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Report on the Petition of Udny Hay, [21 November 1792]

Report on the Petition of Udny Hay

[Philadelphia, November 21, 1792
Communicated on November 22, 1792]1

[To the Speaker of the House of Representatives]

The Secretary of the Treasury, to whom was referred, by the House of Representatives, the petition of Udney2 Hay, respectfully makes the following Report, thereupon.

The said petition seeks payment of interest upon a certain promissory note recited therein, from Christopher Greene and Return Jonathan J. Meigs to Simon Frazer,3 which is understood to have been given, for a sum of money advanced for the use of certain Citizens of the United States, prisoners of war at Quebec, in the year 1776, and which stipulates the reimbursement of the sum advanced, within a year from the date, with lawful interest till paid.

It appears, that some time in August or September 1785, application was made to the United States in Congress assembled, for payment of the principal and interest of the said Note.4

It further appears, that Congress, on the 28th of September 1785, passed a resolution, in the words following.

“That the Board of Treasury take order for paying to Return Jonathan Meigs, late a Colonel in the service of the United States, and to the legal representatives of Christopher Greene deceased, late a Colonel in said service, the sum of two hundred dollars, the same having been expended for the use and comfort of the unfortunate prisoners in Quebec, in the year 1776.”5

The payment of principal, thus directed to be paid, has not been accepted; the payment of interest as well as principal being insisted upon.6

As there is an express stipulation of interest on the note, it is clear, that the parties, by whom it was given, are as much bound for the payment of the interest, as of the principal; and that, unless the public indemnification should include both, the relief intended will be partial and defective. The equity of paying the interest, as well as the principal, is, in such a case, without a question. It is not a case, in which, difficulty can arise, from any established principle of Treasury settlement.

The recognition of the debt, by the provision heretofore made, appears to the Secretary to require, that the provision should be so extended, as to complete the relief designed to be afforded.7

All which is humbly submitted

Alexander Hamilton,
Secry. of the Treasry.

Copy, RG 233, Reports of the Treasury Department, 1792–1793, Vol. III, National Archives.

1Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends , 625–26. The communicating letter, dated November 21, 1792, may be found in RG 233, Reports of the Treasury Department, 1792–1793, Vol. III, National Archives.

2On February 2, 1792, “A petition of Udney Hay was presented to the House and read, praying to receive payment of a claim against the United States, for an advance of money to two American officers, prisoners in Canada, during the late war.

Ordered, That the said petitions be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury, with instruction to examine the same, and report his opinion thereupon to the House.” (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends , 501.)

3DS, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 3769, National Archives. On April 22, 1784, Charles Hay stated that the note had been endorsed to him (D, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives).

4The application, which was read in Congress on August 9, 1785, is signed by Meigs and Job Greene and is dated August 1, 1785 (D, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives).

5JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIX, 776.

6Hay’s memorial of March 20, 1786, requesting interest on the note may be found in RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 3769, National Archives.

7On January 14, 1793, the President approved “An Act to provide for the allowance of interest on the sum ordered to be paid by the resolve of Congress, of the twenty-eighth of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five, as an indemnity to the persons therein named” (6 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America [Private Statutes] (Boston, 1856). description ends 11).

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