Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 13 January 1802

From Albert Gallatin

Jany. 13 1802

Dear Sir

From a view of your message, it seems to me that I ought neither to apply to the Commissers. for information, nor give any opinion on the propriety of suspending the sale of the lots; but that my report to the H. of R. should be confined to a short recapitulation of the acts now in force, & to an opinion on the question whether it will be most eligible, in case Congress shall suspend the sale of lots, to reimburse the State of Maryland in specie, or in six per cent stock. On this last subject I have no hesitation, & wish to embrace this opportunity of explicitly giving my opinion in favor of the extinguishment of the public debt. On those grounds, the enclosed rough draft of a report has been prepared, & is now submitted to you.

My own opinion, as to the sale of lots, is that the authority should be discretionary with the President & not obligatory, provided, however, that the amount of what may be conveniently sold, should in the first place be applied to pay the interest on the loans; Congress, of course, directing the deficiency on the interest, & the principal to be paid out of the Treasury.

I heard last night with grief that you had been unwell. I hope to find you to day quite recovered. Take care, I beseech, of your health.

With sincere affection & respect Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 13 June and “Washington loans.” Interlined in SJL as received on 13 Jan. and relating to “Commrs. Washn.” Enclosure not found, but see below.

Your Message: see TJ to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 11 Jan.

My Report: sent by the Treasury secretary to Nathaniel Macon, speaker of the House of Representatives, on 15 Jan., the report was brought before the House four days later. Gallatin recommended that if Congress decided it was unwise to “compel” the sale of city lots in order to repay the debt to Maryland, the U.S. Treasury would have no trouble discharging the debt in specie, rather than increasing the public debt through the issuance of additional six percent stock as proposed by Maryland. Gallatin concluded that although the resolution of the Maryland legislature “was evidently adopted only with a view of accommodating the United States,” he could not recommend the acceptance of the offer (Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, Accompanying his Report on a Letter from the Governor of Maryland, and Sundry Documents … 19th January, 1802 [Washington, 1802], Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 3320; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:258; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:55).

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