George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 24 February 1791

From Alexander Hamilton

Thursday [24 February 1791]1


The Bill supplementary to the Bank bill passed the House of Representatives Yesterday—General Schuyler informs me that the friends of the Bank proposed that it should pass to a second reading immediately, and that Mr Carroll opposed it, and moved that it should be printed—that by a rule of the House it was of necessity to comply with Mr Carroll’s objection, a departure requiring unanimous consent. That accordingly the bill was deferred till to day, & in the mean time ordered to be printed.

It will doubtless pass, if there are not studied delays on the part of the opposers of the Bank.2 I have the honor to be With perfect respect Sir Your Obedt Servt

A. Hamilton


1Hamilton misdated this letter “Thursday Feby 25th 1791.” The context demonstrates that it was written on 24 Feb. 1791. On that date GW had not yet signed the act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States.

2On 4 Feb. 1791, while debating “An Act to Incorporate the Subscribers to the Bank of the United States,” the House of Representatives determined to appoint a committee to bring in supplementary legislation in order to defer the opening of subscriptions. Such a committee, consisting of Hugh Williamson, William Loughton Smith, and John Vining, was appointed on 9 Feb. 1791. The committee presented a bill to the House the next day specifying that subscriptions should not be opened to the public until the first Monday in July. Debate on the measure was postponed until 22 Feb. 1791. After a brief debate the bill was adopted by the House on 23 Feb. 1791 and sent over to the Senate. The bill was read in the Senate on 23 Feb. and a second time on 24 Feb. 1791. A third reading was ordered on the same day by a recorded vote of 22–3.

Hamilton reported to GW on Senate action on the bill a second time on 24 Feb. 1791. That letter, which is properly dated “Feby 24,” reads: “I have just heared from the Senate that the Bill supplementary to that for incorporating the Bank went through a second reading and a question was taken upon it & only three or four dissentients: among these, Mr Carrol and Mr Monroe. It would have been passed this day without doubt; but the opponents insisted on the rule of the House, which made it impossible. It will be passed the first thing tomorrow. The Yeas and Nays were taken in-order to pledge the members” (DLC:GW).

The third reading took place on 25 Feb. 1791. On that day two motions by Charles Carroll to amend the bill were defeated, and the bill was adopted by the Senate. GW signed “An Act Supplementory to the Act Intituled ‘An Act to Incorporate the Subscribers to the Bank of the United States’” on 2 Mar. 1791 (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 4:211–15).

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