Hamilton: Foreign Relations, Cabinet Paper to Thomas Jefferson, April 15, 1791



Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America’s first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America’s first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Alexander Hamilton: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 4


Foreign Relations, Cabinet Paper: Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson, April 15, 1791


Treasury Department,
April 15, 1791.

Sir:—The letter you sent me from Mr. Short, and others which I have received since mine to you, confirm the views of the subject therein taken. This you will perceive from the following passages extracted from one of them: “Since then (speaking of former overtures) another company has presented itself for the same object, with a scheme by which the United States are to make the sacrifices on which they count for their profits.” “The object of this company is, as you will see, to pay livres tournois in their present depreciated state, and to receive from the United States florins at the usual exchange; by this means France would receive from them as much as she is entitled to receive from us, but we should be obliged to pay the company much more than we are obliged to pay France.” “Had I had powers competent to the purpose, I should not have thought myself justified to have opened such a negotiation, where there was all loss and no prospect of advantage to the United States.” “* * * I must also add that the house which makes these propositions is entirely unknown here, and that France feared even their names at Paris, which proves that it must be an inconsiderable one.” Consequently, the credit of the United States would be in imminent danger of suffering in their hands.

I have authorized Mr. Short to apply a million and a half of florins of the loan he has opened to the use of France, and shall press as large payments as may be practicable to her.

I take it for granted that the court of France will not attempt any operation with the debt without the consent of the United States. Any thing of this sort, considering the efforts which are making on our part to discharge the debt, would certainly be very exceptionable. Indeed, I do not see how any valid disposition of the debt of a sovereign power can be made without its consent; but it would be disagreeable to have to use this argument. I trust it will never be rendered necessary.


Posting the entire Works of Alexander Hamilton is a project of Steven Montgomery. I’m posting these as a way to read and digest the works of Alexander Hamilton. The reader could profit by following along daily.

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