Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 27 April 1802

To the Senate and the House of Representatives

Gentlemen of The Senate and of the
House of Representatives

The Commissioners who were appointed to carry into execution the VIth. article of the treaty of Amity, commerce & navigation between the US. and Great Britain, having differed in their construction of that article, & separated in consequence of that difference, the President of the US. took immediate measures for obtaining conventional explanations of that article for the government of the Commissioners. finding however great difficulties opposed to a settlement in that way, he authorised our minister at the court of London to meet a proposition that the US. by the paiment of a fixed sum, should discharge themselves from their responsibility for such debts as cannot be recovered from the individual debtors. a Convention has accordingly been signed fixing the sum to be paid at six hundred thousand pounds sterling, in three equal and annual instalments, which has been ratified by me with the advice and consent of the Senate.

I now transmit copies thereof to the two houses of Congress, trusting, that in the free exercise of the authority which the constitution has given them on the subject of public expenditures, they will deem it for the public interest to appropriate the sums necessary for carrying this convention into execution.

Th: Jefferson
April 27. 1802.

RC (DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); endorsed by a House clerk. PrC (DLC). RC (DNA: RG 46, LPPM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); in Meriwether Lewis’s hand, signed and dated by TJ; endorsed by Senate clerks. Recorded in SJL with notation: “British Convention.” Enclosure: Convention between the United States and Great Britain, 8 Jan. 1802 (MS in DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.; in a clerk’s hand; signed by Lord Hawkesbury and Rufus King, with seals).

The House of Representatives, after receiving this message and the January 1802 convention with Great Britain from Meriwether Lewis on this day, referred the matter to the Committee of Ways and Means. John Randolph, for the committee, reported a bill on 29 Apr. that the House considered and approved the same day. The Senate, which had ratified the convention on 26 Apr., apparently received only TJ’s message, and not the enclosure, from Lewis on the 27th and gave it to a committee consisting of Wilson Cary Nicholas, Jonathan Dayton, and George Logan. The House’s bill reached the Senate on the 30th. On 3 May, the final day of the first session of the Seventh Congress, the Senate approved the measure and TJ signed it into law. The act appropriated $2,664,000 to be paid to Britain in installments, as specified by the convention (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:224, 227; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:223, 229, 233; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:192; TJ to the Senate, 29 Mch.; TJ to Nicholas, 24 Apr.).

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