George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 2 January 1790]

Saturday 2d. Exercised in the Carriage with Mrs. Washington. Read the report of the Secretary of the Treasury respecting the State of his Department & proposed plans of Finance. Drank Tea at the Chief Justice’s of the U. States.

report of the secretary of the treasury: In Sept. 1789 the House of Representatives, considering “an adequate provision for the support of the public credit, as a matter of high importance to the national honor and prosperity,” had directed Alexander Hamilton to prepare a report on the state of public credit (HOUSE JOURNAL description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States . . .. various places, 1789—. description ends , 1:117). During the succeeding months Hamilton obtained extensive information on the current financial situation of the United States, but the final report went far beyond the original intentions of Congress. Drawing heavily upon precedent and writings on public finance, Hamilton included a sweeping and controversial plan for the reestablishment of public credit by providing for funding the public debt through an orderly system of collecting duties on imports and tonnage—implemented by duties on imported wines, spirits, coffee, and tea and on domestically distilled spirits. The plan also included federal assumption of debts contracted by the states during the Revolution. Hamilton’s “Report Relative to a Provision for the Support of Public Credit,” 9 Jan. 1790, was presented to the House of Representatives on 14 Jan. 1790 (HOUSE JOURNAL description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States . . .. various places, 1789—. description ends , 1:141). The report is in HAMILTON [2] description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 6:51–168.

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