to increase the funds and means of 
carrying into effect the purposes of their appointment, are let into and have 
agreed to take on the account of the City one third part of the said Loan, which 
as to the same part is to be made payable at the end of six years from the 
advance. Therefore the said Commissioners have on this ninth day of July, 
seventeen hundred and ninety four granted Certificates of and for One Thousand 
Lots in the Squares therein enumerated, and of which Square number Sixty five 
b one to make up the Commissioner's one-third part of the necessary security, 
by which the legal title and estate is transferred to said James Greenleaf for the 
purpose and intention that he may legally encumber the same with and for one- 
third of the said Loan and they have also granted such Certificate as aforesaid for 
other one thousand Lots in several Squares, of which the Square number seven 
hundred and seventy-seven is one, the same being the one thousand Lots which, 
according to an agreement heretofore made, is to rest on the Bond of the said 
James Greenleaf and Robert Morris and John Nicholson, and they have also 
granted a like Certificate for other five hundred Lots in several Squares, of which 
Square number two hundred and forty-six is one, two hundred and eighty-six 
Lots whereof the first Square enumerated in that Certificate being the property of 
the public and to be redeemed and conveyed to the Commissioners clear of aU 
encumbrances and the remaining two hundred and fourteen Lots being part of 
the six thousand Lots heretofore contracted for with the Commissioners by the 
said Robert Morris and James Greenleaf 

«« ••««««« 



Ceertificates from Commissioners to Greenleaf: 

a, July 9, 1794 1000 lots Squares 65 ♦ ♦ ♦ 1004. 

b, 500 246 ♦♦ ♦ 755. 

c, 500 626 ♦ * ♦ 1114. 

d, 1000 777 * * * "4fit 


Deed from Greenleaf to Pieter Godfrey and others: 

d, July 28, 1794 500 lots Squares 246 * * * 755. 
c, 500 626 ♦ ♦ ♦ 1114. 

d, 1000 yyy ♦ ♦ « jj^g^ 

Deed from Greenleaf to Commissioners: 

a. September 19, 1794 1000 lots. Squares 65 * * * 1004. 

Greenleaf bargained with the Commissioners, September 19, 
1794, upon the usual terms of credit for twenty lots located at 
various points on the Eastern Branch. 

Certificate from Commissioners to Greenleaf: 

e. October 18, 1794. 857 lots Squares 266 * * ♦ j 
Notley Young lots, estimated in agreement, April 21, 1794 at xooo ) 

October 18, 1794, the Commissioners to Greenleaf executed 
a power of attorney to negotiate a loan in Europe.* 

Philadelphia, Nov. 5th 1794. 

Gent'n : Mr. James Greenleaf has requested me to express in a letter to you 

my approbation of the transfers which have been made to his name of certain 

building lots in the Gty of Washington purchased on hb and my joint account, 

which I now do in compliance with your desire and his said request I am, Gent'n, 

Your most obedH & humble servant 

To the Commissioners 

For the Gty of Washington. 

December 5, 1794. 
If the Loan now in contemplation and which James Greenleaf is authorized to 
make by his Letter of Attorney from the Commissioners, dated the iSth of 
October last, shall take effect so that the Commissioners are thereby aided with 
funds as expected, then they agree to release the said James Greenleaf from his 
engagement to loan them one thousand pounds per month in the year 1795. 



James Greenleaf 

July 10, 1795. Greenleaf with Morris and Nicholson entered 
into articles of agreement for the sale to them of his Wash- 
ington lots. 

Deed from Pieter Godfrey and others to Greenleaf— re-conveyance: 

c. June 26, 1895. 500 lots. Squares 626 ♦ ♦ * 1114. 

d. 1,000 777 * » « 11^5 

• Origiful in oolkction of Bflr. Jmms P. Hood. 


Deed from Greenleaf to Gflfis Groenveld and others: 

c July 29, 1795. 500 lots. Squares 650 * * * ZI14. 

Deed from Greenleaf to Nicholson: 

/. August 6, 1795. Squares 366 » ♦ » 500. 

Two deeds from Greenleaf to Morris: 

/. August 7, 1795. Squares 325 * * ♦ 591. 

Deed from Greenleaf to Duncanson: 

e. August 19, 1795. Squares 270 and 300. 

e. September 4, 1795. Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf to Law, deed 

as mortgage, security for hb purchase of 
2,400,000 sq. ft. to be selected. Corrects an 
unrecorded deed, May 11, 1795. 

e, September 12, 1795. Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf to Duncanson, 

deed as mortgage, to protect accommo- 
dation paper. 

The deed to Morris and Nicholson pursuant to the articles 
of agreement specifies the purchases from original owners. 
Although a conveyance was made by the owner it is not 
conclusive the consideration was paid ; a bond or other sub- 
stitute for cash or scheme of credit may have passed. 

May 13, 1796. Deed from Greenleaf to Morris and Nicholson: 

6,000 lots contracted from the Commissioners of which 2,000 by three 
certificates dated July 9, 1794 and 857 by certificate dated October 18, 1794 
have been conveyed to Greenleaf. 

220 lots contracted for with Daniel Carroll of Duddington by two 
articles of agreement, September 26, 1793, and December 24, 1793. 

428>i lots contracted for with Notley Young, December 26, 1793, 
conveyed October 28, 1794. 

239X lots contracted for with Uriah Forrest and Benjamin Stoddert 
July 15, 1794, conveyed September 20, 1784. 

108 lots contracted for by John Nicholson with William King, July 14, 


79 >i lots contracted for with William Bailey, July 15, 1794. 

40 lots contracted for with Peter Casanove and George French, Sep- 
tember, 1793. 

60 aaes purchased by Greenleaf in hb own private right by contract 
with William Deakins, Jr. , since conveyed to him. 

316 acres contracted ibr with Benjamin Oden, July 10, 1794. 

Subject to a conveyance absolute in form but intended to be in nature 
of mortgage to Godfrey and others. 

Except square 506, square next south of 506, and square next south of 
the square last mentioned which it is agreed shall be and remain the sole 
and separate property of said Greenlea£ 

Excepting all squares and lots sold previously to July 10, 1795. 

Subject to all Uens including mortgages to Thomas Law and Wilfiam 
Mayne Duncanson secured on a portion of the lots conveyed. 


Here is the point from which to have a retrospective view 
of Greenleaf 's purchases in the city of Washington ; to meas- 
ure their magnitude and to comprehend his wild speculation. 
Greenleaf 's negotiations were of meteoric swiftness; the con- 
tracts, every one of them, within nine months were signed 
and sealed. A computation has been figured by which it 
appears that the triumvirate owned 7,234 lots. That Green- 
leaf individually owned 1,341. So that, the aggregate of lots 
in which he was interested was 8,575. Washington in 
Embryo states that at this time the public lots numbered 
10,136; and, of course, the proprietors' numbered the same. 
Of the public lots Greenleaf had 6,000, of proprietors* 2,575 or 
expressed in percentage 60% of the public, 25% of the pro- 
prietors' and 42% of all. If he paid at the same rate for the 
proprietors' lots as for the public the total consideration was 
$684,000; his building obligation, twenty houses for seven 
years, estimating each house at three thousand dollars, was 
$420,000, in all, a million strong. Yet this does not include 
his building obligations to Carroll and Young or other propri- 
etors nor his engagement to loan the Commissioners for public 
improvement, $181,333. 

His surburban purchases are: 

County of Washington, 

Deed from William Berry Warman to Greenleaf: December 21, 1793. On 

Eastern Branch, 1212 a. Consideration ;f5,757, Md. 
Deed from George French and others to Greenleaf : March 21, 1776. On Eastern 

Branch, 516 a. Consideration ;f5,i6o, Md. 
Contract from George French to Greenleaf : On Eastern Branch, 375 a. 

County of Alexandria. 
Near Alexandria, 295 a. 

May 28, 1796. Greenleaf sold his share in the North American 
Land Company to Morris and Nicholson for $1,150,000 in 
drafts payable one to four years after date ; one half drawn by 
Morris and accepted by Nicholson, the other half counter- 
drawn and accepted. It was stipulated that Greenleaf should 
retain the shares until complete payment was made. Of the 
30,000 shares authorized 22,365 were issued as about two- 
thirds of the six milllion acres were conveyed to the company's 
trustees. One-third of the stock was pledged to secure the 
guaranteed dividends of six per cent. 


Morris and Nicholson to Greenleaf, mortgage: 

c, June 20, 1796. Squares 626 ♦ * ♦ 1076. 

d, 777 ♦ * * 1 146. 

In all 142 squares or 1250 lots. To secure orders, 
$193,404.29. Foreclosed under two causes, 
Lewis and Burd vs. Morris. High Court of 
Chancery, Maryland. 

Morris and Nicholson to Greenleaf, deed: 

e, June 20, 1796. Squares E. 546 ♦ * * W. 606. 

381 Trust, 

September 30, 1896. Greenleaf to George Simpson. 

In trust, real and personal property, specified and scheduled, 
pledged to him (GreenleaQ by Morris and Nicholson, sepa- 
rately or severally, to secure the prompt payment of drafts and 
notes and punctual performance of engagements, considerations 
for purchases by them from Greenleaf, to sell, in event they 
(Morris and Nicholson) should default in payment or fail in 
performance, on order of Edward Fox, upon consent of Green- 
leaf, to protect said Fox in his endorsements for Greenleaf and 
others who had become obligated on his behalf. 

Notes and drafts number 385 and aggregate $1,996,846.09. 

March 23, 1797. Greenleaf, Fox and Simpson to Henry Pratt, 
Thomas Willing Francis, John Miller, junior, John Ashley and 
Jacob Barker. Assignment oi 381 trust. The assignees were 
merchant princes of Philadelphia. Of the same city were 
George Simpson and Edward Fox, the former cashier of the 
Bank of the United States, the latter an auctioneer. March 
and April, 1797 ; the newspaper wrangle. May and June, 1797 ; 
Greenleafs trustees tried to dispose of Morris and Nicholson's 
notes to pay his debts which aggregated $720,000. After dis- 
pute of account, offer of compromise, an arrangement was 
effected and Morris and Nicholson executed to Greenleafs 
trustees the trust — * 

Aggregate Fund, 

June 26, 1797. Greenleaf, first part, Fox, second part, Morris 
and Nicholson, third part, to Pratt and others, fourth part. 
Recites that deed, September 30, 1796, from Greenleaf 
recorded in Philadelphia, book 55 p. 391 is to be distinguished 

*The Financier and Phiancct of the American Revolution.— ^mmh^t. 


from deed of Greenleaf to Simpson recorded same city and 
book at p. 381, that the latter deed forms no part and is not 
to be influenced by this indenture; recites the Greenleaf trusts ; 
and for better security Morris and Nicholson should make 
certain arrangements with Pratt and others as expressed in 
this conveyance. All real estate in the city of Washington 
of every description of title is conveyed and is to be known 
as the aggregate fund and is to secure the payment of the 
commissions incurred in the execution of the trust; thirteen 
thousand dollars estimated to be due Daniel Carroll and sixty 
thousand dollars estimated balance of installment due Com- 
missioners, both for city lots; engagements by Fox on account 
of Greenleaf mentioned in the recited deeds amounting with 
interest to $900,000; and amount paid by Pratt and others 
under the Simpson trust. Morris and Nicholson in such sums 
and forms as prescribed by the trustees are to issue obligations 
and the aggregate of the new obligations shall correspond 
with the old and payable in two installments December 26, 
1798, and December 26, 1799. When the objects of the trust 
are satisfied Pratt and others to convey to Morris and Nicholson 
the residue. 

Number of Fox's engagements 149, principal 1831,500. 

Morris executed six riders securing payments amounting to 
$145,000 from the surplus. So confident were Morris and 
Nicholson that the aggregate fund would yield suflficient to 
discharge their obligations it secured and an enormous equity 
that they organized a company of three hundred thousand 
shares in the reversion of the residuum and divided them 
equally. Morris utilized 53,650 shares.* 

Morris and Nicholson paid the guaranteed dividends for two 
years on the stock of the North American Land Company. 
The stock reserved to protect the dividends was sold, October 
23, 1807, ^t seven cents a share to the managers. In 1856, 
the trustees for the company had $92,071.87. The litigation 
which then ensued over the distribution is described as 
phenomenal. Morris and Nicholson's legal representatives 
endeavored to prevent sequestration to the Commonwealth, 
to maintain their right to the fund and to resist the claims of 
the trustees of the 381 trust and aggregate fund^ involving 

* The Financier and Ptoaoioes of th« American Revohitioii— ^IvmiMr. 

75 sracuLATiow 

liens thereon. In 1880 the Morris interest netted $9,692.49 
and likely the Nicholson, the same.* 

So far has been traced to the aggregate fund the unsold 
property in the city of Washington of Morris and Nicholson in 
which Greenleaf had formerly been interested and to the j<?/ 
trust their obligations including those on account of the North 
American Land Company amounting to nearly two million 
dollars. Before and after in this chapter are recited figures and 
schedules not for an account in a bookkeeping sense but only 
to suggest idea of character and extent of transaction. The 
deed next described comprises the land transactions without 
the District of Columbia. It follows the recordation of 381 
trust, folio 38iy book 55, Record Office, Philadelphia at folio 
391 and is an indenture between the same parties, that is, 
Greenleaf to Simpson, to indemnify Fox, by him, acceptances 
of drafts, accommodation notes and sundry engagements, made 
and contemplated, for Greenleaf. The indenture conveys the 
properties by descriptions and references in particularity. It 
includes : 

The three tracts on the Eastern Branch of the Potomac 1,212, 516 and 375 
aaes, respectively, and the tract adjoining Alexandria, 295 a. already mentioned. 
New York: Lansingburgh on the Hudson, 2 lots. 

Westchester county, on the Bronx, three tracts, one containing 66jl^a. 
Montgomery county, 2 tracts aggregating 11,591 a. 
Ulster county, 4 tracts aggregating 24,587 a. 
Chemung county, 2-7's of 2 tracts aggregating 27,563 a. 
Maryland: Fort Cumberland, Allegany county, 2 tracts aggregating 2,536 a. 
one including mills, stores, houses. 
Onehalf of 296 tracts of 50 a. each equal to 7,400 a. 
Georgia: 3 tracts aggregating 2,7o6,o87>{ a. 

Obligations of Benjamin Haskell aggregating 138,000. 
Obligations of Morris and Nicholson aggregating $404,000, apparently a part 
of those specified in the aggref^aie fund, and the delivery of 100 shares of 
the Bank of the United States valued at $52,000. 

The dates of deeds to Greenleaf range from November 30, 
1793 to September 20, 1796. A separate conveyance carries 
an item evidently overlooked, 30 shares of a total 120, equiva- 
lent to 75,000 a. of the Tennessee Land Company. These 
trusts were transfered by Simpson to the trustees, Pratt and 
others, March 23, 1797. 

* Tht Finandir and Flnaacit of th* American Rwohttkm— S'tfiNfMr. 


In the indenture two properties are reserved to the last 
resort for foreclosure and to these is now given extended men- 
tion. In the spring of 1795 Mr. Greenleaf became reconciled 
to part with his associates at the New Amsterdam and with 
his sister, Rebecca, the wife of the erudite editor, and deter- 
mined to reside permanently in Philadelphia. This determi- 
nation is manifest in two purchases. The incentive, that is 
the rumination. Perhaps to be in juxtaposition with the com- 
ponents of the triad, yet hardly that, for between Greenleaf 
and the two the personal relation was not friendly, not even 
passive — it was strained; and the business relation, Greenleaf 
awaited the opportunity to sever. And if the magnet was not 
commercial then it was — otherwise. 

Mr. Greenleaf bought of General Philemon Dickinson, April 
i5» i795» for $28,000, on the north side of Chesnut between 
Sixth and Seventh streets the broad frontage of S2j4 feet and 
extending far back to Carpenter (now Ranstead) street, 
including mansion, gardens, grounds, waters and stables. 
Opposite or almost so was Oeller's Hotel, the scene of ban- 
quets historic, westward the property of John Dickinson, the 
refractory revolutionary statesman, eastward the New Theater, 
recently with 6clat opened by Wignell and Reinagle, eater- 
cornered was the Independence Hall and catercornered con- 
trariwise the majestic pile in blue stone and red brick of the 
Financier — Robert Morris. Here James Greenleaf, Esq. '*a 
merchant, a man of high fashion and of reputed wealth " held 
bachelor estate for the time being. It was the city mansion of 
Mr. Greenleaf, gentleman, sometimes yclept Greenleafe. 

John Penn, a proprietary of Pennsylvania and the last provin- 
cial Governor (1763-1771 and 1773-1776) married Ann, the 
daughter of William Allen, the Chief Justice of the province. 
The conjugal tie held him permanently to this country not- 
withstanding the overturned governmental affairs. He built 
the finest country-seat on the Schuylkill and named it Lans- 
downe.* Tradition places it on the plateau exactly where 
now stands the temple of crystal, the Horticultural Hall, the 
Centennial construction. Governor and Mrs. Penn here re- 
sided in the warm season and in their Pine street mansion, the 
cool season. The Governor where he was married, there was 

•Reproduced— TIm Historic Mantioni and BuUding* of Philadelphia— IVestcoit, p. 334. 

' ■- ft,* ' """^^^^^T iSfii-J* «^ 


he buried — Christ Church. Lansdowne was devised to the 
widow and she sold it, the mansion and the two hundred acres, 
to James Greenleaf, March 9, 1795, and then departed to the 
British isle where were her brothers for that generation of the 
Aliens were aliens in sentiment. That at Lansdowne Miss 
Ann Penn Allen and her two sisters, the Misses Allen, did 
reside with their aunt, Ann Penn, it is quite certain. 

The wearied eye and bewildered brain of the Centennial's 
visitor here then refreshing relief received and now memory 
must carry grateful recollection. Then a scene of picturesque 
naturalness, of primeval woods, of mysterious dells and of 
rollicking streams; now a scene of landscape gardening, of 
flower bed and of fountain. Both beautiful in a different way. 
It is spot of charm — 

Where Schuylkill winds his way through banks of flowers. 

The ''Heaven's breath smells wooingly here." The deep 
undulations, the carpet of grass, the clumps of trees, the 
clusters of shrubbery, the path along the river's brink, the 
placid river, the reflected skies is the composition of this scene 
of Nature— -a masterpiece of the Great Master, the Colorist of 
the heavens, the Creator of harmony. It was Mr. Greenleaf s 
country-seat. That he was to share its occupancy sometime 
surely so he meant. 

General Dickinson, November 29, 1797, foreclosed the Ches- 
nut street property and re-purchased it for ;;^5,90o ($15,733) 
about the amount of the deferred purchase money due. 
Lansdowne was sold by the sheriff, 1797, for $55,100. Mr. 
Greenleaf paid therefor $37,393. 


1 : 


WAS freshly sanded the floor of the inner room of the 
banking house of Daniel Crommelin and Sons of 
Amsterdam ; was washed the face of the tall clock 
and the delft-blue tiles over the fire place; and was dusted off 
Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck in the frame on the wall for this 
statesman was honored in this, the first year of the Dutch 
Liberty.* This preparation had been made as Mr. Greenleaf 
from the republic in America was to appear and reveal his loan 
project. Be it known beforehand Greenleaf respectfully ad- 
dressed the board, individually, Mynheer, collectively, Mijne 
heeren and called the Congress house Congris-huis, the Presi- 
dent's house kei huts van den President, shops, winkels, canals, 
grachteen, for he could talk niderduiisch as cleverly as a Dutch 
schoolmaster. Was not his wife Dutch, and his children 
Dutch- Yankees ? 

*On his way to meet Albert Gallatin and Henry Clay at Ghent to conclude the negotiatioiw for 
peace John Qjiincy Adanu stajred over at Amsterdam, lodging at he had always mm the &st 
visit, 1780, at tlie Arms of Amsterdam. 

He writes in his diary under June ai, 1814 : 

I afterwards paid a visit, and had an hour's conversation with Mr. Schimmelpenninck, hte a 
Count and Senator of the French Empire— before that. Grand Pensionary of Holland— whom I had 
first known in 1704 as a lawyer of high reputation at Amsterdam, and afterwards a member md 
President of the Batavian National Convention. He has now been some years blind ; but, after 
all the vicissitudes through which he has passed, he appears to retain his cheerfulness and his 
Sf^rits His wife is with him, and has the same pleasiiu; and attractive manners which she had 
when twenty veers younger. He resigned his seat in the French Senate before the late changes 
which excluded the other members, hu countrymen. He conversed with as much freedom upon 
the late events in France as in his peculiar situation could be cxpe^ed. He expressed some satis* 
fiiction at the restoration of his country's Independence, and spoke disadvantageously, and some- 
what contemptuously, of Bonaparte. 



Niw York, June a6ch, 1901. 
DiAi Sn, 

In reply to your letter of the asth Inst. I can Inform you that, as fiir as I can remember, there 
was only one ScnImnMlpenninck prominent In the Netherlands during the time of the French 
revolution and his names were " Rutger Ian." It was he, who in 17M stood at the head of the 
so^alled ** provisional representatives ci tne people of Amsterdam " and who later, in 1805 was 
appointed head of the Government of the Bararian Commonwiahh with the title of ** Raad- 

I am, sir. 

Yours truly, 

To AiLBM C. Claxk. 


Greenleaf, of conquering eyes, refined countenance and lofty 
stature with head uncovered, stood. The board of Daniel 
Crommelin and Sons, with their broad brimmed hats on, and so, 
around ample girths their belts with big buckles, stolidly sat. 
Greenleaf was armed with Maj. L'Enfant*s map of the city of 
Washington, the board with long pipes. It was a battle royal 
between Yankee diplomacy and Dutch obstinacy. The battle 
raged ; light clouds of smoke did issue from the door and 
windows, then denser clouds, then still denser until the bank- 
ing house was enveloped in a fog of smoke. Greenleaf as a 
preface eloquently orated on the simultaneous birth of the two 
republics and the spirit of sympathy and helpfulness that 
should exist between the twins. He first spoke of the 
grandeur of the Congress house and the President's house, of 
the magnificent avenues and broad streets, then made his 
request for the loan. The board replied emphatically neen. 
He spoke of the shops under the arcade, of the river fronts, of 
the commercial and mercantile advantages and again made his 
request. The board said neen. He did point out those 
numerous canals on his map and suggest the similarity to be 
with their own watery metropolis. Then did the board of 
phlegmatic Dutchmen all together respond ja; and direct the 
clerk to engross upon the parchment a bond with James 
Greenleaf of the first part and Pieter Godefrey, Rutger Jan 
Schimmelpenninck and Robert Daniel Crommelin of the second 
part ; and further, direct the cashier get the great key and from 
the massive coffers deliver to Greenleaf two million guilders. 
And Greenleaf with light heart bore the silver burden to 
American shores. 

So I understood it and I intended to add the detail that the 
scene might appear vividly as enacted. For about in this way, 
so it is told by those who toil over mighty books and tarry 
over musty files in the cells which mysteriously lead to the 
corridors in the lower regions of the City Hall. And, so it 
appears in a newspaper.* 

Greenleaf, then a citizen of Pennsylvania, in 1788 formed a 
co-partnership with James Watson for a mercantile house in 
the city of New York. That year Greenleaf made his residence 
in Holland. Greenleaf 's physician in a pleasant vein prescribed 

* Tht Wuhington Post, October 14, 1883. 


several defences against attacks of seasickness with this preface 
of good will : 

New York, July 30th, 1788. 
Mr. Greenleaf, in the first place, will please to recollect that he has his friend 
Cogswell's best wishes for a prosperous voyage, for a speedy and happy return, 
and, that in the next place, when the circle of his federal brethren and sisters 
shall be crowding round his heart, he will esteem it a peculiar privilege to make 
one of the recollective number. 

Greenleaf, a citizen of Massachusetts, was March 2, 1793, 
appointed United States Consul at Amsterdam. 

Greenleaf for the house of Watson and Greenleaf with the 
bankers, Robert Daniel Crommelin and Gulian Crommelin 
trading at Amsterdam under the firm name of Daniel Crommelin 
and Sons, negotiated a series of loans under twelve contracts, 
first and last dated January 31, 1789 and August i, 1792 
respectively, for an aggregate of one million three hundred 
thousand dollars on pledge of American securities, deposited 
with them, namely : 

$436,000 6% U. S. stock, 
997,000 3% U. S. stock, 
375,000 deferred U. S. stock 

Four hundred shares equal to$i6o,oooofthe Bank of the United 
States stock, and other valuable specialties bearing interest. 

It is not to be believed that Greenleaf adopted Voltaire's 
leave: Adieu! canaux, canards^ canaille — Adieu! dykes, 
ducks, dolts. That the Dutchman is a stupid is a shallow 
slander. That some Dutchmen are slow, sly and shrewd did 
Greenleaf solemnly asseverate in the court of chancery; how- 
ever, I am not to anticipate another chapter. 

Greenleaf made an intended visit to this country in 1793 and 
in September, that year, was at the city of Washington. 1 have 
no authentic basis for the belief that he was attracted hither by 
the inviting prospect of the Capital City indicated by the 
President's message and the established plan said to have been 
circulated throughout the civilized world. Greenleaf made the 
contract with the Commissioners, September 23, 1793; 
Watson, the partner, declined to share in the concern. In the 
ensuing month, the 28th, the firm dissolved and Greenleaf 
purchased his partner's moiety in the stocks pledged to the 
Dutch bankers. 


On November 2, 1793, Greenleaf executed a power to 
Sylvanus Bourne, at the time Vice Consul at Amsterdam, with 
broad authority in Holland or otherwhere in Europe to sell his 
lots in the city of Washington or secure loans thereon, to 
furnish productive funds to protect interest and to engage 
commercial houses as instruments of negotiation. Bourne as 
such attorney contracted with the banking house of Daniel 
Crommelin and Sons of Amsterdam to negotiate a popular 
subscription, sanctioned by the Dutch government by an Act 
passed May 6, 1794 which made Godfrey, Schimmelpenninck 
and Crommelin guardians for the public of the property 
pledged. A conveyance, {b. c. d.) July 28, 1794, was made by 
Greenleaf to the guardians in fee, as a mortgage, to secure a 
loan of two million guilders or eight hundred thousand Spanish 
mill'd dollars. 

The subscription was a partial success; "from unforeseen 
circumstances it appears from certificate of Anthony Mylius, 
Notary, dated March 23, 1795, that no more than two hundred 
thousand guilders have been subscribed," that is, eighty thou- 
sand dollars; and, in consequence of this failure on "the 26th 
July, 1795 old style and the First of the Dutch Liberty" the 
guardians by reconveyance, relinquished and renunciated all 
right to 

c, 500 lots. 2,632,500 sq. ft. Squares 626 * * ♦ 1114. 

d. 1000 lots. 5,265,000 sq. ft. Squares 777 ♦ * ♦ 1148. 

and reserved as " more than sufficient for the sum which has 
been subscribed and paid on the aforesaid loan," 

b. 500 lots. 2,632,500 sq. ft. Squares 246 ♦ ♦ ♦ 755. 

This quaint document is in the court files. Forty-five years 
after the real estate security was sold and Jan Bondt, Com- 
mander of the order of the Netherlands, Lion, Private Counsellor 
of His Majesty the King of the Netherlands and Gulian Daniel 
Crommelin, Knight of the order of the Netherlands, Lion, both 
residing on the heeren gracht in the city of Amsterdam 
successors to Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck, survivor of the 
original grantees conveyed to the various purchasers. What 
proportion of the investment was realized does not appear. 
This is the Amsterdam loan ; now for the 




The Amsterdam loan having been an incomplete success the 
resourceful Vice Consul tried the faith of Rotterdam. He 
negotiated through Jan Beeldemaker acting for the mercantile 
firm of Rocquette, Elserier and Beeldemaker. The Vice Consul 
''inclining to take up a certain sum of money" and Beelde- 
maker " to assist him in said business; " in furtherance of the 
mutuality a prospectus was circulated among the burghers in 
Rotterdam and as remote therefrom as four pipes.* The 
English verbatim of the prospectus by a Dutch translator is 
in part: 



of $400,000 Dollar american money or $r,ooo,ooo Dutch currency at s% P^r 
cent interest, annually besides a distribution of premiums to the amount of $50,000 
to be made at the fmal discharge of the Loan, in lieu of further interest 


Messieurs RocoysTTE, Elserier and Beeldemaker 



on account of 

James Greenleaf, EsQyiRs; 

Consul appointed by the United States of America, with the States of the United 
Provinces to reside in the City of Amsterdam. 

For the security of this Loan 1500 lots of ground lying within the dty of 
Washington in North America all property situated for houses and other Buildings 
to be erected on the same and averaging at least 27 feet by no feet or 2970 square 
feet each lot will be mortgaged at the rate of one and a half lot for every $r,ooo 
Dutch currency being the amount of each share of this Loan. The said 1500 lots 
of ground are to be transferred in the names of 

Gilles Groenveld 

Rudolf Mees 

Pister van dbr Wallen van Vollenhovbn 

Esquires, as Guardians or Trustees of the same, for the use of the Lenders. 

And as a further security for the regular security for the regular payment of the 

interest for the principal sum borrowed, and also of the premium to be distributed 

at the discharge of this loan the Borrower will provide and cause to be transferred 

in the names of the said Rocquette, Elserier and Beeldemaker, such amount o(^ 

^ On a vWt to RoCtirdam, Holkmd, I atktd a workman on tha wharf whh my •3raa on tha 
distant chimneys of tha larft diatillarici of Schiadam (tha nunuftcturing pboa of tha worid^mown 
Holland gin,) How &r te It from hare to Schiadam? 

**About two pipaa of tobacco," came tha prompt but, for ma, mxitcrloas answer. 

I (band afterward that it meant as long as it took to smoke two of tha small day pipes fillad 
with the vMlainoqs. strong Sumatra tobacco the worldngmen in Holland aeneraUy smoke— about 
fifteen minutaa to tae pipe, or a half hoards walk from Rotterdam to Schlaaam— .MAfMor* Sun, 


or three per cent stocks of the said United States of America, as with the interest 
to accrue thereon, will be sufTident to pay the annual interest of this loan until 
the final discharge of the same together with the premiums to be allowed and 

This Loan is made for the term of five years to commence with the 15th 
December, 1794 and to end with the 14th December, 1799, the said Greenleaf to 
have option of paying off the whole at the expiration of third year. r 

Lastly the said Mr. James Greenleaf binds for the true performance of the 
premises his person and his other Goods real or personal Estate, wherever the same 
may be found or situated renouncing all benefits of Law which may avail to the 
contrary hereof 

Tiie returns, July 29, 1795, siiowed that only one hundred 
and twenty thousand guilders had been subscribed and upon 
that day the Vice Consul as "appearer of the one part" and 
Jan Beeldemaker as ''appearer of the other part" covenanted 
that the loan should stand at one hundred and fifty thousand 
guilders (|6o,ooo) and that the appearer of the one part for his 
principal should subscribe for the deficit of thirty thousand 
guilders; that the original agreement should stand, scaled in 
proportion, and that bonds of the United States, six per cent, 
issue, to the amount of seventeen thousand dollars as guaranty 
of interest and premium should be deposited with Rocquette, 
Elserier and Beeldemaker and that certain specified lots should 
be conveyed to the guardians or trustees named. And, in 
conformity with the agreement the Vice Consul had Daniel 
Crommelin and Sons transfer from the bonds in their hands to 
the credit of Greenleaf, as already stated to Rocquette, Elserier 
and Beeldemaker the stipulated amount and executed a con- 
veyance to the Rotterdam trustees, July 29, 1795, 

(f.) One half of 2,632,500 sq. feet. Squares 630 * * * 1 114. 

Fifty years after David A. Hall, upon authorization of the 
court, sold the real estate security for some proportion of the 
amount advanced thereon. 

It will be observed the aggregate loans are one hundred and 
forty thousand dollars including twelve thousand taken by 
Greenleaf instead of eight hundred thousand as has been pub- 

The lots in Washington were in fact the joint property of 
Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf and the syndicate was to 
enjoy the proceeds of the loans. It seems that the securities 
pledged as guaranty of interest belonged to Greenleaf, indi- 



vidually. Before the loan project was anywise assured the 
syndicate pursued a financiering scheme of floating or kiting 
their bills in Holland on short periods of redemption for pres- 
sing requirements. The bills summed enormously. Had their 
success been uncurbed they would have appreciably drained 
the money supply of the Dutch. The mere acceptance by the 
Dutch bankers of the management of a popular loan on the lots 
was made by the syndicate a sufficient warrant to draw. 

* Philada. July 28, 1794 
Mr. Sylvanus Bourne, 

Sir: — 

Having found a good deal of difficulty in passing bills at so long a term as 
twelve months, we are under the necessity of again altering our plan of operation, 
and upon this occasion it is very agreeable to be possessed of the encouragement 
which the contents of your last two letters to Mr. Greenleaf afford, because it 
enables us to act with that decision and determination which our affairs require. 
Our letters of the loth of April and 7th of June announced the bills we had then 
agreed to pass on you at 12 months date to the amount of 70,000 Sterling. Of 
this sum only 53,100 Sterling has been negotiated to this day, therefore we have 
agreed to cancel the remaining sum of 36,900 Sterling, none of which will ever 
appear for acceptance. But instead thereof, and in dependance of your obtaining 
the loan upon the building lots in the City of Washington, which we deem cer- 
tain since Messrs. Daniel Crommelin & Sons have entered into Articles of 
Agreement with you to that effect, as we well know that their credit and 
respectability is such that the said loan will undoubtedly fill under their influ- 
ence, Mr. James Greenleaf in whose name the said loan is negotiated will 
commence drawing upon you at 60 days sight, payable in London in favor of 
John Nicholson, which bills will be endorsed by him and by Robert Morris, and 
we unite in requesting your acceptance of these bills as they appear and payment 
as they fall due. * * * 

We are Sir, 

Your obedt. hbl. sts. 


A paragraph of historical review of the times **Dutch Liberty" 
would be worthy of the space and I here would insert it did 
not the bibliographers tell me no history of this period is in the 
English language. 

Of Greenleafs personality in early manhood too little is 
known to write of it with confidence. That he was capti- 
vating, his friendships indicate; that he was attract! vep^his 

* Orlglnd in colkction of autographic letters of Mr. Charles Roberta, Phnadelphla. 


likenesses assure. That he was a roistering, rollicking blade, 
I hardly think; that he was dignified and elegant, I am more 
impressed. He thought quickly and acted promptly on com- 
mercial ventures. And his lovemaking suggests the same 
expedition. In Holland, he met, courted and wed, in a short 
three months, the Baroness Antonia Cornelia Elbertine Scholten 
van Aschat et Oud-Haarlem. The marriage in 1788 is attested 
by the Mayor of Flushing and by a commission at Middleburg, 

The children of the union are: William Christian James, born 
September 6, 1790, and Marie Josephine Wilhelmina Matilda. 
Marie married William Antoine Schwartz, Lieutenant of Ar- 

Greenleafs intention for several years to return to Holland is 
shown in numerous letters, his and others'. Again he never 
crossed the Atlantic* 

The likenesses of Mr. and Mrs. Greenleaf are reproductions 
from water colors, the property of Captain A. F. F. G. Schwartz 
of the Netherlands. For his kindness I am sure I can bespeak 
the gratitude of the citizens of the Capital of the United States 
who appreciate its perfection and appreciate the impetus the 
first capitalist gave to that consummation. The water colors 
are of date, 1793. The Greenleaf coat of arms is also presented 
by Captain Schwartz. 

*John Q)i!ncy Adams passed 1795 in Holland on Mission. His diary mentions Greenleafs 
house in Amsterdam, dinine witli M. and Madame Scliolten, Greenleafs Cither and mother-in-law, 
and interviews with M. Scholten. The diary mentions Beeldemaker and Bourne; the latter was 
still with the Dutch when Mr. Adams came on the peace commission. 



Do you like letter-reading? If you do 

1 have some twenty dozen very pretty ones. 

— Epes Sargent. 

ETTERS index character. Letters mark intellectuality. 
Letters possess authenticity. 

They live, they speak, they breathe 

though the hand that inscribed is numb. 

In these scenes revived if the actors can speak their lines I 
shall not substitute my own. So to do would be to presume; 
and from the genuineness to detract. The writers speak 
clearly to another as to me and merit and motive are as appa- 
rent to another as to me and extended comment on my part 
would be supererogatory. The letters are not sequential. 
Except a few, they are germain to incidents in other chapters. 

I have reproduced the correspondence without the emenda- 
tion of capitalizing and punctuating; indeed, at that period 
punctuation in writing was not systematically practiced and 
never a venture beyond a comma, a period or a dash. I have 
likewise to the extent the printer could assist copied other 
peculiarities, as the quaint abbreviation. Frequently I have 
eliminated parts. 

Of the city of Washington, Mr. Greenleaf speaks of it as 
'*the Federal City" and **the Federal Establishment;" both 
Mr. Morris and Mr. Law, as ** the City." 

Prbsidbnt Washington to Tomas Lbar. 

Mount Vernon 25 September, 1793 
My Dbar Sir, 

You v^ill learn from Mr. Greenleaf, that he has dipped deeply in the con- 
cerns of the Federal city, — I think he has done so on very advantageous terms 
for himself, and I am pleased with it notwithstanding on public ground; as it 
may give facility to the operations at that place, at the same time that it is 

embarking him and his friends in a measure which, although (it) could not well 
fail under any circumstances that are likely to happen, may be considerably 
promoted by men of Spirit with large Capitals. He can, so much better than I, 
detail his engagements and the situation of things in and about the city, that 1 
shall not attempt to do it at this time. 

The Commissioners having sold to Mr. Greenleaf numerous 
lots at $80 a lot and he in a year having disposed of many at 
the rate of $292.50 to " a gentleman from England " (Mr. Law) 
the President concludes they are novices at bargaining in real 

President Washingtoh to Daniel Carroll. 

Philadelphia, 7 January, 1795. 
Dear Sir, 

You will consider this letter as coming firom me in my private capacity, at 

the same time 1 do not object to the communication of the sentiments to your 

colleagues in office. 

You will recollect no doubt that 1 yielded my assent to Mr. Greenleaf 's first 
proposition to purchase a number of lots in the Federal Gty (altho' 1 thought the 
price he offered for them was too low) because at that time seemed to be in a 
stagnant state, and something was neccessary to put the wheels in motion again. 
To the second Sale which was made to him, my repugnance was greater, in as 
much as the necessity for making it was not so apparent to my view — and 
because another thing had become quite evident — Viz: that he was speculating 
deeply — was aiming to monopolize deeply, and was thereby laying the foundation 
of immense profit to himself and those with whom he was concerned. 

Viewing the matter in this light, you will readily perceive, at the first glance, 
how much my sentiments are opposed to any more large sales, if there be any 
other resource by which money can be obtained to carry on your operations. 

The sum which will be necessary to compleat the public buildings and other 
improvements in the Gty, is very considerable. You have already, if 1 mistake 
not disposed of more than a moiety of the Lots which appertain to the Public; 
and 1 fear not a fourth part of the Money necessary for that purpose, is yet 
provided. The persons to whom you have sold are reselling to others (subjecting 
them to the conditions to which they are made liable themselves) and this they 
ar^ doing to an immense profit Lately, a Gentleman firom England, has paid, or 
is to pay ;£ 50,000 for 500 Lots. — Will it not be asked, why are speculators to 
pocket so much money? Are not the Commissioners as competent to make 
bargains ? 

The business, 1 conceive, b now £urly on its legs — ^to sell therefore by whole- 
sale (aster than is indispensably necessary to keep the machine in proper motion 
wOl, probably (as property is rising there), be deemed impolitic. And to part with 
the legal title to the lots (especially in large sales of them) on personal security, 
may be hazarding more than prudence will warrant 

For a variety of reasons, unnecessary to be enumerated, tho' some of them are 
very important, 1 could wish to see the force of your means, directed toward the 
capitol in preference to the other public buDdings. 

With great esteem &c 


Dr. CaflFry was the first pastor of St. Patrick's Church. Mr. 
Greenleaf for himself and his associates made a subscription, 
which was separately paid. For this kindness and the 
employment as draftsman of an Irish compatriot from the same 
county, just over, the good father was profoundly grateful and 
he ever effectively gave expression of this honorable trait. I 
find in Mr. Morris's letters he settled his share of the subscrip- 
tion several years after when the hurricanes of disappointment 
had swept away almost all save hope. 

City of Washington 8br ye ist 1794 

I thought I could have the pleasure of seeing you before yr departure from 
this city. It is more than probable we shall not be favoured with a visit from you 
before yr return from Europe. . that God may take you under his provi- 
dential guard & protection will be my daily prayer, untill I enjoy the happinefs 
of seeing you once more. 

Yr Ever obliged & obedt Serv* 


P. S. youU be pleased to tell Mr Lafette that I wish him a most prosperous 

voyage & anxiously expect the happinefs of seeing him once more In this new 

V shortly 
world, I hope Ul have the pleasure of see Mr Delagarene a ^s I could not hear 

that he is to be on yr Expedition youU be kind enough to give him my good 


Mr. Greenleaf's friend, Samuel Ward, was a prominent 
banker of New York. 

Ward to Grbenleaf. 

Nov 24. 1794 
DiAR Sir 

Your Washington business seems to lay heavy on your mind — I can sell bills 
but think it more prudent to wait your departure that they may arrive in London 
after you a short time. 

Law admired Greenleaf. He was impressed with Green- 
leaf's many and mighty enterprises. Law and Greenleaf 
reciprocally expressed deep regard and were socially intimate. 
Both were men of letters and this consonance may have been 
the spring to friendliness. The letters mark the beginning and 
the ending of their association — an eventful six months. 


To William Blanb op London. 

Dec 5, 1794 
Mr. Greenleaf a most respectable man for abilities and integrity will deliver 
this to you, & I beg you will pay particular attention to his Statements. — The 
President Washington confides in him, and you will find him a man of an 
enlarged understanding — I will give you particulars in my next — it is however 
sufficient to observe, that if a few of us sit down in Washington Qty, that 
numbers more will join us, Sl that land worth 1000 Dollars, will soon rise to 
1000 £ Sg" — I am writing to Young & Heatley & many of our friends — I am 
sorry to see you all in such embarrassments at home, St and have only once 
congratulated myself on taking this step in time — Here all the people are pros- 
pering, the Land only wants men, if a person with Cash is tolerably prudent, he 
must benefit — 

Once more let me refer you to Mr Greenleaf & oblige me by showing him 
every attention — He is not an American, therefore you may have impartial 
accounts from him — 

Your sincere friend 


To Greenleaf. 

Dec. 6, 1794. 
I am fully satisfied with the whole transaction St am happy that it has made 
me acquainted with one whose Character stands so high — 

I remain 

Dr Sir 

Yrs with Esteem 


** ******* 

Postscript: Pray write to me from England. 

To Greenleaf. 

Dec. 14, 1794 
Dr Sir/ 

I have been desired by two Gentlemen East Indians, one acting for David 
Scott the great Bombay Merchant, East India Director, & friend of Dundas & an 
acqu« of mine, to let them have a share in my Washington purchase. 

Now if you are resolved not to part with any more on the same terms, I must 
be cautious & arrange accordy — Pray tell me, if not an improper question, 
whether I may positively say that you will not part with any more on those 

Yr Scy & Obt<l 


Scott afterwards came to the city. He was deterred from 
investing by the unforwardness in the demarcation of thorough- 
fares and by the inertness of the City Commissioners, so was 
Law's plaint. 




To Lady Rumbold. 

Dec. 15, 1794. 
Dear Sister 

John & George are now in the room with me & desire their aff« regards to 
you, they are improving very much — The Climate has been delightfull hitherto 
we have now and then had a firosty night, but the sun shines all the day — I am 
sorry, very sorry to receive such accounts from Europe, the Dutch will suffer a 
sad change, a melancholy revolution, & may lament their lives this foolish war — 
I feel most uneasy about you all in England, the Taxes must increase two 
millions &a annually, and your numbers, to bear the burthen cannot increase as 
heretofore — this Country is wisely determined to pay off her Debt, & it will be 
all liquidated in 15 years — Mr. Greenleaf will deliver this to you and I beg you 
to receive him as my friend, He will tell you all about me, 1 wish you could be 
induced to settle here, 1 am almost afraid to persuade you, the return from hence 
is at any rate easy — If Tom came here for three or four years, he could double 
his fortune to a certainty — Maria will no doubt ask Mr Greenleaf a number of 
questions, and have him in the family way, without ceremony to Dinner, he will 
not stay long in England, as he is going to his wife and family in Holland, so 
try to get a few hours of his valuable time 

Yrs. Sincy 


To Greenleaf. 

Dec. 17, 1794. 

My Dear Sir/ 

fAr Duncansons terms were, these — 100 Dollars for 200 Soy» & 3 P*" Q being 
half of the insurance, — 1 agree to draw on these terms — 

If you have any friends that want to procure a good Cargo from India & 
have not Capi Immy 1 will write to my friend Monis in India, & he shall provide 
a Cargo on his own Capital — if the cash will be paid with interest in a certain 
time — India, is now overflowing with Specie — Ships that go suddenly with 
dollars must bring what is the market, whereas an order before hand will be of 
great advantage — 

I will take a Share in a part of a Ships Cargo of worked Leather — Vizt boots 
& shoes. 

Will you drink tea with me any day or breakfast then you stay as long as 
you like — but if I go to you I am afraid of interruptK 


T. LAW. 

Law to Greehleaf. 

Dec. 19, 1794 

Pardon this request, I am you know acting for others, — within these few 
days I mnst you know, have heard a great deal & it may be some consolation 
to you, to be informed, that not one man, but speaks of you in the moft favor- 
able terms — Your word to me is a Law, but as you are going I naturally wish 
for some authority from yon, for others to act upon. 

To Gkebnuap. 

Dec ao, 1794. 
Dear Sir/ 

I thank you for your last proof of kindness & liberality — I shall certainly go 
to Washington Qty & my heart & mind are full of it — 

That you may be assured I have some influence in India & among my E. I. 

friends — I enclose to you some testimoniak; these did not get me one dinner in 

England, or one smile or Compliment firom my Honorable Masters 

Yrs Sy 

T. LAW. 

New York, Dec. 20, 1794. 
William Cranch, Esqre 


Dear Sir 

Notwithstanding the Two Million Four hundred thousand 

square feet of ground in the Gty of Washington purchased of me by Mr. Law 

has been already allotted to him, & with regard to the transfer of which you have 

rec<l my instructions; yet from the willingnefs to gratify Mr Law Sl to render him 

more than satisfied with the purchase he has made, I have consented that after 

he may have viewed the positions chosen for him should he prefer other situations 

he may have the liberty of changing, provided that no confusion is occasioned 

thereby in arrangements previously made. — My meaning is not that Mr Law 

should have the uncontroled choice of all the property possessed by M. N. & G. 

in the Qty, but that if he should prefer the mafs alloted him transferred firom the 

Eastern part to any other part of the Qty he may be allowed to do it, or that if 

he should fancy any particular square which is not already appropriated to an 

express object or necessary to the execution of my general plans that such square 

may be alloted to him — ^This letter will be handed by Mr Law whose residence 

at the Qty you will please make as agreeable as po&ible — 

Believe me Dr Sir 

Your affectionate friend and servant 


Law to Greshleaf. 

Dec 31, 1794. 
My Dear Sir/ 

Pray have the introduction & Treatise in defence of Usury corrected & if you 
could spare a moment to add to it, could have it reprinted, perhaps it would be 
well, bring a few with you 

I have just rec<l an excellent plan for a College &c in, or near Washington 
City — The Prest will of course encourage & Foster it — The Arts and Sciences 
are now frightened from Europe by the din of War, here let them receive pro- 
tection — ^The young men from the North & South shall here meet & imbibe 
amicable dispositions & general philanthrophy — they will have the same studies 
& the same central objects, they will become more and more attached fuimque 
velle idem nolle ea demumfinna amicilia esl* 

Do not however mention this till it is matured — 

* QMOtation teems to be from Cicero. Literally, " Because to will and not will the same thing— 
that in truth is firm friendship " ; liberally, " Concord in studies is the bond of Friendship.*' 


To Greeklbap. 

January 8, 1795. 
My Diar Sir/ 

Yr Lre gave me a great pleasure — 1 participate in your feelings and am con- 
vinced that you have cast Anchor in a good spot. 

I heard an excellent Trait of Morris, he was desired to sell some favorite spot 
near this Town, in a very delicate manner, & replied that he would never part 
with it — but when the gentleman was going away, he recall<i. him & said that 
he had creditors pressing him & that he would sacrifice his private satisfaction 
to his pride and honor, and would part with it — This was a noble sentiment & 
a dedsion influenced by sensibility and Judgment — He has not settled our busi- 
ness & 1, rely upon you to do it, when you come, he has however done all that 
man could do, he seems enire nous embarrafs'<l by a Public Spirit & private 
interest witht distinguishing that the Latter must operate in favor of the general 
good, or in other words, he appropriates his funds to distant objects St Diverts 
his funds & the labor of the people from works more immediately productive — 

The Junction of the Susquehannah to the Schuylkill is a speculation of 10 
years, & quere, would it not be more advantageous to the United States to pour 
the productions into the Chesapeake than into the Delaware — 300000 Dollars 
have been already spent — & how long will it be, & what sums will it require to 
finish the Plan — Pardon these remarks, they flow from a wish to see Morris 
decide — 

He borrows at a dreadful interest & sells disadvantageously like a desperate 
gambler to recover what he has lost — He has I know great resources, but no 
fortune can support his constant drains — Calculate the interest of a million of 
dollars which the Canal will Cost perhaps &c — at an interest of 20 P cent at 
least, and then know that the project is not to exceed 15 P Ct by the Act 
of Congress — 

1 am perhaps writing without proper grounds, but it is to you, who may 
laugh at my ignorance and tear this. — I said every thing to Miss Allen, St 
your friends, they all wish to see you — Lagarrne Sl Le Farret — the City of 
Washington : rises in estimation hourly Major Moore wants to buy more & 
Genl Steuart — the Irs you enclosed were an Elegant Composition — I gave them 
to Morris to cheer him — You may say that I had rather sell my horses or books 
or any thing rather than part with a foot at present of Washington City — 

Remb me to all Friends 

Yrs Mt Sincy 


Mr. Law had a clear conception of Morris's condition and 
chance financially. He also had a conception of something 
else and mentions the future Mrs. Greenleaf. 

On General Walter Stewart, nature so heaped her store 
naught remained for art to supply; he was acknowledged the 
handsomest man in all the States. He was a native of Ireland 
and a patriot of America. When aide-de-camp to General 
Gates and colonel of a Pennsylvania regiment bravery distin- 

LITTBtS 102 

guished him. After the war he lived in Philadelphia and 
married Deborah, the daughter of Blair McClenachan. Under 
the persuasion of Morris be purchased in the city. He owned 
the Willard Hotel site. He began buildings in the first ward 
which he did not complete. Upon financial disaster close 
came death, 1796. 

To Grbeklbap. 

February 11, 1795. 
My Dear Sir\ 

Geni Stuart surprised me last night by saying that you had agreed with him 
on every point, but particularly respecting the propriety of throwing every capital 
to the promotion of buildings towards the Potowmack & George Town — as it is 
high time that I should make myself a resting place & as I am now going to 
undertake an important step, pray if you can, let me have half an hours 
convn with you. 

Genl Steuart told me that he had not engaged to build, but upon your terms 
with the Commissioners, Now if I resolve upon keeping the Lots I shall exert 
myself to the utmost & immy — 

I hope you will let me have the choice next to Genl Stewart — he indeed has 
not virtually so good a claim on you as myself & he has parted with half to 
another, who ought to have come after me — Can I do anything for you at the 


After our trip to New York I have indulged the hope of increasing our tnendship 
& enjoying reciprocal regard — 

You v^ see by the enclosed Lre that I have left men behind me who have 
afih for me, & I indulge the expectation of bringing a few of my Asiatic connec- 
tions here — I shall be at home all the momg 



There is shrewdness, diplomatically suggested, in Greenleaf's 
message to Cranch to confirm Law's good opinion of his pur- 
chase; and assurance in that he makes Law the messenger. 
Over there in Waterland Greenleaf as Consul must have had 
the duties of a diplomat. 

Philada 17 Feby 1795 
My Dbar Friend/ 

My particular & beloved friend Mr. Thomas Law will bear this to you — as I 
have repeatedly expressed to you how nearly I have at heart to unite Mr. Law's 
talents & efforts to yours, in the promotion of my favorite object, the federal 
establishment, I shall forbear repetition; but beg only that you would receive Mr. 
Law as one who is deserving your warmest friendship & confidence, & who 
possesses mine in an unlimited degree St that you would practice every possible 
endeavor to render his residence at the City Comfortable & agreeable. 


Mr L will probably be accompanied by his friend Duncanson whom I also 
recommend to your kind attentions — 

With regard to the selection of Lots for Mr Law you will have due reference 
to what has passed thereon in writing, observing nevertheless that it is essential 
to my happiness that Mr L should be pleased with his purchase & with your 
manner of conducting towards him in the selection of the property to be trans- 
ferred to him — 

believe me with truth & affection 


William Cranch, Esqr City of Washington 

Mr. Cranch says that Mr. Law arrived in the city the first 
time the 23d day of February, 1795 and remained until the 5th 
of March. That he met Mr. Law loth of March in Philadelphia. 
That he with his family arrived home 29th of May, and on the 
preceding evening saw Mr. Law at Stark's tavern in Baltimore. 
Mr. Law was en route for the city and arrived the same time 
he and his family did. 

Mr. Law handed Mr. Greenleaf 's letters dated December 20, 
1794 and February 17, 1795 to Mr. Cranch the day after his 
arrival i. e. February 24. 

It may be urged that the Duncanson correspondence is trivial, 
without interest or historical value. Having from divers and 
diverse sources succeeded in collecting it complete 1 shall be 
so bold to include it all. It at least teaches that the cleverest 
diplomacy is that of plate and glass and knife and fork. It 
shows that surest success in large land deals is in summoning 
that ally, none other 

Than that all softening, overpowering knell, 
The tocsin of the soul — the dinner-bell. 

To Cranch. 

(Wednesday, February 25, 1795). 
Dear Sir, 

If you are disengaged to-morrow, will you favor Mr Duncanson & me with 
your company to dinner at 3 odock 

I shall esteem it a favor if you could oblige me with a memm of the Lots you 

could allow me the option of, & with information when it is convenient for me 

to wait upon you — 

I remain 


Yrt mt Oby 



Feb. 25th 1795 
Th» Law Esq' 
I will with pleasure accept your polite invitation to dine tomorrow & will 
take with me the papers from which 1 shall form the memm you request If 
you will ride over the ground noted to you in Mr. GreenleaPs memm I will dU 
upon you at 12 o'clock for that purpose. Shall I have the fav' of the company 
of you & Mr. Duncanson to dine on firiday 2 o Qock 

I am D Sir 

Your obedt Scrv* 


Cranch to Greenleaf. 

February 27, 1895. 
He seems pleased v^th the dty, and some very great alterations must take 
place in his ideas before he v^ consent to relinquish his purchase — Giptn 
Duncanson has said something of making a purchase upon the same terms with 
those of Mr. Law — perhaps 1 shall make a contract of the same kind with him. 

City of Washington March i, 1795 
Thos Law Esq 

Dr Sir/ 

1 am obliged to meet Mefers Morris Nicholson & Greenleaf in Philada before 

loth instant 1 am therefore as anxious as you can be to complete your 

selection. — 

with respect Sec I am Sr 

Yr obedt 

I hope for the pleasure W. CRANCH. 

of meeting you at Mr. 

Young's at dinner. 

City Washington 3d March 1794 
Dear Sir/ 

Will you sell to me the amount of from Eight to twenty thousand pounds 
Pennsylvania Currency of square feet in the City of Washington to be selected 
by me, from all the squares you have given Mr Law at Latitude to choose from 
(excepting those lots which Mr Law has now chosen) at the rate of five pence 
Pennsylvania Currency pr Square foot, & subject to the exact Tenor of Mr Laws 
articles of Agreement with Mefsr* Morris, Nicholson St Greenleaf— I also wish to 
know, such part as I may not be able to give ready money for, at what periods 
of instalments, you would fix for the residue — 

The terms of payment I can propose. As I must go to New York to Sell 
Stock &c for ready money — A note payable one month after date & it will be 
good that time before 1 can have inspected my Lotts — Do of the residue one 
3d in fix months — and the remainder of the residue, one year without interest 

I am Dear Sir 

Your most obet St 

M> W. Cranch City of Washington 


City op Washinoton March 3(1 1795 
Capt* Duncanson 

DiAR Sir/ 

I have the pleasure of receiving yours of this date^l accept & agree 

to the proposals made by you — ^you giving your note payable in one month 

for seven thousand pounds Md C^ — ^your note for one third of the refidue 

of the amount of the Lots you may select, payable in six months, and your 

note payable in one year for the residue of said Amount, the whole without 


I am, Sir, 

your obedt Serv* 


1 will expect your final Answer on next thursday morning 

W. C 

City of Washington 5, March 1795. 
Dear Sir/ 

Agreeable to your letter of the 3d instant I have examined the squares from 

which Mr Law will be entitled to choose his number of Lots, and after he has 

chosen there will remain in those squares none equal in value to Mr Laws — In (act 

for his Choice I would with pleasure give six pence sooner than four pence, for 

that 1 am to choose, after him, 1 therefore leave to yourself whether my choice is 

equally four pence as Laws is five pence per square foot; and in every other 

respect agreable to the Tenor of my Letter of the third to you; on these grounds 

I am ready to conclude the agreement before you go. 

I am Dr Sir 

Your most ob* Sert 


City of W. March 5th, 1795 
Capt« Duncanson 

Dr Sir 
I reed you hyf of this date and think there is some justice in your observa- 
tion as yours will be only a Second Choice, and if Mefs" Morris, Nicholson and 
Greenleaf should not think their Sale to Mr Law as too cheap, I think there can 
be little doubt of their complying with your propositions — But as my authority 
does not allow me to Sell under 5^ pr -Sq-foot I cannot absolutely agree to them. 
I will however afeent to them, subject to the ratification or disavowal of Meisn 
Morris, Nicholson & GreenleaC 

I am Sir, your obedt 


City op Washinoton 

5 March 1795 

at noon 

I have received your letter of this date & agree to it on these conditions, con- 
fident of the liberality of Melsrs. Morris, Nicholson & Greenleaf 

I am &c 



Greenleaf without the help of Morris and Nicholson negoti- 
ated the sale to Law. Morris and Nicholson received the 
entire proceeds and Greenleaf credit on account for his share. 
Cranch had the notes of Duncanson and intended to deliver 
them to Greenleaf as an offset yet the rapacious partners 
vigorously demanded division. So great even at this time 
were the calls upon the syndicate that Law's considerable pay- 
ment $133,333 afforded no appreciable relief. 

Law made the transaction of his life through Greenleaf and 
looked to him naturally for protection; and independent of 
this circumstance, he had confidence in him and less in his 
associates. Law's request for a mortgage to which Greenleaf 
acceded was a shrewd business move and it saved his invest- 
ment entire. However without Greenleafs acquiescence and 
assistance Law might not have received this indemnity; grati- 
tude was owing to Greenleaf and the grateful debt was 
unacknowledged. Law is the only creditor who received his 
advance in full; no other, a moderate percentage. 

Dear Grbemleaf (^pnl 3©, 1795-) 

Since 1 made our first agreement — I have to write my friend that the purchase 
is made absolute, & I mean to tell them that they may be off if they please, & in 
that case will you on your own acct take 5000 /, Stg. — I offer it to you as being 
most advantageous — Pray give me a mortgage on enough of Notley Youngs 
property 50,000 /, till I can finally settle the squares^ enable me I entreat to write 
my friends thus — 

** By drawing upon you at an exchange of 10 pr ct I have gained for you that 
profit, but without consulting you 1 have done away the option of returning the 
squares if I disapprove of our purchase & therefore deem myself responsible, & 
Exchange being at par or below will upon rect of your answer remit your prindpal 
5000 & profit by Exchange & Int if you are averse to the Concern — 

I have obtained a mortgage of squares which Meiisrs Greenleaf M & N held in 
fee simple, till I can have the squares selected by me properly conveyed over 

This mortgage can be easily done & pray oblige me— Think not Dr Greenleaf 
that 1 have any Doubts of your security, my sole motive is to satisfy my friends 
at home, & to do away all censure of me — ^you know they will expect it of me 

I remain 

^^^^ T. LAW 

Dr Gmmleaf (May i, 1795) 

As I have made the purchase absolute witht the consent of Mr Blane who 

holds 5000 £ in the Concern I request to know whether you would wish to have 

the 5000 should he regret it — 

I offer to you as 1 deem myself bound so to do, to one who has acted so 

liberally — ^Yr« Sec T LAW 

107 LBTTWl 

Friday Mong 8 May 
Dear Law 

I would come & breakfast with you agreeable to your Desire did not our 
friend Mr. Lear break^t me, & who has important bufmess to regulate with 
me before his Departure — 

if you will accompany me to the Qty I will wait till next friday for you & we 
can, if together doubtless hU upon some method or other of obtaining Gurolls 
titles, who must of necessity give them in Sept next — 

Do my most worthy friend Determine to accompany me, & add to the obli- 
gation you have laid me under by giving me your confidence, that one of grati- 
fying me in the wish I have the most near to my heart — 

Yr most affectionate 

T. Law Esq*" 

(Copied from Letter book page 2332) 

New York May 11, 1795 
Thomas Law Esqr 

My Dear Sir^^ 

I thank you for your kind offer to Interest me in the place of M> Blane in 

your Washington purchase should he decline holding the part reserved for him 

(say £5^^^>^ S^ ) in that concern — in which case 1 will cheerfully Do it on the 

terms of your last contract with Morris Nicholson and Greenleaf, and shall in 

consequence hold myself bound to pay my proportion of the original purchase 

money with legal Interest thereon — 

believe me Dear Sir 


July 4th 1795 
Dear Greenleaf 

You have a copy of my two Lres to the Commifsioners. six squares they 
promised to convey to me & 1 was promised an answer in two days to the Lre 
I addrefsed respecting the Wharf Sec but 1 have not yet been tivored with an 
answer. Barry is urgent — he wants to erect a store there &.to purchase grain & 
to build a ship— I mean to set up an agency house with him for East India Com- 
mifsions in short I wish to benefit myself by promoting the Qty — Have I been 
wanting in respect or in attentions — my style is not harsh not immoderate — ^Yet 
not a line have I received from them — Do not the Commifsioners in their agree- 
ments with you strictly require you not to sell before Janury 1796 witht stipula- 
lations for hialding^—who however will build without titles — ^They ought to 
rejoice at subdivisions of property and should encourage settlers in the Qty by 
every accommodations — ^They should have been obliged to settle near the Capitol 
whereas unfortunately they have made purchases near George Town — 1 beg of 
you to obtain some Decision & Titles or let me relinquish the Gty & be no 
more embarrafsed — ^Three visits have I made there^I had taken one step but can 
yet retract — ^The Qty can only be made by the Eastern Branch. The President 
himself when he sees all that has hitherto been done will feel how much that part 
of the Qty has been overlooked— he will pity the ignorance of the man who 
proposed the Canal to run by 697 & 699 & 743 instead of 2 & L Street or 
between 742 & 769— he will blush when he perceives where the Commi6k>ners 

have made their wharf— in short he wOl order some measures to be adopted to let 
the Gty branch out from the proper root the Eastern Branch— Crocker writes 
justly resps the Commissioners *' Tliat they do not po6e6 minds sufficiently en- 
larged to promote the real interests of the Gty if they wished it " — 

Pray remb to have the Post office established at the Capitol 

I have written to Crocker not to say a word pro or con respects any part of 
the Qty—I have written to him also that Lusette is to have the one horse chair 
& to bring them with him. 

The President & every one would be surprised at the rapid growth of the 
Qty if decisions were pa&ed — respecting the right to erect Warehouses on the 
wharves George town cannot for the ke— New York flourishes by the fiidlity of 
loading Vessels from stores on the Wharves — Season goes away after Season St 
the year 1800 will be soon upon us. You gave a Spring to the Qty by your 
Contract & bufldings The Commissioners— You are building on N Street & 
will unite your Point & the Eastern branch 

I am sorry that the Capitol has had an accident but 1 am not surprised — Hoban 
when he began the President's house buflt one for himself dose to it — The Com- 
miisrt had one close to the Capitol which they sold to the Qergyman — ^The 
president is too mild & he will regret it The Comm^* should be obliged to 
reside some where near the Capitol till then every thing will be counter' 
action and error-^ 

You know that Scot when he rode round with me did not know Maryland 
from Pennsylvania A venue— how should he ? Carrol altho enfeebled with age 
was the most zealous & active of the three — but no more of this I am heartily 
tired of murmurs to you who must be sufficiently chagrined — harmony & Union 
can do great things — they however cannot exist whilst the Comm^ reside West 
of the Presidents House, I subjoin my numbers of the elected squares — in 
some most of the Lots have been sold — 

Between the Presidents house & Capitol 

East of the Capitol 
New Jersey Avenue 

Selection 1 will retum — some of the squares are not measured or laid out — 1 

had made the selection long ago 



Dbar Gmbnleap 

1 have been rendered very uneasy by Le Garennes Lre — in my first negotia- 
tion with you, your candor so confirmed the character I had received, that 1 did 
not read over the first deed — 1 placed more reliance in your words, than in any 
other persons writing — 1 have all along attached myself to you from a sincere 
regard & hoped that you would extricate yourself from your embarrassment 
with Me<« M. & N. by taking the whole City concem into your hands— that 
desirable expectation is now compleately frustrated & the very reverse of it 
effiected — 

I engaged to build within a certain period & you at the same time engaged 
to give me title deeds — I made my Contract irrevocable in the hopes of obtaining 


title deeds St of begg building immey you was rather hard upon me when you 
desired me to make the bargain absolute, but your reason influenced me 
Vi2t lAal it would go abroad and give a spur to the City 6f promote 
your tdews — I now rely upon you for obtaining for me a Writing to the 
follows Effect, ''Whereas Mr Law had an option of rejecting his purchase made 
upon on the 4th day of December 1794 within 18 months & whereas it was 
agreed that the said Thomas should build a certain number of houses within four 
years after he so made the bargain absolute, Now the condition is that W Law 
is not required to build the houses specified till within five years & 6 months 
from the 4th of December 1794 aforesaid " — 

1 request this to prevent disputes & prosecutions — 1 made a common cause 
with you & hatred & malice will persecute me — The change is compleat as any 
in France—The Jacobins will persecute the Moderees — pardon me if I hurt your 
feelings — you must be conscious that mine are lacerated — If you obtain this 
writing for me & if Morris & Nicholson will say that the building required in 
compliance with their contract & that they do not mean to be rigid as the 
Commn then will I join to go on — if not — ^like an hunted Boar 1 will seat myself 
at the end of New Jersey Avenue relinquish all my plans of promotions & foam 
& goar till 1 fall under chagrine — People in England will triumph if 1 fail — in 
short an accumulation of mortifying circumstances will overwhelm me — You are 
going to England in short when I cast my eye around, 1 see all my pleasing 
prospects vanished — 1 have written to Legarrene. 

1 had much to say & a long story to relate about a certain person who gave 
us some uneasinefs in Philadelphia — but my mind is too full of the present im- 
portant transaction respecK Washington Gty 



New York 

July I2th 
I rely upon having the original Title Deeds of the Comm" & Notley Young 
to confirm my mortgage — 

I rely upon having also a Contract under a penalty that the first conveyance 
by Carroll shall be to me — 

1 entreat of you as a friend to do this — You told me you know that you had 
the Title deeds forthcoming & 1 went to the City under that persuasion. 

Thomas Law E«,r. PrntAOAjuly .5, 1795. 

My dear firiend 
The only circumstance that would render disagreeable to me the assumption 
of M & N of the whole concern in the Fed^ Gty is the uneasinefs I find it has 
aeated in yr mind, & which I shall remove by every means in my power — 
Lagarennes in his letter to you has explained the imperious motives which have 
induced me to divest myself of an object to which, situated as I was with M & 
N & the Commiisn I felt conscious it was no longer in my power to render that 
justice it merited — I can only repeat therefore that nothing short of absolute 
necefsity has guided my conduct in that businefs & you, my friend, as well as 
Duncanson, will, I trust, (when I have it in my power to explain more fully my 
reasons) not only exculpate me from the charge of Selfish, narrow or contracted 


views; but be convinced that I have been actuated by |Hire St hononbk princi- 
ples and that (to save me from a labyrinth of difficulties St vexations), 1 would 
never have consented to the bargain, had I conceived that it would in any wise 
be injurious to the Interests of Two friends whose interests St happiness (from 
the first moment of my connection with them, I never had an idea of separating 
from my own. 

The Ori^nal Deeds given by the G>mmiisn St Notley Young are with Mr 
Cranch at Washington — authenticated copies only are at New York which 
shall be furnished you on my return — ^With r^;ard to the improvements you have 
obligated yourself to make, no difficulty shall be made to extend to the term you 
propose Vizt five years St an half from 4 December. And an order shall be 
procured for M' Cranch to transfer to you the property which I shall be entitled 
from D drroU on his receiving payt 26 Sepr next, 

Should the fear you express of £iiling in your undertaking be grounded, it 
would indeed render me wretched, St there is no sacrifice I would repine at to 
prevent or repair, so far as it lies in my power a misfortune of that kind; But it is 
not, nor can it be the case — St trust to me that I shall on no account ever suffer 
you to be injured, while it is in the pale of possibility to prevent it What I say 
St solemnly declare to you is equally meant for our friend Duncanson, to whom 
I would give the same afsurance St pledge my honor, had the short time I have 
left to dose my immense St complicated concerns, allowed me to so do it 

Let me intreat you, therefore my worthy friend, to ease your mind, & do not 
suffer groundless apprehensions to lead you to a misconception of the principles 
St delicacy of a friend, in whom you never shall have reason to repent having 
placed an implicit confidence, and do not suppose, my dear Law, that what I say 
with regard to a continuance St a willingnefs to aid and afsist your views, is 
meant as a momentary palliation for the present unintended disappointmt , but 
consider it as an engagement on my part to support St promote by every means 
in my power the interests St the happiness of a Man for whom if you do justice 
to my sentiments you will be persuaded I feel the warmest return of attachment 
St friendship. 

Let me repeat, what Lagarenne has already said in my name, that if you con- 
ceive it for yr advantage or security, I will cheerfully interest myself in your con- 
tract St shall, with more pleasure than 1 ever did, go hand in hand with you in 
insuring success to an establishment which has not, nor ever will cease to be 
very dear to me. 

This profefsion will 1 hope dispel from your mind the clouds that circumstances 

have tended to collect there and trust in me, my dear Law, that at all times you 

will find in me a -sincere and unalterable friend — 


At the letter's date Aaron Burr was United States Senator. 
His name with large sums opposite appears in Greenleafs 
account current. 


(December 14, 1795.) 
"I was sick St you did not visit me" — for which sin of omifsion I hope you 
wiU atone in some other way— I have amused myself very piously by reading 


your paraphrase of a part of the bible, which devout employment has inspired 

more feelings than ideas — 

At what hour & place in the morning shall I see you about the Bill — Let it 

be payable to John Lamb or order — 

Yr aflfcc 

14 Dec Evng 

The correspondence turns from him of iron nerve and empire 
aspiration to another whose name with his is linked and who 
"to guide the chariot" was content not to hold the reins but 
to point the way. It is said that Burr in Boston suddenly con- 
fronted by the statue of Hamilton unabashed, unhesitatingly, 
ran his hand over the features and remarked to his friend who 
tried to avoid it **Here are the lines of poetry." The first 
Secretary of Treasury established the nation's credit by the 
funding system and before with Jay and Madison established 
the nation itself on a firm base by a series of essays in the 
"political classic/' the Federalist, advocating the adoption of 
the constitution. 

Greenleaf to Alexander Hamilton. 

New York, July 27th, 1796. 
Dear Sir : 

In the indispensable necessity of an immediate though short respite from busi- 
ness, united by motives of interest, and an unbounded attachment to reputation, 
induced me to make a proposition to you of a pretty extraordinary nature, but 
which after due reflection 1 flatter myself will be deemed not unworthy your 
attention. My engagements of every possible nature do not exceed twelve hun- 
dred thousand dollars, and my real and personal estate may with ease be liquidated 
and made to produce five millions of dollars; say, rather a million dollars annually 
for five consecutive years; but in consequence of some important and unexpected 
delinquencies on the part of persons whose engagements have become due to me, 
and must be paid from securities given my own engagements t>ecome due more 
rapidly than my means (without having recourse to improper operations) can be 
made to answer. If you will now be induced to aid me with your name, respon- 
sibility and talents, in the liquidation of my concerns and payment of my 
engagements, in such wise that no undue sacrifice of property shall result, and 
my name be borne through with the aedit and propriety it deserves, the one-third 
part of the net residue of my whole estate, both real and personal, after payment 
of my engagements, shall become yours, provided you will consent that the mass 
shall remain undivided for ten years, and constitute the capital of a banking-house, 
to be established either in this dty or at Philadelphia, in our joint names and under 
your sole guidance, and the profits divkled between us in equal porttons. 

1 have reason to believe that, with the aid of your name and our joint respon- 
sibility, accompanied with the names of three other persons as trustees for 


deposited property, it will by a reputable mode of financing I shall communi- 
cate, be practicable for me to obtain the use of a million of dollars at legal 
interest for the average term of five years, and with this sum I should calculate 
on being able to pay off all my engagements with due aedit and advantage, is 
considerable amounts are due at distant periods, and may be purchased in at a 
considerable discount 

If these outlines so far meet your approbation as to induce you t6 wish my 
entering into a particular detail, it shall be done at such time as will best suit 
your leisure and convenience. 

Alexander Hamilton to Greenlbaf. 

New- York, July 30th, 1796. 
Dear Sir: 

1 have carefully reflected upon the subject of your letter of the 27th instant 
Though the data which it presents authorize an expectation of large pecuniary 
advantage, and though I discern nothing in the affair which an individual 
differently circumstanced might not with propriety enter into; yet, in my pecu- 
liar situation, viewed in all its public as well as personal relations, I think 
myself bound to decline the ouverture. 

With great regard, I am, dear Sir, 

Your obedient servant 

Phila 20 July 1795 
Mr Wm Cranch 

Mr J Greenleaf has communicated to you the Change which has taken 
place in regard to the property which did belong to him Mr Nicholson & me of 
his share therein, and he gave me afsurance that you would continue your Care 
and afsiduity in regard to that property untill we might make such arrangements 
as to the future management as might be judged proper — Ijdepend on this assur- 
ance — Hitherto I never gave myself any trouble about it because I depended 
upon Mr Greenleafs Care & attention, but now I feel myself in a different (itua- 
tion & however inconvenient a portion of my time must be devoted to this 
Object — It seems that we have bot of Mr Greenleaf at a time when our affairs 
under your Care are in disgrace & distrefs, which ought never to be the case 
and which if I can prevent shall never again happen after they are once extri- 
cated — Mr Greenleaf has given me Extract of your letters to him dated the 
13th &i5th July — It would not be doing Justice to myself if I did not tell you 
that Mr Greenleaf ought to have made payment to the Commifsn of my part as 
well as his own of what was due on the i*^ of May because he owed me much 
more money at that time on acct of my payments for his Share of Lands pur- 
chased on our joint acct— To this effect I wrote him when 1 consented to his 
drawing those bills on me in favor of Mr. Deakins or the Commrs as you will 
see by the enclosed Copy of my letter to him which 1 send for your own 
conviction and not with any hostile intent to Mr Greenleaf, nor from any desire 
to raise my own Credit at the expense of his — ^The tables are now turned Mr 
Greenleaf has lately paid me ^000 in my notes that were due, on which he 


got six months accomodation that was offered to myself & which if I had taken 
it & required money of Mr Greenleaf as I had a right to do, that money would 
have paid my Acceptances — The purchase Mr N & myself have made of Mr G 
& the payment he has made me in notes has turned the Tables and I am now 
become his Debtor — 

I have however provided Funds to pay my acceptances to the Commifs" — 
These Funds at present exist in undoubted good Bills of Exchange & must there- 
fore be turned into Cash which is fo cursedly scarce here that nothing will com- 
mand it — You may assure the Commifs" that my acceptances will be paid as fast 
as these bills can be sold which I suppose cannot require above a week or ten 
days. — Mr Nicholson I know is trying to provide for his and 1 expect he will suc- 
ceed. We will also provide remittances to enable you to discharge arrearages 
and as soon as pofsible a plan shall be formed for future proceedings upon a Basis 
that will be supported without embarrassment — In the mean time you will avoid 
as much as pofsible incurring any Expences or Debts — 1 will very foon addrefs 

you again being 

Sir Yrs 


Morris to William Constable. 

Phila July 27, 1795 

Mr Greenleaf offered to buy or sell the Washington Lotts at a price & on 
Terms which he named — This was manly, and I first concluded to sell, but on 
further Consideration Mr N & myself concluded it was better to buy because it 
was more likely that the Lotts would command money to pay our Debts than 
Mr G» paper. 

Philada April 19th 1797 
Mefs" WiLHRM & Jan Willmk 

Ghhtl^* / 
1 was obliged to visit the City of Washington & remain there several Months 
engaged in clearing away the Clouds and difficulties in which Mr James Greenleaf 
had involved our Joint property there. In short the unhappy engagements which 
I had been tempted to make with that man, have proved a source of vexation & 
misfortune to me beyond anything I could have conceived pofsible — My whole 
time and attention is necefsarily called for to extricate myself; as our means of 
doing it Mr Nicholson St myself purchased him out of all the concerns in which 
he held an interest with us, in doing this as well as in other transactions we 
were obliged to ifsue a large number & amount in negotiable notes, at the 
fame time such a general scarcity Sc want of money has arisen in this Country 
that we cannot sell the property or obtain loans, our ready money run out and 
not being able to pay as the notes fall due they have depreciated down to 
nothing, and we are held in continual scenes of distrefs. 
I remain with Esteem & respect Gentln / 

Yours &c 


Lirmts 114 

Philaoa Septr 2itli 1795 
His Excellbmcy 
Geo Washington Esq; 

D* Sir 

You will readily believe that 1 have suffered severe mortification at being 
in arrears with my Payments to the Commifsioners of the Federal City, but my 
feelings are still more deeply wounded at the idea of an application from them to 
you upon this subject, The only apology I can make for being in that situation, 
is the Impossibility of obtaining money for the sale of property or upon Loan, I 
have long & unceasingly endeavored to procure it and have offered to make 
sacrifices that sufficiently prove my anxiety. Mr Law gave me some faint hopes 
before he went from hence that he might accommodate me with the sum neces- 
sary to discharge the arrearages of Mr Nicholson & myself of which he was to 
give me information after his arrival at the City. The offers I made to induce 
him thereto were such as I think he will accept if the money can be commanded 
without too much in convenience to himself— However I was not untill the receipt 
of your letter acquainted with the necefsity there is for supplying the Commif- 
sioners with money, and immagined that a little delay was not of any real im- 
portance. 1 see the matter now in a very different light & will immediately 
commence my remittances & continue them untill my part of the arrears are dis- 
charged, that part is $15000, Mr Nicholsons 1^5000. As to the loan mentioned 
in the Treasurers accV neither he or I, have anything to do with it, excepted in 
our written Contracts with Mr Greenleaf and I peremtorily refused to engage in 
the Concern upon any other terms. It is therefore Mr Greenleafs af&ir solely. 
What were the inducements that led the Commrt into the first Contracts with 
Mr Greenleaf 1 neither knew or enquired, the purchase was made by him and after- 
wards I agreed to take one third part therein, in the expectation of fulfilling my 
part of the engagements specified in the Contract (the Loan excepted) and of 
gaining a handsome profit upon resales of the Lotts & Houses. To the second 
Contract or purchase, I am a party, my letters written on that subject to the 
Commr* St Mr Greenleaf show what were my motives & expectations and I will 
fulfill every obligation that is or can be implied by those letters. No body can 
suppose that Mr Nicholson or myself entered into these engagements with an 
expectation of holding the property. It was from the beginning Sc b now our 
intention to resell when it can be done to our satbfaction St I believe the interest 
of the Gty will be more certainly promoted by interesting a number of Individuals, 
than by any one or two men, continuing to hold a large number of Lotts. Thus 
I think that on Sales to Mr Law, Mr Duncanson, Geni Stewart &cis of much more 
advantage to the Qty, than if we had continued to hold the whole. My inten- 
tion is to settle my son William in the Gty (if he continues in the same mind as 
when he left me) and of course to retain a considerable interest therein. I must 
also add that by purchasing of Mr Greenleaf we have not increased the payments 
we now have to make to the Commr** what we owe, was due before we made 
that purchase, and the future payments are but little increased thereby, in those 
we do not expect ever to be delinquent. — Our embarrafsments have arisen from 
another source, Mr Greenleaf is under Contract with his hand St seal, to provide 
us with money to carry through the operations which at his instance we were 
tempted to undertake, but the French invafion of Holland put it out of his power 
to fulfil his engagement The &ilure being occasioned by public Events which 

115 LtTTWS 

could neither be foreseen or avoided, we became the victims, have paid immense 
sums & have more to pay, all which we have submitted to without complaining 
as he in some degree has been a sharer in the misfortune and inconvenience. — 
Pardon me my dear Sir for troubling you with these circumstances but sensible 
as I am of the very friendly terms & intention of your letter, 1 thought it due to 
you & to myself that you should know something of the cause of that delinquency 
which has called for your interference. I am of opinion that under existing cir- 
cumstances the Commas would not stand justified were they to advertise our 
property for fale to discharge the present debt due to them by Mr Nicholson & 
myself, and at any rate I hope they will not do it, for you and they may rely that 
our exertions shall poisefs them of the money much sooner than they could obtain 
it by such fales. I return herewith W Scotts letter & the accot & shall make 
him my acknowledgements hereafter for the sentiments he has exprefsed personal 
to me. — With the most sincere affection & esteem 1 am D*" Sir 

Your obliged & obedt hble Servt 



You have already had an offer of Mr Nicholsons & my concern in the Great 
Falls of Potomack or Matilda Ville which if I understand your answer right you 

My opinion of that place is that it will require a large Capital to make any 

thing of it besides the personal attendance at that Spot, of He who expects to 

improve to advantage 1 shall therefore sell to Geni Lee my right in it unlefs you 

make me a better offer. 

Yr hble fervt 

ROBT morris- 
Jambs Greenleap Esqr 

March fith 1797 

The letter is introduced merely to exhibit the syndicate's 
ownership of this wild and wondrous work of nature, and that 
they at that time planned the utilization of its power, at this 
time so inadequately employed. 

Philada 20 April 1795 
Thomas Law Esq"* 

City of Washihoton 

Dear Sir 

Your letter without date arrived a few days since^Mr Greenleaf was here 

and 1 read it to him, but as the President was gone nothing could on our part be 

done in respect to the several points which you recommended as necessary to be 

done, but as you will have opp'ys of conversing with the President on the spot 

I am in hopes that your Observations will have the weight they deserve, and 

produce effects benefidal to the Gty of Washington — ^The president I know b 

sincerely desirous to promote the growth St prosperity of that Gty. G>nvince 

him of the best way of doing lb and you may be sure of his cooperation — Mr 

Greenleaf will be at the Qty eariy in May, I should like to come with him but 

doubt the practicability of my leaving thb Theatre of action — We thank you for 

your Congratulations on the marriage of my Daughter who b and I hope always 


will be happy — I think you had best look out elsewhere, and not from any Ex^ 

pectations from my tipping off, for I think your patience may be compleatly worn 

out before that event happens to 



PwLAjuly I, 1795 
Thomas Law Esq" (N York) 

Dear Sir 
Your communication from New York under date of the 26 ulto you say is in 
confidence, otherwise I would have enclosed the whole to the President, and I do 
fo yet if you give me leave — At any rate 1 shall take the first Oppy of conversing 
with him on the subject — I lament that there should be any cause of Complaint 
If there is any jockying work we must resent as well as lament^ but then we 
must be clear and certain that the Charges are well founded—I expect Mr Green- 
leaf here, after which you shall be informed of what pafses in regard to this busi- 

nefs of the Federal Qty — 

1 remain D Sir 



PHiLAjuIy 18, 1795. 
Thomas Law Esqw N York 

Dear Sir 
I carried in my Pocket for some time the letter which you honored me with, 
together with that from Mr Barry to you, intending to shew both to the presi- 
dent, but after opening a Conversatk>n with him on the subject of the Federal 
City 1 concluded it was better not to produce those letters because they contain 
general and not specific Charges against the Commifsioners — The President 
with great propriety observed that if the Commn gave any real cause of Com- 
plaint, the Cause or Causes on which Complaints are grounded ought to be 
specified so as to enable a correct Judgement to be formed and a prompt decision 
in Consequence — For my part I do not know either of the Gentn Commifs» nor 
the things alledged against them but this I know, that it is very necefsary that a 
good understanding ought to be preserved between them, Mr Nicholson & 
myself so that we may act unitedly in promoting the growth and prosperity of 
the City, and let who may be Commifsioners, I will endeavor to promote and 
preserve a good understanding with them, being well convinced that disputes 
St Contention may injure but cannot serve the Common Cause— I think the 
president is disposed to give his assent to the building of Stores upon the wharves 
St if Mr Barry, Mr Duncanson or you follow up the application you will obtain 
a decision and I believe one to your wishes — I told him that it would be in vain 
to attempt such a Regulation because it could not be preserved any length of 
time — The Interest of all Holders of Water Lots would combine against it, and 
sooner or later they would carry the point — The same thing was attempted 
when the City of Philad* was first laid out, but the plan could not be preserved 
altho' it would have made a most beautiful street of three miles long fronting on 
the Delaware St have given a walk the whole length, commands a view of the 
River and every thing moving thereon and have overiooked every thing that was 
doing on the wharves St Quay — Interest however got the better of all other Con- 

siderations. Water Street is built where the Quays and Stores or Warehouses 
should have been and the latter are on the Wharves — I believe the same thing 
has happened wherever restraints of the kind have been attempted and the 
President said if the System could not be preserved it was best not to begin 
with it — therefore convince him that the Owners of Water Lotts will not cannot 
be restrained from building on their wharves and he must yield the point — I wish 
also to do away all Restraints about building, except that of conforming to the 
lines of the Streets Lanes & Alleys as laid out, because I am sure the Houses will 
be increased much faster if every Owner of a Lot is allowed to do as he pleases 
than it pofsibly can if he is obliged to follow the will of another — ^There is 
however greater appearance of difficulty in gaining this than the other point. — 
Mr Greenleaf has told you of the sale he has made to Mr Nicholson & myself— 
Thb purchase increases our Interest & our Cares in the fuccefs of the City — 
Before I rested myself upon Mr Greenleaf* attention to it — now I must look 
after it myself, and I will do fo — I expect my fon William from Europe the 
ensuing fall & shall fix him in the City of Washington for life I expect — He will 
of course become my Agent, and feel an Interest in the good management of the 
Estate — In the mean time 1 will pay every attention in my Power, and I beg 
leave to afsure you that both Mr Nicholson and myself are entirely disposed to 
accommodate you and Mr Duncanson, to promote your Interests and gratify 
your wishes in every thing that can reasonably be expected of us — I hope it may 
not be long before we shall have the pleasure of seeing you this way — I am 

Dr Sr Yrs 


Philada Nov 22 1796 
DiAR Sir 

I did not come away from Washington untill Mr Nicholson & myself had 
every thing in such a train, that we saw the certainty of your Titles being com- 
pleted without any farther interference on my part being necefsary ; and we had 
received intelligence that demonstrated that my immediate presence here was in- 
dispensibly necefsary to our affairs. I arrived in the nick of time ; am usefully 
employed & shall on this Theatre do more to establish your Titles & promote the 
Qty, than I could have done by longer stay there. I beg you will alsure Mrs 
Law of my esteem & respect & that you will believe me to be your obliged & 

obedt hble Servant 

Tho» Law Esq« Washington 

PhILAOA Novr 22<» I796 

DiAR Sir 

Before my departure from the City of Washington Mr Nicholson & myself had 
got every tMng in such train in regard to Mr Law's & your Titles that any longer 
stay ny part for that purpose was deemed altogether uselefs, as Mr Nicholson 
could carry all that remained to be done into effect and I doubt not but it is or 
soon will be done. My presence was indispensible & has produced good Effects 
not only to our affairs generally but even to all our dependency in the Gty of 
Washington. 1 have written a line to Mr Law, and I wish he could prevail on 
himself to be quiet untill hb Titles are completed which is done or soon will be, 
unlefs his Wrestleisneis & frequent interferences with Mr Cranch prevents it He 


has an excellent Heart & neither means to injure or wound, but without intend- 
ing it, He sometimes does both. On our part you may depend on the most cer- 
tain & speedy performance of the duty We owe both to him & you I have told 
W Cranch that you would endorse for him and be a&ured that I will dudy pro- 
vide for payment I pray you to present me most respectiiiUy to Mifi Duncanson 
whose attentions I shall ever remember with gratitude as I shall with pleasure the 
marks of your Friendship. 

I am Dr Sir 

Your obliged & obed serv^ 

Wm M Dumcanson Esqr 


Philada June axth X797 
To Thomas Law Esqr 
Dear Sir 

I have your Letter of the 14th inst My son William * is at Morrisville 
with his Brother Robert I expect him here today or tomorrow and shall show 
it to him. He is now to make hb Election whether to commence the practice 
of the Law here or in the City of Washington, perhaps he may choose to visit 
the City before he decides and if so he will call on you & Mrs. Law altho I sus- 
pect his mother will fear the eflfect of your Eloquence & M" Laws influence may 
have a tendency to fix him at a distance from her. 
With the best wishes for your health & happinefs 

I remain Dr*Sir 

Your obedt Serv* 


In the rotunda of the Capitol are two paintings by the 
soldier-artist John Trumbull The Declaration of Independence 
and General Washington Resigning His Commission at 
Annapolis, in one sits the sturdy Morris and in the other 
stands Elizabeth Park Custis (Mrs. Law) in the balcony with 
her grandmother and two sisters. 

* Died October 9, 1798. 

1 19^— coMMaiuHUTioii 


TURKEY BUZZARD POINT it was; Greenleaf Point* it is 
now. The change came with Greenleaf himself. Truly 
the new name is more grateful to the ear and more be- 
coming this lovely scene where weds the Potomac and the 
Anacostia. From the heights of the Alleghanies and the Blue 
Ridge the streams chase through the wood and cascade over 
the roclt to join either arm of the Potomac. The waters 
gathering strength in their winding course in fiercer gambols 
break through gorges and leap over boulders. E'er the Point 
is reached the waters cease their caprice; pass it with digni- 
fied pace; join the other waters, and majestically sweep on to 
the sea. 

It is sunny noon of a September day; already the summer 
green is declining to autumn gayety; Greenleaf now first treads 
this spot which is to keep his name with the flight of time; it 
is a greensward encircled with gracefully bending trees reflected 
tremblingly in the translucent waves as in a burnished vase. 

From this vantage-ground to him this picturesque panorama 
presents: immediately east of the respectable stream, James 
Creek,t Carrollsburgh, in it an only mansion, brick and wide, 
on the bank of the Annakostia, the home of the founder, 
Charles Carroll, father of Daniel Carroll of Duddington; directly 
across, another point, Geesborough and a landing; farther 
south on the other shore, wreathes of smoke and the spire of 
Christ Church, aristocratic Alexandria; on the same side and 

■d St. Jmm CfMk (a I73t-AMX« H 


nearer, the Custis plantation, Abingdon, and a glimpse of the 
old homestead in the grove ; on the city side of the Potowmac. 
the pretentious manor house of the proprietor, Notley Young; 
somewhat farther on the settlement of Hamburgh, in which 
distinctly, the house of little brick from Holland, residence of 
Peter Funk, its founder; and beyond the Key of All Keys, 
(the great rock,) dimly, the tops of masts at the Wapping, 
Georgetown, and the college on its heights; and, up the river 
for Georgetown, ships with cargoes of cloth from London, 
silk from Marseilles, liquors from Rotterdam, sugar from 
Havana, coffee from Port-au-Prince, wares from every mart; 
and, for the town in Governor Bladen's honor, a few craft with 
tea and other commodities. 

Greenleaf enjoys the view ; and decides this wedge between 
the rivers, beautiful for residence and useful for shipping, the 
Battery of the Nation's City to rival in beauty and utility that 
of the Empire City where he now resides. 

And he further decides when he shall be in possession of the 
vast fortune he is to realize from the sale of the three thousand 
lots, the contract for which the clerk up at the Commissioners' 
is now engrossing he will build on this spot and this sward 
shall be his lawn, these trees his shade and this supreme view, 
his own. 

And a few years after in financial stress he lets go all his 
holdings in the federal establishment all except this dedicated 
spot. And in the indenture is the reservation ''Except square 
506, square next south of 506 and square next south of the 
square last mentioned;" three squares on the bank of the 
Potomac beginning one square south of the present Arsenal 
wall thence southward. And when the stress was still greater 
he sold to his close friend, William Deakins, junior, from whom 
he could redeem, the two squares northward. And when the 
stress was direst sold the remaining square to his wealthy 
brother-in-law merchant, John Appleton, with the hope of 
eventual recovery. 

The life of James Greenleaf is commemorated in another 
and as appropriate direction. In company with the solid 
blocks of residences constructed by James Greenleaf, in archi- 
tectural style of the Georgian period and cultured as far as 
brick can be, is the Greenleaf Building, the public school, on 
Fourth between M and N streets, southwest. From its loca- 


tion on the Point the school miii^ht be called Greenleaf yet the 
real reason is a more worthy fitness. 

He was a scholar and a ripe and a good one. 

He was a linguist. He had in store the languages of Holland, 
France, England, Germany, Spain and Italy; and, of the classic, 
Greek and Latin. He was most erudite and a most masterly 
letter writer. The Greenleaf family, bole and branches, has 
honorable distinction in book-knowledge and exalted station 
yet in another way, James Greenleaf is the peer of them, all. 

Though learn 'd, well bred, and though well bred, sincere. 

Wealth he had and better, learning; learning he had and 
better, culture; culture he had and better, character. Judge 
Wylie began his practice when Greenleaf was more vividly in 
the mind; and the Judge told me: "Greenleaf was a great 
lawyer and a noble character." 



WHEN one nowadays speaks or writes of early Wash- 
ington and contrasts its penury then with its pros* 
perity now, "for the same reason that influences 
individuals who have obtained wealth and position to exag- 
gerate the poverty and difficulties which surrounded their early 
days,"* he summons to his aid that cynic from the nutmeg State. 
I have tried to neglect the Hon. John Cotton Smith, and if his 
allusion had not been so direct to the subject, the issue would 
have been success. 

Hon. Mr. Smith was of the first House of Representatives 
that sat in the Capitol and in later years recorded his recollec- 
tions of i8oo:t 

Nor was the desoUte aspect of the place 1 little augmented by t number of 
unfinished edifices at Greenleafs Point, and on an eminence 1 short distance 
from it, commenced by an individual whose name they bore, but the state of 
whose funds compelled him to abandon them, not only unfinished but in 1 
ruinous condition. 

Mr. Smith's "edifices on an eminence " were by the com- 
mon people of the neighborhood dubbed "twenty buildings" 
on "twenty-building hill;" which plebian phrases although 
not so elegant are as expressive. 

Perhaps I ought not to have stigmatized Mr. Smith as a 
cynic, and perhaps, I ought to overlook his exaggeration as he 
wrote for the entertainment of his contemporaries and his pro- 
phetic soul divined the assistance he would be to those who 
should make oratoric and graphic contrasts. 

•Qpottd from RuMvid ef tiM Smx vfOvnnacmn to WMl^itoB— Wilkdmtu B. Bryam. 
tTh« CofiMpaafwc* lad Mbcrtkalw of the itow. /olm CWIwi Smilk. LLP. 


And this is all that was * ' visible " to Mr. Smith except the 
unfinished edifices at Greenleafs Point and on the eminence 

Instead of recogniiing the avenues and streets portrayed on the plan of the 
city, not one was visible, unless we except a road with two buildings on each 
side of it, called New Jersey Avenue. * * * Between the president's house 
and Georgetown a block of houses had been erected, which they bore, and may 
still bear, the name of the Six Buildings, There were also two other blocks, 
consisting of two or three dwelling houses in diflferent directions, and now and 
then an insulated wooden habitation. * * * There appeared to be but two 
really comfortable habitations, in all respects, within the bounds of the city, one 
of which belonged to Dudley Carroll, Esquire, and the other to Notley Young, 
who were the former proprietors of a large proportion of the land appropriated 
to the city, but who reserved for their own accommodation ground sufficient 
(or gardens and other useful appurtenances. 

The enumeration of improvements at that date in Hines' 
Earfy RecolUciions of Washington City is dissimilar quite with 
Mr. Smith's census. 

The Commissioners through their clerk, Thomas Munroe, 
submitted a statement of the buildings in the city to the Presi- 
dent— /^m^nV»« State Papers, Vol. /, pp, 254.^257 : Houses 
in a habitable state, 15th May, 1800: brick 109, frame 263, 
total 372; finished since 15th May, 1800: brick 82 frame 145, 
total 227; purposed to be finished before 15th November, 1801 : 
brick 16, frame 6; houses unfinished: brick 79, frame 35, total 
114; or houses finished and unfinished brick 286, frame 449^ 
total 735. 

On September 26, 1793, Greenleaf and Daniel Carroll of 
Duddington entered into an agreement whereby the former 
was to purchase of the latter every alternate lot allotted in the 
division to the proprietor (Carroll) between the forks of the 
canal for ;^3o ($80) each ; Carroll was to invest the proceeds 
and Greenleaf ;;^3ooo in two years and ;^30oo in four years, 
in improvements in that latitude. As Greenleaf was to receive 
the public lots he would have had with the proprietor's three- 
fourths of all, within the forks aforesaid. Greenleaf and 
Carroll July 8, 1 794, effected a preliminary division of lots; and 
Morris and Nicholson with Carroll in the summer of 1796, a 

On the same day, by separate articles, Carroll covenanted 
with Greenleaf to convey him twenty lots fronting on South 
Capitol street in all convenient speed after the division with the 


Commissioners, upon the condition he should erect thereon 
twenty good brick houses, each twenty-five feet front by forty 
deep, two stories high, to be completed within three years 
from date, and if not, the condition of conveyance was to be 
void and a penalty incurred of £ioo ($266) for each lot not 
built upon. 

On June 8, 1795, the building agreement was so amended 
that Greenleaf could build houses of any description he desired 
if they covered an equal extent and were of same height; ten 
to be built on the south side of square 651, the residue on the 
east side. 

Pursuant to agreement, July 10, 1795, both contracts were 
assigned. May 13, 1796, by Greenleaf to Morris and Nicholson. 

Mr. Cranch says that on February 16, 1796, having eight 
thousand dollars in notes of the Bank of the United States in 
his pocket, he offered the same to Mr. Carroll on account of the 
land contract provided he would concede Morris and Nicholson 
an extension of one year on the building contract; that Carroll 
refused and on the next day in writing reiterated the refusal. 

From my youth 1 have heard of Mr. Carroll's obstinacy and 
how his exorbitant demands defeated the growth of the 
Eastern end and wrought his own disaster. In this incident is 

Mr. Morris upon receiving Mr. Carroll's refusal, resolved at 
all hazards to complete the houses within the contract time, so 
curtailed by the tardiness of the proprietor (Carroll) and the 
Commissioners in the formal division. He wrote, May 20, 
1796, to Mr. Cranch, that he (Cranch) and Mr. Lovering in 
conjunction should act in his behalf in the drafting of plans; 
and that he should disburse the money and Lovering supervise 
the work; and Morris also diplomatically hinted a preference for 
drafts at longest time. I refrain from reciting the sacrifice and 
struggle of Morris in this connection, on account of the reader 
that he may tire of repetition of the Financier's trials and troubles 
and, on my own account, from sympathy for the sufferer. Mr. 
Nicholson directed Mr. William Prentiss to be for him both 
fiscal and building agent. As contractor Prentiss put up four 
of the N street houses. The hardship and heroism of Nicholson 
were none the less than that of Morris. 

The twenty buildings were, in fact, thirty; the enterprise 
being designated by the contract term. Morris built fifteen and 

TWEiiTY--BuiLDnios 1 a6 

Nicholson, fifteen. Nicholson built the south eight surely, 
eleven, probably, on South Capitol street and four on N street. 

To September 26, Morris expended $19,372; Nicholson, 
$22,000. On South Capitol street beginning at M, southward, 
were five houses each twenty- nine feet five inches front; then 
an alley twenty-five feet wide ; then twelve houses each twenty 
feet wide; then an alley twenty feet wide, then five houses 
each twenty-nine feet five inches front, the most southern on 
the corner with N street. On N, were four houses each 
eighteen feet one inch front ; then a vacant space; then four 
houses each eighteen feet nine inches front, the most western 
on the corner with Half street. The houses on South Capitol 
street had "breast summer fronts "and were" capable of 
making a handsome row of shops." Six were complete at the 
stipulated time; the others were covered in. Morris had his 
covered three days before and Nicholson some hour in the 
forenoon of — that eventful day. 

It is Monday, the twenty-sixth day of September, 1796. A 
fortnight previous Mr. Prentiss had received from Messrs. 
Morris and Nicholson direction what to do and the where- 
withal to do it. He had despatched messengers with invita- 
tions in polite phrase. And now, are here, some of the first 
citizens and more of the useful ones, some who earn their 
livelihood by their heads, and more who earn it by their hands, 
exponents of thought and exponents of toil, spick and span, 
for the jollification, two hundred strong. The sun is in the 
meridian; it is the appointed hour yet where are the hosts? 
With the morning of the second Mr. Morris journeyed toward 
the federal city; he had accomplished the wearisome jog and 
jumble from the brotherly city and for a few weeks had 
quartered at the Union Tavern in George Town with Mr. 
Nicholson who had preceded him.* And still — but around 
the curve the coach comes in view; a minute and another, 
the alert Nicholson alights and then the stout Morris. Right 
in the center of the wide South Capitol street, in front of 
the edifices, from M extending to N are two parallel impro- 

*Tke Washington GaxetU. 

Mr. Nicholson being now in the City of Wafhington invites all peffons who have Imfinefs to 
transact with him, or with Mr. Moaais and himfelt; to call upon him, during his stay, eitlier at 
Scott's Tavern, near the Prefident's houfe, from three to four o'dodc In the afternoon, or at the 
Union Tavern, in George-Town till 7 o*clod( in ttw morning. 

Auguft 31. 


vised tables of sheathing and along these tables the guests 
dispose themselves and at the upper end a similar table con- 
nects the two and here the hosts take their seats and there too 
and close by the first citizens, theirs. 

Here's neither want of appetite nor mouths; 
Pray Heaven we be not scant of meat nor mirth! 

No there is no scantiness of meat at least — for — within the 
tables upon the frames are, roasted whole, bullocks two, and 
mutton too, sable and savory, and the appropriate accompani- 
ments, potato, pickle and all sorts. The cooks are in aprons 
and caps of white and so, the waiters ; the cooks carve and 
the waiters, or some of them, hustle with might and main, to 
assist the attack on the good cheer, as the others hurry to 
apply the needful antidote against choking, the cautious Prentiss 
has had the precaution to provide. 

And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn 
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups, 
That cheer, but not inebriate wait on each. 

For the abstainers is here the coffee pot and the tea pot. 

Come, my lad, and drink beer! 

For the temperate is the malt beverage, and very good brew it 
is, for is it not from Greenleafs Brewery ? 

A few gilUsippers their modicum of strong waters. 

For the hardened is ''a moderate circulation of the bottle." 

The cork shall start obsequious to the thumb. 

The effervescent and exquisite patrician refreshing seems to 
be monopolized by the first citizens. The cigars circulate and 
the collation ceases. 

Outdid the meat, outdid the frolic wine. 

And now the feast intellectual. Mr. Prentiss, the master of 
toasts and of the occasion, briefly introduces Mr. Morris. Up 
rises, The Financier, mighty in stature, mighty in speech; he 
extols the excellence of the workmanship of the artisans and 
mechanics, he tells of the little he has already done to build 
" the city " (meaning he has done a great deal) and of what 
great things he intends to do ; and in peroration exhorts pride 
in their city and patriotism for their country. And here it is 


in a wave of enthusiastic homage, all rising, the first citizens 
with outstretched arms exalt their glasses and the excited 
** Knights'' toss their caps and hats in the air, break forth in 
a cheer, so like a cannonade, as to affright the dames and 
daughters at "The Point." The first citizens say something 
in stilted style and the Knights, emulous, in a homely way, 
make honest response. 

The speaking is over and the company commingle, con- 
gratulating and complimenting. The ruddy faced, robust 
Morris, in his bluff way, grasps the hand of each and catches 
on; to the married it is: ** happy man, happy man," to the 
bachelor, "lucky dog, lucky dog;" makes each feel that he 
has known him from the days of the cradle and watched his 
progress with the solicitude of a parent; the nimble and 
nervous Nicholson bustles around like a bee negotiating neigh- 
borly fraternity ; Daniel Carroll of Duddington, directs to the 
mansion on the river bank where he first the daylight saw and 
tells of the changes in the landscape during his score and ten ; 
William Cranch, the learned in books, unbends and chats with 
the skilled in tools ; Benjamin More, the editor, warns not to 
miss the next issue of the Washington Gazette; Clotworthy 
Stephenson, Captain and carpenter, describes the laying of the 
corner stone of the Capitol for he was the marshal ; Nicholas 
King, the draftsman and surveyor of Morris, emphasizes the 
city's requirement for a public library;* William Tunnicliff, 
who serves Nicholson in the same capacity, says the eastern 
end needs a hotel ;f William Lovering looks with pride to his 
proportion of the edifices; Dr. Frederick May discourses — 
no, he is too taken with the houses to talk, he hires one and 
engages the painter to make the proper lettering on the front 
transom ; and — but I cannot particularize every one. Entente 
cordiale is not to be lasting; the master of ceremonies, Prentiss, 

*A library called the Washington Library was formed in 1797 ; 
afterwards surveyor of the dty— GVor^« fVatierston*s manuscrtpu 

the Librarian was N. King 

t Tunnicliff *s hotel was at the comer of Pennsylvania avenue and Ninth street, S. E. The 
building remains— square 925. A. C C. 

Th4 Washington GaxetU, 


Those who consult their health and comfort at this season of the year, are informed, that the 
Subscriber has a number of articles, fuch •b Socles, Ancle Socks, Night-Caps, Gloves, Stodcings, 
Drawers and Shirts— All of which he win fell cheap, at the Eastern-Branch Hotel. 

Walhington,Jan. 25. (1797.) 


espies a dark cloud, yet small, above the horizon and he takes 
note : 

Carroll was or appeared to be on the very best terms with Morris and 
Nicholson; he appeared well pleased and satisfied; he never heard that Carroll 
had at any time expressed any sentiments in regard to the erection of the twenty 
buildings which were not approbatory and much to the honor of said Morris and 

Entertainers and entertained disperse and depart with the 
declining day; and on his beat, the watchman; no — there are 
no watchmen save the watchful 

Owls, that mark the setting sun, 

and perched upon the boughs remain in undisturbed sover- 
eignty; and on his round, the lamplighter — no, there is no 
lamp save the moon, and her willing lamp of liquid light to 
bless the night. 

And sure enough in the next issue of the Washington 
Gazette, Wednesday, the 28th, the editor gives his account 
and if it is correct can be ascertained by comparing with the 
one which precedes : 

Last week twenty two-story brick dwelling-houses, htgxm by Mr. Robert 
Morris and Mr. John Nicholson, about the 28th of June last, was completely 

And on Monday the above gentlemen treated themselves, a few of their 
acquaintance, the architects, workmen and laborers, — being nearly two hundred 
in number, with a barbecue on the spot. 

We do not recollect ever to have seen a greater appearance of social glee on 
similar occasion. 

The above buildings are the greatest eflfect of private enterprise of any in the 
city, and for the time in which they were building, we believe the greatest in 
the United States. 

They stand on square 651, taking the whole front on South Capitol Street; 
and greater part of the front on South N Street. We must note that this is the 
first and only entire front built on any square in the Gty. 

The birth, 1802, of Methodism in the city of Washington 
was in the twenty buildings. The house at the intersection of 
South Capitol and N streets is designated as the honored one 
where the Society first held divine worship under the ministry 
of the Rev. William Walters. It is published in this connec- 
tion the houses were two story and basement, the basement 
of stone and the remainder of good quality brick. 


This is how they looked to a wandering Englishman in 1804, 
Charles Wm. Janson, The Stranger in America : 

In proof of this observation, a traveller need only cast his eye on what is 
called the twenty bufldings, at Greenleaf s Point, begun by the gentleman above 
alluded to, Nickolson and others, first-rate speculators. A long range of houses 
there was so advanced before they discovered their mistake, as to be covered in, 
but they remain unfinished, and are dropping piecemeal 

Mr. Morris expresses in a letter an opinion that if the houses 
in course of construction are not completed it would be better 
for the city they had not been commenced. And true their 
forlorn condition made the mark for sarcastic hits by the British 
tourists. The twenty buildings by their elevated situation 
first attracted the tourists' attention; and, by them, they gave 
general description to all. 

Thomas Moore, the poet, 1804, writes: 

The private buildings exhibit the same characteristic display of arrogant specu- 
lation and^premature ruin; and the few ranges of houses which were begun some 
years ago have remained so long waste and unfinished that they are now for the 
most part dilapidated. 

The Federal Qty (if it must be called a dty) has not been much increased since 
Mr. Weld visited it Most of the public buildings, which were then in some de- 
gree of forwardness, have been since utterly suspended. The hotel is already a 
ruin; a great part of its roof has fallen in, and the rooms are left to be occupied 
gratuitously by the mberable Scotch and Irish emigrants. 

Charles Wm. Janson, 1806, writes : 

Arrived at the dty, you are struck with its grotesque appearance. In one 
view from the capitol hill, the eye fixes upon a row of uniform houses, ten or 
twelve in number, while it faintly discovers the adjacent tenements to be miser- 
able wooden structures consbting, when you approach them, of two or three 
rooms one above another. Again, you see the hotel, which was vauntingly 
promised, on laying the foundation, to rival the large inns in England. This, 
like every other private adventure fafled : the walls and the roof remain, but not 
a window ! and, instead of accommodating the members of Congress, and travel- 
lers of distinction, as proposed, a number of the lowest order of Irish have long 
held the title o\ naked possession, 

I have accorded to the tourists a full repetition of their over- 
drawn descriptions of the federal city. They give truth yet 
not the whole truth. Their animus affords amusement. Not 
all English travellers are national libellers, one is not chargeable 
with exaggeration and enmity. Mr. Twining's book is a de- 
light ; he tells what he hears and sees in a chatty and easy 


way. The transgressors invariably "protest too much " their 
innocence of bias in their preface of defamation ; so does, Weld 
and Parkinson and Janson and Moore. Mr. Janson asserts he 
is without prejudice and then writes : 

John Bull laughs at the redtal of his own follies ; whOe the slightest sarcasm 
rouses a spirit of resentment in the bosom of the sullen Yankees. 

Mr. Parkinson says : 

1 take up my pen, therefore, to write the following pages, free from all un- 
founded prejudices against America, 

and then writes two volumes of abuse. 
Mr. Parkinson further says : 

General Washington having in a most friendly manner given me his opinion 
of the whole country, so that I might know how to situate myself, he had told 
me Baltimore was and would be the risingest town in America, except the federal 

Mr. Parkinson having computed an insufficiency of con- 
sumers for a brewery in the federal city, procured a farm near 
Baltimore and his husbandry having been unsuccessful he like 
Mr. Janson repaired to England and promulgated a warning : 

If a man wants wits, he may go to America; but if he wants money and 
comfort, he should stay at home. 

Mr. Parkinson advised of his unfitness acknowledges it: 

1 was the most unfit man for their country he had ever met with, as 1 meant 
to pay every one, and they would not act in the same manner to me. 

The poet's animosity was through wounded pride having 
been received by President Jefferson at his levee in the ** homely 
costume, comprising slippers and Connemara stockings'' and 
so he writes : 

The President's house, a very noble structure, is by no means suited to the 
philosophical humility of its present possessor, who inhabits but a comer of the 
mansion himself, and abandons the rest to a state of uncleanly desolation, which 
those who are not philosophers cannot look at without regret* 

•FinaUy (abont 1814 we should sav), Moore's Irish Melodies appeared in the United States. Our 
informant in all these particulars, wttn some curiosity, put the book Into her grandfather's hands. 
" Why.** said he '* this is the Ihtle man who satirised me so I " He read along. He had always 
sympathised keenly with the Irish patriots. The delightful rhjrthm fell like music on a susceptible 
ear. He wescntty exclaimed : "Why, he ii a poet after aU."— The Life of Thomas JeiTerson by 
Henry S. Randall, LL.D. 


Mr. Parkinson and Mr. Faux and other English travellers 
investigated agricultural utility. They found a young and 
undeveloped country; they reported it sterile and hopeless. 
The desert has blossomed as the rose. 

In the apologetic address which precedes Mr. Weld's work 
appears : 

If it shall appear to any one, that he has spoken with too much asperity of 
American men and American manners, the Author begs that such language may 
not be ascribed to hasty prejudice, and a blind partiality for everything that is 
European. He crossed the Atlantic strongly prepossessed in favour of the people 
and the country, which he was about to visit; and if he returned with sentiments 
of a diflferent tendency, they resulted from a cool and dispassionate observation of 
what chance presented to his view when abroad. 

Mr. Fearon* in 1818 arrived in the city where Mr. Law re- 
sides which he describes as * ' the depot for office-holders, place- 
hunters, and boarding-house keepers " without appearance of 
" possession of too much of this world's goods." He says that 
a storekeeper to remedy his want of change with scissors 
promptly divided a note in two; that he found demi-notes a 
common circulating medium; and that, he had been ''previ- 
ously familiarised with Spanish dollars cut into every variety 
of size." 

Mr. Fearon deprecates the destruction of public buildings. 
He characterizes the site an injudicious selection upon which 
to raise the capital of a great nation; his charge of "folly '* is 
soundly taken for nothing less than a brick, two stories high, 
twelve hundred feet area or twenty five feet by forty eight, was 
originally contemplated. 

There are a number of two and three story buildings, none of which are unin- 
habited; and also some small wooden houses, though according to the original 
plan, none were to be built less than three stories high, and all to have marble 
steps. But the childish folly of this scheme was soon subverted by the natural 
course of events; and though the existence of ** lower orders" even in the 
capital of the republic, may not accord with the vanity of its legislators, they 
ought to be told, that neither prosperity nor population can be possessed by any 
nation, without a due admixture of the natural classes of society. 

Mr. Fearon from his analytical investigation of the American 
character because of his optimistic view was enabled to catch 
a gleam of hope. 

* Sketchet in Amthau—Ifenry Bradshaw Fearon. 


I have thus endeavored to lay before you a true representation of the American 
character, with the sources from which it may have been formed, and the causes 
which have conduced to its production. Although I believe it must improve, 
yet I am by no means sanguine in my anticipations that improvement will be 
immediate, or even rapid in its progress. Many of the causes, external and in- 
ternal, which have already operated, will continue to exist ; and, as I have be- 
fore said, there would appear to be placed in the very stamina of the character of 
this people a coldness, a selfishness, and a spirit of conceit, which form strong 
barriers against improvement. Let us, however, still hope for the best. 

Mr. J. Kent, the English translator of Marquis Chastellux's 
work was within the borders of the new nation yet under the 
Articles of Confederation and he observed youth in another 
respect, it is a country ** where morals are in their infancy.*' 

I must accept these Britons' estimate of American morals or 
adopt the suspicion they congregated with the questionable. 

Mr. Davis, the pedagogue, has some fame in his fictitious 
incident of Mr. Jefferson's inauguration : 

His dress was of plain cloth, and he rode on horseback to the Capitol without 
a single guard, or even servant in his train, dismounted without assistance, and 
hitched the bridle of his horse to the palisades. 

Mr. Davis says of the '* Imperial city" after a congressional 
adjournment : 

IVashin^ton^ on my second journey to it, wore a very dreary aspect The 
multitude had gone to their homes, and the inhabitants of the place were few. 
There were no objects to catch the eye, but a foriom pilgrim forcing his way 
through the grass that overruns the streets ; or a cow ruminating on a bank, 
from whose neck depended a bell, that the animal might be found the more 
readily in the woods. 

Mr. Davis adverts in his preface to that which constrained 
him to add his testimony ; he appreciates his own worth and 
contrasts it with the literary poverty of the other English 
travellers : 

When the acddental perusal of those Travellers, determined me to become a 
publisher. A family likeness prevails through the whole. Their humour bears no 
proportion to their morbid drowsiness. We are seldom relieved from the languor 
of indifference, or the satiety of disgust ; but in toiling through volumes of diffu- 
sive mediocrity, the reader commonly terminates his career by fadling asleep with 
the writer. In comparing this Volume with the volumes of my predecessors, the 
reader will find himself exempt from various persecutions.* 

* Travels of Four Yeara and « Half in tht Unhed States of America ; During 1798, 1799, 1800, 
x8oi, and i9o3u—/ohn Davis. 


Commercial Advertiser. From its Correspondent. Wash- 
ington, September i, 1824.* 

On a knowl south of Gipitol Hill stands an object of peculiar dreariness ; it is 
a row of twenty brick buildings ; which without having ever been inhabited, 
have fdlen into dilapidation and ruin. They were put up when speculation was 
at its height — ^the ground on which they stood became the subject of a suit ; 
they were locked up, broken into, and at length suffered to be pulled down 
peacemeal, and the doors and floors used for fiiel There they stand, with roo6 
sunk in and grass growing in the windows, looking as if they had been bom- 
barded by the British. One of them has a £unily in it, but the inmates look like 
Arabs among the ruins of Balbec 

Twenty-building hill I The buildings have disappeared and 
no one can detect anything of the hill although its burnt clay 
is in pavement and wall everywhere. 

* In the Commercial Advertiser^ ScpConber 8, 1834, the cootemporary customs and manners 
of thb city are racily described. File in New Yoric Historical Society. 


LOCAL interest in the worthy structures and the worthies 
who occupied them in the early days is faint. I cannot 
be mistaken in the surface indication. I wish there was 
a power to evoke a praiseworthy pride. In other metropolitan 
cities historical societies have long since been founded and by 
these preserved the relics and records of the past in halls of 
record. Not so here. True of recent establishment is the 
Columbia Historical Society; and its accomplishment has been 
large and well-directed; yet its limited membership is a limita- 
tion of resources. Within a score of years landmarks and 
historic structures have been removed and nothing of them 
remain but dubious memories. And somebodies in their day have 
been closed into the innumerable throng of 

Who lived and died; 

and though deserved no mention more of them is made. 

Elsewhere time-honored houses and scenes of action are 
marked. November, 1900, In Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 
by the Pennsylvania Society of the Colonial Dames a State cor- 
respondence committee was authorized to stimulate research 
and it was suggested that throughout the Union descriptive 
tablets be placed upon historic buildings to maintain interest 
in colonial events. This may not be practicable in the city of 
Washington although a bureau as an adjunct to the Historical 
Society could be conducted to save from destruction the ancient 
buildings endowed with historic worth by photographic 
counterfeit. The usefulness of the bureau of photography 
would be the reverse of the slight expense. In New York the 
Society for the Preservation of Scenic and Historic Places plans 


the purchase and maintenance by city or citizens memorable 
buildings for museum and other appropriate use. 

Twenty years ago the valuable store of Greenleaf 's papers 
was wholly intact, now scattered and lost. Then his life could 
have been written with comparative facility and fullness. 

Now somewhat fallen to decay 
With weather stains upon the walls^ 
» « » « 

Built in the old Colonial day, 
When men lived in a grander way, 
With ampler hospitality. 

Because 1 can read in the gothic, the ecclesiastical architecture 
of the Mediaeval, the impulses of that period, and in the colonial, 
the domestic eighteenth century type, the simplicity and severity 
of the Puritan; because I see in the colonial gx^iCt and design, 
though detail be sparse and ornament sparing; because 1 feel 
homelikeness and picturesqueness in the rough brick and white 
stone quoin of the colonial rather than in the smooth brick and 
brownstone trim of the modem signifies I am a discriminating 
antiquarian and to me is not applicable the rhyme of Peter 
Pindar : 

Rare are the buttons of a Roman's breeches. 
In antiquarian eyes surpassing riches : 
Rare is each crack'd, black, rotten, earthen dish. 
That held, of ancient Rome, the flesh and fish. 

These Greenleaf mansions are the true colonial, each 

Proudly bears its credentials on its weather-beaten fiice. 

Who the architect? — Greenleaf. Greenleaf collaborated with 
the draughtsman, it is true ; one directed and the other drew. 
In these Greenleaf mansions is the same fashion, and too, 
diversity. Even in the roofs, some have a gentle slope while 
their neighbors have sharp cant and long sweep. All those at 
the Point that bear the name of Greenleaf were commenced 
by him although the persistent components of the triune- 
speculators completed a part. 

Ten years since the Greenleaf houses on the Point were 
nearly all standing. Not that any were unable to stand longer; 
in instances blasting only shook their steadiness. Modern 
requirement called for removal ; the power house of the Capital 


Traction is on the site of four. The walls of these, brick and 
mortar, were of the solidity of granite. On the Point are 
several rows of small houses recently built. I suspect a shrewd 
schemer now and then buys a Greenleaf mansion and strews 
it into a row. 

The Greenleaf houses were begun in 1794. Some were 
completed the next year, likely, Wheat Row and the Law 
mansion. In Law's letter to Greenleaf, July 4, 1795, is the 
expression : 

You gave a spring to the Qty by your Contract &. bmldings. You are bufld- 
ing on N Street & will unite your Point & the Eastern branch. 

Morris to William Lovering, his architect at Washington, 
August 17, 1795 gives a summary of the houses in squares 
502, 503 and 504 and a statement of the degree of construction. 

And, Daniel Carroll of Duddington, who was the chief brick- 
maker for that day, reminds, February 29, 1796, Cranch: 

Mr. Greenleaf owes me for bricks and other materials furnished the first houses 
he erected at the point, the sum of ;i53o. 

The mansions are distinguishable although a few are masquer- 
ading in modern fronts, which ill become them. The row on 
Fourth street is the ^rsi and oldesi in the city. It is named 
Wheat Row after John Wheat who owned and occupied in the 
early times the north house. A central roof window is an 
architectural feature; it now yawns desolate that erstwhile was 
** handsomely glazed." The mansion, 468 N street, was occu- 
pied by Judge Cranch and mansion, 470, by Captain Duncanson 
and by Mr. Samuel Eliot, junior; both were provided with 
coach houses and stables. The Law mansion, Sixth and N 
streets, is ruinating with that rapidity to rack the soul of the 
real antiquarian. 

In the house of the four on O street next to the river lived 
Commodore John Rodgers, who made so many remarkable 
cruises and brilliant naval exploits. When he laid aside the 
spy-glass for all time, 1838, Minerva, his widow, continued to 
reside there. Upon her death the mansion was acquired by 
the family At Lee of honorable repute. Mr. At Lee engaged 
a mason so much for the job to widen the space between parlor 
and dining room for a folding door. The wall was of unusual 
thickness and adamantine firmness. Ever after that mason 


shunned contracts for a stipulated sum and insisted on a per 
While in the debtor's prison, Morris writes: 

On some of those lots there were erected between forty and fifty brick 
houses, some of which were finished and others nearly so; but many of them 
have suffered great damage by neglect, pillage, etc, so as to be now in a most 
ruinous situation. There were also several frame buildings, some of which 
were sold, others pulled to pieces and plundered, etc It is not possible for me 
to delineate all the embarrassments that hang over this property, because there 
are several of which the particulars are not known to me. 

Mr. Cranch testified in the twenty buildings' case : 

Morris and Nicholson had before the 26th September 1796 erected several 
other houses in the city of Washington which on that day were not finished 
and some of the same remained in an unfinished state for several years after 
they came into possession of their assignees; the greater part of them had 
windows well and handsomely glazed and good doors and were well secured 
from injury from the weather and depredations; some of them were left with- 
out doors and windows and were exposed to depredations and injury from 
weather; the reason why the houses were so left is not precisely known to the 
deponent; but the general opinion was that the embarrassment or insolvent 
circumstances of Morris and Nicholson was the reason why they were so left 

Greenleaf began the construction of the historic Six Build- 
ings on Pennsylvania avenue. Reasonably solicitous to 
ascertain the credit he would receive on the building contract 
he through his attorney, Cranch, communicated with the 

March 3, 1795. 

I should wish to know whether the houses now building by Mr. Greenleaf 
on square No. 74 are considered as discharging Mefsrs. Morris & Greenleaf^ s 
contract with the Commissioners for building 20 houses annually in proportion 
to the number of square feet they cover. If I understand the contract Mefsrs. 
Morris & Greenleaf are obliged to build annually 20 houses two stories high 
covering 1200 sq. ft each, making 24000 sq. ft. of 2-story houses or 20 
3-story houses covering 960 sq. ft each making 19200 sq. ft. of 3-story houses — 
but they cover only 750 sq. ft. each — as a question may arise upon this point 
in future, I wish it might now be ascertained before any other expences arise 
upon these houses. 

This letter was a repetition of one the month previous which 
had received no reply. The indecision and procrastination of 
the Commissioners was a cause which prompted Greenleaf to 
relinquish his enterprise. 


In pursuance to an agreement, September 19, 1795, Morris 
and Nicholson conveyed. December 28, 1795, to Isaac Polock 
for thirty-four thousand dollars all their property in the square 
and he completed the Six Buildings. I have heard names of 
tenants mentioned which 1 did not catch. Here are some of 
the occupants a few yt^xs prior to the removal of the govern- 
ment : Capt. Elisha O. Williams, Doctor Dinsmore, Isaac 
Polock and John Francis Mercer. This block is sometimes 
styled Seven Buildings, because of the adjoining house nearest 
the corner built by William Worthington early in the 

Seven Buildings are on the north side of the same avenue 
beginning with Nineteenth street. They were commenced by 
General Walter Stewart and Major Moore, continued by 
Morris and Nicholson, and perhaps, completed by them. 
The corner was once the President's house. Upon the de- 
struction by the British the Executive Mansion was transferred 
here. In the spacious first floor room now lined with drugs 
to heal the physical ailments, were concocted the antidotes to 
the political disorders of America and Europe. And up the 
mahogany stairs pressed the fair and the gallant to be received 
in the drawing room above by the queenly Dolly and the 
courtly Madison. One of these Seven Buildings has been the 
Executive Mansion; another, the State Department — August 
27, 1800 to May, i8oi.* Here two premiers of revered 
memory, John Marshall and James Madison, steered the ship 
of state safely by international peril. 

* Removal of the Government to Washington.— /0A11 Ball Osborne^ A. M, 


was the sign over the door of 7 Crane Wharf. The sign was 
taken down, 1793, and amended. And with 


on it was over the door refastened. Where is 7 Crane Wharf? 
It was on East River betwixt Beekman and Peck Slips; Byvanks 
and Farmer's Wharves were between it and the latter slip. Now 
beyond these wharves a street and another series of wharves 
encroach on the river. Mefsrs. Watson and Greenleaf in the 
fall, 1788, became a firm and began mercantile marine. Mr. 
Greenleaf at once at Amsterdam took his station to manipulate 
the foreign connections. Besides in commodities the firm 
dealt largely in American bonds. Mr. Greenleaf in Holland 
negotiated loans on the bonds so that only margins were tied 
up. And besides in a moderate way the firm speculated in 
lands. In the fall, [793, the firm dissolved. According to 
Mr. Greenleaf the articles and inventories were exceedingly 
bulky indicating varied and extended affairs. No mention in 
the dissolution is made of Mr. Cotton. 

During the compilation of the New York city directory of 
1795 Mr. Greenleaf resided at iis Liberty street and Mr. 
Watson, 6 State street. Mr. Greenleaf had these neighbors : 
Mr. Thomas Law at 47 Broadway; Capt. Wm. M. Duncanson 
48 Broad street; James Ray, 134 Greenwich street; and Noah 
Webster, 25 Pine street. 

LoHDOH Apn1 6tii 1794 
Jamu Griimlim Esq 

1 have mentioned in my former letten that the establishment of breweries 
& distilleries upon * large scale in that great grain country could not fail of 
being vastly advantageous to those who might undertake such with Ipirit & 


Gipital; — and I am more and more convinced that I am right in that opinion. 
But how far the discovering of Sir John Dalrymple with respect to making beer, 
as stated in my letter to yourself and Mr. D. (if it should turn out to be any- 
thing) will effect the present system of brewing, is worth attending to. 

Adieu, my dear fix, May you be succefsful — may be happy is the sincere 

prayer of 

Your truly affectionate friend & ferv* 



Strong Beer at 6 dols. Table 

do, at 3 dob. Hops, grains 

and Yeaft, likewife 


of a fuperior quality now ready 

for fale by 


Who will give a generous price for 

Rye and Barley. 
City of Washington^ Nov. 94. 

In the Washington Gazette , 1796, appears the advertisement 
of Greenleaf s brewery as above. In this plant it is possible 
Col. Lear and Mr. Dalton were originally concerned. 

Greenleaf with Cornelius Coningham under the firm name 
of Coningham and Company operated a ''brewery, distillery 
and brewhouse" — Washington Brewery. The implements 
and utensils were the joint property of the partners as was the 
building. The lot belonged to Greenleaf. The building was 
of stone, two stories high and located on square 129; now a 
part of the Potomac flats park.* Greenleaf sold his interest for 
three thousand dollars to his brother-in-law, John Appleton, 
May I, 1797, subject to the expiration of the partnership. 
Coningham subsequently moved his kettles to Law's sugar 
house and brewed there. 

John Appleton was both uncle and brother-in-law of Nathaniel 
Walker Appleton. Greenleaf s sister, Priscilla, was his second 
wife. He was a merchant of Salem. Besides the three thousand 

*The first Brewery in the city was establbhed in 1796 by an Englishman named ComdlttS 
Coningham, who afterwards practised medicine and became somewhat known as a physician. 
The Brewe^ was erected on the Potomac, where the glass house was afterwards erected and 
where a wharf called the Commissioners* wharf was previously built.— <jeorge Watterston's 


he invested thirty thousand dollars in Greenleaf lots. He in- 
stalled his son, John, junior, in Washington to take charge of 
his purchases. Was reputed a wit. Life dates: born, 1739; 
died, 1817. 

Georob Town 

Octr 3I«t 1794 
James Greenleaf Esq. 
N. York 
My dear Sir, 
Accta have been brot up the River that a ship was driven on fhore in the 
Bay last Sunday & took fire i\ confumed her to the water, and 1 am apprehen- 
sive, from circumstances that it is the Mary from Newbury Port, with M' Dalton's 
furniture &. on board and a qty of lime & lumber on acct of the Co— No particu- 
lars having yet arrived & and having heard nothing directly on the Subject gives 
room to hope it is not the Mary, Th' it unfortunately be her, our friend 
Mr Dalton has informed me that he infured $1500 for the Co & I4000 for him- 
self, which I hope will nearly cover everything — 


Tobias Lear, Tristram Dalton and James Greenleaf under the 
firm name of Lear and Company were joint partners in mer- 
cantile trade. The firm was engaged in business at the date 
of Col. Lear's letter. Prior to June 29, 1798, Greenleaf had 
retired. Its patronage must have been more than local; per- 
haps it was, or so intended, the supply base of the southern 
States. The extent of operations is somewhat disclosed by 
an arrangement to secure creditors and shield themselves, 
including the retired partner, "from personal arrest and vexa- 
tion." The arrangement provides for an extension of three 
years, or until January i, x8oi, and plan of liquidation. It is 
to Jonathan Hobson of New York, John Coles of New London, 
and Robert Eaglefield Griffiths of Philadelphia, all merchants, 
and specifies merchant-creditors and their claims : 

Medsieurs Fludger, Maitland and Company, London 
" William and Jan Willink, Amsterdam 
** Milness and Heywood, Wakefield, . . 

Peel Yates and G)mpany, Manchester, . 

John Pattison and Company, Glasgow, . 

John Phillips and Company, Manchester, 






Their store and wharf was on Rock Creek at the intersection 
of G and Twenty-seventh streets. The firm had a block on 
the Georgetown side bounded by M and Olive, Twenty-seventh 
and Rock Creek. 

MnCHANT 148 

It was at the wharf of Lear and Company the contents of 
the vessels were unladen and in their stone warehouse a part 
of the records were stored upon the removal, June, 1800, of 
the government from Philadelphia. 

The biographical fragments of Col. Lear, if gathered, would 
make an interesting chapter. He was the prot6g6 of General 
Lincoln of revolutionary renown, through him, he became the 
secretary to General Washington. His son, Benjamin Lincoln 
Lear, was a lawyer with oratorical gift of local celebrity. Col. 
Lear is the author of ObservaHons on the river Poionuuk^ the 
country adjacent ^ and the City of Washington , 1794. Between 
Washington and his secretary was unreserved relation; the 
former to the latter, devised a life estate in the Walnut Tree* 
farm on the Potomac. Col. Lear was with Washington when 
he passed away ; received his dying directions and adminis- 
tered affectionately the care and comfort he could. Washington 
gratefully wished : ' ' Well it is a debt we must all pay to each 
other, and I hope when you want aid of this kind you will find 
it." But Col. Lear died suddenly October 11, 1816. May be 
censure of diplomatic service played upon his spirit.t 

Tristram Dalton \X to attractive appearance and fine figure 
supplemented character and culture. He was a bon vivant. 
His hospitality was famous. The celebrities, foreign and home- 
grown, all that went that way, stopped at Spring Hill, near 
Newburyport. When Senator at New York he was selected 
for the social and state occasions. He with Richard Henry Lee 
and Ralph Izard was the Senate committee to conduct the cere- 
mony of the introduction of his Excellency, George Washington, 
to the Presidency, the initial inauguration, April 30, 1789. At 
the President's dinners the "Most Hon." Mr. Dalton and his 
lady were of the guests. Reduced in means by the mercantile 
enterprise, and reduced in political prestige, he accepted a city 
commissionership. Surely once the of!ice was invested with 

*At station Wellington on the Washington, Alexandria and Mt. Vernon RaQwi^. 

t Biographical sketch in the Militarv and Private Secretaries of George Washington by Mary 
SUvens Beall—RscordM of the Columbia Hbtorical Society, D. C 

Xt Tristram Dalton was lx>m in Newburv, Mass. May aS, 1738 ; died in Boston, Mass. May 30, 
18x7. Student, Dumnter academy, Byfield, Mass. Graduate, Harvard, 1755. Merchant, New- 
bur^>ort. Representative in Second Provincial Congress. Mass. 1775 ; delMate for Mass. to con- 
Yentlon of committees of the New England provinces at Providence. K. I. Dec 35, 1776 ; Speaker 
of the House, and Senator, Mass. legislature ; Senator, 1st Congress, April 14, i^ to March 3, 
X79X : Commisskmer under act for establishing permanent seat of government, x8oi ; postmaster, 
Georgetown, 1803 ; Surveyor of port of Boston, 18x5 to death. 


To President Adams in the House of Representatives, Mr. 
Dalton presented this address of welcome:'*' 



The inhabitants of the City of Washington rejoice in the opportunity which 
your presence this day affords them of paying to you their unfeigned respect, 
and of giving you a welcome to the City, which, by the acts of the Union, has 
become the Metropolis of the United States. 

We have long anticipated this day. — We consider this, your first visit to 
Columbia, as a high gratification, and look forward, with satisfaction to the 
period when we shall behold you Sir, opening the Congress in this edifice, the 
Capitol of our country. 

We cannot be insensible to the blessing which Providence has been pleased 
to bestow in a particular manner, on this situation; in the enjoyment of which, 
we have the felicity of knowing that our government is on the point of 

In offering our gratulations on your arrival we join in wishes that you may 
spend among us the evening of a long, as you have spent, in other places, the 
morning of an useful and honorable life. 

City of Washington^ June sth, 1800, 

Mr. Dalton had elegance, education, wealth, ability, honor; 
and knew 

The turnpike road to people's hearts 

— hospitality. He made life happier, merrier. Here is to 
Tristram Dalton — the disciple of hospitality! 

(August 17, 1799.) 
Dear Sir 

1 shall have fecond rate fish to day for dinner, —and be happy in your taking 
a Share of it — wishing it of the best — 

If you can, conveniently, spare an hour, previously ^ on the fubject we were 

discoursing upon yesterday 1 will be at the Store — otherwise in the Evening as 

you proposed — 

Yours truly 


J Grbbnuaf Esq. Saturday Momg 

Samuel Eliot, junior, was born in Boston, March 8, 1772. 
He was Greenleaf's nephew; the eldest son of his eldest 
sister by her elder husband. He came to Washington about 
the same time Cranch did; was his bookkeeper under the 
employment of Morris. Then a merchant with Robert Kid of 
Philadelphia as a firm Kid, Eliot and Co., having its place 

* Chypoole's Amurican Daify Advertisir—]}tm 13, 1800. 


of business in the brick store on E street, square 431 lot 12, 
opposite the Great Hotel, Blodgett's. The firm advertised to 
sell at Philadelphia prices ; its patrons were the choice including 
the first lady of the land yet insufficient in number; so, on the 
door, March 23, 1801, was nailed a sign '* To Lett." Eliot 
assisted Greenleaf as representative of the aggregate fund. 
He was a member of the Sixth Council, Second Chamber, 
1806. Was chosen cashier of the Bank of Washington upon 
its establishment, 1809, and continued to be until June, 18 19. 
In the capacity of secretary or treasurer he served various 
corporations. He married Mary Johnson, October 28, 1806. 
Owned and occupied the Prospect place, north of the city; 
and there died, October 17, 1822, survived by widow and 
four children, Catherine Mary, William Henry, Johnson and 
Wallace. Prospect place was acquired by the late Davia 
Moore and is a part of the subdivision, Bloomingdale. 



PRESIDENT WASHINGTON, March 4, 1795, from Phila- 
delphia writes to Col. Lear at Georgetown. The letter 
states in a prefactory way that he rarely writes personal 
letters when it interferes with public duties. It is a letter press 
copy and only a fragment remains and that is blurred, faded 
and eaten. By the closest scrutiny I deciphered so much as 
relates to Greenleaf, as follows : 

An unlucky dispute has * to happen I find between the present com- 
missioners ♦ ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 


construction of the contract between the former Commifsioners & Mr Greenleaf. — 
From what I have learned, it is a question of some magnitude inasmuch, as 
establishing a principle of * to them, will have an extensive effect in favor of, 
or adverse to the public property in the City. — This being the case let me ask you, 
to collect the sentiments of the judicious about you, in the Gty & in George 
Town, as far as it is to be drawn from casual ( * * from forced) conversations 
respecting the dispute & to inform me thereof. — ♦ » » perceive that it is for 
my oivn private information, my request to you proceeds; both the request and 
answer to it will, of course, be confined to ourselves. 

With aflfecte regard— Yr 
sincere fr^ 

Mr. Law to Mr. Morris, May 26, expressed his grievances and 
requested his interposition. Mr. Morris declined. Mr. Law 
had written the Commissioners evidently when he addressed 
them this letter : 


Commifsioners of the dty of Washington 

HoN^BLE Sirs 

As I have purchased several squares of Mefsrs Greenleaf, Morrb & Nicholson, 
where they had the right of selection by their contract with the bte G>ni- 


mi£Boners, and as I wish to be secure in my title befon I commence expenifitures 
in improvement 

I trust you will readily acquiesce by erasing some of the squares South West 
of the intended Mall in Mr Notley Young's ground, and by inserting in their deed 
of conveyance some of the squares near New Jersey Avenue. 

I mean to part with several lots on the New Jersey Avenue, on moderate 
Terms, with a stipulation for immediate improvement, & I have received applica- 
tions with those conditions, but I am prevented from engagements untfl I receive 
a iliU title. 

Your desire to promote the rapid advancementsof the dty will no doubt induce 

you to submit to a trifling trouble in an accommodation which will not make the 

least difference in your contracts. Should however your minds entertain any 

doubts on this head, I shall be £ivored by your reference to the President 

I remain y 

Washington Cmr T LAW 

June 7th 1795. 

To Commissioners. 

City of Washhioton, 10 June 1795 

As Mr Tho^ Law has purchased a large quantity of lands of me in the Qty of 
Washington & as I am desirous Mr Law should be perfected in his title so that 
he may be able to make immediate improvements and advancements in the City 

I have therefore to request that you will accept a reconveyance of part of 
those lands of Mr Notley Young which you granted to me in fee simple & 
therefore to convey to Mr Law such a quantity of other lands in the City as 
Mr Law and myself shall agree upon, & such as Mr Law may take out of my 
selection. This request is made under a full persuasion that your compliance 
therewith will have a great tendency to the improvement & advantage of the 


I have the honor to be 

With due esteem & respect 

your very obt & most hble 



Law's communications having been slighted he transmits 
copies with his letter to Greenleaf in which he inquires ''Have 
I been wanting in respect or attentions— my style is not harsh 
my request not immoderate." Greenleaf took up the gauntlet 
for Law and waged a more aggressive and vigorous battle. 
Greenleaf the day before his first letter had entered into an 
agreement for the sale of his holdings. His financial interest 
was closed. He was under no legal and perhaps no moral 
obligation to protect Law. That he did so was a delicate dis- 
tinction of honor. 

The Commissioners quickly discerned that Greenleaf s attic 
story was more than so-so furnished. They realized also that 

153 QyARRlLS 

when one goes out to fight and the foe is more formidable 
than expected, he can afford to be generous and let the foe 
have the field to himself. The letters are in sequence and need 
no further comment. 


In obedience to your request that I would commit to writing what has been 
advanced by me in conversation with you on the subject of the federal Gty I 
now with all due respect do say that Mefs" G. Scott & W Thornton, Com- 
mifs* of the federal district, do pofsess property both in and near the federal Gty, 
on the Georgetown side of it; that I do most firmly believe that conceiving it to 
be for their personal interest to promote the benefit of that part of the Qty; to 
the detriment of the part lying on the Eastern branch, they do designedly and 
intentionally discourage every thing that may tend to promote the growth or 
respectability of this last mentioned part 

I do further say that certain propositions have been made to those Com- 
mifsioners by M*" Thomas Law for the improvement of the Qty and for facili- 
tating the transfer of property to him with perfect security to the publick to 
neither of which he has yet rec<* reply, tho promised him — & that thb alone 
prevents him from commencing very important improvements — ^and I do further 
say that governed by the conviction that the said Commissioners have constantly 
& will continue to oppose every obstacle to my operations in the Gty tending to 
the benefit of the Eastern part of it, & that they will withhold from me such 
facilities as the nature of the object requires, &c that can with reason & pro- 
priety be asked that I have been induced to divest myself of my whole interest 
in the City & to withdraw my personal exertions to the promotion of that 
establishment, except so far as regards the improvement of one Square for my 
future residence. 

I have the honor to be with all pofisible respect 


V very obedt & most humble Servt 


Philadelphia July ii, 1795 

Edmund Randolph Esqr ) 
Secretary of State. ) 

Department op State 

July 15th 1795 

Justice to the two seniors of your board induces me to transmit to you the 
enclosed copy of a letter from Mr Greenleaf. He had stated the contents in 
conversation with me, I insisted that they should be committed to paper. He 
said that he would never hesitate to repeat in writing what he had orally uttered 
but was unwilling to enter into altercation with yoii, and proposed one or two 
expedients for avoiding a written communication. I explicitly informed him that 
he must either give me under his hand his charges against the commissioners or 
request me in writing Not to mention them to the president The latter 1 should 
have considered as a retraction and would have disabled him from ever circu- 
lating, that he had advanced to me accusations which I paised over with notice. 


But he has preferred the former. I have the honor to be gentlemen with great 
respect and esteem 

Yr. mo. ob. ser. 
The Commissioners EDM. RANDOLPH 


Federal City. 

Georgetown July 20th 1795 

Our Board never having been full till late last week your Memorial and Letter 
could not receive a final decision, the board have had these several days under 
consideration and now enclose you the result which they hope will answer your 

Nothing can be more agreeable to them than to give every facility consistant 
with safety to the City funds to yours and every other purchasers title. They 
cannot conceive any thing more reasonable, than that when they part with the 
legal estate of public property they should have a security equally good to 
ensure the payment of the purchase money. 
We are fir 

With respect your mo obedt servts 


Thomas Law Eqr 

George Town 20th July 1795 

We have the honor of your favor of the 15th Inst covering Mr Greenleafs 
extraordinary charge. Mr Laws businefs would have been decided upon last 
Saturday the second day after Mr White took his seat at the Board, but waited 
at Mr Whites desire for his further consideration until this day. The Resolu- 
tions which respect his several applications were early this Morning laid before 
the President and finally determined upon before 12 o clock at which early hour 
the Board rose having Signed the Letter to Mr Law and left the care of correct- 
ing the Secretary s Copy of the resolutions to Mr White. These facts are stated 
to show how unnecessary Mr Greenleafs charges were to induce us to do 
Mr Law Justice 

The important nature of Mr Laws memorial and Letter led us to wait for a 
fiill Board of which Mr Law was informed at the time of his application — 

Permit us sir to thank you for your polite and friendly Conduct in the busi- 
nefs which gives us an opportunity of immediately dragging this Malignant 
Slanderer to light if he will dare to come forward with a charge which he must 
be conscious is grofsly false. We request you will do us the favor to forward 
the enclosed to Mr Greenleaf immediately, as we wish not to lose a mail. We 
are, sir, with Sentiments of the highest respect — Yor mo obed Sevts 


Edmd Randolph 

Secy of State. 

155 QyAMILS 

GioROB Town 20th July 1795 

You have made to the Secretary of State charges against us of direct fraud and 
partiality in the execution of our office, to cover we l>e1ieve your inability to 
comply with your engagements with the Publick. We call upon you to sub- 
stantiate these charges, or to be considered as a false and infamous accuser. 
The President is now at Mount Vernon, where he will remain a month and will 
no donbt listen to any Charge which can be proved against officers of his 

We are sir &c 



James Greemleaf Esq 

New York July 31 1795 

1 have your letter of the 20 Inst — It would have been noticed before had I 
received it— but it came to my hands not an hour since with the Philadelphia- 
postmark of yesterday on the superscription — why it did not pass to me in the 
regular course with the postmark of George Town on it — b best known to 
yourselves — 

You call on me to substantiate Charges made to the Secretary of State against 
you of direct fraud in the Execution of your office — I have never made such 
Charges. Subjoined is a transcript of my letter to the Secretary of State which 
by yours to me I should judge you had not seen. In my Letter I have said that 
1 do firmly believe that you have been governed by your personal Interest to the 
detriment of the part of the Qty — I wished the most to promote; and that one 
of my motives for disposing of my property in the Federal Gty arose from The 
conviction in my own mind that you would oppose every obstacle to my opera- 
tions while tending to the benefit of that part of the City. I see here no charge 
of Fraud, I do still and ever shall believe what I advanced to the Secretary of 
State and unfortunately for the federal Establishment, I am not alone in this 
belief — 

If my feelings have been wounded by your conduct towards me and my 
interests since your being in Office, I conceived I had a right to be governed by 
them and have acted accordingly. — 

I see no necefsity of afsuming the position in which it is evidently your desire 
to place me, to wit that of an accuser of fraudulent transactions — proo6 of that 
nature whatever facts may be are difficult, because they require a minute investi- 
gation of a long series of transactions — and as you have in the present instance 
no right to call on me for such proofe, I shall not trouble myself by any attempts 
to make them 

You intimate in your Letter that my charge of fraud on your part arises from 
a wish on mine to cover my inability to comply with my engagements with the 
public. This appears to me to be a very strange mode of reasoning, and I declare 
to you is totally unfounded; but had you aided me as I conceive I had a right to 
expect from you, and as your worthy predecefsors thought with me, you should 
have found at least that I could have done more than I did do; be tl^ as it may 

OyAtRBLS 156 

I am not ashamed of the operations of which I have been the principal promoter 

and you as the servants of the public ought to have viewed them with peculiar 

satisfaction, when you found that those operations gave a use of eighteen fold in 

some instances to the value of the property entrusted to you — I wUl further add 

that those operations have called for expenditures on my part and the Gentlemen 

concerned with me of upwards of one hundred and fifty thousand Dollars for the 

past year a sum fourfold what was ever contemplated by your predecefsors as 

necessary to the fulfillment of my Contract; and that at least three times that 

sum has actually flown to the federal establishment through my immediate means 

and those concerned with me — If therefore the strict letter of agreement has in 

some instances been deviated from, the spirit of the Agreement has been attended 

to, and 1 know too well the intention of the President to believe he placed you 

where you are to cavil at trifles — 

I repeat to you, Sirs, that 1 have no desire or time to enter the Usts with you 

and prove that you have acted fraudulently; further that it is unfortunate both 

for yourself and the public that you are placed in a sphere in which you will 

neither render them service or do yourselves honor — 

G Scott ) 
& >-Esqra 

Wm Thornton ) Washington 

George Walker, a Scotchman from Falkirk, was a prosperous 
merchant in Philadelphia. When he was not examining his 
ledgers he was listening to the Congressional debates. He 
was shrewd; he caught the drift and hied himself hitherward 
and bought a large area destined to be within the Territory of 
Columbia. He was a tartar. When he was out of temper, 
and he was generally out, he without deviation designated the 
device on the card. His letters ought to be in the school 
readers as specimens of directness in English. Nicholson and 
Walker had dispute over division lines; they were so much 
alike they differed all the more. The partiality of the Com- 
missioners for the western section excited Walker's ire and he 
wrote a few letters. I reproduce them as illustrations of lin- 
guistic strength and for the historical incident. 

Gentlemen : Agreeably to your request I now send you in writing my reasons 
for being of the opinion that the public area allotted for the Marine hospital 
should not be changed or abolished. On the 17th of September, 1791, when 
the people were collected at the first public sale of lots a plan of the city, drawn 
by MaJ. U Enfant and approved by the President of the United States, was pro- 
duced by the commissioners as the adopted and standard plan of the city. In 
this plan all the public areas were appropriated by having their names wrote in 
them at length or by the letters A, B, C, &c., which were fully explained in the 
margin of the plan. A number of the lots were accordingly sold by that plan, 
and the purchasers gave a price as they conceived the lots valuable from their 


contiguity to certain public buildings. In December, 1791, or January, 1792 
(do not recollect which), the President of the United States, as such, sent a 
message to the House of Representatives in Congress, with a plan of the City of 
Washington, as adopted and ratified by him, and informing them (among other 
things) that from the rate of sales already made, the lots would be an ample 
fund. In this plan which was hung up on the Speaker's chair, all the public 
appropriations were marked and wrote out at full length and which I frequently 
read. Next day the President's message with these appropriations taken from 
the plan, were published in all the Philadelphia newspapers, and since then over 
the civilized world.* When the plan came to be engraved Mr. Jefferson advised 
the President not to insert any of the appropriations but the two principal, not 
recollecting (I presume) what had already taken place, but even with the 
engraved plan a large public building with gardens is inserted in the area 
intended for the Marine hospital,! and to my knowledge purchases have l>een 
made upon the avenues leading!: to it in consequence thereof. Under the 
circumstances any alterations of the public appropriations would be a glaring 
violation of public and national faith, and every man whether citizen or foreigner, 
who has purchased lots in that city would have a just plea against the United 
States for indemnification, as the act of the President is that of the United States. 
Besides, the principle of alteration being once admitted, a violent conflict of 
interests would immediately ensue and the whole system would set afloat on the 
ocean of uncertainty. Hence, therefore, the public opinion would be the City of 
Washington was nothing but a fluctuating bubble, and that it would be impru- 
dent and improper to engage in such an unstable object. 

Gentlemen, yours, 

Philadelphia, October 4, 1796. 
Commissioners of Washimgtom City. 


PiULAOBLraiA, I December. 1796 

The dUcontents whh which you are assailed by one or other of the proprietors in the Federal 
City, roust, unquestionably, be very disagreeable and troublesome to you, for they are extremdy 
Irksome to me. In the case however before us, I conceive Mr. Corachichi might have received 
a definite answer without referring the matter to the Executive. On what nart of the Contract 
with Greenleaf he has founded an opinion that a site was designated for a university, and has 
built his complaints — or how it came to pass, that any allusion to such a measure should have 
found its way Into that contract, 1 have no more recollection than I have conception, of what could 
have Induced it ; — for your clerk has omitted sending the extract 

A University was not even contemplated by Major L*Enlant in the plan of the city which was 
laid before Congress ; taking Its origin from another source.— This plan you »hall r^eive by the 
first safe hand who may be going to the Federal Citv.—By it you may discover (tho* almost 
oblittratcd) the directions given to the Encraver by Mr. Jefferson, with a pencil, wnat parts to 
omiL— The principle on wmch it was done 1 have communicated to you on more occasions than 
one. Whh Esteem &c 

Also, American Sute Papers, Vol I 

t On the eastern branch a large spot to laid out for a marine hospital and gardens. — Travds 
through the States of North America. Isaac IVeld^ junior, I79S'^6~*7. 

The building where Massachusetts and Georgia streets meets, to intended for a Marine 
Hot^ial^ with Itt gardens.— An Htotorlcal, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of 
tfie United States of America, and of the European dettlements in America and the west IndiM." 
IV. IVinUrbotham, 1796. 


The Commissioners overlooked a reply. 

Gbmtumin — ^Thb forenoon I received notice by Mr. Brent, one of your clerks^ 
that you would divide square No. lo^ by alternate lots tomorrow morning. 
Previous to such a rash undertaking you will please attend to the following 
facts. When last fall we divided the squares in which I alone am interested as 
original proprietor, I observed in you an uncommon avidity to grasp at the 
largest and best part of my property. When we had divided all my squares of 
consequence except No. 1065 I discovered that the public had got 125,974^1^ 
square feet more than they were entitled to and of the best part of my property. 
Upon my representing this case and showing a certificate from your surveyor to 
that effect to your board then composed of Mr. Scott and Mr. Thornton, Mr. 
Scott promised with consent of Mr. Thornton that the balance due me should be 
allowed in square No. 1065. This is a fact that I am clear to make oath to, 
and will do so in any court of law or equity in the United States. Confiding in 
the faithful performance of this promise I proceeded to divide and subdivided 
all the squares in which I was partly interested lying along the southwest side 
of my property. It is therefore possible that you can conceive that I will be 
thrown back upon Abraham Young's line to take near 126000 square feet, in 
lieu of the same quantity taken by you, in the most valuable part of my city 
property. This is therefore formally to inform you not to attempt any more 
division of my property till 1 shall be put upon an equality with the public 
And I further assure you that should you attempt any division of my property 
till I have justice done me, that I will as soon after as possible institute a suit in 
chancery in order to compel you to do your duty faithfully and impartially. 
Notwithstanding the haughty and arrogant manner with which you affect to 
treat the original proprietors at the east end of the city you will please to recol- 
lect that you and even your master the President, are only public servants, 
bound by certain limits, which will be found too strong for you to break 

As a suit will necessarily draw after it a public investigation into the conduct 
of the commissioners respecting the application of the public money and other 
property you will please to be prepared to answer the following, with other ques- 
tions that will be put to you this winter by means of the Philadelphia and Balti- 
more newspapers. As there is no power in either the President or commissioners 
to apply the public money or property to any other purpose than the public 
buildings, how came you as honest men not to oblige your predecessors in oflfice 
or those concemed in the speculation to refund to the city treasury the large sum 
expended in building a stone bridge and chain of wharves in the town of George- 
town, instead of which you have expended another large sum of the public 
money in Georgetown upon a wooden bridge containing an expensive and 
unnecessary draw to no purpose but to deceive travelers by endeavoring to make 
them believe that a speculation made by one of yourselves up Rock Creek is 
more valuable than it really is ? How some of you presume to give your friend 
General Forrest, a deed for a lot to which you knew the public had no title, and 
afterwards to atone for your folly, to say nothing worse, to give upwards of a 
large square of the public lots, when in justice you ought to have satisfied him 
out of your own private property. 


You will please to recollect that, although the pubh'c property cost you nothing, 
yet we will expect you will take care of it and that you subsist by money arising 
from the sales of our property given to the public for certain purposes, the original 
proprietors expect you to do justice. I am your obedient servant 

Nov. i6th, 1796. GEORGE WALKER. 

The Commissioners deigned no reply. However, they per- 
sisted in making the division of the square pursuant to the 
notice by their clerk; and Walker retaliated by the publication 
in the Washington Gazette : 

A CAUTION To The Public 

Whereas, the commissioners of the Federal buildings in Washington Qty, 
have, for private purposes, been in the practice of conveying property in that 
dty to which they or the public had no title, thereby producing an immense 
waste of the funds for the public buildings and great emolument to those 

And being informed from good authority that they intend to convey some of 
my property to which they have no title, this is therefore to forewarn all those 
concerned that the public have no title to any part of square No. 1065 in Wash- 
ington City and that any conveyance the commissioners may pretend to give to 
any part of that square, will be rendered null and void by the real proprietor. 


By Walker's caution, the Commissioners were enticed into 
a controversy. 

commissiombrs' office. 

City of Washingtom, Nov. 21, 1796. 
The Commissioners having observed in the Washington Gazette of the 19th. 
inst an advertisement entitled A Caution To The Public, Signed George 
Walker, charging them with having ^^iox private purposes ^ been in the practice 
of conveying property, in that city, to which they or the public had no title: 
thereby producing an immense waste of the funds for the Public Buildings &c 
great emolument to those concerned," the author b thus publicly called upon to 
make good his allegations; the Commissioners holding themselves bound to 
answer to charges exhibited against them, however false or unfounded and 
however obscure or insignificant the source whence they originate. 

For Washington Gazette. 
Mr Prriter, 

The Commissioners of the Federal Buildings have, in your paper of this day, 
called upon me to make good the allegations contained in my caution to the 
public, inserted in your paper of the 19th instant; and although a court of law 
would have been the proper place for such a discussion, yet a due regard to 
public information impells me to comply with their request 

The Commissioners some time last year sold a lot, on Rock Creek, it whit 
was then considered a very high price; but, to which, they knew that they or 
the public had no title, and, the real proprietor being about to correct their 

conduct by law, they were feign to compromise the matter by giving the pur- 
chaser a whole Square and a Lot of the public property, in the Qty, in lieu of 
the lot upon Rock Creek — This square has been lately sold for a large sum; 
hence " the waste of the fund for the public buildings, and the great emolument 
to those concerned." The Private Purposes were, that one of the Com- 
missioners had a large speculation in property on Rock Creek, previous to the 
sale of the lot above mentioned, and it might be useful thereby, to stamp a 
nominal value upon property on that stream. 

The expensive and unnecessary Draw, now erecting upon the Bridge across 
Rock-Creek, must also be for some Private Purpose; for it is evident to every 
one, that it cannot anawer any Public Purpose. 

The Commissioners having attempted, contrary to the Deed of Trust, forcibly 
to wrest from me, and convey to others, about twenty-five of my best lots, 
more than the public are entitled to, and, finding them deaf to all reasoning and 
argument on the subject, I was, at last, contrary to my inclination, compelled to 
caution the public, and the late fact, of a similar nature, became, of course, a 
preamble to it 

That any set of men, appointed by the President, should, in their public 
capacity, descend into personal abuse, is what 1 did not expect It is, however, 
certainly better to be Obscure than to be Conspicuous for folly, arrogance, 
partiality and misconduct; and it is better to be Insignircant than to be 
Consequential, from having the management of other people's property, which 
is sometimes applied to purposes foreign to the appropriation — And, notwith- 
standing the Commbsioners have assumed an importance, known no where but 
in their own vain imaginations, they will please to recollect that they are only 
public Servants chained up by the Deed of Trust, and that, as they are fed and 
clothed by money arising fi-om my property with that of others, we expect, and 
have a right to demand, that they serve us humbly, faithfully, and impartially. 

1 am Sir 
Yours, &c 

November 23, 1796. 

Commissioners' Ofhcb, 

City of Washington, Nov. 29, 1796. 

The Commissioners observe that Mr. Walker, in compliance with their Note of 
the a 1st instant, has deigned to particularize his charge, by which it appears that 
** ihe practice 0/ the Commissioners of conveying property to which neither 
they nor the public have any right ^^^ has dwindled down to a single instance, 
the sale of a Lot on Rock Creek, and this Fact he leaves without proof, and 
without stating any circumstances relative to it. 

To an impartial and discerning public no stronger refutation of his general 
charge can be exhibited; yet, as this points to a matter of real dispute and litiga- 
tion, the Commissioners beg leave to submit to the public view, the out-lines of 
that transaction. — Moiris and Greenleaf, bv their contract for the purchase of lots, 
were excluded from the right of selection in certain water lots, the contract was 
so worded as to create a doubt with regard to its real construction; the Commis- 
sioners were of opinion that the exclusion extended to the waters of Rock Creek; 
and in thb they were supported by the opinions of the Attorney General of the 


United States, and other eminent counsel Morris and Green leaf entertained 
different sentiments; and, it is believed, had different advice, The Commissioners 
proceeded to sell a lot in that predicament; A law-suit naturally ensued, which 
has lately been compromised by a relinquishment, on the part of Morris and 
* Nicholson, of all right of selection in lots adjacent to Rock-Creek, upon condi- 
tion that the Commissioners would convey to the purchaser under those gentlemen, 
the lot alluded to by Mr. Walker: to this the Commissioners readily agreed. 

If the title, of Morris and Nicholson, to the Lot sold, was good, (and that it 
was so, is the sole foundation of Mr. Walker's charge against the Commis- 
sioners, "for selling property to which the public had no title'*), surely the 
compromise was highly advantageous to the city; for Morris and Nicholson are 
thereby excluded from a selection of a large property, much more valuable than 
what they must now resort to, in making up their quantity: But, supposing 
their title doubtful ; or even supposing the final determination should have been 
favourable to the Commissioners, yet that highly interesting event, the com- 
pletion of Morris and Nicholson's selection must have been postponed, and a 
great proportion of the City property have remained locked up 'till the final 
decision : for the Commissioners, believing as they did, and advised as they were, 
would have been highly censurable, had they given up the point without a 
legal decision against them. 

The compensation to be made to the Purchaser under the Commissioners was 
left to two disinterested and independent gentlemen to determine; who, it is 
presumed, had as good a knowledge of the relative value of property in the city 
as Mr. Walker. 

Whether the draw in the Bridge over Rock-Creek is necessary or unnecessary, 
the Commissioners leave to every passenger to form his own opinion. 

With respect to Mr. Walker's particular case, they shall only observe, that 
they may fairly claim an equal share of disinterestedness and impartiality with 
Mr Walker himself: they shall therefore not trouble the public with copies of 
the deeds of trust; the Acts of Congress, and of the Legislature of Maryland, 
under which they act; nor with the particular modes which the board have 
adopted, for carrying into effect the powers vested in them, for the division of 
property; a due consideration of any particular case; but this they can truly 
say, that they have not distinguished Mr Walker from the other proprietors of 
the city in their mode of procedure; that Mr Walker alone, so far as they know, 
has complained, but it is difficult to believe that he thinks himself really injured, 
for, he must be sensible, if he is so, that his remedy is more certainly attainable 
in a court of justice, than by publishing a Libel. 

* Nicholson to the Joint purchMcr of Greenlttft property in the City of Washington. 

Mr. Morris was large hearted and good natured, slow to 
anger and swift to conciliate. Of all methods of quarrel that 
through the medium of publication was to him the most dis- 
tasteful. He met Mr. Walker on a thoroughfare of the City of 
Brotherly Love and chided him for his rashness to which the Scot 
replied if he (Morris) would be his guest at dinner he should 
have a convincing exposition. Mr. Morris to Mr. Nicholson 


anent the Walker controversy writes, it is to be observed, at 
once and in advance of the Commissioners' reply, and it is also 
to be observed, he scores their reprehensible language — "to 
answer charges exhibited against them, however false or 
unfounded and however obscure or insignificant the source 
whence they originate." 

Philada Nov 27, 1796 
I had seen before they came the Publication of George Walker and was 
astonished, for I had conceived that he was a cool temperate man polseiised of 
too much Prudence to risque a general Injury to his own and other Peoples 
Property for the fake of gratifying the feelings of resentment which will arise 
often from hasty and sometimes unfounded G>ncIusions — I wish also that the 
Commissioners had left out the last sentence of their Publication in reply but 
these things are done — ^you and I in common with other Proprietors shall t>e 
injured thereby unlefs the aftiair be immediately adjusted and the Commifsn 
proved not to have incurred the Charges made against them — 

And Mr. Morris quaking with fear arising from like trouble 
impending implores Mr. Nicholson : 

At all Events keep Law from Publications otherwise we do not know what 
we may be compelled to do, and J detest news Paper Controversies — 

Mr. Morris thinks this a time opportune to exercise a pacific 
influence on the waters stirred so strongly by storm and writes : 

Phila Febn^ 16 1797 
GusTAVus Scott Esqw Geo Town 
In consequence of your letter of the 8th Inst it was my intention to have seen 
the President before this time but his and my own Engagements have as yet pre- 
vented it — I am astonished to find that you suffer a moments uneasiness at such 
Charges as you mention — ** Haughtinefs in Office" & ''residing out of the Qty." 
Certainly I never faw any thing like the first charge in my Intercourse with you 
in or out of Office and fo I shall tell the President when I do see him — ^as to residing 
without the Qty, your new House is so near to one of its Boundaries that when 
you get into it the Objection can hardly exist in the mind of Mr. Law who has 
more anxiety on that fcore than any body I know & his anxiety proceeds fi'om an 
ardent Zeal in promoting the Growth and interest of the Qty — 1 believe you may 
without incurring the Charge of vanity consider the little Heats and Vexations 
which occasionally arise in the Course of Official Transactions rather as Proofs 
that in the strict regard you pay to a sense of duty the Parties find an opposition 
to their views & Wishes which irritates and occasions the Complaints— never 
mind my good Friend Stick to your itation and follow up the busineis with the 
same Zeal as heretofore, and all will go well — Mr Nicholson was ill used by Mr 
Sheriff Ray and his assistants— This afforded you gentn of George Town an Oppy 
to manifest your Philanthropy which much to your honor you embraced, and 
did the thing which will always be remembered with Gratitude— Mr Nicholson b 


here, and mentions to me those things which you allude to as disagreeable — 
These disagreeables will be the subject of a Correspondence differing from this in 
which I give you alsurance of the Regard & Esteem with which you have 
impre&ed D Sir 



I now approach the climax of quarrel: the Morris and 
Nicholson-Greenleaf controversy. Only one volume stands 
between preservation and extinction of the record — the single 
volume of The Washington Gazette. In the title I name first 
Morris and Nicholson as the contest had its origination and 
inception with Nicholson. 

Morris and Greenleaf while not friendly were of that tem- 
perament and receptiveness to argument that disputes between 
them could be adjusted upon lines of equity and reciprocity. 
Morris and Nicholson were strongly attached and the former 
was impelled to champion the latter when in conflict with 
Greenleaf, although contrary to his sense of right. Nicholson 
was bitter towards Greenleaf. Nicholson had a facility to 
write and propensity to print. Nicholson had utilized the 
daily journals in hostility to Greenleaf which Morris deplored 
and might but for weakness defeated. 

Morris from Washington to son-in-law, Marshall, November 
I, 1796, writes: 

You will see or hear that Mr Nicholson & Mr Greenleaf have entered into a 
news paper War, which has injured not only them but me, altho I have as yet 
kept myself clear of it, and I would also have prevented them if they had been 
on the spot, but one was here and the other in Philadf and without personal 
interviews the conciliation was impracticable. 

Morris to Nicholson, December 6, 1776, says: 

The mischiefs of yours with Greenleaf continue to the Injury of him you 
and me. 

And on the 12th further says : 

1 had an Interview with Mr Greenleaf thb day. He b distrefsed — He asked in 
what Capacity we met, as Friends or Foes, I told him that question could only 
arise out of the quarrell with you, and that 1 had kept myself out of it hitherto & 
meant to continue fo if possible — 1 told him that 1 blamed both you and him for 
appearing in Print before the Public, that he had an Oppy of stopping your first 
advertizement & ought to have done it &c &c — He says the dispute must be 
pursued untill one or the other shall be exonerated in the Public view to compleat 


What has been advanced as to the reasonableness of Messrs. 

Morris and Greenleaf to rightful adjustment is confirmed by 

the letter of the former to Nicholson (details of concessions by 

Greenleaf being omitted) : 

Philada Jany 22 1797 
My last letter has produced a personal interview this moment ended. The 
subject of discourse has been about a general arrangement of our dependencies 
upon amicable terms and upon principles of justice and mutual accommodation 
in which your affairs may be included if you please so far at least as they are 
combined with mine — A plan of proceeding is to be submitted to my consideration* 

Notwithstanding Morris's equitable and peaceable methods 
were happily so close to consummation the day after his letter, 
January 23, and before its receipt Nicholson pursues the pen 
and print practice and inserts in the Washington Gauette a 

Morris notifies Nicholson, January 24 : 

Mr. Greenleaf says he cannot have communication with you, but if you choose 
to submit your affairs so far as they run parallel with mine to be determined by 
the settlement he and I shall make, he will agree to it. 

With might and main Morris exerted every energy to prevent 
the newspaper duel and he imperatively urges Cranch: 

Philda Feby 17th 1797 
You will also finish and send on those Accounts of which I gave you a list 
they will now be immediately wanted for my settlement vnth Mr Greenleaf 
which will be carried on in the Counting House & not in the Public Prints, 

It was a case of fat and fire. Greenleaf saw Nicholson's 
"caution" and engaged the editor to use most bold display 
type for his '* caution " to run indefinitely. 

I am of opinion that every line over the signatures Robert 
Morris and John Nicholson, jointly or separately, was written 
by Nicholson. The series of seven letters, the first of which is 
dated March 30, 1797, by their detail are convincing, however 
their iteration and re-iteration make them tiresome and tedious. 
All they contain could have more effectively been said in half, 
perhaps less, the length. 

Morris thought Greenleaf was buried out of sight and beyond 
resurrection under the avalanche of words and triumphantly 
writes on to Washington to his friend Scott, April 15, 1797: 

I expect the Comifs will be of that opinion, and consequently that they will 
sign and send them to us, surely they wiU not pay attention to the Caveat of 


Master Jemmy — ^you will see what a drefsing we shall give him about Qty Lotts 
as well as his other specified Claims — I believe he now wishes himself with the 
Devil, for our attacks are fo fortified with Truth that he cannot slip his neck out 
of the noose, and we have told the story so dispafsionately, that he cannot 
answer in Wrath. — 

1 express no opinion as to the merits of the controversy, that 
is, the facts of it. Sufficient is not disclosed for impartial 
judgment. I do think that Greenleaf's philippic reaches the 
topmost heights of rhetorical invective. I believe 1 am justified 
in comparing it to Sallust's denunciation of Cataline in the 
ancient times and to Burke's of Hastings in the modern. His 
severity has the rapier's point. 

To MfcssRS. Morris and Nicholson. 

In publishing my cautionary Advertisements of the 15th and 27th ult, 1 dis- 
charged a duty which I owed to myself, and my fellow-citizens; but not without 
anticipating that display of artifice, to frustrate the beneficial effects of the publi- 
cation ; and that effusion of violence, to evince your resentment against its author; 
which have since issued from the press, under your authority in five labored, 
delusive, and vindictive, essays. In our personal animosities, however, the 
public will be little disposed to participate ; of the merits of our pecuniary con- 
troversy, the medium of a news-paper can but poorly enable them to judge; and, 
for the abuse of their time and patience, there cannot, I confess, be any consolation, 
or atonement, unless a view of the embarrassment to which I am exposed, shall 
seasonably prevent others from being involved as victims, in the vortex of your 
speculations. Having, therefore, given a candid warning to the unwary and the 
credulous; having made an honest provision to protect the rights of my creditors; 
I find no motive from malice, or interest; from a confidence in your honor, or a 
reliance on my own talentsf, which can induce me longer to continue in this scene 
of fruitless and vexatious warfare — To the investigation of the arbitrators (on 
whom we have agreed to depend) I shall implicitly for the future refer all my 
claims; and by the result of their deliberations I cheerfully consent to rest every 
hope of triumph, or to encounter every mortification of defeat. 

I will not, however, at this time, and in this mode, enter further into the 
detail of those answers which I am able, on incontrovertible evidence, to apply 
to all your remarks : and it can hardly be necessary before the public tribunal 
( wh ere your characters and conduct have long stood arraigned) tovindicate myself 
from accusations and calumnies, that depend on your assertion alone. But let 
the appeal be made; let our fellow citizens decide upon the notoriety of the facts; 
which has most cause to deprecate the fatal connection that has hitherto subsisted 
between us! On your part, I know not of any foundation for complaints, unless 
it shall be traced to the detention of a useless parcel of old and cancelled notes, 
or bills, which I shall willingly surrender, on the final liquidation of our accounts. 
But to me, the retrospect furnishes a lamentable picture indeed; in which my con- 

OyAUELS 166 

fidence has only been equalled by your treachery ; and an ample fortune, in spede 
and in land, has been so absorbed by your machinations, as scarcely to leave any 
symbol of its existence, but the waste and worthless paper, branded with the 
signatures of Morris and Nicholson. 

Under such circumstances, 1 may confidently retort your aspertions and 
menaces, with contempt and defiance ; and though the lure of your arts and 
the contagion of your example, have undoubtedly led me into great errors 
(injurious, perhaps, to many individuals, for whom I am anxious to prepare all 
the reparation in my power) I trust that I have never yet been so debased by 
prosperity, or by misfortunes, as to render it hazardous, on any point of repu- 
tation, or in any form of inquiry, to engage in a comparison with you — My 
veracity, is, at least, untainted by any abuse of public trust ; my conscience will 
never be disquieted by the embezzlement of a widow's or an orphan's portion ; 
and, I hope, I shall never be so callous as to smile, in pomp and luxury, on the 
penury and ruin, which I have inflicted on others. 

Be assured then. Sirs, that a competition with vou in a court of justice (where, 
alone, I shall ever again consent to answer you) or an appeal to public opinion, 
has no terrors for me ; I have been despoiled of my property ; but my integrity, 
and that peace of mind, which is the inseparable concomitant of integrity, you 
can never destroy. 


April 22. 

The allusion to the Comptroller-General and the Financiers' 
confusion of funds, state and federal, touched a vulnerable 
point; the sting maddened to frenzy. They rejoined, April 
26, 1797; Greenleaf adhered to his announced silence. 

In a doubting way, Morris to Scott, May i, 1797, writes: 

I suppose you have seen Greenleaf 's abusive Letter & my moderate Reply — 
People think us victorious in that Contest. 

And again. May 8, he to Scott writes: 

My enemy pleases himself very much and takes great Credit with aCsignees for 
having hunted out the road to these attachments and he is setting as many of 
our Creditors as he can on the same scent I hope that he & they will get as 
sick of this businefs as he is of being an ''Author '^ 1 believe he does not mean 
to reply to our last letter which was written in terms of great moderation in reply 
to his very abusive one. 

I conclude Quarrels with Morris's letter to Scott which is 
apropos in a summary style to several subjects in this work : 

Phila May 10, 1797 
Master Jemmy has opened Pandoras Box^ and if 1 am not mistaken much of 
the Mischief will attach to himself— In the mean while he has injured us exceed- 
ingly and I would chastife him in a personal Interview but for certain Injunctk>ns 

■nd Considerations which must be submitted to— You touch me to the quick in 
r^vd to the Building Subject — I have expended ten times the fum 1 was told 
my House was to cost & the Roof is not compleat, the fouth Front not carried 
up nof a single floor laid or Wall plaistered and now I am out of money and 
Credit, fo that all stands still, and untefs Times change the Work cannot be 
resumed by me^Thus you may judge how sufficiently I am chastized for my 
folly — I cat) it folly iltho' when 1 began that House [ knew that in a few months 
I was to receive jC75ooo Sii Cash, which I did receive, but before it came I was 
involved for j£ia4,<x)o S<s in the fiilures of March 1793 in London, & the sacrificei 
made to keep along ever since have always kept me in Trouble Lofs and difficulty. 
Adieu My Dr Sir 




Open the prisoner's living tomb, 

And usher from its brooding gloom 
The victims of your savage code, 

To the free sun and air of Godt 

Tilt Pruamrfet Z><if.— John CuimiAr Wramu. 

SAYS William B. Wood in Personal Recollections of The 

One side of the Prune street debtor's prison was neatly laid out as a garden, 
and well kept, affording an agreeable promenade for the luckless inhabitants of 
this Bastile, during a large portion of the day. 

Mr. Morris appeared cheerful, returned my salutations in the politest minner 
but in silence, continuing his walk, and dropping from his hand, at a given spot, 
a pebble In each round, until a certain number which he had was exhausted. 

Mr. Morris said tie made fifty journeys daily and that he 
adopted this practice for exercise. 
Mr. Wood further says: 

While I offer this little picture of morning walking party, on one side the 
prison, I must not forget a riding party on the other, nearest to Fifth street, in 
this department, which I was occasionally permitted to overlook. Mr. James 
Greenleaf with Mr. Nicholson, for many years Controller of the finances of 
Pennsylvania, who had been the partner of Mr. Morris's enterprises, and with 
them of his misfortunes, had the privilege of forming a small circle, and Indulging 
himself with a rapid ride, on a line horse, each morning at the period alluded 
to. * * * It was quite amusing to observe with what skill habit had enabled 
him to make those swift evolutions, within so very limited a space. 

What were the prison bounds and with what he improved 
the hours and overcame the weariness of restraint all 1 have is 
the equestrian exercise the actor-author relates other than he 
petitioned the National legislature for measures of mitigation.* 

• Amcrkn StMi Fii|W«i Mb. VoL I, p. do. 


1 am anxious to touch upon every incident yet will not overstep 
the authentic for the dramatic. It is more than a conjecture 
that Greenleaf delved for the deep thought hidden in books of 
linguistic diversity, and that he relieved this mental recreation 
in devising plans to plague the two through whom he came 
to dwell in 

The very mansion-house of misery. 

Greenleaf s career was rapid; four years from courted 
millionaire to creditor's prisoner. Like a flight to the zenith 
and fall to the earth was his change of condition. 

On the tolbooth or city jail of Edinburgh is the inscription : 

A prison is a house of care, 
A place where none can thrive, 
A touchstone true to try a friend, 
A grave for one alive; 
Sometimes a place of right. 
Sometimes a place of wrong, 
Sometimes a place of rogues and thieves. 
And honest men among. 

Imprisonment for impoverishment is a rough remedy. It 
seems illogical and inconsistent to deprive the debtor oppor- 
tunity of earning and paying. The other measures are suffi- 
ciently severe without this coercive. Athens permitted the 
creditor to consign the debtor to slavery and Rome not only 
allowed the creditor to sell the debtor but to brutally maltreat 
him. Modern progression has ameliorated the penalty of 
financial misfortune. In advance of England, the Empire State 
in 1831 abrogated imprisonment for debt except in cases of 
criminality, and the other states followed its legislative lead. 
The subjection to durance of Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf, 
whose debts arose from too firm faith in the great growth of 
the new-born republic, illustrated the law's harshness and 
directed to repeal ; more especially the loss of liberty to Morris 
to whom the nation was indebted for its liberty. 

The distress of mind and the deprivation of liberty in the 
confines of prison walls for Greenleaf must have been for a 
limited period, perhaps a year. He was in debtors' prison, 
October i8, 1797, for that day, Morris informed Nicholson: 

told me the other day that Greenleaf is held in jail only by one suit 

and was near getting out but something happened to prevent it 


Monday, the 26th of February, 1798, to Greenleaf was an 
eventful day. On that day he was on the outside of the walls ; 
perhaps pending a judicial decision. On that day, Morris to 
Nicholson writes : 

I fear Greenleaf will be remanded here and if so his room will not be given up. 
He thinks that a man who gives nine millions of property to his creditors ought 
to be liberated and you will probably think so too as I do, '' Buf 

And, on the same day, Morris sent this note: 

Will" Cranch Esq' 
Dear Sir 
I am sorry you happened to ask for me when it seems I was engaged, but 
as 1 shall be glad to see you, it is only knocking at my door, as you go to or 
from Mr Greenleafe room, and you will at one time or other find me disengaged 
and as usual your friend & hble Servt 

The presence of Cranch in Philadelphia was in the capacity 
of adviser. A notification in Philadelphia and Washington 
papers had appeared : 

The subscriber informs those whom it may interest or concern that the Judges 
of the G)urt of Common Pleas have appointed 

Monday the 26th day of February next 
to hear him and his creditors at the Court-house in this City on the subject of hb 
petition for the benefit of the Insolvent Law, and that their attendance is desired. 

Phila. January 15, 1798. 

Although in prison Greenleaf did not desist from waging 
relentless war on his erstwhile associates as Morris testifies : 

You and I are sued by him or somebody for him in every instance I believe 
where they could bring suits, he has injured the sale of all our property by 
cautioning the world against buying it, and he has pursued me in Europe and in 
short he has injured you and me in every way he could think of, are we to bear 
all this and show no resentment Ought we not to bring suits against him for 
the balance that may l>e due to us, for damages &c &c so as at any rate to keep 
him where he now is. You are a great Lawyer and 1 expect your opinion with- 
out a fee Good Night 

Greenleaf was liberated the 30th of August, 1798. 
Mr. Parkinson, the English tourist, as to common disaster of 
American deals, has this to say : 

To show thb is true, I will give an example in the speculations of the well- 
known Messrs. Morrb, Nicholson, and Greenleal — Mr. Morris had so much 
credit as a banker during the American war, that his notes were current when 


those of the United-States would not be taken either in their country or abroad. 
When the war was over, Mr. Morris, not knowing what to do with hb money, 
speculated largely in lands, and took these other two gentlemen as partners. 
They are broke, have all been in gaol, and Mr. Morris must die there. 

James Greenleaf applied March 10, 1798, to the Supreme 
Court of Pennsylvania for the benefit of the insolvent laws. 
Upon direction of the Court, March 31, 1798, he assigned his 
estate, real and personal, legal and equitable, to Robert Smith, 
Mordecai Lewis and James Yard, and was discharged as an 
insolvent debtor. These assignees declined the execution of 
the trust. Subsequently, March, 1800, on the petition of 
creditors, Thomas M. Willing and Joseph S. Lewis were sub- 
stituted as assignees and they also declined to act. In pursu- 
ance of an order of the Court, March term, 1804, constituting 
John Miller, junior, sole assignee, Robert Smith and James 
Yard, surviving Mordecai Lewis, March 16, 1804, conveyed to 
him GreenleaPs estate. 

On February 9, 1799, Greenleaf petitioned the Chancellor of 
the State of Maryland for the benefit of the insolvent laws of 
that State, passed in 1798, and he was discharged August 30, 
year. That Court appointed William Cranch trustee and in 
conformity with legal requisite Greenleaf conveyed to him his 
property, real, personal and mixed. This was a formality as 
the insolvent had before transferred his estate and effects to the 
trustees in the proceeding in Pennsylvania. 

Finally, Greenleaf applied for the benefit of the bankruptcy 
laws of the United States. The Judge of District Court of the 
United States for the District of Pennsylvania appointed Janu- 
ary II, 1803, a commission to take charge of Greenleafs 
property of every description; and these commissioners, 
Mahlon Dickerson, Thomas Cumpston and Joseph Clay, 
March 12, 1803, conveyed the same to Edward Burd Shippen 
for benefit of the creditors. Afterwards at a meeting appointed 
by two of the commissioners and a major part of creditors in 
value of credits, removed, at his own request, Shippen and 
selected John Miller, junior, assignee in his steady and, in con- 
sequence, two commissioners, Dickerson and Cumpston, and 
the assignee, Shippen, conveyed March 17, 1804, to Miller, 


WITHIN the prison walls, Morris writes: 
James Creenlear. This is an unsettled account, and I suppose 
ever will be. Here commenced that ruin which has killed poor 
Nicholson, and brought me to the necessity of giving an account of my affairs. 
But 1 will forbear to say more, lest I shall not know wliere or when to stop. 

Morris is inconsistent in charging his financial disaster to 
Greenleaf as in his petition in bankruptcy he dates his troubles 
from the failure of two houses, John Warder and Co. of Dublin 
and Donald and Burton of London, in the spring of 1793, 
involving ;£i24,ooo sterling. This fact Morris frequently men- 
tions in his letters. Here is one to Mrs. Greenleafs uncle: 

May 8, 1795. 
Ahdiew Allen Esq" 


Your polite & obliging Letter was delivered to me yesterday —I atn sorry 
that you should participate in any part of my disappointments which owing to 

the failure in England in March 1793 have been heavy as well as expensive. — 1 
am employed constantly in raising the means o( taking up my Paper and you 
may rely that 1 will not suffer that which you pofsefs to remain To long as to 
incommode your arrangements — I am D' Sir V" 

This financial misfortune was before he formed any alliance 
with Greenleaf. The biographer of Morris is constrained to 
say that the attribution of his ruin, wholly, to Greenleaf ts 

Charles Henry Hart— J/ary White— Mrs. Robert Morris:\ 
We now ii^oRch near to the period of her husband's great financial mis- 
fortunes, tnwight on by bis striving after large possessions and his misplaced 
confidence in one of hi* associates. He purchased, at merely nominal prices, 

* Tb* FfauocWr ud Um Phmirn of thi Amriaa RnolutloB— >SiiiiiiMr. 

li'i Dalrr. Huford Co., Minrtind, Ium ;th. 1877, on 
■faM of Ceload TbooH WhHe. b^on ■ RMBloa of 


varying from a few cents to a dollar an acre, many millions of acres of unseated 
lands in the several States of the Union, some individually and others in con- 
junction with John Nicholson and James Greenleaf, with whom he subsequently 
organized .the North American Land Company in February, 1795. Early the 
following year Morris and Nicholson found that they had joined their fortune 
with the wrong man, and endeavored to extucate themselves by purchasing his 
interest, but alas ! too late ; the evil planted by Greenleaf was too wide-spread, 
and had taken too deep root, to be killed out and eradicated, and thus by hb 
dishonest and rascally conduct was Robert Morris dragged under and sacrificed. 

C. H. H.— Robert Morris:* 

On Mr. Morris's retirement from private life, he began to speculate in unim- 
proved land in all sections of the country, and in February, 1795, organized, 
with John Nicholson and James Greenleaf, the North American Land Company, 
which, through the dishonesty and rascality of Greenleaf, finally caused his 
ruin, and burdened the closing year of his life with utter poverty. 

Now, I am tempted to exclaim here is wild accusation. 
Morris himself laid the train to financial wreck ; his connec- 
tion with Nicholson made it doubly sure; his connection with 
Greenleaf may have accelerated it. Morris's bitterness towards 
Greenleaf is natural yet in a measure unwarranted. It already 
appears that Nicholson forced a newspaper controversy con- 
trary to Morris's protest. Nicholson's long-drawn seven-times 
accusation to which Morris loaned his name drew from Green- 
leafs pen the philippic which lastingly cut. It was either for 
Greenleaf to acknowledge or retort and he did that which only 
could be expected. For the injury to Greenleaf, Morris failed 
to ask forgiveness ; the injury to himself he failed to attribute 

Greenleaf s contra-criticism is more moderate. He says that 

On the 26th ot September, 1793, the net or clear value of his estate was con- 
siderably upwards of a million dollars. That in May, 1797, the principal part 
of his estates was pledged for the payment of his responsibilities or indorsements 
for Mefsrs. Morris and Nicholson. That at that time, the amount owing to him, 
exceeded two-fold, the amount owing by him ; that the affairs of Morris and 
Nicholson were in May, 1797, considerably embarrassed, but though he was at 
that time their largest creditor, it was hoped by him and as he l>elieves aan- 
guinely expected by them, that their resources would enable them to extricate 
themselves from their embarrassments. 

Greenleaf when he became interested with Morris, 1793, had 
a million dollars; September, 1796, he carried two millions of 

*Th« Pcnna. Magaiine of Histocy and Biography. 


Morris and Nicholson's obligations ; June, 1797, they executed 
an assignment to secure obligations to Greenleaf of nine hun- 
dred thousand dollars, and on other obligations Greenleaf 
instituted suit April, 1797, for four hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars. Greenleaf had a fortune to lose and lost it. It has 
been debated whether Morris was ever solvent.* Of the recip- 
rocal justness of each member of the triad, I do not venture 
criticism; likely, they were all partly fair and partly unfair; 
misfortune wrought friction whereas with fortune all would 
have smoothly flown. It is a fair inference that with progress- 
ing time the differences diminished between the two disputants. 
This from the Washington in Embryo is a sample criticism : 

Among the experiments of some magnitude in 1793, the contract of theG)m- 
missioners with Robert Morris, James Greenleaf and John Nicholson may be 
noticed, for the sale of 6,000 city lots, at |8o per lot, in seven annual install- 
ments without interest, upon the condition that the purchaser should erect in 
each of the six succeeding years twenty brick houses, but the said parties utterly 
failed to comply with any part of the contract, and the Commissioners found 
themselves very seriously embarrassed by their failure. 

This is the general impression. The impression has slight 
truth for a basis. 

From George Alfred Townsend's Washington Outside and 
Inside is taken the sales made by the several boards of Com- 
missioners : 

1st. Johnson, Carroll and Stuart 6227 lots 1541,384 

2d. Scott, Carroll and Thornton 83 ** 50,217 

3d. Scott, Thornton and White loi *' 41,081 

6,411 632,683 

By Greenleaf 6000 480,000 

By all others 411 152,682 

The Morris-Greenleaf purchase was $480,000 

Less credit of one thousand lots on the personal 
responsibility of Morris, Greenleaf and Nicholson- 
Agreement, AprO 34, 1794 .... 80,000 


Due January I, 1801 115,24x1 

Previously paid $284,759 

* The Financier and the Pfaianots of the American ReYohitioa— StiMiMr. 
fReport of Commlwioneft, JaBuary aB, xtei— American Stale Papers, VoL L 

jUSTICI 176 

From what other source, or combination of sources, other 
than state and national, was realized resources, equal to this, 
for public buildings ? For a verity, without Greenieaf s pur- 
chase, his and his coadjutors' efforts, the public buildings would 
have been in no condition of forwardness at the time set for 
the removal of the government to the Federal City. And, then, 
but for Greenieaf s residential improvements and for those of 
his grantees, the representatives of government would have 
had naught else than the earth for a couch and the heavens for 
a canopy. 

This is the resumd. Until Greenieaf appeared the Commis- 
sioners' sales were slight; he purchased six thousand lots and 
concerned two capitalists in the enterprise ; he undertook to 
procure for the Commissioners a loan in Holland ; they expected 
from the sale and loan ample funds; from the sale they did 
receive two hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars; he had 
successfully financiered in Holland and would have consum- 
mated the loan had not war precluded; he made personally 
the only large sales — to Law and Duncanson; he and his 
assigns, especially Law, erected nearly all the residences in 
readiness for the removal from Philadelphia to Washington. 
But for Greenieaf, individually and instrumentally, in prob- 
ability, would the transfer of the governmental seat have been 

Law to Greenieaf, July 4, 1795, writes: 

You gave a Spring to the Qty by your Contract & bufldings. 

And so he did. He stimulated purchasing and improving. 
He and his associates not only endeavored to carry out their 
building stipulation but engrafted the prescribed provision in 
their contracts with purchasers and insisted on performance. 
Nicholson to the Commissioners, February 3, 1797, writes on 
the subject and submits a schedule of all their sales and build- 
ing contracts in Dr. and Cr. form and it reveals faithful 
adherence as in their power lie on original lines. 

Phil* July 30 1797. 
GusTAVus Scott 1 
Wm Thornton VEsq«« 
Alex* White j Commifsioners of the City of Washington — 


Two Considerations stimulate us however, to accomplish the Payments — 

the first is, that sense of Justice which induces us to wish punctuality in perform- 

{ng our Ei^agcfDcnts, and which hu only been prevented by imperious necebity; 
the other is, a Knowledge that the Public Interest and our own is so combined 
that the former cannot fuffer without Injury to the latter — Our ardent desire to 
furnish you with Payments thai may enable you to citryonthe Public Buildings 
at almost any Sacrifice is founded upon those two Gxisidetations above men* 
tioned, and does not arise from Apprehensions of the threatened Enles. — 



Amongst those who by their wealth, talents, or industry hive contributed to 
the formation of an infant Metropolis may be reckoned: Jamis GunoaAP. The 
lydsMinfioH Otide—WWam ElfioL 

Justice standeth a&r off; for truth is Men in the street 

Let those who write of the pioneers and promoters of the 
primitive period deal justly and speak truly. Let them fairly 
measure the achievement of James Greenleaf and at least ascribe 
him—prince,- as for me I shall ascribe him — King. 


WHAT dreamers these 1 
A few months more and on the broad bosom of the 
Potowmack will be borne from Europe, Asia and Africa 
ships brimming with supplies for the multitudes to assemble 
hither from everywhere; and while the white wings dot the 
water-ways, the roadways to the City will be race courses for 
lumbering stage coaches packed with investors pitching on to 
the goal of fortune. It will be a merry race; a merrier race 
than the Bagman's uncle, the lovely lady and the mail-coach 
and the avenging pursuers. In a few moons armies of laborers 
will be levelling thoroughfares and mechanics will be building 
mansions and shops and counting-houses and warehouses and 
wharves. And in a quarter, will from tall chimneys volumes 
of smoke ascend, and will from the quays, vessels with anchors 
weighed and sails spread, depart with returning cargoes. // 
is a dream, a dreamer's dream. And peradventure, some 
dreamers dispensed with all wait and dreamed with the dawn 
of the morrow's sun would appear an opulent metropolis 
created by the genius of magic or the swirl of Aladdin's lamp. 

Greenleaf had only been interested in the city two months 
and could count off on the digits ol his hands the new houses 
when he vehemently protested to President Washington, and 
convinced him too, that there should be no hospital within 
its limits.* 

And the enthusiastic Greenleaf foreseeing the overgrowth of 
the city, the requirement for suburban subdivision and large 
appropriations for land taken in street extensions straightway 
buys "on the meanders" of the east side of the Eastern Branch 
of the Potowmack, just beyond the ancient Anacostia Fort, two 


thousand acres or more. And the exuberant Morris to his 
son-in-law from the spot, September 17, 1796, writes: 

I am doubting whether to accept i5<i p square foot now offered for a Lot & 
ask 25 cents for another, Geni Lee offers 300 Dn p Lot for 150 lots but thb b 
thought too low, I believe if it were practicable for me to keep my lots untfl the 
year 1800 the price will not be lets than from I1500 to $3000 p Lott. 

And with a clearer view he to Hetty's husband again, 
November i, 1796, writes: 

When I left Philad; 1 would gladly have sold lots at 6^ p square foot, which 
we have sold here on the spot for 13, 18, 20, 25 & some at 50 cents p square 
foot This rise has been effected by our exertions & operations and may be 
supported & indeed carried still higher could we stay here & pay that unceasing 
attention which the property merits, it is unquestionably the first object in 
America and will prove a glorious estate to all who hold on I am delighted with 
the place, nature has done for it all that could be desired & I see that man will 
soon do the rest 

And that charming chronicler, Oliver Wolcott, then Secre- 
tary of Treasury, on Independence Day, 1800, tells his wife : 

There appears to be a confident expectation that this place wiU soon exceed 
any in the world. Mr. Thornton, one of the G>mmissioners, spoke of a popula- 
tion of 160,000 people, as a matter of course, in a few years. No stranger can 
be here a day and converse with the proprietors, without conceiving himself in 
the company of crazy people. Their ignorance of the rest of the world, and their 
delusions with respect to their own prospects, are without parallel 

The air-buOt castle, and the golden dream 

vanished. Disappointment and disaster came to dreamers all. 
Ample time had they to discover and discuss their delusions, 
and some have preserved their ideas for posterity. And 
lookers-on have recorded their observations. 
Oliver Wolcott, July 4, 1800, writes : 

Immense sums have been squandered in buildings which are but partly fin- 
ished, in situations which are not, and never will be the scenes of business ; 
while the parts near the public buildings are almost wholly unimproved. Green- 
leafs point presents the appearance of a considerable town, which has been 
destroyed by some unusual calamity. I had no conception, till I came here, of 
the folly and infatuation of the people who have directed the settlements. 
Though five times as much money has been expended as was necessary, and 
though the private buildings are in number sufficient for all who will have occa- 
sion to reside here, yet there is nothing convenient, and nothing plenty but 
provisions ; there is no industry, society, or business. With great trouble and 
expense, much mischief has been done which it will be almost impost^ible to 

l8l DUAMS 

Thomas Law, 1804, writes : 

It will be naturally asked, why the permanent seat of government advanced 
so slowly ? In answer let it be remembered that at first doubts were suggested 
of the coming of Congress, and afterwards serious apprehensions were enter- 
tained, that they would not continue in Washington City. The greatest ob- 
stacles to advancement however were the counter-actions of Alexandria and 
Georgetown, which being previously established, supplied the city with building 
materials, goods, &c, whereby these two places have increased their population 
about five or six thousand. 

Unfortunately, also, the public buildings, being placed at a distance from each 
other, created a division among the inhabitants ; and the question has always 
been agitated, which end of the city would preponderate ? If the Capitol and 
President's house and offices had been nearer, one common interest would have 
united the citizens, and a concentrated population would have appeared, advan- 
tageous and agreeable to all. 

John Templeman, Georgetown, January 20, 1804, writes: 

The operation of government will continue the growth of the city ; but not 
in any proportion equal to what would take place when commercial operations 
were combined with those of government. 

That Mr. Templeman was not alone in his view I call atten- 
tion to young Stevenson* who forewent honors and abandoned 
investments at the Capital City ; purchased at the confluence 
of the Alleghany and Monongahela and became a founder of 

John Law, August 22, 1820; says: 

No central point at which improvements might commence, and thence diverge, 
was established. Accordingly, much of the capital that was expended, in the 
infant state of the city, on buildings in remote situations, capriciously selected, 
was unprofitably lavished away ; and the evU is apparent from the ruins of many, 
and the low rent of other houses, which were erected before the year 1799. ^ 
loose and disconnected population was thus scattered over the dty, and, instead 
of a flourbhing town, the stranger who visited us saw, for years, a number of 
detached villages, having no common interest, and tumbhing little mutual sup- 

No matter what reasons were at that time assigned for slow 
growth, we, at this time can safely say, the expectations of the 
early enthusiasts were beyond the limits of probability. How- 

•James S. Stevenson cams to Washington from Adams County, Pennsylvania. Became a 
druf gist succeeding by purchase Dr. John Bullus at the Navy Yard, Nov. x8o6. Wasa stockholdsr 
of tlM CommerctaTCo. May. x8o6. Director of Banlc of Washington, original board, 1809, and 
until 1812. Member of the Sixth CoundL i8o7, First Chamber; Eighth Council, 1809, Sfecood 
Chamber; Tenth Conncfl; Alderman, i8xa. In Ptttsburg he amassed wealth and acquired political 
preferment. Was a member of Congress, a gubcmatonal candidate and coadjutor of Hon. JaoMS 
Buchanan. Died October 17, 1831. 

DUAMS 182 

ever, I can add that in 1795 and 1796 in England was a finan- 
cial panic and in this country, coincident stringency* The 
price for money was 2% and 3% per month even to persons of 
good credit. 
Morris to Cranch, November 13, 1795, writes: 

Hardy very hard, is our Fate to be starving in the midst of plenty, for we have 
abundant property, Money however cannot be obtained for any part of it at 
present but it wfll come by & by. 

This was a crucial period and nothing beside financial fright 
could possibly have been so detrimental to the development. 

Mr. Greenleaf had accumulated a great fortune by speedy 
strokes. He had only crossed the threshold from youth to 
manhood and was rich. By his twenty-seventh year in land 
and specie had he a million dollars. Still he was without the 
experience that years and observation teach. He lived in a 
time of patriotic fervor and speculative enthusiasm. The 
leaders in the forum, and at the bar and in trade were carried 
on wings of venture; they all sowed the wind and reaped the 
whirlwind. He was imbued with the reigning spirit. 



THE crier observed the friendly features and stalwart form 
of Mr. Greenleaf and cried : Oyez, oytz, all persons having 
business before the honorable court will draw nigh and 
give attention, court is now in session ; on the morrow whether 
the sun shone in all its effulgence, or whether its joyous beams 
were obscured by cloud, or whether the ram poured, or whether 
the hail pelted, or whether the snow impeded, weather fair or 
weather foul, the crier observed Mr. Greenleaf, and cried tyex, 
oyez ; on the morrow the crier noted Mr. Greenleaf was not 
missing and cried his perfunctory proclamation, and so on the 
successive morrows, week upon week, month upon month, 
year upon year, decade upon decade. It is not said, that his 
honor did not stiffly incline his head towards the litigant, take 
his seat and direct the call of the calendar. Courtesy was due 
to the litigant, not that his sister Nancy was the wife of the 
Chief Judge but that he supplied largely the grist which kept 
the judicial mill grinding. This, the tradition, 1 more than 
suspect, exaggerates the fact, yet is not an extravagant 

From September, 1793, to July, 1795, Mr.Greenleaf frequently 
was here on visits from New York. In 1804, he came to Wash- 
ington to remain. Hecametoassertthetitle, the claim of title, 
the equity in title to every square foot vested in him, in his 
assignees, or in his legal representatives. 

Mr. Greenleaf, evidently, was bred to mercantile pursuit. In the 
race for riches he was well on the course at the time I first find 
him, his twenty-third year. He then with a partner embarked 


in commerce and side speculation in American bonds and lands, 
conservatively in the latter compared with his later ventures. 
His real estate transactions required of lawyers, opinions and 
formulation of instruments, which to an extent familiarized him 
with the law. When Mr. Greenleaf came to Washington to 
litigate it does not appear that he had taken a degree or a 
course of study yet it does appear he was well versed and 
mentally equipped for practice. His legal papers — affidavits, 
contracts, pleas, stipulations — are neatly penned, appropriately 
endorsed, aptly even elegantly expressed and in marked con- 
trast to the papers of the lawyers of that day, roughly written, 
ofttimes on scrap of sheet, crossed and scratched, added to and 
subtracted from ; and who if they used an unlucky expression 
not yet dry upon the paper promptly obliterated the same with 
the pen and sometimes more effectively with the thumb. This, 
their slipshod method, too, in cases the issue of which was 
tens of thousands. It is noteworthy that not once did Mr. 
Greenleaf ever call himself a lawyer or designate himself by a 
lawyer's title. 

For nearly forty years Mr. Greenleaf appeared in law court 
and in chancery, with suits for ejectment and bills for injunc- 
tion and account; for he was the aggressor and took the initia- 
tive. He was his own lawyer and reversing the adage had no 
fool for a client. That he ably assisted himself is attested by 
the fact that in all of his six cases appealed to the Supreme 
Court of the United States to which he was party, plaintiff or 
defendant, he was successful; and in the seven cases, four con- 
solidated into one, appealed by the trustees of the aggregate 
fund, he was also successful, although in some of the latter 
not to the entire contention. Of the thirteen opinions. Chief 
Justice Marshall delivered three. Justice Johnson, six. Justice 
McLean, one. Justice Story, two, and Justice Washington, one. 
Before the tribunal of last resort and sometimes before the 

^Zr 'T' ^]' ^'"'"'"'^ '^"^ ^'^^ cooperation of eminent 
M.r?h o ^^'^ "''''' Chancery Docket i. No. i, filed 

March 24, 1801, Pratt and others against Duncanson and Ward, 

Kiltv Sr !f''' ^^^J''^^ session of the original court, 

wis heS mJk *'' ^''''''" ""^ ^^^"^'^^ A^«^tant Judges 
wa^ held March 23, 1801 at the Capitol 

tees uVd^r^'^^^^^^^ '" ''^ ^^"^^"^ ^^^8"^^^ -"d trus- 

tees under the bankruptcy proceedings were recorded in the 


States where they arose but noi in the District of Columbia. 
Under the statutes in force in the District no estate passed 
without the deed was enrolled in the county where the land 
lies within six months from its date. So that the deeds of 
Green leaf for creditors affecting any estate or equity vested in 
him in this District were mere nullities — and being discharged 
from debt reposed the same in him exempt from involvement. 

The bankruptcy litigation was conducted by Mr. Greenleaf 
on a shrewd system. The assignee and trustee were of his 
choice. The trustee Cranch, December 28, 1803, executed to 
Greenleaf the amplest authorization, as did, April 4, 1804, the 
assignee, Miller. 

Pratt and others trustees of the aggregate fund constituted 
January 18, 1804, and April 8, 1805, Greenleaf their attorney- 
in-fact with plenary powers. 

When Mr. Greenleaf afl^xed his signature to stipulation or 
compromise it took this formidable shape: 

Jambs Grbemleap. 
John Miller, June Assignee 
& Trustee of the Estate of 
James Greenleaf under the 
Insolvent Law of Pennsylvania 
and Bankrupt Law of the 
United States 

by hb Attorney in £ict 

James Grbbnleap. 

William Cranch, Trustee of 
the Estate of James Greenleaf 
under the Insolvent Law of 

by his Attorney in hcX 

Jambs Grebnlbaf. 

Henry Pratt 

John Miller, Junr (_ (who survived Thomas W. Frandsj 

John Ashley 
Jacob Baker 

Assignees of the joint and separate 
Estate of Robert Morris, John 
Nicholson & James Greenleaf 
by their Attorney in £ict 
James Greenleaf. 

unoAMT 186 

Pratt and others against DunCanson and Ward. 

Pratt and others against Law and Campbell. 

Law against Pratt and others. 

Campbell against Pratt and others, Duncanson and Ward. 

Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf to Law, December 3, 1794, 
gave their bond with condition to convey in fee simple within 
ninety days 2,400,000 sq. ft., he having paid them five pence 
Pennsylvania currency per square foot for the same. On the 
day following an agreement was executed by which Morris, 
Nicholson and Greenleaf covenanted that if Law within eighteen 
months should be displeased with his purchase, the considera- 
tion would be returned with interest ; and Law covenanted that 
if within that time he determined to keep the land he would 
within four years from time of such determination cause to be 
built on every third lot, or in that proportion, one brick build- 
ing at least two stories high. On March 10, 1795, Law 
made the purchase absolute, and Morris, Nicholson and 
Greenleaf agreed that Law could select under the contract of 
December 4, from any squares in which they had right of selec- 
tion, and also agreed to mortgage to Law other squares which 
were in their possession until they could give him good title to 
such property as he might select. Pursuant to this last agree- 
ment September 4, 1795, the mortgage was executed. Law 
received in round numbers nearly 2,000,000 sq. ft., but before 
Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf could perfect title to the 
balance of Law's selection they made an assignment, June 26, 
1797, to Pratt and others, trustees. 

Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf to Duncanson by a second 
mortgage, September 12, 1795, secured the mortgagee against 
the return of certain accommodation drafts. 

Campbell secured an execution against Morris and Nicholson 
and under it bought certain properties embraced in the mort- 
gage to Law. Law released these to Campbell without the 
sanction of the mortgagors. 

Morris and Nicholson were disposed to treat Law justly, and 
so, too, Greenleaf; the former prior to legal hostilities, the 
latter, in their direction and progress ; they, all, were willing 
to concede even more than they thought his due. It appears 
then on either side to have been an honest difference of opinion. 
Law insisted on strict exaction. 


Mr. Morris to Mr. Nicholson, November 27, 1796, writes: 

The account you give of M«" Laws Conduct grieves me much both for his 
sake and your own — You know that my mind has ever been opened to the 
eccentricities of his Character & that my feelings frequently revolted at the incon- 
sistencies he was guilty of, but still believing, as I always have done that he 
pofsessed an excellent heart, it was my earnest desire that we should finish our 
business with him on terms entirely to his liking, if pofsible to be done even 
with fome facrifices on our part if necessary — This is still my Wish if the Com- 
mifsioners will release us from the obligation of the buildmg clause in our 
Contracts fo far as Mr. Laws Lotts are concerned I have no Objection to release 
him but if they insist that a House must be built upon every third Lot, he must 
do it — We cannot — we neither coaxed or forced him into the Contract — he made 
the bargain with Mr. Greenleaf without our intervention, and the signing of it 
was his own voluntary act — I agree therefore with you that we are to make his 
Titles in strict Conformity with the Article of Agreement, and then should he 
refuse to deliver up and release the mortgage, we must compel him by a fuit in 
Chancery to do it, altho' such a measure will be distrefsing to my feelings, yet 
if right and Justice require it must be done. 

An elaborate computation, a scheme of compromise, seem- 
ingly fair, is endorsed on this letter : 

E B. Caldwell, Esq 

I was unfortunate in not finding you at your house or office, at several 
times calling both yesterday & today. The foregoing is the proposal I would 
make to Mr Thomas Law, on the part of those for whom I act, and which I 
trust he will have the wisdom to accept, but if not accepted, he will please dis- 
tinctly to understand, that the disposition the present overture evinces, for con- 
ciliation and settlement with Mr. Law, is in no wise to be construed as impairing 
any of the rights of those for whom I act, or as yielding any strength or counte- 
nance to what is contended for, or to any pofsible claims or pretended claims 
either present or future on the part of your client. 

I am respectfully, 


Yr very obt Serv. 

City op Washinotoh, Aug 5, 1809. 

To this proposal this reply : 

I should not consider myself Justifiable in troubling my father by information 
of any proposals of Pratt Francis &c : except the proposals were founded upon 
this equitable principle, that my father should have the right of selecting from 
their property lots to the value of those he selected from Carroll's property, & to 
the amount of his damages sustained by the detention of the 464,000 sq. f^ now 



Mr. Justice Johnson who delivered the opinion speaks of 
this celebrated cause as "intricate and voluminous" and of 
"the formidable bulk of 900 folios ! " It takes 45 pp. of the 
Supreme Court report. 

The trustees contended that Law had failed to comply with 
the covenant to build on every third lot or in that proportion 
and that the failure was to their detriment. However the court 
decided that Law was not restricted to specific lots on which 
to build; his choice, therefore, extended over the whole and 
the obligation was not complete until the whole was conveyed 
to him; and that, Law was originally induced to enter into 
stipulation in consideration of similar stipulations by Morris, 
Nicholson and Greenleaf with the Commissioners and that their 
failure was an excuse in part for desisting in building. 

The trustees sought to enjoin Duncanson from foreclosing. 
At the solicitation of Ward, who held some of the drafts, Dun- 
canson had permitted foreclosure acts proceed so far as adver- 
tisement. It developed that Greenleaf had paid the drafts in 
Ward's possession and that the mortgage should have been 

The trustees* contentions for the release from Law's mort- 
gage, to compel Law to complete selection, and to vacate 
Law's releases to Campbell were denied. 

Law had received 1,873,087^ sq. ft. leaving 526,912^. The 
court allowed him this at original purchase price 5 p. Pa. cur- 
rency per sq. ft. $29,272.92 and interest from January i, 1797, 
to January 16, 1816, $33.37i-i3. in all, $62,644.45. 

Campbell was charged with that proportion of this amount 
as the property released to him by Law bore to all embraced 
in the mortgage. 

The consolidated cause, Pratt and Law, was in activity over 
fifteen years. It is perhaps the most voluminous in the 
chancery files. It contains material for a new chapter and a 
comprehensive one in a history of early Washington. 

/^1?^AJT AND OTHERS against Carroll. 

The legal cmgagement began by the challenge of Greenleaf 
and acceptance by Carroll, photographically reproduced. After 
the jollification, September 26, 1796, Nicholson, and perhaps 
Morris did some additional work on the twenty buildings in a 
desultory manner. In May, 1797, Carroll seized the houses; he 

< .\H> 

4 , 

made no effort to preserve them. The bill was filed December 
19, 1804. Plaintiffs claimed specific performance of contract. 
The Supreme Court because of the delay of seven years in in- 
stituting litigation refused except on modified terms. Upon 
the mandate of court for further proceedings the shrewd 
Greenleaf as agent and attorney-in-fact for complainants in the 
management and conduct of the suit to have the trial in Alex- 
andria made oath, July 6, 1814, that from the complicated 
and ramified nature of disputes concerning city property for- 
merly belonging to Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf, great 
number of its citizens have become directly or colaterally in- 
terested and that he was in the predicament of bias and that 
there was no reasonable prospect of unprejudiced hearing. 
Carroll was charged with rents and interest thereon $28,267.20; 
damages $19,000.00; interest thereon $570.00; in all I47,- 
837.20. The trustees were charged with penalty for 14 houses 
@ ;^ioo=;^i40o=$3, 733.33 and interest thereon $4,256.00; In 
all $7,989.33. Net amount against Carroll $39,847.87. 

As a witness Judge Cranch was cautious. And, but and if 
hedged his replies. He was ever on guard not to overstate or 
overstep and left a loop-hole to effect an escape. To exhibit 
his reservation an answer on the twenty buildings case, not 
at all exceptional, is quoted : 

On the 26th of September, 1796, to the best of his recollection being the 
time mentioned in the contract for building the said houses Morris and Nicholson 
made a great barbecue in the street in front of the buildings, at which according il0 
the best of this deponents recollection more than two hundred people were 
present, upon the occasion of completing the erection of the buildings; at which 
barbecue the said Morris and Nicholson and this witness weie present, and also the 
defendant Carroll, as this tvitness verily believes^ but of that fact this untness 
has not now a distinct recollection, Hor whether he heard the said GotoU 
say anything upon the subject of the buildings; but if the said Carroll had 
been absent or if he had expressed dissatisfaction at the buildings, this tvitness 
thinhs it tvould have made a strong impression upon his memory; his 
impression , on the contrary always was, that said Carroll was at that time of 
opinion that Morris and Nicholson had done that the contract required and was 
willing to trust to the interest of Morris and Nicholson as a sufficient motive to 
induce them to complete the houses. 

Corporation of the City of Washington against 
Pratt and others. 

This tax sale case establishes an equitable precedent. It de- 
cides that the lot be assessed to the true owner; that the lien 

LmoAmr— -^194 

on each lot is distinct and the advertisement separately state 
it; that the excess a lot produces be applied to taxes on other 
lots of the owner. 

Groenveld against Greenleaf. 

The Rotterdam trustees instituted this cause to define and 
defend their vested rights under the conveyance of Bourne, 
attorney, July 29, 1795. Greenleaf answered that the land 
security stipulated was 4,455 sq. ft. for one thousand guilders 
or 668,250 sq. ft. for one hundred and fifty thousand guilders 
and that the conveyance carried 1,316,250 sq. ft. The trustees, 
Pratt and others, answered that the conveyance to complainants 
was inoperative; that July 10, 1795 (only nineteen days pre- 
vious) Greenleaf contracted with Morris and Nicholson to sell 
them all his holdings; that in pursuance of the agreement 
Greenleaf executed a deed ; that Morris and Nicholson assigned 
to them ; that they were unadvised of the conveyance to com- 
plainants; that they sued out an attachment in Prince George's 
County, Maryland, against the property of Greenleaf; that a 
sale was made by the Sheriff to William H. Dorsey and he 
acting in their behalf made a deed to them; that they pursued 
this course to extinguish every scintilla of claim or interest 
possibly then remaining in Greenleaf. This answer is signed 
by the trustees. 

The compromise is in the handwriting of Greenleaf and 
corresponds with the decree which gives a comparatively small 
number of lots to the United States and provides for a sale by 
David A. Hall and a division of proceeds, one half to com- 
plainants, the remaining half to Greenleaf and aggregate fund 

Rogers against Crommelin. 

Greenleaf s loan contracts with Daniel Crommelin and Sons 
are dated January 31, April 14, 17, 21, 1789, October i, Novem- 
ber I, 1789, November 15, 1790. March i, June 15. October i, 
1791, February 15. and August i. 1792. Greenleaf alleges the 
bankers were bound to render regular statements of receipts of 
interest on the pledged securities; that they annually rendered 
such statements until January 30, 1796; that because of his 
failure in business they discontinued the practice ; that although 
frequently requested so to do, they fmally after a lapse of ten 


years upon persuasions and threats have submitted a crude 
mass of accounts false, fictitious and fraudulent, in which it 
appears many of the securities have been sold. He charges 
the sales were made below current rates and "^txt pro forma 
and only transfers to the bankers. He claims, the securities, 
adequate to reimburse the principal in the first instance, have 
progressively risen in value. Greenleaf recites that November 
21, 1796, he assigned to Daniel Greenleaf and Thomas Dawes, 
junior, so much of the property pledged with Daniel Crommelin 
and Sons as was necessary to discharge certain endorsements 
in Boston on his behalf. That, August 19, 1797, he for the 
benefit of certain creditors assigned to William Cranch the 
right to adjust and settle finally all concerns with the bankers. 
That, August 20, 1798, Greenleaf and Dawes, junior, transferred 
their trust to Daniel Dennison Rogers and William Smith of 

The decree in this cause is that Greenleaf shall confirm in 
the trustees, Godfrey, Schimmelpenninck and Crommelin, the 
fee to the lots described in the conveyance originally intended 
as a mortgage except the excess over 2,632,590 sq. ft. and that 
Daniel Crommelin and Sons shall deposit with trustees named 
sixty thousand dollars to be invested in U. S. 6% stocks and 
three^hundred and thirty-five shares of the stock of the Bank 
of the United States to be distributed as an accounting from 
January 14, 1794, upon lines prescribed particularly shall 

Greenleafs contentions were evidently correct. The com- 
plainants' pleadings and papers are all in the chirography of 
Greenleaf. The phraseology is scholarly, the penmanship like 
engraving, the punctuation and capitalization faultless, show- 
ing that errors in these respects in his letters are through care- 

These Greenleaf cases are those I deem the more important. 
It has been extravagantly said, if the papers in the cells of the 
City Hall which bear the litigant's name were on the Capitoline 
heights touched with the torch, they would be a beacon to the 
ten miles square. One of the Greenleaf cases at the point I 
looked had run seventeen years and the course was not then 

A literary sketcher discusses Greenleafs litigious career and 
drifts into a comparison with Jamdyce and Jamdyce. The 

famous fiction may have its prototype in that familiar to us. 
It is not for me to deny that the novelist's creation is not sug- 
gested, somehow or somewhat, by Greenleaf s continuous 
court contention. In Greenleafs last year, when Dickens, 
1842, found here the Barmecide Feast, he might too have found 
the skeleton of his story, for he must have heard of our celebri- 
ties, the things remarkable of them, then, of course, of Greenleaf 
and of Greenleaf s litigation. A decade after and appears, 1853, 
Bleak House, built by a romantic turn and twist of the peren- 
nial procrastination of the court of the Lord High Chancellor, 
the High Court of Chancery ; and the author opens it by put- 
ting the heroine in training: where? "Greenleaf" — "Green- 

That which follows in this chapter might appropriately with 
the heading Claimant form another. 

For many years advertisements in the Intelligencer appear 
with such frequency as to be almost continuous. They have 
Mr. Greenleafs signature, a few times with the string of as- 
signeeships, already quoted, generally "Attorney in fact for all 
the Assignees and Trustees or the joint and separate estates of 
R. Morris, J. Nicholson and J. Greenleaf." That Greenleaf 
should have become the guardian of the effects of his former 
associates and antagonists is a trick of fate. 

In the Intelligencer of February 27, 1804, is the initial inser- 
tion. It invites persons having business with the subscriber 
as agent of the estates of Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf or 
who wish to buy a part of the aggregate fund property in his 
absence to call on Capt. Thomas Tingey, Wm Cranch, Esq., 
or Mr. Samuel Eliot, jr. 

In the Intelligencer of April 27, that year, is the formal an- 
nouncement of his appointment as attorney for the trustees of 
the aggregate fund. 

Of the North American Land Company, Mr. Greenleaf was 
secretary and attorney-in-fact. In the Intelligencer of January 
25, 1812, is a call upon all persons, former agents, clerks or 
registers of public office to return title papers to him at Phila- 
delphia; and, August 23, 1823, a notice of a stockholders' 
meeting at the company's office. No. 177 Pine street. 

These advertisements were many times offerings to the 
public for purchase of property under the trusts— vast tracts 

^iMk HouM, CluipUr in 

197 LlTIOAJiT 

of the North American Land Company, acreage near Alexan- 
dria and on the Eastern Branch between the two bridges, and 
numerous lots, some improved, in the city of Washington. 
The subscriber had lots to dispose of in every ward, sites for 
ice houses, for truck gardens, for brick plants, for all practical 

The subscriber had his vexations with destructive tenants as 
landlords of the present do, and he fearlessly did that which 
the latter would hesitate to do : 

For Rent House * * * recently occupied by Benjamin King. The 
disgraceful state of dilapidation in which the premises were left by the last occu- 
pant, will be repaired by the subscriber, and the yearly rent charge shall be only 
one hundred dollars, to a good and careful tenant 

The Intelligencer was the vehicle of his Cautions, Mr. 
Greenleaf claimed all that he could by any pretext claim. He 
watched every move antagonistic and attempted to thwart it 
by a Caution. His defense was unique; his weapon, effective. 
As sure as a notice of sale under conflicting title appeared as 
sure his Caution did likewise; and simultaneously. Somehow, 
sometimes he was advised in advance and had his Caution 
with the publishers in readiness for the first notice. These 
Cautions frequently defeated sales, no doubt, and in one in- 
stance numerous consummations of accepted bids at auction. 
In this latter case, the trustees threatened through the prints 
suits for damages against the claimant, which no more feezed 
him than the baying dog disturbs the moon. 

These Cautions provoked replies, angry and lengthy, which 
the writers confidentially expected would squelch the claimant, 
whose calm rejoinders so surprised them they subsided into 
silence. Some of the cautionary notices and the correspon- 
dence which ensued are quoted. Not only they contain his- 
toric incident, yet more the methods and motives of Greenleaf. 

The claimant supplements the Stoddert Caution : 

I lament extremely that it b at the hazard of exdting much enmity and 01- 
will, that I shall occasionally be obliged to awaken long dormant, but important 
and just claims on the part of the assignees of the joint and separate estates of 
Robert Morris, John Nicholson and James Greenlea£ 

Mr. Greenleaf correctly conjectured. His measures to protect 
his own and entrusted rights brought him disfavor although of 
magnetic qualities. 


At the time of Greenleaf's tilt with the Commissioners Mr. 
Stoddert was a merchant at Georgetown and president of its 
bank — the Columbia. From May, 1798, to March, 1801, he was 
Secretary of Navy, the first in that station, and after, Acting 
Secretary of War. Perhaps to the letter duel he gave passing 
thought and the multitudinous and momentous affairs of state 
dispelled it from mind otherwise he did not profit by the Com- 
missioners' discomfiture. 

The full controversy is in the Appendix. The argument of 
Mr. Stoddert is plausible however false is the assertion the law 
in question passed in the forenoon and the Commissioners de- 
layed their signatures until night when a message was received 
announcing its passage. It is questionable if the distance be- 
tween the Capitals in the hours could have been made. The 
Commissioners had the utmost confidence in Morris, Nichol- 
son and Greenleaf's responsibility and upon it alone four 
months later granted a credit of one thousand lots. Mr. Stod- 
dert intimates that Greenleaf s cautions are bluffs and that 
** the assignees are not men to suffer their money to be thrown 
away in idle and hopeless pursuits." Litigation did ensue 
and last as long as Mr. Stoddert's light burned and a quarter of 
a century after it burned out. 

Judge Morsell was appointed by decree of the court to sell 
the lots of the Tontine Company. The judge, May 10, 1826, 
did advertise them for sale and that same day, in the same 
paper, in the same column, was the claimants* Caution, The 
claimant instituted a chancery cause to enjoin; this legal fire 
burned many years; the ostensible plantiff, the assignee. 
Miller, passed away, Mr. Greenleaf became an old man, the 
fire smouldered and died. 

The Caution which follows was called out by an advertise- 
ment of Dr. John Ott to sell one of the Seven Buildings. The 
fact that the claimant had thirteen cases before the Supreme 
Court of the United States and had thirteen successes there is 
an assurance that any claim he made must have had some title 
and deters from asserting anything to the contrary, convincing 
circumstantiality notwithstanding. Morris and Nicholson con- 
tinued the Seven Buildings, square 118, after the general trans- 
fer to them by Greenleaf. They were grievously mistaken as 
to ownership if they so substantially improved another's prop- 
erty. I find in a letter of Morris that this row was commenced 

199 LiriOAKT 

by General Stewart and Major Moore, and if so, Greenleaf had 
an interest; in another letter, he contradicts. 

National Intelligencer, July 35, 181 1. 


The range of houses known by the name of the "Setfen Buildings '* 
situate on square No. 118 in the dty of Washington (part of which is advertised 
to be sold at auction on the 29th inst) is the property of the Several assignees of 
my estate, or of some or one of them — ^the houses in question and the lots on 
which they are erected with several other lots in the same square, were excepted 
from my general conveyance to Morris and Nicholson — ^pubHc acknowlegement 
was made by them of such exception — and the commissioners of the dty of 
Washington (in whom the legal estate then vested) were duly informed of the 
said exception — the unwarrantable drcumstances under which possession of said 
property has bten juggled from the rightful owners, and shew of title has been 
vested in certain pretended mortgagees whose interests about that time became 
intimately mingled with the interests of the then commissioners of the dty, or 
of some or one of them, are matters not proper for communication through the 
channel of a newspaper — a suffidency however will appear, by reference to the 
public record, to convince any doubting mind that the most disgraceful artifice 
has (by several palpably fictitious conveyances) been practised to cover a delec* 
tive title as to the property in question, and thereby to impose on the unwary 
and incautious. 

All persons concerned are therefore hereby cautioned and forewarned not to 

purchase the said Seven Buildings or any of them, or any of the Lots or parts of 

Lots on which they stand, or any of the Lots in square No. 118, which on the 

original division of that square were alloted to the commissk>ners of the dty, as 

the same will be contested in equity by 


in fact for all the assignees of 

his former estate. 
Allentown, Penm. July 17. 



FOR aye divorce separated Mr, Greenleaf and Baroness 
Greenleaf. Desertion the decree declared doubtlessly. 
Mr. Greenleaf, wife and infants in Holland, did intend to 
rejoin surely. Multiplicity of alTairs and emergency of finances 
thwarted the voyage at each attempt. New environments 

Out of sight out of mind. 

An aristocratic beauty tempted to the treason of inconstancy 
and he to himself confessed 

To the remembrance of my former love. 
Is by a newer object quite forgotten. 

The Allen is a notable Pennsylvania family. William Allen 
was Chief Justice of the province. He had in a large measure 
respectability and resource. His children held the pinnacle of 
provincial society. Strongly Tory were his sympathies and 
when a revolution was imminent he crossed to England and 
there published a paper plainly pointing how the differences 
might be amicably arranged. He never came back. His sons 
implicated in disloyalty sought the shelter of the parent country. 
A daughter as already told wed the last proprietary governor. 

Allen Town is named in honor of its founder, James, the 
judge's son. The site was of his proportion of the patrimonial 
estates. His children are three daughters : 

Ann Penn born February 19, 1769. 

Margaret Elizabeth April 21, 1772. 

Mary Masters January 4, 1776. ^„,^ 

Margaret married William Tilgh man, subsequently Chief Justice 
of Pennsylvania, She died Septembers, 179B- Mary married 
Henry Walter Livingston of New York. 


The three daughters of James Allen were among the beauties 
of their day, and renowned for their grace and accomplishments. 

Ann Penn Allen, familiarly Nancy, and James Greenleaf were 
married the 26th of April, 1800. 

Charles Henry HzxX.— Gilbert Siuarfs Portraits of Women. 
Mrs. James Greenleaf (^Ann Penn Allen) , — The Century 
Illustrated Monthly Magazine : 

When Thackery paid his historic visit to Philadelphia, which is one of the 
hallowed memories associated with the kindly satirist in America, he was enrap- 
tured with Gilbert Stuart's portraits of Mrs. Greenleaf, and well he might be. 
She was Ann Penn Allen, daughterof James Allen and granddaughter of William 
Allen, chief justice of Pennsylvania before the Revolution, up to which time the 
Allen family were in the front rank of colonial importance. She was named for 
her aunt, the wife of Governor John Penn, and was one of the most splendid 
beauties this country has produced, so that Stuart was put to his mettle, in 
painting her portrait, to do her and himself justice. The result b a canvas 
charming in the woman it depicts and in the art that depicts her. That the 
portrait of Mrs. Greenleaf was no perfunclory work, but that the painter threw 
his whole soul into it, is manifest from the fact that not once or twice, but thrice 
did he portray her. 

To the kindness of Dr. Herbert M. Howe of Philadelphia is 
indebtedness for the reproduction of Gilbert Stuart's marvellous 
skill in portrayal of matchless charm. 

Bride and groom, would not their likenesses adorn a book 
of beauty ? 

The ante-nuptial contract, April 24, was not the usual bestow- 
ment upon the bride but a precautionary measure against the 
attack upon her separate estate. Miss Allen describes herself 
a spinster of the city of Philadelphia and Mr. Greenleaf himself 
a gentleman of the city of Washington, Territory of Columbia. 
Brother-in-law Tilghman and relative John Laurance a Senator 
of New York are trustees. 

The children of James and Ann Penn Greenleaf are two 
daughters named after their mother's two sisters: 

Mary L. born January 31, 1802, 

Margaret T. 1803 

Mary married Walter C. Livingston, July 28, 1828, a merchant 
of Philadelphia. Between father-in-law and son-in-law was 
intimate relation. Margaret married Charles Augustus Dale, 
July, 1832, of Allentown. 



The mysterious drowning of Allen Dale, September, 189510 
the Raritan canal near Princeton revived recollection of romance 
in the little borough of Allentown of other days. 

The correspondent to The Press, Philadelphia, thus tells the 
stirring sensation : 

What added to the sensation was the fact that the principal actors were of 
the bluest of AUentown's blue blood. 

James Allen had two daughters, one of whom, Anna Penn Allen, was married 
to an Englishman named James Greenleaf. The old Greenleaf mansion was a 
quaint picture of " Merrie England.'* It stood in the midst of a park of stately 
trees in what is now the very heart of this city, and the old building in which 
hospitality was displayed with lavish hand is now divided into two residences, 
occupied by Judge Edwin Albright and James M. Seagreaves. James Greenleaf 
had two daughters, and one day a gay company was partaking of the hospitality 
for which the Greenleafs became noted. Among the party was a young man 
named Dale, a handsome, manly fellow. Young Dale met one of the Greenleaf 
girls. It was the old story — love at first sight 

When Mrs. Greenleaf heard of the infatuation existing between her daughter 
and young Dale she became furious. It appears that the young man had nothing 
to offer but a promising future. Mrs. Greenleaf was a proud and haughty 
woman. Her daughter should marry only a wealthy man. The result was that 
there was an elopement The couple returned for the parental blessing, but it 
came not. Once inside the house Mrs. Greenleaf kept her daughter, now Mrs. 
Dale, a prisoner, while young Dale was forbidden the house. He pleaded, but 
the mother-in-law was firm. 

At last he decided to get possession of his wife. He went to the Greenleaf 
mansion, walked through the spadous lawn and up to the verandah. Mrs. Green- 
leaf had seen his approach and anticipated his purpose. While he was going to 
the door she did likewise from the inside. He pushed fi-om the outside, while his 
obdurate mother-in-law used all her strength to keep the door dosed. But he 
was the stronger and the door flew back and knocked Mrs. Greenleaf to the floor. 

The next day father-in-law Greenleaf had the groom arrested 
for assault. He was committed to jail. This disgrace preyed 
upon his mind. A few mornings after with pistol he made 
his earthly exit. 

Allen came with no recollection of a father. Mrs. Dale's life 
was saddened and secluded yet she attained a sere age when 
a second tragedy bereft her of a son and solace and shortly she 
went away. She was in her ninety-third year. 

Mr. S. D. Lehr, May 29, 1901, writes: 

James Greenleaf and Walter C Livingston were dtlzens of this town in its 
early history. 1 have a fidnt recollection of them living at the comer of Hamilton 
and nfth st this dty, having passed the place frequently in my school boy days. 

The house at the corner mentioned by Mr. Lehr quite likely 
is the Greenleaf mansion in the midst of a park of stately trees. 
It was the property of "Lady" Greenleaf. It was furnished 
in grand style and its parlor wall adorned by the original 
Landsowne portrait of General Washington by the eminent 
Gilbert Stuart; this, the property of Mr. Greenleaf.* Mr. and 
Mrs. Greenleaf lived in Allen Town when their wedded days 
began, and a portion of the year, for more than three decades. 

Greenleaf s father-in-law was the founder, and he the prin- 
cipal promoter. The founder died in 1782 when the place 
was sparsely peopled. Under the promoter's encouragement 
Allen Town gave promise of its future. Greenleaf made subdi- 
vided additions and to the thoroughfares gave the names of his 
associates and relatives. These are familiar: Allen, Law, 
Livingston, Morris, Penn, Pratt, Priscilla, Tilghman, Webster. 

From 1807 to 1828 Mr. Greenleaf credits himself to Phila- 
delphia. Until the winter of 1826 Mr. and Mrs. Greenleaf 
divided the time between Allen Town and the Quaker City. 
Mr. Greenleaf made frequent visits to Washington, tarrying a 
fortnight or so. He announced in the Intelligencer where he 
could be found and when he would depart. He usually 
sojourned at Davis's Hotel on the avenue or Captain Wharton's 
on F street or Miss Heyer's in Law's row — The Varnum. 

It is apparent at first Mr. Greenleaf meant to reside in Wash- 
ington as the nuptial articles and the conveyances of earliest 
record in the century describe him as a citizen thereof. Mr. 
Thomas Munroe, Commissioner of Public Buildings, testified 
Mr. Greenleaf was first seen after his long absence in 1802. 
Mr. Dalton's invitation to the fish dinner is endorsed by Mr. 
Greenleaf, "August 17, 1799." Other than these, the first 
mention, I find, of his presence is the advertisement of Feb- 
ruary 21, 1804. 

Mrs. Greenleaf accompanied her husband to Washington, 
Christmas time, 1821. In the winter of 1826 the Greenleafs 
were in the house last occupied by the Hon. William H. 
Crawford, Secretary of Treasury, on Fourteenth street north of 
Thomas Circle. I have read the Greenleaf girls scythed a 
swath in swell society in the reign of Adams, the second. In 
the summer of 1828 they were in North Capitol street in or by 
the Washington house and in the fall of 1831 in the porticoed 
house next to be described. 

•Namthfv and Critical History of America. 



ao9 APmiDAYS 

In or before 1831 Mr. Greenleaf built a wooden residence at 
the intersection of First and C streets and inclosed lots 17 and 
18 in square 725. Here he resided the residue of his days. In 
his home he was surrounded plenteously with such things as 
a retired gentleman of taste and means would likely be ; he 
had paintings, thirteen in all, and other pictorial art, curios 
and relics, and a superb library. 

Although the structure was razed thirty years since here is 
fortunately a photographic view. The photograph was taken 
August, i86i. Right in front of the house Major William 
Tecumseh Sherman and his tired men rested. At Bull Run, 
they had been received too warmly and they shook the dust 
from their feet and retired; retired rather precipitately. The 
tent in the foreground of the picture the other side of the 
fence, is the hospital. During Mr. Greenleafs occupancy the 
house was two stories with attic and cellar. The change in 
the lower arrangement was necessitated by the heavy grading. 
I remember in my earliest youth this quaint house; and to me 
its series of surrounding porticoes suggested the square pa- 
godas of China in the picture books. 

Mr. Greenleaf in this considerable enclosure had a stable 
which sheltered two horses, a grey and a red, and an equal num- 
ber of cows of the shade of which history is silent. He grew 
in the garden I know not what besides the mulberry, the cul- 
tivation of which at that time was a horticultural fad. In his 
study on the mantel was Coii*s Manual on the Growth of the 
Mulberry tree for ready reference. He had a farm on "The 
Island;" it comprised several squares; the square wherein is 
the Jefferson School Building being one. Here he pursued 
Adam's profession. Mr. Greenleaf's domestic was a widow 
and her son-in-law was his gardener. 

Mr. Greenleaf during the last years lived alone, a 

Setf-sequesterM man. 

Mrs. Greenleaf was not en rapport with the democratic 
days, her spirit was with the period of provincial pride. She 
dwelt in the mansion at Allentown. No one«ftys the separa- 
tion was from estrangement. One close to^r!^'Gfeenleaf says 
the correspondence continued, however its sentiments may 
have been in specie. I am told that Mr. Greenleaf in the same 


room ate, studied, wrote, slept, — a living room literally. I 
think this was only in the last season of illness. 

Mr. Greenleaf with the associates of his boyhood. President 
John Quincy Adams and Judge Cranch, attended the Unitarian 
Church. Nothing of his religious thought is transmitted. He 
was liberally inclined towards church extension. What he 
purposed in this praiseworthy way sometimes was fraught 
with failure as in other things. As early as July 14, 1795, he 
at a vestry meetinii^ offered to present a building site on F be- 
tween Sixth and Seventh streets, square 456, lot 17; and Sam- 
uel Blodgett, who had the hotel around the corner, gave an 
order for the timber. The plan was favorably received, and 
the rector was directed to purchase the adjoining lot. Never- 
theless the proffer was not availed and the project was 

Mr. Greenleaf's expression was benign, manner dignified 
and conversation courteous. To him in high degree or hum- 
ble degree, in his majority or in his minority, white or black, 
it was: " If you please" or other polite phrase. His abundant 
civility had no tint of affectation but appeared the natural flow 
of a sweet nature and a refined character. 

His conversation was not mere talk; it was the copious 
treasure of the mind gathered by association with the fore- 
most in the various ways of life, by observation in travel at 
home and abroad and by assimilation of the best literature in 
the languages of all advanced peoples. And he possessed that 
facility of polished converse, to 

Speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence. 

It is not to be inferred because Mr. Greenleaf was civil to the 
humblest that he mixed. "Mr. Greenleaf was a high-toned 
gentleman and did not associate with everybody." His asso- 
ciations had been with the eminently respectable and he main- 
tained the same social degree. He was cultured and he courted 
the company of the cultured and none other. 

Daily Mr. Greenleaf exchanged greetings and confidences 
with his beloved sister Nancy and the dear judge who were 
just around the corner. He almost lived with his sister and 
his brother by marriage. Sister Nancy and brother James 
greatly resembled each other. She was real motherly; of 
comfortable proportions and of happy and lively nature. 


Mrs. Cranch had been seriously ill; Mr. Greenleaf moderately 
ill. Perhaps in him it was the sympathy of soul, who can say 
nay. Mr. Greenleaf called his youthful assistant and laying 
gently his hand upon his shoulder said: '' Bushrod, go to the 
judge's and see how sister is." The lad went to the back door. 
The judge himself appeared and answered: "Tell James, 
she is dead." The messenger returned. Mr. Greenleaf drew 
closer the garments and sank upon the couch. The shock 
was too severe ; the vital current ceased to serge. The beloved 
sister had passed to the other shore, the brother waited only a 
few hours for the ferryman and he, too, passed over. 

Mr. Greenleaf had perhaps for a fortnight been in the care of 
Dr. John F. May, his physician. His mind never was im- 
paired ; his hand was as firm a month before his end as ever 
before. His signature, September, 1843, is as strong as that 
of September, 1793; and its exactitude is like the impress of a 

This notice appeared in the Intelligencer^ Wednesday, Sep- 
tember 20, 1843 : 

In this city, on Saturday morning, the i6th instant, Mrs. Nancy Cranch, 
aged 71 years, wife of Judge Cranch, and on Sunday morning, the 17th instant, 
her brother, James Greenleaf, Esq., aged 78. 

On September 22, in an obituary of Mrs. Cranch, this : 

One, James Greenleaf, Esq. , well known as among the earliest settlers of this 
dty, outlived his beloved sister but a few hours. 

And that is all of him who in the formative days held the 
center of the stage. 

In the Congressional Cemetery is a monument whereon is 
chiseled this inscription : 

James Greenleaf 

bom in Boston 

June 9, 17ft, 

died in Washington 

Sept 17, 1843. 

M, 781. 

At the foot of the monument is a mound, spread with na- 
ture's carpet freshened with the dews of twilight; on it the 
eternal sun shines by day, on it the moon and the jEcems of 
heaven shed their silvery rays by night, over it a maple stands 
sentinel, and with its spreading boughs shelters from the stress 

of the storm, and by it, just beyond the gentie slope, the Ana- 
costan waters ripple and sparkle in their ebb and flow. The 
tumult of traffic intrudes not upon this hallowed city of long 
homes and naught is heard more boisterous than 

Little gales, that from the green leaf sweep 
Dry Summer's dust 

The grave 

Shuts up the story of our days. 

Not SO with Greenleaf. The story of his life shall live as the 
city stands. 

' It is almost a certainty that James Greenleaf first entered the 
Federal City a day previous to the ceremonies at the Capitol. 

September 17, 1793, Greenleaf came; September 17, 1843, 
Greenleaf departed; — ^an even fifty years. September 18, 1793, 
the corner stone was laid; September 18, 1843, is its half- 

At the time of his death Mr. Greenleaf had a large holding 
of unimproved and unproductive realty. He owed little and 
the proceeds from the sale of his personalty more than paid his 
debts. He died intestate and Mr. David A. Hall, the lawyer, 
was, October 10, 1843, appointed administrator. 

Mr. Greenleaf s library was remarkable for size and value. 
The books were sold at three auctions. Mr. W. M. Morrison 
was the auctioneer and the sales room was on Pennsylvania 
avenue four doors west of Brown's Hotel. 

1st Catalogue of the Large and Valuable Library of the Late James 
Greenleaf ^ deceased^ to be sold on Wednesday evening^ January //, 
1844. This comprises 1^155 volumes. 

2nd Catalogue of French^ Dutch^ Italian and Latin Books^ many of 
which are very old Editions^ out of Print and Extremely Valuable 
Belonging to the Estate of James Greenleaf Esq, ^ Deceased , to be 
sold, Monday and Tuesday evenings^ ^9ll^, and 20th, February, ^^44, 
Comprised i^2$2 volumes, 

3rd. Catalogue of Final Sale of English Books belonging to the estate 
of the late James Greenleaf Esq, comprising many highly illus- 
trated works to which are added various law and miscellaneous books , 
to be sold on Friday evening, the 2sd inst. Volumes 205. 

Aggregate volumes 2,6iz 

Mrs. Greenleaf died August, 1852, and the 27th of that 
month her remains were interred in the vault belonging to 
Walter C. Livingston, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia. 

213— AFTltDaWS 

In attractive array Thomas P. Woodward, Esq., of the 
Washington bar, January i, 1901, marshals the worthies: 

As I work over the^ to many, dry and musty records I often try to conjure up 
the personalities of the men whose acts and deeds I am investigating. I picture 
William Prout, the staid Baltimore merchant, Benjamin Stoddert, the Revolu- 
tionary soldier, Robert Morris, the great financier of the colonies, Samuel 
Blodgett, the lottery man, the Youngs, gentlemen of the manor bom, David 
Burns, suddenly thrown into unfamiliar company, James Greenleaf, the prince of 
schemers, Thomas Law, man of the world, George Walker, the canny Scotsman 
and all the lesser lights, clad in the quaint costumes of the time doing business 
as real estate brokers after the most approved methods. 

Of him unseen who excites the emotions, in feature and 
stature, the mind creates a mental image. The portraitist 
presents the likeness in words or in pictures. The delineation 
by the former although graphic and vivid has not the resem- 
blance to reality and humanity of the latter. Yet the picture 
gives only a passing expression anfd a glimpse of character 
while the words more generally if not so accurately, the vary- 
ing expressions which spring from the soul. 

Nemo in his Sketches says: 

If after his troubled life at the age of seventy-eight, he was, as old inhabi- 
tants, who still remembering, describe him as an old man, tall and courteous 
with a graceful manner and pleasant face, in the flower of his youth he must 
have been supple-sinewed and handsome. 

Mrs. Robert S. Chilton writes : 

Dear Mr. Clark : 

Unfortunately, the details I can give you about Mr. Greenleaf are very meagre. 
His appearance is a dbtinct picture in my memory; beyond that I can recaU little 
of him. Mr. Greenleaf was a pleasant mannered old gentleman, very genial 
and always very attractive to children. He was of medium height and of a 
ruddy complexion, and I think wore "Madisons." He bore a striking resem- 
blance to his sister, the wife of Judge Cranch. Mrs. Cranch was a lady with an 
individuality so unique and charming that she can never be forgotten by those 
who had the privilege of knowing her, even by one who was only a chfld when 
she died. She certainly represented the highest type of the women of her day 
and generation. Remembering her better than I do Mr. Greenleaf, I have ven- 
tured to bring in her name, as his sister, she may help to illustrate the fiunfly dis- 
tinction and character. 

Very Sincerely Yours 

April 19th, 1901. 

The youthful assistant to Mr. Greenleaf is now the respected 
citizen Mr. Bushrod Robinson: 

I knew the late James Greenleaf in 1843. He was then an old man, small in 
stature, say about five feet seven inches, weight about 140, light gray hair, dean 
shaven Cice, blonde, with all the appearance of a cultured English gentleman, 
stooped slightly and always used a cane when walking. He used to ride out in 
a one horse buggy and always drove himself; and iixxn my recollection he 
seemed to me to be a great bookworm, and had but few of the neighbors as 
personal friends. 

June 7, 1901. 

Cheerfully although inadequately I make acknowledgment 
of the pictorial adjuncts. The likeness of Mr. Greenleaf (the 
frontispiece) is a reproduction of the portrait dated 1795 by 
Gilbert Stuart and that of Mr. Morris from the portrait of same 
date by Charles Wilson Peale; both paintings are of the perma- 
nent collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and 
it is through the courtesy of the Academy that the reproduc- 
tions are had. The old photograph from which Mr. Green- 
leafs Washington home appears is the property of Mr. Randolph 
D. Hopkins of this city and it is fortunate he has cherished the 
place of his birth. And I should include in my catalogue of 
appreciation the kindness of Mr. J. Marx Etting of Philadelphia 
for copies of letters to Greenleaf: These pages primarily are 
compiled from chancery causes which and the tax records are 
broken and confused; explanations and references noted in 
lead pencil have saved oversights and weary hours ; the notings 
mark thoughtfulness and unselfishness and are in one hand- 
writing that of Mr. Daniel O'C. Callaghan of the Washington 

The pen has been heavy nevertheless the tale is told. I lay 
it aside with the assurance that this attempt is not to be criticized 
by a 

Guping and censorious world * 

but indulgently received by a limited circle. Greenleaf s life 
is biographical history; a chapter of primitive Washington. 
Poverty of personal incident I have not endeavored to equate 
by elaboration. Numerous letters have been incorporated and 
I think they recompense the space. If others think differently 
I shall be excused upon the plea that not a third part at com- 

* Exprenion b borrowed from the preface of a work by Rev. Stephen Bloomer Belch, 179a ; 
ihtJSrsi author of the DIttrlct of Columbia. 

315— — APTBtDAYS 

mand is used. Preconceived notions of Greenleaf have proven 
false by research. These discoveries have disconcerted the 
movement of the narration. At this point I was for the nonce 
to evoke the genius of the English novelist to pathetically and 
harrowingly recite the woes of the litigant. By steps trace 
confidence to doubt, doubt to dread and dread to despair. 
Greenleaf had that within which withstood the crush of defeat; 

Eternal sunshine in the stonns of life 

that reflected in kindly eye and buoyant spirit. 

He was of Huguenot mold and would not renounce his pur- 
pose not that he was always right for in him was too much 
the man to be that. Self-assertion is not synonymous selfish- 
ness ; it is strength of the moral forces. His persistency was 
not supported by insensibility. Sensitive through culture and 
refinement he was more acutely hurt by the arrows of misfor- 
tune and that he sustained cheerfulness and kindliness marks a 
noble character — beautiful and brave. 

Beyond the turmoils of life there is rest in the activities of a 
higher sphere, let us have an abiding faith. 


THAT research which embraces the biographies of the 
original owners and the initiatory investors is not only 
interesting but important. The original proprietors and 
earJy speculators of the Federal City were men, unexceptionally 
of strong mentality and striliing traits; their faith exceeded the 
scriptural mustard seed, and their financiering eclipsed every- 
thing before and has its only parallel in the Mississippi System. 
John Law and Thomas Law were not of the same kindred; 
however, there is similarity in their careers. Both heavily 
speculated on phenomenal appreciation on the new world, 
both swayed multitudes, both rose to affluence, both died in 
comparative indigence. 

The //emo sketches, a series entitled IVashin^tcn Rambles, 
dealing with the pioneers and promoters of the Capital City, 
appeared weekly seventeen years since in a local newspaper. 
It is the only comprehensive array yet undertaken. Remark- 
ably racy and readable are these articles and their news sur- 
prising and startling. Perhaps the new incidents are necessary 
to sustain the spicy style; surely they moved the descendants 
to denial and dissent. The author has my acknowledgment 
of pleasure in VII Ramble, with its flippant headline The 
Elegant Tom Law — Warren Nasting's Secretary — All the 
Way from India. It is Dryden's sentiment that like straws 
errors float on the surface and they who seek pearls should 
dive below. Had Nemo had the industry to investigate, truth 
and not error would have, and more strongly, held the readerl. 
There is change and charm, strange and true, in Law's life and' 
the mask and make up of falsity add not a whit to the char- 
acter. I have read several sketches with the title Thomas Law 
which can be classified either as biography or (iction being a 
jumble of fiict and falsity. I shall without aid of authorcraft 

MDU 290 

attempt an authentic account; I propose to present that only 
which has unimpeachable verification. 

Right Reverend Edmund Law, D. D., Lord Bishop of Car- 
lisle, was born June 6, 1703, in the parish of Cartmel in Lanca- 
shire; the son of a curate of the same name. His religious 
writings in zealous trend of religious freedom excited contro- 
versial discussion. Theory of Religion underwent numerous 
editions ; its central idea is that humanity in divine education 
advances as it progresses in all other knowledge. He was 
promoted to the bishopric, 1768. He married Mary, daughter 
of John Christian of Ewanrige or Unerigg in Cumberland ; she 
predeceased him, 1772. He died at Rose Castle, August 14, 
1787, and is buried at the Cathedral of Carlisle. His bible in- 
terleaved with manuscript notes is preserved at the British 
Museum. He was the patron of Dr. William Paley who dedi- 
cated his works to him. Dr. Paley in his biography of Bishop 
Law describes him : 

A man of great softness of manners, and of the mfldest and most tranquil 
disposition. His voice was never raised above its ordinary pitch. His counte- 
nance seemed never to be ruffled. 

The Bishop's portrait was three times painted by Romney : 
A census of the children of Edward and Mary Law is an 

even dozen; another census ''a baker's dozen." Of them, 

are these : 

I. Edmund, died in early manhood. 

II. John, b. 1745. 

d, March 18, 18 10 in Dublin. 

III. Evan, b, 1746 

tn. Henrietta Sarah, dau. Dr. William Markham, Archbishop of York, 

June 28, 1784. 
d, April 29, 1829 at Horstead Park, England. 

IV. Edward, b, November 16. 1750 at Great Salkeld 

m. Anne, dau. Capt George Phillips Towry, October 17, 1789. 
d. December 13, 1818 St James Square, London. 

VI. Thomas, » » » 

VII. George Henry, b, September 12, 1761 at Peterhouse Lodge, dmbridge. 

Iff. Jane dau. James Whorwood Adeane, M. P. 
d, September 22, 1845. 

VIII. Mary m. Rev. James Stephen Lushington 

IX. Joanna m. Sir Thomas Rumbold, May 2, 1772. 

John Law was a graduate of Christ's College, Cambridge, 
and there he and Dr. William Paley, also a graduate, were co- 

331 mou 

adjutors in tuition, which union of ability gave that institution 
high fame. In 1782 he was advanced to the see of Clonfert. 
Dr. Paley, his successor in archdeaconry, accompanied him to 
Ireland and preached the consecration sermon. In 1787 Bishop 
Law was translated to the see of Killala and in 1795 to that of 
Thomas Law commends : 

My good brother, the Irish Bishop, the most learned of our fiunily. 

Ewan Law devoted the prime of life to service in India; a 
service of high trust and great credit. It was upon his return 
he married the daughter of the Archbishop. He was a mem- 
ber of Parliament from 1790 to 1802, returned from Westbury, 
Wiltshire, and Newtown, Isle of Wight. He attained nearly 
four score and five. He lived in elegant hospitality and died 
possessed of a large estate to be inherited by numerous 

Edward Law of the brothers is of most fame. Edward and 
Thomas were antagonistic and antithetic. In contrast were 
physique, manner, trait, character and idea; perhaps were the 
same dissimilarities between Edward and the other brothers. 
He in his thirty-seventh year was the leading counsel for the 
defendant in the Warren Hastings' trial and had as opponents 
that galaxy of luminaries of law and letters, Burke, Fox, Fran- 
cis, Grey and Sheridan. The English literature is enriched with 
the brilliant efforts of these advocates in the most memorable 
trial. Law's signal triumph resulted in his selection as Attor- 
ney General in 1801 and the honor of knighthood. In the fol- 
lowing year he was made Lord Chief Justice and elevated to 
the peerage as Baron Ellenborough of Ellenborough, county of 
Cumberland; a title derived from the ancient patrimony of his 
grandmother's family. He was Speaker of the House of Lords, 
1804. Upon his most honorable preferment and upon warrant 
of magnificent emolument he exchanged residence from 
Bloomsburg Square to St. James Square.* To an old lawyer 

*No. 3 St. faniM S<iuare was the rtsld«io« of the Doln of Ltedt. 

When the Diik* of Lcedi thall married be 
To a fiiir youiur lady of high quality. 
How happy will that geotlewoman he 
In hb grace of Lccda' good company I 
She shall have aU that's fine and fitir. 
And the best of silk and satin shall wear ; 
And ride In a coach to take the air. 
And have a honee la St IanMS*i Sqoart. 

MDU 292 

who lived in Chancery Lane he boasted his mansion's magni- 

Sir, if you let off a piece of ordnance in the hall, the report is not heard in 
the bed rooms. 

The Lord Chief Justice of England in judicial attire, wig and 
ermined robes encircled by the insignia chain, is upon canvas 
by Sir Thomas Lawrence and is also painted by Romney. 

The Right Honorable Lord Ellenborough had great legal store 
and mental vigor. He was of hasty temper, of intense preju- 
dice, of unmovable opinion, and intolerant of the exercise of 
contradiction and contrary views. On the bench his judgment 
was moved by political and religious bias, and his justice untem- 
pered with mercy and by browbeating trammeled the free pre- 
rogative of the jury. In the forum his language if within the 
limit of the parliamentary was pungent. His intention had 
integrity is admitted. As a speaker he convinced by force and 
not by charm. His eyes were dark, his brows shaggy, his 
features strong, his gait ungainly, his manners awkward, his 
accent provincial and these peculiarities made him the mark for 
mimicry even for the delectation of royalty.* 

George Henry Law, as did his brothers, John and Edward, 
in his scholastic course, won the honors of second wrangler 
and senior chancellor's medallist. To the influence of the Lord 
Chief Justice and the greater, of the Prince Regent, he was 
nominated Bishop of Chester, 1812. To the bishopric of Bath 
and Wells he was translated in 1824.! He was prone to print 
his preaching. He describes himself: 

A friend of dvil and religious liberty; 

and Sir Egerton Brydes describes him : 

A milder man and possessing better talents than his brother Lord Ellenborough. 

* The inimitJibte imitation bv the actor, Chaiiet Mathews, the elder, was repeated upon request 
at the Charlton House for the Prince R^ent 

t Of Bishop Law's predecessor. Bishop John Still (1543-1608) his student, Sir John Haringtoa 
acknowledges *' some helps, more nope%, all encouragementa in my beat studies : to whom I never 
came but I grew more religious, and from whom I never went but 1 parted better instrticted * ^ * 
His breeding was from his childhood in good literature and partly in musiqus * * * I hold him 
a rare man for preaching, for arguing, for learning, for lyvlng : I could only wish that In aU these 
he would make lease use of logique and more of rnetoricke." Marry, the Bishop was a rare roan 
for lyvinff and though Bishop of Balk and tVeUs, he had no partiaaty for water but pndaes to ye 
cup of Jolly good ale in rhytlim : 

"A stoup of sle, then, cannot fiiil 
To cneer both heart and soul; 
It hath a charm and without harm 
Can make a lame man whole. 

For he who thinks, and water drinks, 

Is ntYtt worth a dump : 
Then fin your cup, and drink It 
*May ht be made a pumpl* '* 



James Stephen Lushington of Rodmersham, Kent, did not 
reach the ecclesiastical dignity of his wife's brothers; the 
encyclopaedia records he was prebendary of Carlisle and vicar 
of New Castle-on-Tyne, and of Latton, Essex. 

Thomas Rumbold was born June 15, 1736. Entered the 
East India Company's service as writer, 1752. Shortly after 
exchanged civil for military duty. Was chief of Patna, 1763, 
and member of Bengal Council, 1766 to 1769; member of Par- 
liament, 1770. Succeeded to the governorship of the Madras 
presidency, 1777, and as an appreciation of military manoeuvre 
the crown conferred a baronetcy, 1779. Returned in 1780 to 
England and from 1784 to 1790 represented Weymouth in 
Parliament. His second wife was Joanna Law; and it was 
upon his suggestion her brother, Edward, was selected senior 
council by the former Governor-General of British India. Sir 
Thomas died November 11, 1791. 

The Rt. Rev. Edmund Law wished all his sons consecrated 
to the church. His wish approached gratification. John and 
George Henry were bishops and Ewan was the son-in-law of 
an archbishop. His daughter, Mary, responded as nearly as 
she might and married a divine. Bishop of Bath and Wells 
had three sons, all divines. 

Thomas Law, the sixth son, was born October 23, 1756, at 
Cambridge and christened at Little St. Mary's, Cambridge. 
Concurrence of every advantage presaging good fortune had 
he in his birth. Culture the family had, and that concurrent 
essential to contentment, wealth. In his will, dated 1832, 
says: "Happily my relations are above aid from me." I think 
he had in mind his nephew in England, Edward, first Earl of 
Ellenborough, who then, in a life position, clerk of the Queen's 
bench, drew annually £7,000, A rich office without work 
seems conducive to longevity, as the Earl did not succumb 
until he had drawn ;^40o,ooo. 

It has been in print that Law was the private secretary of 
Lord Hastings, that in this capacity he was peculiarly qualified 
to know and to testify of his chief's methods. That the King 
summoned him to speedily appear at the trial in England. 
That Law forthwith in compliance with the royal mandate 
converted his assets into cash and packed his belongings into 
his trunks. That suddenly he detected his system had been 
impaired by India's torrid rays and he decided America was 

IVDU— — 214 

the haven of health, likewise an escape from his benefactor's 
betrayal. Or, that by some mental twist he thought the 
King's subpoena to come to England was an invitation to go 
to America. 

The rise of this fiction is the publication, TTie Stranger in 
America — Charles WiUiam /anson, 1807, wherein it is made 
to appear : 

Early in life Mr. Law went to the East Indies under the patronage of Mr. 
Hastings, obtained through the interest of the bishop. Mr. Law returned to 
Europe with, or soon after, his patron. During the trial it was thought advisable 
that the subject of these anecdotes should retire to America. 

This publication by the wanderer, Janson, is consistent 
throughout. Its grain of truth never exceeds the proportion 
of an ounce to sixteen although the ounce is sometimes scant. 
When Master Law went to India none of his family had yet 
been honored with bishopric. His elder brother was then an 
official in India and he may have been the medium of his 
employment. Lord Hastings embarked for England in 1785; 
the preliminaries of the impeachment began 1786, the trial, 
February, 1788; the prosecution must have closed February, 
1792, as at that date the defense opened. I can state with 
confidence that Law was not secretary to Lord Hastings nor 
connected with him in any confidential capacity. Law's 
narratives of his career in India make only one mention of 
Hastings, and that casual. Law went directly to England and 
engaged in a treatise on India. In the preface he says: '' In 
1791 sickness compelled me to relinquish my station and since 
my arrival in England," &c. A copy is lodged in the Library 
of Congress ; its title page reads : A Sketch of Some Late 
Arrangements and a View of the Rising Resources in Bengal. 
By Thomas Law, Late a Member of the Council of Reve- 
nue in Fort William. London ^ fohn Stockdale^ Piccadilly^ 
MDCCXCIL The book has marginal lead pencil notes ex- 
planatory of the Indian terms in the author's handwriting. 

Mr. Law was defamed and derided in his lifetime. Sneers 
and slanders contained in a criticism of Faux's Memorable Days 
in America called forth A Reply to Certain Insinuations Pub- 
lished as an Article in the Fifty-eighth Number of the Quarterly 
Review, by Thomas Law, Washington, 1824. To this publi- 
cation I owe specially account of Mr. Law's life in India. 

225 W*><A 

From motives prompted by patriotism and local pride the 
sympathies will be with Mr. Law in the controversy when it 
appears The Review applauds and amplifies such comments as: 

Fools must not come, for Americans are naturally cold, jealous, suspicious and 
knavish, have little or no sense of honor, believing every man a rogue until they 
see the contrary. 

There is, indeed, a something in a real upright and downright honest John Bull 
that cannot be found in the sly, say-nothiug, smiling, deep-speculating, money- 
hunting Jonathans of this aU-men-are-bom-equally-free-and-independent, negro- 
driving, cow-skin republic 

There b a national church liturgy in England, and if ever there should be one 
adopted here the following, I think, ought to form part of it: 

Money, money is all our cry. 

Money the total sum! 
Give us money or else we die; 

O let thy money come. 

The (Washington) streets are a mile or two in length, with houses a quarter of 
a mile apart, beautified by trees and swamps and cows grazing between. At 
first view, a stranger might suppose that some convulsion of nature had swept 
away whole streets and laid waste the iar-famed metropolitan dty. 

All the bogs and swamps in and round the dty are full of melody, from the 
big bellowing bullfrog, down to the little singing mosquito; while rotten car- 
casses and other nuisances perfume the warm southern breeze. 

The prefatory paragraph of Law's reply, I in part quote : 

An accumulation of domestic affliction that I had suffered, aggravated by the 
common casualties of Ufe, inddent to its decline had shaken the fi'ame of my 
constitution. Weary, therefore, of the cares and bustle of busy sodety, yet 
ndther unsolidtous nor unoccupied for its welfare, I had sometime since retted 
from the city into the country. In such retirement one of my first employments 
was to select from a mass of written documents a few letters and communications 
on public affairs during my residence in India, which afforded evidence of what 
I did in that country. These memoranda, thus brought together, I had packeted, 
indulging a natural desire that after my death an only surviving son might peruse 
them with gratifying tenderness. It is the privil^e of a sufferer to complain, and 
whenever a character is assailed it may be fidrly and firmly sustained without 
involving its advocate in the imputation of vanity and arrogance. To vindicate 
aspered merit or insulted integrity is a duty that I owe both to the dead and the 
living, and, in the discharge of it, I shall not, I trust, however exdted by aggres- 
sion, at once unprovoked and unprindpled, forget to exercise that mild spiiit of 
Christian forbearance and charity which the best of fathers so well remembered 
taught both by precept and example. Under such peculiar circumstances egotism 
will not, I trust, be imputed to me, if, when driven by slander into refutations of 
it — by statements of opposite complexion — I prematurely publish testimonialsy 
which otherwise, delicacy might have prevented me from causing to be circulated 
in my liietime* 

INDIA— 396 

Tke Review thus speaks of Law's conduct and character: 

This gentleman accumuUted (it is not said by what means) an immense for- 
tune in India, where by his own account he was a most important personage: 
'* Why, Sir, I once, with Lord G>mwaUis, governed India. Ego ei rex mens. ** 
He talks with the greatest composure of having carried away an hundred 
thousand guineas. 

Mr. Law says: 

I arrived in Bengal at the age of seventeen, in the capacity of writer, an office 
which is introductory to employment in the civil service of the East India Com- 
pany. After serving the usual term of novidate in this station I successively 
passed through the various grades of promotion until I was chosen member of 
the Revenue Board at Hoagley. 1 was next appointed judge of Patna; but this 
office, after liolding it for a short time, I thought proper to resign. At the age 
of twenty-seven I attained promotion to the collectorship of Bahar. Shortly 
afterwards the number of these collectors was curtailed; and inasmuch as I had 
been the last collector appointed, I had good reason to expect that my office 
would be abolished. Government, however, for causes publicly assigned, 
chose to retain me. 

The office of collector, in which, at this early age, I was retained, was cer- 
tainly of a more responsible and important nature than the name would indicate, 
since with the fiscal duties of a revenue officer was blended in cases both dvil and 
criminal the judidal and executive functions of chief magistrate; and this, too, 
over a district containing more than two million souls. 

Gya, the capital of Bahar, was venerated by the Hindoos as 
is Mecca by the Mahometans. Pilgrims had formerly resorted 
to it from all parts of India, but onerous exactions deterred 
them from fulfilling this religious usage. A moderation of the 
tax through Law's persuasion so increased the number of pil- 
grims the revenues realized were even larger, for which he 
received congratulatory and compensatory recognition from 
the Board of Control at London. 

So popular was Law's administration upon his retirement he 
received at Calcutta a letter dated July 12, 1790, enclosing this 


The best Judge and l>eneficent Magistrate, Mr. Thomas Law, who during six 
years presided over the district of Bahar, having in his excellent administration 
displayed the most laudable qualities, and performed the most praiseworthy 
actions; having studied the welfare of all ranks of people, distinguishing the 
liberal and noble, rendering justice to the oppressed, and cherishing the afflicted; 
giving ease and satisfaction to all; shewing natural goodness and acquired 
virtues in his conduct, to the high and to the low, to the rich and to the poor; 
treating all with kindness, and receiving from all a good name, whereby the 

227 WWA 

happiness of the people and the prosperity of the country were promoted: We 
therefore, with one voice, and one mind, of our free will and accord, make the 
following declaration : That we, all of us, are, in every respect, satisfied with, 
and grateful to, the gentleman above mentioned, and that we regard his admin- 
istration as a blessing to us. Now it happens that this gentleman is about to 
quit our district, and we are, one and all, in the greatest degree afflicted ; we 
are impressed with the deepest concern on this account, and having our hands 
lifted up to the Deity, in prayer for his life, prosperity and exaltation ; may the 
Almighty God accept our prayers, advance him to the highest dignities, and 
bless him with every enjoyment worldly and heavenly 1 

Mr. Law yielded to the entreaties of Marquis Cornwallis, the 
Governor-General, although in declining health, to serve on 
the Revenue Board. This service was short as his physician 
insisted he must at once embark from Calcutta, which he did, 
January 25, 1791. 

Mr. Law's hobby was the institution of the Mocurrery land 

In January, 1788, when collector of Bahar, he submitted to the Board of 
Revenue at Fort William his plan for a mocurrery or fixed settlement of the land 
tax and an abolition of all internal impositions, he hoped to insure security of 
property in Bengal, Bahar and Benares. The system was embodied in the Com- 
wallis settlement in 1789.* 

His arguments therefor given in the work on Bengal show a 
knowledge on Indian affairs and a grasp of policy, generally, 
which can only adequately be characterized by such descrip- 
tions as: complete, consummate. 

Shortly after Mr. Law's return to England, the Board of 

Control adopted his plan. That he is entitled to the sole credit 

for its establishment these letters indicate: 

14th April, 1794. 
Dear Law: 

I read your letter yesterday with concern. But if your resolution is taken it 

will be needless for me to expostulate. You may be assured that I shall never 

cease to acknowledge with gratitude the lights that I have received from you 

respecting the Mocurrery system and permanent settlement; and that you will 

always possess a great share of my r^ard and esteem. 

Your most fiuthiul iKend, 


28th March, 1796. 
* * * I shall ever with gratitude acknowledge you as the founder. 


William Duane, the editor of The Aurora, who figures 
prominently in the early history of the city, was in India at 

^ Gordon Goodwin In Dicdooaiy of Natioiial Biography, London, 1893. 

INDIA 228 

the time of Law's departure and an eye-witness of the effects 
of the new land system. He writes : 

We have known Mr. Law now more than thirty years. We knew him when 
he was inferior to no man in eminence and in power, the third or fourth in degree 
in a great empire; and thb was at a time, too, when, by hb own generous efforts, 
pursued with zeal and talent that commanded general admiration and esteem, he 
brought about a revolution, the influence of which now extends to one hundred 
and twenty millions of people, as great in its moral and political influence as the 
extinction of the feudal system. In Hindostan, in the Mogul government, the 
tenure of land was in the emperor, and reverted upon the demise of the holder. 
The afflictions produced by such a system cannot be conceived by those who 
have not been eye-witnesses of them. Upon the death of a zemindar, or land 
holder, where polygamy prevails, and the children and females are numerous, 
the death of the head of a famfly, where no provision has been otherwise made, 
cannot be well imagined. Mr. Law, who held the government of a rich and 
populous province, under the Bengal administration^ proposed what had been 
called the Mocurrery system, that is, to make land personal property, and not to 
revert to the sovereign. This plan, pursued through several years of zeal and 
devotion to humanity, he accomplished. The Norman conquest, the revolution 
in England of 1688, were great events, and they mark epochs in history, and are 
treated as such; while Mr. Law's revolution without bloodshed eventually 
changed the whole moral and social condition of Hindostan, settled estates in 
possessors as personal property, and put an end to all the calamities which were 
consequent of the old system; yet the event is scarcely heard of; perhaps there 
are not three men in this country who ever heard of it yet 

So soon is disclosed Mr. Law's kindly nature and disposition 
to deeds of hospitality. 

Mbddenporb, March. 
Dear Sir, — I cannot leave this part of the country, which is so happy under 
your care, without thanking you for myself and the party for the very great 
kindness and hospitality which you showed us, and for the pleasure of a higher 
nature for which we are indebted to you. Since we parted with you we have 
not rode a step without perceiving the l>eneficial effects which your wise as 
well as humane treatment of the peasants has produced in the country; large 
tracts, evidently newly rescued from the desert jungles, converted into comfields, 
houses, villages everywhere rising, and, above all, happy faces. I have often 
thought when riding formerly through different parts of India, that the poor 
people said in their hearts, '* There goes one of our t3a'ants, there is our oppressor, 
or the supporter of our oppressors;" a different idea has lately pleased me. I 
have imagined that ryots called out to their children, '' There b a countryman of 
our father, our benefactor," etc. 


The editors of the Intelligencer between whom and Law 
was close relationship, state that because of his beneficent 
administration he received the enviable appellation — "Father 
of the People." 

229 WDU 

That accomplished man, learned lawyer and excellent 
scholar, Sir William Jones, whom Dr. Johnson styled "The 
most enlighten'd of the sons of men," was an intimate of Mr. 
Law, in India, and presented him with a mourning ring. To 
Mr. Law, Lord Cornwallis gave his miniature, a memorial of 
friendship, a remembrance of by-past association. 

In London Mr. Law became a member of the Asiatic Society 
of Bengal and the Association for Preserving Liberty and Prop- 
erty. Of the latter he was a committeeman; disapproval of 
procedure elicited from him a lengthy letter to the chairman 
which he published in the Morning Chronicle^ January 24, 
i793» and in pamphlet form. Besides this publication are: 

1. Letters to the Board submitting by their requisition a Revenue Plan 
for Perpetuity^ 4to. Calcutta, 1798, to which is appended Public Corre* 
spondence elucidating the Plan^ in answer to questions thereon, 

2. A Sketch of some late Arrangements and a View 0/ the rising Re- 
sources in Bengal, Svo. London, 1792. This publication, an enlarged edition 
of No. I, was severely criticised by a colleague, Nield, in Summary Remarks 
on the Resources of the East Indies, By a Civil Servant, 8vo. 
London, 1798. 

3. An Answer to Mr, Pnnseps*s Observations on the Mocurrery System^ 
Svo. London, 1794. John Prinsep under signature Gurrub Doss in a 
series of letters in the Morning Chronicle, 1792, and separately published, 
attacked the system. 

It has been published that Mr. Law was led to come to the 
young republic by his enthusiasm for free institutions and his 
admiration for General Washington. However, the real motives 
he has himself given.* Ten thousand pounds, one-fifth of 
the fortune acquired in India, were arrested in his attorney's 
hands by the company's government to satisfy its claim against 
a paymaster for whom he was surety. Law insisted that the 
principal being financially responsible should have been com- 
pelled to pay. This injustice, together with disapprobation of 
the war with France determined his departure. Mr. Law insti- 
tuted suit for restitution against the East India Company, which, 
when he was a resident of the United States, July 24, 1799, was 
decided in his favor. Reported in 4 Vesey, 824. 

In Mr. Law's party were his three Indian sons, George, John 
and Edmund, and with him at least one Englishman concerned 
in East India traffic. 

August, 1794, Mr. Law set foot on the American shore. 

^ A Reply to Certain Insinuations, 



*. t 



\ i 


AT Abingdon, the 21st August, 1776, came to John Parke 
and Eleanor Custis their first born and they named her 
Elizabeth Parke. 

Benedict Calvert, fourth Lord Baltimore, was the father of 
Charles Calvert, sixth Lord Baltimore, and he, of Benedict 
Calvert of Mt. Airy, Prince George's County, Maryland, and 
Benedict's second daughter was Eleanor. 

England had more attraction to Col. Daniel Parke than his 
broad estates in Virginia. He was the aid next to the heart 
of the Duke of Marlborough. The Duke fought the battle of 
Blenheim and Col. Parke was the herald of victory to Qiieen 
Anne. Thereafter Col. Parke arrayed himself in apparel of 
rich fabric and gorgeous shade wrought with figures of gold 
and bore on his bosom suspended by a scarlet ribbon the 
Qlieen's miniature set in diamonds by her bestowed with 
pounds sterling, a thousand, and the governorship of the Lee- 
ward Islands. Hon. John Custis, who was of the King's 
Council, Virginia, married the Colonel's daughter; and their 
son was Daniel Parke Custis. Martha Dandridge's first hus- 
band was Daniel Parke Custis, her second. Col. George Wash- 
ington. The only issue was by the first, a son and a daughter. 
The son, John Parke, was born at the White House on the 
Pamunkey River in New Kent County, in 1753. The daughter, 
Eleanor, died in her seventeenth year. 

The union of Custis and Calvert is by John Parke Custis and 
Eleanor Calvert. Col. Washington wrote to Mr. Calvert, 
April 3, 1773, commending the consummation of the nuptials 
at a time remote, or so seemed, to the views ol the lovers': 
And in spite of Washington's protest, the next year the youth- . 
ful couple were bride and groom, one sixteen, the other 


nineteen. To them was born four children, Elizabeth Parke, 
Martha Parke, December 31, 1777, Eleanor Parke, March 21, 
1779, and George Washington Parke, April 30, 1781. The 
girls were familiarly called Betcy, Patcy and Nelly. The 
family lived at Mt. Vernon, after at Abingdon. The father 
died in the twenty-eighth year, November 5, 1781, at Eltham, 
the seat of his maternal uncle. The widow married Dr. David 
Stuart, the autumn of 1783; she had seven Stuart children; and 
died April 28, 181 1. 

Elizabeth's girlish prettiness promised womanly perfection. 
The artist, Robert Edge Pine, a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
at Mt. Vernon, May, 1785, in Elizabeth's ninth year portrayed 
her half-length in accurate drawing and exquisite blending.* 
One who saw the portrait describes it: 

Elizabeth is represented as a beautiful girl, with rich brown hair lying in 
less curls, and in great profusion, upon her head and neck, her bosom covered 
with very light drapery, and having lying upon it the miniature of her father 
John Parke Custis, suspended by a ribbon around her neck. 

Elizabeth had expressed to General Washington that the 
dearest wish of her life was to have his portrait. She was then 
on the threshold of womanhood, living with her mother and 
stepfather at Hope Park. The General's letter is occasionally 
printed for the first time. Yet it will never be trite as cannot 
the psalms of the man of song or the proverbs of the man of 
wisdom. Its aptitude will always be the same as long as the 
story of love is ever becoming new. 

German Town, Sept 14th, 1794. 
My dear Betcy, 

Shall 1, in answer to your letter of the 7th instant say — when you are as near 
the Pinnacle as your sister Patcy conceives herself to be; or when your candour 
thrives more conspicuously than it does in that letter, that 1 will then comply 
with the request that you have made for my picture. 

No; 1 will grant it without either, for if the latter was to be a preliminary, it 
would be sometime, 1 apprehend, before that picture would be found pendant at 
your breast; it not being within the bounds of probability that the contempla- 
tion of an inanimate thing, whatever might be the reflections arising from the 
possession of it, can be the only wish of your heart 

Respect may place it among the desirable objects of it, but there are emotions 
of a softer kind, to which the heart of a girl turned of eighteen is susceptible, 
that must have created much warmer ideas, although fruition of them may ap- 
parently be more distant than those of your sbter. 

^ Reproduced. The Home of Wathlngton end Its Aesocbtione.— JBmjMi y. LMsimg, 


Having (by way of a hint) delivered a sentiment to Patty, which may be 
useful to her (if it be remembered after the change that is contemplated is con- 
summated), I will suggest another more applicable to yourself 

Do not then, in your contemplation of the marriage state, look for perfect 
felicity before you consent to wed — nor conceive from the fine tales the poets 
and lovers of old have told us of the transports of mutual love, that heaven has 
taken its abode on earth. Nor do not deceive yourself in supposing that the 
only means by which these are to be obtained is to drink deep of the cup and 
revel in an ocean of love. Love is a mighty pretty thing ; but like all other de- 
licious things, it is cloying, and when the first transports of the passion begins to 
subside, which it assuredly will do, and yield — oftentimes too late — to more 
sober reflections, it serves to evince that love is too dainty a food to live upon 
alone and ought not to be considered further than a necessary ingredient for that 
matrimonial happiness which results from a combination of causes — none of 
which are of greater importance than that the object on whom it is placed should 
possess good sense, good disposition and the means of supporting you in the 
way you have been brought up. Such qualifications can not fail to attract (after 
marriage) your esteem and regard, into which or into disgust, sooner or later, 
love naturally resolves itself— and, who, at the same time, has a claim to the 
esteem of the circle he moves in. Without these, whatever may be your first 
impression of the man, they will end in disappointment, for be assured, and ex- 
perience will convince you, that there is no truth more certain than that all our 
enjoyments fall short of our expectations, and to none does this apply with more 
force than to the gratification of the passions. 

You may believe me to be always and sincerely, 

Your affectionate 

To Miss Betcy CusTis 

Senator Iredell to Mrs. Iredell from Philadelphia, March 30, 
1795, writes: 

I dined yesterday with the President. He was in fine health and spirits, and 
so were Mrs. Washington and the whole family. There is now there an elderly 
sister of Miss Custis not so handsome as herself, but she seems to be very 

There is the beauty of the blushing rose, the humble violet, 
the mournful myrtle, the pale primrose, the azured harebell, 
the gaudy marigold, the golden buttercup, the snowy lily, the 
spicy carnation, the shapely daffodil, the stately golden rod, 
the bold sunflower, the regal hollyhock, the trailing arbutus, 
the precious orchid, the wilding of the field, the darling of the 
conservatory; there are beauties as numerous as the stars of 
the firmament, varying not in degree but in type and what 
the Senator means is that the bewitching Nelly more nearly 
than her sister accords with his ideal of feminine beauty. 
However Elizabeth was in Philadelphia March, 1795. 


In 1794 Thomas Law appeared. He rented a mansion on 
Broadway, New York, not so far from the Battery. Tom Law, 
only thirty- seven, the scion of British aristocracy, a Lord of 
India, bright in speech, elegant in manner, intellectually hand- 
some, and a plethoric purse withal 1 Can it be imagined he 
was unnoticed? How the dames with eligible daughters, 
covetous of their worldly welfare, must have manoeuvred, and 
how the belles looked beautiful and tried to do it unconsciously. 

Mr. Law becomes acquainted with iht Jirsi speculator. He 
is inoculated with speculative fever. He makes an optional 
contract of purchase. He says : 

I shall certainly go to Washington Gty & my heart & mind are full of it — 
You may say that I had rather sell my horses or books or any thing rather 
than part with a foot at present of Washington Gty — 

He arrives in the Federal City, February 23, 1795. His 
enthusiasm expands. He hastens to Philadelphia to confirm 
the option. He is in Philadelphia, March loth, and in Wash- 
ington, again, the 29th. 

When did Miss Custis and Mr. Law first meet? Say you, 
March, 1795, and about the 15th? If so, I shall not con- 
tradict. It was a case of ** two lutes in one key." The touch 
of love mayhap prompted the gallant Law the sentiment to 
confess, when I beheld your beauteous face a sweet emotion 
did agitate me ; and she, when your eyes met mine I felt a 
strange exhilaration. 

Early in 1796 the engagement of Thomas Law and Eliza 
Parke Custis was announced, and March 21st, that year, the 
marriage was celebrated. What an auspicious union! Miss 
Custis, a descendant of Lord Baltimore, a granddaugher of 
Mrs. Washington, wife of the first President — to Tom Law, 
paragon of manly perfection. 

Thomas Law Esq" Phil^ 20 March 1796 

Dear Sir 
Tomorrow is the day when you are to be made one of the happiest 
mortals now living — You have my sincere wishes that every Blefsing may attend 
you and your Bride through long life, fo that when the Course of Nature calls 
you from the enjoyments of this world to those of a better you may depart 
without sigh or regret — Mn & Mifs Morris join in Congratulations and good 
Wishes as indeed do all my Family — 

I am Sincerely Yours 



President Washington to Miss Eleanor Parke Custis. 

This day according to our information, gives a husband to your elder sister, 
and consummates, it is to be presumed, her fondest desires. The dawn with 
us is bright, and propitious, I hope, of her happiness, for a full measure of which 
she and Mr. Law have my earnest wishes. Compliments and congratulations 
on this occasion, and best regards are presented to your mamma, Dr. Stuart and 
family; and every blessing, among which a good husband when you want and 
deserve one, is bestowed on you by yours, affectionately. 

The wedding* was at the home of the stepfather, Dr. Daniel 
Stuart, Hope Park, five miles northwest of Fairfax Court House. 
The bride and groom were of age nineteen and thirty-nine 
respectively. Dr. Stuart was of the first board of Commis- 
sioners for the Federal City, appointed January 22, 1791 ; he 
served three years. 

A marriage settlement, technically termed an indenture tripar- 
tite, was executed March 19, 1796, between Thomas Law, 
Elizabeth Parke Custis, and as trustee, James Barry. Other 
indentures tripartite. May 8, 1800, and July 17, 1802, were 
executed between Mr. and Mrs. Law and their brother-in-law, 
Thomas Peter, substituted trustee, substantially the same as 
the original. 

Straightway Mr. Law leased from Mr. Cranch his most pre- 
tentious mansion for the time he thought his own on New 
Jersey Avenue would be in construction. Within the honey- 
month Mr. Twining was a guest. Some of the references to 
** nabob" Law in Travels in America 100 Years Ago^ are 
quoted to indicate his cordiality, manner of life, and enthusiasm 
in the American venture. 

Baltimore, 1796. I had not long returned to my own room after break&st 
this morning before 1 was told that a gentleman had called upon me and was wait- 
ing in the passage below. When I was within a few steps of the bottom of the 
stairs, a gentleman advanced hastily to meet me, and taking me warmly by the 
hand, said : '* I am sure you are Mr. Thomas Twining, you are so like your 
fether." This unceremonious stranger was Mr. Law, just arrived from Washing- 
ton. I took him into a parlor on the ground floor and there we had a long con- 
versation about India, where he still had many friends. 

a5th. April. Mr. and Mrs. Law set out in their chariot and four horses for 
Washington. I had not seen such an equipage in America. They invited me to 
accompany them, but besides my unwillingness to add to their inconvenience on 
the bad roads they had to travel, I had some engagements which prevented my 
leaving Baltimore until the next day. 

* On the 20th Instant at the teat of David Stuart, Eaq., Thomas Law, younfeat son of tha 
bte Bishop of Carlisle, to Miss CustliL granddaughter of the Lady of the President of the United 
SUAtB.^ ClaypooWi Amtrican Daily AdvernuTt PMiadelphia, March a8| 1796. 

MAtKlAd 258 

aTth. Mr. Law sent a servant to Georgetown with my horse, with <firectioiis 
to bring back my portmanteau. 

In the evening, Miss Westcott, of Philadelphia arrived. Though possesang 
a sort of celebrity for her talents and literary attainments, her manners were par- 
ticularly unaffected and agreeable. 

28th. Spent the day with Mr. Law's fiimily. Monsieur Talleyrand, Ex-Bbhop 
of Autun, whom the hostility of parties in France had driven across the Atlantic 
was expected from Philadelphia, but much to my regret did not come. 

29th. Mr. and Mrs. Law took me in their carriage thb forenoon to introduce 
me to Mr. Lear and his fiimily, residing near Georgetown. 

Miss Custis, sister of Mrs. Law, arrived. A letter from Monsieur TaBeyrmd 
announced that he was under the necessity of deferring his visit 

50th. Today Mr. and Mrs. Law were so good as to make a party on my ac- 
count to Alexandria, which 1 had a desire to see, as one of the principal towns 
in Virginia. Accompanied by Miss Custb and Miss Westcott, we embarked in a 
large boat and were rowed down the Potomac. 

1st May. Although Mr. Law seemed satisfied with his new situation, having 
a companion with whom a man might be happy anywhere, I could not but be 
surprised at the plan of life he had chosen. The clearing of ground and buildfaig 
of small houses, amongst the woods of the Potomac, seemed an uncongenial 
occupation for a man of so accomplished a mind, and whose former habits and 
employment had been so different. As chief of a large district in Bengal he had 
been accustomed to the discharge of important official functions, and to the 
splendor and consequence of a prince. In England his funOy was opulent and 
distinguished. One brother was bishop of Carlisle, another was a barrister of the 
first eminence, and the successful defender of Mr. Warren Hastings against the 
political influence of Fox, the eloquence of Sheridan, and the virulence of Burlce. 
America, of all countries, seemed the least suited to the activity or leisure of such 
a person. Here almost everyone was engaged either in politics or speculative en- 
terprise. But as a foreigner, and particularly as an Englishman, Mr. Law could 
never possess any political weight in the country; and his inexperience in com- 
mercial affairs, amidst rivals so experienced and intelligent, might expose him to 
litigation and disappointment, and involve a considerable diminution of 
his fortune. One anticipation in which he indulged, with great confidence 
and satisfaction, was that other East-Indians would join him ; and he hoped, 1 
was sorry to see, that I might retum to Bengal with impressions tending to en- 
courage this migration. As we stood one evening on the bank of the river be- 
fore his door, he said : ** Here I will make a terrace, and we will sit and smoke 
our hookahs." 

To locate the site of Mr. Law's residence we have only 
to give heed to Mr. Twining's intelligent and circumstantial 
narration. Mr. Twining's journey horseback from the Capitol 
to Mr. Law's house through a wildnerness was generally in a 
southwest direction or on the line of Delaware avenue. Mr. 
Twining says: 

His house, built by himself, was only a few yards from the steep bank of the 
Potomac, and commanded a fine view across the river, here a half a mile wide. 



. /^/^(a^. .:« ■ 

1 .'! * * IV 

' --feuirf 

ffTwV--*-i*.=--- " ""^^^^^^B 

241 MAMtUQI 

* * * The position was at least favorable, being on a point of land between 
the Potomac and a tributary stream called "the eastern branch," thus offering a 
double water front. 


A little below the point on which Mr. Law's house stood, after the junction 
of the eastern branch, the river was nearly a mile in width. 

These descriptions identify the general location — Greenleaf 
Point and immediately north of the Arsenal grounds. The 
court, tax and state records indicate the exact location — ^square 
502. The mansion at the northeast corner of Sixth and N 
streets southwest is Mr. Law's first residence and where he 
entertained Mr. Twining. At that time the mansion was about 
fifty yards from the high bank of the Potomac* Twining 
says that it was built by Law, and that ''in the rear of the 
house" he " was building a street, consisting of much smaller 
houses than his own," referring, of course, to Union street. 
Twining surely mistook Morris and Nicholson's operations for 
those of Law. Law did not build the mansion, nor the small 
houses. In the chancery causes are schedules, in great particu- 
larity prepared by Law, of all his improvements. The syndi- 
cate, Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf owned the property. 
Law had a blanket mortgage covering it. Morris and Nicholson 
were the landlords. Law the tenant. On September 17, 1796, 
Morris and Nicholson write Law: "We willingly agree rent 
shall cease when you moved out and not continue either to 
the expiration of the time you took it for or when you delivered 
up the key." Upon the vacation of the mansion Mr. Cranch 
inserted an advertisement for sale or lease in The WashingUm 
Gazette^ September 7, 1796, which states among other attrac- 
tions that it is "Delightfully situated on the banks of the 
Potomak, at the corner made by N Street south and Sixth 
Street." Not many yards south of the mansion and where 
Mr. Law's party embarked for Alexandria was Morris arul. 
Nicholson's Wharf. It was a landing for the Alexandria and 
Georgetown packets, f 

June I3th 1797. 
Mn Morris joins me in thanks for your congratulations on my Son Roberts 
marriage he & his wife are in the Country emulating the happiness whkh you 

* Dermott'f Tin Gate Map, 1803. 

\Th^ Waihington (^omMt, ScpCaaibcr 6^ 1796. 


& Mn Law are in the enjoyment of, may you long continue in the same state of 
bliis, we all say & pray. 

The four B's essential to social success, ' ' blood, brains, brass, 
brads," had Mr. Law. However, his brass was the confidence 
of culture. His noble hospitality was the impulse of a generous 
heart ; too elevated in spirit was he to purchase social rank. 
His entertainments were of unrivalled splendor; their renowir 
was even beyond the bounds of the country ; no distinguished 
foreigner closed an itinerary without being a guest of Mr. Law 
at Washington. The recipients at that hospitable home were 
made to feel 

None came too early, none returned too late. 

As early as the summer of 1796 Mr. Law resided in his own 
house on New Jersey avenue on the west side, the northern of 
the row now reconstructed into the hotel, Varnum. At this 
residence, General and Mrs. Washington, so his diary states, 
frequently were guests. And, Mr. and Mrs. Law in the spring 
of i797> received Louis Philippe and his two brothers and en- 
tertained the Princes with a splendor befitting royalty. And 
in the summer of that year welcomed Mon. C. Volney, the 
French author and free-thinker. And made participants of 
their bounty, the next summer, the Polish Niemcewitz, com- 
panion of General Kossuth; and the next winter, the "expe- 
rienced farmer," Richard Parkinson. 

With the coach and four Mr. and Mrs. Law made journeys 
to Philadelphia, for Mr. Gallatin, 3d February, 1798, writes : 

We have a new acquisition in our fiunily, Mr. and Mrs. Law (she was, you 
know, Miss Custis), both very agreeable, and 1 feel quite rejoiced that there should 
be some female in our drde in order to soften our manners. 

Mrs. Law was not content with drawing-room conquest ; 
she was ambitious of statecraft through the diplomacy of her 
charming personality. 

Mr. Gallatin writes again to Mrs. Gallatin : 

a3d February, 1798. 
Do you want to know the foshionable news of the day ? The President of 
the United States has written, in answer to the managers of the ball in honor of 
G. Washington's birthday, that he took the earliest opportunity of informing that 
he declined going. The court is in a prodigious uproar about that important 
event. The ministers and their wives do not know how to act upon the occasion ; 


the friends of the old court say it b dreadful, a monstrous insult to the late President ; 
the officers and office-seekers try to apologize for Mr. Adams by insisting that he 
feek conscientious scruples against going to places of that description, but it b 
proven against him that he used to go when Vice-President. How they will finally 
settle it I do not know; but to come to my own share of the business. A most 
powerful battery was opened against me to induce me to go to the said ball ; it 
would be remarked ; it would look well ; it would show that we democrats, and 
I especially, felt no reluctance in showing my respect to the person of Mr. Wash- 
ington, but that our objections to levees and to birthday balls applied only to its 
being a Presidential, anti-republican establishment, and that we were only afraid 
of its being made a precedent ; and then it would mortify Mr. Adams and please 
Mr. Washington. All those arguments will appear very weak to you when on 
paper, but they were urged by a fine lady, by Mrs. Law, and when supported by 
her handsome black eyes they appeared very formidable. Yet I lesbted and came 
off conqueror, although 1 was, as a reward, to lead her in the room, to dance 
with her, Sec ; all which, by the by, were additional reasons for my staying at 
home. Our club has given me great credit for my firmness, and we have agreed 
that two or three of us who are accustomed to go to these places, Langdon, 
Brent, &c , will go this time to please the Law family. 

Upon the establishment of the government at Washington 
the social activities of the Laws redoubled. Mr. and Mrs. Law 
extended the gladsome hand to the distinguished representa- 
tives of government, foreign and home, and to the latter with- 
out distinction of political creed. Mr. Law was in touch with 
the leaders of the parties. He was the friend of Mr. Wolcott, 
the Secretary of Treasury in the Adams' administration, and 
none the less of his successor, Mr. Gallatin, in the Jefferson 
and Madison administrations. 

To Olivbr Wolcott, January i, i8oi. 

Dbar Sir, 

I return the pamphlet with many thanks for the perusal of it With heartfelt 
regret, 1 join with all the citizens of Washington in bidding you farewell, Mrs. 
Law unites with me in wishing you health and as much happiness as this life can 
afford. In most countries, those who leave the public treasury in a good state, 
have their own finances made flourishing also, but with you the fnens sibi 
conscia recti^* is the sole reward. 

I remain, with unfeigned esteem, respect, and regard, 


Mr. Wolcott informs Mrs. Wolcott, July 4, 1800, that *'Mr. 
Law and a few other gentlemen live in great splendor and the 
rest in same degree of squalor." The editor of Mr. Gallatin's 

*A mind conidoiM sf racthiidt. 


correspondence says the Laws were the leaders of fashionable 
society and it discloses sociability between the two families. 

Mr. and Mrs. Law had born to them two and Eliza survived 

The reproduction of the portrait of Mr. Law and of the St 
Menin likeness of Mrs. Law is through the courtesy of Mrs. 
Kirby Flower Smith, of Baltimore, a great grandchild of Mr. 
and Mrs. Law. The portrait is in England. St. Menin 
employed the term physiognotrace for his profiles. 



I wish to benefit myself by promoting the City. Barry is urgent — he wants to 
erect a store & to purchase grain & to build a ship — I mean to set up an 
agency house with him from East India commissions. 

CAPTAIN BARRY built his wharf and opposite Mr. 
Law exploited his hobby. The treatise on India, 
already mentioned, shows Mr. Law's interest in the 
sugar industry and to promote it he conveyed to James Piercy 
the south half of square 744 with the stipulation that Piercy was 
to erect a sugar refinery thereon of prescribed dimensions in 
certain time. Piercy executed, April 25, 1797, a first mortgage 
to Law for the entire purchase money ^^1860 6s, Sp. and a 
second mortgage to secure Law ^^1875 and James Ray 
j£9Z7 105. advances in cash, and Daniel Carroll of Duddington, 
;^i2i8 155., the value of 500,000 brick. Additional advances 
by Law, Ray and others in large amounts to the sugar refiner 
indicate the project was on a large scale. It was the Jlrsi 
manufacturing enterprise in the city of Washington and the 
largest, Piercy came January, 1797. and fifteen months after 
began "to boil sugar." The material came from New York 
and Europe. The sugar house was at the southeast corner of 
the square. The activities at Barry's wharf and the reflnery 
ceased entirely and quickly; and Mr. Gallatin to Mrs. Gallatin 
the opening of 1801 writes: 

At the dbtance of three-fourths of a mile, on or near the Eastern Branch, lie 
scattered the habitations of Mr. Law * * * a very large but perfectly empty 
warehouse, and a wharf graced by not a single vessel* 

*Oiir local tibuitloii te fiv from bcinc plMsant or eren convtiiknt. Around tht Capitol ara 
ran or alght boarding-hoiiaaa, ona tMor, ona i' ' 

WAinmoTON Cirr isth lanaanr, i8di. 

ran convaniant. Around tha dapitol ai 
saran or alght boarding-houaaa, ona ta&or, ona thoamakar, ona printar, a waahing-wonum. a 
grocary •ho^apamphktaandatatkwarythofKaaroaUdry'^oodashoD,andano3rfltarlKW^ Tliia 
makas tha whola oi tha Fadaral dty as coonactad with tha Capitol At tha distanca of thrao- 
fourths of a mlla. on or naar tha Eastara Branch, Ua acattered tha hahiutiona of Mr. Law and 
of Mr. Carr«rfl, tha principal proprlatarlaa of tha ground, half a doaen houaaa, a yary larga but 
parfactly ampty warahousa, and a wliarf gracad by not a aingia vaa ial . And thte makaa tha wliob 
Intandad commardal part of tha city, nnlaaa wa inchida In it what te callad tha Twanty Buildinga, 
baing ao many rnifiniahad houaaa comnancad by Morris and NIchoisoB, and parliapt as many 


Law, Ray and Piercy, the three sugar principals, all went 
into chancery ; each on his own hook filed a bill against the 
co-promoters. Ray accused Law of everything on the calen- 
dar of crime but gave him credit for an adroit move. Law, in 
the land of his birth, experienced the uncertainties and vexa- 
tious delays of litigation, so when he sued Ray, he took the 
precaution to have his adversary on a " pretended " demand 
safely and snugly in a Baltimore jail, so he could not possibly 
appear and answer, which Ray claimed was "a sinister 

Cornelius Coningham, Greenleafs former partner, leased the 
sugar house for a brewery and distillery. Ill succesis attended 
his enterprise and he advertised, 181 1, for sale the copper 
utensils and the unexpired lease. 

The main building was eight stories high and the wing five; 
it was forty-seven feet front close to the Eastern Branch and 
forty-six feet deep on the bank of the canal. Fortunately the 
refinery is pictured ; it is prominent in the view of the City of 
Washington, from beyond the Navy Yard^ published by Lewis 
P. Clover^ New York^ 1S34,. There is exact agreement between 
picture and descriptions and dimensions by Clotworthy 
Stephenson and Edmund Law. The structure was razed in 


At the sale of lots by the Commissioners those on the river 
between the Arsenal and Navy Yard were the most eagerly 
sought and commanded the highest consideration. The specu- 
lators evidently thought the commercial advantages of this 
water front would cause the squares near by to be first utilized. 
Of the large investors Mr. Greenleaf and Mr. Law were of the 
same opinion and the former selected the vicinity of the Arsenal 

undertaken by Greenleaf, both which grouM He, at the distance of half-mile from each other, near 
the mouth ot the Eastern Branch and the Potomack, and are divided by a laraw swamp from the 
Capitol Hill and the little village connected with it. * * * I am at Conrad & McMunn's, where 
I snare the room of Mr. Vamum, and pay at the rate, I think, including attendance, wood, candles, 
and liquors, of 15 dollars per week. At table, I believe, we are from twenty-four to thirty, and, 
was it not for the presence of Mrs Bailey and Mrs. Brown, would look like a refectory of monks. 

fAt an early period of this city, an Engliah gentleman of wealth, the brother of Lord EUen- 
borough, and a man of talent and great eccentricity, arrived from India, where he had lived for 
many years and it was said had rendered important services to the East India Company and vested 
a large capital which he brought with him in city lots — many of which he proceeded to improve. 
Like most of the early emigrants to Washington he believed that the Metropolis was destined to 
become in a short time a magnificent and wealthy citv ; but he did not live to realize his brilliant 
anticipations, though he died but a few years ago. He was speculative and visionary but enter* 
prising, and projected a number of schemes which did not result successfully. Among others, nto 
which he entered, was that of forming a company for the establishment of a sugar refinery, and 
for this purpose, a large brick edifice was erected on the Eastern Branch in 1798. But after a few 
years trial tne scheme was found not to answer and the building which long towered ** proudly 
eminent" was abandoned to ruin. It stood however, unoccupied and in a state of progressive 
decay, and as a sort of landmark till about two years since when it was sold, pulled down and the 
nutmal used for other purposes.— (?A>r^« WattetitofC s manuscHpt, 



for his solid blocks while the latter New Jersey avenue, posi- 
tionally the artery of that section.* 

Mr. Law decided to build on either side of New Jersey avenue 
from the Capitol to the Potomac. He began operations in the 
spring of 1796. All of his buildings were completed by the 
year 1800. Besides those built on his own account, Mr. Law 
advanced the funds for building under contracts of purchase, 
and otherwise facilitated the city's growth. f In the consoli- 
dated chancery causes, Pratt vs. Law, is a schedule prepared 
by Capt. Clotworthy Stephenson, March, 18 12, of Law's 
improvements for himself and others. 

Survey, Measurement and Valuation of the Brick Buildings 
Erected on the Property of Thomas Law, Esqr* By 
himself and Other Purchasers $2x1,637 

Framed Wood Buildings 33i2i8 $244,855 

On the map in Moore and Jones* Travellers^ Directory^ 1802^ 
the city buildings are seen at a glance and Law's appear to 
comprise a considerable proportion.! 

Mr. Charles William Janson, an Englishman, attempted to 
establish himself in the new republic; he was unsuccessful in 
legal practice, land speculation and mercantile venture and 
disappointed and disgruntled he returned to the place of 

* Mr. Weld visited the city late in 1795 and again the next year. He writes : 
The private houses are all plain buildings ; most of them have been built on tpeculation, and 
still remain empty. The greatest number, at any one place, is at Green Leafs Point, on the main 
river, just above tne entrance of the eastern branch. This spot has been looked upon by many as 
the most convenient one for trade ; but others prefer the shore of the eastern branch, on account 
of the superioritv of the harbour, and the great depth of water near the shore. There are several 
other favourite situations, the choice of any one of which is mere matter of speculation at present. 
Some build near the capitol, as the most convenient place for the residence of members of congress, 
some near the president's house : others again prefer the west end of the citv, in the neighbour, 
hood of George Town, thinking that as trade is already established in that place, it must be from 
thence that it will extend into the dty. 

In its course it receives several large streams, the principal one of which falls in at the federal 
city. This river is called the Eastern Branch of tne Patowmac : but it scarcely deserves that name, 
as It extends no more than thirty miles up the country. At its mouth it is nearly •» wide as the 
main branch of the river, and close to the city the water is in manv places thirty feet deep. Thou- 
sands of vessels might lie here, and sheltered from all danger, arising either from freshets, or from 
ice upon the breaking up of a severe winter. 

fMr. Law having speculated largely in city lots (viz. of the intended federal city, as it was 
called, of Washington)^ he offered to let Colonel Lyies and me have any lot we choose, at the 
price it cost him, and to leave the money on common Interest for any time we should mention. 
We looked out a lot, and make a conditional bargain. I was to make an estimate and plan ; which 
1 did. But the expences of building I found very high ; nor did I like the appearance of the place 
at all. I began to think that it was too young a city for a brewery, there not being above three 
hundred houses ; nor could I find there was another man of any considerable moneyed property 
in the city, besides Mr. Law. I thought too that, water being the usual drink of the countiy, there 
was very little probability of that custom changing for some time ; and especially while they were 
employed in building houses, paving streets, ftc. I therefore made known these sentiments to 
Colonel Lyles ; and we dropped that scheme. Indeed, I began to think of coming to England 
again. A Tour in America, Richard Patkimon, 

tS. S. Moore and S. W. Jones* Travellers* Directory or a Pocket Companion from PhOadelphla 
to New York and from Philadelphia to Washington. 1802. 


nativity. To compensate his misfortune he through the 
medium of a publication, The Stranger in America^ slurred 
the American people and their institutions. His aspersion and 
falsification affecting Mr. Law have taken deep root difficult to 
eradicate. Says the stranger to truth : 

Among the sufferers by the Washington speculation b Mr. Thomas Law, 
brother to Lord Ellenborough, who, as has been already observed, invested the 
greatest part of the money he obtained in India, in building near the capitol, 
where he still resides, under the mortifying circumstance of daily witnessing 
whole rows of the shells of his houses gradually falling to pieces. 

This palpable misstatement has visible refutation. Mr. 
Law's "shells" were then new structures. Their solidity is 
shown by the fact they stand today apparently of sufficient 
strength for the wear of another century. Law is more called 
to mind in this generation by the substantial building at the 
northwest corner of New Jersey avenue and C street, southeast^ 
than by any other structure. It was built, 1796. Originally it 
was three residences. The initial issue of the National Intellu 
gencer, October 31, 1800, was from one. With the removal of 
the government from Philadelphia this advertisement appeared 
in the Washington Gazette: 

Conrad and McMumi 

Have opened houses of entertainment in the range of buildings formerly occupied 
by Mr. Law, about two hundred paces from the Capitol, in New Jersey avenue, 
leading thence to the Eastern Branch. 
City of Wash. Nov. 24, 1800. 

Mr. Jefferson at the time of his inauguration as President, 
March 4, 1801, was a guest of Conrad and McMunn. The 
proprietors had insufficient patronage and October, i8ox, Mr. 
Law sold the household goods for his charges. In 1804, they 
were occupied by Mr. Smith, the editor of the Intelligencer^ 
Mrs. Williams and Mr. Coyle. In 18 15, and perhaps before, 
Miss Heyer occupied one. In July, 1828, Mr. Law advertises 
for rent the three houses lately occupied as boarding houses by 
Mr. McLeod, Mrs. Rapine and Miss Heyer. The three were 
connected and leased by the United States government for the 
Coast Survey and other branches of the service. Then it was 
remodeled for a hotel and styled the Law House. Now it is 
the hotel, Varnum. 

The house in which Mr. Law lived was judicially fixed in 
the chancery cause, Law vs. Adams. It is located on New 


■ «* 

',, < i 


Jersey avenue near the intersection with C street, southeast, 
and was built by him, surely by and probably before, 1799. 
He moved over from the west side of the avenue immediately 
before Congress convened, December, 1800. This was the 
home of Law in the heyday of prosperity. Here he with 
inborn ease and grace his elegant and muniflcent hospitality 
bestowed upon diplomat, statesman and savant; and Mrs. 
Law, when she was mistress of the mansion, charming and 
vivacious, wore the laurels of social triumph. Mr. Law sold 
in 18 1 8 the mansion to Dr. Frederick May, who lived in it, as 
did the Doctor's sons, John P., a noted local physician, and 
Henry, who became a prominent lawyer of Baltimore. The 
late Joseph Holt, Judge Advocate General during the civil war, 
acquired the property in 1857, and from that date until his 
death, of recent occurrence, occupied it. 

The ien buildings were built on New Jersey avenue, the west 
side and northward from E street. The corner house is as 
at first, some of the others have beeh remodeled or removed. 
With the exception of the syndicate, Morris, Nicholson and 
Greenleaf, Mr. Law was, I believe, the only one who complied 
with the building requirements on an extensive scale. Con- 
troversy arose between the Commissioners and Law who con- 
tended more stories and larger areas covered entitled to a con- 
cession in the number of houses. President Washington, the 
last day of his administration, March 3, 1797^ decided in favor 
of Mr. Law with an expression of reluctances- 
Mr. Law speculated on his own pounds sterling, most of the 
other operators on credit. The principal transaction was upon 
"sight unseen;" in the city of New York, with city map and 
winning words, Greenleaf fired Law's enthusiasm and opened 
wide his purse strings. The transaction has already been ex- 
plained. The consideration was $133,333. Law's fortune 
when he came to America was about ;^5o,ooo; to this is to be 
added ;f 6,000 William Blane of London entrusted him with to 
invest, making the entire fund roundly $270,000. 

Phila. July 4, 1796 
Thomas Law, Esqt* 
dear Sir 
This is the glorious anniversary of our Declaration of Independence and must 
be dedicated to Festivity and Joy, but first 1 will devote a few moments to 
acknowledge the receipt oftwofiiendly letters from you — You omit putting dates 
to them but the last which came has a post office mark 30 June— You may now 


rely on my exertions to promote the Oty of Washington by every means in my 

Power — 1 expect that we shall by and by get the Command of Money — when 

that is accomplished everything that you can wish from Mr. Nicholson & myself 

will follow — I wish that the President had abolished in toto the r^;iilations 

about the building and thereby let the Owners of Lots to pursue their ownfiincys 

& inclinations — This I conceive will be absolutely nece&ary to give that spur 

to Improvement which is wanted — ^The King of Prussia tried to establish a 

Qty upon the same system of regularity of Building, but with absolute authority 

& money at Command he could not do it & only impeded its Progreis by the 

attempt —I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing you, for notwithstanding 

our delays Mr. Nicholson & myself will certainly be with you by and by. — 

Yrs Sincerely 


Mrs Morris & Maria are just returned from Morrisville & desire to be remem- 
bered affy to Mrs Law — Present me also if you please. — 

Mr. Nicholson at Washington had made some progress, or 
thought he had, in the disentanglement of affairs between the 
Commissioners and the proprietors and so advises Mr. Morris 
who breaks forth joyously, February i, 1797: 

I hope they will in the end satisfy Law and then let him celebrate them as 
their works in his charming Poetic strains and if they will take that for Pay it 
will be a good thing. 

I think with you that everybody concerned in Washington Lots are likely to 
benefit by the elucidation of Title which you are bringing forth out of the host 
of Lawyers you employ. 

Mr. Law's annoying tactics goaded Mr. Nicholson to frenzy 
yet Mr. Morris excused his '* uncertainties and inequalities'' 
by mild suggestion of bats in the belfry. Mr. Law without 
warrant gave away the property of Messrs. Morris and Nichol- 
son to Mr. Campbell, their creditor, of many thousands value. 
Then Mr. Morris's ire was aroused and he from the Hills, 
September 16, 1797, made known to Mr. Law: 


We have never had occasion to charge you or any other person with neglect, 
for want of reminding us of claims against us, your letter of the 6th inst and 
many others is a proof of your attention to your own fide of the question, which 
is certainly proper and it has ever been our ardent desire to render you the 
justice you ask and which our duty calls on us to perform. * * * for altho' 
we suffer much and in many shapes by the derangement of our affairs yet we 
have fpirit & vigour enough not to suffer injustice tamely, nor to bear with 
unmerited insults so that you will not be surprized Mr. Law if we make a 
scrutiny into a transaction of yours which we have just been informed of & by 
which you have meditated an unprovoked injury to those who have always 
been in the habits of friendship with you. 

We are Sir Yours 


Mr. Law repented and Mr. Morris, whose heart ever over- 
flowed with generosity, accepted repentance as compensation 
for injury. As a correct chronicler I record the incident. The 
few errors of judgment in a life of unselfishness make no mar. 

The East Washington Citizens Association in the beginning 
of the city was exceedingly active and alert and could readily 
detect favoritism to the west end although at that time the 
membership was limited. I quote from the unpublished notes 
of Mr. Law.* 

Being now the oldest inhabitant it may be useful to give a brief history of the 
city since my arrival here. I put up in Georgetown because there was only one 
little tavern in the dty, which then contained only three or four houses belonging 
to the owners of estates. The legislature of Maryland had started a bank for 
the city, but it was established in George Town and the money loaned was to 
those who would build in the Town or at the west end of the dty. A bridge 
was built also by the Commissioners at the city expense over Rock Creek with a 
draw, and it was to have the Navy Yard there and the Marine barracks were laid 
out on its banks and the marine corps encamped there. 

The President's house was advanced rapidly and the Capitol was only above 
ground and the foundation was so bad that it was to be undone and commenced 
again. In short Mr. Stoddert, Secretary of Navy, and the majority of the 
Commissioners and the bank being George Town men, resolved to have Congress 
meet in the President's house or in George Town College and to make the progress 
of the West End tend to counteract that of the CapitoL 

General Washington having been informed of these injurious ideas in the Com- 
missioners and being displeased at witnessing the slow advancement of the Capi- 
tol ordered the Commissioners to live in the dty and to encourage persons to 
build for the accommodation of Congress. 

Mr. Law further says: 

That the public might have encouragement to build General Washington com- 
menced two houses.! This example gave confidence and houses were seen to 
spring up with rapidity, notwithstanding the natural rivalship of two adjacent 
towns, which had been long before established. New jersey Avenue, then full 
of stumps of trees, was opened to have access to the Eastern Branch, and mer- 
chants made wharves and warehouses on the Eastern Branch, where only there b 
a harbor safe from the danger of ice which comes down by floods in the Potomac. 
Houses also rapidly sprang up about the Capitol although double prices were paid 
for workmen, bricks and materiab. 

From Law's answer. Pratt vs. Law : 

Had it not been for hb exertions and the large sums he had laid out, there 
would have been no accommodation for Congress the first of their session. 

* From the Law manuscript of Mrs. Klrby Flowtr Smith. 

tThat it— in the vidnity of the Capitol. 

Dined at Mr. Laws. Examined In company with the Comrs some of the Lots in the Vidni^ 
of the Capitol * €aud upon No i6 in ^ to buUd oa.— Washington Diary, September at, 1798. 


The three-story brick at the comer of Ninth and E streets 
used as the General Post Office Department owned by Dr. John 
Crocker was built with the help of Mr. Law. 

Mr. Law was deeply interested in public finance and banks. 
The first bank in the District was the Columbia at Georgetown 
started 1793 ; a director of which he was elected, March 24, 1798. 
The Patriotic Bank was established May, 1815, and he was of 
the first directory elected June 5, 1815. 

Mr. Law with other citizens of public spirit whose coopera- 
tion he enlisted guaranteed, February 6, 1796, the prizes of a 
grand lottery to promote the construction of the Washington 
Canal. And he was not idle in inviting his friends to patronize 
the same as Mr. Morris's letter, June 12, 1796, indicates: 

I am indebted to you for a letter without date rec^ last week, respecting the 
Canal contemplated to pafs through the Qty of Washington, the importance of 
its being effected is I doubt not as you represent it, & in this belief 1 have added 
my name to the subscription for Tickets, Mr Nicholson & Mr Greenleaf harve 
done the same but as yet We have not advanced any farther Mr dzenove is 
gone to New York, Gen. Stewart unwell & 1 have been too much engaged to 
follow them up. 

Mr. Law and his codperants advertised, July, 1802, to receive 
personally subscriptions for opening canal to communicate from 
the Potomac river to the Eastern Branch authorized by Act of 
Congress, May i, that year. From England, May 30, 1803, he 
writes : 

I am staying to raise 80,000 dollars for the Canal which I am confident I shall 
obtain — I did not like to request subscriptions upon my own ipse dixit — I am now 
getting the sentiment of disinterested persons, and supported thereby, can easily 
raise the money. 

And in a subsequent letter he states, the prospect of success 
brightens, a number of monied men are fully impressed with 
the certainty of ample remuneration for their investiture of 

In 1804 appeared Mr. Law's ObservaHons on the Intended 
Canal in Washington City. It was his idea to extend naviga- 
tion through the city from the Potomac to deep water of the 
Eastern Branch, thereby avoidins: "the circuitous and hazardous 
route by Turkey Buzzard point " and advancing magnetically 
commercial prosperity. In 1809 on the lines he suggested a 
company was incorporated. 


D. B. Warden — Chorographical and StaHsHcal Description, 
District of Columbia : 

The Canal, which runs through centre of the Gty, commencing at the 
mouth of the Tiber Creek, and connecting the Potomac with its Eastern Branch, 
is nearly completed. Mr. Law, the chief promoter of this undertaking proposes to 
establish packet-boats to run between the Tiber Creek and the Navy Yard— a 
conveyance which may be rendered more economical and comfortable than the 

Mr. Law was a director in the Washington Canal Company 
as late as 1829. The account of the commencement and com- 
pletion of the canal illustrates the enthusiastic mind and cyclone 
method of Mr. Law. The canal never was of profitable utility. 
Its course is now a broad avenue. 

Madison Davis in The Navy Yard Section says of James 
Barry : 

He was one of the incorporators of the Washington Canal Company, an 
enterprise planned by him in association with Thomas Law, and from which 
great expectations were formed. In connection with the business of this com- 
pany, the furnishing of offices for it, etc., he erected a large double brick 
building near the eastern basin of the canal, in which for many years a very 
considerable business was transacted part of which structure, now called Castle 
Thunder, is still standing and which, on account of its situation, and from its 
manifest claim to past respectability, excites the surprise of nearly every one who 
has occasion to visit that now benighted spot. 

Mr. Law insistently urged before Congress concession for 
the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal; and made proposition for 
creating means for commencing construction, 1827. At a 
public meeting, July 9, 1827, Mr. Law was of the committee 
appointed to devise plans of promotion. The connection of 
the Atlantic and western waters by a canal or uniting the 
River of Swans with la belle Rivier^ as a bond of commercial 
and political union as this project was then phrased had Mr. 
Law's enthusiastic concurrence and at the banquet, Brown's 
Hotel, November 8, 1823, to the Grand Union Canal Conven- 
tion he raised the glass and responded eloquently. 

When in England, 1824, Mr. Law witnessed Stephenson's 
railroad in the experimental stage and in a measure foresaw its 

* Toast, Indtpendencc Day, i8aB, Charletton, W.Va.— **T1m ChctapwlM and Ohio Canal- 
Uniting tht Rivwr of Swana with la MU Riviere,'' 

It b watered on tlie wtat bv the Potomac, fonnerly callad by tht Indiana eohangthronta or 
river of tntuur-'Gearge fVdUerstOH's manuscript. 

C*est le nom que mm Canadians et les GiotmbeB fran^als doonent A I'Ohio.— Tableau da 
CUmatt et dtt Sol des Etatt-Unis D*Amtrlqae par C—F, KtfAKT. 

PUBLIC spmiT 358 

universal utility and upon return to his adopted country, while 
still the champion of canals, he urged in the prints, Iniellu 
gencer, 1825, his preference for locomotive and rail. 

William B. Wood in Personal Recollections of the Stage relates 
that in the spring of 1800 Mr. Wignell was pressed to establish 
a theatre in the new metropolis and was offered a building 
centrally situated. An intended hotel it had a spacious centre 
and two extensive wings. The size of the main edifice afforded 
sufficient accommodation for the requirement of the new city 
and its elder neighbors and its dimensions and loftiness full 
scope for theatrical adjunct. The manager at Philadelphia, 
during the outfitting, prepared scenery, an artificial dome and 
the embellishments to be in readiness for use as soon as arrived. 

But WignelPs ill-fortune, constant to him on all occasions, did not Caul to 
check hb plan so well contrived and at a large cost. On the way to Washington 
a furious storm of rain invaded the wagons, and drenched the tasteful labors of 
the painters so seriously as to make it necessary to repaint nearly the whole, 
besides occasioning a considerable delay in opening the house. Not a jot dis- 
couraged, however, the excellent man persevered in his exertions; and after 
innumerable difficulties incident to the unprovided state of the place and at great 
expense, he at length opened \}^t first theatre in Washinf[Um, 

The first presentation was in June. The company for the 
season was under the management of Wignell and Reinagle; 
the former having special direction of the drama, the latter, the 
music. The United States Theatre was the reconstructed part 
of Blodgett's, Union Pacific or Great Hotel at E and Seventh 
streets, fronting southward. The first utterance was an ema- 
nation of Mr. Law's genius — the prologue. The actor-author 
reflects his qualities of gentility and modesty on his pages: 

The opening play of "Venice Preserved " was well acted hy Mefsrs. Wignell, 
Cooper, and Mrs. Merry, as Jaffier, Prince and Belvidera, and warmly received 
and applauded by an audience, more numerous, as well as splendid, than can be 
conceived from a population so slender and so scattered. From the citizens of 
Washington the principal performers received the most gratifying attention and 
hospitality. Many of us commenced at this period acquaintances and friendships 
which have continued with unabated kindness through a long course of succeeding 

The prologue for the bow of the play in Washington was 
not all the encouragement by Mr. Law for Mr. Wood grace- 
fully acknowledges he ''continued to aid the enterprise, not 
only with his pen and his influence, but with his purse; he 


was ably seconded by several other gentlemen of liberality and 
taste." The season closed September 13, 1800.* 


Spoiam BY Mr. Wignell. 

Thank heaven! ten tedious anxious years are past, 
And here we've altogether met at last; 
The Grecian States, ambitious to destroy, 
Took the same time to level cloud capt Troy. 
Their Hera, by subverting, sought his praise. 
Our Patriot's nobler glory was to raise. 
Let other nations look to Greece and Rome, 
Columbia's bright examples are at home: 
Whate'er k great or good we find in one — 
All virtues join'd to form a Washington, 
Heaven partial seemed, occasion to dispense. 
Pleased to unfold his great preeminence. 
Exulting thought! Why thus appear distrest! 
But oh! you feel the most, who knew him best. 
Mourn not — but thankful that his life was spared 
So long, enjoy the blessings he prepared. 
As planetary systems roll on high. 
These States in ceaseless unity shall roll. 
To night we'll make you weep by mimic play, 
For tears are tribute which delight must pay: 
Expand your tuckers, ye sigh swelling fair; 
Unfurl your fans, your handkerchiefs prepare: 
Catch the soft moments, ye enamour'd beaus. 
Arrest the tear drop trembling as it flows. 
Sweet sensibility the soul endears, 
And beauty sheds a lustre most in tears. 
Thb grand Hotel, for epicures design'd, 

* Extract from play bill in the poMcnion of Mr. A. W. Hancock. 

The public are refpectfully Informed, that fat the remainder of the feafon the Doora of the Theatre 
will be open at half palt 5 and the curtain will rife at half paft 6 o'clock preclfely. 


Cmr OP Wasnimotom, 

On Monday Evening. Sept. ift x8oo, 

will be prefented a New G>medy, In five acts (never acted here) called 



(Written by Edward Morris, Esq. And performed at the Theatre, Dniry Lane, with 

unbounded Applaufe.) 

• •••••••• 

To which win be added a favorite Farce, called 



(Written by O'Keefe, and performed at the London Theatres, with unbounded applaufe.) 

• •••••••• 

The Farce to conclude with The Sailors* Rendesvous, In which wUl be Introduced, the fiivourite 

Soog of ** Sweet PoH of Plymouth,*' 1^ Mr. Daley. 

A Hornpipe, by Mr. Francis. 

AdmlttsQct, Out Dolhur. 

ruBuc SPIRIT 260 

Now makes provision only for the mind; 

For you each night, two courses nice we cater, 

And for your wants, the "Prompter" calk not "Waiter." 

A bad exchange you'll say — solids for air; 

Who's he that whispers ? It k Gty Fair. 

Sir, you are a poet, and delight forsooth, 

Rather to deal in fiction than in truth. 

Those ruddy cheeks evince the air is fine, 

And those fat sides show on the best you dine. 

Well faith, we've form'd a tolerable stage; 

Here's room for comic glee or tragic rage; 

But there (pointing to pit and box) the city populates so quick, 

I fear you've stowed yourselves away too thick! 

Ladies, you smile, as if the crowding pleased, 

Sure your fine frames tremble to be squeezed. 

Tho' now our corps rather too thin appears, 

This central spot must draw forth volunteers; 

If power's their wish, to monarchies we'll raise them— 

If fame — 'twere ample sure, for you to praise them. 

If death and glory — here they may be slain. 

And what is better, " rise to fight again." 

Their country's service to a generous mind. 

That first incentive, true, they cannot find. 

And yet we act no despicable part. 

Who gladden life and meliorate the heart. 

The floods of late, which drown'd you many a horse,* 

Have caused to us a much severer loss — 

Our groves, our temples, gone beyond 

The gorgeous palaces it did not spare 

The storm has swept our canvas almost 

For this deficiency we'll soon atone — 

Would you could build as fast with brick and stone. 

At first behold us with indulgent eye. 

And soon with zeal we'll every want supply. 

Thus to this city all things will acquire. 

That fancy can suggest, or heart desire. 

The guillotine, the sword, the cannon's roar. 

Drive arts and science to this peaceful shore ; 

If various tongues from building could disable. 

Your houses would of course be stopp'd like Babel : 

Dutch, Irish, German, French, All hither flee, 

To enjoy the sweets of Liberty. 

With your permission — heark, I'm called away — 

That bell cuts short the best I had to say. 

Accept the will 1 pray you for the deed. 

For this on all occasions we must plead — 

By your indulgence only we succeed. 

s — 

i repair, 1 

: f 

)St bare. } 

^Alluding to catualtiw by the overflowing of creeks, and to denu^ nmtained by Stage Soenary. 


Mr. Law believed that life's burden's should be lightened 
and business relieved by amusement. He was a patron of the 
Washington Dancing Assembly until John and Edmund came 
to manhood and then this light role devolved on them. Mr. 
Law believed in the educational as well as pleasurable value of 
the drama. With the same vim he schemed a waterway 
through the town he advocated, promoted and constructed the 
first theatre; this he did in the year, 1804. The Washington 
Theatre was at C and Eleventh streets. 

Mr. Wood writes: ''The partial success of Mr. Wignell's 
experiment encouraged some friends of the drama, a few years 
afterwards to erect a more desirable dramatic temple on the 
Pennsylvania Avenue." The first presentation was on Novem- 
ber 16, 1804.* The beginning was not auspicious for Mr. 
Wood adds: ''In 1805 the Washington theatre was opened 
for the purpose of presenting several pieces" by players **of 
professional eminence. The theatre, however, was at this 
time so unfinished and comfortless, that the audience, after a 
few nights, fell off, and a speedy close seemed inevitable.*' 
The Stranger, Jansen, in ill-natured vein comments: **The 
president's house, the offices of state, and a little theatre, where 
an itinerant company repeated during a part of last year (1805), 
the lines of Shakespeare, Otway, and Dryden, to empty benches, 
terminate the view of the Pennsylvania or Grand Avenue." 
Mr. Fearon, 1818, puts in his Sketches: ** The theatre is a 
miserable building." A conflagration, 1820, left the walls. 
The site is devoted to the theatre to this time. 

*Thi8 and other theatrical dates from public letter of Mr. A. 1. Mudd. 


together crossed the Atlantic. Duncanson ventured 
the fortunes of the sea. Of his " argosies with portly 
sail" he, himself, it is said, was sometimes master mariner. 
A sea-captain is a title that fits him well, and so let him be. 
But when Duncanson, absorbed in fond recollection of days of 
dress parade, donned his regimentals daubed with gold lace 
and his cap with glittered band and buckled his belt around 
and in the holster fitted his pistol and in the hanger fixed his 
scabbard and sword and then stood erect and absently cried, 
"Attention!" he looked very much like a land-eaplain ; and 
indeed he was. 

In the early days came to these shores those who had dwelt 
in East India sufficient, if congregated, for a colony. In fact, 
there existed the East India Company having headquarters at 
Philadelphia. In the new city for the nation from India beside 
Duncanson and Law were James Barry, William Duane and 
James Ray; all foreign-born save Duane. 

It is unsaid that Captain Duncanson is not the descendant of 
that William Duncanson who was the military adherent of the 
house of Argyll, the ninth earl; and that the William Mayne 
who visited him here was not the Baron Newhaven. That the 
Captain had respectable antecedents and he himself education 
and intelligence his correspondence, easily phrased and boldly 
penned, proves. 

Captain Duncanson shortly after his arrival was joined by 
his sister, Miss Martha Duncanson, and her friend, Lydia Knott, 
of Kensington, England. 

Captain Duncanson and Mr. Law came to Washington, in 
company, the first time February, 1795. Most favorably im- 


pressed with a glimpse of the city of promise they returned to 
Philadelphia, Law to confirm his option of purchase, Duncanson 
to secure a similar. Duncanson's option in the handwriting of 
Mr. Cranch is photographed. He gave notes to the amount of 
j^2o,ooo, Md. currency; £t,ooo payable thirty days, ;^4,333>5, 
six months and £S,666^, one year, with the understanding 
he could ratify or reject his purchase, wholly or partially, and 
receive the notes unpaid and lots in proportion to amount 
paid. He paid the notes first and second due, amounting to 
$30,222.22 and declined payment of the third $23,111.11. At 
5 p. per sq. ft., $30,222.22 made Duncanson entitled to 544,000 
sq. ft. which within an inconsiderable fraction was conveyed 
to him. 

At Greenleafs urgent solicitation Duncanson, April 23, 1795, 
made a second optional purchase of 800,000 sq. ft. drawing 
drafts on parties in London for ;^i2,ooo Md. currency. The 
idea was if the Londoners agreed to invest they would accept 
the paper. They declined the investment and Duncanson 
demanded rescission. Captain Duncanson writes Mr. Green- 
leaf, September 11, 1795, that the gentlemen in England are 
averse to purchase in the city of Washington and that he relin- 
quishes the option ; he reminds Greenleaf of his promise to 
protect his bills from which he derived no advantage and 
suggests the precaution of security from risk as he, Greenleaf, 
is going to Europe. On the day after Duncanson's letter, 
Morris, Nicholson and Greenleaf executed to him a deed, an 
intended second mortgage, of property to which Law already 
had a deed, an intended first mortgage. The notes secured 
were $23,111.11 made by Duncanson under the first option, 
and drafts ;^i 2,000 drawn on the second. These notes and 
drafts were all paid, the latter by Greenleaf. 

Duncanson loaned Nicholson $25,361.90. It was a perma- 
nent loan. 

Duncanson with William Deakins, junior, and Uriah Forrest 
made purchase of Morris and Nicholson October 26, 1796, at a 
consideration of $50,000. 

Mr. Morris to Captain Duncanson was grateful for his 
accommodation and frequently expressed his gratitude and 
once, November 24, 1796, thus: 

He certainly deserves anything we can do for him in return for his friendly 








ill f 


•5 si o, 



or ] 






sk^^^^;)4 ^ 



Mr. Greenleaf in other years in a CauHon discusses Duncan- 
son's transactions with the triumvirate. The Caution is not 
altogether truthful nor altogether grateful. Greenleaf s ingrati- 
tude had an excuse in that Duncanson was cajoled by Ward to 
attempt sale for the drafts uncancelled yet actually paid. From 
this arose an injunction Pratt vs. Duncanson and Ward — the 
first equity cause. 

Captain Duncanson leased through Mr. Cranch the mansion 
No. 470 N street while his residence was being built, 1795-6. 
It was provided with coach house and stable. The footwalks, 
front and rear, were paved with brick. Here the Captain 
sported the style his wealth warranted. 

Distantly eastward from the Capitol and northward from the 
Anacostia in the wilds Captain Duncanson had cleared the 
shrub and a space and had run from the cornerstones the lines 
preparatory for his mansion.* William Lovering was the 
architect and furnished the material. With the summer of 
1796 began the Captain's occupation. Although charmingly 
sequestered in profuse wood, from the portico he could catch 
the sheen of the wide waters beyond the slope. The Captain's 
domain was an ample city square and imitated a prosperous 
English estate; it yet remains in entirety with the mansion well 
preserved, now as then, a scene of beauty. These honey- 
locusts of broken boughs and hollowed boles lend 

The grace of forest-woods decayed; 

and "yclad with summer's pride" hath been a hundred times 
and more; and, are the contemporaries of the ancient mansion. 
The locust trees, maybe, when saplings were planted by the 
Captain and gratefully grew to lofty stature to spread over him 
an arcade of shade with their arms branching in graceful sprays 
of pinnate leaves. The mansion is correct colonial and suggests 
Grecian culture by its triangular pediment adorned with win- 
dow, central and circular. It marks the taste of the Captain as 
does his affluence the quarters for his equipage. 

Still it is a sylvan scene; still the manor-house, has its 
pristine strength though marked with the credentials of a 

* In the year x8oo you micht have walked over the commons or old 6elds from Rock crttk to 
the Eastern Branch of the Potomac, and noticed at the comers of eadi square a quarnr-ctone 
planted, bearing on It the name or number of the street and the number of tM souare, which had 
been carefully cnlsdcd there. If all these stones had been collected tOjBether. tnera would have 
been enough to buiki a house as large as the Prcskient*s Manskm.— Early RecoUsctkMS of WssIh 
higtoD City.— ClrM/Mm Uitus, 


century. It is a joy to the antiquaries of historic proclivity. 
Now ''the Maples/' it is the home of Mrs. Emily Edson 
Briggs, of literary fame, Olivia. 

The square is designated 875 and is bounded by South 
Carolina avenue, D, Sixth and Seventh streets, southeast. The 
eastern wing was added by a former owner. Senator John M. 
Clayton of Delaware ; the western wing is also an addition. 

Mr. Ray hailed from Newark-on-the-Trent. He arrived from 
England at New York, April, 1795. He intended, so he says, 
merely to stop over on his return to India. And, too, he says 
his fortune was from £30,000 to £40,000 sterling; and that 
Captain Duncanson induced him to remain and invest. Mr. 
Ray resided most of the time at Lamberton, New Jersey. 

Captain Duncanson and Mr. Ray formed a firm, April 16, 
1796, for a general line of mercantile agency and commission 
business with the principal place at Philadelphia and a branch 
at Washington and correspondents in New York and Baltimore. 
The circular, dated May i, 1796, reads: 

From our long residence and connections formed at Bengal and at Bomlwy 
we presume to hope for the encouragement and patronage of our (nends in that 
quarter, at the same time we look forward with much satisfaction to a niore 
extensive intercourse and a free trade to the East Indies now open and allowed 
by treaty with Great Britain. 

The Washington branch was in Georgetown. The ventures 
were '*not in one bottom trusted" and besides the Mount 
Vernon was the Atlantic. The firm's ledgers designate all 
attempts to gain fortune's favor as " adventures." 

TTie Washington Gaxette. 

That the partnership lately subsisting between William Mayne Duncanson 

and James Ray, at this dty and the city of Washington, merchants, under the 

firm of Duncanson and Ray, was this day dissolved by mutual consent. — ^The 

business will be carried on in the future by W. M. Duncanson, at the said dty 

of Washington. 


Philadelphia, 13th June 17^. 

Captain Duncanson cooperated with Mr. Law in furthering 
the Washington Canal and also guaranteed the lottery prizes. 
From May 31 to August 18, 1796, he accounted for 432 tickets 
at ten dollars each. 



[I M S IS ™ 


L J 





Captain Duncanson is in the first chapter of the sugar house 
history. At Piercy's father's place in England, Duncanson, 
1782, met him. Piercy in New York with a capitalist under- 
took the manufacture of sugar; misfortune to the latter caused 
a collapse of the enterprise. Piercy, although already acquain- 
ted, secured from England commendatory letters to Duncanson 
who assisted him fmancially, lodged him and Mrs. Piercy in 
his home and planned for a sugar refmery on the site where it 
was eventually located to be promoted by Duncanson and 
Ringgold, (Tench Ringgold, to whom the Captain was protegd,) 
and operated by Piercy. 

I surmised that Duncanson and Law quarreled. An assur- 
ance is the account of Morris, upon which I cannot improve: 

Phila Deer 4, 1796 
W" M Duncanson Esq*" 

Dear Sir 

I cannot but feel very great Concern at seeing by the Contents of your 

letter of the 28 ult that Mr Law and you are come to a serious Dispute about the 

Bargain verbally made between you respecting his Property in the City of 

Washington — I remember well that you told me the next day that as Mr West- 

cott Mr Law & yourself were going home from the little Hotel* where we had 

dined together, Mr Law broke out into fome degrading Expressions respecting 

the City and those Persons he had to deal with about his Property in it — You 

mentioned fome observations of Mr Westcott, made to Mr Law, after which you 

said that you charged Mr Law with having formed a Design of going to England, 

and concluded with making him an offer of ;£ 75,000 for the Property which cost 

him ;6 50000, &. the price of his improvements at a fair Valuation payable in ten 

years with ten pcent Interest payable annually and to give the whole of his and 

as much of your own Property as should be deeme'd reasonable in security for 

the payment of Principal and Int, that you told him the Int would amount to 

more than he would expend in England or anywhere else, that Mr Law asked 

what was to be done in case the Interest should not be punctually paid. You 

answered that he might appoint a Friend to receive it with Powers to sell as 

much of the Property as might be needful in case of delinquency &, that Mr Law 

faid it was a Bargain &c — I do not recollect perfectly some other particulars 

which you mentioned respecting the Houses to be built, but I know that a 

Gentn asked you afterwards to admit him to a Concern of the Bargain was 

seriously made, and I also remember that a day or two afterwards when Mr Law 

and yourself came in the forenoon into Room at the Union Tavern at George 

*Jame8 Hoban and Pierce Purcell purchased at the Commiasionen* public tale, October 8, 179a, 
lot A In square 324 fronting on the north side of F between Fourteenth and Fifteenth streets, ine 
Little Hotel was sometimes called Scott's Tavern. Back from the street and hidden are antique 
remains of the Little HoteL— A. C C 

TTki IVashingUm GoJUtU, 

Lrrru Hotsl, 

A person of AUIity and established character in the Tavern keeping line, may Rent the Little 
Hotel, on terms that will be encouraging.— Apply to Mr. Pisacs Purcsll, or Jamb» Hoban. 
Washington, Sept. ai, 1797. 


Town, you took me out, leaving Genl Fonrest and Mr Law in the room & upon 
our Return Mr Law said to you "Duncanson it is not right that you and I 
should be making Bargains and buying & selling each other Property, we have 
been long friendly, aofsed the fea together and we must drop this Baigain *' — 
I do not recollect precisely your reply, but I think it did not consent to drop the 
Bargain altho' I confefs I expected from that Ouverture that you would in the 
end give it up— The Conversations here recited I have mentioned several ttmes 
since which served to fix them on my memory, and I only related them to shew 
yours & Mr Laws opinions as to the value of Washington Lots — upon the whole 
if Mr Law wishes to go for England to remain there, I should wish you to be the 
Purchaser of his Property, but if he desires to (lay and fulfill his G>ntract I must 
say that I am desirous that he fhould do so, this however is for you and him, & 
not for me to determine — 

I read to Mrs. Morris and Maria that part of your letter which relates to them — 
Maria says she fears the weather may be too warm for racing through the Penn- 
sylvania avenue when she comes there, but she will be glad to take a View of 
the avenue and then to run or walk through it according to Circumstances — ^They 
both join me in Compts & good Wishes to Mils Duncanson and yourself— I am 
truly Your faithful friend & St 


Mr. Morris meets Mr. Ray in Philadelphia a day or two after 
his letter to Captain Duncanson and finds "that the dispute 
between Law and Duncanson runs high " and his pacific nature 
prompts him to assume the position of peacemaker. 

Phila Deer II 1796 
Thomas Law Esqr 

Dear Sir 

I am extremely sorry to hear of any Differences between Mr Duncanson & 

you — Old Friends if they do happen to quarrel must make up again and 1 hope 

that has or will soon take place between you before this time — Mrs. Morris and 

Maria present Compts to Mrs. Law and yourself in which I join with the Promise 

of visiting the Qty next Summer — 1 always think of it and my Friends in and 

near it with Pleasure. 

I am Dear Sir Yrs 


Campbell vs. Duncanson and Ray, This is a cause in the 
High Court of Chancery, Maryland. It began September 28, 
1797, and ran into 1809. Its record requires 420 pages. 
Campbell was represented by Philip Barton Key. John M. 
Gantt and J. T. Mason; Ray by William Cranch, subsequently, 
by Luther Martin ; Duncanson in propria persona. Duncanson 
prepared his answer, exhibits, interrogatories and attended the 
sessions; at the finish, John Law is entered as attorney. 
Perplexing intrique everywhere appears. Duncanson and Ray 

379 '^^"'^ *N SON 

:)- ; 


believing in special advantages arising from an American 
bottom purchased from Willing and Francis, Philadelphia 
merchants, agents of the owner, Thomas Murgatroyd, the 
Delaware^ then at the wharf, for 1^40,000. Duncanson made 
the negotiation and gave the firm notes which he signed for 
the entire consideration. William Skirrow was to have a half 
interest in the ship. The negotiation was made upon the 
formation of the firm, April, 1796, but held up a month or so 
to permit the expiration of Duncanson's citizenship proceeding. 
Duncanson re-named the Delaware the Mount Vernon. In 
May, the Mount Vernon was loaded with rum by the firms, 
Duncanson and Ray, Willing and Francis, for London; ship 
and cargo were insured. About June i, the ship set sail and 
when a short time out was by the French captured and con- 
demned. The firm, Willing and Francis, from its anxiety to 
secure a statement from Duncanson of its agency was evidently 
committed to Murgatroyd. The insurers claimed the insured 
was an alien. This plot evolved so many points as to suggest 
a star of endless points. Every one to the transaction endeav- 
ored to evade responsibility and resorted to every expedient 
without scruple. Of all the proficients in prevarication, Ray 
was the most accomplished. From Campbell and Duncanson 
and the Chancellor's conclusion it appears as now narrated. 
The artful and cunning Ray deviled. 4>retexts to prevent the 
enforcement from him of the payment of the firm's notes for 
the luckless Mount Vernon; he represented to Duncanson the 
only means for the firm to effect an escape was to deny that 
he, Ray, had any share in it then he would be a disinterested 
witness and could testify so as to defeat any action ; and he 
drafted a letter for Duncanson to sign which at first he declined 
to do, yet upon the approval of a lawyer of high repute did so 
after alterations. Ray with this advantage meditated a scheme 
to secure all of Duncanson's realty. He represented to Dun- 
canson that all he had in the world would be attached for the 
partnership debt unless he conveyed his property in trust and 
suggested a deed in fee to his sister, Miss Duncanson ; accord- 
ingly unapprised of Ray's artifice he made the deed to shield 
from impending ruin without acknowledging or recording it. 
The very next day came the sequent step in the scheme. Ray 
next represented to Duncanson that his sister was unaccus- 
tomed to business and ought not to be subjected to alarm and 


disquietude and recommended another deed be made and to 
him to be retained by Duncanson. The second deed was 
signed and Ray managed to have at hand the authorized officer 
to take acknowledgments. Duncanson put the deed in the 
closet with his other papers. Ray lodged with Duncanson and 
at an opportune moment surreptiously abstracted the deed and 
then recorded it. When Duncanson was in Philadelphia, Ray 
spread the report his partner had forged the firm's paper, had 
compromised by a conveyance to him, and had absconded. 
Duncanson, March 13 or 14, 1797, discovered the theft and 
threatened Ray with exposure and thereupon, March 15, the 
latter made a written declaration of right to re-conveyance 
upon adjustment of the firm's finances. Ray was the debtor 
of the firm. 

Sufficient is recorded to warrant the writing, Miss Martha 
Duncanson was a woman of bright mind and engaging 
manner. She died August, 1799. 

Captain Duncanson built an humble home in the centre of 
square 300 on the Potomac bank near Thirteenth street in 1800 
and there lived out his remaining days. 

The first local election was attended with extraordinary 
excitement. Appeals for favorite candidates were made in the 
public prints. Preliminary caucuses in different sections were 
held to select ''fit characters." The citizens of the west end 
choose among its number of candidates, Captain Duncanson. 
The election was on June 9, 1802. Political and sectional 
differences, splitting and scratching, produced a mixed result. 
The Captain received a respectable vote of the suffragists and 
continued to have Capt. instead of Hon. on his letters.* 

Like the others the Captain's fortune became impaired, and, 
March, 1802, he inserted a modest notice in the Intelligencer oi 
**lotsfor sale or on ground rent between the President's house 
and the Navy Yard, the price moderate and payments easy," 
but none came to buy or rent. 

*The twelve elected are the first column. Republicans in italics: federals |daln. 
Daniel Carroll . . . a(t4 George HadJUld 

Gearge Blagden 
James Barry . . 
WillUm Brent . 
Benjamin More 
James Hoban . . 
Ntcholaa King . 
A. B. Woodward 
S. H, Smith . . 
WiUUm Prout . 
Thomas Peter 
fohn Hewitt 

2oi Joseph Hodcson 

164 Thomas Ttngey . 

157 H*"iy *?«*« • • 

129 C Coningham . 

124 Griffith Coombc . 
124 Thomas Herty . 

133 Wm. M. Duncanson 

121 Geofge A ndrews 

120 Peter Lenox . . 
John Kesmsy • • 






Captain Duncanson when he came to America had a fortune. 
He invested with the syndicate, as appears, over seventy 
thousand dollars. The real estate speculation was a complete 
failure. His mercantile ventures were unsuccessful. Misfor- 
tune closely followed misfortune. To business reverse came 
broken health. He neither mismanaged nor overspent; he 
was the victim of ill fate. 

There is pathos in the Duncanson deeds in the old time 
libers. They tell a true story of embarrassment and then of 
pinching poverty, more and more poignant. First is mortgage 
of real estate, then mortgage of equity. After, a chattel trust 
with inventory of everything — mahogany and silverware; 
family and other pictures, twenty-six; a pair of pistols and 
three swords. Then, a bill of sale and thereto the same 
inventory repeated item by item and added, before overlooked, 

A Coach, 

The old coach out in the yard, disused and decayed, the 
suggestion of style and splendor of better days. 

The Captain was survived by a son and two daughters, all 
minors. He was sickly several years. He died the early part 
of 18 12. No mention of his death in print was made. Little 
is written, as even his kindred know of him nothing else than 
he lived and they bear his name. 

In that voyage of life the last scenes were wreck and rescue 
and welcome to the port 

Whose peaceful streets with gold are pav'd.* 

*I quote from Mr. Wattertton's nunuscripC at apropos and not at authoritetlve; he it not alwayt 
accurate. A. C. C 

In connection with Mr. Law I am reminded of another Englithman Capn Duneanton who 
alto arrived from India at the tame time and whoee fate wat a mdancholy one. He had 

held the rank of a Capuin in the Britith army, and both he and Mr. L were taid to 

have come to thit country to avoid being wltnettet in the memorable trial of Warren Hattinn. 
Thit gentleman branched out largely upon hit arrival in the infant Metropolit, then almost a wud- 
emett— drove a carriage and four horaet and built a iBne brick house in the woodt between the 
Capitol HUl and Navy Yard, and lived %rith a ladv who wat takl to be hit titter, in eootMeraMe 
splendor. He had brought whh him, it was bdieved a h a nd some fortune, but it seemed to 
clwindle awav rapidly, and, after various unsuccessful attempu to regain what lie had watted In 
extravagant fivinjg^, he tank into a ttate of absolute penury, and wat finallv borne to an obtcnre 
grave 1^ a tinc^ attendant— the cartman who conve)^ hit l>ody to ite retwig place — ** Unwept, 
unhoaored ana unsong.*'— {700^# 99^ottirsiom*s wtanmcript. 


disquietude and recommended another deed be made and to 
him to be retained by Duncanson. The second deed was 
signed and Ray managed to have at hand the authorized officer 
to talce aclcnowledgments. Duncanson put the deed in the 
closet with his other papers. Ray lodged with Duncanson and 
at an opportune moment surreptiously abstracted the deed and 
then recorded it. When Duncanson was in Philadelphia, Ray 
spread the report his partner had forged the firm's paper, had 
compromised by a conveyance to him, and had absconded. 
Duncanson, March 13 or 14, 1797, discovered the theft and 
threatened Ray with exposure and thereupon, March 15, the 
latter made a written declaration of right to re-conveyance 
upon adjustment of the firm's finances. Ray was the debtor 
of the firm. 

Sufficient is recorded to warrant the writing, Miss Martha 
Duncanson was a woman of bright mind and engaging 
manner. She died August, 1799. 

Captain Duncanson built an humble home in the centre of 
square 300 on the Potomac bank near Thirteenth street in 1800 
and there lived out his remaining days. 

The first local election was attended with extraordinary 
excitement. Appeals for favorite candidates were made in the 
public prints. Preliminary caucuses in different sections were 
held to select ''fit characters." The citizens of the west end 
choose among its number of candidates. Captain Duncanson. 
The election was on June 9, 1802. Political and sectional 
differences, splitting and scratching, produced a mixed result. 
The Captain received a respectable vote of the suffragists and 
continued to have Capt. instead of Hon. on his letters.* 

Like the others the Captain's fortune became impaired, and, 
March, 1802, he inserted a modest notice in the Intelligencer oi 
*Mots for sale or on ground rent between the President's house 
and the Navy Yard, the price moderate and payments easy," 
but none came to buy or rent. 

^he twelve elected are the first column. Republicans in italics: federals plain. 
Daniel Carroll . . . au4 George Hadfield 

Gearge Blagden 
James Barry . . 
WiUUm Brent . 
Benjamin More 
James Hoban . • 
Nicholas King . 
A. B. Woodward 
5. H. Smith . . 
WUliam Prout . 
Thomas Peter 
fohn Hewitt 

202 Joseph Hodcson 
164 Thomas Ttngey . 

157 Henry Ingle . . 

129 C. u>ningham . 
124 Griffith Cloombc . 
124 Thomas Herty . 
133 Wm. M. Duncanson 
131 Geofge A ndrews 

1 30 Peter Lenox . . 
John Keam«y • • 






Captain Duncanson when he came to America had a fortune. 
He invested with the syndicate, as appears, over seventy 
thousand dollars. The real estate speculation was a complete 
failure. His mercantile ventures were unsuccessful. Misfor- 
tune closely followed misfortune. To business reverse came 
broken health. He neither mismanaged nor overspent; he 
was the victim of ill fate. 

There is pathos in the Duncanson deeds in the old time 
libers. They tell a true story of embarrassment and then of 
pinching poverty, more and more poignant. First is mortgage 
of real estate, then mortgage of equity. After, a chattel trust 
with inventory of everything — mahogany and silverware; 
family and other pictures, twenty-six; a pair of pistols and 
three swords. Then, a bill of sale and thereto the same 
inventory repeated item by item and added, before overlooked, 

A Coach. 

The old coach out in the yard, disused and decayed, the 
suggestion of style and splendor of better days. 

The Captain was survived by a son and two daughters, all 
minors. He was sickly several years. He died the early part 
of 18 1 2. No mention of his death in print was made. Little 
is written, as even his kindred know of him nothing else than 
he lived and they bear his name. 

In that voyage of life the last scenes were wreck and rescue 
and welcome to the port 

Whose peaceful streets with gold are pav'd.* 

*I quote from Mr. Wttteraton't maniMcr^ m apropos and not m authoritative; lieianot alwi^ 
accurate. A. C C 

In coiuMctioo wltli Mr. Law I am nmindad of anothar BngtiahoMn Cqm Duncanaoa who 
also arrived from India at the same time and whose fate was a melancholy one. He had 

held the rsnk of a Captain in the British army, and both he and Mr. L were aald to 

have come to this country to avoid being witnsssss in the memorable trial of Warren Hastincs. 
This gentleman branched out largely upon hto arrival in the Iniant Metropolis, then almost a wild- 
emcss— drove a carriage and war hones end buih a fine brick house in the woods between tite 
Capitol Hill and NatTYard, and lived with a ladv who wm said to bs his sister, in considerable 
n>lcndor. He had Drought whh him, it was SeUeved a handsome fortune, but it sesmed to 
dwindle awav rapidly, amL after various unsucccssftd attempts to rsgain what he had wasted la 
extravagant Uving, he sank into a state of absolute penury, and was finally borne to an obscure 
grave 1^ a singls attsndant— the cartman who conveyed his body to ite resmig placs ** Unw^ 
unhonoied uaaxumng^^^^Georg* fFaiUniom*t wtmwmMeH^i. 



disquietude and recommended another deed be made and to 
him to be retained by Duncanson. The second deed was 
signed and Ray managed to have at hand the authorized officer 
to take acknowledgments. Duncanson put the deed in the 
closet with his other papers. Ray lodged with Duncanson and 
at an opportune moment surreptiously abstracted the deed and 
then recorded it. When Duncanson was in Philadelphia, Ray 
spread the report his partner had forged the firm's paper, had 
compromised by a conveyance to him, and had absconded. 
Duncanson, March 13 or 14, 1797, discovered the theft and 
threatened Ray with exposure and thereupon, March 15, the 
latter made a written declaration of right to re-conveyance 
upon adjustment of the firm's finances. Ray was the debtor 
of the firm. 

Sufficient is recorded to warrant the writing, Miss Martha 
Duncanson was a woman of bright mind and engaging 
manner. She died August, 1799. 

Captain Duncanson built an humble home in the centre of 
square 300 on the Potomac bank near Thirteenth street in 1800 
and there lived out his remaining days. 

The first local election was attended with extraordinary 
excitement. Appeals for favorite candidates were made in the 
public prints. Preliminary caucuses in different sections were 
held to select "fit characters." The citizens of the west end 
choose among its number of candidates. Captain Duncanson. 
The election was on June 9, 1802. Political and sectional 
differences, splitting and scratching, produced a mixed result. 
The Captain received a respectable vote of the suffragists and 
continued to have Capt. instead of Hon. on his letters.* 

Like the others the Captain's fortune became impaired, and, 
March, 1802, he inserted a modest notice in the Intelligencer oi 
"lots for sale or on ground rent between the President's house 
and the Navy Yard, the price moderate and payments easy," 
but none came to buy or rent. 

*The twelve elected are the first column. Republicans in italics; federals pUdn. 

Daniel Carroll 
Gearge Blagden 
James Barry . . 
William Brent . 
Benjamin More 
James Hoban . . 
Ntckolas King . 
A. B. Woodward 
S. H. Smith . . 
William Prout . 
Thomas Peter 
fohn Hewitt 





Gwrge HadjUld 
Joseph Hodgson 
Thomas Ttngey . 
Henry Ingle . . 
C Coningkam . 
Griffith Coombe . 
Thomas Herty . 
Wm. M. Duncanson 
George Andrews 
Peter Lenox . . 
John Kearney • . 




Captain Duncanson when he came to America had a fortune. 
He invested with the syndicate, as appears, over seventy 
thousand dollars. The real estate speculation was a complete 
failure. His mercantile ventures were unsuccessful. Misfor- 
tune closely followed misfortune. To business reverse came 
broken health. He neither mismanaged nor overspent; he 
was the victim of ill fate. 

There is pathos in the Duncanson deeds in the old time 
libers. They tell a true story of embarrassment and then of 
pinching poverty, more and more poignant. First is mortgage 
of real estate, then mortgage of equity. After, a chattel trust 
with inventory of everything — mahogany and silverware; 
family and other pictures, twenty-six; a pair of pistols and 
three swords. Then, a bill of sale and thereto the same 
inventory repeated item by item and added, before overlooked, 

A Coach. 

The old coach out in the yard, disused and decayed, the 
suggestion of style and splendor of better days. 

The Captain was survived by a son and two daughters, all 
minors. He was sickly several years. He died the early part 
of 18 12. No mention of his death in print was made. Little 
is written, as even his kindred know of him nothing else than 
he lived and they bear his name. 

In that voyage of life the last scenes were wreck and rescue 
and welcome to the port 

Whose peaceful streets with gold are pav'd.* 

*I quote from Mr. Watteraton*t nuuuiicripc m apropos and not at authorhative; he la not always 
accurate. A. C. C 

In connectkMi whh Mr. Law I am rtmlnded of anochar EngWshman Capn Duncanson who 
also arrived ftt>ni India at the same time and whose fate was a mdancnoly one. He had 

held the rank of a Captain in the British srmy. and both he and Mr. 1 were said to 

have come to this country to avoid being witnesses in the memorable trial of Warren Hastinn. 
This gentleman branched out largely upon his arrival in the infant Metropolis, then almost a wud- 
emcss— drove a carriage and four horaas and built a fine brick house in the woods between tiM 
Capitol HUl and Navy Yard, and lived with a lady who was said to bs hte sister, in considerable 
splendor. He had Drought whh him, it was bcUeved a handsome fortune, but it seemed to 
dwindle awav rqrfdly, and, after vartoua unsuccessful attempte to regain what he had wastsd in 
extravagant livinjB;, he sank Into a state of absohite penury, and waa finally borne to an obscurs 
grave by a single attendant— the cartman who convcjred his body to ite resung placs ** Unwept, 
unhooorad and nnfang.*'~<^0»sv WatUrtton^s wutnuteript. 



disquietude and recommended another deed be made and to 
him to be retained by Duncanson. The second deed was 
signed and Ray managed to have at hand the authorized officer 
to take acknowledgments. Duncanson put the deed in the 
closet with his other papers. Ray lodged with Duncanson and 
at an opportune moment surreptiously abstracted the deed and 
then recorded it. When Duncanson was in Philadelphia, Ray 
spread the report his partner had forged the firm's paper, had 
compromised by a conveyance to him, and had absconded. 
Duncanson, March 13 or 14, 1797, discovered the theft and 
threatened Ray with exposure and thereupon, March 15, the 
latter made a written declaration of right to re-conveyance 
upon adjustment of the firm's finances. Ray was the debtor 
of the firm. 

Sufficient is recorded to warrant the writing, Miss Martha 
Duncanson was a woman of bright mind and engaging 
manner. She died August, 1799. 

Captain Duncanson built an humble home in the centre of 
square 300 on the Potomac bank near Thirteenth street in 1800 
and there lived out his remaining days. 

The first local election was attended with extraordinary 
excitement. Appeals for favorite candidates were made in the 
public prints. Preliminary caucuses in different sections were 
held to select "fit characters." The citizens of the west end 
choose among its number of candidates. Captain Duncanson. 
The election was on June 9, 1802. Political and sectional 
differences, splitting and scratching, produced a mixed result. 
The Captain received a respectable vote of the suffragists and 
continued to have Capt. instead of Hon. on his letters.* 

Like the others the Captain's fortune became impaired, and, 
March, 1802, he inserted a modest notice in the Intelligencer oi 
"lots for sale or on ground rent between the President's house 
and the Navy Yard, the price moderate and payments easy," 
but none came to buy or rent. 

*The twelve elected are the first column. Republicans In italics; federals plain. 

Daniel Carroll 
Gearge Blagden 
James Barry 
WillUm Brent 
Benjamin More 
James Hoban . 
Nicholas King 
A. B. Woodward 
S. H. Smith . 
WUlIam Prout 
Thomas Peter 
/ohn Hewitt 







George Hadfield 
Joseph Hodgson 


Thomas Ttngey . 
Htnry Ingle . . 
C Coningham . 
Griffith Coombe . 
Thomas Herty • 
Wm. M. Duncanson 
Geotge A ndrews 
Peter Lenox . . 
John Kesmsy . . 





Captain Duncanson when he came to America had a fortune. 
He invested with the syndicate, as appears, over seventy 
thousand dollars. The real estate speculation was a complete 
failure. His mercantile ventures were unsuccessful. Misfor- 
tune closely followed misfortune. To business reverse came 
broken health. He neither mismanaged nor overspent; he 
was the victim of ill fate. 

There is pathos in the Duncanson deeds in the old time 
libers. They tell a true story of embarrassment and then of 
pinching poverty, more and more poignant. First is mortgage 
of real estate, then mortgage of equity. After, a chattel trust 
with inventory of everything — mahogany and silverware; 
family and other pictures, twenty-six; a pair of pistols and 
three swords. Then, a bill of sale and thereto the same 
inventory repeated item by item and added, before overlooked, 

A Coach. 

The old coach out in the yard, disused and decayed, the 
suggestion of style and splendor of better days. 

The Captain was survived by a son and two daughters, all 
minors. He was sickly several years. He died the early part 
of 18 1 2. No mention of his death in print was made. Little 
is written, as even his kindred know of him nothing else than 
he lived and they bear his name. 

In thai voyage of life the last scenes were wreck and rescue 
and welcome to the port 

Whose peaceful streets with gold are pav'd.* 

*l quote from Mr. Watterston's nuuiutcript at apropos and not at authoritative; ha it not always 
accurate. A. C. C. 

In connection with Mr. Law I am ren&inded of another Bni^ishman Capn Duncanson who 
also arrived from India at the same time and whooe frrte was a melancholy one. He had 
held the rank of a Captain in the British army, and both he and Mr. L were said to 

have come to this country to avoid being witnesses in the memorable trial of Warren Hastincs. 
This gentleman branched out largely upon hto arrival in the Inlant Metropolis, then almost a wiSiil- 
emess— drove a carriage and war horses and built a fine brick house in the woods brtween tiM 
Capitol Hill and Navy Yard, and ttved with a lady who was said to be hte sister, in conskierabie 
splendor. He had brought with him, it was believed a handsome fortune, but it seemed to 
dwindle awav ra]Mhf , and, after various unsucccsaftil sttempta to regain whet he had wasted In 
extravagant living, he sank Into a state of absolute penury, and was finally borne to an obscure 
grave by a single attendant— the cartman who convcjred his body to ite reswg phcs ** Unwept, 
unhooored 9aixumng."—Georg* fFaUirsian*s wutnuscript. 


disquietude and recommended another deed be made and to 
him to be retained by Duncanson. The second deed was 
signed and Ray managed to have at hand the authorized officer 
to take acknowledgments. Duncanson put the deed in the 
closet with his other papers. Ray lodged with Duncanson and 
at an opportune moment surreptiously abstracted the deed and 
then recorded it. When Duncanson was in Philadelphia, Ray 
spread the report his partner had forged the firm's paper, had 
compromised by a conveyance to him, and had absconded. 
Duncanson, March 13 or 14, 1797, discovered the theft and 
threatened Ray with exposure and thereupon, March 15, the 
latter made a written declaration of right to re-conveyance 
upon adjustment of the firm's finances. Ray was the debtor 
of the firm. 

Sufficient is recorded to warrant the writing, Miss Martha 
Duncanson was a woman of bright mind and engaging 
manner. She died August, 1799. 

Captain Duncanson built an humble home in the centre of 
square 300 on the Potomac bank near Thirteenth street in 1800 
and there lived out his remaining days. 

The first local election was attended with extraordinary 
excitement. Appeals for favorite candidates were made in the 
public prints. Preliminary caucuses in different sections were 
held to select "fit characters." The citizens of the west end 
choose among its number of candidates, Captain Duncanson. 
The election was on June 9, 1802. Political and sectional 
differences, splitting and scratching, produced a mixed result. 
The Captain received a respectable vote of the suffragists and 
continued to have Capt. instead of Hon. on his letters.* 

Like the others the Captain's fortune became impaired, and, 
March, 1802, he inserted a modest notice in the Intelligencer oi 
"lots for sale or on ground rent between the President's house 
and the Navy Yard, the price moderate and payments easy," 
but none came to buy or rent. 

*The twelve elected are the first column. Republicans In italics; federals pidn. 
Daniel Carroll . . . ac4 Gwrre HadjUld 

Gearge Blagden 
James Barry . 
WillUm Brent 
Benjamin More 
James Hoban . 
Nicholas King 
A. B. Woodward 
S. H. Smith . 
William Prout 
Thomas Peter 
/ohn Hewitt 

rge A 

202 Joseph Hodgson 
164 Thomas "nn^ty . 

157 Henry Ingle . . 

129 C Conin^ham . 

124 Griffith Coombe . 
124 Thomas Herty . 

123 Wm. M. Duncanson 

1 2 1 George A ndrews 

120 Peter Len<uc . . 

IIS John Kearney • • 


. . 96 

: : n 

. . 87 
. . 80 

. . 7^ 
. . 60 

. . 58 


Captain Duncanson when he came to America had a fortune. 
He invested with the syndicate, as appears, over seventy 
thousand dollars. The real estate speculation was a complete 
failure. His mercantile ventures were unsuccessful. Misfor- 
tune closely followed misfortune. To business reverse came 
broken health. He neither mismanaged nor overspent; he 
was the victim of ill fate. 

There is pathos in the Duncanson deeds in the old time 
libers. They tell a true story of embarrassment and then of 
pinching poverty, more and more poignant. First is mortgage 
of real estate, then mortgage of equity. After, a chattel trust 
with inventory of everything — mahogany and silverware; 
family and other pictures, twenty-six; a pair of pistols and 
three swords. Then, a bill of sale and thereto the same 
inventory repeated item by item and added, before overlooked, 

A Coach. 

The old coach out in the yard, disused and decayed, the 
suggestion of style and splendor of better days. 

The Captain was survived by a son and two daughters, all 
minors. He was sickly several years. He died the early part 
of 18 1 2. No mention of his death in print was made. Little 
is written, as even his kindred know of him nothing else than 
he lived and they bear his name. 

In that voyage of life the last scenes were wreck and rescue 
and welcome to the port 

Whose peaceful streets with gold are pav'd.* 

*I quote from Mr. Wttterston*s nuuuiicripC at apropos and not at authorhativa; ha U not always 
accurate. A. C. C 

In connection with Mr. Law I am reminded of anothar Englishman Capn Duncanson who 
also arrived from India at the same time and whooe fite was a mdancholy one. He had 

held the rank of a Captain in the British army, and both he and Mr. L were said to 

have come to this country to avoid being witnesses in the memorable trial of Warren Hastings. 
This gentleman branched out largely upon his arrival in the Infant Metropolis, then almost a wfld- 
emess— drove a carriage and four horses and built a fine brick house in the woods between Htm 
Capitol Hill and Navy Yard, and lived with a lady who was said to bs his sister. In conskierable 
splendor. He had Drou|^ whh him. It was believed a handsome fortune, but it seemed to 
dwindle awav ra]Mhr, and, after various unsuccessful attcmpte to regain what he had wasted la 
extravagant living, he sank into a state of absolute penury, and was finally borne to an obscure 
grave 1^ a single attendant— the cartman who convesred his body to ite resung phcs ** Unwept, 
unhooorsd and nasaag.*'~<^0»sv WatUrsian^t wutnuteript. 


disquietude and recommended another deed be made and to 
him to be retained by Duncanson. The second deed was 
signed and Ray managed to have at hand the authorized officer 
to take acknowledgments. Duncanson put the deed in the 
closet with his other papers. Ray lodged with Duncanson and 
at an opportune moment surreptiously abstracted the deed and 
then recorded it. When Duncanson was in Philadelphia, Ray 
spread the report his partner had forged the firm's paper, had 
compromised by a conveyance to him, and had absconded. 
Duncanson, March 13 or 14, 1797, discovered the theft and 
threatened Ray with exposure and thereupon, March 15, the 
latter made a written declaration of right to re-conveyance 
upon adjustment of the firm's finances. Ray was the debtor 
of the firm. 

Sufficient is recorded to warrant the writing, Miss Martha 
Duncanson was a woman of bright mind and engaging 
manner. She died August, 1799. 

Captain Duncanson built an humble home in the centre of 
square 300 on the Potomac bank near Thirteenth street in 1800 
and there lived out his remaining days. 

The first local election was attended with extraordinary 
excitement. Appeals for favorite candidates were made in the 
public prints. Preliminary caucuses in different sections were 
held to select "fit characters." The citizens of the west end 
choose among its number of candidates. Captain Duncanson. 
The election was on June 9, 1802. Political and sectional 
differences, splitting and scratching, produced a mixed result. 
The Captain received a respectable vote of the suffragists and 
continued to have Capt. instead of Hon. on his letters.* 

Like the others the Captain's fortune became impaired, and, 
March, 1802, he inserted a modest notice in the Intelligencer oi 
"lots for sale or on ground rent between the President's house 
and the Navy Yard, the price moderate and payments easy," 
but none came to buy or rent. 

*The twelve elected are the first column. Republicans in italics: federals plain. 
Daniel Carroll . . . a(4 Gwrre Hadjield 

Gearge Blagden 
James Barry . . 
WillUm Brent . 
Benjamin More 
James Hoban . . 
Ntckolas King . 
A. B. Woodward 
5. ff. Smith . . 
WiUiam Prout . 
Thomas Peter 
/ohn Hewitt 

202 Joseph Hodgson 
164 Thomas "nngey . 

157 Henry Ingle . . 

129 C Coningham , 

124 Griffith Coombe . 
124 Thomas Herty . 

123 Wm. M. Duncanson 

1 2 1 George A ndrews 

120 Peter Lenox . . 
John Kearney • • 







Captain Duncanson when he came to America had a fortune. 
He invested with the syndicate, as appears, over seventy 
thousand dollars. The real estate speculation was a complete 
failure. His mercantile ventures were unsuccessful. Misfor- 
tune closely followed misfortune. To business reverse came 
broken health. He neither mismanaged nor overspent; he 
was the victim of ill fate. 

There is pathos in the Duncanson deeds in the old time 
libers. They tell a true story of embarrassment and then of 
pinching poverty, more and more poignant. First is mortgage 
of real estate, then mortgage of equity. After, a chattel trust 
with inventory of everything — mahogany and silverware; 
family and other pictures, twenty-six; a pair of pistols and 
three swords. Then, a bill of sale and thereto the same 
inventory repeated item by item and added, before overlooked, 

A Coach. 

The old coach out in the yard, disused and decayed, the 
suggestion of style and splendor of better days. 

The Captain was survived by a son and two daughters, all 
minors. He was sickly several years. He died the early part 
of 1812. No mention of his death in print was made. Little 
is written, as even his kindred know of him nothing else than 
he lived and they bear his name. 

In that voyage of life the last scenes were wreck and rescue 
and welcome to the port 

Whose peaceful streets with gold are pav'd.* 

*I quote from Mr. W«tter*ton*s maniMcr^ at apropos and not at authoritetive; he la not always 
accurate. A. C. C. 

In connection whh Mr. Law I am rtminded of anochsr Bnfl^hman Capn Duncanson who 
also arrived from India at the saflM time and whose ftite was a melancholy one. He had 
held the rank of a Captein in the Britiah army, and both he and Mr. L were said to 

have come to this country to avoid being witnesses in the memormble trial of Warren Hastinn. 
This gentleman branched out largely upon hto arrival in the inlant Metropolis, then almost a wud- 
emess— drove a carriage and ibur horses and built a fine brick house in the woods between tiis 
Capitol Hill and Navy Yard, and Itvad with a \»dy who was said to bs his sister, in considerable 
spwndor. He had Drou|^ with him, it was Mieved a handsome fortune, but it seemed to 
dwindle awinr rapidly, and, alter various unsuccessful attempte to regain what he had wasted In 
extravagant living, he sank into a state of absolute penury, and was finally borne to an obscure 
grave by a single attendant— the cartman who conveyed his body to ite reswg place—** UnwepC, 
unhooorsd mixumng,** —George fFaUersion*s wmmusert^t. 




MARITAL felicity was short-timed. In a legal instrument, 
July 27, 1802, Mr. Law says he " intends in short time 
to depart from the United States and to reside for a 
certain time in Europe." He departs; he tarries beyond the 
appointed period. His zeal for the city detains him. He writes 
''I am staying to raise 80,000 dollars for the Canal'* and the pros- 
pects brightens of monied men making ''investiture of their 
money." Finally laden with surprises and in high exaltation 
and expectation of happy reunion he returns. Keen disap- 
pointment is his ; he comes to an atmosphere of chill. Mr. Law 
is in Washington, April, 1804. The denouement is in August. 
A document dated August 9, 1804, is signed and sealed by 
husband and wife; it begins: 

Whereas, by an arrangement this day made by and between Thomas Law and 
EUza Park Law his wife, they have mutually agreed to live in future separate and 
apart firom each other ; 

and, another provides : 

That the said Thomas Law shall have the custody and safe keeping exclusively 
of hb said daughter Eliza Law and that he shall be at the sole and exclusive ex- 
pense of the maintenance, education and support of his daughter. 

The cause of disagreement is not disclosed. Mr. Law sur- 
mised silence would stifle scandal. Surely, honorable in this 
particular he made ample provision for the maintenance of his 
wife by an annuity of fifteen hundred dollars. Time did not 
cure the bitterness ; rather than heal the estrangement it aggra- 
vated. With no stranger could she have been more formal. 
She invariably called herself Mrs. Custis, and so did he name 
her, except once — in the publication A Reply to Certain Insinua- 
tions. But once after is it known they ever faced and that un- 
expectedly at their daughter's home in Baltimore, 18x7. 

Already two violations of veracity are charged to the 
Stranger in America. That gossip whispered reproachfully 


of Mrs. Law is without doubt. Yet, that the impropriety 
craftily conveyed by the Stranger is not a libel, most menda- 
cious, is not without doubt. 

About two years ago Mr. Law visited his native country, and left his wife at 
Washington. On his return he found that the lady had given cause to disturb 
his future peace of mind. Rumour, with ''her hundred tongues," had repre- 
sented to him that his frail partner had become particularly attached to the mili- 
tary, at the marine barracks in Washington ; nay, that she had been seen dressed 
ik la militaire in company with the officers. Be this as it may a separation 
certainly afterwards toolc place. The lady was allowed a handsome provision 
while Mr. Law at the time this was written (1806), boarded, as a single man, in 
one of the edifices built by himself in the New Jersey Avenue, which is a 
boarding house for the members of G)ngress, and kept by one Mitchel, a 

Another English traveler, Faux, Memorable Days in America^ 
wanders from the ways of truth ; the falsity of his comment is 
apparent : 

He married the niece of General Washington, the most beautiful lady in 
Virginia ; and, at her uncle's request, Mr. Law settled on her, in case they 
parted, 15,000 a year. The event which seemed thus to be anticipated, soon 
after occurred ; for Mr. Law visiting England soon after his marriage and leaving 
his wife in America, she, during his absence, eloped with a young dashing offi- 
cer in the Army. Mr. Law returned only to part with one of the most accom- 
plished ladies in the land. She lives in high style, and her house is the resort of 
the most fashionable parties. 

The criticism of Faux's publication in the Quarterly Review 
repeats the defamation. Mr. Law indignantly denies and adds : 

That, although a separation did unhappily ensue, originating in a disagreement 
in disposition, yet 1 have always paid tribute correctly due to Mrs. Law's purity 
of conduct, which 1 never did impeach. 

Mr. Law would be the aggrieved party if the coquettish 
caprice were true and his denial has due double credence. Mr. 
Law's letters are numerous which touch upon the separation 
and therein is no intimation of impropriety. 

Is not thy mind a gentle mind ? 

Is not thy heart a heart refmM ? 

Hast thou not every blameless grace, 

That man should love, or Heaven can trace ? 

To Mrs. 

On Some Calumnies Against Her Character. 
— ^Thomas Moore 
From the dty of Washington, 1804. 


Sometime before 1810 Mr. Law resided at the little village of 
Westminster, Vermont. He had advanced an English friend 
funds for investment in lands and he may have had business 
affairs in other ways in this vicinity. At any rate he lived in 
the State of *'nine months winter and three months fall," 
sufficiently long to establish legal residence. It comes down 
that the villagers were attracted by Mr. Law's oddities and 
amused by his habit of retaining bread from the table and in 
his walks handling it in seeming unison with the working of 
his mind. 

General Stephen R. Bradley, then a United States Senator 
from Vermont and his son, Mr. William C. Bradley, subse- 
quently a Representative, were residents of Westminster and 
friends of Mr. Law. Gen. Bradley, the first Senator from the 
State and temporary presiding officer of the Senate became 
friendly acquainted with Mr. Law at Washington. 

Law vs. Law — Bill for Divorce — Filed 18 10. The Senator 
upon return to Washington, December, 1810, took testimony 
for plaintiff and the other Bradley at Westminster presented it 
to the court. 

Gen. Bradley to his son writes* : 

It is the universal wish by all persons here that the businefs may be accom- 
plished as soon as pofsible. The depositions are of the most respectable char- 
acters in this part of the country. 

Mr. Law is here the same he was at Westminster his mind is like a whirl- 
wind and totally incapable of doing any such businefs. 

The depositions are full to the point of separation and total neglect of duty. 

Give me leave to request you, should you succeed, to have the bill well 
drawn Elegantly wrote on parchment. 

I wrote you in case you succeeded in the case of Mr. Law — a Bill elegantly 
made out in due form, if you would without too much trouble send me dupli- 
cates one for Mrs. Law as well as for Mr. Law it would be very gratifying to 
her as she wishes to have with her the evidence of M^ total separation. 

The cause is carried with expedition and January 11, 1811, 

«I am indebted to Mrs. Sarah Bradley WUlard, wife of Hon. Henry A. WillanL for the extract! 
flom the lettera from General Bradley to his son, and for other Law lettera. Of the Hon. WlUIam 
C. Bradlejr* Mra. WiUard ia granddaughter and adopted daughter. Gen. Bradley waa promoter of 
Vermont^s itatdiood, prominent in the nation and potential in the party. Aa preddent of the re- 
publican congressional convention he issued the call for a meeting, January a3, x8o8, of the party 
senators andTRepresentatives to nominate suiteUe charactera for President and Vice President wt 
the next election.— A. C. C. 


Bradley, the junior, to Bradley, the senior, announces the 
plaintiffs success. The 20th the Senator replies : 

I had the pleasure to receive yours of the nth on Friday last and imniediatdy 
communicated the contents to Mr. Law, who appeared to rejoice with joy un- 
speakable, we lodge together in the same house and during the eveiting he came 
in repeatedly to pronounce his benediction on you, he says he shall write you 
immediately and give you a full detail of blessings which arises from his 

Up there now in Vermont in reunions of the best families the 
table is for the occasion adorned with precious bits of China, 
daintily decorated, which have been ever so long carefully 
guarded. All around the board know and it is not therefore 
said the precious chinaware is "Law china." Upon the an- 
nouncement of the divorce decision, to Mrs. Bradley, the 
junior's wife, Mr. Law straightway gave the china he had 
bought in England, while there, as a surprise to Mrs. Law. 
Mrs. Bradley's gift was a thousand pieces in the boxes as they 
came across the ocean never opened. 

Dear Sir: — 

1 have mislaid & have searched in vain, for the deed of Divorce which I 
obtained in Vermont You will much oblige me by sending a document or legal 
voucher of it — pray be kind enough to attend to this. I have Utely read an 
account of fine fishing at Nayhant which brought to mind pleasing recollections 
of our trip there — your little boy on horseback, our conv" & all the circumstances 
of our journey are fresh in my memory. 

I hope you enjoy your health & that your &mily & your sons share the same. 

Y" with sincere 

Esteem & regard 


Augt 10, 1820 


Genl Bradley 



The annuity was a financial millstone around Law's neck ; 
he paid promptly for sixteen years and then in installments 

* Perhaps the political part of the letter, the rugged humor of the eccentric, may interest : 
The Charter of the bank of the United States will not be renewed there seems to be a wonder- 
fiill combination of Interests to defeat it, the hot-headed republicans oppose it because they say it is 
federal, and the federalists are willing it should run out, tho* not at the expense of their votes, 
because they think it will so distress the country, that it will overturn the republican Kiminis- 
tration— whatever nuy be its effects the experiment will be tried— God suffered so many fools to be 
sent here and dementalixed so many of the rest, that it is impossible to say how long he will sufl^ 
or permit an administration and government to remain in their hands, whether his indignation will 
be ultimately manifested aninst the nation at large or against the Fools remains a secret in the 
councils of neaven— I feel for the former, as to tne latter I am willing he should dispose of them In 
his own way, he made them and he may d n them if he pleases K>r all me — 


long apart derived by pledge of property and embarrassing 

To Son-in-Law Rogers, December, 1821. 
My Dear Sir. 

1 rejoice to close this year with a reply to your wellcome kind afl« Letter— 

You cannot conceive how much I have suffered by inability to remit to Mr* Custis 

— Sl particularly by being informed that malignity had doubled the amount due 

Sl thus injured me — ^That this 1500^ p annum has been a great drawback on me 

you can easily conceive, St you will applaud me for exertions during 20 years & 

wonder at my punctuality — I knew that Mn Custis would not prefs for all of it 

from you, although she had sent a harsh mefsage through Elinor to me — my 

Conduct little merited this. I am not very well, Sl will write you more 

cheerfully hereafter. 

I am sorry to learn that your father has been so ill — give my affe regards to 
your good sister — 

I have sent the Bills to Barry & now enclose an order on him for half the 
proceeds to You & half for Eliza, to pay Mn Custis, I will hereafter shew my sense 
of your lit>erality. 

1 never in my life cared about money matters for my self, all 1 wished was to 
make it serve others. I have scarcely read over your Letter the first cursory 
perusal of its beginning and end relieved me from uneasinefs. 

You will give me credit for some philosophy who has without murmuring on 
300 or 500 D\ who spent formerly 30,000— 

May the next year render all under your roof happy & prosperous is the sincere 
prayer of yrs af!y 


Thomas Law's introductory verse in A Family Picture: 

Seek not in public places for a wife; 

Be not deluded by the charms of sight; 
Retirement only gives the friend for life, 

Who shares your grief, and doubles your delight. 


FROM the burning of the Capitol, August 34, 1814, and 
the War and Navy Departments the following day, and 
other havoc to public and private property by the British 
under direction of General Ross and Admiral Cockburn a seri- 
ous question arose, whether the buildings should be recon- 
structed at all. The city's growth had been slow; at that 
date there were only fifteen hundred houses and next to noth- 
ing had been accomplished in the improvement ofthe thorough- 
fares. Congress was convened. A strong party inveighed 
against Washington ; arguments of the original opponents 
were reinforced by the city's poor progress. In the balance, 
swaying up and down, was removal against permanency. 
These were days of anxious suspense to the citizens. Thomas 
Law, by the use of his diplomacy and his influential acquaint- 
anceship, by his pen and by his purse, by his ceaseless energy 
wrought the retention of the National Capital at the city of 

LiTnit TO PusiDiNT Madison. 

When I heard of the conflagration of the Capitol and so forth, I Indulged the 
belief thai a temporary misfortune would be converted to a benelit and that I 
should have the satisfaction of witnessing prosperity here dated from your ad- 
ministration of government. 

The enclosed proposition I submit to your perusal with all deference, in it I 
have considered the claims of the heads of departments, whose salaries are now 
so inadequate to the txptntes of their dignified station and I have adverted also 
to the convenience and interest of all concerned. 

l.ord Kaimes sagaciously remarks that " rough uncultivated gmund dismal to 
(he eye inspires peevishness and discontent " and 1 have long attributed much of 
the discord in Congress to causes arising in this city from distance of reudence, 
want of social amusements and confinement together, where dissatisfaction is 
engendered and diisen«ons produced. 

I have also long apprehended thai parsimony and neglect exhibited in this 
city would tend to deceive foreign governments into contempt of the natiMMl 


Spirit productive of insults and injuries till insupportable and that foreign minis- 
ters also under impression received here must convey unfavorable estimations 
from what daily could not escape their notice. 

These sentiments I communicated to many frequently and as they have been 
verified I hope to be pardoned the liberty of repeating them, with the sincere 
desire to see every edifice arise with superior convenience and splendor. 

What remains of empires fallen but a few monuments of former grandeur. 
What is the glory of Great Britian but her universities, hospitals and public 

It may be urged that General Washington recommended a university and 
military school in vain ; the opprobrium of neglect remains with G>ngress, and 
regrets now arise for inattention to his advice and a disposition prevails to re- 
erect the public buildings and to establish institutions which wiU be a lasting 
honor to this government. 

Every individual citizen who shall behold them will feel his bosom swell with 
exultation and exclaim ** this is ours '* and thus identify himself with his nation. 

Any recommendation you make, Sir, at this crisis would be adopted, as a 
general inclination prevails not only to do away causes of complaint but to pro- 
mote the permanent seat of government. 

May you, Sir, when you retire to enjoy in private the contemplation of your 

numerous services, have the satis&ction of seeing the Constitution you so much 

promoted preserved from extemal assault and internal undermining and every 

prosperity in this Metropolis bearing the name of the revered Hero, Statesman 

and Patriot — Washington. 

I remain 

With unfeigned 

Esteem, regard and respect 

Yr. mt. ob. servant, 

Nov. 26th, 1814. THOS. LAW. 

Mr. Ingersoll was a Member; time could not efface from his 
memory Mr. Law's effective efforts. In April, 1848, was written 
this paragraph of the /fishery of the Second War between the 
United States of America and Great Britain by Charles J. 
Ingersoll : 

Congress assembled in September, 1 814, in discomfort AD the public build- 
ings of Washington were destroyed, except the patent-office, in which we met. * 
And one of the first resolutions proposed was by Jonathan Fisk, for removal of 
the seat of government to some more convenient and less dishonored place. As 
Philadelphia was that generally preferred as the substitute, 1 voted for it; though 
now, if not then, convinced that to abandon Washington would be detrimental 
to the national interest, at any time, and at that crisis especially. At first Mr. 
Fisk, and Mr. Grosvenor, who was his chief supporter in the movement, obtained 
considerable majorities in the House. But dwindling at every successive vote 
till fmally, by eighty-three to seventy-four, the project was defeated. Executive 
influence was strong against it, and local feeling intense. Mr. Thomas Law« a 

• Bkidgett's Hotel 



brother of the English chief justice, Lord EUenborough, and who married 
a grand-daughter of Washington's wife, and by his advice, as Law said, invested 
a hundred thousand guineas, which he brought from India, where he governed a 
province, to this country, in city of the federal metropolis, a man of eccentric be- 
haviour, considerable attainments, and addicted to newspaper publications, was par- 
ticularly alarmed and protested against what he reprobated as a breach of public 
faith, that would ruin him and many other innocent, meritorious property-holders 
of vested rights. The National Intelligencer, lampooned as the Court Gazette by 
the Federal Republican newspaper, intimated that the President's veto was ready 
for any bill that Congress might pass for removing the seat of government from 
where Washington had fixed and named it by an act of Congress, in which 
Madison took an active part, by compromise and compact; to deracinate which, 
would violate national faith, like repudiation of public debt 

In the Washington Centennial Exhibition at the Library of 
Congress, December, 1900, was a copy of the petition of the 
committee, Daniel Carroll of Duddington, Thomas Law and 
Frederick May, appointed at a general meeting of the citizens 
held on Capitol Hill, to John P. Van Ness, Richard Bland Lee 
and Tench Ringgold, the Commissioners appointed to super- 
intend the re-erection of public buildings destroyed by the 
British, 18 14, together with the original letter of Mr. Law to 
President Madison transmitting it; also, autograph draft of the 
President's answer. The purport of the petition is the erection 
of an edifice on Capitel Hill wherein Congress could assemble 
while the Capitol was rebuilding. 

Paul Jennings, the colored body servant of James Madison, 
says : * 

(The next summer, 1814,) Mr. John Law, a large property-holder about the 
Capitol, fearing it would not be rebuilt, got up a subscription and built a large 
brick building (now called the Old Capitol, where the Secesh prisoners are now 
confined), and offered it to Congress for their use till the Capitol should be 
rebuilt. This coaxed them back, though strong efforts were made to move the 
seat of government North; but the Southern members kept it there. 

Thomas Law, Daniel Carroll of Duddington, and other 
public-spirited citizens, with utmost expedition, subscribed 
the funds and erected a suitable building, which they offered to 
Congress. And with like promptness did Congress act. It 
took possession of the new capitol immediately upon comple- 
tion, December 13, 1815, and, upon the terms proposed, au- 
thorized the President to lease for one year, and * ' thence until 
the Capitol is in a state of readiness for the reception of Con- 

• The NatkMua Capitol, Its ArchlUctiira, Art and Hktary.—GMrgg C. Ifaslgion^/r, 


gress. It was not until December 7, 1819, that Monroe could 
say to Congress " I offer you my sincere congratulation upon 
the recommencement of your duties in the Capitol." 
Mrs. Seaton, November, 18 14, writes : 

Mr. Law yesterday bought me some lines applicable and striking to us who 
are spectators of the ruins of the Capitol, and listeners to the constant disputa- 
tion concerning a removal of the seat of government, or a rebuilding of the 
public offices. 


The scene of conflagration which by day 

Excited feelings painful to convey, 

Appeared in sleep; and faintly I disclose 

The pleasing vision which in dreams arose. 

High on the Opitol's smeared, smoky wall, 

Midst fractured pillars of the Congress Hall 

Columbia sat: fiill frequent heaved the sigh, 

And griefs dull languor floated in her eye. 

With wild emotion every feature wrought, 

Her air was sorrow, and her look was thought. 

Lo! smiling Liberty, with heavenly grace, 

And form angelic, gives a warm embrace; 

*' Mourn not,'' she said, ''the vandal's savage flame, — 

A lasting tarnish to the invader's fame; 

To just revenge thy children it inspires. 

And makes them emulate their sainted sires! 

Extend your view o'er lakes, o'er seas, o'er lands. 

Triumphant everywhere behold your bands; 

Whole fleets are taken and whole armies yield; 

Before your sons e'en veterans fly the field. 

Even in sight of Albion's cliffs your fleet 

Seeks the proud ruler or the waves to meet. 

My spirit gives an energy divine, 

And makes your sons all former deeds outshine." 

Now an effulgent burst of western light. 

And gilded clouds, wide spreading struck my sight. 

Justice descends! but as she nearer drew 

A blaze of glory hid her from my view. 

I heard a voice, though solemn, full of love. 

Pronounce she came commissioned from above. 

" Droop not, Columbia," she exclaimed, " but trust 

In power Almighty, and your cause is just; 

The machinations of the bad shall fail, 

The force of numbers be of no avail. 

Our God shall shield thy chosen land from harm, — 

Our God protects thee with his outstretched arms! " 

At this, methought a peal of victory rung. 

And a new edifice in splendor sprung. 



Like Phoenix from its ashes, and a sound 

Of triumph and rejoicing rose around. 

Sudden I woke, all glowing with delight, 

And full of faith in all that passed by night. 

One dove to Noah in the deluge bore 

The welcome tidings of appearing shore : 

Two harbingers from heaven methought appeared, 

That son'owful Columbia might be cheered. 

O, may it be the Almighty's gracious will. 

This welcome vision quickly to fulfill T' 

It has been claimed that Law 

Was head and shoulders above every other original proprietor and early 
speculator ; 

and that he 

Secured the permanence of the Capital in the old times, by the same means 
Alex. Shepherd assured its stability in our days. 

Although Mr. Law was an educator and did so much for the 
city, no school or other institution bears his name, but do of 
others who to him in calibre were as pygmies to a colossus. 

Among those who by their wealth, talents, or industry have contributed to 
the formation of our infant Metropolis may be reckoned Thomas Law. The 
Washington Guide — William Elliot. 

Mr. James Greenleaf recognized Mr. Law's merit and talent 
and honored him by designating a street in Allentown, Penn- 
sylvania — Law Street. 

With reliance upon what has been recited I repeat that in 
the greatest measure to Greenleaf is due the removal of the 
capital to Washington and to Law is due the retention of the 
capital at Washington. 









I I 










Here eaiy quiet, a secure retreat, 
A harmless life that knows not how to cheat. 
With home-bred plenty the lich owner bless, 
And rural pleasures crown his happiness. 
Unvex'd with quarrels, undisturb'd with noiie, 
The country king his peaceful realm enjoys. 


R. LAW to Mr. Bradley, March 24, 1817, writes: 

Remb me aftr to your father, (ell him 1 have turned farmer having 
purchased 943 Kres of Land near Washington for jo D> p aae. 

Mr. Law bought the tract November, iSid, and built the 
manor house in the spring, 1817. The advertisement in the 
Intelligencer, April, 1817, indicates the land gave the material 
for the habitation ; 

For makinn looooo bricks, two miles fiom the Eastern Branch, Wood will be 

T. LAW. 

The brick walls were veneered with wood.* Mr. Law's seat 

nrlldi OUD It 

nwf.<Dmb iDd four huvy 
two itoritt ml le cKu-sory a 
f«i by onAy half ihit width. 

Ita fionl muni Wuhlncton dty, who** t 
apt frem Um two hlxh f ■ml window palu 
tseM pDRh with ■ borotr-llthwd door and 
rnindi Mmdac thi eotnl iBBulan with ■ h 

Tht Imaiiar hud d 


iigh, corw^roofBd I 

' 1 which >iippll*d ErnlK« both to Ibannti 

Th* full Infth of tncgnund Soar w*> nor 

■ cHby could b* HO, but not (h* dl* KmUI o- 
■«■ jpxmlBloiidfmtr— ' -■■ ■- -" ^-^ 

Ihlniat, liiida 

on th* ground ind fovr on th* Oiior abovt, with ninti for do- 

._ ,_ _ „.iit nuo wa* pudt of thi two frat puion, whlfh, thrown Into 

OMhy brn dlTldtnt doon,ni*( ■ bcnqiM hall of fbrtv bTHiii*« tot, with Grepiaoi at th* 
■nda. Blind paaaaca or aiiiaO watdmbia Ibnhtr awandaj thla raoa Into tha wlofa, on* ot whkh 

**n* motw! of'ih* hoiua, ^oblk antcndiiincm to lar|« coa 
dooMa raom. who* conwn wan b(vMad K Um (iiidiit door to 
tha porch aodlmB tha b«k hall, which ■-^~' 

ofBKd abov* Into tha cantv of tha boiw 

don and porch robbad lh*R*tTalt 

tha proprinor hid pbni 
etWBal phlBiifaa and 


crowned the further Anacostia heights, ''Silver Hills/' and the 
stream to be crossed just before the ascent was Oxen Run. It 
was rechristened Oxon, suggestive of the English seat of learn* 
ing, Oxford ; in fact, all about the Retreat strongly suggested 
rurality In Merrie England; the English cattle, the English 
hands, the English steward, the hospitable hall and the Squire 
Mr. Law says: 

When I began fanning I knew not wheat from rye, or rye from barley, but I 
well know what are the benefits of fiurming. 

Mr. Law was an apt student and soon an instructor in Adam's 
profession. He learnedly discussed the cultivation of the soil, 
very likely, more from a theoretical than a practical viewpoint, 
with the Agricultural Society of Prince George's County of 
which he was the president and the inspiring spirit. Out of 
goodness of heart he had an address printed and mailed to 
other agricultural presidents that they might avail themselves 
of his tillage wisdom but it was too advanced for their 

The scenery at the Retreat is charming, the journey to and 
from enchanting; in the ascent is pleasurable surprise in every 
bend ; in the descent suddenly bursts a panorama, the peaceful 
city in the arms of the river and under the protecting hills. 
The view determined Mr. Law's selection with too little, if any, 
thought of fertility, for the soil is stubborn. What success his 
essay at farming first attends he to his kindred spirit, Bradley, 
confides : 

My peas are only now in bloisom though I took great pains with them — 

Mr. Bradley comes to Congress; on him Mr. Law calls and 
then carelessly scribbles, February 25, 1819 : 

D« Sir— 

I called at your Secretarys & left my name, but had not the pleasure of 
seeing you — Will you prove are the same ever come to my party on Saturday to 
tea in the Country — 



The Honble 
W — Bradley Esq — 



At the Retreat the latch-string is out. For the invited guests 
the Squire stands at the threshold waiting to welcome. For 
chance visitors the door is always open. **1 regret that Mr. 
Law is absent at an agricultural dinner, as he is happy to see 
all callers/' this, said his overseer. 

Washington, Tuesday May 23, 1820. 

Such a splash as we had at Mr. Law's yesterday! Near a hundred gentlemen; 
all the farmers of Prince George's county for many miles around, and all the 
gentry from Washington. And no more ceremony, and quite as much festivity 
and playfulness as among a flock of children just broke loose from school. 
Anthrobus, with his white horse rearing up perpendicularly half a dozen times, 
from impatience to start; and his English servant, to be even with his master, 
dancing off, in short jumps, for about forty yards, then giving whip and spur and 
dashing through Mr. Law's clover field like a thunderbolt, to get to the gate 
before his master, who was driving at the rate of twelve miles an hour! Then, 
such a rattling of carriages and clattering of horses' hoofs! But first, such a 
dinner! But before that such fme punch, down at the spring beyond the pavilion, 
on the hill in the woods. Then such excellent songs after dinner! Graff had a 
Dutch parody on Jessie of Dumblane, which is admirable. The President 
laughed 'til he cried, and I believe would have danced if a fiddle had struck up. 
The good man sat at table beating time with his fork to the songs sung by GraiT 
and others, with all the kindness and amiability of his nature. 

Mr. Law delivered a great speech. It was a meeting of the Agricultural 
Society, but the speech was over before I got there. On asking Mr. Adams 
for an account of it, he said ** it was a love song about murder; in other words, 
an agricultural speech in praise of manufactures.'' Quite in his style! eccentric 
poetry interlarded with * * * In short, it is not possible to conceive of a 
more agreeable country party than it was — so far as agreeableness can exist without 

Your aiTectk)nate father, 

To Laura H. Wirt. 

The "Old Man Eloquent," the sixth President of the United 
States, and Hon. John C. Calhoun, the day before, had been 
the Squire's guests — May 22, 1820. 

The spring of which Mr. Wirt speaks had mineral property. 
It was the Squire's bathing place. It makes a tributary to the 

Mr. Faux called at the Retreat thrice. The first time the 
Squire was absent. Mr. Faux in the Squire's absence indus- 
triously catechised the overseer and explored everything every- 
where, and having made mental inventory he retired to a con- 

PAMun ^300 

venient spot and recorded the same in his notes for he was 
gathering material for the enlightment of the English nation.* 

For freshest wits 1 know will soon be wearie 

Of any book, how grave so e'er it be, 
Except it have odd matter, strange and menie, 

Well sauc'd with lies and glared all with glee. 

Mr. Faux was an artist in dressing with sauce and decorat- 
ing with glee. One of the '*odd matters" he derived from 
the English overseer was that the English hands repaid the 
Squire's civility with rudeness and indulgence with drunken- 
ness until unbearable. 

Mr. Faux gained from the overseer that the Squire's York- 
shire bull and cow disliked the climate ; that the cow chewed 
her cud, moodily, pensively, a far-away look in her eyes ; the 
overseer said she *' pines for the sweet, green pastures of her 
dear native land." Then, even the dumb animals had the 
antipathy. Mr. Faux's account of the Squire's live stock has 
the hint of Pharaoh's dream and 

The seven thin and ill-favoured ktne; 

but the Squire's advertisement for sale in the market-place from 
his droves has the ring of 

The cattle upon a thousand hills. 

The Squire knew his Yorkshire lordship as the Bishop. The 
Bishop's father, says the Squire, was preferred to fifteen hun- 
dred guineas. The Bishop's noble ancestry the Squire traces 
through many high sounding names to which he puts opposite 
dam, g. dam, g.g. dam, until he reaches g.g.g.g. dam, which 
is old Madame Bolingbroke herself. 

The Squire hastened to town and invited his caller to the 
Retreat. He seemed to think he should apologize for the 
drawbacks of his farm and deficiencies of farming. 

You, Mr. Faux, saw my farm and garden. They are poor, but I will improve 
the gravelly hills by carting earth on to them from the valleys. 

The Squire tells the traveller of his contentment and em- 

I therefore determined on visiting and ultimately on living in this country, 
where 1 have spent my time much to my satis&ction never being at a loss for 

* Faux's Mtmorablc Dayi In America. 


amusement I write and read, talk and visit, on the most lamiliar and inendly 
terms with my neighbours with whom I frequently stay all night ; and whenever 
I please, I can without ceremony go and talk frequently and freely with the 
President, Mr. Crawford, Gdhoun, and all the heads of the government, and 
therefore I have the best society the land affords. My wants were then, and 
have always been, very few. 1 believe I have always been happier than any 
of my brothers. 

On the day appointed, July lo, 1820, Mr. Faux escorted by 
the Squire's sons, John and Edmund — an escort which would 
have bestowed honor on a prince — came over the serpentine 
road " planted with dying shrubs" through the farm up to the 
house. He was welcomed by the Squire and introduced to the 
other guests, Mr. Carter, Mr. Elliott, Colonel Hebb and his 
friend, a Cambrian. 

After the repast conversation flowed unrestrainedly. The 
traveller reduced liberally to writing the Squire's remarks and 
from them is quoted : 

I entertained the President and heads of departments, and one hundred fnends 
besides, to dinner at this house, on such a dinner as we had today, and a little 
light wine, and the cost of all was only forty dollars. My good neighbours, it 
is true, sent me hams and rounds of beef, ready cooked, because they thought 1 
should find it difficult to cook for so many. If I were in England, I must have 

my Lord , and others of the same rank; all must be splendid, costly, and 

pompous ; but all this is not the hospitality which I like and find here. Here we 
go and come, as, and when we please ; no previous notice is necessary; we give 
and take freely of such things as we have, and no one is inconvenienced. In 
England a house is alarmed by the arrival of an unexpected visitor. As neigh- 
bours and visitors we are all equal and share good things in common. 

Of the dinner, -Mr. Faux says : 

Our dinner consisted of lamb, ham and chicken, and blackberry pie, with 
claret, brandy, and whiskey, the latter fifteen years old. Here was ease and no 
ceremony. Every guest seemed as free as if at home, and eat, drank, and talked 
as he pleased. As this dinner was on my account, Mr. Law placed me on his 
right hand as his guest. 

Mr. Law talked to Mr. Faux personally and not through him 
publicly. No benefit of doubt can be for the author that he 
failed in candor and colored with prejudice and extravagance 
Mr. Law's confidences and his personal history. The publica- 
tion brought forth Mr. Law's account of the honorable career 
in India and a public demonstration of his fellow-citizens of 
their admiration and affection. 

The Squire kept bachelor estate and was not always prepared 
for chance callers, or for sportsmen who sometimes stumbled 


into the Retreat. The generous Squire set before his guests the 
best he had, perhaps two articles, just what a chef would write 
on a menu for the first and thirteenth courses. Although this 
want of variety should not have worried the Squire yet it did ; 
and he with pen and paper put down his vexation and sought 

I leave the noby streets 
For cool retreats 
Of forest aisles and bowers of underwood. 

— Thomas Henry, Wood-Notes. 

At three score and ten Mr. Law wrote the note to Mr. Seaton. 
He, at times, wearied with unrewarded work for the common 
weal or was overborne with his own trials, and, then, at the 
Retreat sought surcease. But his ceaseless energy at the allotted 
age had yet years of grand utility. 

I shall soon retire to country, and swear never more to harass myself with 
finance, the charms of nature, too much overlooked hitherto, I will more dwell 
upon. On this subject 1 will show you some good lines. 

To William W. Siaton, Esq. 
March 14, 1826. 

Nemo in his RamiUs, says a gentleman then living, 1883, 
related that he met Mr. Law, who inquired his destination. He 
replied: **I am on my way to the Retreat to dine with other 
invited friends this very hour." He added: ** Law's genial 
wit, that (lowed with his wine, made his guests forget the 
hasty preparation of the forgotten dinner.** 

Mr. Law's narrowed means never diminished his hospitable 


EUsa Xaw Vooets. 

MRS. SEATON, November, 1815, writes : 
On dii^ that the winter will be extremely gay, and decked with all the 
splendor of polished manners, brilliant talent and transcendant beauty, 
and the drawing rooms will sparkle with sdntOlations of wit and fire of genius. 
Mr. Jefferson's granddaughter, Miss Randolph, will lead the van in accomplish- 
ments and beauty; Miss Law, * * * wOl fill an elevated place in the 
admiration of every observer whfle daughters and nieces of the members wOl fill 
up the interstices. 

Miss Eliza Law had the poetry of her sex. She reigned a 
belle in the official society; in her twenty-first year she reigned 
the queen of her own realm. Her marriage, April 5, 1817, is 
announced in the Intelligencer: 


On Saturday, by the Rev. Mr. McG>rmick, Uoyd N. Rogers, Esq. of Balti- 
more, to Miss Eliza Law, daughter of Thomas Law, Esq. of this dty. 

That it was not the loss of a daughter but the gain of a son, 
the letter evinces: 

Druid Hill Feb. 23<i 1823 

Eliza and the chfldren are very well and we have been in hopes that you would 

have been with us before this. Shall we not see you before the spring sets you 

at work in the country ? If you do not pay us a visit soon you may expect to be 

welcomed when you can again by another grandchild. CresciUei muUipli' 

camini* seems to be our motto. I am blessed with a dear good wife take her 

for all and all and it is thus we should estimate every thing in this world. I do 

not know where such another should be found and charming children who I wbh 

will deserve more than ever I can do for them. 

Thomas Law, Esq. 


Dis. Columbia 

* Maryland's motto— <«row and nuiMply. 


In her twenty-sixth year Mrs. Rogers died. '* Youth, 
beauty, accomplishment, and goodness, have suddenly de- 
scended to the grave. The house of gayety is turned into a 
house of mourning."* 

In the sacred plot not so far from the family mansion lies a 
gravestone with an inscription : 

Here lie 
The remains of 

Eliza Rogers 


She was Eminently gifted with all the 

qualities in Woman that win the esteem 

the love and Admiration of others. 

But to dwell upon her virtues 

Cannot Sooth the Dead 

And gives no consolation to the Living 

Bom JanY 19^^ 1797. Died Aug. loth 1822. 

Next thereto is a headstone inscribed : 

Here lies all that was mortal 

Lloyd Nicholas Rooers 

a ripe scholar 


an accomplished gentleman 

who died 

November /2** 1860, aged 73. 

The Park of Druid Hill, which he inherited from the original patentee to whom 
it was granted by the Colony of Maryland in 1760 and which he conveyed in 
i860 to the City of Baltimore, surrounds this spot a part of the original grant, 
and he sleeps as was his wish with his ancestors and those whom he loved. 

The children of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Nicholas Rogers were : 
Edmund, Eliza and Eleanor. 

Mr. Law's three Indian sons were John, George and Edmund. 
Of George after 1795 no mention is made. John and Edmund 
attained strong manhood and noble character. A mental 
image invests these brothers with brilliant eyes, raven locks 
and dark complexions reflecting the rich tints of the mother, a 
daughter of the land of the sun, John with a glance, as if to 
speak, and Edmund, a shade thoughtful. 

• From Obituary in the InUttigencer^ August a4, 1823. 


Mrs. Seaton says : 

We see much of him and his sons, John and Edmund, who are both unexcep- 
tional as regards either their manners, principles or acquirements. 

And in accord is Mr. Faux : 

The two Asiatic sons of Mr. Law seem generous, kind-hearted, and most 
intelligent young gentlemen, free from all aristocratic pride. 

}obn %a\o. 

The year of his birth is probably 1784. He was the eldest 
son. As a graduate of Harvard University, 1804, he was 
accorded " one of the most elegant and accomplished scholars 
of his class." His confidence and force of character made 
him a leader. In the gayeties of life he entered with the same 
zest as earnestness in the graver affairs. His name first appears 
in print in the listof patrons of the Washington Dancing Assem- 
bly, 1806; and it continues in the direction of the Washington 
Birthday balls and other devotions to Terpsichore. 

Mrs. Seaton, January 2, 1813, writes : 

I was engaged to John Law as a partner for cotillions the day before. This 
gentleman ranks high in William's estimation and I am always pleased by his 
polite attentions in company. 

And it is told on an occasion of state he gallantly led out 
Mrs. Decatur, the Commodore's wife, in the cotillions. 

When the laurel crowned hero returned whether from Erie 
lake or Tripoli bay he needs must be feasted and toasted and 
John's duty it was to spread the banquet and bespeak the 
silvery-tongued jolliers. 

He belonged to the militia, the Columbian Dragoons, and 
his straps showed him to be the first lieutenant, June, 1811. 
That Sergeant Law defended valiantly against the British 
invaders can be more confidently accepted than Mr. Faux's 
other assertion that the sergeant revealed himself to be Lord 
Ellenborough's nephew to the epauleted vanquishers who as 
guests at his home wore the night in revelry. 

Sunday evening, March 19, 1815, was married by the Rev. 
Mr. McCormick, John Law to Miss Frances Ann Carter, 
daughter of George Carter, then deceased. The Carters were 



A year after the marriage Mrs. Seaton pleasantly imparts: 

I called to see your old friend, Mr. Law, yesterday, and found him employed 
in the most dehghtfiil and edifying occupation, — ^whistling variations to an 
operatic air to his son and heir, aged five weeks. 

In the formative days when everything had its beginning 
Mr. Law was at the birth, or his brother was, actively 
assisting. He, November, 1813, was of those to establish a 
lottery to build two public schools and a penitentiary. 

In the Columbian Institute, as curator or otherwise, he 
participated in the management. 

President Madison honored, 1814, Mr. Law with commis- 
sionership to adjust the Yazoo claims. 

John Law was a lawyer and an able one. In Pratt against 
Law, the cause celehre, he alone withstood assaults of the 
arrayed advocates of numerous parties against his father and 
won. He was engaged in cases of vital precedent and vast 
importance. He practiced at some periods independently, at 
others conjointly with Edmund. He was associated with 
George Watterston, the latter afterwards first Librarian of 
Congress. Shortly after their dissolution they had opposite 
sides to a case before Judge Morsell; Law got the judgment 
and Watterston exclaimed: "There is not a morsel of law in 
the case." The judge did not appreciate the humor of the 
double-barreled pun; he did remark concerning contempt of 

John Law was the orator at the laying of the corner stone of 
the City Hall, August 22, 1820. In part he says : 

The various chief magistrates of the nation have always taken a lively interest 
in its prosperity. For the first of American Presidents, and the first of the wor- 
thies of our history, whose merit defies the powers of panegyric, and whose fame 
will be perpetuated with increasing admiration, when the Napoleons of the world, 
and the minions of a selfish ambition, will be execrated or forgotten — ^what 
American bosom will not bear testimony of his zeal for his country, and fidelity 
in the execution of every duty ? But, his modesty prevented him from obtruding 
his powerful influence on a point so delicate as the advancement of this place. 
The firmness of his virtuous successor resisted the influence which would have 
retained, till a later period, the seat of government at Philadelphia; and, at the 
first session of Congress assembled here he emphatically called their attention to 
the promotion of our prosperity, — The venerable republican of Monticellogave his 
personal attention to the minutest details connected with the affairs of the city; 
and the solicitude with which he studied its progress and embellishment refuted 



the despicable calumny which charged him with envy of the reputation of Wash- 
ington. — His friend and successor — ^the friend of human kind — was one of the 
warmest advocates in Congress for the selection of this spot, and evinced the 
extent of his zeal for our welfare at that gloomy period when it was proposed to 
remove the government (in consequence of the wanton devastation of the public 
buildmgs during the war) by his decided disapprobation of a step which would 
have added to the vain glory of the enemy. — The example of his predecessors 
has been followed by the President of the United States, and we may confidently 
trust that the best exertions of his industry and talents will be employed in the 
promotion of this national undertaking. 

Of the future prosperity of this metropolis a reasonable doubt can no longer 
be entertained. While many larger cities are complaining of their pecuniary 
embarrassments, no check has been made in the progress of its private improve- 
ments. Many of lU sources of wealth have not yet been opened. It is now, 
and will daily become a more desirable residence for those who can retire on their 
fortunes, and enjoy the pleasure of a society which is not surpassed in elegance 
or taste bv any city on the continent. 

From these views of the obstacles we have surmounted, and the destiny that 
awaits this favored spot, we shall be induced, by continued industry and enter- 
prise to forward its advancement, and urge with zeal the progress of our City 
Hall— a building which will constitute one of its principal ornaments, and which 
from the taste and convenience of the design, is equally honorable (o the Archi- 
tect and the Corporation. And may that Being who presides over and rewards 
the useful labors of the frail and feeble mortals of this orb enable us to conduct 
the work to an auspicious conclusion, and render it the seat of official wisdom 
and integrity. 

John Law was a local legislator. His membership is: 

Eighth Council — 1809. First chamber. 
Twentieth Council — 1822. Alderman. 

At the time of his death he was president of the board. 

John Law was admired, honored, loved. His untimely call 
in the meridian of usefulness broke upon the community with 
the shock of personal loss. To that time affectionate tribute to 
trait and talent greater had no man. In the papers are pane- 
gyrics in prose and poem. 

He died Friday, October 4, 1822 ; the funeral was the day 
following. Hon. John Qyincy Adams and Hon. John C. Cal- 
houn were of the attendants. 

Sunday, October 13. From the tower of All Souls' Unitarian 
Church the bell tolled its first message of grief.* The Rev. 

*Thit tlM first city church bell, which was cast in th« foundry of Paul iUveri, had batnraccntly 



Mr. Little from St. Paul's fervidly eloquent discourse on the 
resurrection announced the text : 

The last enemy that shall be destroyed it death. 

I Corinthians XV. 26. 

and preached the funeral sermon of John Law. 
From the Intelligencer^ October 7, 1822 : 


In this city, on Friday night last, of a severe but short illness, John Law, Eiq. 
aged about 38 years, attorney at law. In him our city has sustained the loss of 
one of its eariiest, most respectable, and most useful citizens. The general 
esteem in which he was held was evinced by the number of the friends who 
attended his remains to the tomb, and shared the sorrows of his worthy and 
grief-oppressed father, who has within a few weeks, been deprived of two of the 
three dearest ties which bound him to life and to society. * * * In every 
view in which we contemplate the death of Mr. Law — ^when, in particular, we 
consider the happiness with which he was blessed, or his future hopes, we cannot 
help exclaiming, as he did, in nearly the last words which he uttered, from the 
beautiful language of Burke, 

What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursuel 

To the friend of his youth and associate in mature years Mr. 
Watterston strew a poetic garland in nine numbers, and one:* 

Just God! on what a brittle thread 

Our fairest visions hang! 
Life's rosy path leads to the dead, 

Where ends each lingering pang. 

A tribute from Maine penned perhaps by a classmate con- 
cludes in poetic composition. f From it: 

There are few whose lives deserved to be more admired, or whose deaths 
ought to be more lamented. The richness of his talents and the brilliancy of his 
genius have seldom been excelled, and the ardor of his spirit and the activity of 
his exertion towards literary attainment have rarely been surpassed. Had his 
life been prolonged, his usefulness would in all probability have increased and he 
would still more become — the pride of his friends and an ornament to his country. 

Mrs. Frances Law, relict of John Law, died October 26, 1826. 
Mr. and Mrs. John Law had two sons, Edmund and Thomas. 

*The poem Is published in the InUUigenur^ October 23, 182a. 
t The Intelligencer— ^}\o\t!ttibtx ai, i8aa. 








His birth-year is 1790. He was the youngest son. In con- 
trast to John's trait, freeness, was Edmund's, reserve. His 
inclination to self-seclusion sprang from a timidity of infringing 
on the affairs of others rather than from hauteur or disinter- 
estedness. John was the advocate, Edmund, the student, who 
searched out the mysteries of the books. 

Edmund was an organizer of the Bank of Metropolis. 
January 3, 1814, and of its first board of direction. He was 
secretary of a preliminary meeting, March 25, 1812. 

He succeeded his father to the management of the George 
Washington estate in this city; and he had the control of the 
realty and his father's affairs generally more closely than John. 
He, like his brother, officered the Columbian Institute. 

President Monroe appointed Mr. Law a member of the 
Legislative Council of Florida in its territorial period. He 
advanced to the presidency of the Council and was popularly 
considered as Delegate to Congress. Editorially the /if/^//i- 
gencers2iys, July 27, 1822, the territory would have an excellent 
representative and : 


Mr. Law until he moved to Florida was but little Hnown beyond the limits of 
this city; but here where he had grown up from boyhood, he was much beloved 
for his amiable qualities, and highly respected for his fhte talents and extensive 

The death of John required Edmund's presence in his old 
home to guard his father's interests and the relinquishment of 
political preferment to him, a severe sacrifice for affairs gov- 
ernmental he had much at heart. 

The militia had its magnet for him and he became Lieutenant 
Law and helped to manage the Military Ball, February 3, 1825, 
and with such success he was selected to do likewise for the 
Birth Night Ball in that month. 

In 1825, when Commodore David Porter became the 
commander-in-chief of Mexico's navy, Mr. Law accompanied 
him, on observation bent and knowledge "under foreign 
locks." He usefully employed his life in that country by 
service to the republic. His stay of three years in the land of 
the Montezumas was terminated by the demand of health. 

nUAVUilMT 3X2 

Before his residence in Rorida and after his return from 
Mexico, he was in the City Councils. 

Tenth Council — 1812. Common Council. 
Eleventh Council — 1813. Common Council. 
Twelfth Council — 1814. Common Council. 
Twenty-third Council— 1825. Common Council. 
Twenty-sixth Council — 1828. Common Council. 

Edmund married Miss Mary Robinson. Mr. and Mrs. Law 
had a son, Joseph Edmund. Mrs. Law long survived her 
husband. She is remembered as dignified in manner, delicate 
in build, and as donating her kindnesses with captivating 

As he reached the two score mark death cut his growing 
hopes and put a period to his days. Edmund Law died June 
23, 1829. The funeral was from his father's residence on 
New Jersey avenue, on the afternoon of the second day at 
four o'clock. 

The Intelligencer^ June 25, 1829 : 


On Tuesday evening last, in this city, after a protracted illness, Edmund Law, 
Esq. in his thirty-ninth year, only remaining son of our venerable and respected 
fellow-citizen Thomas Law, Esq. Endowed by nature with the high intellect 
which distinguishes his eminent family, improved by liberal education, habitual 
study, and extensive travel, and adding to these intellectual advantages strict 
honor and an amiable temper, few men t)etter qualified to be useful in public 
life or to impart pleasure in private society. Of retiring habits, however com- 
paratively few knew his real worth — but he never failed to win the affection of 
those who cultivated his acquaintance and learned to appreciate his value. 

A touch of humanity there is in the counterfeit of feature 
and form through the medium of the brush or the camera ; if 
the master of the brush catches a glimpse of character and fixes 
it upon the canvas, then the mind can re-create the life all but 
throb and thought. The mind is the man. And in the light 
and line of the countenance can ofttimes be read the mind. 
The strongly-expressive and well- modeled features of Edmund 
Law are reproduced from a water color painting, presumably 
executed in 1824, in his thirty-fourth year. It is the courtesy 
of Miss Amy Law which permits the reproduction. 


Ats. JSUsa patft CuBtis* 

Mrs. Curtis (Mrs. Law) died on a visit to Mr. J. A. Che- 
vallie, in Richmond, Virginia, Saturday night, Jauuary i, 1832, 
and is buried at Mt. Vernon in the Washington tomb. 

Mr. Law in his seventy-seventh year writes in meter : 

My partner and my children from me borne 

And valued friends, the comforts of past years 
Would leave me hopeless, lonely, still to mourn 

And dim my eyes with unavailing tears, 
But thus bereft new solaces to find. 

Knowledge to gain and goodness to dispense, 
Thus useful, I divert my active mind 

And gladden feelings by t)enevolence. 
Thus my alTection from life*s cares I wean, 

And tlms beguile away my pain and woe. 
Looking to heaven from this world's troubled scene. 

Leaving death's terror more resigned I grow 
As selfish, worldly interest I discard 

From youthful, boist'rous, troubling passions free. 
My heavenly impulses claim more regard 

And all seems worthless but eternity. 



I ' 

1 < 


I f 




THE Columbian Institute in the acquirement and diffusion 
of general and useful knowledge, in &cope and perma- 
nence of result and in the cultured character of member- 
ship is the most honorable in the city annals. The Institute 
was originated by Dr. Edward Cutbush and Mr. Thomas Law. 
Its outgrowth and fulmination is the National Museum.* The 
organization meeting of the Institute was held October 7, 1816, 
at McKeowin's Hotel pursuant to notice and in conformity with 
the constitution adopted, June 28, 18 16, at a preliminary meet- 
ing. Prior, however, to the organization of the Institute, its 
precursor, the Metropolitan Society^ of literary and scientific 
province, had existed. The second article of the constitution 
states: "The Institute shall consist of mathematical, physical, 
moral and political sciences, general literature and fine arts." 
Congress granted a charter April 20, 1818. 

Congress supplied a suitable room under the Library of Con- 
gress for the collection of books and museum of minerals and 
curiosities; and several acres for botanical experiment and 
culture. This space was utilized by growing shrubs and trees, 
transplantations from other climes and countries, and is, prob- 
ably, the nucleus of the Botanical Gardens. At a time was 
a governmental inclination to grant a site in the Mall at Penn- 
sylvania avenue and Third street for a building, however, 
through the mutations, the effects have home in the Nation's 
depositories as stated. 

The membership was resident, honorary and corresponding 
and the roll had the most distinguished names. The President 
of the United States was the Institute's president. Upon the 
retirement of John Qyincy Adams, when the Chief Executive, 

* Report of th« National MutMun, 1891. Tht Gtacab of th* National Museum, pp. 374-380. 


from its presidency, the Hon. John C. Calhoun succeeded. On 
occasions papers were read and these ail created admiration. 
The essayists, or some of them, are : Samuel Harrison Smith, 
Esq., Judge William Cranch, Hon. Samuel L. Southard, Thomas 
Law, Esq. and Hon. Edward Everett. 

The organization meeting is for the event and for the pro- 
moters recalled. Dr. John H. Blake "judiciously conducted 
the business of the meeting, in quality of chairman, until the 
election of Institute was consummated." An election by ballot 
was decided upon and accordingly "on counting the ballot it 
was found that Dr. Edward Cutbush united the suffrages of a 
great majority of the members present.". 

And the election progressed until its completion, as follows: 

Vice Presidents: . Rev. Andrew Hunter, Dr. J. T. Schaaff, 

Thomas Law and Joseph Anderson. 

Treasurer: . . . Overton Carr. 

Secretary: . . . Nat. Cutting. 

Curators: . . . E. B. Caldwell, John Law, Roger C. 

Weightman, Robert Brent. 

General Committee: Samuel Harrison Smith, Dr. Alexander 

McWilliams, Benjamin H. Latrobe, Dr. 
J. A. Brereton, Walter Jones, Dr. Henry 
Huntt, Dr. William Thornton, George 
Watterston, Benjamin Homans, Ed- 
mund Law, William W. Seaton, CoL 
William Tatem, Dr. John H. Blake. 
Joseph Mechlin. 

The President and the four Vice Presidents were constituted 
a committee to wait on the President of the United States and 
acquaint him with the wish of the Institute that he consent to 
be its Patron. 

This report is briefed from that of the secretary. Dr. Nat 
Cutting, who wrote poetry and gave his prose a poetic dash. 

The number of vice-presidents and general committeemen 
was gradually limited. Mr. Thomas Law served as vice-pres- 
ident until 1830 and then gave way to Judge Cranch and be- 
came counsellor and the next year retired officially. 

Saturday, January, 16, 1830, Hon. Edward Everett at the 
Capitol delivered before the Institute a discourse to an un- 


usually large audience.* The report is given editorially in 
The Intelligencer. Mr. Law at this time was in his sixty-fifth 
year. At five in the afternoon the members of the Institute 
met at public dinner and that worthy citizen, Thomas Law, 
Esq. , presided. The report says that to the intellectual enjoy- 
ment was added good cheer of every description and that the 
feast that excelled it never was. 

The editor from memory gives as the incident of the inci- 
dents Mr. Law's reply to a call for a toast : 

That Mr. Everett, in his interesting address, had mentioned almost every useful 
discovery, and exhibited a constellation of the individual benefactors to the human 
race. But as a Potentate of the Present had distinguished himself as a high- 
minded man, intent upon the happiness of all, he thought that the Institute ought 
particularly to advert to such an estimable example. He alluded, he said, to the 
Emperor Nicholas, who, when he had it in his power to spread a halo round 
himself, by capturing the dty of Constantinople, stopped the march of his victori- 
ous army and sheathed his sword, though ambition urged him to immortalize his 
name by this glorious conquest, though avarice persuaded him to plunder the 
spoils taken heretofore the Greeks, though religion solicited to plant the Cross 
over the Crescent on all the churches; and though policy whispered that he 
might exdte the Jannisaries to bethrone, if not to massacre the Sultan, whereby 
he would become master of all European Turkey; he listened to the admonitions 
of morality, and preferred reigning in the hearts of the conquered, rather than 
over a subjugated people; and to have friendly neighbors, rather than vengeful 
enemies. As this magnanimous conduct exdted in all breasts agreeable sensations, 

* From Diary of John Qiilncy Adams : 

x6ch. At half-past one I went to the CapHoU and heard Mr. Everett, In the hall of the House 
of Representatives, deliver the anniversary address to the C<dumbian Institute. The hall was 
crowded with company, a large portion of ladies. I sought at first a seat without the bar of the 
House, but Dr. Huntt found me, and urged me till I took a chair on the floor, Just below the steps 
to the Speaker's chair. Mr. CaUioun, the Vice-President, and Mr. Martin, a member of the House 
of RepreienUtives, came up and spoke to me. There was a small meeting of the Institute in thdr 
apartment, whence thev came to the halL Mr. Thomas Law prerided, and among the membnrs 
who came ud were J. M. Berrien, the Attorney-General, and Samuel D. Ingham, Secretary <^ the 
Treasury. Mr. Bmien greeted we with a distant salutation, which I retuiiied as distantly. 
Ingham advanced as if intending to accost me, but I barely turned my eye upon him, and he slunk 
back with the look of a detected thief. There is a portrait of Ingham ui Carracd's picture of the 
Lord's Suf^r. Mr. Everett*s discourse occupied Just an hour. It was literary, phjlosoi^lad, 
scientific, and popular ; an exposition of the character and usefulness of societies such as tne Co- 
lumi^an Institute ; a description of many of the most important modem inventions and discov- 
eries, and of the manner in which they have been made with several interesting anecdotes rdating 
to the discoveries and inventions, lie confined his subject to the physical sciences, and dkl not 
enter upon the consideration of moral or political discovery. That is a wide field ytx open, and 
worthy to be explored. He noticed the simplicity of many of the gnat discoveries ; how nearly 
every numan being approaches to them, and yet the application of mind necessary for thdr dtecl<>- 
sure ; and he argued tne moral certainty that nature had yet in store numerous secrets in reserve 
fat the favorites who will devote their lives to the search of them. He introduced also a powerful 
appeal to the beneficence of Cimgress in bdialf of the family of Fulton. 

Two things in tlie discourse I regretted to hear : one, a seeminc admission that the power of 
givinff encouragement to literature and science was much greater at least in the State Governments 
than m that of the Union ; the other, an apparent reflecticn upon the SuprenM Court of the United 
Sutes, who, he said, by a decision, had scattered the fortune of Fulton to the four winds of 

X7th. I asked Mr. Everett why he had not yesterday touched upon discoveries on morals and 
politics. He said he had in his written discourse, but that Dr. Huntt had admonished him not to 
be too long, and he had omitted what would have taken him about twenty minutes more to dt- 


Mr. Law said that, without any designed compliment to Baron Knidener, who 
was present, he gave — 

Nicholas f the Emperor of Russia, 

The applause, a significant '*sign of unison in sentiment," 
having abated, His Excellency Baron Krudener, Envoy Extra- 
ordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Russia, rose and 
replied with an eloquence heightened by quaint slips and 
accent and then gave : 

Everlasting happiness and glory to the United States, 


And while we view the rolling tide, 
Down which oui flowing minutes glide 

Away M fast, 
Let us the present hour employ, 
And deem each (utuie dream a joy 

Already past 

THUS runs the ancient Spanish song. Doing and not 
delaying was Mr. Law's principle. The beauty of the 
song's metaphor is no more striking than the brevity of 
Mr. Law's enunciation : 

I must be active, and doing that which I deem for the good of mankind. 

This said Mr. Law when the English traveller offered the 
alluring hint of cessation of effort and rest in his home country. 
Incessant with pen was Mr. Law proclaiming the panaceas for 
existing evils and foreboding misfortunes. In the acceptance 
of his remedial measures he sought not self-glory. Himself 
he overlooked ; with anxiety of soul, he looked to the people's 
welfare. Of the people's governmental representatives he 
commanded respectful attention but as for action his voice 
might as well have been silent. He was condemned as imprac- 
tical and extravagant. In fact, in everything he seems decades 
in advance of his contemporaries. 

Prom the promptings of his humane nature he discouraged 
slavery and from the institution foresaw internecine clash and 
so predicts in a letter. 

For more than a score of years he prodigiously produced 
ammunition to defend his financial scheme of a national cur- 
rency and to repulse any antagonistic. He consumed moun- 
tains of reams and kept the printer busy. It is said financiers 
of later years adopted his system, and likely they did in 

wtmt 5ao 

modified form, and without credit in the slightest degree to 
the originator. 

Through the Columbian Institute he submitted, three at 
least, papers on national finance. Through this respected 
channel he had in the House of Representatives as listeners 
the statesmen then in authority. This he supplemented by 
mail distribution. 

Mr. Law, too free himself to suspect insincerity in others, 
was over sanguine through official civility. Says he : 

Mr. Crawford iully agreed with me on this point, but disingenuously seceded 
from it in his report, on which account 1 have addressed several pointed letters 
to him.* 


Mr. Crawford the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although he has recommended 
a contrary measure, is exactly of my opinion. We are both as much alike on 
this subject as pea to pea.* 

President Madison approved, April, 1816, the bill for the 
Second Bank of the United States which moved Mr. Law, to 
the younger Mr. Bradley, May i, 18 16, to write: 

Madison has lost his former estimation & if Liberty Justice & Virtue should 
decide after his death where his remains ought to be placed, they will say in the 
Bank vault. 

That Mr. Law's ideas of national currency were not chimerical 
is attested by Mr. Madison's serious discussion in acknowledg- 
ments of two pamphlet publications: 

Jamis Madison to Doctor Nathaniel CuTTmc. 

December 7th, 182a. 

D" Sir, — I have received your note of the 30 ultimo the little tract of Mr. 
Law, forwarded by you at his request; and 1 take the liberty of conveying, 
through the same channel, my respects and thanks to him. If my sympathies 
with his domestic affliction could be of any avail, I should add the expression of 
them with great sincerity. 

1 have always regarded Mr. Law as a man of genius, as well as of singular 
philanthropy, and as having with other intellectual acquirements a particular 
familiarity with questions of finance. In his occasional publications relating to 
them, I have observed many sound principles and valuable suggestions. I must 
own, at the same time, that I have never had the confidence he has felt in his 
favorite plan for putting an end to the evils of an unfavorable balance of trade, 
and the fluctuations of an exportable currency. There would seem to be much 

* Fftux's Memorable Dtys in America. 



danger, at least, that the disposition to borrow the paper issuable by a public 
Board would bring an excess into circulation; and that this, instead of reducing 
the rate of interest, would have the effect of depredating the principal 

James Madison to Thomas Law, 

MoKTPBLLiER, Jany 27 (1827) 
Dear Sir, — ^The copy of your Address before the Columbian Institute, kindly 
sent me was duly received. 1 find that further reflection has confirmed you in 
your favorite plan of a paper currency, and that you have added a corroboration 
from names of high authority on such subjects. The practicability of a paper 
emission, equal in value to spede, cannot, 1 think, be doubted; provided its cir- 
culating quantity be adapted to the demands for it, and it be freed from all appre- 
hension of undue augmentations. If made to answer all the purposes of spede, 
and receivable, moreover, in particular payments, in exclusion of spede, it would 
even rise above the value of spede when not in requisition for foreign purposes. 
1 cannot return my thanks for your polite attention without adding a hope 
that you have not forgotten the promise you made on the eve of your departure 
for Europe. Mrs. M. joins me in assuring you of the pleasure its fulfilment will 
afford us, and of the continuance of our cordial esteem and good wishes. 

And that Mr. Law was deemed worthy to enter into the 
counsels of the most advanced in afTairs of state the letter of 
ex-President Jefferson anent his relationship with the English 
cousins exemplifies. 



With respect to myself, 1 saw great reason to believe their ministers were weak 
enough to credit the newspaper trash about a supposed personal enmity in 
myself towards England. This wretched party imputation was beneath the 
notice of wise men. England never did me a personal injury, other than in open 
war; and for numerous individuals there, 1 have great esteem and friendship. 
And I must have had a mind far below the duties of my station, to have felt 
either national partialities or antipathies in conducting the affairs confided to me. 
My affections were first for my own country, and then, generally, for all man- 
kind; and nothing but minds pladng themselves above the passions, in the 
functionaries of this country, could have preserved us from the war to which 
thdr provocations have been constantly urging us. 

Mr. Law adopted the pseudonym Homo for his articles in 
the Intelligencer. 

In a single issue of the Daily National Intelligencer, 

Saturday, October 5, 1822. 

Thomas Law. 


• •••**••• 

1 am almost tired by unheeded quotations and dssandrian firewamings. If 
our own experience, if facts from other nations, and if mathematical concliisionS| 

WUTER 32i 

are unable to rouse the lethargic neither will the voice of one risen from the 


Sickness and sorrow are all around me, and I scrawl this in a slight fever — 

perhaps it is my last. 


Jomi Law. 

The friends of the late John Law, Esq., (who departed this life last night at 
lo o'clock) are requested to attend his funeral this afternoon, at 4 o'dock, from 
his late residence on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Edmund Law. 

Edmund Law was chosen President of the Legislative Council, (Pensacola, 
Florida) the session of which was to have terminated on the 2ad of last month. 

Homo appeared February 3, 1813, and disappeared October 
17. 1829. Under the first date is this announcement : 

To THi EDrroRS. 
Sits — 

As a memorial is now before G>ngressfor a Bank to discount at five per cent. 

I shall from time to time submit to you for insertion, if approved o( some 

remarks on the subject of Banks, and now enclose a few as a commencement 


Homo appeared persistently. The articles are on public 
improvement as canals and railroads, but by far the greater 
number are on the money question. Homo is complimentary 
to the reader. He adorns for the reader his articles with 
snatches of Grecian and Roman history and with apt quota- 
tions from the aforetime discoverers and philosophers; and 
carries him to a climax in Latin. He accredits the reader with 
classic learning. 

In an early article Homo states his scheme : 

I now submit my proposition which to me appears one of the most important 
propelling powers of society; in short, after years of mature deliberation, I present 
it as the main spring of every financial system. 

1. Let a Board be appointed by Congress, to consist of any number approved 
of, the Secretary of the Treasury always to be President 

2. Let this Board be authorized to form a national currency, all above one 
dollar to be in paper, & one dollar tokens, & portions of a dollar to be in mixed 
metals; the mode to prevent forgeries shall be afterwards given. 

3. Let this Board lend these coins in perpetuity, at 4, 3 or 2% per cent as 
Congress shall resolve, to the several states according to their population, on con- 
dition that the state governments lend the same to associations or individuab, on 
income, yielding at five per cent, the interest to be paid quarterly or annually, as 
may be determined upon, and the principal not to be required whikt the interest 


shall be punctually paid; the income-yielding securities to be conveyed as the 
state shall direct, in a deed of trust, and the property immediately to be sold on 
failure of punctuality. 

4. The amount to be loaned to the state governments to be limited by the 
rate of interest which the national currency obtains, or by an act of Congress. 
The board to cease lending when it fells below five per cent. In truth, indi- 
viduals will not apply to state governments when they can borrow of others 
below five per cent, but on the contrary will rather repay the loans from the state 
government, by borrowing on lower terms; and the state governments will do 
the same. 

5. The Board to subscribe to incorporated societies for roads, canals, and 
bridges, as Congress shall direct. 

6. The Board to purchase government stocks and other stocks, as Congress 
shall direct. 

7. The currency to be received in all payments by the government. 

These are the outlines of my plan, and the principal object 1 have in view is 
for the community to have a sufficiency of the circulating medium, without 
fluctuations in value by excess or scarcity, and that the interest of money may 
be low. 

To Homo^s letter To the Citizens of the U. States, December 
30, 1816, is this footnote : 

(It is to be hoped that Homo will be furnished with an answer to his queries, 
satisfactory even to himself, by some one who has leisure to bestow on the 
subject) Editors. 

And a champion for the opposition came forth — Parvus 
Homo. The latter wrote the same classical composition. 
When absence or illness prevented the alternating reply, Homo 
or Parvus Homo, as the case might be, answered himself. 

Mr. Law discussed moral science. He controverted Dr. 
Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy, The Hon. William 
C. Bradley was learned and cultured ; he was skilled in state- 
craft and versed in science of government; he was deep in 
philosophy and strong in general knowledge; he expressed 
himself in polished prose and in metrical measure. Mr. Law 
and Mr. Bradley were bound by friendship ties and affinitive 
attainments. Mr. Bradley was neither older nor wiser yet to 
Mr. Law he was Nestor. He writes to Mr. Bradley: 

Philadelphia,* November 19, 181 1. 1 have much to say to you about impulses, 
but I postpone it till next spring when 1 promise myself the pleasure of seeing you. 

Pa. April 2, 18 14. You promised me your sentiments on my second Efsay on 
Instinctive Impulses — & have been disapp^ In not receiving them as your opinion 
would fortify or make me correct my own — 

* Before the British invasioa of the Capital City Mr. Law waa much In Philadelphia. 

WMTIR 324 

Mr. Law's ethical essays were over the heads of those not 
conversant or concerned in mental or moral philosophy, and 
of course of the woman who lived at the same boarding house 
and who writes : 

What an uncomfortable, extraordinary old man he is, with his ''instinctive 
impulses!" on which theme he theorizes, as upon "elective affinities." 

With the pen, Mr. Law is first the letter writer. With 
what can be compared the elegance of his pen? It has a 
brilliancy of gems, a sparkle of champagne and a beauty which 
makes a doubt that 

The speech of flowers exceeds all flowers of speech. 

He says odd things and familiar things oddly. He writes 
poetic prose. There is a beauty in the sentiment and felicity 
in the expression. There is buoyancy and witchery, a slip 
and a trip, a cadence and a rhythm that delights the ear and 
charms the sense. One catches himself conning a passage 

Mr. Law rarely dated a letter. The dates in this publication 
are supplied mostly by the endorsements of the receivers. 
This peculiarity irritated Mr. Morris who usually began his 
reply — your letter without date. Mr. Law had another peculi- 
arity, the use of one punctuation mark — the dash. Perhaps 
he inherited the peculiarity of a single sign from the Bishop of 
Carlisle, his father, who favored the parenthesis. The bishop 
had a work in press, the proof sheets for which shortly 
stopped, although promptness had been promised. The good 
man repaired to remonstrate but was confronted by the devil, 
who said : 

Please you, my Lord, your Lordship's MS. has already used up all our paren- 
theses, but we have sent to the letter founder's for a ton extra, which we expect 
to be sent in next week. 

Mr. Law's poetry is of uneven excellence. Committed to 
print is comparatively little. Like the artist of the brush. 
Turner, the poet, Law, considered his inspiration signed all 
over and let it appear anonymously. His muse of morality is 
insipid, of sentimentality, broad. He speaks of verses drawn 
from his "poetical luduMa.'* There are those who confess 

325 WWTWt 

to a touch of the divine afflatus who do not concede to the 
poet Law a front rank. 

Mrs. Seaton says Mr. Law was a graceful poet and that his 
Vers de SociitS in which he commemorates the persona of 
the smart set much delighted each character so honored, but 

You can only half appreciate efYiisions when deprived of the advantage of 
hearing him read them himself, as he is an energetic declaimer and possessed of a 
fuU-toned melodious voice. 

The vigorous mind of the poet was continually revolving 
and evolving. The thought evolved he would endeavor to fix. 
He was mistrustful of his freakish memory and tried to guard 
from the likely slip. It is a family reminiscence that if in his 
wakeful moments he had an inspiration he would hastily wrap 
himself in a blanket and wildly rush about, exclaiming: "Pen 
and ink, pen and ink, an idea, I have an idea, quick!" 

In that time, 1816, came forth a poet direct from Belfast. 
He signed his rhapsodies Law, This was James Sylvius Law. 
He had a method of versification ; to his verses he had a sort 
of prologue. 


To her who pines for me beyond the main, 
My faithful heart devotes this pensive strain. 

Still Retrospection views that Parting Day — 

The unwelcome Era of an age of pain. 
Which gave thy heart to torturing pangs a prey — 

And sent thy Sylvius o'er the Western Main! 

From Sylvius the ardent lover can quote sentiment of suffi- 
cient warmth to melt the sealing wax. In the same issue of 
the Intelligencer are the anonymous lines of the true poet. 

To Mr. Bradley, Mr. Law writes : 

February 9, 18161 1 have v^tten a pamphlet on the Bank, & it has operated 
so forcibly that the advocates for a national bank will relinquish that £ivorite plan 
of the Secretary of the Treasury. 

June II, 1816. 1 hope you approve of my pamphlet on finance. 

April 20, 1 81 7. 1 will send you by this mail a pamphlet I published on a 
national currency, though it has enforced conviction on many, I should be glad 
to hear your opinion. 

In addition to the publications listed in chvcpitx India and the 


list which follows of those in American libraries, from letters 
and other sources is compiled this catalogue : 

Usury. 1794. 

Instinctive Impulses. First Essay. 181 1. 

Instinctive Impulses. Second Essay. 18 14. 

National Bank. 1816^ 

Finance. 1816^ 

National Currency. 1817. 

Moral Nature to be Redeemed by the Natural Sciences. 1853.* 

Publications in American libraries : 

1792. Sketch of some late arrangements and a review of the rising resources of 
Bengal London, 1792. 8vo. Lib. G>ng. 

1794. On Bengal, etc Perhaps another ed. of that printed in 1792. Quoted 
by Allibone. 

1804. Observations on the intended canal in Washington Qty. Anon. Wash- 
ington, 1804. pp. 24, 8vo. Lib. G>ng. 

1806. Ballston Springs. A poem. New York, i9o6. Boston Ath. 

1820. Remarks on the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, March i, 1819. 
Washington, 1820. 8vo. Boston Ath. 

1824. A reply to certain insinuations published as an article in the sixty-eighth 
number of the Quarterly Review, Washington, 1827. pp. 1-27, 8vo. 
Lib. G>ng. 

1825. AddressbeforetheColumbianlnstltute, Washington, 1825. 8vo. Boston 
Ath. ; Lib. Cong. 

18261 Considerations tending to render the policy questionable of plans for liqui- 
dating, within the next four years, of the 6 per cent stock of the United 
states. Washington, S. A. Elliott, 1826. pp. 22, 8vo. Lib. Congress; 
Boston Ath. 

1827. Thomas Law (and others). Report of the proceedings of the committee 
appointed in Washington in 1824 to present a memorial to Congress, pray- 
ing for the establishment of a national currency. Washington: Way and 
Gideon, 1824. pp. 40, 8vo. Lib. Cong. ; Boston Ath. 

1827. Propositions for creating means for commencing the Chesapeake and Ohio 
Canal, with report of committee thereon. Washington, 1827. i folio 
sheet. Lib. Cong. 

1828. Address to the Columbian Institute on a moneyed system. Washington, 
1828. 8vo. Lib. Cong. ; Boston Ath. 

183a Address to the Columbian Institute on the question, "What ought to be 

the circulating medium of a nation ?" Washington, 1830. 8vo. Lib. 

Cong. ; Boston Ath. 
1833. Synopsis of a plan for a national currency. Washington, 1833. pp. 16, 

8vo. Lib. Cong. 
1833. A plan for one uniform circulating medium, etc., Anon. Washington, 

about 1833. pp. 4i 8vo. Lib. Cong. 
1833. Thoughts on the Moral System. Washington, 1833. pp.29. Maryland 

Historical Society. 
• ThooiM Law, Washington's Pint Rich Uui,^G*org€ A\firtd TomuetuL 



SMILES and tears is the story of Law's life. In ingenious 
simplicity of narration as the Vicar of Wakefield unfolds 
his joys and woes, the spirits of the reader would rise 
and fall. To me it is an untrodden field and 1 stumble in the 
devious way. 

'* There is nobody, no man can be said to put you in mind 
of Johnson." Mr. Law like Dr. Johnson is unique. Never 
such oddity combined with strength of sense. His failings 
and foibles detract not» rather are foils to the veins of virtue. 

Mr. Law thought rapidly and coined his thoughts into 
expression rapidly. His swarming thought forced relief as the 
surging torrent breaks. 

Mr. Wirt tells, as he always does, with fascinating na!vet6, 
Mr. Law's visit the evening previous, August i, 1820: 

He talked of agriculturCi manufactures, finances, a national institute, the bank 
loan, the dry we^ither. Miss B., the 4th of July, the revolution in Naples and a 
newly invented plough, aU in the same breath and pretty nearly in the same 
sentence. And when he was forced to shut his mouth by Laura's beginning to 
play, he also shut his eyes, and, I believe, went fairly to sleep; although he 
cried "beautiful," several times, in the wrong place. Miss B. says he does not 
know Barbara Allen from Yankee Doodle, 

The moving influence of 

The true concord of well-tuned sounds 

on Mr. Law with Mr. Wirt's happy instance is indicated by 
Mr. Faux's musical incident, July 11, 1820: 

After breakfast we rode to the pleasant farm of Colonel Heb to dine, where, 
with his lady and family, we meet a young Cantab,* and his lady who sweetly 
sung and played for Mr. Law on the piano, with which he seemed enraptured. 

Miss Josephine Seaton — William Winston Seaion of ike 
National Intelligencer, A Biographical Sketch : 

One of the most notable of Mr. Seaton's circle of friends, and chief, indeed, 
among the local celebrities of Washington at that period, was Thomas Law, of 

* Gnduate of Cambridgt Unlvtrsity, Bngi^nJ, 


whom few persons then living had not some anecdote to relate, as well as 
respecting his eccentricities as his brilliant talk. He attracted much attention 
from his fine person, aristocratic connection and undoubted genius, and also 
from his wealth, • • • while he was also generous, prodigal indeed, in 
good works, as in the hospitalities dispensed at his country-seat near Washington. 

Mr. Faux thus describes Mr. Law's appearance and charac- 
teristics : 

In this retreat dined the President and two hundred gentlemen last week. 
The society admitted here is select, and the principal attraction to it is Mr. Law 
who is kind, agreeable and benevolent to alL In his personal appearance he b 
small, lean, withered and rustic His nose, however, is noble, like Lord Ellen- 
borough's, but his mind is perhaps nobler than that of any of the family, 
although he lives in greater simplicity than a country squire in England. 

Mr. Law talks in an oratorical manner, and with an energy of action which 
makes him appear much in earnest He is full to overflowing and quite 
inexhaustible. He writes with great vdodty. 

One can make for himself a comparison with the illustrious 
brother, for here he is presented by John, Lord Campbell, Lord 
Chief Justice and Lord High Chancellor of England — The Lives 
of the Chief Justices of England: 

Lord EUenborough was above the middle sixe and sinewy, but his walk 
singulariy awkward. He moved with a sort of semi-rotary step, and his path to 
the place to which he wished to go was the section of parobola. When he 
entered the court he was in the habit of swellmg out his cheeks by blowing and 
compressing his lips, and you would have supposed that he was going to snort 
like a war horse preparing for battle. His spoken diction, although always 
scholarlike, rather inclined to the sesquipedalian; his intonation was deep and 
solemn, — and certain words he continued through life to pronounce in the 
fashion he had learned from his Cumbrian nurse. 

The superlative Addison in Cato says. 

Great souls by instinct to each other turn; 

and strong was the attachment which bound to Law men of 
brain and genius. 

MONTICELLO, Dec. 12, 1823. 

Thomas Jefferson salutes Mr. Law with ancient and friendly recollections, 
and with a mind which does not easily part with early impressions. He hopes 
the years which intervened since they last saw each other have been to Mr. Law 
years of health and pleasantness, and that he yet has many such to come. 

Marching abreast with Mr. Law in the calendar of time, it is his particular lot 
to suffer by two dislocated wrists, now stiffened by age, and rendering writing 
slow, painful, and all but impossible. He is happy to find by the pamphlet Mr. 
Law has kindly sent him, that his mind is still equal to the continuation of his 

3*9 CHAtACTlR 

useful labors, and that his zeal for the general good is unabated. Where they 
are next to meet, in this or some other untried state of being, he knows not. 
But if we carry with us the aflections of this world, he shall thence greet Mr. 
Law with unchanged esteem and respect. 

To Thomas Law, Esq. 

In the evening of life the eccentric General Bradley, cherish- 
ing pleasant memories, thinks of him of same alloy, and with 
hesitating hand writes the inquiry which must have warmed 
the heart of dear old Law : 

Walpolb Dec 21th 1823 
If my old Friend Thomas Law is living give my Best respects to him and tel 
him we should be happy to see him once more in these cold regions of the North. 

Equal and in keeping with Mr. Law's hospitality was his 
liberality in gifts. His generosity was more marked in that 
which benefits generally and uplifts the higher nature. The 
extract from the letter of S. R. to W. C. Bradley. December 
20, 1810, has something of the nucleus to the extensive 
library of the University of Vermont. 

I have communicated to Mr Law his hint respecting the University at 
Buriington it struck Mr Law very favorably he was much pleased at the 
thought, and has ordered to the amount of $500 worth of books to be imme- 
diately procured for that purpose they are authors of the first respectability and 
the most celebrated as well as useful in the literary world — 

In this day no city celebrity receives more mention save one 
than he; and in his day not even he who had received the 
coronation of the republic was so familiarly and friendly known 
as Thomas Law, and when his intellectual visage appeared at 
the Post Office the clerk at the window began to assort the 
letters of apartment L. 

Law's absentmindedness is proverbial. Anecdotes thereof 
are numerous in the memories of the oldest inhabitants and 
some are authentic. The instance related by Miss Seaton 
created amusement, and too, amazement : 

Another more embarrassing instance of his distrait faculties occurred at 
Berkeley Springs, where, after a bath, forgetting to dress, he appeared in the 
crowded grove in puris naiuralidus, scattering consternation among the 

A congressman has related it was not an infrequent occur- 
rence at the boarding-houses, (The Varnum,) for the head waiter 


to have his attention arrested by a sight through the window 
and undignifiedly rush to the front door and shout: "Mr* 
Lawl Here's your hat." 

Of the ovation to Mr. Law, on the eve of his second visit to 
the land of his nativity naught remains to be said, not even of 
the pointed hint of punctuality. 

National Intelligencer^ July 12, 1824: 

A number of Citixens of Washington desirous to show to Thomas Law, Esq. 
upon the eve of his departure on a visit to England, their respect for the public 
spirit he has uniformly displayed in this City, from its foundation — for his 
integrity as a man, and his liberality as a gentleman, have invited him to a 
Public Dinner, to take place at Queen's Hotel, on Capitol Hill, on Monday 
next, the 12th instant. The time being short, it has not been possible to pre- 
sent the paper to all the numerous friends of Mr. Law, who might desire to 
unite in this act, which under the circumstances of the recent vile calumnies of 
Faux, the traveller and the London Quarterly Review^ b no more than an act of 
justice to an injured and most respectable gentleman. Such, therefore, as have 
not had an opportunity of intimating a wish to join the Dinner Party on this 
occasion are respectfully informed that a subscription paper is left at the office of 
the National Intelligencer^ to receive their names. 

Committee for the Dinner— Commodore Thomas Tingey, William Brent, Esq. , 
Dr. Frederick May, R. C Weightman, Esq. and William W. Seaton. 
Dinner to be on the table at four o'clock. 

William GifTord, the critic, editor of the London Quarterly 
Review^ through that medium emphasized Faux's exposition 
of ''Men and Things as they are in America;*' and his review 
Edward Everett reviewed, scathingly, in the North American 
Review.^ With these expressions Mr. Everett commences 
and concludes: 

This work reached us shortly after its publication in London, but we turned 
from it as beneath notice. We treated it as we have generally done the Fearons, 
the jansons, the Hewlets, and the various other paltry adventurers, who come 
over to this country to make their fortunes by speculation, and, being disap- 
pointed in the attempt to jump into riches without industry, without principle, 
without delay, return to England and pander to the taste for American calumny, 
in order to pay the expenses of the expedition, by the sale of their falsehood. 

A foolish admiration for what is foreign is far too common here ; and the 
readiness to extend to strangers the greatest confidence of hospitality has, in other 
instances than this, exposed the good citizens of our country to shameful impo- 
sitions. This is happily an evil, however, which corrects itself, and a few more 
travellers like Mr. Faux will establish the necessary degree of inhospitableness; 
and teach Americans, if they must receive this rabble, to let it be at a side table. 

*Norih American RevUw^ VoL XIX, pp. 9>x?s. 


Mr. Law arrived in England, November lo, 1824. 

In antipodal contrast is the relentless severity of the English 
Chief Justice in the infliction of extreme penalties in punish- 
ment of offenses ofttimes trivial to the humanity of the brother, 
Thomas Law. At a citizens' convention, delegates were ap- 
pointed, April 29, 1826, to wait upon the Committee for the 
District of Columbia of the House of Representatives and pre- 
sent petition for a uniform code of criminal jurisprudence. 
The address prepared by Mr. Law, chairman of delegates, was 
delivered May 6: 

Despots, in former times, wrote their laws in blood, that they might gratify 
revenge and difYiise terror, the modems, more civilized have abolished some of 
the most cruel, but they have permitted too many remnants of barbarity to 
continue on their statutes. 

You, gentlemen, actuated by phQanthropy, (which dictates that, though 
criminals must suffer punishment to deter from violations of right, yet that their 
judges must consider that the sufferers are fellow beings, ) have attended to and 
recommended a melioration of our penal code; and, not content with this measure 
have also visited our insalubrious jails, where ''echoes only learn to groan " from 
wretches without bedding and clothing to shield them from winter's severity. 

Although the consciousness of human actions, and the fulfilment of useful 
duties, afford ample gratifications to charitable legblators, yet we trust that the 
effusions of gratitude, from the heart-full dtizens of Washington, will not be 

That on return to your homes, your families, relatives, and neighbors, partici- 
pating in sensations and sentiments, may cheer you with welcome greetings, and 
that you may be blessed with long health to enjoy the consolatory remembrance 
of your beneficial services, are the sincere wishes of, 

Your grateful and obedient humble servants. 

Mr. Law took no part in the local government. If a politician 
at all he was a mild republican, of the party of his friends, 
Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. His politics 
were his financial plans. Only once 1 find any act, and that 
in his seventy-fifth year, of political partisanship. Independ- 
ence Day, Monday, July 5, 1831, was selected for a congre- 
gation of mechanics and other citizens, friends of the American 
System of National Independence and Internal Improvement 
and to Henry Clay's presidential candidacy, south of the Mall, 
Mr. Law offered a toast coupled with a quotation from Jeffer- 
son's Inaugural: 

The right of opinion — Having banished from our land thai religious 
intolerance under which manhind bled so long and suffered^ we have 


gained liiile, if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic^ as 
wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions, 

Mr. Law disclaimed atheistical tenets and declined church 
authority. He says: "I have always been an advocate for 
men to pursue their interests unobstructed by governmental 
interference, according to the suggestions of their reason and 
to seek salvation according to the dictates of their own con- 
science." His guide was the moral sense or divinity within. 
Yet inconsistent with his avowed ideas, and his scoffing 
remarks of exponents of the theory of religion, he did attend 
the All Souls' Unitarian Church and generously support it. 
The Rev. Mr. John Wright, although rejected by Mr. Law's 
bishop brother, the Bishop of Carlisle, was with respect received 
by him. Mr. Law subscribed a hundred pounds towards a 
church and also for him secured the honor of preaching from 
the Speaker's chair before the President and the Congress. 

Religious rites and rules were repugnant to Mr. Law. To 
him forms seemed fetters, ceremonies cloaks for insincerity and 
creeds cause of disastrous dissension : 

Philosophers assist each other, and agree 
Whilst they God's wond'rous sciences expound; 

But bigoted sectarians rouse antipathy, 
And in God's name spread cruel feuds around.* 

To Mr. Law the resurrection of bodies appeared full of objec- 
tions and he garnished his scepticism with Dryden's lines of 
ridicule, descriptive of the last trump: 

Where scattered limbs from different quarters fly, 
And meet and jostle, hurrying in the sky. 

Mr. Law's politeness, perhaps, cannot better be illustrated 
than to disclose with what grace he could invest so formal an 
instrument as a bill of exchange. 

Exchange for 1 To the Right Rev> George Law, 

;f 250. J Bishop of Bath and Wells, London. 

My Lord, 

At sight pay to the order of Messrs. Hottenquer St Co. at the Banking House 

of Messrs. Jones, Loyd 8c Co., London, Two hundred and fifty pounds, & charge 

to^ of 

Yr Obt Servt, 

Paris, 4th April, 1831. THOMAS LAW. 

* Thoughts on th« Moral Syttem— Thomas Law, 


Mr. Law maintained a close correspondence with his people 
in England and thrice visited them. Mr. Law arrived in this 
city by way of New York from his last visit to Europe, January 
9, 1832. Two days previous the news of Mrs. Custis's death 
at Richmond was brought. 

Mr. Law was of those who ''grave their wrongs on marble," 
a firm foe; he forgave not an injury, real or imagined. Of this 
characteristic no circumstance contradicts and many confirm. 
He passed by his co-voyager and co-venturer, distressed Dun- 
canson ; he insisted on forgetting that for many years Greenleaf 
Point was no more Turkey Buzzard Point; he mantled not 
with charity her to whom he was in wedded state — the Irish 
poet who was on the scene, June, 1804, in lines of unmistakable 
direction, exclaims: 

Though man, who ought to shield thy fame, 
Ungenerous man, be first to wound thee! 

Mr. George Alfred Townsend says: 

One man only have I ever talked with who personally saw Thomas Law, 
namely, the late Christopher Lowndes of Bladensburg, and his Either took him 
to an oyster house somewhere in Washington, where they meet a grave, sweet 
old man, with whom they had some oysters, and he read them a poem of his own. 

At a call on the venerable David A. Watterston at the Wat- 
terston mansion I incidentally learned that that upon which I 
gazed had been familiar to Mr. Law. He breakfasted at dawn 
and was frequently with the Watterstons at their breakfast 
time free '*to dip into the sugar bowl" or to take any other 
liberty. But to Mr. Watterston "Mr. Law is a mere shadow." 

Mr. Samuel Lorenzo Knapp pays this tribute : 

Thomas Law, Esq., has, although now nearly an octogenarian, lately pubUshed 
a book upon currency. He is a man of no ordinary powers of mind. Hb fife 
has been an eventful one. In England, his native country, he was considered a 
man of mind. In India he was distinguished for his financial talents, and was 
the great benefactor to the natives, by his judidous plans for their relieC He was 
the companion of Teignmouth and the friend of Sir William Jones. Active and 
enterprising, he saw the accounts of the establishment of our federal dty, and he 
hastened to this country to identify himself with its growth, from the comer 
stone to the setting of the gates thereof He purchased largely of the sofl, 
built on an extensive scale, suggested ten thousand plans for the improvement of 
the dty, and for the prosperity of the nation; but the slow, doubtful, and often 
strange course of congress, came not only in his way, but in the way of all those 
deeply interested in the wel&re of the dty; and he has spent the days of his 


maturity and wisdom in unavailing efforts for the improvement of it It is happy 
for him, however, that he has lived to see the dawn of a better day for Wash- 
ington ; and if he can not stay here long to enjoy it, as a good man he will 
rejoice in the hopes of his friends and descendants. If his disappointments have 
been numerous, yet it can not be said that they have soured hb temper or har- 
dened his heart, or that his tenants have felt his resentnoent, because he was 
deceived by those who could have £ivored his plans. In this world, the insults 
received from those above us, are often repeated by those below us, in pitiful and 
aggravated forms. 

Mr. Law's constitution succumbed. His hand was tremulous 
and his form bent. His mind was not impaired when he drew 
his will, two years of his death, as the phraseology indicates, 
nor was his intellectual vigor relaxed one year before as 
Thoughts on the Moral System are his best. During the last 
year he required a constant attendant. After an illness of ten 
days, July 31, 1834, at six o'clock in the morning, Thomas 
Law died. His friends and acquaintances were invited to 
attend the funeral from his late residence on Capitol Hill at 
four o'clock in the afternoon of the day following. His resi- 
dence was one of the row on New Jersey avenue. He was 
buried in the St. John's graveyard, square 276; the remains 
were removed to Rock Creek Cemetery, and there repose with 
"the unknown." Mr. Law's residence in America, almost to 
a day, was two score years. 

Ashland, 8th Aug— 34 
Dear Sir 

1 lament the death of Mr. Law, for whom 1 have always entertained the greatest 


Yrs' with constant regard 

Geo. Watterston Esq H CLAY 

Mr. Blane was to have a sixth share in the investments in 
which they were mutually concerned. Mr. Law's account in 
his own handwriting with Mr. Blane, much mutilated, is in the 
chancery cause, Law vs. Adams. The Auditor says it is fair 
and excuses its faults "occurring in the multiplicity of Mr. 
Law's transactions and embarrassments, pecuniary and do- 
mestic, as well as from his known habit of forgetfulness." 
That Mr. Law did his utmost to save his friend from loss 
appears by a declaration on the land records, July 7, 1823, and 
this provision in his will: 

To my friend Wm Blane of London » ♦ » 1 give and bequeath all the 
remainder of my property to him and his heirs forever, after paying all debts and 


the bequests herein devised. My heirs will not be displeased by my attentions 
to Mr. Blane. He has an amiable family, and has been unfortunate with me in 
the dty purchase and as he is the only one who has lost by me, 1 am anxious 
that he should not be a sufferer. 

And it is a fact, Blane was the only one who lost through 
Law. He was never insolvent, although in his latter years in 
distress for cash. His estate was closed before the civil war. 
His realty was disposed at prices which would be considered 
ridiculous now, yet it yielded $175,000. His minor creditors 
were settled with at once and his larger ones and legatees 
received principal with 130% additional, accumulated interest. 

In the chancery cause of Law against Adams, executor, in- 
volving twenty-five years active litigation, the Supreme Court 
of the United States construed the ante and post-nuptial agree- 
ments. Mr. Law survived Mrs. Law; their child, Eliza, died 
before her parents, leaving children. The court decided the 
expression, "in case the said wife shall die in the lifetime of 
her husband, leaving issue of said marriage one or more chil- 
dren " defined " issue " to be children and that it had no right 
to extend the meaning to include grandchildren. This was not 
Mr. Law's idea, as his will states: 

I have settled upon the children of my daughter Eliza more than I fear my 
other grandchildren will receive. 

In the imitation of nature such parts should be employed as 
reproduce advantageously and in biography those characters 
should be selected whose lives are worthy of imitation. Thomas 
Law is a praiseworthy pattern in his principle, he by practice 
and precept inculcated, the employment of the present. He 
engaged the current time with a project to which he heartily 
devoted his abilities. Accomplishment his memory applauded 
yet it filled not the measure of content and he, not deterred by 
distress and disappointment, pressed achievement. With age, 
he abated not his activity; in his final year he advocated a 
measure for the welfare of America's people as in pristine man- 
hood he achieved the triumph for Indians humanity. Mr. Law 
in each period, in the enthusiasm of early years, in the strength 
of meridian years, in the experience of advanced years, could 
appreciate a special fitness. . Of old age, the wholesome senti- 

CHAtACTBt 336 

ment, happily phrased, he indited a little while before his hand 
lost its grasp : 

I cannot admit that old age will be miserable. God, in his beneficent dispen- 
sations, makes time obliterate our sorrows, by diverting our minds with new 
scenes and new acquirements, and by inspiring new affections, and better founded 
than juvenfle predilections. 

Thomas Law was a man of merit and manners. Corre- 
sponding with his elegance in mien was his graceful letter- 
writing. His writings on moral philosophy prove profound 
thought, on economics evince wide learning. In his days of 
prosperity he lavished hospitality, in his days of misfortune, he 
bestowed in the same spirit. Of money, he cared naught, 
save to serve others. One familiar with his history will think 
of him as an enthusiast, more as a savant, pre-eminently, the 

I have recorded dry detail and refrained from the glamour 
of humor. I have adhered to a sketch and only imparted a 
suggestion of the erudition and experience of him of whom it 
was said : 

Hb worth b not one-tenth of it known. 

Law's life was a success. Brick and stone are monuments 
of his usefulness. His gentle words and kindly deeds have 
made imperishable impress. No tablet marks his resting 
place. Though his grave is unknown, his fame will not fade 

Time! thou destroyest the relics of the past, 
And hidest all the footprints of thy march 
On shatter'd column and on crumbled arch. 
By moss and ivy growing green and fisist 

Yet triumph not, O Time, strong towers decay. 
But a great name shall never pass away. 

— Park Benjamin: A Great Name. 




IN the name of God Amen, I Robert Morris of the City of 
Philadelphia formerly a Merchant &c &c do now make 
and declare this present writing to contain and to be my last 
Will and Testament hereby revoking all wills by me made and 
declared of precedent dates. Imprimis 1 give my Gold watch 
to my son Robert, it was my Fathers and left to me at his 
death and hath been carefully kept and valued by me ever 
since Item I give my gold headed Cane to my son Thomas 
the head was given to me by the late John Hancock Esq' when 
President of Congrefs and the Cane was the gift of James 
Wilson Esq^ whilst a Member of Congress, Item I give to my 
son Henry my Copying press and the paper which were sent 
to me a present from Sir Rob* Herries of London — Item I give 
to my daughter Hetty (now M^ Marshall) my silver vase or 
Punch Cup which Imported from London many years ago and 
have since purchased a^ain — Item I give to my daughter Maria 
(now M*^ Nixon) my silver Boiler which I also imported from 
London many years affo and which I have lately repurchased 
Item I give to my friend Gouverneur Morris Esq^ my Telescope 
Espying Glass being the same that I bought of a french refugee 
from Cape Francois then at Trenton and which I since pur- 
chased affain of M'. Hall officer of the Bankrupt office — Item I 
give and bequeath all the other property which I now possess 
or may hereafter acquire whether real or personal or all that 
shall or may belong to me at the time of my death to my dearly 
beloved wife Mary Morris for her use and comfort during her 
life and to be disposed of as she pleases at or before her decease 
when no doubt she will make such distribution of the same 
amongst our Children as she may then think most proper. 
Here I have to express my regret at having lost a very large 
fortune acquired by honest Industry which I had long hoped 
and expected to enjoy with my family during my own life and 
then to distribute it amongst those of them that should outlive. 
Fate has determined otherwise and we must submit to the 
decree, which I have done with patience and fortitude, Lastly 
I do hereby nominate and appoint my said dearly beloved wife 
Mary Morns Sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament 
made and declared as such on this thirteenth day of June 1804. 






HE Assignees of the joint estate of Robert Morris, John 
Nicholson and James Greenleaf, and the assignees of the 
separate estate of James Greenleaf, hereby give notice to all 
persons concerned, that they have claims in equity to a large 
part of the lots in this city, advertised by Benjamin Stoddert, 
as being engaged for his Washington Tontine — The said 
assignees also give notice, that they mean to test by strict 
principles of law and equity, many of the acts and doings of 
the Commissioners of the City, relative to lots and property, 
purchased by them, by R. Morris and J. Greenleaf; and that 
they mean also to test on like principles, every act and doing 
of R. Morris and J. Nicholson, relative to lots or property, 
grounded on J. Greenleaf s deed of conveyance, to said Morris 
and Nicholson, dated 13th May, 1796, which is on record in 
this city. The very extensive estates conveyed by that deed, 
being among other provisions, exceptions and restrictions, 
subjected to the following " to all liens now binding or affecting 
the same property, on account of any part of the purchase 
money which remains unpaid to the commissioners of the said 
city of Washington, or any other person or persons from whom 
the same was purchased by either of the parties to these 
presents; and to all other liens, restrictions, exceptions, con- 
ditions, regulations and agreements, to which the said property, 
or any part of it, was subjected by the contracts under which 
the same was purchased, as aforesaid " — ** excepting, also, all 
such squares lots, lands or tenements, as were either conveyed 
or sold, or agreed to be conveyed, either by all or either of 
them the said James Greenleaf, Robert Morris and John Nichol- 
son, or any of their agents or attornies, to any person or 
persons whatsoever, at any time prior to the tenth day of 
July, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and 
ninety-five." JAMES GREENLEAF, 

Agent and Attorney for the 
assignees, &c &c 
Washington, January 9th, 1805. 

To the Public. 

WHATEVER reluctance 1 may feel to the measure, 1 cannot 
avoid obtruding myself and my affairs on public atten- 
tion. To suffer the notice given by Mr. James Greenleaf. that 
the assignees of Morris and others, have claim to a great part 
of the Washington Tontine property, to pass without observa- 
tion, might expose me to the suspicion that 1 could descend to 
practise fraud upon the public. To restrain from shewing to 
the world, that the Tontine property is free from any claim of 


Morris and others, would be to abandon a fair and honest enter- 
prise; useful to its projectors; beneficial to those who have 
become, and may become adventurers in it ; and advantageous 
to the City of Washington. 

Some of the Tontine property was acquired by myself and 
others, by purchase at the public sales of the commissioners of 
Washington, of the property that had been contracted for by 
Morris and others, and which was resold, under a law of Mary- 
land because the stipulated payments had not been made. This, 
it is understood, is the property, to which it is said the assig- 
nees have claim — and this, on the ground heretofore assumed, 
that the commissioners had not authority under the Maryland 
law to resell the property contracted for by Morris and others, 
before the passage of the law. 

For more than seven years, pretentions of this kind have 
been rumored throughout the United States, to the incon- 
ceivable injury of many proprietors of City property; and to 
the great prejudice of the City itself. — but, as in all this time, 
no effort has been made to establish claim to a single lot, by 
any legal course, those least inclined on uncharitable suspicion, 
have been led to the belief, that these pretentions were kept 
up for the laudable purpose of retarding the progress of the 
city, by deterring strangers from making investments in it: — or 
with the honest view of embarrassing sales, until the owners 
of such property should yield, as to the lesser evil, to iniquitous 
demands in the shape of compromise, for the privilege of 

Who that steps beyond his own threshold has not had his 
ears poisoned by the tales, universally circulated, of the infinite 
hazard of titles m Washington ? In Washington, where of all 
places the titles to property can be most easily ascertained; 
and where, of all places, they are in general most secure: — and 
more especially, to that property subject to most obloquy — 1 
mean that which has passed through the hands of the commis- 
sioners, and is held under their title; in which, it is next to 
impossible for the most ignorant to be deceived. 

But enough of exordium. The public will please to take 
notice, that Morris and others, contracted on the 24th of 
December, 1793, with the commissioners of Washington, for 
6000 lots, and agreed to pay by seven annual instalments of 
about 70,000 dollars each. They quickly failed to make the 
promised payments, and the commissioners proceeded to re-seil 
the lots under the authority of the Maryland law : — But their 
right being questioned, they took the opinion of the Attorney 
General of the United States, so much of which as is relevant 
to the point in contest, I here recite : 

"By the agreement of the 24th December, 1793, between 
the commissioners of Washington, and Morris and Greenleaf 

STOODItT-OlteilLlAP CO WT M YltgY 34O 

for 6000 lots, the consideration money is to be paid by instal- 
ments, and therefore this sale " (a sale in contemplation by the 
commissioners) "appears to be within the letter and spirit of 
the act of 28th December, 1793, which more properly compre- 
hends sales made prior to the passage of the act» than sales 
subseauent thereto, and in my opinion comprehends sales of 
both descriptions. This act does not impair any contract, nor 
is it objectionable with respect to this sale, as being ex post 
facto, because it does not alter any contract but invents a new 
and speedy mode of preventing injury that mi^ht arise from a 
breach of contract, and is in furtherance of a fair and complete 
execution of the terms of the contract It is analogous to a 
Law amending the administration of justice, and giving new, 
or changing old remedies. 

" In the present case it may be remarked, that the law was 
passed before any breach of contract had taken place. 

"As to the lots comprized in the contract, remaining uncon- 
veyed to Morris and Greenleaf, if default has been made in 
paying the instalments, or any of them which may have become 
due, and likewise in building the number of houses stipulated, 
it is my opinion so many of them may be re-sold by the com- 
missioners agreeably to the aforesaid act ^ shall be requisite 
to raise the full sum of money due at the time of such re-sale, 
and so from time to time, as the instalments shall fall due, and 
be unpaid. It is my meaning that no more shall be sold than 
will satisfy the arrearages of principal and interest actually due 
and charges thereon. 

C. Lee." 

That the reader may judge of the soundness of the attorney 
general's exposition of the law, I will recite all of it that relates 
to this subject. 

"And be it enacted, That on sales of lots in the said city, by 
the said commissioners, or any two of them, under terms and 
conditions of payment being made therefor, at any day, or days 
after such contract entered into, if any sum of the purchase 
money or interest shall not be paid for the space of 30 days 
after the same ought to be paid, the commissioners, or any two 
of them may sell the same lots at public vendue in the city of 
Washington, at any time after givmg 60 days notice of such 
sales in some of the public news-papers of George town and 
Baltimore town, and retain in their hands sufficient of the 
money produced by such new sale, to satisfy all principal and 
interest due on the first contract, together with all the expenses 
of advertisements and sale — and the original purchaser or his 
assigns shall be entitled to receive from the said commissioners 
at their treasury on demand the balance of the money which 
may have been actually received by them, or under their order. 


on the said second sale — and all lots so sold shall be freed and 
acquitted of all claim legal or equitable of the first purchaser, 
his heirs and assigns." 

Here 1 might safely rest my appeal, secure of the suffrage of 
every man who can understand what he reads, and whose 
object is conviction. But in a case like this, even the shadow 
of diffidence should not remain— and shall not, nor shall those 
miserable creatures whose highest gratification consists in the 
malignant pleasure of surveying the disappointments of men 
who strive by proper means, to acquit themselves honorably 
of their burthens, be permitted the privilege of doubting them- 
selves, nor, of infusing doubts into the minds of others, as to 
the safety of the titles to the Tontine property, and other 
property in Washington, affected by this fraudulent claim, to 
the amount of one third of all that is valuable in it. 

Let it be remembered that the objection to the commissioners 
right to re sell the lots contracted for by Morris and Greenleaf, 
is this — that the law giving the power to re sale, passed after 
the contract. Even this poor plea, wretched as it is shall no 
longer be made the pretext for deception. The law passed 
before the contract. For evidence of this fact I appeal to the 
journals of proceedings of the two houses of the Maryland 
legislature, by which it will be seen, that the bill originated in 
the Senate, and after the sanction of that body, was sent to the 
House of Delegates where it remained some days, that was 
taken up for the last time and passed in the sitting of the fore- 
noon of the 24th of December, 1793. These journals will be 
lodged at the office of the National Intelligencer. 1 scarcely 
need observe that all Maryland knows, that the laws of Mary- 
land take effect from their passing both houses. The governor 
is not a part of the legislature, and tho' he signs the laws in the 
presence of both houses, as a witness, the omission to do so, 
does not invalidate the laws, as the courts have determined — 
they are as much in force before they get his signature, which 
is generally put to them at the end of the session, as afterwards. 

The commissioners of 1793 were men of character and 
prudence and did not think it quite safe to commit the fate of 
the city to the keeping of Greenleaf and Co. with no other 
remedy in their hands, for failure in engagement, than the 
tedious process of a chancery suit, and therefore waited until 
they received certain information of the passage of the law. 
Such information was sent them immediately on its passage 
the 24th of December, and they received it in time to enable 
them to execute the contract the same night, though at a very 
late hour, with full knowledge of the existence of the law. 

It may be asked, why did the commissioners of 1797 repre- 
sent to the attorney general, and believe themselves that this 
important act passed the 28th and not the 24th of December ? 
I know of but one way of accounting for this apparent inatten- 


tion on their part, to a fact to be sure not material to their 
right of re-sale» but certainly very material to quiet the minds 
of timid purchasers. These gentlemen were a new set of 
commissioners, none of them had been privy to the trans- 
actions of 1793, they saw by the contract they found in the 
office that it had been executed on the 24th of December, and 
by the printed book of laws, it appeared that the act in ques- 
tion and every other act of the same session had passed on the 
28th day of December, and I suppose they inquired no further. 
The circumstances indeed of all the acts of the session appearing 
to have passed on the same day, had it been adverted to, would 
have led to the conclusion that there was an error in the printing ; 
but the circumstance, striking as it now seems, most probably 
escaped attention, and from this little oversight, have arisen all 
the mighty mischiefs that have flowed from the slander of the 
titles to Washington property. For had this pitiful plea, that 
the contract was prior to the law, been shown at the nrst sales, 
to be untrue in point of fact, there being nothing else to rest a 
doubt upon, we should have heard nothing about the sales of 
the commissioners without the authority of law — nor of the 
hazard of titles in Washington. 

After this it is to be hoped we shall hear no more of the 
claims of the assignees, or others, on one third part of the city 
of Washington. At least it is to be expected that the assignees, 
who have characters to stake, and who must have been deceived, 
will no longer permit their names to be prostituted to counte- 
nance such claims — nor can this expectation be disappointed, 
if these gentlemen are just to their own fame. 

As 1 have known for several weeks, that Mr. Greenleaf was 
engaged In the benevolent work of slandering the Tontine 
titles. 1 thought it due to decency to suffer the progress of that 
institution to be suspended ; until an opportunity could be 
seized to dissipate doubts. 1 shall now take my measures to 
insure to it the success it merits, which this development will 
most likely accelerate 


George-Town, January 11, 1805. 

P. S. Those printers who have published the plan of the 
Washington Tontine will much oblige me by inserting this, 
and with it Mr. Greenlears notification. 

B. S. 

National Intelligencer^ January 16, 1805. 

In duty to myself and to the assignees of the joint and 
separate estates of R. Morris, J. Nicholson, and J. Greenleaf, I 
find myself called on to take a slight notice of Mr. Stoddert's 
publication in the National Intelligencer of yesterday. 

The several contracts made by Morris, Nicholson and Green- 


leaf, or some of them, with the commissioners of the city of 
Washington, for the purchase and protection of a large number 
of lots in the city involve a variety of very important consider- 
ations, which can be explained only in a court of chancery, and 
suits are now instituting by me which will command those 
explanations. The public sale of lots in Washington, took 
place under circumstances affecting the personal interests of 
two of the commissioners, and implicating very incorrect 
views on their part — this, I am prepared to substantiate in 
chancery, and 'tis there only that such facts can properly be 
tested — a great number of the lots sold at auction were bid off 
and conveyed by deed of quit claim, at five dollars, per standard 
lot; when under correct titles, the same lots would have com- 
manded more than twenty fold that sum. Mr. Stoddert bought 
largely at these sales, and now seeks to sell again in the shape 
of Tontine Stock — under this state of things, were I to with- 
hold the public avowal of my claim, improper inferences might 
be drawn therefrom; irremediable evils might ensue to many, 
and, at least, the unwary and uninformed would have just 
cause ot complaint at my silence — I desire however it may be 
distinctly understood, that my views go not, (as charged by 
Mr. Stoddert) to the injury of this city, or its honest inhabi- 
tants — I have personally, a deep stake in this establishment, 
and am (but not alone gn that account) most ardently solicitous 
for its welfare — but while resting in the firm belief, that those 
for whom I act, have a just and fair claim to the property 
sported with by the commissioners, I shall maintain that claim 
in every proper and decent way; and in asking the equity due, 
I shall hold myself prepared to administer full and complete 
equity in turn. I conceive it not incumbent on me to notice 
more particularly Mr. Stoddert's intemperate publication, or at 
present, or in this manner, to controvert his gross misstatement 
of acts, and will therefore close by observing, that as I feel 
perfectly justified in using every honest endeavor to collect the 
scattered wrecks of my estate, I shall continue to act accord- 
ingly — If I sin in so doing, be the evil on myself. 

City of Washington, Jan. 13. 

To THE Public. 

IT is painful to be driven to a vindication of right to property 
in a newspaper. Such however is my fate; I submit to 
it with less reluctance, as the city of Washington nay the 
public at large, have an interest in the discussion. 

The public will please to notice, that Mr. Greenleaf has not 
advanced a single document, or fact to controvert my statement 
in the National Intelligencer of Monday, supported by docu- 


ments, and reference to documents lodged with Mr. Smith. 
Yet he calls it a gross misstatement. Let it be remembered 
that it is Mr. James Greenleaf, who so calls it. And let the 
world determine whether he is not of that privileged order of 
men who may assert just what they please, sure of loosing 
nothing in reputation. If my statement be true, and who will 
not believe it ? then whatever claims he may have, if any on 
the city, he can have none on the property resold by the com- 
missioners, or on the Tontine property. 

It would seem from Mr. GreenleaPs "slight notice*' that he 
expects it should be believed, that two of the commissioners, 
actuated by very impure views, had resold at auction the 
property contracted for by him and others, and so managed 
that affair as to sell some lots as low as 5 dollars, which with 
correct titles would have commanded more than twenty times 
that price ; and that I was a considerable purchaser at these 
sales. Whatever liberties may be indulged in private conver- 
sation when the thing told is to be a kind of secret between 
the accurate narrator, and his hearer, the most barefaced impu- 
dence should preserve some shew of respect to public opinion. 
There are hundreds in Washington prepared to give contradic- 
tion the most direct, to this statement, equally ridiculous and 
wicked. Ridiculous, because it could not be hoped, it could 
escape detection and exposure, three days. The simple truth 
is, as the books of the commissioners, at all times accessible 
will prove that they never sold a single lot that had been con- 
tracted for by Morns and Greenleaf for less than the sum they 
were to pay which was eighty dollars with interest and costs 
to be added. It is equally true that I never bought a lot at their 
sales, the equity to which 1 had not before purchased from the 
first contractors or their assigns. Under an act of Congress 
which left no discretion with the executive officer, but which 
directed at all events, a peremptory sale, of all the public 
property contracted, and not paid for; a sufficient reason for 
which was, to rid the city forever of Greenleaf and Co. and 
their pretentions; an infinitely greater quantity of property was 
forced into market than there was demana to meet. This 
happened in 1802, when the commissioners were not in office — 
1 purchased at this sale, lots from the public at twenty dollars, 
which had before cost me several hundred by purchase from 
Morris and Co. who were to have paid the public for the le^al 
estate, but did not. I also purchased lots at this sale, to which 
I had before no claim. But in this sale the commissioners had 
no agency, nor was the judicious and correct officer who con- 
ducted it, inattentive in the smallest degree to his duty. He 
was commanded by the law in terms not to be disputed, to 
sell more property than there was money on market to repre- 
sent. The effect, corresponded with the cause. The property 
sold at very reduced rates. This will forever be the case, when 



too much of any article, even gold itself, is forced at once upon 
the market. A sale by the sheriff, quickly after, of 60 or 80 
lots, not polluted by the touch of Greenleaf, produced no better 

But even by this sale, I question whether Morris and Co. or 
their assignees suffered a cent. They had I believe, before sold 
their equity to the greater part of the lots then sold, perhaps 
not to every one of them, leaving it with the purchasers from 
them to pay, or forfeit the lots. 

After this correction of Mr. Greenleaf 's slight notice, tales 
will still be told of the wanton depredation on his property by 
the commissioners, and others, with views equally impure^ — 
and we shall still hear for a little while, '*that the doings of 
the commissioners, and others, are to be tested by the strict 
principles of law and equity." But where will credulity be 
found to credit the tales — or timidity to fear the mighty 
vengeance ? 

Some men who have bought lots, and are averse to strive, 
without dreading the loss of their property may apprehend 
that they are to be harassed with suits. They need not fear it. 
The assignees are not men to suffer their money to be thrown 
away in idle and hopeless pursuits. If I mistake their characters, 
1 cannot be mistaken in that of the bar, where no man who 
has pretentions to reputation, will •lend his aid to countenance 
both folly and fraud. ^^^ STODDERT. 

To THE Public. 

IN my notice of Mr. Benjamin Stoddert's publication of the 
nth inst. in the National Intelligencer I have assigned 
sufficient reasons for not pursuing thro' the improper channel 
of a newspaper, my differences with him, in regard to our 
conflicting claims to lots engaged in his Tontine Scheme. I 
did vainly hope that the temperance of my observations on 
Mr. Stoddert's subject, or that the remnant of respect he might 
still have retained for himself, would have restrained him from 
further display of ungentlemanly invective. 1 shall not descend 
to notice his publication in the last Intelligencer \t\ the language 
it merits. As regards my own feelings and reputation, it 
suffices that I bear along with me not only the consciousness 
of self rectitude, but the entire confidence of those for whom 1 
act and who have all had the best possible opportunities of 
judging and of knowing me. And as regards Mr. Stoddert 
I would advise that he presume not too confidently on former 
high ministerial station, as attaching impunity to his personal 
doing for the accomplishment of unwarrantable and unprin- 
cipled purposes. 

If justice were the wish of Mr. Stoddert as it is mine, he 
would await with coolness the event of the suit he thought fit 


to institute against me previous to his first publication ; and 
why in his various publications, the mention of that suit has 
been cautiously avoided, he best can tell. 

In the Chancery court of this district, (where several suits 
have already been instituted by me for the disenthralment of 
the property of my estate,) Mr. Stoddert and myself will alike 
be called upon to substantiate all we have respectively asserted — 
And as truth is evidently at variance with one of us, it is on the 
Chancery decree we must rest, not only our respective claims 
to the property contended for but all our pretentions as men of 
veracity to the countenance of society. 

City of Washington Jan 21. 


ALL persons who have purchased and received conveyances 
to lots in this city from Messrs. John Templeman and 
Benjamin Stoddert or either of them, in square No. 75, xoi, 105, 
and 119, are hereby cautioned to examine into their titles. The 
property in question was many years ago contracted to be con- 
veyed to general Walter Stewart, (since deceased) on his 
making payment for the same, — the legal title was then in me 
individually, and now vests in the assignees of my separate 
estates, subject however on payment (as in justice it ought) to 
a claim in equity, on the part of General Stewart's heirs — 
Mefsrs. Templeman and Stoddert pretending to have purchased 
that claim have since sold to others, and under their assurance 
expensive improvements have been made on the property: 
Still four-fifths of the money due to my estate from general 
Stewart's heirs, has never yet been made or offered, nor has 
the legal title ever yet passed from my assignee. I lament 
extremely, that is at the hazard of exciting much of enmity 
and ill will, that I shall occasionally be obliged to awaken long 
dormant, but important and just claims on the part of the 
assignees of the joint and separate estates of Robert Morris, 
John Nicholson, and James Greenleaf. 

attorney for the assignees ^ &c&c 

Washington, Jan. 21 



1 THOMAS LAW of the city of Washington in the District 
1 of Columbia being in health and in the enjoyment of my 
intellectual faculties now make my will. 

My property consists of an Estate called the Retreat: and a 
few acres of land Situated near the same which I purchased 
of Mr. Hibb, in Prince Georges County, Maryland and of 
Houses and Lots in the city of Washington in a part of which 
my friend William Blane of London holds a share of one sixth — 
and some corporation of Washington Stock — I have also a 
small house & lot in St. Augustine Florida and a title to lands 
in the State of Illinois which I purchased for Taxes. 

I have settled upon the children, born of my daughter Eliza 
who married Lloyd Rogers Esq. more than I fear my other 
grandchildren will receive unless my property should rise in 
value and in that event I may make another will. 

I hereby authorise and empower my Executor hereinafter 
named to sell all the property of which I may die possessed 
(Excepting such portions thereof as may be herein specially 
devised and I direct the same to be made as soon as it can, in 
his opinion, be done to the advantage of my estate. 1 direct 
my executor to settle and pay all my debts as soon as may be 
practicable after my decease and to sell or otherwise dispose 
of any of my property for that purpose. 

I give and bequeath to my grandchildren Thomas & Edmund 
Law, the sons of the late John Law Esq. of Washington the 
Sum of five thousand dollars Each to them and their heirs 
forever, to be paid when they shall respectively arrive at the 
age of twenty one years, the said sums of five thousand dollars 
(making ten thousand) I direct to be invested and the interest 
or proceeds thereof only to be applied towards the support & 
education of the said Thomas & Edmund during their minority. 
And in case neither of my said grandchildren Thomas & Edmund 
should live to the age of twenty one years, then and in that case 
the said sum of ten thousand dollars shall be and constitute a 
part of the remainder hereinafter devised. I further give and 
bequeath to the said Thomas & Edmund all my right, title & 
interest in & to the lands in the State of Illinois which I have 
purchased for taxes — the same having been the property of their 
father. I have paid taxes, many years, for these lands to pre- 
serve them. In case the interest or proceeds of the said sum 
of ten thousand dollars should not be equal to the sufficient 
support and Education of the said Thomas and Edmund of 
which my Executor shall be judge, I direct that so much of the 
Illinois land shall be sold and the proceeds thereof applied to 
make up the deficiency, if it should be necessary by a failure 
of the other funds to be collected from their Mothers Estate. 

I give and bequeath to a lad bearing my name the son of 


Margaret Jones and to a lad named Joseph Edmund Law the 
son of Mary Robinson the sum ot One thousand dollars each 
to be paid to them when they shall respectively arrive at the 
age of twenty one years, the said sums of one thousand dollars 
(making two thousand dollars) to be invested and the interest 
or proceeds thereof only to be applied toward their support & 
Education during their minority, — and in case either of them 
should not live to the age of twenty one years, then and in 
that case the said sum of one thousand dollars hereby be- 
queathed, and in case both should die during their minority 
then the said sum of two thousand dollars, shall be and con- 
stitute a part of the remainder hereby after devised. 

To my friend Wm. Blane of London (who purchased with 
me lots in the City of Washington to the amount of thirty 
thousand pounds sterling, and who advanced one thousand 
pounds Sterling towards improvements) I give and bequeath 
all the remainder of my property to him & his heirs forever, 
after paying all debts and the bequests herein devised. — My 
heirs will not be displeased by my attentions to Mr. Blane. 
He has an amiable family, and has been unfortunate with me 
in the city purchase and as he is the only one who has lost by 
me, 1 am anxious that he should not be a sufferer. — Happily 
my relations are above any aid from me. 

My pictures of views in India, now at Mr. Seldens 1 Leave 
to my loved nephew Charles Rumbold. 

I have shares which cost me Eight thousand dollars in the 
Potomac Company I think that the Directors & Stockholders 
had not authority to transfer my rights to the new Company, 
I therefore direct my executor to take a legal opinion in this 
Case and act according thereto. 

I hereby appoint Mr. James Adams my Executor to act as he 
thinks 1 would if living & in carrying into effect this my last 
will & I desire that Security may not be exacted from him 
beyond one thousand dollars & 1 also appoint Mr. William 
Brent to be my Executor should Mr. Adams decline to act or 
remove or die before the Executorshio is closed 

THOMAS LAW (seal) 


BE it known that I Thomas Law hereby declare and publish 
this Codicil to the foregoing and annexed will which was 
dated on the tenth — day of September in the year eighteen 
hundred and thirty two — in addition to and alteration thereof 
in the words following to wit, 

I give and bequeath to my three grandchildren, Edmund, 
Eliza & Eleanor children of my late daughter Eliza P. Rodgers 
the sum of five-thousand each, to them and each of them and 
their heirs forever: provided and with this express condition 



namely, that if the said children of my said daughter Eliza, or 
either of them, or any person or persons in their behalf, or 
account, or in behalf, or on account of either of them, as heirs, 
or heir at law, or devisees or devisee of their grandmother, 
the late Eliza P. Custis, shall claim, ask, demand, sue for, 
recover, or receive any part or portion of my estate rights, or 
credits either in my life time, or after my decease, under, or by 
virtue of a certain Indenture), tripartite bearing date the nine- 
teenth day of March Seventeen hundred & ninety six entered 
into and between Thos. Law & E. P. Custis, — or under, 
or by virtue of another Indenture Tripartite, bearing date 
the eighth of May in the year eighteen hundred, entered into 
by and between Thomas Law, Eliza P. Law and Thos. Peter — 
or under, or by virtue of another Indenture bearing date ninth 
of August Eighteen hundred & four entered into by and 
between, Thos. Law, Geo. Calvert and Thos. Peter, — or under, 
or by virtue of any other Indenture deed, or instrument of 
writing which the said Thomas Law and E. P. Law or E. P. 
Custis may have been parties, or to which any other person or 
persons with the said Thos. Law may have been parties for the 
benefit of the said E. P. Law or E. r. Custis or her heirs, then 
and in that case the bequest in this codicil to be null & of no 
effect, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue in law as my 
last will & testament hereby declared and made known. 

1 direct my executor before named, in case the terms of this 
codicil be not acceptable to my said grandchildren, mentioned 
in this codicil to contest with them to the utmost their rights 
to claim, or receive any portion of my estate rights or credits, 
under, or by virtue of the Indentures before named, or any 
other. He will of course carry into effect my intentions herein 
set forth in regard to either of^them agreeing or disagreeing to 
the terms of this Codicil. 

I further direct that in case the proceeds of my estate should 
not be sufficient to pay all the above bequests that they should 
be distributed pro rata among the Legatees before named in 
the foregoing will and this codicil, and I hereby revoke all wills 
previous to the date of the foregoing to wit : on the tenth day 
of September in the year Eighteen hundred and thirty two. 

THOMAS LAW (M. D.) (seal) 



Crinch, William, 10, 13, 14, 40, 
47-66, 100, 102-iQS, iiOy 112, 
117, 118. 126, 128, 139, 140, 
149. 164, 171. 172. 182, 184, 
185, 193. 195. 196. aio, an. 
237, 241, 264, 273i 278, 316 

Cranch, Mrs. William, 13, 47, 50, 
65, 210, 211, 213 

Cranch, William G., 66 

Crawford, William H., 206, 301, 

Crocker, Dr. John, 108, 256 

Crommelin, Daniel and Sons, 76 

81, 194 

Crommelin, Gulian, 81 
Crommelin, Gulian Daniel, 82 
Crommelin, Robert Daniel, 80, 81, 

82. 195 
Cumpston, Thomas, 172 
Custis, Daniel Parke, 233 
Custis, Eleanor, 233 

Custis, Eleanor Parke, 234, 235, 

237. 238 
Custis, Elizabeth Parke, 117, 118, 

233-238» 242-244, 254. 285-289, 

313. 333, 335, 349 
Custis, George Washington Parke, 

27, 56, 234 
Custis, John, 233 
Custis, John Parke, 233 
Custis, Mrs. John Parke, 233 
Cutbush, Dr. Edward, 315, 316 
Cutting, Dr. Nathaniel, 55, 316, 


Dale, Allen, 204, 205 

Dale, Charles Augustus, 204, 205 

Dale, Margaret T., 204, 205 

Dalton, Tristram, 146-149, 206 

Davis, John, 133 

Davis, Madison, 757 

Dawes, Elizabeth Eliot, 66 

Dawes, Thomas, 13, 14, 48, 195 

Dawes, William, 14, 17 

Deakins, William, Jr., 71, 112, 120, 

Deblois, Lewis. 40 
Decatur, Mr. Stephen, 305 
Dickerson, Mahlon, 172 
Dickinson, John, 76 
Dickinson, Philemon, 76, 77 
Dinsmore, Dr., 143 
Dorsey, William H., 194 
Duane, William, 228, 263 
Duncanson, Martha, 263, 278, 281, 

Duncanson, William Mayne, 71, 99, 

103-105, 109, no, 114, 1 1 6-1 1 8, 

139, 145, 176, 184, 186, 188, 

263-283, 333 

Eddy, Charles, 34 

Eliot, Abigail Adams, 66 

Eliot, Catherine Mary, 150 

Eliot, Johnson, 150 

Eliot, Samuel, xo 

Eliot, Samuel, Jr., 139, 149, 150, 

Eliot, Mrs. Samuel, Jr. 150 
Eliot, Wallace, 150 
Eliot, William Henry, 150 
EUenborough, Baron (Edward Law), 

220-223, 246. 250, 3Q5, 328 
EUenborough, Earl of (Edward 

Law), 223 
Elliot, William, 66, 177, 301 
Ennis, John F., 66 
Etting, J. Marx, 214 
Everett, Edward, 316, 317, 330 

Fairfax, Fernando, 56 

Faux, W., 132, 224, 286, 399-301, 

305, 320. 327. 328. 330 
Fearon, Henry Bradshaw, 133, 261, 

Fillmore, Millard, 61 
Fitzhugh, Nicholas, 54 
Forrest, Uriah, 71, 158, 264 
Fox, Edward, 73, 75 
Francis, Thomas W., 73, 185, a8i 
French, George, 71, 72 
Funk, Peter, 120 

Gallatin, Albert, 79, 242, 243, 245 
Gevers, W. A. F., Baron, 79 
Gifford, William, 330 
Godfrey, Pieter, 70, 71, 80, 82, 195 
Goodrich. Chauncey A., 13 
Goodwin, Gordon, 227 
Graeff, John, 299 
Greenleafe, Edmund, 9 
Green leaf, Benjamin, 17 
Greenleaf, Daniel, 13, 14, 195 
Greenleaf, Mrs. Daniel, 13, 14 
Greenleaf, Elizabeth, 10, 13 
Greenleaf, James, 9, 14, 23, 27, 40, 

47, 49. 67-77, 79-82, 85, 86, 
89-93,99-108, no-i 17, n9-i2i, 
124, 126, 136, 139, 140, I45-I47i 
149-157, 160, 163-166. 169-177, 
179. 183-199. 203-215, 241, 246, 
253. 256, 264, 273, 295. 338-340 

Greenleaf, Mrs. James (Baroness 
Scholten), 90, 203 

Greenleaf, Mrs. James (Miss Allen), 
10 1, 203,-206, 209 

Greenleaf, John, 13, 47 

Greenleaf, Mrs. John, 13, 47 

Greenleaf, Margaret, 13 

Greenleaf, Mary, 10 

Greenleaf, Priscilla, 13, 146 

Greenleaf, Rebecca, 13