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President Washington Appoints an Interim Treasury Comptroller
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GEORGE WASHINGTON. Manuscript Document Signed as President. Appointment of Henry Kuhl as Temporary Comptroller of the Treasury. [Philadelphia, Penn.], April 10, 1795. 1 p., 12½ x 7¾ in.

Inventory #24287       Price: $27,500

Complete Transcript

By the President of the United States

Whereas the Office of Comptroller of the Treasury of is at present vacant—Therefore be it known, that in pursuance of the authority in me vested for this purpose, I do hereby authorize Henry Kuhl of the City of Philadelphia to perform and discharge the duties of the said Office according to Law, untill a Comptroller of the Treasury shall be appointed, and untill he shall enter upon the discharge of the duties of said Office;- Provided that this authority shall not continue for more than six months from the date thereof.—

                        Given under my hand at the City of Philadelphia, this tenth day of April in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred & Ninety five.—

                                    Go: Washington

Docketing on verso in another hand:

Prest Washington’s appt of H Kuhl as Comptroller pro tem: of Treasury/ 10 April 1795

Historical Background

When Alexander Hamilton resigned as the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, President Washington named Oliver Wolcott, Jr, to the post.  Wolcott had been the Comptroller of the Treasury since appointment in 1791.  Upon the comptroller vacancy, Washington appointed the principal clerk of the comptroller’s office, Henry Kuhl, to the interim position.

Kuhl had served in the Comptroller’s office under both Hamilton and Wolcott, and his competence was unquestioned. Just five days before Washington appointed him to the position at Treasury, Alexander Hamilton wrote him a glowing testimonial. Kuhl was trying to secure the position of Assistant Cashier (essentially branch manager) to the Bank of the United States, and Hamilton wrote to its president, Thomas Willing:

“I cannot imagine a man better qualified for such a place as he is. A thorough knowledge of accounts—a very clear business head—remarkable steadiness, attention, diligence, and accuracy mark him out as a man peculiarly fitted for such an employment. And my opinion of his integrity and trust-worthiness is equal to that of his capacity. Indeed I do not scruple to say that I am persuaded he will be found a valuable acquisition to the institution. It is not often that such a man will present himself.”

Kuhl had been gunning for a position at the bank since at least 1793, when he asked the Treasury Secretary’s advice on the matter. Unfortunately for the job-seeker, it seems that his appointment as interim comptroller prevented his taking a new position.

Sources

John P. Kaminski. Alexander Hamilton: From Obscurity to Greatness.

Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Willing, Albany, NY April 5, 1795.


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