James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Charles W. Goldsborough, 7 November 1809

From Charles W. Goldsborough

Navy Department 7 Novr. 1809


The secretary of the Navy having been unexpectedly detained in South Carolina by the extreme illness of two of his family, & it being probable that he will not be here for some days to come, it appears to me to be my duty to submit, for your consideration, the accompanying papers.

No 1. which affords a view of the Navy appropriations to the ⟨4⟩th ins inclusively1

A   statement of the Warrants drawn upon the sum of $75 000, transferred from the appropriation for “Provisions” to that of “Repairs”

B   statement of the Warrants drawn upon the sum of $25 000 transferred to the Contingent Fund.

By these papers it appears that of the appropriations made for the support of the Navy for the year 1809 there was on the 4th ins unexpended the sum of $935,757:31

that of the 75m.$ transferred to the appropriation for “repairs” there remains unexpended the sum of $1,499:12

that of the 25m.$ transferred to the appropriation for “Contingent Account” there remains unexpended the sum of $10,296:73.

All the other appropriations excepting that for “Clothing of the Marine Corps” will it is hoped be found abundant.

The appropriations for Repairs of vessels & for Clothing of the Marine Corps, both require the aid of additional sums to be transferred from other appropriations—& there are other appropriations which can abundantly spare as much as can be so required.

On account of repairs there are now requisitions upon the Department from agents at different places to an amount exceeding $20,000, which without a transfer of Funds can not be remitted. The Constitution while at sea lost several spars—the Wasp lately returned requires to be overhawled in her rigging & sails—& the John Adams, in the service upon which she is about to proceed, at a very inclement season, ought to be provided with a number of extra Stores. If, with this information, I might be permitted to suggest the sum necessary to effect these objects & to meet current demands during the present year, I should not estimate it at less than 50,000 dollars—the appropriation for “Provisions” could well spare 75 000$.

The enclosed letter from col: Wharton2 explains the cause of the deficit in the appropriation for “Clothing of the Marine Corps”—the deficit is estimated at 2500$—& the appropriation for the “Quarter master’s Dept. of the Marine Corps,” could well spare that sum.3 I have the honor to be, sir, with the highest respect, yr. mo: obt. servt

Ch: W: Goldsborough


Paul Hamilton

RC (DLC); letterbook copy (DNA: RG 45, LSP). RC docketed by JM. Enclosures not found, but see n. 2.

1Goldsborough was concerned because Congress was scheduled to convene on 27 Nov., and by the 1809 act regulating the treasury, war, and navy departments the secretary’s annual report on expenses would soon be due. The law gave the president discretionary power to shift money from one account to another “during the recess of Congress,” provided a report was “laid before Congress during the first week of their next ensuing session” (Goldsborough to JM, 19 Aug. 1809, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (2 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984-). description ends , 1:332–33; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America ... (17 vols.; Boston, 1848-73). description ends , 2:535–37). The Navy Department appropriation for 1809 was $1,014,000 (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States ... (38 vols.; Washington, 1832-61). description ends , Finance, 2:308).

2Goldsborough probably enclosed Franklin Wharton’s letter to him of 8 Sept. 1809 (copy, DNA: RG 127, Letterbook, 1807–10, Commandant’s Office, U.S. Marine Corps), mentioning that the “Advanced Prices” of many articles of clothing purchased by the agent at Philadelphia had “caused a deficiency in the Amount, necessary to compleat the Number of Suits, which will be wanted.” Wharton therefore suggested that as there were unexpended moneys in the quarter and barracks masters departments and the contingent account, “the deficit as above stated, may be taken therefrom.” Navy captain Franklin Wharton had been serving as lieutenant colonel commandant of the Marine Corps in Philadelphia since 1800.

3On 9 Nov. 1809 JM directed that the transfer recommended by Goldsborough be made (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States ... (38 vols.; Washington, 1832-61). description ends , Naval Affairs, 1:295).

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