Thomas Jefferson Papers

IV. An Additional Instruction to the Committee of the States, [ca. 29 April 1784]

IV. An Additional Instruction to the Committee of the States

[ca. 29 Apr. 1784]

That1 the Committee of the states be authorized and instructed

To appoint proper persons to enquire into the quality of pure silver in2 the Spanish milled dollars of different dates in circulation with us from the best assays which have been made.3

To enquire4 in like manner into the fineness of all other the coins which may be found in circulation within these states.

To report to the Committee the result of these enquiries5 by them to be laid before Congress.

To appoint also proper persons to enquire what are the proportions between the values of fine gold and fine silver at the markets of the several countries with which we are or probably may be connected in commerce, and what would be a proper proportion here, having regard to the average of their values at those markets and to other circumstances, and to report the same to the Committee by them to be laid before Congress.

To prepare an Ordinance for establishing the Unit of money within these states, for subdividing it, and for striking coins of gold, silver and copper on the following principles.

That the money Unit of these states shall be equal in value to a Spanish milled dollar containing so much fine silver as the enquiry6 before directed shall shew to be contained on an average in dollars of the several dates in circulation with us.

That the Unit shall be divided into fractions decimally expressed.7

That there shall be a coin of silver of the value of an Unit.

  • one other of the same metal of the value of one tenth of an Unit.
  • one other of copper of the value of the Hundreth of an Unit.

That there shall be a coin of gold of the value of ten Units, according to the report before directed and the judgment of the committee thereon.

That for the convenience of paiment there shall also be a gold coin of 5. units, and silver coins of ½, 2/10 and 5/100 of a [unit].8

That the alloy of the said coins of gold and silver shall be equal in weight to one eleventh part of the fine metal.

That there be proper devices for these coins.

That measures be proposed for preventing their diminution and also their currency and that of any others when diminished.

That the several foreign coins be described and classed in the said Ordinance, the fineness of each class stated and it’s value by weight estimated in Units and fractions of Units decimally expressed.9 And that the said draught of an ordinance be reported to Congress at their next meeting for their consideration and determination.

MS (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; written on verso of an undated invitation from Hardy and Mercer to TJ and Monroe (see at end of Apr. 1784).

While not dated, it is clear that this proposed separate instruction to the Committee of the States was written before 26 Apr. 1784 when TJ enclosed his notes on the establishment of a money unit and coinage system in his letter of that date to Robert Morris. The present text is, except for the alterations noted below, an exact copy of the corresponding part of the notes sent to Morris. These alterations were made after TJ had received Morris’ reply, as the following comment in an addendum to the notes on a money unit makes clear: “He [Morris] also informs me that the several coins in circulation among us have been already assayed with accuracy, and the result published in a work on that subject. The assay of Sir Isaac Newton had superseded, in my mind, the necessity of this operation as to the older coins which were the subject of his examination. This later work with equal reason may be considered as saving the same trouble as to the latter” (see TJ to Morris, 26 Apr. 1784). It is possible that Morris’ missing letter to TJ of 30 Apr. is the reply referred to, for it is apparent that TJ must have received that reply and altered the present MS before he left Congress.

1The following deleted at this point: “it be an instruction.”

2Preceding eight words interlined in substitution for the following: “assay and examine with the utmost accuracy practicable.”

3Preceding eight words added at end of line.

4These two words interlined in substitution for “To assay and examine.”

5This word interlined in substitution for “assays.”

6This word interlined in substitution for “assay.”

7Preceding three words substituted for “tenths and hundredths.”

8This sentence interlined as an addition; not in MS notes on money unit sent to Morris.

9Altered from “… estimated in Units and decimal parts of Units” to read as above.

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