George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 7 May 1790]

Friday 7th. Exercised in the forenoon. Endeavoured through various Channels to ascertain what places required, and the characters fittest for Consuls at them.

As the House of Representatives had reduced the Sum, in a Bill to provide for the expences of characters in the diplomatic line, below what would enable the Executive to employ the number which the exigencies of Government might make it necessary I thought it proper to intimate to a member or two of the Senate the places that were in contemplation to send persons to in this Line—viz to France & England (when the latter manifested a disposition to treat us with more respect than She had done upon a former occasion) Ministers Plenipotentiary and to Spain, Portugal & Holland Chargé des Affaires and having an opportunity, mentioned the matter unofficially both to Mr. Carroll & Mr. Izard.

Much Company—Gentlemen & Ladies visited Mrs. Washington This Evening.

consuls: See entry for 28 April 1790. diplomatic line: See entries for 23 and 26 Mar., 16 and 27 April 1790. GW and Jefferson had agreed in their meeting of 26 Mar. that the sum required for the adequate support of a foreign diplomatic establishment might range between $36,000 and $50,000, and House Bill No. 35 had stipulated $40,000 for the support of American diplomats abroad. Opposition to so large an amount appropriated “to uses with the propriety of which no gentlemen seemed to be well acquainted” had been a major factor in the tabling of the bill (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 1st Cong., 2d sess., 1130). The amended bill No. 52 had apparently reduced the appropriation to $30,000. GW’s efforts to raise the appropriation were successful. On 23 June, while the bill was still pending, William Maclay, whose views vividly express opposition opinion, noted: “The Intercourse bill, or that for appointing ambassadors, had been referred to a committee of conference so long ago that I had forgotten it, but the thing was neither dead nor sleeping. It was only dressing and friends-making. The report increased the salaries and added ten thousand dollars to the appropriations. I concluded they had secured friends enough to support it before they committed it to the House. This turned out to be the case. The whole appropriation was forty thousand dollars, and they were voted with an air of perfect indifference by the affirmants, although I consider the money as worse than thrown away, for I know not a single thing that we have for a minister to do at a single court in Europe. . . . Our business is to pay them what we owe, and the less political connection the better with any European power. It was well spoken against. I voted against every part of it” (MACLAY description begins Charles A. Beard, ed. The Journal of William Maclay: United States Senator from Pennsylvania, 1789–1791. 1927. Reprint. New York, 1965. description ends , 296).

Index Entries