Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Andrew Porter, 23 April 1791

From Andrew Porter1

[Philadelphia] April 23, 1791. “I am desirous of having the evidence preserved of the Original Amount of a Debt, for money loaned the United states between septr. 1777 & March 1778 (6 per Cent per Ann. on the Amount of which is now payable) And at the same time of taking out a predicated Certificate on which to draw Interest as a Non Subscriber.2 I am informed that you will, in case of Application for the purpose direct this evidence to be recorded on the Certificate to be given in lieu thereof. I have therefore to request that you will please to direct the Loan Officer in this State to make such indorsement on some Certificates the evidence of which I shall otherwise lose as they would be Merged in the Exchange.”

LC, Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg.

1Porter was a Philadelphia broker.

2“An Act making provision for the (payment of the) Debt of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 138–44 [August 4, 1790]) had prescribed the terms under which individuals holding certificates of debt issued under the Confederation might subscribe to the funded debt under the new government. Section 10, however, provided:

“That such of the creditors of the United States as may not subscribe to the said loan, shall nevertheless receive during the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, a rate per centum on the respective amounts of their respective demands, including interest to the last day of December next, equal to the interest payable to subscribing creditors, to be paid as the same times, at the same places, and by the same persons as is herein before directed, concerning the interest on the stock which may be created in virtue of the said proposed loan. But as some of the certificates now in circulation have not heretofore been liquidated to specie value, as most of them are greatly subject to counterfeit, and counterfeits have actually taken place in numerous instances, and as embarrassment and imposition might, for these reasons, attend the payment of interest on those certificates in their present form, it shall therefore be necessary to entitle the said creditors to the benefit of the said payment, that those of them who do not possess certificates issued by the register of the treasury, for the registered debt, should produce previous to the first day of June next, their respective certificates, either at the treasury of the United States, or to some one of the commissioners to be appointed as aforesaid, to the end that the same may be cancelled, and other certificates issued in lieu thereof; which new certificates shall specify the specie amount of those in exchange for which they are given, and shall be otherwise of the like tenor with those heretofore issued by the said register of the treasury for the said registered debt, and shall be transferable on the like principles with those directed to be issued on account of the subscriptions to the loan hereby proposed.”

During the operation of this act, one class of creditors, however, had consistently refused to surrender their certificates. These were the holders of certificates issued between September, 1777, and March, 1778, who believed the value of their certificates superior to those the Treasury offered in exchange. For background to these certificates, see Blair McClenachan et al. to H, March 16, 1791.

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