George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 1 March 1793

From Alexander Hamilton

[Philadelphia] March 1st 1793

The Secretary of the Treasury presents his respects to The President, and has the honor to transmit a communication this morning received from Colo. Smith:1 another from Mister Ternant;2 concerning both of which he will wait upon the President tomorrow.3

LB, DLC:GW.

1The enclosed letter from William Stephens Smith to Hamilton of 28 Feb. 1793 has not been identified. According to GW’s executive journal, the letter contained “propositions from the French Ministry to the Government of the U.S. respecting the payment of the debt” (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 76). On these propositions and Smith’s involvement, see Lebrun to GW, 8 Nov. 1792, and notes 2–3. On 2 Mar., Smith again wrote to Hamilton regarding the U.S. debt to France, but that letter also remains unidentified. It apparently contained a copy of a letter from Smith to Jean-Baptiste Ternant stating that Smith “ought to receive the sum of 3 millions of Livres for which Mr. Ternant had applied to the U.S. by order of the French Governmt, to purchase provisions &c. to send to France” (ibid., 78–79). Smith had arrived in New York from Europe on 7 Feb., and he wrote to Thomas Jefferson the next day to inform him that he would soon leave for Philadelphia (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 25:161–62). On 20 Feb.,Jefferson met with Smith in Philadelphia to discuss intelligence about France. At this meeting Smith told Jefferson that the French government desired “our debt to be paid them in provisions,” and that he was authorized to broker the payments (Notes on Conversations with William Stephens Smith and George Washington, 20 Feb., ibid., 243). On Ternant’s proposal, which GW had already approved before Hamilton received Smith’s offer, see Jefferson to GW, 8 Feb., nn.1–2. The cabinet met on 2 Mar. to discuss Smith’s offer (Cabinet Opinion on the Proposal of William Stephens Smith, 2 Mar.).

2Ternant’s letter to Hamilton of 26 Feb. 1793 is printed in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 14:164.

3For Hamilton’s meeting with GW, see Cabinet Opinion, 2 Mar.; JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 77.

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