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Jefferson-Signed Act of Congress Funding the Federal Government for 1791
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Also see the Alexander Hamilton Collection: The Story of the Revolution & Founding.

Secretary of State Jefferson signs an Act making appropriations for the federal government in 1791. The figures cited—expenses of the “civil list” and the War Department—were taken directly from Treasury Secretary Hamilton’s Estimates for 1791 Report to the House of Representatives.

This is the only Jefferson-signed copy known in private hands. The only two known institutional copies are at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the New York Public Library.

THOMAS JEFFERSON. Document Signed as Secretary of State. An Act making appropriations for the support of government during the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety one, and for other purposes, February 11, 1791. [Philadelphia: Childs and Swaine, 1791]. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John Adams as Vice President and President of the Senate. 2 pp., 9¼ x 15 in. Variant of Evans 23860.

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A sum, not exceeding two hundred and ninety-nine thousand two hundred and seventy-six dollars and fifty-three cents, for defraying the expenses of the civil list… including the contingencies of the several executive officers, and of the two Houses of Congress, which are hereby authorized and granted: A sum, not exceeding fifty thousand seven hundred and fifty-six dollars and fifty-three cents, for satisfying the several objects specified in the statement…accompanying the report aforesaid…and a sum not exceeding three hundred and ninety thousand one hundred and ninety-nine dollars and fifty-four cents, for the use of the Department of War, pursuant to the statement…accompanying the report aforesaid including therein the sum of one hundred thousand dollars for defraying the expenses of an expedition lately carried on against certain Indian tribes; and the sum of eighty-seven thousand four hundred and sixty-three dollars and sixty cents, being the amount of one year’s pensions to invalids.…”

Jefferson signed two copies of each Act for distribution to the executive of every state. Rhode Island had ratified the Constitution and become the 13th state in May of 1790. Thus, Jefferson signed 26 copies of this Act. Few copies of any of the Acts Jefferson signed survive.

The estimated expenditures in this deceptively short act, funding the third year of government under the federal Constitution, are keyed to Hamilton’s January 6, 1791, Report to Congress. (For a full list of the estimates cited in Hamilton’s report, see American State Papers, Finance, Vol. 1, 82-88.)