George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, 3 June 1793

To Alexander Hamilton

[Philadelphia] 3d June 1793.


The question of admitting modifications of the debt of the U.S. to France, having been the subject of consultation with the heads of the Departments & the Attorney General, and an unanimous opinion given thereon which involves the enclosed propositions from the French Minister,1 you will be pleased, under the form of a report to me, to prepare what may serve as an Answer, making it conformable to the opinion already given.2

Go. Washington

LB, DLC:GW; Df (letterpress copy), in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

Jefferson enclosed the draft of this letter with a brief cover letter to GW of this date, in which he wrote, “The latter clause of the letter is inserted merely for the consideration of the President” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). The clause at the end of the draft, which GW omitted from the final version, reads, “if however the instalments of the present year can be made a matter of accomodation, & it be mutual, their near approach may perhaps admit it within the spirit of the opinion given.”

1Shortly after his arrival at Philadelphia as the new French ambassador, Edmond Genet presented, in his third letter to Jefferson of 22 May, a request for an advance payment of the debt, and he enclosed documents supporting this proposition. Genet also informed Jefferson in a letter of 23 May that he had the power to negotiate a new commercial treaty with the United States (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 , 26:82–87, 96–99). The Cabinet, however, had already unanimously rejected an earlier French proposal concerning the American debt (Cabinet Opinion, 2 Mar. 1793). Jefferson sent translations of Genet’s letters and their enclosures to GW with a cover letter of 27 May. Jefferson included copies of the French originals of Genet’s letter of 22 May and its enclosures with his letter to GW of 30 May. GW then requested on 31 May that Jefferson prepare a draft of a letter for him to send to Hamilton “with these communications from Genet” (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 156).

2For Hamilton’s response, see his Draft Report on the American Debt to France, 5 June, in note 1 of GW to Jefferson, 5 June 1793.

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