George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Adams, 28 August 1790

To John Adams

New York August 28th 1790


The Resolution of the Board for the Reduction of the Public Debt of the 27th of August 1790, which has been submitted to me meets my ideas fully on the subject, and is now enclosed with my approbation.1 With very great esteem & regard I am Sir, Yr most Obet Hbe St

G: Washington

Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

Section 2 of the 12 Aug. 1790 “Act making Provision for the Reduction of the Public Debt” provided that purchases of the public debt should be made periodically “under the direction of the President of the Senate, the Chief Justice, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Attorney General for the time being; and who, or any three of whom, with the approbation of the President of the United States, shall cause the said purchases to be made in such manner, and under such regulations as shall appear to them best calculated to fulfill the intent of this act” (1 Stat., description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 186–87). The members of this mixed board were designated as commissioners of the sinking fund.

1On 28 Aug. 1790 Alexander Hamilton sent GW the following memorandum: “At a board convened at the City of New York on Friday the 27th of August 1790 pursuant to the act entitled, ‘An Act makeing provision for the reduction of the public Debt”’ attended by Adams, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton, “The Board came to the following resolution subject to the approbation of the President of the United States.

“That the Secretary of the Treasury cause to be applied a sum not exceeding fifty thousand Dollars per month, computing from the first day of September next, towards the purchase of the present Domestic Debt of the United states: that the purchases begin at the City of New York and there continue until the end of October next, and that they be then transferred to the City of Philadelphia and there continue until the last day of December next, unless sooner otherwise ordered. That they be made by the Treasurer, under the direction of the Secretary, of the Treasury, at the market price, & in an open and public manner. And that the said Treasurer be directed to keep a regular account of his purchases, of the times when, prices at which, and of the persons from whom they are made, and to render the same for settlement, to the auditor of the Treasury at the end of every quarter of a year, and when settled to present a copy thereof to the Board” (DLC:GW).

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