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2. CHARLES THOMSON (1729-1824) Irish born American patriot, unanimously elected first Secretary of the Continental Congress in 1774 and held the post until 1789, chosen to notify Washington of his election to the Presidency. Most important manuscript D.S. "Chas Thomson Secy", 2pp., legal folio, [Trenton], Dec. 23,1784 appointing commissioners to lay out a federal capital on the banks of the Delaware River. Thomson writes in large part: "...That the resolutions of the 20th Instant respecting the erecting [of] buildings for the use of Congress be carried into effect without delay, that for this purpose three commissioners be appointed with full power to lay out a district of not less than two nor exceeding three miles square on the banks of either Side of the Delaware not more than eight miles above or below the lower falls thereof for a federal Town; that they be authorized to purchase the [illeg] or such part of it as they may judge necessary to be paid at proper installments; to enter in Contracts for erecting & compleating in an elegant manner a federal House for the accommodation of Congress and for the Executive Offices thereof; a house for the use of the President of Congress and Suitable Buildings for the residence of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of War, Secretary of Congress, Secretary of the Marine &Office of the Treasury; that the Said Commissioners be empowered to draw on theTreasury of the United States for a Sum not exceeding One hundred thousand Dollars for the purpose aforesaid; that in chusing [sic] a Situation for the buildings due regard be had to the Accommodation of the States with lots for houses for the use of their Delegates respectively; that on the twenty fourth day of December instant, Congress Stand adjourned to meet at the City of New York on the eleventh day of January following for the dispatch of Public business and that the Sessions of Congress be held at the place last mentioned until the buildings aforesaid shall be ready for their reception." The search for a federal capital began in earnest in 1783 when the Continental Congress, then sitting in Philadelphia, was forced to flee the city in the wake of a large body of mutinous Continental soldiers demanding their long overdue pay. Relocating to Princeton, New Jersey, they quickly found the town far too crowded and soon saw the need for a permanent federal capital. The first proposal for establishing a new town to house the federal capital was submitted by Elbridge Gerry and Bland DavidHowell on October 17, 1783 "That buildings for the use of Congress be erected on the banks of the Delaware, near Trenton, or of Potomac, near George-Town, provided a suitable district can be procured on one of the rivers as aforesaid for a federal town, and that the right of soil and an exclusive or such other jurisdiction as Congress may direct, shall be vested in the United States..." This initial proposal was modified several times. The proposal brought into relief the growing conflict between North and South, southerners preferring the banks of the Potomac and northerners opting for a site in the mid-Atlantic. While at Trenton, Congress decided to ignore the Potomac site and appoint commissioners to assess a site on the Delaware River. The commissioners were appointed in early 1785, but opposition from Southern delegates was so strong that the entire project was allowed to lapse. The issue was not resolved until after the passage and ratification of the federal constitution of 1787. Despite the mechanics of the constitution, the controversy was still bitter and divisive. In December 1790, a House vote to place the Capital on "the easterly bank of the Potomac" was lost, offending many in the South and there was talk of secession from the Union. Alarmed at the possibility, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and others met and reached a compromise. In exchange for southern votes supporting the assumption of state debts by the United States, Hamilton ould secure the northern votes necessary to pass the Potomac resolution. On July 16, 1790 Congress approved the selection of the present site of Washington, D.C. on the bank of the Potomac River. Light and even toning and soiling, usual folds, otherwise very good condition. $5,000-7,000

Estimate $5,000 – $7,000
Starting Bid $2,500
live auction started on
Us Auction
9:00 AM - Feb 18, 2006
Alexander Historical Auctions LLC


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