Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 19 June 1802

To Albert Gallatin

June 19. 1802.

Th:J. to mr Gallatin

With respect to the bank of Pensva, their difficulties proceed from excessive discounts. the 3,000,000 D. due to them comprehend doubtless all the desperate debts accumulated since their institution. their buildings should only be counted at the value of the naked ground belonging to them; because if brought to market they are worth to private bidders no more than their materials, which are known by experience to be worth no more than the cost of pulling down and removing them. their situation then is

they owe 2,200,000
they have of good money 710,000
250,000 960,000
ground worth perhaps 5,000 965,000

to pay which 1,235,000. They depend on 3,000,000. of1 debts due to them, the amount of which shews they are of long standing, a part desperate, a part not commandable. in this situation it does not seem safe to deposit public money with them, and the effect would only be to enable them to nourish their disease by continuing their excessive discounts; the checking of which is the only means of saving themselves from bankruptcy. the getting them to pay the Dutch debt, is but a deposit in another, tho’ a safer, form. if we can with propriety recommend indulgence to the bank of the US. it would be attended with the least danger to us, of any of the measures suggested, but it is in fact asking that bank to lend to the one of Pensylvania that they may be enabled to continue lending to others. the monopoly of a single bank is certainly an evil. the multiplication of them was intended to cure it: but it multiplied an influence of the same character with the first, and compleated the supplanting the precious metals by a paper circulation. between such parties the less we meddle the better.


RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers); endorsed. PrC (DLC).

THEIR BUILDINGS: Benjamin H. Latrobe designed and supervised the construction of the Bank of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Completed in 1801, the bank had a marble exterior and set a standard for civic buildings, becoming “one of the most influential prototypes for early nineteenth-century American architecture” (Latrobe, Correspondence description begins John C. Van Horne and Lee W. Formwalt, eds., The Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, New Haven, 1984–88, 3 vols. description ends , 1:128–9).

1Preceding word and number interlined in place of “the.”

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