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To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 24 August 1801

From Albert Gallatin

City of Washington 24th August 1801

Dr Sir

The letter I had the pleasure to write to you the other day, & intended to send by Dr Bache will accompany this. I have little to add & only enclose some papers vizt

No. 1 is the answer of Presidt. Bank U.S. to mine enclosing a list of names proposed for Directors here, and the order of the board in relation to the intended establishment of a branch here.

No. 2 is the answer of the Collector of Boston on the subject of Mr Thornton’s supposed French privateer evincing the [worth?]1 of your position that no official discussions should be permitted until the facts are ascertained

No. 3 is a letter from the Collector at Wilmington N.C. in relation to a Spanish privateer and british prize having entered that port, together with my answer. Can a part of the cargo of sd. prize be sold to defray the expense of necessary repairs to the privateer? This is the only new question & not included in the instructions of 1793 & 1796 which is presented by this case. I incline for the negative.

No. 4 consists of a correspondence between the Auditor and myself commenced on my part2 in order to try to induce him to forward the settlement of accounts in his office. They are most shamefully in arrears; which he ascribes to the removal of the seat of Govt. & death or resignation of his best clerks. You will see that the Revenue accounts are on an average about 15 months in arrears; that is to say 15 months in his hands behind the Collectors themselves. I am afraid it will take a long time before it will be possible to gain so much upon current business, which, I think with confidence, will now come regularly from the Collectors on him.

No. 5 is the usual list of Warrants issued during the week.

No. 6 copy of a letter from Comr. of the revenue. Your approbation is by law requisite to place the superintendence of light houses in the hands of the new collectors.

If no answer shall be received this week from any of the delegation of Georgia, it will be, I think, necessary to commission the person recommended by Gov. Jackson, for collector of Savannah. As the present Collector has never settled a single account his continuance is a public evil.

We have been alarmed by a report of your being sick—I hope to morrow’s mail will relieve our apprehensions. Anxiety for the health of my family has induced me to take a house on Capitol hill. It may be prejudice; but I think, & this summmer’s experience confirms it, that it is a more healthy situation.

With respect & attachment Your most obt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 27 Aug. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Thomas Willing to Gallatin, 19 Aug., thanking him for his letter of 11 Aug., with the list of names of possible directors enclosed “and particularly for the caution and candour manifested, in the account given of their qualifications,” noting that he presented the letter and enclosure to the board of directors of the Bank of the United States at the 18 Aug. meeting, and a resolution was passed to establish an office of discount and deposit at Washington “which, we flatter ourselves, will answer the objects of Government, without being in any way injurious, or inconvenient to the parent Institution,” and informing Gallatin that 15 Sep. was the date set for the election of nine directors “if such a number of suitable characters,” can be found, and promising to use their “best endeavours to find out such men as, we think, may best be confided in; and if we find they are not Stockholders at that day, which the law requires them to be,” to let their names be known and allow them to purchase the necessary stock (Tr in DLC; in a clerk’s hand; on verso in Gallatin’s hand: “No. 1”). (2) Resolution passed by the president and directors of the Bank of the United States, 18 Aug., “That it is expedient from the relative situation this Bank stands in with the Government of the United States, in its pecuniary operations, to establish an office of Discount & Deposit at the City of Washington” and that as the city is in “its infancy and not at this period, in a capacity to furnish” the 13 directors called for by the resolution of the board of 6 Feb. 1792, that requirement is rescinded, and instead 9 directors will be elected to manage the office of discount and deposit and $75,000 appropriated as capital (Tr in same, in same clerk’s hand, including signature of Thomas Willing as president and attestation by George Simpson, cashier; enclosed in No. 1, above). (3) Benjamin Lincoln to Gallatin, collector’s office, Boston, 12 Aug., informing the Treasury secretary that the French armed schooner Beguine arrived at Boston on 8 May with six guns and twelve men and departed for Guadeloupe on 4 June with the same number, noting that the paperwork for the vessel was completed 24 hours after departure because British vessels bound for Halifax left at the same time, but he had no complaints from the agent of the British vessels or anyone else that the Beguine had increased her crew or number of guns while in port; and enclosing two documents, one dated 8 May, indicating that the Beguine, master Raymond Colles, entered Boston with a cargo of sugar, molasses, and coffee from Guadeloupe, the other, dated 4 June, indicating that Colles cleared his vessel for a return trip to Guadeloupe, with a cargo including candles, codfish, herring, oil, and soap (Trs in same; in a clerk’s hand; on verso of second enclosure in Gallatin’s hand: “No. 2”). (4) Griffith J. McRee, collector’s office, Wilmington, North Carolina, 10 Aug., reporting that on 8 Aug. a Spanish privateer entered the port in distress with a British prize, the brig Eagle, John McKee, master, and sought permission to sell part of the prize’s cargo to defray expenses for the repair of the privateer and the prize; with the collector refusing permission until he obtains instructions from Gallatin (Tr in same). (5) Gallatin to McRee, 22 Aug., noting that Articles 24 and 25 of the Jay Treaty and the 26 Nov. 1796 circular from the Treasury Department applied equally to Spanish and French privateers and required the immediate departure of the prize unless repairs were absolutely necessary; with Gallatin observing that “there exists a general tendency in owners & Masters of Privateers to attempt an evasion of our regulations by a sale of the Cargoes of their prizes" and recommending that McRee make “a strict survey of the two Vessels in order to enforce and hasten” their departure; and informing McRee that while certain that a part of the prize’s cargo may be sold to defray the expence of her own repairs, he was submitting McRee’s letter to the president to obtain TJ’s opinion on “whether a part may be sold to defray the necessary repairs of the Privateer” (Tr in same; endorsed in Gallatin’s hand: “No. 3”). (6) Gallatin to Richard Harrison, auditor of the Treasury, 19 Aug., enclosing a list of accounts of collectors, which were rendered but not yet settled at the auditor’s office (see Enclosure No. 8), noting that the accumulation was “easily accounted for from the great number of those accounts, which were in arrears and have very lately been rendered" but reminding Harrison that all of the accounts for 1800 needed to be settled early to enable Gallatin to include them in his report to the House of Representatives due during the first week of the session, and observing that the time “is short, and that strictness of examination and correctness must not, under any possible circumstance be sacrificed to dispatch,” and consequently authorizing “any reasonable extra expense which you may think necessary for the completion of the Settlement within the time” (Tr in same). (7) “List of Collectors at Customs Accompts in the Auditor’s Office remaining to be adjusted," 19 Aug. 1801, in columns, with the districts listed alphabetically (70 in all), the collectors, and the years 1800 and 1801, subdivided into quarters, with a mark at each quarter where accounts had been received but not adjusted (MS in same: TJ Papers, 115:19869; in a clerk’s hand, with emendation in Gallatin’s hand). (8) Harrison to Gallatin, auditor’s office, Treasury Department, 20 Aug., acknowledging Gallatin’s letter of 19 Aug., Harrison accepts Gallatin’s offer to “take immediate measures to procure all the extra aid that can be usefully or safely employed; by means of which I hope to have the accounts of 1800 ready, or nearly so, at the time desired,” and expresses a desire to contribute “to the order & regularity of the business of the Department” (Tr in same). (9) Elias Boudinot to Gallatin, Mint of the United States, Philadelphia, 18 Aug., alerting Gallatin that although the accounts of the treasurer of the Mint were forwarded to the auditor’s office regularly every quarter “yet we have had no account of their having passed later than to the 30th of June last year,” noting that “if any errors should be discovered in them, it will be difficult to have them rectified," and requesting that the Treasury secretary have them examined as soon as possible (Tr in same). (10) Gallatin to Harrison, auditor of the Treasury, 21 Aug., responding to Boudinot’s letter (see preceding enclosure) and urging “the necessity of settling without delay the accounts of public officers,” observing, “I am satisfied that whatever blame may be deserved, cannot attach to you personally and that the delay must be owing either to some defect in the general system, or to want of proper assistance in your office—whatever the cause may be, the effect however, is the same: it should be removed, and you may in your endeavours towards it, rely on every assistance which it is in my power to give,” and requesting that Harrison transmit a list of all the accounts rendered for settlement now in his office (Tr in same). (11) Harrison to Gallatin, 21 Aug., promising to provide the Treasury secretary with the list as requested in a day or two and stating that the accounts of the treasurer of the Mint from the 1 July 1800 to 31 Mch. 1801 were adjusted on 27 June and those of the quarter ending 30 June 1801, on 15 Aug., and noting that the delay in settling the accounts was “occasioned solely by the want (during a considerable time) of proper assistance, being deprived of the services of some of his best Clerks by Death, resignation and sickness” (Tr in same). (12) “Weekly List of Warrants issued by the Treasurer during the Week ending 22d Augt. 1801,” dated 24 Aug., reporting eight warrants, Nos. 126 to 133, for a total of $24,231.10 (MS in same; entirely in Gallatin’s hand; with note at foot of text: “Specie balance in Treasury at end of the week—Dollars—Not rendered”; endorsed by Gallatin on verso: “No. 5”). (13) William Miller to Gallatin, Revenue Office, Treasury Department, 21 Aug. 1801, informing the Treasury secretary that the lighthouses and other establishments for the protection of navigation at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and New York have been under the superintendance of the collectors of those ports and as Joseph Whipple and David Gelston have replaced Thomas Martin and Joshua Sands, respectively, “the present Superintendants consider it proper to hand over the business which is connected with the Light House establishment also,” and if Gallatin approves of the arrangement, he will “notify the parties and instruct Mr. Whipple and Mr. Gelston in relation to the charge assigned to them” (Tr in same; in Gallatin’s hand on verso: “No. 6”).

For the letter Gallatin wrote the other day, see Gallatin to TJ, 18 Aug.

Gallatin’s letter of 11 Aug. to Thomas Willing, enclosing the List of Names Proposed For Directors, has not been found, but in a 9 June letter to the president of the Bank of the United States, presented at the 18 Aug. board of directors meeting at which the resolution for the establishment of an office of discount and deposit at Washington was passed, Gallatin made his case for the establishment of the branch bank. He observed: “It is extremely unpleasant to be obliged to have your money transactions passing through hands of an Institution in which you have not full confidence. I repose no confidence in the Bank of Columbia.” Yet necessity compelled the Treasury secretary to place large sums at the bank. Gallatin urged the Bank of the United States to set up an office in Washington even if it would not be lucrative for the bank. Gallatin argued: “the establishment itself cannot be expensive. It will require no other capital than the deposits of Government with the Bank of Columbia, and if it is to be only an office of deposit, the expense would be confined to that of a Cashier and one or two clerks.” Gallatin concluded that it was “equally the interest” of the Treasury Department and the Bank of the United States “mutually to observe the most liberal Spirit of accommodation towards each other,” and while he felt disposed to show on every occasion the sincerity of his wishes “for the prosperity & advantage of the institution over which you preside, I have not the least doubt of the present Administration meeting with every support and accommodation from the Bank which public good may require and their situation justify.” In a postscript Gallatin cautioned that the letter was “perfectly confidential” (RC in NHi: Gallatin Papers; at foot of text: “Private Thomas Willing Esqr President of the Bank of the United States”; endorsed: “To minutes 18 Augst 1801”). On 12 Oct. the National Intelligencer published the names of the newly elected directors, including Tristram Dalton, Thomas Tingey, and Thomas Peter of Washington; John Thomson Mason, Joseph Carleton, and William H. Dorsey of Georgetown; and John Dunlop, William Oxley, and John C. Vowell of Alexandria.

Your Position: see TJ to Gallatin, 14 Aug.

For the instructions to customs collectors of 1793 and 1796, see Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , 15:178–81; 20:348–9n.

Delegation of Georgia: see Gallatin to TJ, 10 Aug.

1Word written over illegible word.

2Preceding four words interlined.

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