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President Washington Approves Establishment of Mint and Issues First Veto
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This newspaper includes the full text of “An Act establishing a Mint and regulating the Coins of the United States” of April 2, 1792, signed in print by Speaker of the House Jonathan Trumbull, Vice President John Adams, President George Washington, and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. The bill established a mint, specified its officers, and reaffirmed the Congress of the Confederation’s adoption of decimal currency in 1785 (p1/c1-p2/c1). President Washington appointed David Rittenhouse of Pennsylvania as the first director of the mint on April 13, 1792.

It also includes President George Washington’s first veto message, in which he vetoed “An Act for an Apportionment of Representatives among the Several States, according to the First Enumeration” on April 5, 1792 (p3/c1). The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the number of seats held by northern states. After consulting with his divided cabinet, Washington decided that the plan was unconstitutional because the Constitution provided “that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000; which restriction is, by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the States; and the bill has allotted to eight of the States more than one for 30,000” (p3/c1). Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had suggested that apportionment be derived from arithmetical calculations.

When Washington’s veto arrived, Congress considered overriding the veto by a two-thirds vote, but only 28 representatives still favored the bill, while 33 opposed it (p3/c1). Ultimately, they threw out the bill and passed a new one that apportioned representatives at “the ratio of one for every thirty-three thousand persons in the respective States.”

[GEORGE WASHINGTON]. Columbian Centinel, April 21, 1792. Boston, MA. 4 pp, 10.5 x 16.75 in.

Inventory #26258.01       Price: $3,250

That a mint for the purpose of a national coinage, be, and the same is established; to be situate and carried on at the seat of the government of the United States, for the time being: And that for the well conducting of the business of the said mint, there shall be the following officers and persons, namely—a director, an assayer, a chief coiner, an engraver, a treasurer.” (p1/c1)

And be it further enacted, That the money of account of the United States, shall be expressed in dollars or units, dismes or tenths, cents or hundredths and milles or thousandths, a disme being the tenth part of a dollar, a cent the hundredth part of a dollar, a mille the thousandth part of a dollar, and that all accounts in the publick offices and all proceedings in the courts of the United States shall be kept and had in conformity to this regulation.” (p2/c1)

The subject of the Mint, has occupied the attention of the citizens here considerably, and the majority dislike the figure of Liberty being struck on the coins, in preference to the Head of The President of the United States.

The first words in the Constitution of the U.S. are ‘WE THE PEOPLE, &c.’ Now, who, say they, is the Representative of the sovereignty of the People? The President chosen by them, most surely is the answer! If, therefore, the coinage is to bear the impression of the sovereignty of the People, his figure ought to be adopted....

It is an insult on a free and enlightened people, to insinuate that the republican virtues of our citizens can be diminished, though every one of them possessed a good likeness of the man whom ‘they delight to honour;’ and if even they should shew it to their children for imitation.

Many of the pieces would, doubtless, be laid up, in our own and foreign countries as curiosities, especially if well executed, and a good likeness. As an American, I am sorry that such an opportunity should be lost, to express the admiration and gratitude of our country to him who sustained an eminent station in saving, and who now adorns it.” (p2/c4)

This issue includes news from Philadelphia that General Arthur St. Clair had resigned his commission as Major General, because of the disastrous defeat of his army in the Battle of the Wabash in November 1791. A part of the Northwest Indian War, the defeat left St. Clair wounded, more than 630 soldiers dead, and the army in the Northwest Territory largely obliterated. It was the greatest defeat of the United States Army by Native Americans in history. A furious President Washington forced St. Clair to resign after he arrived in Philadelphia in January 1792 and nominated Anthony Wayne as Major General to succeed St. Clair (p2/c4).

Additional Content
This issue also includes “The Monitor. No. 346,” regarding acts of benevolence (p2/c2); a summary report of the value of U.S. exports from October 1790 to September 1791, totaling $17.5 million (p3/c1); a brief report from Haiti on fighting near the beginning of the complex and extended Haitian Revolution (p3/c2); an epitaph for Captain Patrick Phelon of Boston, who died at the Battle of the Wabash at age 32 (p4/c1); and a variety of advertisements and notices, including one announcing that the “PUBLICK SCHOOLS will be ready for the reception of the FEMALES” on April 23 “in conformity to the present System of Publick Education” (p4/c4).

Columbian Centinel (1790-1840) was a semi-weekly newspaper published in Boston by Benjamin Russell (1765-1845). It continued Russell and William Warden’s Massachusetts Centinel (1784-1790) and was the most influential newspaper in Massachusetts after the American Revolution. It was strongly Federalist in outlook and had the largest circulation in Boston until 1800. Russell coined the term “Era of Good Feelings” following James Monroe’s goodwill visit to Boston in 1817. In 1828, Russell sold the Centinel to Joseph T. Adams and Thomas Hudson, who continued publishing it until 1840, when it merged with several other newspapers.

Condition: old flattened folds, with light wear, and moderate toning; chipping and some paper loss at edges.

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