BEGINNING SEARCH FOR SITE OF NATION'S CAPITAL GERRY, ELBRIDGE. Autograph Document, unsigned, contemporary transcription of a letter from Thomas Hutchins, to "The Commissioners for viewing the Ground near to Trenton for a federal Town," sending a survey [not present] and giving a brief report. 1 1/2 pages, tall 4to, written on the recto and verso of a single sheet; loss at upper left corner affecting few letters of text, short closed separations at horizontal folds, remnants of prior mounting along right edge verso, short closed tears at all edges. Annapolis, 26 December 1783
"You will receive herewith Plans of the Ground you directed me to Survey above & below the Falls of Delaware. Care has been taken to mark on the Plans all the Elevations & Depressions of the Ground as well as the level, cleared, & Wood Lands . . . . The situation of the Ground on the Pennsylvania Side of the Delaware is very high airy & healthy commanding a most extensive & delightful Prospect over Trenton Lamberton & several Miles up & down the River, the Soil is a Mixture of Clay of which . . . Bricks may be made & the high Ground furnish plenty of useful Stone for building with, Springs of good Water. The Land on the Jersey Side of the River . . . affords . . . less Variety & Extent; . . . tho there are no Stones on the spot for building, nor Clay for Bricks . . . yet as Tide Water flows to this place, Material may easily be conveyed . . . ." In June of 1783, the Continental Congress--then convened at Princeton, NJ--began planning for a permanent national capital. On October 7 of that year, after a motion from Elbridge Gerry, Congress adopted a resolution that "buildings for the use of Congress be erected on or near the banks of the Delaware, provided a suitable district can be procured . . . for a federal town." A committee of five delegates chaired by Gerry was then charged to proceed to the Delaware River "near the falls," in order to "report a proper district." Considerable debate proceeded from these beginnings, with the final home of the capital not settled upon until the Residence Act was signed into law by President George Washington on July 16, 1790.
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