Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tobias Lear, 7 November 1792

From Tobias Lear

United States, November 7, 1792. Transmits “a statement of the administration of the funds appropriated to certain foreign purposes, as the same has been submitted to the President by the Secretary of State.”1

LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1On November 3, 1792, Thomas Jefferson had submitted to the President two statements concerning funds appropriated for the State Department and an explanatory letter (LS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress). The closing paragraph of the letter reads as follows: “I had presented to the auditor [Richard Harrison] the Statement No. 1. with the vouchers, and also the special accounts rendered by the several persons who have received these monies, but, on consideration, he thought himself not authorized, by any law, to proceed to their examination. I am, therefore, to hope, Sir, that authority may be given to the auditor, or some other person to examine the general account and vouchers of the Department of State, as well as to raise special accounts against the persons into whose hands the moneys pass, and to settle the same from time to time on behalf of the public.”

The problems in settling accounts for transactions abroad, as well as the secret nature of some of the State Department accounts, caused delays and difficulties in accounting for these funds at the Treasury Department. On November 7, 1792, Washington communicated Jefferson’s letter with its enclosures to Congress. In response to Jefferson’s letter, Congress included provisions for settlement of these accounts in “An Act to continue in force for a limited time, and to amend the act entitled ‘An Act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations’” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 299–300 [February 9, 1793]). Section 2 of this act reads as follows: “And be it further enacted, That in all cases, where any sum or sums of money have issued, or shall hereafter issue, from the treasury, for the purposes of intercourse or treaty, with foreign nations, in pursuance of any law, the President shall be, and he hereby is authorized to cause the same to be duly settled annually with the accounting officers of the treasury, in manner following, that is to say; by causing the same to be accounted for, specifically, in all instances, wherein the expenditure thereof may, in his judgment, be made public; and by making a certificate or certificates, or causing the Secretary of State to make a certificate or certificates of the amount of such expenditures, as he may think it advisable not to specify; and every such certificate shall be deemed a sufficient voucher for the sum or sums therein expressed to have been expended” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 300).

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