5th Congress.
No. 121
2d Session.


Communicated to the House of Representatives, January 11, 1798.

The Secretary of the Treasury, in obedience to the resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 5th instant, respectfully reports:

That, in pursuance of the power vested in the Secretary of the Treasury, by the fourteenth section of the act, entitled “An act establishing a mint, and regulating the coins of the United States,” authority was given to the Director of the mint, on the twelfth day of April, 1797, to receive from the President and Directors of the Bank of the United States, any sum not exceeding ten thousand dollars, in foreign gold and silver coins, except Spanish milled dollars and parts of such dollars; and also, on the re-payment of the whole or any part of the said sum, in coins of the United States, not less than three thousand dollars at one time, to receive an additional advance, in the said foreign coins, equal to such re-payment.

The authority aforesaid was given at the request of the Director of the mint, to enable him to pursue the business of coinage without interruption, and to prevent the inconveniences and expenses attending repeated meltings of deposited bullion, which were stated in his report of November 29th, 1796.

With respect to the third section of the act, entitled “An act regulating foreign coins, and for other purposes,” the Secretary observes, that the receipts ad payments of the treasury are made at the Bank of the United States, and that the revenue in distant ports has been, with very few exceptions, drawn into the treasury by the sale of bills on the collectors. No particular portions of the specie resting in the vaults of the bank have been deemed as the exclusive property of the United States; on the contrary, the sums of specie deposited, have ever been considered as an aggregate fund, in which all the creditors and stockholders of the bank were jointly interested.

This view of the subject has not, however, in the opinion of the Secretary, prevented the execution of the intention of Congress. The Directors of the Bank of the United States have ever been willing to co-operate in promoting the success of the mint establishment, and, on the requisition of the Secretary, would, at any time, have advanced such of the foreign coins in their possession as it might be for the interest of the United States to cause to be recoined. During the years 1795 and 1796, the sums in the bank, of foreign silver, other than Spanish dollars, were, however, very inconsiderable; and of the foreign gold coins in the bank, a very considerable proportion consisted of French and Spanish coins, for which there was a foreign demand, though they could not have been coined without a loss, which must have been borne by the United States. The state and prospects of the treasury, during the years 1795 and 1796, were, moreover, such as to dissuade the Secretary from advances not appearing to be of primary importance.

Since the promulgation of the proclamation of the President of the United States, dated the 22d July, 1797, the quantities of foreign silver coins, other than Spanish dollars, have very considerably increased; and the present prospect is, that, under the operation of existing arrangements, no difficulty will be found in supplying the mint with any sums to the coinage of which it may be found competent.

All which is respectfully submitted.

OLIVER WOLCOTT, Secretary of the Treasury.

Treasury Department, January 10th, 1798.