George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 7 January 1794

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

United States January 7. 1794.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives.

Experience has shewn that it would be useful to have an Officer particularly charged, under the direction of the Department of War, with the duties of receiving, safe keeping and distributing the public supplies, in all cases in which the Laws and the course of service do not devolve them upon other officers; and also with that of superintending in all cases, the issues in detail of supplies, with power, for that purpose, to bring to account all persons entrusted1 to make such issues, in relation thereto. An establishment of this nature, by securing a regular and punctual accountability for the issues of public supplies, would be a great guard against abuse, would tend to ensure their due application, and to give public satisfaction on that point.2

I therefore recommend to the consideration of Congress, the expediency of an establishment of this nature under such regulations as shall appear to them adviseable.3

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings—President’s Messages; LB, DLC:GW; LB (fragment), DNA: RG 233, Third Congress, 1793–95, House Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals.

1The letter-book copy at DNA: RG 233 ends at this point.

2Henry Knox, Alexander Hamilton, and Edmund Randolph previously had recommended to GW that this position should be created (Knox to GW, 4 Jan. 1794, and n.1 to that document).

3Section 3 of “An Act to provide for the erecting and repairing of Arsenals and Magazines, and for other purposes,” 2 April 1794, established this position. This officer would receive a salary of $125 per month, be appointed by the president, and work under the direction of the secretary of war (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 . 1:352). GW nominated Tench Francis, Jr., as the first “Purveyor of Public Supplies” on 24 Feb. 1794, and the Senate approved the nomination on the following date (Senate Executive Journal description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends , 173–74). Francis (1730–1800) was a Philadelphia merchant and the first cashier of the Bank of North America. Previous to this appointment, he also served as an agent for purchasing supplies for the War Department (see Report on an Account of Receipts and Expenditures of the United States for the Year 1793, 26 Dec. 1794, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 17:520).

Index Entries