David Stuart (Virginia politician)

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David Stuart (August 3, 1753[1] – October 1814) was a relation and correspondent of George Washington. When Washington became President of the United States, he appointed Stuart to be one of the three commissioners that were in charge of siting and designing the nation's new capital city.

Private life[edit]

David Stuart was the son of William Stuart, rector of St. Paul's Parish, King George County, Virginia. His grandfather, also named David Stuart, had come to Virginia from Scotland in 1715 and served as rector of the same church. Stuart studied medicine and languages at the University of St Andrews.[2] He established a practice in Alexandria, Virginia. He became a relative of George Washington's in 1783 when he married Eleanor Calvert Custis, the widow of Washington's stepson John Parke Custis and a descendent of Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, the recipient of the charter for the Maryland colony.[1] A number of letters from Washington to Stuart exist, concerning family matters and Virginia politics.[3]

Eleanor and David had sixteen children of their own, including:[1][4][5]

  • Ann Calvert Stuart Robinson (born 1784), married William Robinson[4][5]
  • Sarah Stuart Waite (born 1786), married Obed Waite[4][5]
  • Ariana Calvert Stuart[4][5]
  • William Skolto Stuart[4][5]
  • Eleanor Custis Stuart (born 1792)[4][5]
  • Charles Calvert Stuart (1794–1846), married Cornelia Lee[4][5]
  • Rosalie Eugenia Stuart Webster (1796–1886), married William Greenleaf Webster[4][5][6]

In addition, Stuart helped raise John Parke Custis's and Eleanor's two eldest children, Elizabeth Parke Custis Law and Martha Parke Custis Peter.[7] The Stuarts and their family resided at three estates in Fairfax County, Virginia: Abingdon, Hope Park and Ossian Hall.[5][7]

Political career[edit]

Stuart served as a representative to the Virginia House of Delegates and also to the Virginia convention of 1788 that considered the ratification of the United States Constitution.[8] To address the issues of greatest concern, the convention considered the following resolution:[8]

Resolved, That previous to the ratification of the new Constitution of government recommended by the late Federal Convention, a declaration of rights asserting and securing from encroachment the great principle of civil and religious liberty and the unalienable rights of the people, together with amendments to the most exceptional parts of the said Constitution, ought to be referred by this Convention to the other States in the American Confederation for their consideration.[8]

Supported by George Mason and Patrick Henry but opposed by Stuart, James Madison, Henry Lee III (Light-Horse Harry Lee), John Marshall, Edmund Randolph and Bushrod Washington, the resolution failed, 88—80.[8] Stuart, Lee, Madison, Marshall, Randolph and Washington then voted in favor of a resolution to ratify the constitution, which the convention approved on June 28, 1789 by a vote of 89-79, with Mason and Henry voting in the minority.[8]

Stuart was chosen as an elector from the Prince William District for the 1788-1789 Presidential election.[9] That District consisted of the Counties of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William, which cover the area west of Washington DC.[10] Each of the ten electors from Virginia who voted cast one of their two votes for George Washington. Five of them cast their other vote for John Adams, three cast theirs for George Clinton, one cast his for John Hancock and one cast his for John Jay.[11]

In 1791 George Washington appointed Stuart to serve as a commissioner of the Federal City to oversee the surveying of the new capital and construction of the public buildings. He served on the commission until 1794.[12] In 1791, Stuart and the other commissioners named the capital the "City of Washington" in "The Territory of Columbia".[13]


  1. ^ a b c Johnson, R. Winder (1905). The Ancestry of Rosalie Morris Johnson: Daughter of George Calvert Morris and Elizabeth Kuhn, his wife. Ferris & Leach. pp. 16–17, 29–30. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
  2. ^ "Washington to Dr. Stuart: Some Unpublished Letters of the First President", New York Times, March 14, 1880, p. 4
  3. ^ John C. Fitzpatrick (ed.). "The writings of George Washington from the original manuscript sources". U. S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Edmund Jennings Lee. Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892. Heritage Books. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i National Genealogical Society (1917). National Genealogical Society Quarterly. National Genealogical Society. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  6. ^ James Edward Greenleaf (1896). Genealogy of the Greenleaf Family. F. Wood. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  7. ^ a b Templeman, Eleanor Lee (1959). Arlington Heritage: Vignettes of a Virginia County. Arlington, Virginia: E. Templeman. pp. 12–13. OCLC 28061463.
  8. ^ a b c d e Grigsby, Hugh Blair (1890). Brock, R.A., ed. The History of the Virginia Federal Convention of 1788 With Some Account of the Eminent Virginians of that Era who were Members of the Body. Collections of the Virginia Historical Society. New Series. Volume IX. 1. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Historical Society. pp. 344–346. OCLC 41680515.. At Google Books.
  9. ^ The Documentary history of the first Federal elections, 1788-1790, by Gordon DenBoer, Volume 2, page 303
  10. ^ http://elections.lib.tufts.edu/aas_portal/view-election.xq?id=MS115.002.VA.1789.00026
  11. ^ The Documentary history of the first Federal elections, 1788-1790, by Gordon DenBoer, Volume 2, pages 304-5
  12. ^ https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-15-02-0074
  13. ^ Crew, Harvey W.; Webb, William Bensing; Wooldridge, John (1892). "IV. Permanent Capital Site Selected". Centennial History of the City of Washington, D.C. Dayton, Ohio: United Brethren Publishing House. pp. 87–88, 101. Retrieved 2011-06-01.