Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on Stockholders in Congress, 23 March 1793

Notes on Stockholders in Congress

Mar. 23. 1793. The following list of paper-men is communicated to me by Mr. Beckley.

* Gilman. S.H.
* Gerry. S.H.
* Ames S.H.
* Goodhue S.H.
Bourne. R.I. suspected only.
* Trumbul. S.H.
* Wadsworth. S.H.
* Hillhouse. S.H.
Learned. S.H.
Laurence S.H. & Director
Boudinot. S.H.
* Dayton. S.H.
* Fitzsimmons. S.H. & Director
* D. Heister. S.H.
Murray S.H.
* Williamson S.H.
Smith S.H. & Director. for himself & his proxies his vote is near 1/5 of the whole1

* Cabot. S.H. & Director
* Sherman S.H.
Elsworth. qu.
* King. S.H. & Director H. Reprs. Senate
Dickinson. Stockholders 162 5
* Morris. S.H.   other paper 3 2
* Johnson. 19 73
* Izard S.H.    suspected 2 1

*  these are known to Beckley

  these avowed it in presence of Th: J.

MS (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; written with “Anas” entries for 2 and 25 Mch. 1793 on the other side of a sheet bearing “Anas” entries for 30 and 31 Mch. 1793. Included in the “Anas.”

This list of twenty-eight known or suspected paper-men—members of Congress who held stock in the Bank of the United States or public securities—and the brief addendum TJ wrote on 25 Mch. 1793 confirming one name and adding two others, mirrored the efforts of key Republicans to document their conviction that Alexander Hamilton had established a fiscal system that corrupted Congress and threatened representative government (see Notes on Stockholders in Congress, 25 Mch. 1793; TJ to Washington, 23 May, 9 Sep. 1792; Notes of a Conversation with Washington, 10 July, 1 Oct. 1792). This political accounting had actually begun before 27 Aug. 1792, when John Beckley, the fiercely Republican clerk of the House of Representatives, informed Benjamin Rush that “a member of Congress had examined the Register’s books and found 26 members of the House of Representatives and 8 of the Senate certificate holders” (George W. Corner, ed., The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush: His “Travels Through Life,” together with his Commonplace Book for 1789–1813 [Princeton, 1948], 227). The decisive defeat of the Giles resolutions censuring the Secretary of the Treasury on 2 Mch. 1793, however, evoked fresh expressions of TJ’s concern and sparked Republican efforts to demonstrate that their intended rebuke to Hamilton had been thwarted by a phalanx of congressional speculators with a personal interest in sustaining his fiscal system (Editorial Note on Jefferson and the Giles resolutions, at 27 Feb. 1793; Notes on the Giles Resolutions, 2 Mch. 1793; TJ to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., 3 Mch. 1793).

At the time that Beckley supplied TJ with the names recorded in this “Anas” entry, he was also involved in preparing a somewhat longer list of thirty-four names that appeared in An Examination of the Late Proceedings in Congress, Respecting the Official Conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury [Philadelphia, 1793], 26n. This pamphlet attack on Hamilton and defense of the Giles resolutions carried a date of 8 Mch. 1793, but was first published on 9 Apr. 1793 and reprinted as late as 20 Oct. 1793. Its authorship, once ascribed to John Taylor of Caroline, is still in dispute, but Beckley probably wrote most or all of it, possibly with the assistance of James Monroe (Edmund and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, “‘The Piece Left Behind’: Monroe’s Authorship of a Political Pamphlet Revealed,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends , lxxv [1967], 174–80, and same, John Beckley: Zealous Partisan in a Nation Divided [Philadelphia, 1973], 88–9, conclusively refuting earlier attributions to John Taylor of Caroline, assign joint authorship to Monroe and Beckley but argue for Monroe’s predominant role; Ammon, Monroe description begins Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, New York, 1971 description ends , 596n, regards the degree of Monroe’s involvement as uncertain; Robert E. Shalhope, John Taylor of Caroline: Pastoral Republican [Columbia, S.C., 1980], 218–19, shares Ammon’s doubts as to Monroe’s co authorship). Whether TJ knew of the preparation of this pamphlet is unclear, but there can be no doubt that he approved of its sentiments and publication (TJ to James Madison, [24 Mch. 1793], and note; TJ to Peter Carr, 14 Apr. 1793; TJ to Monroe, 5 May 1793).

Although the Editors have made no attempt to verify the accuracy of TJ’s lists or the list in An Examination, the substantial overlap between the names in both tabulations should not obscure the important discrepancies between them. Twenty-six legislators described as holders of bank or public stock were recorded in both, but four names in TJ’s lists did not appear in An Examination, while eight names printed in the latter were not listed by TJ. Twenty-four of the paper holders listed by TJ were identified as stockholders in the bank, but only twenty-two in An Examination were so designated. Of the twenty-six names common to both lists, eighteen were described as bank stockholders in both lists, five were so recorded in TJ’s enumeration but not in An Examination, two were listed in the pamphlet but not by TJ, and one was not listed as a stock-holder in either compilation. These discrepancies suggest that Beckley continued to revise and supplement his list almost up to the date of publication.

Shortly after TJ recorded his “Anas” entries of 23 and 25 Mch. 1793, but before the publication of An Examination, the Republican allegation that Hamilton had been exonerated of Giles’s charges through the agency of a corrupt squadron in the House of Representatives was aired by “Timon.” In a letter of 10 Mch. 1793 published in the National Gazette seventeen days later, “Timon” impugned the integrity of the votes on the Giles resolutions in the House by asserting that three of the Secretary of the Treasury’s supporters were directors and fifteen or twenty more were reputedly stockholders in the Bank of the United States. Returning to this theme in a 2 Apr. 1793 letter published eleven days later, “Timon” offered a new breakdown of House members with a personal stake in Hamiltonian policies, maintaining that twelve stockholders in the Bank of the United States (five of whom were also directors) and an additional ten to twelve substantial holders of public securities had voted against the Giles resolutions. “Take away the votes of bank-directors and stockholders,” he asked rhetorically, stating the gravamen of his case, “and is the Secretary fairly acquitted or condemned?” (National Gazette, 27 Mch., 13 Apr. 1793). Edmund and Dorothy Smith Berkeley have suggested that Beckley probably wrote the “Timon” essays (”’The Piece Left Behind,’” 176; John Beckley, 87–8), but the evidence for this attribution is tenuous at best, and the numerical discrepancies between the “Timon” letters and An Examination with respect to bank directors and stockholders further suggest that they were not written by the same person.

1Below this line TJ erased one line of text so completely as to obliterate it and partially remove the surface of the paper. The obliterated line, which evidently contained the name of another congressman and a comment about him, must have been effaced after TJ calculated a total of twenty-nine such members in the tabulation below. This erasure may be related to a similarly thorough cancellation TJ made in Notes on the Giles Resolutions, 2 Mch. 1793.

2Number written over what appears to be “21,” erased.

3This line interlined.

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