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To Thomas Jefferson from Alexander Hamilton, 24 March 1793

From Alexander Hamilton

Philadelphia March 24. 1793


I have the honor of your two notes of yesterday and today, respecting a proposed Meeting of the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund. The first came to hand only within a half hour.

As you mention, that the Attorney General has informed you, that “on a conversation with me, it has been found convenient” that a Meeting should take place—I cannot help inferring, there has been some misapprehension: Since it certainly is not my opinion, that a Meeting at the present moment is necessary; there being several depending and undecided circumstances which put it out of my power at this time, to pronounce that there are monies to be invested in purchases. Add to this that a Meeting must of course take place within the ensuing Month of April—when further information may afford better data for operation.

I understood on Saturday from the Attorney General, that it was your wish a Meeting should be had—to which I replied, in substance, that I considered it as in your power to convene one; and should attend if called upon; but that I did not perceive the utility of one at this time. As we shall meet at the War Office tomorrow on another business, there will be an opportunity for further explanation. I have the honor to be Sir Your Obedient servant

A Hamilton

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 24 Mch. 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

TJ’s note to Hamilton of today has not been found and is not recorded in SJL, but it probably inquired why Hamilton was not at the proposed meeting of the commissioners of the sinking fund that the Secretary of State had called for this morning. Hamilton’s presence was required to form a quorum because all the commissioners except TJ and Attorney General Edmund Randolph were out of town, but he evidently feared that at the meeting TJ intended to ask inconvenient questions about the foreign loan of $2,000,000 that had been authorized by an act of 12 Aug. 1790 for use by the Commissioners in reducing the domestic debt. On 2 Apr. 1793 Hamilton commented to Rufus King: “A meeting of the Commissioners has lately been called by Mr. Jefferson out of the course heretofore practiced, in which I have been pressed to declare whether I had or had not funds applicable to purchases. I answered so as to be safe.” No evidence that the Commissioners actually met between 24 Mch. and 2 Apr. 1793 has come to light, although they were obliged by law to meet at the end of each quarter and thus sat as a matter of course on 6 Apr. 1793 (see Hamilton to TJ, 4, 5 Apr. [1793]). In the interim TJ may have “pressed” the Treasury Secretary at the opportunity for further explanation on 25 Mch. 1793 when the Cabinet gathered as scheduled at the War Office but deferred transacting business because Henry Knox was ill. Although the minutes of the 6 Apr. meeting record no discussion of the availability of the foreign loan, TJ may have raised the matter informally to pave the way for his unsuccessful attempt at a special meeting of the Commissioners on 7 May 1793 to have the matter laid before the President (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xiv, 276, 292–3; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , ii, 2369–70; note to George Washington to the Cabinet, 21 Mch. 1793; Notes on the Sinking Fund and the Proclamation of Neutrality, 7 May 1793). See also Notes on Alexander Hamilton’s Report on Foreign Loans, [ca. 20 Feb. 1793], and note; and Editorial Note on Jefferson and the Giles resolutions, at 27 Feb. 1793.

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