George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 23 April 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia April 23. 1794


I do myself the honor of submitting to your consideration a few reflections on the manner of appropriating the three millions of florins, lately borrowed.1

In your power of the 8th of August 1793. you expressly say, that the present being likely to continue for some time a favorable season for the purchases of the public debt, you therefore direct the secy of the tr⟨e⟩asury to obtain a loan to be applied to the purchases of the public debt, pursuant to the act of the 12th of Aug: 1790.

Under this power, and this power only the loan of three millions of florins has been accomplished.

The Secretary of the treasury thinks that embarrassments may be found in excluding absolutely the future application of any part of this sum towards payments to France or otherwise on account of the foreign debt.

I cannot see the propriety of now altering the appropriation.

1. because it is plain by consulting the power of the 8th of August 1793, under which the three millions of florins were borrowed, that it is the act of the 12th of August 1790, and no other, upon which the loan was bottomed. So that the Secretary appears to be mistaken, when he says, “that the loan has been made without particular reference to either of them.”

2. because, if the President in his letter of July 27th did even insert the clause, which says that it was not his purpose to separate instructions to prevent the loans from being carried on without distinction; still that same clause directs, that the monies, as they are received, shall be considered as first applicable to the sinking fund.

3. because the Secretary of the Treasury, tho’ requested by your private letter to make objections, to the plan, which you marked out, did not object to the appropriation of the loan to the sinking fund.

4. because the appropriation to the sinking fund is a benefi cial and favorite one to all classes of men.

There remains even yet a sufficient scope for borrowing, as far as law is concerned. But probably it is not easy to effect a loan. If therefore the Secretary of the Treasury will specify the embarrassments, to which he alludes, they may be judged of; and I am sure, that I shall not now undertake to say, that they may not be as strong as he thinks them.

If therefore the President wishes, as Mr Dandridge intimated, that I should speak to Colo. Hamilton, I will do so.2 If he prefers to write, (as perhaps is the better way) the following may be an adviseable form for a letter.

“It appears to me, that my instructions on the 8th of Aug: 1793 have fixed the appropriation of the money to the sinking fund; and I have considerable difficulty in being convinced of my power to change it at this time. However as I wish to see the whole subject together, it may be well for you, to state to me what the embarrassments are, which you suppose will arise from confining the money borrowed to the purchase of the public debt which I own I am very desirous of seeing effected as fast as it can be done advantageously for the public.”3 I have the honor sir to be with the highest respect Yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State. The text in angle brackets is from the letter-book copy.

1GW evidently had asked Randolph for an opinion on a dispute between GW and Alexander Hamilton over the application of funds from a recent Dutch loan for 3 million florins. For the arguments raised by each side, see Hamilton to GW, 21 April and 23 April (second letter), and GW to Hamilton, 22 April. Randolph apparently had access to these three letters before writing his letter.

2Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., was GW’s secretary.

3For GW’s written response, see his first letter to Hamilton of 24 April.

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