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To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 30 March 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Sunday. [Philadelphia, c.30 March 1794]


The intelligence, as derived from Mr G. thro’ Mr N——s, stands thus:1

Colo. H. was asked by the committee, what authority he had for drawing the money borrowed in Europe, over here. His answer was, “I have verbal authority from the President, and fortunately written also”—It is supposed by Mr G., that the written authority, or rather the letter from Mount Vernon, which is referred to, does not support the assertion; but that a reliance will be wholly placed on the verbal.2

A question is now depending, (as is further said) before the committee, whether they have any right to inquire into a verbal authority, given by the President. It is also said, to be one, made by Colo. H.3 The next week must bring this business to a point; when we shall be able to ascertain facts, without drawing them from any source, which is not well-affected to the gentleman in question. The object in mentioning the thing to the President was to give him time to examine into the fact, from his own memory, and papers.4

AD, DLC:GW. The cover is marked “Private.”

1The intelligence derived from Virginia congressman William B. Giles probably came through Vermont congressman Nathaniel Niles. Both men served on the Select Committee Appointed to Examine the Treasury Department. On this committee and its interest in the foreign loans arranged by Alexander Hamilton, see Hamilton to GW, 24 March, and n.1.

2James Madison, in his letter to Thomas Jefferson of 26 March, wrote that when the subject of “the authority for drawing the money from Europe into the Bank” was raised by the Select Committee, Hamilton “endeavored to parry the difficulty by contesting the right of the Committee to call for the authority. This failing he talks of constructive written authority from the P. but relies on parol authority” (Madison Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends , 15:294–96). On the progress of the Select Committee’s investigation and Hamilton’s responses to its questions, see Introductory Note, Hamilton to Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, 16 Dec. 1793 (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:460–65).

Among the written documents giving Hamilton authority to arrange the various foreign loans was GW’s first letter to him of 7 May 1791, which was written at Charleston, S.C., not Mount Vernon. For other documents used to support Hamilton’s claims, see his letter to GW of 24 March 1794.

3On Hamilton’s constitutional objection, see his letter to the Select Committee of 24 March (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:193–95).

4On the committee’s attempt to ascertain the extent of Hamilton’s authority by appealing to GW for information, see Abraham Baldwin to GW, 5 April, in n.1 of Hamilton to GW, 7 April.

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