[Source Description: 8 January 1794. Samuel Hopkins to John Haywood. University of North Carolina Papers (#40005), University Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.]
Mr. Haywood, Dear Sir,
When I left Fayetteville my intent was to go to Virginia & return in about a week, but contrary to my expectation I was there detained so as not return until last night at which time I received two Letters from you relative to the Business of the President's House, wherein you requested an answer & an explaination[sic] of the proposials[sic] left with you; as you have been so kind as to put yourself to the trouble of writing to me with respect to the work I feel a degree of of[sic] pleasure in sending an express answer, not finding any chance of conveying a Letter without sending on purpose.
The plan you first gave, I calculated on, as doing the the[sic] work in a creditable manner, the way in which I proposed doing the said work I did suppose could not be executed, so as to give ample satisfaction to the employers & gain credit to myself for less than 1,000 pounds. This was the House 36 by 26 with a cellar under the whole of it & the Garret finished off into bed-rooms, (perhaps this I did not communicate to you) However after this it was proposed to omit a part of the Cellar & the whole of the Garret rooms, ading[sic] to the length of the House four feet, this as I observed required an abatement, I then agreed to undertake for £950. lastly in case of being underbid I concluded to say £850. which appears to be the proposial[sic] you thought was the first I had made.
This was truly a mistake but not on my part, you being so full of business at that time and none of the other commissioners present it could not be attended to so strictly as was necessary: Now Sir, the fact is this, the commissioners sho[ul]d have first made out an exact method in which the work was to be done & have given to each candidate a copy of the form.
form or mode in which the work was to be done & by tha[t] means each competitor would have been on an equal footing.
My wish & Inclination was to execute the work in an Extraordinary manner, at the time that I said £1,000 but having an Idea at the same time of Lucas's way of Business by a parcil[sic] of aukward[sic] Negroes, who do not [?] tolerabl[e] wages, I thought it the only way to put myself on an equality with him to make that last reserve, that in case of the price being much reduced I would do it for £850. rather than loose it; Let me instance to you that I could Build a house the same Size &c of the one for which I charged £1,000. for ¾ of that Sum the might be Sufficiently strong; and have a better bargain than my first design would have have[sic] been at the Thousand pounds, & this I concieve[sic] is the advantage Mr. Lucas & Mr. Conroy has had of me: in counting on an inferior kind of work: In the next place Sir I have to inform you that according to the mode in which Mr. Lucas & Mr. Conroy has calculated on I am willing to do the work in the present plan a few shillings cheaper than either of them knowing myself able to build it on as good terms as any that offer, & if it is not reduc[ed] lower than £725. as you discribed[sic] in your letter having no cellar but underpined[sic] 4 feet from the surface &c; you may depend on me to do it: but at the Same time I hope Gentlemen should not know that I am determined to be below them, for they would perhaps thro[ugh] a malicious principle to me cry it conciderably[sic] lower than any person could aford[sic] to do it at. I do assure you upon the honour of a man of truth, there will nothing be made by it more than common low wages at less than £800. if the workman is faithful in performing it as he ought. The House I built for Mr. Cain I think has
has not been more work than this, under the present form, & yet he is very confident he has not been out less than £1,000 on it. The time which you allow for the finishing this work I have not heard, I hope if you see cause to let me take it you will give sufficient to compleat[sic] it in as the work will be better than when hurried up with green timber, but if you have mentioned to Mr. Lucas & Mr. Conroy when it must be done I will abide by the result.
I think it will be convenient for me to make brick as I intend employing a Bricklayer by the year especially if you allow me the priviledge[sic] of a place for I wish to build there on my own Lott[sic], this you may prize as your interest as being a means of promoting the place. I hope therefore you will encourage [section missing] incline to build there shortly.
If you can give me a final answer in any short time you may Inform the bearer Frederick Collier, that he may wait for it, if not have directed him to return immediately. In case you should alter the plan you may form an Idea how much should be aded[sic] or deducted in proportion to such alteration.
My expectation is that if the lowest proposial[sic] is not less than £750 you are to allow me within a few shillings of that sum & at any rate as they are so ventursome[sic] I wish to have it; provided they are not appris'd of my determination.
I am with much respect
Sir yr Obt Sert
N.B. let me know