Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John F. Mercer, 6 August 1803

From John F. Mercer

Annapolis In Council August 6. 1803


I have the honor to inclose to you open for your perusal a letter which this Executive have addressed to William Pinkney Esquire, on the subject of the Bank Stock extending the powers formerly committed to him but confined to the case of Russell’s Representatives to other claimants &c.

It will be necessary that this should receive your approbation, to give it a sanction under the Resolutions of the Assembly—if you approve thereof, you will be pleased to direct that our Letter should be forwarded to Mr. Pinkney, with such intimations from yourself as you shall deem necessary.

With assurances of high & respectful Consideration I have the honor to be Your obed Servant.

John F: Mercer

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Mercer; endorsed by TJ as received 12 Aug. and so recorded in SJL. FC (MdAA: Letterbooks of Governor and Council); at foot of text: “The President of the United States.” Dft (MdAA: Executive Papers). Enclosure not found, but see below.

subject of the bank stock: for Maryland’s efforts to gain control over its funds invested in Bank of England stock, see Vol. 23:589, 609n; Vol. 37:547-8; Vol. 40:377-9. William Pinkney was acting as the state’s agent in the negotiations, replacing Rufus King. In an attempt to expedite the ongoing settlement negotiations, on 5 Aug. the Maryland Council authorized Pinkney to relinquish up to £10,000 sterling from the bank stock to any person on condition that the remainder of the stock in trust be paid immediately to the state. The order, however, added a proviso that it must first be approved by the president of the United States. Writing Pinkney on 6 Aug., Mercer enclosed additional information on the bank case and urged him not to grant any part of the funds to individuals in England “except what is absolutely necessary to insure that Maryland may collect the rest” (Morris L. Radoff, Calendar of Maryland State Papers, No. 2, The Bank Stock Papers [Annapolis, 1947], 31-2; Jacob M. Price, “The Maryland Bank Stock Case: British-American Financial and Political Relations Before and After the American Revolution,” in Aubrey C. Land, Lois Green Carr, and Edward C. Papenfuse, eds., Law, Society, and Politics in Early Maryland [Baltimore, 1977], 27-8).

russell’s representatives: London merchant James Russell had been one of the trustees of the bank stock fund prior to the American Revolution. In 1781, after Russell and his fellow London trustees refused to pay bills drawn on the fund by Maryland, the state confiscated Russell’s extensive property holdings in Baltimore County. The two sides subsequently spent years wrangling in British courts over the return of the bank stock trust to Maryland and compensation for Russell and his heirs (Price, “Maryland Bank Stock Case,” 7-18).

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