December 5, 1791
(Read the complete document.)

Communicated to the House of Representatives

The Secretary of the Treasury, in obedience to the order of the House of Representatives, of the 15th day of January, 1790, has applied his attention, at as early a period as his other duties would permit, to the subject of Manufactures, and particularly to the means of promoting such as will tend to render the United States independent on foreign nations for military and other essential supplies; and he thereupon respectfully submits the following report:

The expediency of encouraging manufactures in the United States, which was not long since deemed very questionable, appears at this time to be pretty generally admitted. The embarrassments which have obstructed the progress of our external trade, have led to serious reflections on the necessity of enlarging the sphere of our domestic commerce. The restrictive regulations, which, in foreign markets, abridge the vent of the increasing surplus of our agricultural produce, serve to beget an earnest desire that a more extensive demand for that surplus may be created at home; and the complete success which has rewarded manufacturing enterprise in some valuable branches, conspiring with the promising symptoms which attend some less mature essays in others, justify a hope that the obstacles to the growth of this species of industry are less formidable than they were apprehended to be, and that it is not difficult to find, in its further extension, a full indemnification for any external disadvantages, which are or may be experienced, as well as an accession of resources, favorable to national independence and safety.


It ought readily be conceded that the cultivation of the earth, as the primary and most certain source of national supply, as the immediate and chief source of subsistence to a man, as the principal source of those materials which constitute the nutriment of other kinds of labor, as including a state most favorable to the freedom and independence of the human mind—one, perhaps, most conducive to the multiplication of the human species, has intrinsically a strong claim to pre-eminence over every other kind of industry.

But, that it has a title to any thing like an exclusive predilection, in any country, ought to be admitted with great caution; that it is even more productive than every other branch of industry, requires more evidence than has yet been given in support of the position. That its real interests, precious and important as, without the help of exaggeration, they truly are, will be advanced, rather than injured, by the due encouragement of manufactures, may, it is believed, be satisfactorily demonstrated. And it is also believed that the expediency of such encouragement, in a general view, may be shown to be recommended by the most cogent and persuasive motives of national policy.


* But, without contending for the superior productiveness of manufacturing industry, it may conduce to a better judgment of the policy which ought to be pursued respecting its encouragement, to contemplate the subject under some additional aspects, tending not only to confirm the idea that this kind of industry has been improperly represented as unproductive in itself, but to evince, in addition, that the establishment and diffusion of manufactures have the effect of rendering the total mass of useful and productive labor, in a community, greater than it would otherwise be. In prosecuting this discussion, it may be necessary briefly to resumé and review some of the topics which have been already touched.

To affirm that the labor of the manufacturer is unproductive, because he consumes as much of the produce of land as he adds value to the raw material which he manufactures, is not better founded than it would be to affirm that the labor of the farmer, which furnishes materials to the manufacturer, is unproductive, because he consumes an equal value of manufactured articles. Each furnishes a certain portion of the produce of his labor to the other, and each destroys a corresponding portion of the produce of the labor of the other. In the meantime, the maintenance of two citizens, instead of one, is going on; the State has two members instead of one; and they, together, consume twice the value of what is produced from the land.

If, instead of a farmer and artificer, there were a farmer only, he would be under the necessity of devoting a part of his labor to the fabrication of clothing and other articles, which he would procure of the artificer, in the case of there being such a person; and of course he would be able to devote less labor to the cultivation of his farm, and would draw from it a proportionately less product. The whole quantity of production, in this state of things, in provisions, raw materials, and manufactures, would certainly not exceed in value the amount of what would be produced in provisions and raw materials only, if there were an artificer as well as a farmer.

Again, if there were both an artificer and a farmer, the latter would be left at liberty to pursue exclusively the cultivation of his farm. A greater quantity of provisions and raw materials would, of course, be produced, equal, at least, as has been already observed, to the whole amount of the provisions, raw materials, and manufactures, which would exist on a contrary supposition. The artificer, at the same time, would be going on in the production of manufactured commodities, to an amount sufficient, not only to repay the farmer, in those commodities, for the provisions and materials which were procured from him, but to furnish the artificer himself with a supply of similar commodities for his own use. Thus, then, there would be two quantities or values in existence, instead of one; and the revenue and consumption would be double, in one case, what it would be in the other.

If, in place of both of these suppositions, there were supposed to be two farmers and no artificer, each of whom applied a part of his labor to the culture of land and another part to the fabrication of manufactures; in this case, the portion of the labor of both, bestowed upon land, would produce the same quantity of provisions and raw materials only, as would be produced by the entire sum of the labor of one, applied in the same manner; and the portion of the labor of both, bestowed upon manufactures, would produce the same quantity of manufactures only, as would be produced by the entire sum of the labor of one, applied in the same manner. Hence, the produce of the labor of the two farmers would not be greater than the produce of the labor of the farmer and artificer; and hence it results, that the labor of the artificer is as positively productive as that of the farmer, and as positively augments the revenue of the society.

The labor of the artificer replaces to the farmer that portion of his labor with which he provides the materials of exchange with the artificer, and which he would otherwise have been compelled to apply to manufactures; and while the artificer thus enables the farmer to enlarge his stock of agricultural industry, a portion of which he purchases for his own use, he also supplies himself with the manufactured articles of which he stands in need. He does still more. Besides this equivalent, which he gives for the portion of agricultural labor consumed by him, and this supply of manufactured commodities for his own consumption, he furnishes still a surplus, which compensates for the use of the capital advanced, either by himself or some other person, for carrying on the business. This is the ordinary profit of the stock employed in the manufactory, and is, in every sense, as effective an addition to the income of the society as the rent of land.

The produce of the labor of the artificer, consequently, may be regarded as composed of three parts: one, by which the provisions for his subsistence and the materials for his work are purchased of the farmer; one, by which he supplies himself with manufactured necessaries; and a third, which constitutes the profit on the stock employed. The two last portions seem to have been overlooked in the system which represents manufacturing industry as barren and unproductive.

In the course of the preceding illustrations, the products of equal quantities of the labor of the farmer and artificer have been treated as if equal to each other. But this is not to be understood as intending to assert any such precise equality. It is merely a manner of expression, adopted for the sake of simplicity and perspicuity. Whether the value of the produce of the labor of the farmer be somewhat more or less than that of the artificer, is not material to the main scope of the argument, which, hitherto, has only aimed at showing that the one, as well as the other, occasions a positive augmentation of the total produce and revenue of the society.

It is now proper to proceed a step further, and to enumerate the principal circumstances from which it may be inferred that manufacturing establishments not only occasion a positive augmentation of the produce and revenue of the society, but that they contribute essentially to rendering them greater than they could possibly be without such establishments. These circumstances are:

1. The division of labor.
2. An extension of the use of machinery.
3. Additional employment to classes of the community not ordinarily engaged in the business.
4. The promoting of emigration from foreign countries.
5. The furnishing greater scope for the diversity of talents and dispositions, which discriminate men from each other.
6. The affording a more ample and various field for enterprise.
7. The creating, in some instances, a new, and securing, in all, a more certain and steady demand for the surplus produce of the soil.

Each of these circumstances has a considerable influence upon the total mass of industrious effort in a community; together, they add to it a degree of energy and effect which is not easily conceived. Some comments upon each of them, in the order in which they have been stated, may serve to explain their importance.

(Read the complete document.)


October 25, 1791

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

I meet you upon the present occasion with the feelings which are naturally inspired by a strong impression of the prosperous situations of our common country, and by a persuasion equally strong that the labors of the session which has just commenced will, under the guidance of a spirit no less prudent than patriotic, issue in measures conducive to the stability and increase of national prosperity.

Numerous as are the providential blessings which demand our grateful acknowledgments, the abundance with which another year has again rewarded the industry of the husbandman is too important to escape recollection.

Your own observations in your respective situations will have satisfied you of the progressive state of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation. In tracing their causes you will have remarked with particular pleasure the happy effects of that revival of confidence, public as well as private, to which the Constitution and laws of the United States have so eminently contributed; and you will have observed with no less interest new and decisive proofs of the increasing reputation and credit of the nation. But you nevertheless can not fail to derive satisfaction from the confirmation of these circumstances which will be disclosed in the several official communications that will be made to you in the course of your deliberations.

The rapid subscriptions to the Bank of the United States, which completed the sum allowed to be subscribed in a single day, is among the striking and pleasing evidences which present themselves, not only of confidence in the Government, but of resource in the community.

In the interval of your recess due attention has been paid to the execution of the different objects which were specially provided for by the laws and resolutions of the last session.

Among the most important of these is the defense and security of the western frontiers. To accomplish it on the most humane principles was a primary wish.

Accordingly, at the same time the treaties have been provisionally concluded and other proper means used to attach the wavering and to confirm in their friendship the well-disposed tribes of Indians, effectual measures have been adopted to make those of a hostile description sensible that a pacification was desired upon terms of moderation and justice.

Those measures having proved unsuccessful, it became necessary to convince the refractory of the power of the United States to punish their depredations. Offensive operations have therefore been directed, to be conducted, however, as consistently as possible with the dictates of humanity.

Some of these have been crowned with full success and others are yet depending. The expeditions which have been completed were carried on under the authority and at the expense of the United States by the militia of Kentucky, whose enterprise, intrepidity, and good conduct are entitled of peculiar commendation.

Overtures of peace are still continued to the deluded tribes, and considerable numbers of individuals belonging to them have lately renounced all further opposition, removed from their former situations, and placed themselves under the immediate protection of the United States.

It is sincerely to be desired that all need of coercion in future may cease and that an intimate intercourse may succeed, calculated to advance the happiness of the Indians and to attach them firmly to the United States.

In order to this it seems necessary -

That they should experience the benefits of an impartial dispensation of justice.

That the mode of alienating their lands, the main source of discontent and war, should be so defined and regulated as to obviate imposition and as far as may be practicable controversy concerning the reality and extent of the alienations which are made.

That commerce with them should be promoted under regulations tending to secure an equitable deportment toward them, and that such rational experiments should be made for imparting to them the blessings of civilization as may from time to time suit their condition.

That the Executive of the United States should be enabled to employ the means to which the Indians have been long accustomed for uniting their immediate interests with the preservation of peace.

And that efficacious provision should be made for inflicting adequate penalties upon all those who, by violating their rights, shall infringe the treaties and endanger the peace of the Union.

A system corresponding with the mild principles of religion and philanthropy toward an unenlightened race of men, whose happiness materially depends on the conduct of the United States, would be as honorable to the national character as conformable to the dictates of sound policy.

The powers specially vested in me by the act laying certain duties on distilled spirits, which respect the subdivisions of the districts into surveys, the appointment of officers, and the assignment of compensations, have likewise carried into effect. In a manner in which both materials and experience were wanting to guide the calculation it will be readily conceived that there must have been difficulty in such an adjustment of the rates of compensation as would conciliate a reasonable competency with a proper regard to the limits prescribed by the law. It is hoped that the circumspection which has been used will be found in the result to have secured that last two objects; but it is probable that with a view to the first in some instances a revision of the provision will be found advisable.

The impressions with which this law has been received by the community have been upon the whole such as were to be expected among enlightened and well-disposed citizens from the propriety and necessity of the measure. The novelty, however, of the tax in a considerable part of the United States and a misconception of some of its provisions have given occasion in particular places to some degree of discontent; but it is satisfactory to know that this disposition yields to proper explanations and more just apprehensions of the true nature of the law, and I entertain a full confidence that it will in all give way to motives which arise out of a just sense of duty and a virtuous regard to the public welfare.

If there are any circumstances in the law which consistently with its main design may be so varied as to remove any well-intentioned objections that may happen to exist, it will consist with a wise moderation to make the proper variations. It is desirable on all occasions to unite with a steady and firm adherence to constitutional and necessary acts of Government the fullest evidence of a disposition as far as may be practicable to consult the wishes of every part of the community and to lay the foundations of the public administration in the affections of the people.

Pursuant to the authority contained in the several acts on that subject, a district of 10 miles square for the permanent seat of the Government of the United State has been fixed and announced by proclamation, which district will comprehend lands on both sides of the river Potomac and the towns of Alexandria and Georgetown. A city has also been laid out agreeably to a plan which will be placed before Congress, and as there is a prospect, favored by the rate of sales which have already taken place, of ample funds for carrying on the necessary public buildings, there is every expectation of their due progress.

The completion of the census of the inhabitants, for which provision was made by law, has been duly notified (excepting one instance in which the return has been informal, and another in which it has been omitted or miscarried), and the returns of the officers who were charged with this duty, which will be laid before you, will give you the pleasing assurance that the present population of the United States borders on 4,000,000 persons.

It is proper also to inform you that a further loan of 2,500,000 florins has been completed in Holland, the terms of which are similar to those of the one last announced, except as to a small reduction of charges. Another, on like terms, for 6,000,000 florins, had been set on foot under circumstances that assured an immediate completion.
Gentlemen of the Senate:

Two treaties which have been provisionally concluded with the Cherokees and Six Nations of Indians will be laid before you for your consideration and ratification.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

In entering upon the discharge of your legislative trust you must anticipate with pleasure that many of the difficulties necessarily incident to the first arrangements of a new government for an extensive country have been happily surmounted by the zealous and judicious exertions of your predecessors in cooperation with the other branch of the Legislature. The important objects which remain to be accomplished will, I am persuaded, be conducted upon principles equally comprehensive and equally well calculated of the advancement of the general weal.

The time limited for receiving subscriptions to the loans proposed by the act making provision for the debt of the United States having expired, statements from the proper department will as soon as possible apprise you of the exact result. Enough, however, is known already to afford an assurance that the views of that act have been substantially fulfilled. The subscription in the domestic debt of the United States has embraced by far the greatest proportion of that debt, affording at the same time proof of the general satisfaction of the public creditors with the system which has been proposed to their acceptance and of the spirit of accommodation to the convenience of the Government with which they are actuated. The subscriptions in the debts of the respective States as far as the provisions of the law have permitted may be said to be yet more general. The part of the debt of the United States which remains unsubscribed will naturally engage your further deliberations.

It is particularly pleasing to me to be able to announce to you that the revenues which have been established promise to be adequate to their objects, and may be permitted, if no unforeseen exigency occurs, to supersede for the present the necessity of any new burthens upon our constituents.

An object which will claim your early attention is a provision for the current service of the ensuing year, together with such ascertained demands upon the Treasury as require to be immediately discharged, and such casualties as may have arisen in the execution of the public business, for which no specific appropriation may have yet been made; of all which a proper estimate will be laid before you.
Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

I shall content myself with a general reference to former communications for several objects upon which the urgency of other affairs has hitherto postponed any definitive resolution. Their importance will recall them to your attention, and I trust that the progress already made in the most arduous arrangements of the Government will afford you leisure to resume them to advantage.

These are, however, some of them of which I can not forbear a more particular mention. These are the militia, the post office and post roads, the mint, weights and measures, a provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States.

The first is certainly an object of primary importance whether viewed in reference to the national security to the satisfaction of the community or to the preservation of order. In connection with this the establishment of competent magazines and arsenals and the fortification of such places as are peculiarly important and vulnerable naturally present themselves to consideration. The safety of the United States under divine protection ought to rest on the basis of systematic and solid arrangements, exposed as little as possible to the hazards of fortuitous circumstances.

The importance of the post office and post roads on a plan sufficiently liberal and comprehensive, as they respect the expedition, safety, and facility of communication, is increased by their instrumentality in diffusing a knowledge of the laws and proceedings of the Government, which, while it contributes to the security of the people, serves also to guard them against the effects of misrepresentation and misconception. The establishment of additional cross posts, especially to some of the important points in the Western and Northern parts of the Union, can not fail to be of material utility.

The disorders in the existing currency, and especially the scarcity of small change, a scarcity so peculiarly distressing to the poorer classes, strongly recommend the carrying into immediate effect the resolution already entered into concerning the establishment of a mint. Measures have been taken pursuant to that resolution for procuring some of the most necessary artists, together with the requisite apparatus.

An uniformity in the weights and measures of the country is among the important objects submitted to you by the Constitution, and if it can be derived from a standard at once invariable and universal, must be no less honorable to the public councils than conducive to the public convenience.

A provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States is particularly urged, among other reasons, by the important considerations that they are pledged as a fund for reimbursing the public debt; that if timely and judiciously applied they may save the necessity of burthening our citizens with new taxes for the extinguishment of the principal; and that being free to discharge the principal but in a limited proportion, no opportunity ought to be lost for availing the public of its right.


Philadelphia, August 30, 1791

My dear Sir,—

I received some time ago your favor of July 29th, and was happy to find that you saw, in its true point of view, the way in which I had been drawn into the scene which must have been so disagreeable to you. The importance which you still seem to allow to my note, and the effect you suppose it to have had, though unintentional in me, induce me to show you, that it really had no effect. Paine’s pamphlet, with my note, was published here about the second week in May; not a word ever appeared in the public papers here on the subject for more than a month, and I am certain not a word on the subject would ever have been said, had not a writer, under the name of Publicola, at length undertaken to attack Mr. Paine’s principles, which were the principles of the citizens of the United States. Instantly a host of writers attacked Publicola, in support of those principles. He had thought proper to misconstrue a figurative expression in my note, and these writers so far noticed me as to place the expression in its true light; but this was only an incidental skirmish, preliminary to the general engagement, and they would not have thought me worth naming, had not he thought proper to bring me on the scene.2 His antagonist, very criminally, in my opinion, presumed you to be Publicola, and on that presumption hazarded a personal attack on you. No person saw with more uneasiness than I did this unjustifiable assault, and the more so, when I saw it continued after the printer had declared you were not the author. But you will perceive from all this, my dear Sir, that my note contributed nothing to the production of these disagreeable pieces. As long as Paine’s pamphlet stood on its own feet and on my note, it was unnoticed. As soon as Publicola attacked Paine, swarms appeared in his defence. To Publicola, then, and not in the least degree to my note, this whole contest is to be ascribed, and all its consequences.

You speak of the execrable paragraph in the Connecticut paper. This, it is true, appeared before Publicola, but it had no more relation to Paine’s pamphlet and my note than to the Alcoran. I am satisfied the writer of it had never seen either; for when I passed through Connecticut about the middle of June, not a copy had ever been seen by anybody, either in Hartford or New Haven, nor probably in that whole State; and that paragraph was so notoriously the reverse of the disinterestedness of character which you are known to possess, by everybody who knows your name, that I never heard a person speak of the paragraph but with an indignation in your behalf, which did you entire justice. This paragraph, then, certainly did not flow from my note, any more than the publications which Publicola produced. Indeed, it was impossible that my note should occasion your name to be brought into question; for, so far from naming you, I had not even in view any writing which I might suppose to be yours,2 and the opinions I alluded to were principally those I had heard in common conversation from a sect aiming at the subversion of the present government to bring in their favorite form of a King, Lords, and Commons.

Thus, I hope, my dear Sir, that you will see me to have been as innocent in effect as I was in intention. I was brought before the public without my own consent, and from the first moment of seeing the effort of the real aggressor in this business, to keep me before the public, I determined that nothing should induce me to put pen to paper in the controversy. The business is now over, and I hope its effects are over, and that our friendship will never be suffered to be committed, whatever use others may think proper to make of our names.

The event of the King’s flight from Paris, and his recapture, will have struck you with its importance. It appears, I think, that the nation is firm within, and it only remains to see whether there will be any movement from without. I confess, I have not changed my confidence in the favorable issue of that revolution, because it has always rested on my own ocular evidence of the unanimity of the nation, and wisdom of the patriotic party in the national assembly. The last advices render it probable that the Emperor will recommence hostilities against the Porte; it remains to see whether England and Prussia will take a part.

Present me to Mrs. Adams with all the affections I feel for her, and be assured of those devoted to yourself by, my dear Sir, your sincere friend and servant.

Thomas Jefferson.


Braintree, July 29, 1791

Dear Sir,—

Yesterday, at Boston, I received your friendly letter of July 17th with great pleasure. I give full credit to your relation of the manner in which your note was written and prefixed to the Philadelphia edition of Mr. Paine’s pamphlet on the Rights of Man; but the misconduct of the person who committed this breach of your confidence, by making it public, whatever were his intentions, has sown the seeds of more evils than he can ever atone for. The pamphlet, with your name to so striking a recommendation of it, was not only industriously propagated in New York and Boston, but, that the recommendation might be known to every one, was reprinted with great care in the newspapers, and was generally considered as a direct and open personal attack upon me, by countenancing the false interpretation of my writings, as favoring the introduction of hereditary monarchy and aristocracy into this country. The question everywhere was, what heresies are intended by the secretary of State? The answer in the newspapers was, “The Vice-President’s notions of a limited monarchy, an hereditary government of King and Lords, with only elective Commons.” Emboldened by these murmurs, soon after appeared the paragraphs of an unprincipled libeller in the New Haven Gazette, carefully reprinted in the papers of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, holding up the Vice-President to the ridicule of the world for his meanness, and to their detestation for wishing to subjugate the people to a few nobles. These were soon followed by a formal speech of the lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts, very solemnly holding up the idea of hereditary powers, and cautioning the public against them, as if they were at that moment in the most imminent danger of them. These things were all accompanied with the most marked neglect, both of the governor and lieutenant-governor of this State, towards me; and all together served as a hue and cry to all my enemies and rivals, to the old constitutional faction of Pennsylvania, in concert with the late insurgents of Massachusetts, both of whom consider my writings as the cause of their overthrow, to hunt me down like a hare, if they could. For this state of things Publicola, who, I suppose, thought that Mr. Paine’s pamphlet was made use of as an instrument to destroy a man for whom he had a regard, whom he thought innocent, and, in the present moment, of some importance to the public, came forward. You declare very explicitly that you never did, by yourself or by any other, have a sentence of yours inserted in a newspaper without your name to it. And I with equal frankness declare that I never did, either by myself or by any other, have a sentence of mine inserted in any newspaper since I left Philadelphia. I neither wrote nor corrected Publicola. The writer, in the composition of his pieces, followed his own judgment, information, and discretion, without any assistance from me.

You observe, “that you and I differ in our ideas of the best form of government, is well known to us both.” But, my dear Sir, you will give me leave to say that I do not know this. I know not what your idea is of the best form of government. You and I have never had a serious conversation together, that I can recollect, concerning the nature of government. The very transient hints that have ever passed between us have been jocular and superficial, without ever coming to an explanation. If you suppose that I have, or ever had, a design or desire of attempting to introduce a government of King, Lords, and Commons, or in other words, an hereditary executive, or an hereditary senate, either into the government of the United States or that of any individual State, you are wholly mistaken. There is not such a thought expressed or intimated in any public writing or private letter, and I may safely challenge all mankind to produce such a passage, and quote the chapter and verse. If you have ever put such a construction on any thing of mine, I beg you would mention it to me, and I will undertake to convince you that it has no such meaning.

Upon this occasion I will venture to say, that my unpolished writings, although they have been read by a sufficient number of persons to have assisted in crushing the insurrection of the Massachusetts, in the formation of the new constitutions of Pennsylvania, Georgia, and South Carolina, and in procuring the assent of all the States to the new national constitution, yet have not been read by great numbers. Of the few who have taken the pains to read them, some have misunderstood them, and others have wilfully misrepresented them, and these misunderstandings and misrepresentations have been made the pretence for overwhelming me with floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous abuse, unexampled in the history of this country.

It is thought by some, that Mr. Hancock’s friends are preparing the way, by my destruction, for his election to the place of Vice-President, and that of Mr. Samuel Adams to be Governor of this commonwealth; and then the Stone House faction will be sure of all the loaves and fishes, in the national government and the State government, as they hope. The opposers of the present constitution of Pennsylvania, the promoters of Shays’s rebellion and county resolves, and many of the detesters of the present national government, will undoubtedly assist them. Many people think, too, that no small share of a foreign influence, in revenge for certain intractable conduct at the treaty of peace, is and will be intermingled. The janissaries of this goodly combination, among whom are three or four who hesitate at no falsehood, have written all the impudence and impertinence which have appeared in the Boston papers upon this memorable occasion. I must own to you, that the daring traits of ambition and intrigue, and those unbridled rivalries, which have already appeared, are the most melancholy and alarming symptoms that I have ever seen in this country; and if they are to be encouraged to proceed in their course, the sooner I am relieved from the competition, the happier I shall be.

I thank you, Sir, very sincerely for writing to me upon this occasion. It was high time that you and I should come to an explanation with each other. The friendship that has subsisted for fifteen years without the smallest interruption, and, until this occasion without the slightest suspicion, ever has been and still is very dear to my heart. There is no office which I would not resign, rather than give a just occasion to one friend to forsake me. Your motives for writing to me I have not a doubt were the most pure and the most friendly; and I have no suspicion that you will not receive this explanation from me in the same friendly light.


Philadelphia, July 17, 1791

Dear Sir,—

I have a dozen times taken up my pen to write to you, and as often laid it down again, suspended between opposing considerations. I determine, however, to write, from a conviction that truth between candid minds can never do harm. The first of Paine’s pamphlets on the Rights of Man, which came to hand here, belonged to Mr. Beckley. He lent it to Mr. Madison, who lent it to me; and, while I was reading it, Mr. Beckley called on me for it, and as I had not finished it, he desired me, as soon as I should have done so, to send it to Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, whose brother meant to reprint it. I finished reading it, and, as I had no acquaintance with Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, propriety required that I should explain to him why I, a stranger to him, sent him the pamphlet. I accordingly wrote a note of compliment, informing him that I did it at the desire of Mr. Beckley, and, to take off a little of the dryness of the note, I added that I was glad it was to be reprinted here, and that something was to be publicly said against the political heresies which had sprung up among us, &c. I thought so little of this note, that I did not even keep a copy of it; nor ever heard a tittle more of it, till, the week following, I was thunderstruck with seeing it come out at the head of the pamphlet. I hoped, however, it would not attract notice; but I found, on my return from a journey of a month, that a writer came forward, under the signature of Publicola, attacking not only the author and principles of the pamphlet, but myself as its sponsor, by name. Soon after came hosts of other writers, defending the pamphlet, and attacking you by name, as the writer of Publicola. Thus were our names thrown on the public stage, as public antagonists. That you and I differ in our ideas of the best form of government, is well known to us both; but we have differed as friends should do, respecting the purity of each other’s motives, and confining our difference of opinion to private conversation; and I can declare with truth, in the presence of the Almighty, that nothing was further from my intention or expectation than to have had either my own or your name brought before the public on this occasion. The friendship and confidence which has so long existed between us, required this explanation from me, and I know you too well to fear any misconstruction of the motives of it. Some people who would wish me to be, or to be thought, guilty of improprieties, have suggested that I was Agricola, that I was Brutus, &c., &c. I never did in my life, either by myself or by any other, have a sentence of mine inserted in a newspaper, without putting my name to it; and I believe I never shall.

While the Empress is refusing peace under a mediation, unless Oczakow and its territory be ceded to her, she is offering peace on the perfect statu quo to the Porte, if they will conclude it without a mediation. France has struck a severe blow at our navigation by a difference of duty on tobacco carried in our and their ships, and by taking from foreign built ships the capability of naturalization. She has placed our whale oil on rather a better footing than ever, by consolidating the duties into a single one of six livres. They amounted before to some sous over that sum. I am told (I know not how truly) that England has prohibited our spermaceti oil altogether, and will prohibit our wheat till the price there is 52s. the quarter, which it almost never is. We expect hourly to hear the true event of General Scott’s expedition. Reports give favorable hopes of it. Be so good as to present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Adams, and to accept assurances of the sentiments of sincere esteem and respect, with which I am, dear Sir,
Your friend and servant,

Thomas Jefferson.


June 19, 1791


I have been duly honored with your letter of the 13th inst., from Mount Vernon; and, according to your desire have informed Mr. Wolcott of your intention to appoint him Comptroller. This appointment gives me particular pleasure, as I am confident it will be a great and real improvement in the state of the Treasury Department. There can no material inconvenience attend the postponing a decision concerning the future Auditor till your arrival in this city.

I am very happy to learn that the circumstances of your journey have been in all respects so favorable. It has certainly been a particularly fortunate one, and I doubt not it will have been of real utility.

There is nothing which can be said to be new here worth communicating, except generally that all my accounts from Europe, both private and official, concur in proving that the impressions now entertained of our government and its affairs (I may say) throughout that quarter of the globe, are of a nature the most flattering and pleasing.


Philadelphia, June 10, 1791

My dear Sir,—

I embrace the occasion of inclosing some letters, to thank you and Mrs. Adams for the comfortable accommodation of your house at Bush Hill. While the inhabitants of this city are panting for breath, like a hunted hare, we experience in the hall at Bush Hill a delightful and animated breeze.

The paragraphs in the Connecticut and New York papers, relative to your journey, indicate envy and blackness of heart. Who the author of these articles is, I know not, and it is quite immaterial. But eminence must be taxed.

Perhaps the “political heresies,” mentioned in the preface to the American edition of Paine’s pamphlet, as coming from a more respectable quarter, may occasion some uneasiness. But the author has assured me, that the note he wrote to the printer never was intended for publication, but as a sort of apology for having detained the book, which was a borrowed one, longer than the impatience of the printer would admit.

But, if the idea was aimed at your doctrines, it ought not to create a moment’s pain. Conscious, as you are, of the invariable pursuit of the public happiness, regulated by the sober standard of reason, it is not the desultory ebullition of this or that man’s mind, that can divert you from your object. For while human nature shall continue its course according to its primary principles, there will be a difference of judgment upon the same objects, even among good men.

The President is expected to arrive here about the 23d or 25th instant, but there is no information from him since the 16th of May. He has been perfectly received according to the abilities of the places through which he has passed.

The Indian campaign must go forward. We have marched and shall march by the latter end of this month two thousand eight hundred men. This force will be adequate, with the addition of the troops already on the frontiers.
I am, &c.

H. Knox.


Philadelphia, April 25, 1791

Dear Sir,—

I do myself the honor to transmit to you my accounts which remain unsettled, for the last two years and eight months of my administrations abroad in the service of the United States. I have left a blank for my salary. In my own opinion it is but justice that it should be filled up with the sum of two thousand five hundred pounds sterling a year, because this was the contract under which I accepted my commission for the peace in 1779, and that for their High Mightinesses in 1781, which last continued in force until my return home. The resolution of Congress, which stated the salary of a minister abroad at nine thousand dollars, could not reasonably be intended to operate upon ministers and commissions which had been given and accepted upon different conditions. Such an interpretation of it would make it amount to a breach of public faith. Moreover, I have been well informed by Mr. Gerry, who proposed the alteration, that the reason of this resolution was a supposition that, in that time of peace, the expenses of living in Europe were reduced. This motive was so far from being a just one, as applied to me, that I found the expenses of living in London about a quarter part dearer than I had ever known them in Paris or the Hague. This, therefore, was rather a reason for raising my salary to three thousand pounds sterling a year, which I actually spent, than for reducing it to nine thousand dollars. I have been informed by Mr. Barclay that Dr. Franklin charged, and has been allowed, two thousand five hundred pounds sterling a year till his return, and as I am in the same predicament with him, it is at least as just that it should be allowed to me; indeed, it is more so, because I certainly was obliged to spend more than that sum, and he undoubtedly spent less.

I have also requested an allowance for a private secretary. As the business of my mission to Holland, as well as that to England, lay upon me, in addition to my share in all the negotiations with Prussia and the other powers of Europe, as well as the Barbary States, it may readily be conceived that I had a great deal of business and still more writing to do, as copies of all such correspondences must be preserved, and therefore I hope the charge for a private secretary will not be thought unreasonable.

An allowance is asked also for one ministerial or diplomatic entertainment for each year. This is done for three reasons: 1. because it is the custom of the whole Corps Diplomatique; 2. because it seems to be a reasonable custom; and 3. because Mr. Franklin has charged and been allowed for all extraordinary entertainments, as I suppose, as he told me he had charged them or should charge them.

An outfit I have asked for, amounting to one year’s salary. This will be but a very inadequate compensation to me, for the extraordinary expenses I was put to by the variety of services and multiplicity of commissions which were heaped upon me. My case is singular, and distinguished from that of every other gentleman who has ever been sent abroad in the service of the United States. In 1779, Congress sent me abroad, with two commissions, one to negotiate a peace, and another to his Britannic Majesty to negotiate a treaty of commerce with that power. Under these commissions I went to Paris, and resided there, which obliged me to take a house or apartments ready furnished, and establish a household, equipage, and set of servants there. In 1780, Congress sent me a commission to borrow money in Holland, to the amount of ten millions of dollars. This obliged me to live in Holland. In 1781, Congress sent me a commission to treat with that republic, and a letter of credence to the States-General. This obliged me to hire a house and completely furnish it, because there was no such thing to be hired in Holland as furniture, as might be done and was done by Mr. Deane, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and myself at Paris. My commission for the peace obliged me to make journeys to Versailles. My commission for borrowing money not only augmented my expenses, but gave me more trouble and occasioned more labor and perplexity than all the other services. The frequent removals from one country to another, the continual change of servants and liveries, the wear and tear of baggage, and destruction of furniture, beside the perpetual plunder I was subjected to in my absence from my house in one country, while attending my duty in another, have wasted and consumed my salary in such a manner, that my family must be deprived of that reward for my time, trouble, risk, and services, which all of us were entitled to, and which some may have been happy enough honestly to secure. I say all of us were entitled to it, because Congress, on the 28th September, 1776, resolved, that their ministers should live in such a style and manner as they might find suitable and necessary to support the dignity of their public character, and that, besides their actual expenses, a handsome allowance be made to each of them, as a compensation for their time, trouble, risk, and services.

If the articles I have submitted are allowed me, difficult as it will be to justify myself to my family, I shall be content; but if not, I must crave an allowance of one half per cent., as commissions on nine millions of guilders, by me borrowed in Holland for the United States. When Congress allows four per cent. to the houses of Willink and Van Staphorst, and their undertakers, upon all these loans, which has already amounted to a handsome fortune to each house, it would be extremely hard and unreasonable to oblige me, who had more trouble with every one of these loans than those houses had—nay, who had more trouble with the first of them than they have had with the whole—not only to do this whole business for nothing, but live at my own expense while I did it. This must be my hard fate, if nothing can be allowed me as commissions, nor for extraordinary services. Considerable sums were spent by me, at times, for secret services, and other sums, to no small amount, were advanced to Americans in distress, some of them in prison, and others escaped; but, as I have no vouchers for these and I suppose Congress would not be willing to set a precedent, I make no charge for them, although they were advanced out of my own money—part of my salary. Let me ask the favor of you, Sir, to look over these accounts, and then present them to the auditor, that they may be settled in some way or other by the next session of Congress. With great esteem I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

John Adams.


April 17, 1791

You will probably recollect that previous to your departure from this place, anticipating the event which has taken place with regard to the death of Mr. Everleigh, I took the liberty to mention to you that Mr. Wolcott, the present Auditor, would be in every respect worthy of your consideration as his successor in office.

Now that the event has happened, a concern as anxious as it was natural for the success of the department, united with a sentiment of justice towards Mr. Wolcott, leads me to a repetition of that idea. This gentleman’s conduct in the station he now fills has been that of an excellent officer. It has not only been good, but distinguished. It has combined all the requisites which can be desired: moderation with firmness, liberality with exactness, indefatigable industry with an accurate and sound discernment, a thorough knowledge of business, and a remarkable spirit of order and arrangement. Indeed, I ought to say that I owe very much of whatever success may have attended the merely executive operations of the department to Mr. Wolcott; and I do not fear to commit myself when I add that he possesses in an eminent degree all the qualifications desirable in a Comptroller of the Treasury—that it is scarcely possible to find a man in the United States more competent to the duties of that station than himself; few who could be equally so. It may be truly said of him that he is a man of rare merit, and I have good evidence that he has been viewed in this light by the members of Congress extensively from different quarters of the Union, and is so considered by all that part of the public who have had opportunities of witnessing his conduct.

The immediate relation, too, which his present situation bears to that of Comptroller is a strong argument in his favor. Though a regular gradation of office is not admissible in a strict sense in regard to offices of a civil nature, and is wholly inapplicable to those of the first rank (such as the heads of the great executive departments), yet a certain regard to the relation which one situation bears to another is consonant with the natural ideas of justice, and is recommended by powerful considerations of policy. The expectation of promotion in civil as in military life is a great stimulus to virtuous exertion, while examples of unrewarded exertion, supported by talent and qualification, are proportionable discour agements. Where they do not produce resignations they leave men dissatisfied, and a dissatisfied man seldom does his duty well.

In a government like ours, where pecuniary compensations are moderate, the principle of gradual advancement as a reward for good conduct is perhaps more necessary to be attended to than in others where offices are more lucrative. By due attention to it it will operate as a means to secure respectable men for offices of inferior emolument and consequence.

In addition to the rest, Mr. Wolcott’s experience in this particular line pleads powerfully in his favor. This experience may be dated back to his office of Comptroller of the State of Connecticut, and has been perfected by practice in his present place.

A question may perhaps, sir, arise in your mind, whether some inconvenience may not attend his removal from his present office. I am of opinion that no sensible inconvenience will be felt on this score, since it will be easy for him as Comptroller, who is the immediate superior of the Auditor, to form any man of business for the office he will leave, in a short period of time. More inconvenience would be felt by the introduction of a Comptroller not in the immediate train of the business.

Besides this, it may be observed that a degree of inconvenience on this score cannot be deemed an obstacle, but upon the principle which would bar the progress of merit from one station to another.

On this point of inconvenience a reflection occurs, which I think I ought not to suppress. Mr. Wolcott is a man of sensibility, not unconscious of his own value, and he doubtless must believe that he has pretensions from situation to the office. Should another be appointed, and he resign, the derangement of the department would truly be distressing to the public service.

In suggesting thus particularly the reasons which in my mind operate in favor of Mr. Wolcott, I am influenced by information that other characters will be brought to your view by weighty advocates, and as I think it more than possible that Mr. Wolcott may not be mentioned to you by any other person than myself, I feel it a duty arising out of my situation in the department, to bear my full and explicit testimony to his worth, confident that he will justify by every kind of substantial merit any mark of your approbation which he may receive.

I trust, sir, that in thus freely disclosing my sentiments to you, you will be persuaded that I only yield to the suggestions of an honest zeal for the public good, and of a firm conviction that the prosperity of the department under my particular care (one so interesting to the aggregate movements of the government) will be best promoted by transferring the present Auditor to the office of Comptroller of the Treasury.


The Secretary of the Treasury presents his respects to the President, and sends him the opinion required, which occupied him the greatest part of last night.

The bill for extending the time of opening subscriptions passed yesterday unanimously to an order for engrossing.

Opinion as to the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States

February 23, 1791.
(Read complete document.)

The Secretary of the Treasury having perused with attention the papers containing the opinions of the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General, concerning the constitutionality of the bill for establishing a national bank, proceeds, according to the order of the President, to submit the reasons which have induced him to entertain a different opinion.

It will naturally have been anticipated, that in performing this task he would feel uncommon solicitude. Personal considerations alone, arising from the reflection that the measure originated with him, would be sufficient to produce it. The sense which he has manifested of the great importance of such an institution to the successful administration of the department under his particular care, and an expectation of serious ill consequences to result from a failure of the measure, do not permit him to be without anxiety on public accounts. But the chief solicitude arises from a firm persuasion, that principles of construction like those espoused by the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General would be fatal to the just and indispensable authority of the United States.

In entering upon the argument, it ought to be premised that the objections of the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General are founded on a general denial of the authority of the United States to erect corporations. The latter, indeed, expressly admits, that if there be anything in the bill which is not warranted by the Constitution, it is the clause of incorporation.

Now it appears to the Secretary of the Treasury that this general principle is inherent in the very definition of government, and essential to every step of the progress to be made by that of the United States, namely: That every power vested in a government is in its nature sovereign, and includes, by force of the term, a right to employ all the means requisite and fairly applicable to the attainment of the ends of such power, and which are not precluded by restrictions and exceptions specified in the Constitution, or not immoral, or not contrary to the essential ends of political society.

This principle, in its application to government in general, would be admitted as an axiom; and it will be incumbent upon those who may incline to deny it, to prove a distinction, and to show that a rule which, in the general system of things, is essential to the preservation of the social order, is inapplicable to the United States.

The circumstance that the powers of sovereignty are in this country divided between the National and State governments, does not afford the distinction required. It does not follow from this, that each of the portion of powers delegated to the one or to the other, is not sovereign with regard to its proper objects. It will only follow from it, that each has sovereign power as to certain things, and not as to other things. To deny that the Government of the United States has sovereign power, as to its declared purposes and trusts, because its power does not extend to all cases, would be equally to deny that the State governments have sovereign power in any case, because their power does not extend to every case. The tenth section of the first article of the Constitution exhibits a long list of very important things which they may not do. And thus the United States would furnish the singular spectacle of a political society without sovereignty, or of a people governed, without government.

If it would be necessary to bring proof to a proposition so clear, as that which affirms that the powers of the Federal Government, as to its objects, were sovereign, there is a clause of its Constitution which would be decisive. It is that which declares that the Constitution, and the laws of the United States made in pursuance of it, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority, shall be the supreme law of the land. The power which can create the supreme law of the land in any case, is doubtless sovereign as to such case.

This general and indisputable principle puts at once an end to the abstract question, whether the United States have power to erect a corporation; that is to say, to give a legal or artificial capacity to one or more persons, distinct from the natural. For it is unquestionably incident to sovereign power to erect corporations, and consequently to that of the United States, in relation to the objects intrusted to the management of the government. The difference is this: where the authority of the government is general, it can create corporations in all cases; where it is confined to certain branches of legislation, it can create corporations only in those cases.

Here, then, as far as concerns the reasonings of the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General, the affirmative of the constitutionality of the bill might be permitted to rest. It will occur to the President, that the principle here advanced has been untouched by either of them.

For a more complete elucidation of the point, nevertheless, the arguments which they had used against the power of the government to erect corporations, however foreign they are to the great and fundamental rule which has been stated, shall be particularly examined. And after showing that they do not tend to impair its force, it shall also be shown that the power of incorporation, incident to the government in certain cases, does fairly extend to the particular case which is the object of the bill.

(Read complete document.)


Philadelphia, February 16, 1791


An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States is now before me for consideration.

The constitutionality of it is objected to. It therefore becomes more particularly my duty to examine the ground on which the objection is built. As a means of investigation, I have called upon the Attorney-General of the United States, in whose line it seemed more particularly to be, for his official examination and opinion. His report is, that the Constitution does not warrant the act. I then applied to the Secretary of State for his sentiments on this subject. These coincide with the Attorney-General’s; and the reasons for their opinions having been submitted in writing, I now require, in like manner, yours on the validity and propriety of the above-recited act; and, that you may know the points on which the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General dispute the constitutionality of the act, and that I may be fully possessed of the arguments for and against the measure, before I express any opinion of my own, I give you an opportunity of examining and answering the objections contained in the enclosed papers. I require the return of them when your own sentiments are handed to me (which I wish may be as soon as is convenient); and further, that no copies of them be taken, as it is for my own satisfaction they have been called for.


January 18, 1791

My Dear Sir:

I have learnt with infinite pain the circumstances of a new bank having started up in your city. Its effects cannot but be in every way pernicious. These extravagant sallies of speculation do injury to the government and to the whole system of public credit, by disgusting all sober citizens and giving a wild air to every thing. ’t is impossible but that three great banks in one city must raise such a mass of artificial credit as must endanger every one of them, and do harm in every view.

I sincerely hope that the Bank of New York will listen to no coalition with this newly engendered monster; a better alliance, I am strongly persuaded, will be brought about for it, and the joint force of two solid institutions will, without effort or violence, remove the excrescence which has just appeared, and which I consider as a dangerous tumor in your political and commercial economy.

I express myself in these strong terms to you confidentially, not that I have any objection to my opinion being known as to the nature and tendency of the thing.


January 13, 1791

Dear Sir:—I thank you for the printed papers you have been so obliging as to send.

I cannot forbear a conjecture that the communications of the Chargé des Affaires of France are rather expedients to improve a moment in which it is perceived questions concerning navigation are to be discussed, than the effects of serious instructions from his court.

Be this as it may, I really have not thought of any substitute for your proposition to which objections do not lie. And, in general, I have doubts of the eligibility of ex-parte concessions, liable to be resumed at pleasure. I had rather endeavor, by a new treaty of commerce with France, to extend reciprocal advantages, and fix them on a permanent basis. This would not only be more solid, but it would, perhaps, be less likely, than apparently gratuitous and voluntary exemptions, to beget discontents elsewhere, especially (as ought to be the case) if each party should be at liberty, for equivalent considerations, to grant like privileges to others. My commercial system turns very much on giving a free course to trade, and cultivating good humor with all the world. And I feel a particular reluctance to hazard any thing, in the present state of our affairs, which may lead to a commercial warfare with any Power; which, as far as my knowledge of examples extends, is commonly productive of mutual inconvenience and injury, and of dispositions tending to a worse kind of warfare. Exemptions and preferences which are not the effect of treaty, are apt to be regarded by those who do not partake in them as proofs of an unfriendly temper towards them.


Philadelphia, January 11, 1791

Dear Sir:—I have perused with attention your intended report to the President, and will, as I am sure is your wish, give you my opinion with frankness.

As far as a summary examination enables me to judge, I agree in your interpretation of the treaty. The exemption sought does not appear to be claimable as a right. But I am not equally well satisfied of the policy of granting it on the ground you suggest. This, in my mind, stands in a very questionable shape. Though there be a collateral consideration, there is a want of reciprocity in the thing itself; and this is a circumstance which materially affects the general policy of our navigation system. The tendency of the measure would be to place French vessels upon an equal footing with our own in our ports, while our vessels in the ports of France may be subjected to all the duties which are there laid on the mass of foreign vessels. I say the mass of foreign vessels, because the title of “most favored nation” is a very extensive one, the terms being almost words of course in commercial treaties. And consequently our own vessels in the carrying trade between the United States and France would be in a worse situation than French vessels. This is the necessary result of equal privileges on one side and unequal on the other, in favor of the vessels of France.

Though, in the present state of the French navigation, little would be to be apprehended from the regulation; yet, when the probable increase of that navigation under a free government is considered, it can hardly be deemed safe to calculate future consequences from the actual situation in this respect.

And if the principle of the regulation cannot be deemed safe in a permanent view, it ought not to be admitted temporarily; for inconvenient precedents are always embarrassing.

On the whole, I should be of opinion that the introduction of such a principle without immediate reciprocity would be a high price for the advantage which it is intended to compensate.

It will, no doubt, have occurred to you that the fund has been mortgaged for the public debt. I do not, however, mention this as an insuperable objection; but it would be essential that the same act which would destroy this source of revenue should provide an equivalent. This I consider as a rule which ought to be sacred, as it affects public credit.

I have the honor to be, etc.

P. S.—If you have any spare set of the printed papers, I should be obliged by having them.


Newer Posts Older Posts Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds.