Adams Papers

From John Adams to Tench Coxe, December 1797

[ca. Dec. 1797]

The President of the United States has maturely considered the questions relative to your official powers and duties, arising out of the <letter> facts stated to you in my Letter of with your explanations, & has directed me to communicate <to you> for your government his decision therein.

1st. The Secy of War, is the sole judge of the time & manner of making dispursements of monies advanced to the Treasurer of the United States, by Warrants from the Department of the Treasury;—but the said Secretary of War, is responsible that all disbursements shall be <unfavorable to> for objects justly chargeable under the heads of Appropriations for which the advocates have been made.

2d. The Accountant of the War Department is in no respect a Comptroller of the disbursements ordered by the Secy of War.—The power of countersigning the Warrants of the Secy, was given for the purpose of subjecting the said disbursements to a regular course of examination & settlement, and not for the purpose of restraining advances.

3d. The Accountant of the War Department, is a sub Auditor;—his duties are confined to the settlement of Accounts;—in the exercise of which duties he is not <[. . .]> subject to the controul of the Secy of War.

4th. The Secretary of War, under such restrictions as <has> are prescribed by the President of the United States & understood by the sd secretary, is authorized to determine the rules of compensation & allowance for services of an incidental nature, <&> when no rule has been established by Congress <[. . .]> and for expenditures of such a nature, as are not to be made public, the President will from time to time direct Certificates to be made, which are to serve <[. . .]> in lieu of the <orders> Vouchers ordinarily required in the Settlement of Accounts.

5th. The Accountant of the War Department is responsible in the first instance to the Auditor & finally to the Comptroller of the Treasury for observing proper rules & principles in the settlement of accounts;—in cases where <there exists> a diversity of opinion is found to exist; the opinion of the Comptroller of the Treasury is to <be final & [. . .]> prevail & be <definitive> conclusive.—

<[. . .] when> Persons charged with public monies and held accountable on the books of your Office, are to be allowed to appeal from your decisions, to the Officers of the Treasy in the course <pr> above prescribed.

MHi: Adams Papers.

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