Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Samuel Blodget Collection, 1802-1803

Finding aid created by
Cari Griffin, January 2019

Summary Information
Title: Samuel Blodget collection
Creator: Blodget, Samuel, 1757-1814
Inclusive dates: 1802-1803
Extent: 6 items
This collection is made up of four letters, a bill, and a receipt, providing information about merchant, economist, and amateur architect Samuel Blodget, Jr.'s proposal for a National University and a monument to George Washington, to be erected in Washington, D.C.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Gift of Dr. Joseph Fields, 1951. M-845.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Preferred Citation:

Samuel Blodget Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Samuel Blodget, Jr., was born August 28, 1757, in Goffstown, New Hampshire, to Samuel Blodget and Hannah White. He served with the New Hampshire militia from 1775 to 1777, before becoming a merchant. By 1789, Blodget resided in Philadelphia and conducted business in Boston. He founded the Boston Tontine Association in 1791 and then, using funds from the enterprise, established the Union Bank (Boston) in 1792. Blodget collaborated with Ebenezer Hazard in 1792 to create another tontine plan in Philadelphia; its proceeds were used to found the Insurance Company of North America.

Blodget was actively involved in the development of Washington, D.C., following its establishment as capital of the United States. In 1792, he acquired 494 acres in the D.C. area at the cost of $36,000. Blodget claimed to have studied architecture during travels to Europe and received an appointment as Superintendent of Buildings in 1793. That same year, he established a lottery as means of fund-raising for the district. The prize would be a hotel, planned by White House architect James Hoben. Delays announcing a winner, coupled with the failure to complete construction of the hotel by end of 1794, cost Blodget his position as superintendent. Ultimately, in 1802, the courts deemed him legally responsible for the failed hotel. Unable to pay the $21,500 required to complete its construction, Blodget served time in debtor's prison during the latter half of 1803.

Blodget saw one of his architectural designs come to fruition: the Bank of the United States in Philadelphia (1795). He remained steadfast in his support of Washington, D.C.'s development, delivering a memorial to congress on January 10, 1803, advocating for a combined national university and monument to George Washington. Blodget is credited as being one of the first American authors to write on political economy. He published a pamphlet titled, Thoughts on the Increasing Wealth and National Economy of the United States of America (1801) and Economica: A Statistical Manual for the United States (1806).

Blodget married twice. First, to Dorothy Folsom in 1778, and then, following her death in 1790, he married Rebecca Smith, daughter of the provost at the University of Pennsylvania, in 1792. He died on April 11, 1814, in Baltimore.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of four letters, a bill, and a receipt, providing information about Samuel Blodget, Jr.'s proposal for a National University and a monument to George Washington, to be erected in Washington, D.C. The documents focus on Blodget's efforts to raise funds through subscription for the establishment of the university and the creation of the memorial honoring George Washington.

  • Two letters in the collection, addressed to Colonel William Scollay (1756-1809) of Boston, contain financial matters related to the university and the Washington memorial. The letter of March 5, 1803, respects the delivery of Blodget's memorial to the United States Congress on January 10, 1803, his appreciation for Scollay's support, and Blodget's impatience for "the surveyor [to] lay out the ground, of the city in time to begin the work this season." The second letter, dated May 4, 1803, pertains to the appointment of Bushrod Washington (1762-1829) as a trustee for collected funds.
  • A draft letter to Blodget from Colonel William Scollay, dated June 4, 1803, pertaining to collecting money for the National University project. He suggests that a draw be made in the name of Bushrod Washington.
  • One bill, dated December 10, 1802, for the cost of engraving a view of the national university.
  • A receipt for an $800 advance collected from Blodget for the Washington monument subscription, December 13, 1802.
Subject Terms

    • Lotteries--United States.
    • Monuments--Washington (D.C.)
    • Universities and colleges--Washington (D.C.)
    • Washington, Bushrod, 1762-1829.
    • Washington (D.C.)--History.
    • Scollay, William, 1756-1809.
    Genre Terms:
    • Bills of sale.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   61, Small Collections Folder   3
    Samuel Blodget Collection,  June 18, 1802-June 4, 1803 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Blodget, Samuel. Economica: A Statistical Manuel of the United States. Washington, 1806.

    Henry Newman Family Papers, 1777-1872