Alexander Hamilton Papers

Report on Foreign Loans, [13 February 1793]

Report on Foreign Loans1

Treasury Department,
February, 13th. 1793.
[Communicated on February 13, 1793]2

[To the Speaker of the House of Representatives]


In obedience to an Order of the President of the United States, founded upon the requests contained in two resolutions of the House of Representatives, of the 23d of January last,3 I have the honor to lay before the House—

I. The several papers, numbered I, II, III, IV,4 being copies of the authorities, under which, loans have been negociated, pursuant to the Acts of the 4th. and 12th. of August 1790.

II. Sundry letters,5 as per list at foot, from the Secretary of the Treasury to William Short, esquire, and to Wilhem and J: Willinks, N: and J: Van Staphorst and Hubbard, being copies of the authorities respecting the application of the monies borrowed.

III. Statement A, shewing the names of the persons, by whom, and to whom, the respective payments of the French debt have been made in Europe, specifying the dates of the respective payments, and the sums. With regard to the precise dates of the respective draughts, which may have been drawn, or Orders which may have been given by Mr. Short to our Bankers, for making these payments, they cannot be furnished, not being known at the Treasury. It is, however, to be inferred from the correspondence and circumstances, that they preceded, but a short time, the respective payments, to which they related.

Statement B, shewing by whom the payments have been made, on account of the Dutch loans, the dates and the sums. As to the persons, to whom the payments were made, no specification is practicable, these being the numerous subscribers to the several loans, their agents or assignees. It has never been considered, either, under the former or present government, as interesting to the Treasury, to know who those individuals were. Indeed, by the transfers always going on, they are continually changing. This demand for a communication of their names would have been unprecedented, and the disclosure, from time to time, would been attended with a great deal of useless, but expensive trouble.

The Statement desired, in reference to the Spanish debt,6 cannot be furnished. In a note upon Statement, No. I, of my late report concerning foreign loans,7 it is mentioned, “that advice had been received, that the payment of this debt was going on, though it had not been completed.” This appears by letters from Mr. Short, now before the Senate, dated August 30th. and October 9th. and 22d.8 No advice of the completion of the payment has since been received. All, that is known, is, that our Bankers were procuring Bills under orders from Mr. Short, for the purpose of remitting to Spain the sum necessary to discharge her debt.

There will be seen a difference in the Statement now presented and No. I, of my late report concerning foreign loans, as to the date of the last payment to France. In one, the 9th. of August is mentioned; in the other, the 6th. of September. The fact is, that it had its inception, some time in August, but was not perfected till the sixth of September. Mr. Morris,9 who had been charged by Mr. Short, with endeavoring to adjust with the French Treasury, the rule, by which, the payments that had been and might be made, should be liquidated into livres, having regard to certain equitable considerations, made an arrangement with it provisionally, for the payment of 1,641,250* florins, and wrote to Mr. Short, requesting that he would direct the payment to be completed. There appear to have been two letters from Mr. Morris, on the subject, one dated the 6th, the other, the 9th of August.10 But Mr. Short, for reasons, which he explains in his correspondence now before the Senate, did not consummate the payment, till the sixth of September. One Statement has reference to the beginning, the other, to the conclusion of the affair.

I am instructed by the President to observe, that there are some circumstances in the communications now made, which would render a public perusal of them not without inconvenience. With perfect respect, I have the honor, to be, Sir,

Your most obedient and most humble Servant

Alexander Hamilton
Secretary of the Treasury.

The Honorable The Speaker,
of the House of Representatives.

Copy, RG 233, Reports of the Treasury Department, 1792–1793, Vol. III, National Archives.

2Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends , 702.

4These documents, which are printed in these volumes under the dates on which they were written, are:

I. George Washington to H, August 28, 1790.

II. Washington to H, August 28, 1790.

III. Commission to Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard, August 28, 1790. This document is printed as an enclosure to H to Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard, August 28, 1790.

IV. Commission to William Short. This document is printed as an enclosure to H to Short, September 1, 1790.

5The “sundry letters” are: Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard to H, January 25, 1790; H to Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard, April 7, July 17, August 28, and November 29, 1790, March 12, 18, June 30, and October 31, 1791, January 27, April 17, July 16, 26, September 19, October 16, November 26, and December 31, 1792; H to Short, August 29 and September 1, 1790, April 13, May 9, 24, November 1, 30, 1791, January 28, March 5, April 2, 10, June 30, July 25, September 13, October 16, November 26, and December 31, 1792. These letters are printed under the dates on which they were written.

6The second resolution of January 23, 1793, directed the President to have information sent to the House of Representatives concerning the payment of the Spanish debt. For a description of this debt, see H to Short, September 1, 1790, note 19; Joseph Nourse to H, October 9, 1792; Short to H, February 25, 1793, note 13.

8H had transmitted these letters to the Senate on February 5, 1793. They are printed in these volumes under the dates on which they were written. The Short letter to which H is referring is dated October 27, 1792, rather than October 22.

9Gouverneur Morris had arrived in Paris in May, 1792, to assume the duties of United States Minister, replacing William Short who, while holding the diplomatic rank of chargé d’affaires in Paris, had acted as United States Minister.

10Both letters, as well as further correspondence between Short and Morris relating to this payment on the French debt, are printed as enclosures to Morris to H, September 25, 1792.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* 1,625,000 Banco.

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