Page images
PDF
EPUB

On the subjects of mutual interest between this country and Spain, negotiations and conferences are now depending. The publick good requiring that the present state of these should be made known to the legislature, in confidence only, they shall be the subject of a separate and subsequent communication.

GEORGE WASHINGTON.

TRANSLATION.

LIQUIDATION OF THE DEBT OF THE UNITED STATES TO FRANCE. The Citizen Genet, Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Re.

publick, to Mr. Jefferson, Secretary of State of the United States of America. Philadelphia, May 22, 1793—20 year of the French Republick.

SIR,—The executive council of the French Republick has learnt through my predecessor, the citizen Ternant, the readiness with which the government of the United States of America attended to the facilitation of the purchases which that minister was charged to make in the United States, on account of the French Republick ; as also the acquittal of the draughts of the colonies for which imperious circumstances obliged it to pro. vide. The executive council, sir, has charged me to express to the American government, the acknowledgment inspired by all the marks of friendship which it has given on this subject to the French nation ; and to prove to it the reciprocity of our sentiments, it has determined to give at once a great move. ment to the commerce of France with America, in drawing henceforth from the United States the greatest part of the subsistence and stores necessary for the arınies, fleets and colonies of the French Republick.

The executive council has entrusted me with the direction of these great and useful operations, and has given me particular powers comprehended in the reports, and in the resolutions now enclosed, in virtue of which I am authorized by the council and by the national treasury of France, to employ the sums of which the United States can effect the payment (towards their debt to France) or those which I can procure on my personal draughts, payable by the national treasury, in pur. chasing provisions, naval stores, and in fulfilling other particular services, conformably to the orders which have been given to me by the minister of the interior, of war, of the marine, and of foreign affairs.

The government of the United States is too enlightened, not to perceive the immense advantages which will result from this measure to the people of America, and I cannot doubt

that, knowing the difficulties which different circumstances

commissions wbich have been given to me, if it should not facilitate to us still the receipt of new sums by anticipation, it will find in its wisdom, and in the reports now enclosed, of the minister of the publick contributions of France, measures proper to answer our views, and to satisfy our wants.

It does not belong to me to judge, if the President of the United States is invested with powers sufficient to accede to our request, without the concurrence of the legislative body : but I will permit myself to observe to you, sir, that the last anticipated payments, which took place, prove it, and that this question appears equally decided by the act of Congress, which authorizes the executive power not to change the order of the reimbursements of the foreign debt of the United States, unless it shall find therein an evident advantage. Now what advantage more sensible can we offer to you, than that of discharging your debt to us with your own productions, without exporting your cash, without recurring to operations-the burdensome operation of bankers? It is furnishing you, at the same time, with the means of paying your debts, and of enriching your citizens; in short it is to raise the value of your productions, and consequently of your lands, in establish. ing a necessary competition between us and a nation which has in a measure resumed with a great deal of art and of sacrifices, the monopoly of your own productions. It is time, sir, that this commercial revolution, which I consider the completion of your immortal political revolution, should accomplish itself in a solid manner; and France appears to me to be the only power which can operate this incalculable good. She desires it ardently. The wise arrangements, of which I have now given you an account, are the proof of it. It remains then with your government to second the views which are suggested to us by our constant friendship for our brethren the Americans, and by the desire we have to strengthen the bonds which unite us to them. It will be a pleasing duty to me, sir, to conform myself, in the administration which is confided to me, to these sentiments of the French pation, for all the United States ; and in order that every one of them may participate in the extension of our commercial relations, I will take care lo distribute my purchases among the different states of the Union, as much as the natural productions of their soil and the nature of their commerce, will permit. I will neglect no means, moreover, in order that the modes of purchase prescribed to me, may enable, not only the American and French merchants, but also the land-holders and farmers to take advantage of the benefits which may result from our purchases.

GENET.

TRANSLATION.

AMERICAN DEBT, FIRST REPORT. CITIZEN GENET, minister of the French Republick to the United States of America, has been charged by the provisory executive council, to solicit the American government, for the payment of the sums remaining due to France by the said States, though all the terms stipulated for the reimbursement have not yet expired.

The provisory executive council were led to this resolution,

1. By the extensive wants of the Republick, as well in subsistence for interior consumption, as for warlike stores and provisions required for the army by sea and land.

2. From the convenience with which a part of these stores and provisions may be purchased in the different markets of the United States.

3. From the advantage which the Republick would find in making these purchases in, and with the moneys arising from the American debt.

4. In fine, from the consideration that the United States might find it convenient to anticipate the reimbursements of the moneys due to France, when they were to be employed within themselves in purchasing the productions of their soil.

In consequence, the Citizen Genet has concerted with the ministers of the interior, of war, of the marine, and of foreign affairs, in order to obtain a statement of the expenses of their several departments. According to this, the fonds to be disposed of by Citizen Genet, will amount to about seventeen millions of livres tournois, a sum not equal to the whole of the balance due by the United States to France.

But here two questions arise with Citizen Genet

1st. How to arrange the matter so as that this sum shall be properly accounted for in the national treasury, through which it ought to pass ?

And supposing, secondly-That the purchases of warlike stores and provisions are indispensable, and ought to be made and expedited to France with celerity, the Minister Genet desires to know how the money can be replaced, in case the American government should refuse to anticipate the reimbursements?

OBSERVATIONS. st. On the Consistency. Supposing that the United States should consent to anticipate their reimbursements; they may do so, in two ways

By sonantes,* or bank notes for the same term;

Or by state securities on interest, and reimbursable on a given term. The first of these is accompanied with no difficulty. The

* Bills of Exchange.

Minister Genet will furnish his assignments or notes on the treasury of the American government, for the warlike stores. and provisions, and other pressing wants, for expenses relative to the support of Consuls---for extraordinary and secret pur. poses of embassy- and for victualing and refitting vessels. These notes will be stamped by the department of the ministry, upon the compatibility of whom they will have been furnished; the American treasury will return them into the French treasury, in payment of the debt of the United States; when they will be passed to the credit of the said States; and to the debit of each department of the ministry whence they issued, or whose stamp they bear, as a part of the sums allowed by the National Convention to each, for their expenses.

The method in the second place should be the same, because the minister Genet will not accept state securities of the American government, unless he can make use of them as ready money, of which he is to assure himself before the conclusion of any transaction on either side.

Then the receipts which the Minister Genet will furnish the American government, with the stamp of the department for which their value shall have been employed, shall have the same effect with regard to this government and the French treasury, as if their value had been paid in specie.

It might happen that the state securities which the Minister Genet should receive instead of ready money, as above mentioned, may lose something of their value by depreciation, but then this loss is to be carried to the debit side of the account, which the Minister Genet will furnish, of the manner in which they shall have been employed, for the departments of the interior, of war, of the marine, and of foreign affairs.

2d. In case the American government should not consent to any anticipation in the payment of the debt of the United States 10 France,

There are but two methods to provide for this improbable contingency--if we can suppose that the United States have any interest in acknowledging the French Republick, and living on friendly terms with her.

Even admitting that we could not reckon on the good will of the United States, the situation of the finances or the excessive dearness of the metals, in comparison to notes, not permitting us to export a large sum of dollars to America, we should be obliged to make use of draughts on Europe : they must be either on London and Amsterdam, by the help of a credit to be obtained for Citizen Genet, and of which he must give information in America, or upon the national treasury of France itself.

The English government having determined to make war on us, the first method cannot and ought not to be made use of.-It would be not only impossible to obtain a credit to the end of our operations, but it would be attended with great expense, from

the low state of exchange occasioned by the war. The only resource then remaining, would be to furnish orders on the national treasury: but if these should enjoy the credit which they mcrit, there is reason to believe, that the Americans would stiji prefer them for assignments of the debt of the United States. So that it is very probable, that this means of managing the matter in America, the best the Republick is at present capable of devising, is that on which the executive council may with greatest safety rely, unless the United States would wish to render themselves hostile towards the Republick, which, from every appearance is unlikely to be the case. But it is proper we should provide for every contingency, the omission of which might cause Citizen Genet embarrassment ; therefore, the minister of publick contributions proposes to the provisory executive council the following

DECISION. The national treasury will furnish Citizen Genet with a declaration in writing, authorizing him to employ agreeably to the orders of the ministers of the interior, of war, of the marine, and foreign affairs, the sums he shall receive from the government of the United States, on account of the debt due to France, or the complete balance thereof, as well principal as interest, in conformity to the instructions given to Citizen Genet, on that subject.

The national treasury will authorize the Citizen Genet to furnish or cause to be furnished upon his banker, bills of exchange drawn at two months sight, to the amount of the sums requisite for the payment of subsistence, warlike stores, and other expenses of those ministers. The said bills of exchange should be employed to make up the said payments only in case Citizen Genet should not be able to do so, either in whole or in part, with the funds arising from the American debt, which he is charged to negotiate.

And in fine, in order to induce the United States to make this reimbursement, in case they should not be able to effect it, either in whole or in part, with specie, the Citizen Genet is authorized to accept it from the American government in such state notes, bearing interest, as shall be received at par, by the persons to whom Citizen Genet may have payments to make on account of the Republick. The orders which Citizen Genet shall furnish on the treasury of the United States, in exchange for specie or state notes, shall carry in their faces the declaration of the department for which they shall have been employed : the Treasurer of the United States, after discharging their amount, shall send them to the French treasury, where they will be received as so much ready money, in discharge of the debt of the United States, and as expenditures in part of the sums al. lowed by the National Convention to the three departments designated in the orders.-The bills of exchange on the national

« PreviousContinue »