Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 18 January 1803

From Albert Gallatin

Washington Jany. 18th 1803

Dear Sir

As the appropriation bill for the navy is ready to be reported, it is necessary to know in what manner the provisional authorization for six frigates should be introduced.

I would propose that exclusively of the appropriations for the deficiencies of 1802 & of those for the 74s, vessels in ordinary, navy yards & general contingencies, the other naval appropriations amounting for estimate to 476,874.86/100 should be voted in manner following to wit.

⅗ of the whole certain for the frigates & other vessels1 in actual service 286,000
for the purchase of smaller vessels— say   70,000
certain 356,000
and for such2 expenses as, with the approbation of the President, may be incurred during the recess of Congress, on account of any vessels which he may think necessary to put in commission (or to employ in actual service) if any war should break out (or, if any hostilities should be committed) between the United States and any of the Barbary powers other than Tripoli—the remaining 120,000

The manner in which this should be expressed is wanted3

You will be pleased to notice that those 476,000 dollars are the estimate of keeping in actual service, for the whole of the year 1803, six frigates & one schooner—and that there is an additional appropriation of 180,00 dollars which covers all the deficiencies of 1802, including the pay provisions & all other expences of the whole Mediterranean Squadron to the 31st Decer. last. I think, therefore, that ⅗ths of that estimate will be sufficient to support the intended establishment in the Mediterranean for 1803 if only Tripoli shall continue at war.

In order to bring the whole subject before you, I will from the estimates recapitulate the naval appropriations ordered for this year vizt.

1. Six frigates & 1 schooner in commission, including repairs & contingencies 476,874.86
2. 7 Frigates in ordinary including repairs & contingencies 100,042.34
3. Half pay to officers not in service 14,136.—
4. Stores, military & naval, ordnance &—. 15,000.—
5. General contingencies (exclusively of those for vessels) vizt. store rent, commissions, freight, travelling expences of officers 40,000.—
6. 74-Gun ships 114,425.—
7. Navy yards, docks, 48,741.37
8. Marine corps    90,780.43
exclusively of 181,849.09. for deficiencies of 1802
The appropriations marked 1. 2. 3. & 5. amount to 631,053.20
which, the Secretary of the navy requests may be arranged under following heads vizt.
a. —Pay of officers & seamen & subsistance of officers 283,993  
b. —Provisions 157,360.20
c. —Hospital & medical account 7,700.—
d. Contingent account vizt.
repairs & contingencies of vessels in commission— 79,000 } 182,000.—
do—do—of 7 vessels in ordinary 63,000
general contingencies as pr. No. 5 above 40,000

To those two last items of contingencies—63,000 & 40,000 dollars I object as much beyond what is really necessary for those objects: it is incredible that the annual repairs of the frigates in ordinary should amount to 9,000 dollars per frigate; and with no great economy, ten thousand dollars ought to suffice (instead of 40,000) for the general contingencies of commission, rent & travelling expences; since there are appropriations, exclusively of that of 40,000 dollars, for the contingencies of vessels, for repairs, for the contingencies of the marine corps4 and for stores. What those 40,000 dollars, therefore are for, I am totally at a loss to know: only 16,000 are asked for the military establishment: indeed, I cannot discover any approach towards reform in that department, (the navy) and I hope that you will pardon my stating my opinion on that subject, when you recollect with what zeal & perseverance I opposed for a number of years, whilst in Congress, similar loose demands for money: my opinions on that subject have been confirmed since you have called me in the administration and although I am sensible that in the opinion of many wise & good men, my ideas of expenditures are considered as too contracted; yet I feel a strong confidence that on this particular point I am right. Indeed the possibility of wanting 600,000 dollars more a year, without additional taxes must at this time, be a sufficient apology for urging every practicable economy.

I enclose a letter from Mr Bradley, and one from Mr Wadsworth of Congress. To the last I do not know what answer to make. This cold weather affects me so much that I remained here to day & have troubled you with this letter, instead of waiting on you.

With sincere respect & attachment Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC). Recorded in SJL as received from the Treasury Department on 19 Jan. and “navy apprprn. Fosdyck. Russel.” Enclosures: (1) Stephen R. Bradley to Gallatin, 17 Jan. 1803, noting that both he and Congressman Israel Smith have informed the president that Republican friends of the administration in Vermont expect the removal of David Russell, collector on Lake Champlain, who is very bitter against the present government; Doctor Jabez Penniman, who wishes to obtain the appointment, is a good Republican of fine reputation who would “discharge the duties of the office to the satisfaction of the Government”; he encloses two letters to be laid before the president, one from James Witherell, judge of the Rutland County Court, the other from Eben W. Judd, the state land officer (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Genl. Bradley to mr Gallatin. Penniman Jabez v. Russell Collectr. of Alburgh on L. Champlain”). (2) Witherell to Bradley, Burlington, 8 Nov. 1802, relating the wishes of Penniman to be appointed collector and observing “the Public would be well served, and his friends highly Pleased in his obtaining the Office” (RC in same; endorsed by TJ: “Doctr. Witherell to Stephen R. Bradley Doctr. Pennyman to be Collector Alburgh”). (3) Judd to Bradley, 1 Jan. 1803, noting complaints by “some of our Republican friends” that Russell “does not attend at the place appointed by Law” and entrusts a clerk with all of the collector’s business; no “man is more bitter nor more officious in his observations & conduct against all those who wish to support our government”; his place should be given to Penniman “or some other person who would use his influance to support the government and friends to the present administration” (RC in same; endorsed by TJ: “Judd to Genl. Bradley. Russell to be removd”). (4) Peleg Wadsworth to Gallatin, Capitol, 15 Jan. 1803, defending Nathaniel F. Fosdick, collector at Portland, as punctual and impartial and noting that if he has displeased anyone it is for his rigid adherence to the letter of the law; the collector is a Federalist but “his Federalism is of that Sort that can give offence to no Man, unless it is an Offence for a mere difference of Opinion”; Wadsworth encloses a letter Fosdick wrote him, dated Portland, 1 Jan. 1803, in which the collector declares that he has attended to the duties of his office with “punctuality & strict attention” and has shown “the most perfect respect for the present administration”; recently “violent prepossessions” have been made against him; as a friend, Fosdick requests that Wadsworth inquire and inform him as soon as possible “if any of the suggestions or insinuations” have been heard in Washington “that I may have an opportunity to justify myself and character to those to whom I am responsible” (RCs in NHi: Gallatin Papers; with a note on Fosdick’s letter directed by Gallatin to “Mr Jefferson”: “What answer should be given to this? A.G.”).

On 15 Feb., John Randolph, chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, presented the 1803 appropriation bill for the navy to the House. Four days later the Committee of the Whole House considered the bill and agreed on several amendments. Without further debate, the bill was passed and sent, on 21 Feb., to the Senate. A week later the Senate approved it without amendment (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:342, 355–6; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820-21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:269, 277; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States…Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834-56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled…by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 12:566). The act signed by TJ on 2 Mch. differed only in the arrangement of the subtotals, above, with Gallatin’s a., b., c. categories of $283,993, $157,360.20, and $7,700, respectively, appearing first in the act, followed by No. 4, $15,000 for the “purchase of ordnance and other military stores.” The contingent account (d., above) appears next but is not subdivided. The $182,000 is designated for the “repairs of vessels, store rent, and other contingent expenses.” Numbers 6, 7, and 8, above, appear next in the act. The $90,780.43 appropriation for the marine corps is subdivided into four categories, but the final sum remains the same. The $900,000 total, excluding the deficiencies for 1802, was the same figure that Gallatin used in his estimates for 1803, submitted to the House on 16 Dec. 1802. In the estimate and in the act of 2 Mch., $198,797.46 was designated to cover the 1802 deficiencies, for a total appropriation of $1,098,797.46. Gallatin’s total, above, of $181,849.09 for previous deficiencies, does not include the payment of $16,948.37 to the estate of John Habersham, former collector at Savannah, for naval supplies (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States…1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:208–9; Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, Accompanying a Report and Estimates of Appropriation for the Service of the Year 1803; also an Account of the Receipts and Expenditures at the Treasury of the United States, for One Year Preceding the First Day of October, 1802 [Washington, D.C., 1802], 6; note to Annual Message to Congress, 15 Dec.).

other naval appropriations: for Robert Smith’s breakdown of the estimate of $476,874.86, see enclosure printed at Gallatin to TJ, 22 Jan.

1Preceding two words and ampersand interlined.

2Gallatin here canceled “additional.”

3Preceding sentence written in left margin perpendicular to preceding text.

4Preceding seven words interlined.

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