Front Page Titles (by Subject) GALLATIN TO JEFFERSON. NOTES ON PRESIDENTS MESSAGE. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1
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GALLATIN TO JEFFERSON. NOTES ON PRESIDENTS MESSAGE. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 1 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO JEFFERSON.
Foreign powers friendly:—Effect. If redress is meant, it seems wrong to raise expectations which probably will be disappointed. Quere, whether Mr. King’s negotiation should be hinted at.
Indians:—Should not the attempt to treat be mentioned, stating also the determination not to press upon them any disagreeable demand? This to guard against any blame which the imprudence of the Commissioners might occasion.
Tripoli:—More stress might be laid on the protection afforded by the frigates to our vessels which had been long blockaded, and on the imminent peril from which our commerce in the Atlantic was preserved by the timely arrival of our squadron at the moment when the Tripolitans had already reached Gibraltar. This early, &c.:—It will be said that the specimen had already been given by Truxton.
Finances. In nearly the same ratio, &c.:—The revenue has increased more than in the same ratio with population: 1st. Because our wealth has increased in a greater ratio than population. 2d. Because the seaports and towns, which consume imported articles much more than the country, have increased in a greater proportion. (See census of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and compare their increase with that of United States.) The greater increase of wealth is due in part to our natural situation, but principally to our neutrality during the war; an evident proof of the advantages of peace notwithstanding the depredations of the belligerent powers.
We may safely calculate on a certain augmentation, and war indeed and unfortunate calamities may change, &c.:—It appears perfectly correct to make our calculations and arrangements without any regard to alterations which might be produced by the possible though improbable event of the United States being involved in a war; but the alteration which may be produced by the restoration of peace in Europe should be taken into consideration. A reduction in the price of our exports would diminish our ability of paying, and therefore of consuming imported articles; and it is perhaps as much as can be hoped for, if, taking an average of six or eight years immediately succeeding the peace, the natural increase of population was sufficient to counterbalance the decrease of consumption arising from that cause. But, supposing these to balance one another, there is still another cause of decrease of revenue arising from peace in Europe. Our enormous carrying trade of foreign articles must be diminished by the peace. Having been much disappointed in the correctness of some of the custom-house and Treasury documents on which I depended, I cannot ascertain with precision, but do not think far from the truth the following result, viz.: that from to of our impost revenue is raised on articles not consumed here, but exported without being entitled to drawback, either because they have remained more than one year in the country, or are exported in too small parcels to be entitled, or for any other cause not ascertained. This item of revenue is not perhaps less at present than $1,200,000, and, as it does not rest on consumption, but on an overgrown and accidental commerce, must be deducted from any calculation grounded on the gradual increase of population and consumption. Could we depend only on a continuance of the present revenue from impost, we might at once dispense with all the internal taxes. For the receipts from that source for the year ending 30 June, 1801,
But, for causes already assigned, I dare not estimate the impost for the eight years 1802-1809 at more than an average of $9,000,000 to $9,250,000. It must, however, be observed that our expenditure of navy and foreign intercourse may be diminished when a general peace takes place.
Now laid before you:—The statements and report of the Secretary of the Treasury are by resolutions and by law respectively laid before Congress by the Secretary. It would be better to say: “which, according to law and the orders of the two Houses, will be laid before you.”
Taxes on stamps, &c., may be immediately suppressed:—Although the Executive has a right to recommend the suppression of any one tax, yet in ordinary cases it seems more proper to recommend or suggest generally a reduction of taxes without designating particularly some of them. If the recommendation could be general as to a whole class of taxes, such as all internal taxes, it would not have so much the appearance of what may be attacked as an interference with legislative details.
Economies in civil list:—These may be popular, but I am confident that no Department is less susceptible of reform; it is by far that in which less abuse has been practised; it exceeds but little the original sum set apart for that object; the reason is, that it being the one to which the people are most attentive, it has been most closely watched, and any increase attempted but with caution and repelled with perseverance. At an early period I examined it critically, and the reductions which might be made appeared so trifling, that the whole time I was in Congress, eager as we all were to propose popular measures and to promote economy, I never proposed, nor do I remember to have seen a single reduction proposed. It seems to me that the subject may be mentioned, but less stress laid on it.
Expenses of foreign intercourse:—The Diplomatic Department forms but a small item of these; the expenses attending the Barbary powers, and principally those which are incurred by consuls, for ministers and agents, for prosecution of claims and relief of seamen abroad, deserve particular consideration. If any measure has been taken to check these, it might be mentioned; if the subject has not yet been attended to, I would prefer using the word diplomatic, or foreign ministers, rather than the general words “foreign intercourse.”
Navy:—If possible, it would be better to avoid a direct recommendation to continue in actual service a part of it: this subject should, as far as practicable, be treated generally, leaving the Legislature to decide exclusively upon it.
I communicate an account of receipts, &c.; also appropriations:—All those documents prepared and signed by the Register are transmitted on the first week of the session by the Secretary to Congress. By the law constituting the Treasury Department, it is enacted that the Secretary shall lay before Congress or either House such reports, documents, &c., as he may be directed from time to time. Hence the invariable practice has been to call for financial information directly on the Treasury Department, except in the case of loans, where the authority had been given to the President; and for information respecting Army, Navy, or State Department, the application is always to the President, requesting him to direct, &c. The distinction, it is presumable, has been made in order to leave to Congress a direct power, uncontrolled by the Executive, on financial documents and information as connected with money and revenue subjects. It would at present be much more convenient to follow a different course; if instead of six or seven reports called for by the standing orders of one or the other House I could throw them all into one, to be made to you, it would unite the advantages of simplicity and perspicuity to that of connection with the reports made by the other Departments, as all might then be presented to Congress through you and by you; but I fear that it would be attacked as an attempt to dispense with the orders of the Houses or of Congress if the usual reports were not made in the usual manner to them; and if these are still made, it becomes useless for you to communicate duplicates. But the paragraph may be easily modified by saying, “The accounts, &c., will show, &c.” Quere, whether this remarkable distinction, which will be found to pervade all the laws relative to the Treasury Department, was not introduced to that extent in order to give to Mr. Hamilton a department independent of every executive control? It may be remembered that he claimed under those laws the right of making reports and proposing reforms, &c., without being called on for the same by Congress. This was a Presidential power, for by the Constitution the President is to call on the Departments for information, and has alone the power of recommending. But in the present case, see the Act supplementary to the Act establishing the Treasury Department, passed in 1800.
Navy-yards:—Too much seems to be said in favor of the navy-yard here. Six appear too many, and the Legislature having heretofore authorized but two, it seems that a stronger recommendation to authorize a reduction of the number might be made, and a suggestion of the propriety of regulating by law to what kind of officers their immediate superintendence should be committed.
Few harbors in the United States offer, &c.:—Is that fact certain? Portsmouth, Philadelphia, and even Boston, are perfectly defensible. But if true, should it be stated in a public speech? Will it not be charged as exposing the nakedness of the land?
Sedition Act:—The idea contained in the last paragraph had struck me; but to suggest its propriety to the Legislature appears doubtful. Are we sure of a Senatorial majority originally opposed to that law? Quere, as to Foster.
Juries:—A recommendation for a law providing an impartial and uniform mode of summoning juries, and taking the power from the marshals and clerks,—from the Judiciary and Executive,—would, if according with the sentiments of the Executive, come with propriety from him.
Progress of opinion, &c.:—Is it perfectly right to touch on that subject? It appears to me more objectionable than the doubtful paragraph relative to compensation to sufferers under Sedition Act.
There is but one subject not mentioned in the message which I feel extremely anxious to see recommended. It is, generally, that Congress should adopt such measures as will effectually guard against misapplication of public moneys; by making specific appropriations whenever practicable; by providing against the application of moneys drawn from the Treasury under an appropriation to any other object or to any greater amount than that for which they have been drawn; by limiting discretionary powers in the application of that money, whether by heads of Department or by any other agents; and by rendering every person who receives public moneys from the Treasury as immediately, promptly, and effectually accountable to the accounting officer (the Comptroller) as practicable. The great characteristic, the flagrant vice, of the late Administration has been total disregard of laws, and application of public moneys by the Departments to objects for which they were not appropriated. Witness Pickering’s account; but if you will see a palpable proof and an evidence of the necessity of a remedy, see the Quartermaster-General’s account for five hundred thousand dollars in the office of the accountant of the War Department.