Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Oliver Wolcott, Junior, 27 May 1793

From Oliver Wolcott, Junior1

T D C O. May 27. 1793


I herewith transmit an extract from a Law of the Commonwealth of Virginia passed on the 26th. of Decr. 1792.2 Also extracts from a Letter written by Jno. Hopkins Esq. dated Jany 3d. 1793. & from a Letter written to him from this office dated February 22d 1793.3

These papers will shew, that the Commonwealth of Virginia authorised the Treasr. to issue from the State Treasy. certain Certificates of the Sinking Fund, in payment of debts due to foreign Creditors, & also to exchange Certificates of said Fund dated prior to the 1st. of Jany. 1790, for Certificates of a subsequent date.

The question for consideration is, whether the Certificates so issued or exchanged may be admitted in Loan to the United States, under the Acts of the 4th. of Aug. ’904 & of the 8th of May 1792.5

I have the honor to be &c.

A Hamilton

ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

3Hopkins was commissioner of loans for Virginia. Neither of these letters has been found, but on March 18, 1793, Wolcott wrote to Hopkins the following letter on certificates previously redeemed by Virginia: “… It is much regretted that any discontents Should exist in the minds of the public Creditors: but it is hoped that none of them will imagine that there is any want of attention to their rights on the part of the Treasury.…

“While the transactions under the Act of Aug 4th. 1790 were depending & unsettled this question was fully considered. The Attorney General of the United States was consulted & his opinion now on file in this Office fully supports the instructions which have been issued from this Department.

“It may also be well for them to consider the effects which would have followed from a contrary opinion—in the first place an artificial accumulation of the public debt—secondly an injury to the Creditors, from the necessity which would have been produced in many instances of proportioning the sums to be admitted on Loan, among the subscribers in consequence of the unexpected ⟨reissues⟩ from the State Treasuries—& thirdly a derangement of the system established by Congress for adjusting the account of the several States with the Union.

“It is however reasonable that every accomodation should be granted to the Creditors which is compatible with the public Interest & a due ⟨execution⟩ of the Law. If therefore the whole sum which has been subscribed in your office does not exceed the balance of the sum Assumed & which remained unsubscribed under the Act of Augt. 4th. 1790 you are authorized hereby to issue Certificates of Funded Debt for such subscriptions as were made prior to the passing of the late Act for issuing Certificates from the State Treass. If however the sum subscribed exceeds the said balance, it will be necessary that you suspend issuing any Certificates untill farther instructions are recd.

“In case any of the Creditors prefer having Certifs. of Funded Debt bearing Interest from the 1st. of Jany 1793; to a settlement in the manner proposed in my letter of Feb: 20th. 1793, it will in my opinion be proper to comply with their request—as in either mode the purpose intended will have been substantially accomplished.” (ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.)

4“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).

5“An Act supplementary to the act making provision for 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 281–83).

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