Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, [1 March 1793]

To George Washington

[Philadelphia, March 1, 1793]

The Secretary of the Treasury presents his respects to The President, and has the honor to transmit a communication this morning received from Colo. Smith1—another from mr Ternant;2 concerning both of which he will wait upon the President tomorrow.

March 1st 1793

LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1William S. Smith’s letter, which has not been found, was dated February 28, 1793. The letter is described in an entry in JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends for March 1, 1793, as “containing propositions from the French Ministry to the Government of the U.S. respecting the payment of the debt from the latter to the former” (JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 64).

In November, 1792, Smith, who at that time was traveling in France, proposed a plan to the French Provisional Executive Council for using the American debt to France for the purchase of supplies for France in the United States. In a letter to Edmond Charles Genet, the new French Minister to the United States, Smith described the conditions of his proposals as follows: “I proposed to Supply provisions, arms & military Stores from America at the Market price charging only the Common Commission, and the Extra expences attending the Execution of the business. You will observe that the Minister of the Public Contributions; in his letter of the 7th November 1792 conveys to me the full approbation of the executive Council on the Subject of my propositions” (Smith to Genet, May 8, 1793, ALS, Arch. des Aff. Etr., Corr. Pol., Etats-Unis description begins Transcripts or photostats from the French Foreign Office deposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Supplement Vol. 24). In his “Report of the Minister of Public Contributions, on the liquidation of the American debt” Etienne Clavière stated that Smith’s offers had been approved by the Provisional Executive Council and were “to procure to the republic not only the reimbursement of what remains due from the United States, although not yet payable, but for the application of it, either for supplies for the army, or wheat, flour, and salted provisions, in augmentation of our internal supplies” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 144). Smith arrived in Philadelphia in February, 1793. On February 20 he called on Thomas Jefferson and informed him that the French Ministry desired “our debt to be paid in provns, and have authorized him to negotiate this” (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , I, 216–17).

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