Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John F. Mercer, 7 July 1802

To John F. Mercer

Washington July 7. 1802.

Dear Sir

Altho’ your letter, which this acknoleges, was written so long ago as the 5th. Ult. I have not in the mean time been inattentive to it’s contents.

By the act of Congress of May 1. which I now inclose, you will percieve that the interest of the 200,000. D. borrowed by the Commissioners of Washington on the guaranty of Congress, is directed to be paid by a sale of the lots, which have never yet been sold; with a proviso that if a sufficient number cannot be sold without an unwarrantable sacrifice of the property, paiment shall be made out of the treasury. time was necessary for this experiment. it has been tried, and a sale found impracticable for prices warranted. by a due regard to the ultimate security of the US. the Secretary of the Treasury is therefore now occupied in remitting this interest according to your desire.

With respect to the 50,000. D. borrowed by the Commissioners, not under guaranty of the US. Congress has authorised the paiment of principal and interest on the 1st. day of November next: for which purpose the lots liable to be resold, are to be re-sold for whatever they will bring, to the amount of the debt; and, if there be a deficiency, it is to be paid1 out of the Treasury of the US. a list of such lots is accordingly made out, and they are advertised for sale; and the line of conduct will be observed which the law has prescribed.

Accept assurances of my sincere friendship & high consideration.

Th: Jefferson

RC (facsimile in Christie’s Catalogue, New York City, May 2000, No. 67); endorsed. PrC (DLC), in ink at foot of text: “Governour Mercer.” Enclosure: “An Act to abolish the Board of Commissioners in the City of Washington; and for other purposes,” 1 May 1802, Sections 5 and 6, of which, outlined the process for the repayment of the Maryland loans (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 , 2:175–6).

YOUR LETTER: TJ responded earlier to Mercer’s communication of 5 June in a private letter to the governor dated 23 June.

For the actions taken by the Treasury secretary in REMITTING the INTEREST, see Gallatin to TJ of this date (first letter and enclosure).

As superintendent of the city of Washington, Thomas Munroe compiled the list of lots which were being ADVERTISED FOR SALE in the Washington newspapers (see TJ to Munroe, 16 June 1802).

1TJ first wrote “that it be paid” before altering the text to read as above.

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