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Albert H. Small Donates Historic Letter to University http://gwtoday.gwu.edu/albert-h-small-donates-historic-letter-university The 220-year-old letter, written by George Washington, will be part of The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection. December 10, 2012 A 220-year-old letter written by George Washington is being donated to the George Washington University by collector Albert H. Small. The letter, kept out of public view for decades by a private collector in New York until it was auctioned Friday at Christie’s, was written about the architect of the nation’s capital Pierre Charles L’Enfant. “I am delighted to be able to secure this important piece of Washington history and donate it to the George Washington University,” said Mr. Small. “Dated November 30, 1792, the letter gives insight into George Washington’s perspective and feelings about Pierre L’Enfant. It will be an important part of my Washingtoniana collection.” Purchased for $240,000, the letter will join the rest of the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection, which is part of a new museum being built at 21st and G streets on the Foggy Bottom Campus. George Washington wrote the letter to David Stuart—a member of the commission charged with designing a federal capital city— to discuss the selection of the city’s eventual architect, Pierre Charles L’Enfant. “Mr. Small’s purchase of this remarkable letter for the Washingtoniana collection he has donated to our university brings an important piece of history home to the District of Columbia,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “His generous act will benefit generations of scholars, students and interested citizens.” In February 2011, Mr. Small donated his Washingtoniana collection to the university to help establish the new museum. The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection is an unparalleled treasure trove of rare maps, drawings, letters, documents, lithographs and books relating to the history and evolution of the city of Washington and the nation’s capital. It will be permanently displayed on the university’s campus in the 156-year-old Woodhull House, which will be renamed the Historic Woodhull House, Home of the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection. The Woodhull House will be part of the university’s new museum which includes dedicated galleries and increased exhibition space for The Textile Museum and the university’s art collections. Mr. Small, a third-generation Washingtonian, is co-founder and president of Southern Engineering Corporation. Mr. Small is a longtime supporter of the humanities and has served on many prominent civic and cultural boards. He received the 2009 National Humanities Medal, presented by President Barack Obama, and the 2011 President’s Medal from the George Washington University. His collections are housed at the University of Virginia, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and soon in the George Washington University Museum. For more information on the new museum visit www.gwu.edu/museum. 12/10/2012 George Washington’s dishy letter about Pierre Charles L’Enfant is coming home By Manuel Roig-Franzia http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/george-washingtons-dishy-letter-about-pierre-charles-lenfant-is-coming-home/2012/12/10/65a88aa8-42f2-11e2-9648-a2c323a991d6_blog.html?hpid=z3 George Washington’s dishy letter about Pierre Charles L’Enfant is coming home. George Washington University revealed Monday that Albert H. Small, who is a native Washingtonian and a big local real estate developer, bought the 220-year-old letter at a Christie’s auction in New York on Friday. The unnamed seller is from New York, so now the letter — which deals with selection of an architect for the new federal city — will find its way back to a more geographically logical spot. George Washington's autographed letter to David Stuart (1753-1814), 30 November 1792. (Photo courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2012) In the letter, Washington laments that L’Enfant might have been a good candidate “if he could have been restrained within proper bounds and his temper was less untoward.” But he also praises L’Enfant’s abilities. Small’s fascination with Washington goes deep — into his pocket. Christie’s says the sales price topped $290,000. But this is the just the latest in a lifelong pursuit of historical documents. Small announced last year that he is donating his extensive collection of hundreds of documents to George Washington University and the first president’s letter about L’Enfant will be donated, too. ---- Christie’s to auction letter detailing George Washington’s impressions of L’Enfant http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/christies-to-auction-letter-detailing-george-washingtons-impressions-of-lenfant/2012/12/06/dcf97ef2-3fcb-11e2-bca3-aadc9b7e29c5_print.html By Manuel Roig-Franzia, Published: December 6 He might just be a Metro stop to you. A transfer point to the Yellow, Blue and Orange lines. A space to squeeze into — and out of — on the way to the ballgame. But in his day, Pierre Charles L’Enfant conjured a grand city, a federal capital that married European style with American egalitarianism. He saw wide boulevards and lush public spaces where others saw swamps and bogs. He was a visionary. And he was a pain in the neck. Both impressions of L’Enfant, the man responsible for designing much of Washington, leap off the yellowed pages of a 220-year-old letter set to be auctioned Friday in New York by Christie’s. It is written in the unmistakable hand of George Washington, two pages of exquisitely shaped script tilting hard to the right, as if some unseen force was trying to flatten each word. By the time Washington put quill to paper on that 30th day of November 1792, L’Enfant was already a source of controversy. Even though he’d drafted an impressive plan for the federal city, he’d been shoved aside amid bickering with the commission established to oversee construction. Washington addressed his letter to David Stuart, one of three members of the commission. The first president tells Stuart that this is a “private” communication, even underlining the word, so that he may speak “more freely.” That his private musings would, inevitably, become public is evidence of that present-day truism of the town they’d make together — nothing that gets written down stays secret! In the letter, Washington nudges Stuart to get on with the task of selecting a capital architect to move along the much-delayed project, preferably a man of “fertile genius & comprehensive ideas.” That’s when the letter gets dishy. Washington, as if thinking aloud, tells Stuart that L’Enfant might be a good candidate — “if he could have been restrained within proper bounds and his temper was less untoward.” Meow. But Washington then pivots, noting that L’Enfant is “the only person with whose turn to matters of this sort I am acquainted, that I think fit for it.” There, in the space of a few words, Washington disses and praises L’Enfant. He’s a bad, bad boy, but he might be the best man for the job. Chris Coover, a senior specialist in rare books and manuscripts at Christie’s, reads in the letter an American president “conflicted” over the designing genius. Impressed with his work, annoyed by his temperament, for, after all, L’Enfant was “very arrogant . . . very full of himself.” “You can read his anxiety,” Coover says of Washington. In his cautiously worded way, Washington seems to be expressing “regret” that L’Enfant wasn’t in charge anymore, Coover says. But Coover sees other narratives laced into the text. Not just a president peeved by an architect, but a president fed up with process. An early case of capital gridlock. “If you read between the lines, you can tell he’s frustrated that the work has stalled,” Coover says. Christie’s can’t trace the provenance of the letter back to Washington. Somewhere along the way, it became the property of collectors, but it hasn’t been sold for decades, Coover says. Instead, it has been one of those treasures, quietly held by a collector in New York, a gatherer of old things whose name is not being disclosed. The letter is expected to go for as much as $400,000. The seller, Coover says, parts with it amid “mixed feelings.” ---------------------------- Original Message ---------------------------- Subject: [H-DC] Original George Washington Letter on planning the District up for auction From: "Matthew Gilmore, editor H-DC" <dc-edit@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU> Date: Wed, December 5, 2012 2:50 pm To: H-DC@H-NET.MSU.EDU -------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: "John H. Muller" <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://dcist.com/2012/12/if_youve_got_400000_set_aside_this.php Though Pierre L'Enfant is most commonly associated with the creation of Washington, D.C., it's a historical fact that he wasn't very well liked and was booted off of the project before it was even completed. Now Christie's is auctioning off a letter<http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/books-manuscripts/washington-george-autograph-letter-5636317-details.aspx?intobjectid=5636317>written by George Washington in 1792 to one of the three D.C. commissioners in which the city's forefather outlines his struggles to find a replacement for the temperamental Frenchman and peppers the commissioner with questions on other candidates. Reads the announcement: Washington search for a chief architect of the new federal city as he considers re-hiring the temperamental Pierre L'Enfant and discusses a candidate backed by Jefferson, in this lengthy, animated letter to one of the three D.C. Commissioners (David Carroll and Thomas Johnson were the others). Washington wants "a man of fertile genius, & comprehensive ideas...one who shall always reside there...a man of skill & judgment, of industry & integrity" who would have "the business constantly before his eyes," unlike the part-time Commissioners. "But where, you may ask, is the character to be found who possesses these qualifications? I frankly answer I know not! Major L'Enfant...if he could have been restrained within proper bounds and his temper was less untoward, is the only person with whose turn to matters of this sort I am acquainted, that I think fit for it. There may, notwithstanding, be many others although they are unknown to me, equally so." Washington had already fired the high-handed L'Enfant at the end of February when he refused to follow the directions of the Commissioners, and even treated Washington as a subordinate, issuing him peremptory instructions to obtain--and to personally guarantee!--a $1 million loan from the Dutch to fund his grandiose design. Not surprisingly, Washington is eager to consider alternative candidates, including one recommended by Thomas Jefferson. "Mr. [Samuel] Blodget seems to be the person on whom many eyes are turned, & among others who look that way, are some of the Proprietors. He has travelled, I am told, a good deal in Europe...Mr Hallet--"but whether Mr Hallet has qualities, & is sufficiently known to fit him for a general Superintendency I cannot pretend even to give an opinion upon." Washington hopes the appointment will act as "an antidote...to the poison which Mr. F____s C___t [Francis Cabot] is spreading, by insinuations, that the accomplishment of the Plan is no more to be expected than the fabric of a vision, & will vanish in like manner." The letter will be auctioned off on December 7 in New York, and is expected to fetch between $250,000 and $400,000. Kickstarter, anyone? -- John Muller 202.236.3413 /email@example.com Washington Syndicate / Capital Community News / Greater Greater Washington *Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C: The Lion of Anacostia<http://www.amazon.com/Frederick-Douglass-Washington-D-c-Anacostia/dp/1609495772/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=H42HP4SBZ8OA&coliid=I34OMAR1SV8L9G> * [The History Press, October 2012] Forthcoming: "Mark Twain in Washington, D.C.: The Adventures of a Capital Correspondent" [The History Press, Fall 2013] -- -- Matthew Gilmore H-DC list co-editor, web editor firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/ [list website] http://www.h-net.org/lists/subscribe.cgi?list=H-DC [subscribe to H-DC] Remember to check http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lm&list=H-DC for past list messages. October 18-21, 2012 - 39th Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies click: http://annualconferencedchistoricalstudies.wordpress.com for papers presented Thank you to all who made the 39th Annual Conference on D.C. Historical Studies a success! -- -- Matthew Gilmore H-DC list co-editor, web editor email@example.com http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/ [list website] http://www.h-net.org/lists/subscribe.cgi?list=H-DC [subscribe to H-DC] Remember to check http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lm&list=H-DC for past list messages. October 18-21, 2012 - 39th Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies click: http://annualconferencedchistoricalstudies.wordpress.com for papers presented Thank you to all who made the 39th Annual Conference on D.C. Historical Studies a success! -- -- Matthew Gilmore H-DC list co-editor, web editor firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/ [list website] http://www.h-net.org/lists/subscribe.cgi?list=H-DC [subscribe to H-DC] Remember to check http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lm&list=H-DC for past list messages. October 18-21, 2012 - 39th Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies click: http://annualconferencedchistoricalstudies.wordpress.com for papers presented Thank you to all who made the 39th Annual Conference on D.C. Historical Studies a success!