George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 5 November 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Nov. 5. 1792.

Th: Jefferson having had the honor at different times heretofore of giving to the President conjectural estimates of the expences of our foreign establishment, has that of now laying before him in page. 1. of the inclosed paper, a statement of the whole amount of the foreign fund from the commencement to the expiration of the act which will be on the 3d of March next, with the actual expences to the 1st of July last, & the conjectural ones from thence through the remaining 8. months, and the balance which will probably remain.1

Page 2. shews the probable annual expence of our present establishment, & it’s excess above the funds allowed; and in another column the reduced establishment, necessary & most proper to bring it within the limits of the fund, supposing it should be continued.2

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; AL (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters.

Jefferson also wrote a brief cover letter to GW on this date noting that he was sending “the President 3 complete copies of the inclosed papers for himself & each house of the legislature, and a copy of the account to be lodged in the treasury” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). On 7 Nov., Lear sent Alexander Hamilton “a statement of the administration of the funds appropriated to certain foreign purposes” (DLC:GW). The enclosed papers were the two documents described below. For earlier financial statements issued by Jefferson, see his first letter to GW of 3 Nov. 1792 and notes 1 to 3.

1The first document was Jefferson’s “Estimate of the fund of 40,000 Dol. for foreign intercourse, and it’s application” from 1 July 1790 until 3 Mar. 1793, when “An Act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations” of 1 July 1790 would expire. By that legislation Congress appropriated $40,000 annually for the support of U.S. diplomats and “for the expense incident to the business in which they may be employed” (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). Jefferson reported “actual expences incurred” of $21,054 for 1 July 1790 to 1 July 1791 and $43,431.09 for 1 July 1791 to 2 July 1792. He estimated that from 1 July 1792 to 3 Mar. 1793 “the probable expences may be abt 26,300,” leaving a surplus of $16,214.91 out of the $107,000 appropriated by Congress for the period (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; Jefferson erased the original date of 21 Oct. and replaced it with 5 Nov. 1792; 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 584).

2The second document was Jefferson’s “Estimate of the ordinary expence of the different diplomatic grades, annually.” Jefferson reported that the current annual cost for a minister plenipotentiary was $12,307.13, for a resident was $5,653.56, and for an agent was $1,650. The estimated annual expense for “Medals to foreign ministers” was $654.60. Jefferson concluded that to “support the present establishment would require” $42,229.54, but by demoting the resident at The Hague to an agent, the budget could remain within the $40,000 appropriated annually by Congress, leaving an annual surplus of $1,774.02. (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; Jefferson erased the original date of 21 Oct. and replaced it with 5 Nov. 1792; 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 24:585).

On the reverse of the letterpress copy of this estimate is a letterpress copy of a draft of the first paragraph of GW’s second letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives of 7 Nov. (DLC: Jefferson Papers). The draft’s introductory phrase “According to the directions of the law” was replaced by “In pursuance of the law.”

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