Communicated to the House of Representatives, December 11, 1797.
Mr Venable, from the Committee to whom it was referred to inquire whether any, and what, alterations were necessary in the law, entitled “An act regulating foreign coins, and for other purposes,” made the following report:
That it appears, from the best information they can obtain, that very little of the silver coin of the United States has circulated at any considerable distance from the mint, especially in the interior parts of the country.
That, by the operation of the law, which provided that, at the expiration of three years after the coinage of gold and silver should commence at the mint, all foreign silver coins, except Spanish milled dollars, and the parts of such dollars, should cease to be a legal tender, considerable embarrassments have been produced, and many losses sustained, as a very considerable quantity of foreign silver coins, other than Spanish milled dollars, and the parts of such dollars, was, at that time, in circulation.
Your committee also find, that, by the operation of the said act, all foreign gold coins will cease to be a legal tender, after the thirty-first day of July next; that a great quantity of it is now in circulation, and must necessarily continue so, until that period arrives, as it will be scarcely possible for the mint, on its present establishment, to coin a sufficient quantity to replace it.
Your committee are, therefore, of opinion, that provision ought to be made by law, authorizing and requiring the collectors of the revenue to receive, in discharge of all demands of the United States, foreign silver coins, other than Spanish milled dollars, and the parts of such dollars, at the rates, and under the regulations, by which they were receivable before the fifteenth day of October last; that this regulation should continue for two years, and until the end of the next session of Congress thereafter; and that so much of the said act, as relates to the circulation of foreign gold coins, be suspended for the like time.
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To the Collectors of the Customs and Supervisors of the Revenue.
Treasury Department, November 28th, 1797.
In consequence of the proclamation of the President of the United States, of the 22d of July, 1797, founded on the act of Congress, passed on the ninth day of February, 1793, entitled “An act regulating foreign coins, and for other purposes,” all foreign silver coins, except Spanish milled dollars, and parts of such dollars, ceased to be a legal tender for the payment of any debts or demands, after the fifteenth day of October last.
The President and Directors of the Bank of the United States having, however, manifested their consent to receive French crowns, and other foreign silver coins, at the rates at which the same were current, and a legal tender, prior to the time mentioned in the President’s proclamation, it has been deemed advisable to permit the said foreign coins to be received in payment of the revenues of the United States, on the terms and conditions prescribed in the act of Congress of February 9th, 1793, before mentioned.
To obviate inconveniences which may attend the negotiation of treasury drafts, the supervisors and collectors are, however, requested to specify, in their weekly returns to this Department, the sums which may, from time to time, remain in their possession, of foreign silver coins, which are not, by law, a tender in payment of debts; they are also requested to give information whether the said coins are, or are not, current, by common consent, to the end that such measures may be adopted, for the collection of the revenue, as circumstances shall be found to require.
I am, with consideration, sir, your obedient servant.