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To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 10 March 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Mar. 10. 1793.

The Secretary of state, according to the requisition of the President of the US. of the 8th instant has examined the laws passed during the late session of Congress and Reports That none of those laws relate to, or require the immediate or special agency of the President, except the “Act regulating foreign coins & for other purposes,” (a copy of which is hereto annexed) whereupon it would be proper to give in charge to the Director of the Mint to take measures for collecting samples of foreign coins, issued in the year 1792, of the species which usually circulate within the United States, to examine by assays at the Mint whether the same are conformable to the respective standards required, & to report the result, that the same may be made known by proclamation.1

Th: Jefferson

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, Reports of the Secretary of State to the President and Congress. GW received this letter on this date (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 84).

1Jefferson’s enclosure was a printed copy of the “Act regulating foreign Coins, and for other purposes,” which GW had approved on 9 Feb. 1793. This act gave the rates at which “foreign gold and silver coins shall pass current as money within the United States.” It also stipulated that foreign coins issued after 1 Jan. 1792 were only to be considered legal tender after “samples thereof shall have been found, by assay, at the mint of the United States, to be conformable to the respective standards required, and proclamation thereof shall have been made by the President of the United States” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; this act is printed in full in 1 Stat., description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 300–301). This act supplemented the “Act establishing a Mint and regulating Coins in the United States,” passed on 2 April 1792 (William Archibald McCrea to GW, 27 Mar. 1792, note 1). Since 1789 the United States had estimated the value of foreign coinage according to norms established by the tariff laws of 31 July 1789 and 4 Aug. 1790 (ibid., 41, 167–68). For more on GW’s involvement in the assay of foreign coins at the mint, see U.S. House of Representatives to GW, 29 Nov. 1792, and note 1, and Tobias Lear to Jefferson, 19 Mar. 1793. David Rittenhouse was the current director of the U.S. Mint.

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