John Adams Presents the Plan to Purchase Public Debt
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John Adams offers this detailed report of the progress made by a board of commissioners charged with purchasing and paying the public debt. Through agent Samuel Meredith, the commissioners discharged almost $140,000 in debt for the fiscal year 1794. JOHN ADAMS.
Printed Document, signed in type as Vice President, Report of the Commissioners for Purchasing the Public Debt, [Philadelphia], Francis Childs, November 18, 1794, 23 pp., with 3 folding leaves, 8 ¼ x 13 ½ in. In original daub blue wrappers, sewn (as issued), rear wrap partially cut away. Contemporary title and (illegible) signature on front wrap.
“That pursuant to the act, intitled, “An act making provision for the reduction of public debt,” and in conformity to the resolutions agreed upon by them, and severally approved by the President of the United States, they have, since their report dated the sixteenth of December, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, caused purchases of the said debt to be made through the agency of Samuel Meredith, to the amount of one hundred and thirty-nine thousand and seventy-seven dollars and eighty-eight cents; for which, there have been paid in specie, one hundred thousand and sixty-one dollars and seventy-six cents.”
Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton understood the necessity of placing the new nation on firm financial ground and proposed that the federal government assume Revolutionary-era state debts. Larger states such as Virginia (as well as those that had already paid down their deficits) balked, considering it unfair to reward states still in arrears. In a great compromise, the national capital was relocated south, to what is now Washington, D.C. in exchange for adopting Hamilton’s financial plan. The plan resulted in the federal government assuming $21.5 million in debts (the amounts of each states’ debt is listed on page 5), and payments were funded by new securities payable at a robust 6% interest. In 1790, Congress passed four acts that set up the system. One, “An Act making Provision for the Debt of the United States,” created a board of commissioners to oversee the process, which was limited to purchasing $12 million dollars in debt over 15 years.
This report is the commission’s annual report for the year 1794. It details the amount of debt purchased, from whom, and total amount of specie paid top creditors.
Samuel Meredith (1741-1817) was a Philadelphia native who served as a General during the Revolutionary War. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania and named Treasurer by George Washington in 1789. Born into a merchant family, he would later expand his business dealings through a partnership with brother-in-law and fellow Revolutionary George Clymer.
Very good, Evans 27947.