[WHITE HOUSE]. MIFFLIN, Thomas (1744-1800), Constitution Signer. Document signed ("Tho Mifflin") as Governor of Pennsylvania, to Christian Febiger, Esquire, Philadelphia, 31 May 1792. 1 page, oblong 4to, extreme bottom margin chipped, neat slit cancellation in blank area at lower right, otherwise in very good condition. Docketed on verso.
PAYING FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE WHITE HOUSE: "A SUITABLE HOUSE FOR THE ACCOMODATION OF THE PRESIDENT"
Mifflin directs Pennsylvania Treasurer Febiger (1746-1796) to "Pay to Richard Wells and Frances Gurney, Esquires, Commissioners" the sum of £4,000 "out of the sum of £20,000 obtained on loan from the Bank of North America on the Security of the Revenues arising from sales at Auction; the said sum being a payment towards defraying the expence of building a suitable house for the accommodation of the President of the United States agreeably to the provisions of an Act of General Assembly," dated 31 September 1791.
The Residence Act ("An Act for Establishing the Temporary and Permanent Seat of the Government of the United States"), passed by Congress in July 1790, stipulated that the nation's capital would be constructed on the Potomac. After the initial surveys, a competition was held for the architectural design of "a suitable house" for the Chief Executive. The winning design--for a far larger edifice than the present-day White House--was by Thomas Hoban (1732-1786), an Irish-born architect. The initial excavations were begun on the site chosen by President Washington, and the cornerstone of the edifice was laid on 13 October 1792. Jefferson, who had also submitted a plan, did not care much for Hoban's, and famously called it "big enough for two emperors, one Pope and the grand lama."