George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 3 November 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia Novr 3d 1792.

Sir,

In order to enable you to lay before Congress the account required by law of the application of the monies appropriated to foreign purposes through the Agency of the Department of State, I have now the honor to transmit you the two statements No. 1. & 2. herein enclosed, comprehending the period of Two Years preceding the 1st day of July last.

The first statement is of the sums paid from the Treasury under the act allowing the annual fund of 40,000 Dollars for the purposes of foreign intercourse, as also under the acts of March 3. 1791. c. 16 and May [8] 1792. c. 41. §. 3. allowing other sums for special purposes.1 By this it will appear, that, except the sum of 500 Dollars paid to Colonel Humphreys on his departure, the rest has been all received in Bills of Exchange, which identical Bills have been immediately remitted to Europe either to those to whom they were due for services, or to the Bankers of the United States in Amsterdam to be paid out by them to persons performing services abroad. This general view has been given in order to transfer the debit of these sums from the Department of State to those to whom they have been delivered.2

But, in order to give to Congress a view of the specific application of these monies, the particular accounts rendered by those who have received them, have been analysed, and the payments made to them have been reduced under general Heads, so as to show at one view the amount of the sums which each has received for every distinct species of service or disbursement, as well as their several totals. This is the statement No. 2. and it respects the annual fund of 40,000 Dollars only, the special funds of the acts of 1791. & 1792. having been not yet so far administered as to admit of any statement.3

I had presented to the auditor the Statement No. 1. with the Vouchers, and also the special accounts rendered by the several persons who have received these monies, but, on consideration, he thought himself not authorized, by any law, to proceed to their examination. I am, therefore, to hope, Sir, that authority may be given to the Auditor, or some other person to examine the general account and Vouchers of the Department of State, as well as to raise special accounts against the persons into whose hands the monies pass, and to settle the same from time to time on behalf of the public.4 I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect and attachment, Sir, Your most obedient, and Most humble servant

Th: Jefferson

LS (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; copy, DNA: RG 46, Second Congress, 1791–93, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; LB, DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters. Jefferson signed the copy in DNA: RG 46.

1GW submitted both of Jefferson’s enclosed statements with his second letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives of 7 Nov. 1792. The first of Jefferson’s financial statements is titled “The Department of State in Account with the United States” (DLC: Jefferson Papers; see also 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 24:570–71). According to this statement, the State Department had received and had disbursed $143,500 between 14 Aug. 1790 and 3 July 1792 in agreement with the legislation mentioned in Jefferson’s letter.

On 1 July 1790 GW signed “An Act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations,” in which the president was “authorized to draw from the treasury of the United States, a sum not exceeding forty thousand dollars annually . . . for the support of 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.” According to “An Act making an appropriation for the purpose therein mentioned,” of 3 Mar. 1791, Congress approved an appropriation of $20,000 “for the purpose of effecting a recognition of the treaty of the United States, with the new emperor of Morocco.” In section 3 of “An Act making certain appropriations therein specified,” of 8 May 1792, Congress directed that an additional sum of $50,000 “be appropriated to defray any expense which may be incurred in relation to the intercourse between the United States and foreign nations, to be paid out of any monies, which may be in the treasury, not otherwise appropriated, and to be applied under the direction of the President of the United States.” See 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, 214, 284–85.

2GW and Jefferson entrusted David Humphreys in August 1790 with the secret delivery of instructions to William Carmichael, the American chargé d’affaires at Madrid, and Gouverneur Morris, the administration’s agent in London. For background on Humphreys’s mission, see Jefferson to GW, 8 Aug. 1790, and notes. Other recipients of State Department funds listed on this statement include Gouverneur Morris, Thomas Barclay, Thomas Pinckney, John Brown Cutting, and the Dutch banking firm of Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard.

3Jefferson’s second statement is titled “Analysis of the Expences of the U.S. for their intercourse with Foreign nations from July 1. 90. to July 1. 91. and from July 1. 91. to July 1. 92. taken from the accounts of Messrs [William] Short, [David] Humphreys, [Gouverneur] Morris, [Thomas] Pinckney & Willinks, Van Staphorsts & Hubbard given in to the Auditor” (DLC: Jefferson Papers; see also 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 24:572). The expenses from 1 July 1790 to 1 July 1791 total $21,054.61 and from 1 July 1791 to 1 July 1792 total $43,431.90. For additional financial reports submitted by Jefferson, see his second letter to GW of 5 Nov. 1792 and notes.

4Richard Harrison was the auditor of the U.S. Treasury in 1792. Congress responded positively to Jefferson’s request for additional authority to facilitate payment of State Department expenses. On 9 Feb. 1793 GW signed “An Act to continue in force for a limited time, and to amend the act intituled ‘An act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations.’” Section 2 of that act authorized the president to settle accounts “for the purposes of intercourse or treaty, with foreign nations” annually with treasury officials. Such monies were to “be accounted for, specifically, in all instances, wherein the expenditure thereof may, in his [the president’s] judgment, be made public; and by making a certificate or certificates, or causing the Secretary of State to make a certificate or certificates of the amount of such expenditures, as he [the president] may think it advisable not to specify; and every such certificate shall be deemed a sufficient voucher for the sum or sums therein expressed to have been expended” (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 299–300).

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