George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 3 June 1793

From Alexander Hamilton

Treasury Departmt 3d June 1793.


The failure of the late enterprize against the United Netherlands1 may be expected to have made a favourable alteration, in regard to the prospects of obtaining Loans there for the United States. Such an expectation is also countenanced by a late letter from our bankers at Amsterdam, which however as yet gives no certainty, that can be a basis of operation.2

The existing instructions from this Department to mister Short do not extend beyond two millions of florins.3 A comprehensive view of the affairs of the United States, in various relations, appears to me to recommend a still further loan, if obtainable. Yet I do not think it adviseable to take the step, by virtue of the general powers from you, without your special approbation; particularly as there is little probability that the loan can be effected on better terms than five per Cent Interest and four per cent charges. The further loan which I should contemplate, would embrace 3,000,000 of florins.4 With perfect respect I am &c.

A. Hamilton

LB, DLC:GW; copy, in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers; copy (letterpress copy), in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

1France, at war with Austria and Prussia since 1792, had declared war on Great Britain and the Netherlands on 1 Feb. 1793. The French army invaded the Netherlands (United Provinces) in February 1793, but by mid-March the Austrian army had stopped the French advance and forced its retreat from Dutch territory.

2In their letter to Hamilton of 4 April 1793, the Amsterdam banking firm of Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard wrote that due to the withdrawal of French forces from the Netherlands, “confidence has begun to recover; and will probably gain ground further, so as to enable us to negotiate the Loan at Five p ct. Interest, but we cannot flatter ourselves to obtain it at a Lower rate. Should there however be a possibility to succeed at 4½ p ct, our Exertions shall not be wanting to accomplish that desirable end” (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 14:280–82). For the loan in question, see note 3.

3Hamilton had written William Short, the U.S. minister at The Hague, on 5 Nov. 1792, to try to obtain a loan for two million florins in order to meet the following payments: “On the 1st of January 1793 there will be due in Hollund 120000 florins for interest, on the 1st of February £30000 for interest and 100000 for premium, on the 1st of March 125000 for interest, on the first of June 470000 for interest and 1000000 for the first instalment of the 5000000 loan” (ibid., 13:19–22). For past U.S. loans and Hamilton’s arguments for new loans, see Hamilton to GW, 18 Mar. 1793, and notes 3–5, 10.

4For GW’s approval of new European loans, see GW to Hamilton, 27 July, and enclosure, and GW to Hamilton, 8 Aug. 1793 (two letters).

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