George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 8 January 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Jan. 8. 93.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President 3. copies of the papers on the subject of the coins. he does not see however that it is necessary to send one to the Senate; unless usage has rendered it so.1

he has retained the Directors original statement, thinking it ought to be of record in his office, as it may be the foundation of a law.2

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

1Jefferson enclosed a copy of the letter of 7 Jan. sent him by Director of the Mint David Rittenhouse, a copy of Rittenhouse’s 7 Jan. report on the recent assay of foreign gold and silver coins, and a draft cover letter for GW to send to the U.S. House of Representatives, which reads: “According to the request expressed in your Resolution of the 29. of November, I have caused Assays and other proper experiments to be made at the mint of the united States, of the gold and silver Coins of France, England, Spain, and Portugal, and now lay before you the result” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). For the House’s resolution, see the U.S. House of Representatives to GW, 29 Nov. 1792, and note 1.

Jefferson also enclosed an introduction to the assay report and Rittenhouse’s 7 Jan. letter, which reads: “The Secretary of State, to whom was referred, by the President of the United States, the Resolution of the House of Representatives of the 29th of Novr 1792 on the subject of Experiments on the Coins of France, England, Spain, and Portugal, Reports, That assays and experiments have been accordingly made at the Mint, by the Director, and under his Care and inspection, of sundry gold and silver Coins of France, England, Spain, and Portugal, and a statement of the quantity of fine metal and alloy in each of them, and the specific gravities of those of Gold given in by the Director, a copy of which, and of the letter covering it, are contained in the papers marked A and B” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Paper A was a copy of Rittenhouse’s letter to Jefferson of 7 Jan., which reads: “I have herewith enclosed the result of our Assays &c. of the Coins of France, England, Spain, and Portugal. In the course of the Experiments a very small source of Error was detected, too late for the present occasion, but which will be carefully guarded against in future” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Paper B was a copy of the assay of gold and silver coins conducted at the U.S. Mint on 7 Jan. 1793 by David Ott under Rittenhouse’s supervision (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; 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 25:32–33). Jefferson, not GW, sent his introductory paragraph and documents A and B to the House of Representatives later on 8 Jan. 1793 under a brief cover letter of that date. He apparently did not send a copy to the Senate (see 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 25:37–39; 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 , 2d Cong., 2d sess., 801). For GW’s possible presence during at least part of the assay process, see Rittenhouse to Tobias Lear, 27 Dec. 1792.

2GW approved on 9 Feb. 1793 “An Act regulating foreign Coins, and for other purposes” (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 300–301).

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