George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Kean, 10 November 1791

To John Kean

Philadelphia, Novr 10th 1791


The weighty consideration which you mention as having determined you to accept the appointment of Cashier to the Bank of the U. States1 and the disinterested manner in which you have offered to continue your services to the Government, as far as may be compatible with the duties of your new station,2 conspire to induce my approbation of your conduct.

As it is stated that so considerable a progress has been made3 by the Commissioners in the business confided to them, that the determination of a few more important questions may enable the Clerks to proceed in the Completion of it4 with the exception of some particular cases: And as the5 time assigned by Law for the termination of the Commission expires in July next; I conclude that it will be adviseable for you to continue to act till that period, if experience shall not in the mean time evince that the want of a more entire attention to the object than you will be able to bestow is prejudicial or inconvenient to the public service.

It will remain with you to concert with your colleagues the mode in which you can best cooperate with them; as on the arrangement which can be made in this respect, with reciprocal accommodation and without retarding the public business must essentially depend the propriety of continuing or relinquishing the idea6 of your future aid.

I shall think it proper that compensation be made for the service which shall be rendered by you.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW. Significant emendations made by Hamilton in the draft are described in the notes below.

The secretary of the treasury apparently drafted this letter at GW’s request after the president received the resignation of John Kean of 31 Oct. as a commissioner for settling accounts between the United States and individual states (see Commissioners for Settling Accounts to GW, 21 July 1790, n.2, GW to the U.S. Senate, 9 Aug. 1790, source note).

Kean’s letter to GW reads: “The Directors of the Bank of the United States have favored me with the appointment of Cashier to that institution—an office probably more permanent than that which I have the honor of holding under the Government of the United States—this consideration has induced me to accept the appointment of the Directors & I hope it will appear to you a sufficient reason for my conduct, which I most sincerely wish may meet your approbation. The business with which my Colleagues & myself have been charged has progressed considerably—the determination of a few more important questions may enable the Clerks to proceed to a completion of it, except in particular cases where the Board must decide themselves. The business being thus circumstanced if in your Judgement Sir my attendance to settle principles will promote the more speedy close of it, I shall chearfully give up any leisure time I have to bring about so desirable an event without any expectation of emolument—but I beg leave to say it must be understood that no part of my time dedicated to the Bank can be so employed. I beg leave to assure you that I am not desirous to continue to myself the power of judging—my only reason for suggesting the idea I have is a sincere wish to see the accounts closed as speedily as possible” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

1Here in the draft Hamilton wrote and then struck out “is of a nature fully to justify the step you have taken.”

2At this place in the draft Hamilton first wrote “situation affords an additional motive to my.” He then struck out that phrase and wrote the word “station” above the line.

3Hamilton wrote and then struck out “in the business” at this place in the draft.

4At this place in the draft Hamilton wrote and then struck out the phrase “except in particular cas⟨us⟩ genera.”

5Hamilton wrote and then struck out “expiration” at this place in the draft.

6Here in the draft Hamilton wrote and then struck out the phrase “What I have expressed as that appearing to me for the present the most.”

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