George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 18 December 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Dec. 18. 92.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to send the President 2 Cents made on Voigt’s plan, by putting a silver plug worth ¾ of a cent into a copper worth ¼ of a cent.1 Mr Rittenhouse is about to make a few by mixing the same plug by fusion with the same quantity of copper. he will then make of copper alone of the same size, and lastly he will make the real cent, as ordered by Congress, four times as big. specimens of these several ways of making the cent will be delivered to the Committee of Congress now having that subject before them.2

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

1For background on the federal government’s efforts to produce its own coins, see Jefferson to GW, 16 Nov. 1792 (second letter), and note 1. For Henry Voigt’s appointment as chief coiner of the United States, see Voigt to GW, 13 April 1792, and note 1.

2The experiments by Voigt and Director of the U.S. Mint David Rittenhouse probably influenced Congress in its decision to amend the standards originally established on 2 April 1792 in “An Act establishing a Mint, and regulating the Coins of the United States.” “An Act to amend an act intituled ‘An act establishing a Mint, and regulating the coins of the United States,’ so far as respects the coinage of copper,” approved on 14 Jan. 1793, specified “That every cent shall contain two hundred and eight grains of copper, and every half cent shall contain one hundred and four grains of copper” (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 246–51, 299).

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