25 Facts About Andrew Ellicott


Andrew Ellicott was an American land surveyor who helped map many of the territories west of the Appalachians, surveyed the boundaries of the District of Columbia, continued and completed Pierre Charles L'Enfant's work on the plan for Washington, DC, and served as a teacher in survey methods for Meriwether Lewis.


Andrew Ellicott was born in Buckingham Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania as the first of nine children of Joseph Ellicott and his wife Judith.


Young Andrew was educated at the local Quaker school, where Robert Patterson, who later became a professor and vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, was his teacher for some time.


Andrew Ellicott was a talented mechanic like many of the family and showed some mathematical talent, too.


Three years later, Andrew Ellicott married Sarah Brown of Newtown, Pennsylvania, with whom he would have ten children, one of which died as a child.


From 1791 to 1792, at the request of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Ellicott worked under the direction of the three commissioners that President George Washington had appointed, surveying the boundaries of the federal Territory of Columbia, which would become the District of Columbia in 1801, containing the Federal City then becoming known as "Washington City".


Andrew Ellicott was assisted in this survey first by the free African-American astronomer Benjamin Banneker and then by Ellicott's brothers, Joseph Ellicott and Benjamin Ellicott.


Andrew Ellicott's team put into place forty boundary stones approximately 1 mile apart from each other that marked the borders of the Territory of Columbia of 100 square miles.


Andrew Ellicott stated in his letters that, although he was refused the original plan, he was familiar with L'Enfant's system and had many notes of the surveys that he had made himself.


Andrew Ellicott's revisions realigned and straightened the diagonal Massachusetts Avenue, eliminated five short other radial avenues and added two others, removed several plazas and straightened the borders of the future Judiciary Square.


Andrew Ellicott gave the first version of his own plan to James Thakara and John Valance of Philadelphia, who engraved, printed and published it.


When he later quit the City of Washington project, Andrew Ellicott was relieved to escape the political pressures surrounding that venture.


In 1794, Andrew Ellicott accepted a commission from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to plan the city of Erie on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie, giving the Keystone State a future port on the Great Lakes and its increasing trade.


Andrew Ellicott spent the next two years with this task, plotting a road from Reading, Pennsylvania, to Presqu'Isle, where the port city was to be built, and supervising the construction of Fort Erie.


Andrew Ellicott travelled with a military escort from Pittsburgh via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and worked together with Spanish commissioners, despite many difficulties, for the next four years.


One of his many stone markers for the boundary line, the Andrew Ellicott Stone, is located within a historical park about a mile south of Bucks, Alabama.


In 1798, Andrew Ellicott complained to the government about four American generals receiving pensions from Spain, including General in Chief James Wilkinson, raising the specter of treason, which later involved Vice President, Aaron Burr.


Andrew Ellicott showed considerable diplomatic talent during this joint project to bring it to a successful completion, and he presented his final report with maps to the government in 1800.


Andrew Ellicott was forced to sell some of his possessions, including books from his library, in order to support his family.


Finally the maps were released in 1803 under the subsequent Jefferson administration, and Ellicott published his Journal of Andrew Ellicott detailing the Florida survey, including the maps.


Andrew Ellicott instead accepted an offer by Pennsylvania governor Thomas McKean and took a position as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Land Office.


The family moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Andrew Ellicott seemed content with a clerk's job that left him enough time for his own scientific and private interests and that provided a steady income for the family.


Andrew Ellicott's report was not well received by the Georgian administration, who furthermore refused to pay his fees.


In 1813, Andrew Ellicott accepted a position as a professor for mathematics at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the family left Lancaster and moved to West Point, New York.


Andrew Ellicott died three years later from a stroke in his home at West Point.