George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 18 April 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] April. 18. 1793.

The Secretary of state thinking it his duty to communicate to the President his proceedings of the present year for transferring to Europe the annual fund of 40,000 Dollars appropriated to the department of state (a report whereof was unnecessary the two former years, as monies already in the hands of our bankers in Europe were put under his orders)

Reports

That in consequence of the President’s order of Mar. 23. he received from the Secretary of the Treasury Mar. 31. a warrant on the Treasurer for 39,500. Dollars:1 that it being necessary to purchase private bills of exchange to transfer the money to Europe, he consulted with persons acquainted with that business, who advised him not to let it be known that he was to purchase bills at all, as it would raise the exchange, and to defer the purchase a few days till the British packet should be gone, on which event bills generally sunk some few percent.2 he therefore deferred the purchase, or giving any orders for it till Apr. 10. when he engaged mister Vaughan (whose line of business enabled him to do it without suspicion) to make the purchase for him: he then delivered the warrant to the Treasurer,3 & received a credit at the Bank of the U.S. for 39,500. D. whereon he had an account opened between ‘The Department of state & the Bank of the U.S.’ that mister Vaughan procured for him the next day the following bills

Willing, Morris & Swanwick4 on John & Francis Baring & co. London £ sterl.   Doll.
3000.0 = 13,000
Walter Stewart5 on Joseph Birch—mercht Liverpool. 400.0 = 1,733.33
Robert Gilmer & co.6 on James Strachan & James Mackenzie, London, indorsed by Mordecai Lewis7 200
150
250
600.0 = 2,600.
4,000.0  17,333.33

averaging 4s. 7 38/100 d. the dollar, or about 2½ per cent above par, which added to the 1. per cent loss heretofore always sustained on the government bills (which allowed but 99 florins, instead of 100. d[itt]o. for every 40. dollars) will render the fund somewhat larger this year than heretofore: that these bills being drawn on London (for none could be got on Amsterdam but to considerable loss, added to the risk of the present possible situation of that place)8 he had them made payable to mister Pinckney, and inclosed them to him by Capt. Cutting, in the letter of Apr. 12. now communicated to the President, and at the same time wrote the letters of the same date to our bankers at Amsterdam & to Colo. Humphreys, now also communicated to the President, which will place under his view the footing on which this business is put, and which is still subject to any change he may think proper to direct, as neither the letters nor bills are yet gone.9

The Secretary of state proposes hereafter to remit in the course of each quarter, 10,000 D. for the ensuing quarter, as that will enable him to take advantage of the times when exchange is low. he proposes to direct at this time a further purchase of 12,166.66 D. (which with the 500. D. formerly obtained & 17,333.33 now remitted, will make 30,000 D. of this year’s fund) at long sight,10 which circumstance with the present low rate of exchange will enable him to remit it to advantage.

He has only further to add that he delivered to mister Vaughan orders on the bank of the U.S. in favor of the persons themselves from whom the bills were purchased, for their respective sums.

Th: Jefferson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, Reports of the Secretary of State to the President and Congress.

1For the funding of American diplomats serving in Europe and for GW’s order of 23 Mar. 1793, see GW to Alexander Hamilton, 23 Mar., and note 1. For delivery of the warrant, see Hamilton to Jefferson, 31 Mar. 1793, in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 14:266. Samuel Meredith served as treasurer of the United States from 1789 to 1801.

2For Tench Coxe’s advice on European exchange rates, see Coxe to Jefferson, 7, 9 April, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 25:514, 521–22. The British packet Roebuck, which had arrived at New York City on 5 April, presumably had departed by 10 April (General Advertiser [Philadelphia], 8 April).

3For the exchange of bank orders between Philadelphia merchant John Vaughan and Jefferson, see Vaughan to Jefferson, with Jefferson’s Note, 11 April 1793, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 25:531–32.

4The mercantile firm of Thomas Willing, Robert Morris and John Swanwick, which was established in 1783, was at 21 Penn Street in Philadelphia (Morris Papers, 8:518; Philadelphia Directory, 1793 description begins James Hardie. The Philadelphia Directory and Register . . .. Philadelphia, 1793. description ends ).

5Philadelphia wine merchant Walter Stewart was located at 150 South Third and 67 Union Streets (ibid.).

6Robert Gilmor, Sr. (c.1748–1822), was a successful merchant in Baltimore.

7Mordecai Lewis (1748–1799) was a Quaker shipping merchant located at 112 South Front and 25 Dock Streets in Philadelphia (ibid.).

8France had declared war on Great Britain and the Netherlands on 1 Feb. 1793.

9Thomas Pinckney was the current U.S. minister to Great Britain. Nathaniel Cutting was sailing for Europe to assume his duties as U.S. consul at Port Havre de Grâce, France, and as secretary to David Humphreys, the U.S. minister to Portugal, during his upcoming negotiations with Algiers (GW to U.S. Senate, 19 Feb., n.1, and Jefferson to GW, 1 April, n.3). The enclosed letters to Pinckney, to the Dutch banking firm of Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard, and to Humphreys of 12 April are summarized in JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 110, and printed in Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 25:532, 534–36, 542. GW returned Jefferson’s letter, along with its enclosures, on 19 April (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 114).

10At this place in the ALS, Jefferson wrote and then crossed out: “as it will be wanting in Europe through the months.”

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