Less than a year before the federal government moved to Washington, D.C.—and just three months before his death—Washington was constructing rental lodging for members of Congress. The former president, a longtime land speculator, hoped to profit from investment in the nation’s future capital.
Washington’s signing of the 1790 Congressional act to establish the District of Columbia marked the birth of the nation’s Federal City. It also initiated a decade of land speculation, as investors sought to make their fortunes from the projected new site of the federal government.
On September 11, 1799, Washington sent a check for $1,000 to Dr. William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol and a commissioner of the Federal City, who was overseeing the construction of Washington’s houses.
Read this letter, written 213 years ago today . . .