George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 24 January 1795

From Alexander Hamilton

Treasury Departt Jany 24th 1795.


I have the honor to send you the extract of a Letter of the 27th of December 1793 from our Commissioners in Holland, stating their having exceeded their instruction in the last Loan of 300.000 of Florins, by an allowance of 5 per Cent for charges instead of which was prescribed as a limit.1

Very much disposed to confide in the representation of those Gentlemen & believing there may be policy in not restraining their zeal by too much strictness in such a case, I submit it as my opinion, that it is expedient to go as far towards a compliance with their expectation as the Laws will warrant.2

This I consider as 4½ per Cent, which tho’ short of their standard, will evince the equitable & liberal disposition of the Executive, and a part of the emolument being their own, may prove not unsatisfactory. With perfect respect &c.

Alex. Hamilton.


1The enclosed extract has not been identified. In the letter of 27 Dec. 1793, Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard announced to Hamilton that they had “succeeded to open a Loan here for the United States of Three Millions of Florins, to be dated the 1st. January 1794, at Five per Cent Interest per Annum.” In Hamilton’s letter to the agents of 12 Aug., he had limited the charges on the new loan to 4 percent, but they explained that “it has not been practicable to effect this Business, at the Charges you limited us to: The least they ought to be is Five per Cent, and We have built most confidently upon the hope, that … You will have extended them to that rate, or that you will not hesitate doing so, upon learning and taking into Consideration what We have had to combat and vanquish to have this Loan undertaken.” Admitting “that We have no strict or positive Right, to more than Four per Cent Charges,” the agents pointed out that they had received proper recompense “when former Events tempted us likewise, to assume more than We were specifically authorized to do” to promote U.S. interests (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:231–32, 593–96). The loan was indeed for 3 million rather than 300,000 florins (see Hamilton to GW, 24 July 1793, and GW to Hamilton, 27 July 1793, enclosure).

2“An Act supplementary to the act making provision for the reduction of the Public Debt,” 3 March 1791, sanctioned a previous loan in Holland and specified that in “any farther loan … the charges … shall not exceed … four and a half per centum” (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 218–19).

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