Front Page Titles (by Subject) JAY TO PRESIDENT WASHINGTON. - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 3 (1782-1793)
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JAY TO PRESIDENT WASHINGTON. - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 3 (1782-1793) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 3 (1782-1793).
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JAY TO PRESIDENT WASHINGTON.
Boston, 13th November, 1790.
The act “to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes,” passed the last session, directs that the superintendents and persons by them licensed, shall be governed, in all things touching the said trade and intercourse, by such rules and regulations as the President shall prescribe. I was lately asked, Whether any and what arrangements had been made in pursuance of this act? My answer was, that I had not heard, but was persuaded that every thing necessary either had been or would soon be done. As every licensed trader must know what rules and regulations he is to obey and observe, would it be amiss to publish them?
The Constitution gives power to the Congress “to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin; to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.” If the word current had been omitted, it might have been doubted whether the Congress could have punished the counterfeiting of foreign coin. Mexican dollars have long been known in our public acts as current coin. The 55th section of the act “to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties,” etc., enumerates a variety of foreign coins which shall be received for the duties and fees mentioned in it.
The late penal act (as it is generally called) provides punishment for counterfeiting paper, but not coin, foreign or domestic. Whether this omission was accidental or designed, I am uninformed. It appears to me more expedient that this offence, as it respects current coin, should be punished in a uniform manner throughout the nation, rather than be left to State laws and State courts.
The Constitution provides, that “no State shall coin money, nor make any thing but gold or silver coin a tender in payment of debts.” Must not this gold and silver coin be such only as shall be either struck or made current by the Congress? At present, I do not recollect any act which designates, unless perhaps by implication, what coins shall be a legal tender between citizen and citizen.
The Congress have power to establish post roads. This would be nugatory unless it implied a power either to repair these roads themselves, or compel others to do it. The former seems to be the more natural construction. Possibly the turnpike plan might gradually and usefully be introduced.
It appears advisable that the United States should have a fortress near the heads of the western waters; perhaps at, or not very distant from, Fort Pitt, to secure the communication between the western and Atlantic countries, and that the place be such as would cover the building of vessels proper for the navigation of the most important of those waters. Should not West Point, or a better post if it be found on Hudson River, be kept up? An impregnable harbour in the north, and another in the south, seem to me very desirable. Peace is the time to prepare for defence against hostilities.
There is some reason to apprehend that masts and ship-timber will, as cultivation advances, become scarce, unless some measures be taken to prevent their waste, or provide for the preservation of a sufficient fund of both.
Being persuaded that we could undersell other nations in salted provisions, especially beef, porvided none but of the first quality was exported, I am inclined to think the national government should attend to it; nay, that the whole business of inspecting all such of our exports of every kind as may be thought to require inspection, should be done under their exclusive authority, in a uniform manner. Where State inspection laws are good they might be adopted. If the individual States inspect by different rules, and some of them not at all, the article in question will not go to market with such plain and decided evidence of quality as to merit confidence, especially as various marks under various State laws multiply the means of fraud and imposition; if only the best commodities in their kind were exported, we should gain in name and price what we might lose at first by diminution of quality.
I think it probable that this letter will find you at Philadelphia; if not, I presume it will be forwarded by some of your family, but how, or by whom, is uncertain. Much content and good-humour is observable in these States. The acts of Congress are as well respected and observed as could have been expected. The assumption gives general satisfaction here. The deviation from contract respecting interest is censured by some. They say, and not without reason, that the application of surplus revenue to the purchase of stock shows that the measure did not result from necessity.
With the most perfect respect, esteem, and attachment,
I have the honour to be, dear sir,