Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Tench Coxe, 10 July 1796

To Tench Coxe

Monticello July 10. 96.

Dear Sir

Your favor of June 22. has been duly recieved, and I again avail myself of the permission to trouble you with a letter for Europe which needs an unsuspicious conveyance. I rejoice at the victory obtained by the French over their enemies. I should have rejoiced much more however to have seen them at peace with their continental antagonists, and the whole war reduced to a duel between them and the neighboring islanders. No man who is a friend to the freedom and independance of nations could have looked on such a duel with indifference as to it’s event. But instead of being contracted, the bounds of war seem to be much enlarged: and our afflictions are destined to be prolonged. I see an interesting contest excited between Mr. Smith and Mr. Gallatin, and am glad that the H. of Representatives make it the occasion of deciding the question whether we are lessening our debt. That we are not however, Mr. Smith seems to acknolege, unless we will allow him to count 4. millions before they are due to the treasury. I hope at any rate a clear statement of our situation, and honest and energetic endeavors to pay off our debts and be clear and independant.—We have had a very fine harvest in this part of the country. The quality is as extraordinary as the quantity. Both however have been injured in other parts of the state, where earlier seasons threw their harvest into the forward rains. I am with great esteem Dear Sir Your most obedt. humble servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (CtY); addressed: “Tenche Coxe esq. Director of the public revenue Philadelphia”; endorsed. PrC (DLC). Enclosure: TJ to James Monroe, 10 July 1796.

The interesting contest occurred in the House of Representatives on 1 June 1796, the last day of the first session of the Fourth Congress, when the South Carolina Federalist William Loughton Smith responded to a lengthy discourse on Treasury Department receipts and expenditures made by Albert Gallatin on 12 Apr. 1796 in which the Pennsylvania Republican concluded that the national debt had increased by at least one million dollars during 1795 and that Congress was thereby “laying the foundation of that national curse—a growing and perpetual Debt.” In countering Gallatin’s analysis, Smith credited four millions due from bonds for duties on imports. In his earlier presentation, Gallatin had challenged this procedure, noting that the bonds should not be included as receipts until they were due to the treasury and paid. The debate between Smith and Gallatin was reported in the Philadelphia Gazette, 28–30 June 1796 (Annals, description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends v, 921–36, 1499–1516).

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