Alexander Hamilton Papers

Enclosure: William Short to Gouverneur Morris, 28 June 1792

William Short to Gouverneur Morris9

The Hague, June 28, 1792. “… On the 18th. inst. I write you also from this place & wait with much impatience to hear from you respecting what has been settled with the Commissaries of the treasury, as I mentioned to you in that letter there would be a considerable payment to be made them as soon as you shall have fixed the rate of the late payments & the mode in wch. the next shd. be made. I wish you to do this as soon as possible as a considerable sum is now & has been for some time accumulated in the hands of the bankers at Amsterdam. Should you not have settled the rate of the late payments from any difficulty wch. may have arisen on account of the second letter you wished to recieve from the Sec. of State10 —then I will thank you to see the commissaries or the minister & inform me what will be the best & most agreeable mode of making these payments. I in-close you an extract of a letter I have recd. from the sec. of the treasury respecting the fixing the rate of the late payments,11 which will perhaps render the second letter from the sec. of State unnecessary. I in-close you also a duplicate of his letter of the 16th. of April by way of leaving nothing omitted on that subject although I do not see that the state of things in France renders any intimation of the kind necessary. I need not urge you to settle some mode or other of effectuating immediately future payments as you know that the U.S. are now paying a dead & useless interest on the sums in hand.…”

9ALS (extract), Columbia University Libraries.

10Jefferson had written to Morris on April 28, 1792, entrusting him with one phase of the financial negotiations with France: “I now in-close you the correspondence between the Secretary of the Treasury and Minister of France, on the subject of the monies furnished to the distresses of their Colonies. You will perceive that the Minister chose to leave the adjustment of the terms to be settled at Paris between yourself and the King’s ministers. This you will therefore be pleased to do on this principle, that we wish to avoid any loss by the mode of payment, but would not chuse to make a gain which should throw loss on them. But the letters of the Secretary of the Treasury will sufficiently explain the desire of the government, & be a sufficient guide to you” (LC, RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions of the Department of State, 1791–1801, January 23, 1791–August 16, 1793, National Archives). Morris was, however, reluctant to undertake responsibility for payments to the Commissaries of the Treasury on the French debt without specific authorization. In a letter to Jefferson of August 1, 1792, Morris explained his position: “… I am engaged at present in ⟨ex⟩amination of the Account received from the Commissioners of the Treasury. ⟨I⟩ have already mentioned to you Sir that the whole of this Account is open ⟨an⟩d I must now observe that I do not find myself particularly authoriz’d ⟨to⟩ make the final Adjustment. If it becomes necessary I will do it ⟨but I s⟩hall avoid it as long as I can. In Respect to the Payments made and ⟨m⟩aking in America I am at Ease because there I have your orders but ⟨not⟩ so in Regard to those made by Mr Short …” (ALS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to France, 1789–1869, June 17, 1792–March 7, 1794, National Archives).

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