Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 23 February 1802

To Albert Gallatin

Washington Feb. 23. 1802.

Sir

I observe that a fund for the contingent expences of government subject to the President and to be accounted for by him personally, was created by the following appropriations:

1790. Vol. 1. pa. 88. 10,000. D
1794. 3. 118. 20,000.
1796. 3. 667. 20,000

of which sums accounts were rendered as follows

by Genl. Washington 1797. Feb. 15
  Mr. Adams 1798. Feb. 12
    1799. Jan. 8

when an unexpended balance of 14,938.20 being carried by the act of Mar. 3. 1795. to the credit of the Surplus fund, a new Contingent fund of 20,000. D. was erected by the act of Mar. 2. 99. of which the following accounts have been rendered

by mr Adams Jan. 20. 1800.
  Jan. 16. 1801.

when there remained an unexpended balance of 19,950. D. of which I presume it is incumbent on me to render an account for the year 1801. tho’ no part of it has been expended, yet form requires that it should be so stated in an account certified by the Register. I have to ask the favor of you to direct such an account to be prepared and sent to me in duplicates for communication to the two houses. Accept assurances of my high consideration.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Secretary of the Treasury.”

The Appropriations Act of 26 Mch. 1790 established a $10,000 fund for the use of the president for contingent expenses, and called for “a regular statement and account of such expenditures to be laid before Congress at the end of the year.” On 17 Jan. 1791, George Washington submitted his first statement exhibiting expenditures of $1,184.91, with the account certified by Joseph Nourse, register of the Treasury. In the statement of 15 Feb. 1797, Washington accounted for $11,998.84 in charges in 1796. John Adams accounted for expenditures of $403.18 in his report of 12 Feb. 1798 and $552.33 in his report of 8 Jan. 1799 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:105; Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser., 7:238; Eileen D. Carzo, ed., National State Papers of the United States, 1789–1817. Part II: Texts of Documents. Administration of George Washington, 1789–1797, 35 vols. [Wilmington, Del., 1985], 7:41–3; 34:293–7; Martin P. Claussen, ed., National State Papers of the United States, 1787–1817. Part II: Texts of Documents. Administration of John Adams, 1797–1801, 24 vols. [Wilmington, Del., 1980], 5:239–42; 11:8–13).

The Appropriations Act of 3 Mch. 1795 called for certain sums, unexpended over a designated period of time, to be “deemed to have ceased” and subsequently transferred to a Treasury account called the surplus fund. Under the Appropriations Act of 1799, $20,000 was set aside for “defraying the contingent expenses of the government,” as the unexpended amount of the previous appropriations had been “carried to the credit of the surplus fund.” Adams’s annual account of 20 Jan. 1800 indicated that no expenses had been charged to the account during the year, leaving the full $20,000. According to the 16 Jan. 1801 report, Adams had spent $50, the cost of “a mission from Philadelphia to Mount Vernon, on public business,” leaving an unexpended balance of $19,950 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:437–8, 720; National State Papers: Adams, 16:122–3; 23:20–1).

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