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Those who admire in the character of the first President of the United States the quality of soundness and sanity of judgment, as well as that of taking infinite pains, will have no cause to revise such an estimate after reading the letters in this volume. While it would be almost absurd at this day and after the study that has been given to the life and career of Washington to claim to present any new material, yet it can be said of the present collection that it brings together for the first time the writings of Washington in regard to what is recognized as one of the signal achievements of his life.
As to the sources of the material here presented, first and foremost ranks of course the manuscript division of the Library of Congress, then come the manuscript records of the early board of city commissioners in the office of the commissioner of public buildings and grounds and finally the papers relating to the District preserved in the Department of State.
In addition, the printed collections made by Sparks and Ford have been used and also those of the messages of the presidents and other state papers. The source of each separate writing is indicated. What has been brought together may be said to be fairly complete, and is believed to comprise everything of importance that came from the pen of Washington in regard to the Nation's Capital. At any rate it will be possible for the first time to read as a whole the record of the planning and building of a city to be the seat of a great nation, an achievement never before attempted and not since undertaken except when the absolute ruler of Russia decided to establish St. Petersburg and in recent days