George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 7 March 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia. March 7th 1792.

Sir,

Immediately on the passage of the Act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign Nations,1 I desired the bankers of the United States in Amsterdam, to raise an account with the Secretary of State of the United States, to be confined to the objects of that Act,2 and requested them and our Ministers abroad to make up their accounts from July to July annually, and furnish me with them, that I might enable you to lay before Congress, regularly, the account of those expenditures which the law requires. It was not till yesterday that I received the General Account of the bankers for the first year, by a vessel from Amsterdam, which seems to have had four or five months passage:3 nor have I yet been able to get all the particular accounts, which would be necessary to give a satisfactory view of this branch of expenditure. I therefore, for the present, enclose the General Account only, expressing this caution that the balance therein stated, is only that which had not yet been drawn out of their hands, though, at that moment, there were existing demands for a great part of it. I have reason to be tolerably confident that the measures for having the particular, as well as the General Account kept and forwarded to me regularly, will, in the course of this second year, get so far into effect, as that I may be sure of enabling you, at the next session of Congress to lay before them a complete statement of the application of this fund, general and special, to the 1st of July next ensuing, and, when once under regular way, the annual communication to the legislature may be afterwards constantly made.4 I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect and attachment, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble servant

Th: Jefferson

LS, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; LS (letterpress copy of second copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters.

1GW signed “An Act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations” on 1 July 1790. It authorized the president to draw from the treasury up to $40,000 annually to support “such persons as he shall commission to serve the United States in foreign parts, and for the expense incident to the business in which they may be employed.” The act also provided that “the President shall account specifically for all such expenditures of the said money as in his judgment may be made public, and also for the amount of such expenditures as he may think it advisable not to specify, and cause a regular statement and account thereof to be laid before Congress annually, and also lodged in the proper office of the treasury department” (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 128–29).

2For the secretary of state’s letter to the American bankers at Amsterdam, see Jefferson to Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 5 Aug. 1791, in Jefferson to Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 11 May 1791 (second letter), source note, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 20:393–94. See also Jefferson to Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 23 Jan. 1792, ibid., 23:60–61.

3The enclosed letter from Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard to Jefferson of 24 Oct. 1791 and the “General” statement of account with the United States that it covered are printed in Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 22:228–31.

4GW laid this letter and its enclosures before Congress on 9 Mar. 1792.

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