Communicated to the House of Representatives, April 2, 1802.
With a bill to repeal so much of the acts, the one, entitled “An act establishing a Mint, and regulating the coins of the United States;” and the other, an act, entitled “An act supplementary to the act establishing a Mint, and regulating the coins of the United States,” as relates to the establishment of the Mint.
Treasury Department, March 9th, 1802.
I have the honor to enclose copies of two letters on the subject of the mint, and to be, with great respect,
Sir, your most obedient servant,
Hon. Mr. Giles, Chairman, &c..
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Philadelphia, February 27th, 1802.
In answer to your letter which I had the honor of receiving by this day’s post, I must inform you, that, having met with great difficulties the two last years, in obtaining a full supply of copper, from various causes attending the means of payment, I wrote to Mr. Boueton, early in the Fall, to send me out, by the first Spring ships, from 20 to 25 tons of planchettes, and to repeat it every Spring and Fall, promising to make my remittances, during the winter, for the next shipment. There will be due him on such shipment, about twelve or fifteen thousand dollars, which I am striving to provide for, by finishing the cents as fast as possible.
This contract is obligatory on us, and must be paid for; but I shall be able to prevent any further shipment, at any time before the first of May, by which, I hope, we shall know the mind of the Legislature on the subject of the mint.
We have near twenty tons of planchettes on hand, and which will keep us employed during the winter, but the expected shipment will remain for the summer’s work, if the coinage of copper is continued.
I shall, therefore, expect your warrant, as requested, and shall push the finishing the planchettes on hand, as fast as possible, to make good the residue of the payment.
As to importing the cents complete from Europe, it can certainly be done for a trifling sum above the price of the planchettes, say about £20 sterling per ton, did the policy of Government admit of it. Of this, I would not venture to determine, the Legislature, alone, being competent to that purpose. I once stated it to a committee of both Houses, but they determined that it would be a dangerous measure, and would not hearken to it.
An importation of cents, complete, would not diminish the security of having good copper, but it would hazard the running of a flood of cents, lighter than allowed by law, into the United States, and the difficulty of preventing the evil would be very great. It would be a greater security to Government to have the coinage of copper executed here by contract, which might be done without expense to the Union, provided Government would take the cents.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient humble servant,
The Hon. the Secretary of the Treasury,Washington.
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Mint, Philadelphia, March 4th, 1802.
The probability of the abolition of the mint establishment, induces me, thus early, to state to you, that, if the Legislature should not be disposed altogether to abandon the copper coinage, or might be willing, after repealing the laws establishing the mint, to allow of a copper coinage, provided it may be done without any expense to the public, I would solicit your interests and influence to promote a proposition of that kind, which I do not presume on, only so far as you may deem it to consist with the public good; in connexion with which, I flatter myself you will not be wanting, independent of any other claim I may have, or pretension to public patronage.
However I need not omit informing you, that, on the first establishment of the mint, I relinquished a profession, at least equally productive and beneficial as that of the engraver’s place in the mint, which I have filled, and I believe without reproach, ever since; by the loss of which, I shall be left without resource, being so long out of the practice of my former profession, that I feel an incapacity to prosecute it with anymore effect. I, therefore, submit the following proposition to your consideration, to the consideration of Congress, or to the Department where it may properly belong:
That I may be vested with the exclusive privilege, according to law, of coining cents of the United States, as well from abroad as within the realm, under such restrictions and provisions, either with respect to time or quantity, as Congress, in their wisdom, may deem proper; that the cents shall be of the present weight and quality, and that that they shall be coined free of all expense to Government, excepting that of receiving them when coined, and paying the nominal amount.
Should the above propositions meet with your approbation or otherwise, I should still be happy to know your determination to forward them or not; if the former, I would beg to know the most proper mode of introducing it to Congress, whether by petition, and how conceived, or otherwise.
I am, sir, with the highest respect, your most obedient servant.
Albert Gallatin, Esq. Secretary of the Treasury, City of Washington,
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Treasury Department, March 26th, 1802.
I have the honor to enclose a letter received from the Director of the Mint, and to be, with perfect respect, sir, your most obedient servant,
Hon. Mr. Giles, Chairman of the Committee on the subject of the Mint..
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Mint of the United States, Philadelphia, March 22, 1802.
I am honored with your letter of the 10th instant, and hasten to give you the best answer that I can, with regard to the real and personal estate of the mint establishment, &c. This consists of—
Two lots on Seventh street, between Market and Arch streets, 20 feet each on Seventh street, and extending back about 100 feet, with a dwelling house on the north lot, and a shell of a house on the south lot, which last lot widens on the rear to about 60 feet, on which the stable stands. These lots pay a ground rent of $27 50 per annum.
A lot on Sugar alley, at the rear of the above, 20 feet front on the alley, and about 100 feet deep.
A frame building, improved for a large furnance, in the commons at the north end of Sixth street, of little value, the ground being merely loaned to us.
As to personal estate, this consists wholly of the copper planchettes on hand amounting to about 22 tons.
Three horses, good for little but for the use of the mint. The machinery of the mint, of no value but for the use of the mint.
Five striking presses with machinery.
Three cutting presses.
One milling machine.
Five pair of rollers, great and small.
One drawing machine.
Three pair of smith’s bellows.
A set of blacksmith’s tools.
A large number of hubs and dies, on hand, of different denominations.
One turning lathe.
Six scale beams, scales, and weights.
Two sets assay scales, and sundry adjusting scales.
Furniture in the clerk’s rooms.
Various implements used in the several departments.
About 2,000 bushels of charcoals.
Engraver’s tools, pots, bottles, &c.; an old horse, cart, and gears.
About 2,000 fire brick; a considerable quantity of old iron.
It is impossible to ascertain the value of these articles, as most of them are of but little consequence, except for the use of the mint, or to persons who may intend to put them to the like uses; and if sold at public sale, probably will not bring half their real value. The machinery of the mint may last a year longer, with small repair, but, after that, will cost about three hundred dollars, to put it in good repair. The horses may, also, last another year, but must then, at farthest, be replaced by others.
If it should be thought best to continue the mint, the establishment should be rendered permanent, and the machinery should be moved by steam instead of horses, which would, in some measure, reduce the annual expenses of labor, as almost the whole of it could be carried on with the same original force. Our lots are much too small, by which we are greatly cramped as to room. They are now very valuable, being in the heart of the city; their price would purchase a very advantageous lot in a less public place, and buildings might be now planned, so as to reduce the expenses of a mint. But I am perfectly satisfied, that no modification of the mint could be contrived to lessen them below seventeen or eighteen thousand dollars per annum; though if a larger quantity of bullion could, by any means, be provided, a greater quantity of coin could be annually made with the same expense, although I am, individually, of opinion, that its present issue, of about five hundred thousand dollars annually, in addition to the current coin of the Union, is sufficient for the present welfare of the United States.
It is the absolute necessity of strict and regular checks, throughout the whole establishment, that makes the expense of the mint so great, and this cannot be dispensed with, under any modification that can be proposed. I verily believe, that, under no given circumstance, can the necessary coin of the United States be produced with safety to the Government, at a much less expense than it is at present; and I believe, that, in the consideration of the subject, it would not be safe to estimate the expense, at any rate, much under twenty thousand dollars.
In the above estimate of expenses, it should be remembered that the copper cents may produce a profit of five thousand dollars per annum, that ought to be credited against the expenditures of the mint in future, which reduces the amount considerably.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient humble servant,
ELIAS BOUDINOT, Director.
The Hon. the Secretary of the Treasury, Washington.
Two gentlemen, in Philadelphia, of respectable character, have requested me to submit the following propositions on the subject of the mint.
They will engage to coin on the following terms, and will give ample security for the performance of the contract:
|Copper for the difference in weight,||on the value.|
|Small silver for three per cent.|
|Dollars for two and a half,|
|Gold for one and a half,|
Provided, the United States will give them such part of the present machinery, belonging to the mint, as they may want, with the use of the building.