From Alexander Hamilton
Treasy Dept August 14th 1794.
The Attorney for the District of Virginia has presented to the accounting officers of the Treasury Department, a claim against the United States for his services in attending at Norfolk by direction from the Secy of State, in order to take depositions respecting a british vessel alledged to have been taken by a french privateer within the limits of the United States; which claim has been accordingly adjusted and the sum of sixty four dollars found due to the said Attorney.1
As I know of no other fund out of which this money can be paid, and as it is highly probable that similar charges for preserving the neutrality of the United States, may be presented at the Treasury, I would beg leave to suggest to the President, whether they ought not to be discharged out of the fund of twenty thousand dollars appropriated the last session of Congress, to defray the contingent charges of Government. If the President should be of this opinion, he will be pleased to signify his approbation, as it relates to the Attorney for Virginia, upon the Comptroller’s Certificate transmitted here with.2
I have also further to observe that Mr Higginson, late Agent for the United States in the british West India Islands has in pursuance of his instructions from me, approved by The President, drawn upon the Treasurer of the United States, three bills, amounting to Three thousand nine hundred & fifty Dollars, on account of the expenses attending his mission. It will be necessary therefore, in order to honor these drafts, that the President should also authorize me to pay them out of the said fund of twenty thousand Dollars. This will be conformable with the course pursued in regard to the money advanced to him previous to his departure.3 With the most perfect respect I have the honor to be &c.
1. On 10 Nov. 1793 then-secretary of state Thomas Jefferson issued instructions to each U.S. district attorney that, on receiving information from the governor of "any arrest made of vessels captured within the limits of the United States, or of their jurisdiction as provisionally declared by the President," he was to attempt to bring the interested parties to arbitration, and if that failed, he should take depositions in the case for transmission "to the Executive" (Jefferson Papers, 27:338-40). Virginia district attorney Alexander Campbell received such notice on 18 Jan. 1794, in the case of the brig Conyngham (about that case, see Thomas Sim Lee to GW, 11 and 15 Oct. 1793; GW to Lee, 16 Oct. 1793; and Cabinet Opinion on the Conyngham and the Pilgrim, 27 March 1794). He took depositions in that case at Norfolk on 30 Jan. (Campbell to Edmund Randolph, 6 Feb., DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; see also Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:202-3). For Campbell’s account, see DNA: RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790-1894, account no. 5747.
2. The comptroller’s certificate has not been identified, but on 16 Aug., GW "Approved the paymt. of 64 dolls. out of the Contgt. fund, to Moses Myers, as due by an a/c settled at the Treasury, with the Dist. Atty. of Virginia" (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 318). The contingent fund of $20,000 was created in "An Act making appropriations for certain purposes therein expressed," 9 June 1794 (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 . 1:394-95).
3. In April, Nathaniel Cabot Higginson was appointed a special agent of the State Department and sent to the British West Indies to file appeals in British admiralty courts on behalf of American ships being held in those islands. For his instructions, see Hamilton to Higginson, 16 April (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:288-91). For the money advanced to Higginson prior to his departure, see GW to Hamilton, 16 April. Reports that Higginson had died at Dominica in July reached Philadelphia by 9 Aug. (Gazette of the United States, 9 Aug.). On 29 Sept., GW authorized Hamilton "to pay out of the Contingent fund, the sums of 3950 Dollars, & 1863 dollars to defray the expenses of Mr. Higginsons mission" (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 320). For more detail about the bills, see the statement of expenditures enclosed with GW’s message to Congress of 3 Dec. 1794 (DNA: RG 46, entry 33).