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American Debt and Bondholders

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionPierpont Morgan Library: Henry Knox Papers view image
Document Information
Date October 3, 1790
Author Name James Swan (primary) Location: Paris
Recipient Name Henry Knox (primary)
Summary Letter, Businessman in Europe asks for Knox to exert his influence on Washington and Jefferson
Document Format Letter, Type Undetermined
Document Notes Bracketed note at the bottom of page 4 apparently attributes letter to James Swan.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Henry Knox; James Swan; Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson; French Navy; King; Continental Treasurers; Le Couteul; Congress Bankers; President; Dutchmen; Dutch agents; Alexander Hamilton; ;
Related Places Paris; Amsterdam; America; Europe; United States; France; Colonies; ;
Keywords request; personal interest; contract here for supplies; payment; business; difference of price; a very considerable sum; American debt; speculation; no discredit; bonds; negotiation; beef, pork, etc; livres; trade; manufactures; absorption of the debt; payment in money; credit; commission; national benefit; ;
Key Phrases recommendation to the Secretary of the Treasury & to the President; propose instructions to those Dutchmen or to the agent who may have charge of the loan; pay the money due to France to the Treasurer of France or to his order or to the holders of the bonds; nations are anxious to have the American debt paid in this manner; so large and so long a supply would have amounted to a very considerable sum; proposed on the American debt as had always been the case in the past speculations; Congress bankers in Amsterdam have set their forces against this plan and have given to understand that no money will be paid them to any company or persons who may hold the bonds other than the government here; negociation which would have opened such a market for our produce; require a judgement for such; orders from the Treasury here on the Continental Treasurers in Europe in part of the debt of the United States to France;
Transcription

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[top margin] XXV[undecipherable]-22 5596
Paris 3d October 1790
Dear Sir
I recd the honor of a letter from you near a year ago and should have replied to it sooner, had I had any thing particular as to my self worthy of observing. As to public news, you have it much better thro' the Secretary for foreign affairs than I can possibly have--I shall therefore not trouble you with any but request as to my personal interest, that you would take the trouble of asking the Secretary of State to show you the Letter I wrote him on the Subject of a Contract here for supplies to the french navy & the King's Rationers in the Colonies--to receive in payment for such orders from the Treasury here on the Continental Treasurer in Europe in part of the debt of the United States to france. The advantages arising from this business, would have been in
the
the difference of price in America, and that which the Governmt her pay, which upon so large and so long a supply, would have amounted to a very considerable sum, of which by agreement with Le Couteuls & others here, I was to hold an equal part. No discompt, you'l observe, was proposed on the American debt, as had always been the case, in the past speculation--therefore no discredit offer'd to the United States: but very unexpectedly--the Congress Bankers in Amsterdam have set their faces against this plan, and have given to understand that no money will be paid by them to any Company or persons who may hold the bonds, other than the Government here--by which means, the negotiation which would have opened such a market for our produce, had failed, and unless Mr. Jefferson by his recommendation to the Secretary of the Treasury & to the President, shall propose an [undecipherable] to those Dutchmen, or to the agent
who
who may have charge of the Loan, that they shall pay the money due to France, to the Treasurer of France, or to his order, or to the holders of the Bonds of the United States, it never will take place, altho' the Nation are anxious to have the American debt paid in this manner, not only because it is purchasing the Beef, Pork &c at a lower rate than they pay to other Nations, but because it is [assuring?] for 6 years to come, 6 millions of Livres a year; whereas they canbut demand of Congress, about 3 millions on an average; & beause it is insuring, by this introduction a Trade between the two Countries, which would not otherways take place: and it is the more desireable to France, as the proposers will engage to take yearly 3 millions in produce & Manufactures, after the absorption of the debt--thus continuing the supply from America, & making a very great consumption of their merchandise
with
with us. Hitherto a discompt has always been proposed & for that reason Congress put their disapprobation to such a Measure, as well as against private persons, by payment in money, becoming the Proprietors of their Credit, but as hence, the Dutch agents are against this, not distinguishing the difference in the Conditions, & the actual benefit to the United States. I trust with your influence & Mr. Jefferson's representation, that an Instruction such as we demand may be obtained-- I pray you to speak to Mr. Hamilton & to the president about it. I would infinitely [undecipherable] me, as I not only shall hold an equal share in the concern, but shall have a Commission as agent here in doing the business in the Ports & in the Colonies, or else in America;-- and I trust that consideration abstracted from the National benefit, would opperate considerably in your mind. I am sure that nothing which could possibly tend to your advantage, & which I could do should be wanting in exertion on my part.
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