Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Elias Boudinot, 17 April 1802

From Elias Boudinot

Mint of the United States
Philadelphia 17th. April 1802

The Director of the Mint, being informed by the public News Papers, that a Bill has been brought into Congress for abolishing of the Mint, cannot, consistent with his duty, omit, respectfully to represent the Case of some of the Officers, Clerks and Workmen of the Mint, to the President.

The Salaries and Wages allowed in the Mint have not been increased since the first establishment of the Institution, notwithstanding the great rise in the prices of every necessary of life, for several years past.—They have submitted to a bare subsistence without complaint, from the Idea, that their Employment was permanent, while they behaved well, and that Peace and reduced prices of food, would give them an opportunity of making up former deficiencies—Add to this, that their constant habits in the Mint, have made it difficult for them, at once, to return to their former occupations with advantage.—If the Mint should be abolished, it will be some time before they can get again into full Employment, and of course must suffer, essentially, even as to their necessary support.—

The Director therefore submits their Case to the Consideration of Government, and does not doubt but some small provision will be made for them, in Case of their intire dismission from the public Service

In this representation it is not meant to include the Director, Assayer or Treasurer, as neither of these do depend on their Salaries for support.—All which is respectfully submitted to the President by his obedient humble Servant

Elias Boudinot Director

RC (DLC); at head of text: “To The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 Apr. and so recorded in SJL. FC (DNA: RG 104, DL). Tr (DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.; in Meriwether Lewis’s hand, with Boudinot’s signature supplied by TJ; endorsed by a Senate clerk).

For the BILL in Congress proposing the abolishment of the MINT, see Henry Voigt to TJ, 11 Feb. 1802. TJ’s papers contain an undated list of the OFFICERS, CLERKS AND WORKMEN of the Mint compiled by Boudinot, which includes the job title and annual salary of 24 employees. Salaries range from $2,000 for the director to the $330 received by the workmen employed in operating the press, opening ingots, and assisting the assayer (PrC in DLC: TJ Papers, 235:42187; in a clerk’s hand).

DIRECTOR, ASSAYER OR TREASURER: that is, Boudinot, Joseph Richardson, and Benjamin Rush (Frank H. Stewart, History of the First United States Mint, Its People and Its Operations [Camden, N.J., 1924], 80, 90).

TJ forwarded Boudinot’s letter to the House and Senate on 20 Apr. In a brief covering letter, TJ stated, “The object of the inclosed letter from the Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, being within legislative competence only, I transmit it to both houses of Congress” (RC in DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess., endorsed by a House clerk; PrC in DLC; RC in DNA: RG 46, LPPM, 7th Cong., 1st sess., endorsed by a Senate clerk; recorded in SJL with notation “Mint”). The Senate ordered Boudinot’s letter to lie for consideration, while the House referred it to the Committee of the Whole House, which was considering the bill for abolishing the Mint (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:215; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:211).

On 25 June, Boudinot drafted another letter for the president on the difficulties he confronted as director of the Mint. Specifically, Boudinot complained that the collector at Philadelphia was demanding duties on a shipment of copper blanks imported from England by the Mint. Importing copper blanks saved considerably on costs, Boudinot explained, and no duties had ever been charged on previous shipments. “It seems as if every opposition was made to lessening the Expenses of this Institution,” Boudinot complained. If duties must be paid, which would also require his frequent attendance at the custom house, Boudinot would be forced to revert to purchasing more expensive domestic copper. “The copper Coinage will not bear the Expence, & be worth continuing,” declared Boudinot, and he hoped to receive the president’s instructions on the business soon. This letter, however, was apparently never sent. It is not recorded in SJL and an endorsement on the draft states that “The letter to the President was not sent, the Copper having been admitted without payment of Duties” (Dft in DNA: RG 104, GC).

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