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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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5280. MINT, Establishment of.—
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5280. MINT, Establishment of.—

propositions [326] under consideration [by Congress] suppose that the coinage is to be
carried on in a foreign country, and that the
implements are to remain the property of the
undertaker; which conditions, in the opinion
[of the Secretary of State] render them inadmissible,
for these reasons: Coinage is
peculiarly an attribute of sovereignty. To
transfer its exercise into another country, is
to submit it to another sovereign. Its transportation
across the ocean, besides the ordinary
dangers of the sea, would expose it to
acts of piracy, by the crews to whom it would
be confided, as well as by others apprized of
its passage. In time of war, it would offer
to the enterprises of an enemy what have
been emphatically called the sinews of war.
If the war were with the nation within whose
territory the coinage is, the first act of war,
or reprisal, might be to arrest this operation,
with the implements and materials coined
and uncoined, to be used at their discretion.
The reputation and principles of the present
undertaker are safeguards against the abuses
of a coinage, carried on in a foreign country,
where no checks could be provided by
the proper sovereign, no regulations established,
no police, no guard exercised; in
short, none of the numerous cautions hitherto
thought essential at every mint; but in hands
less entitled to confidence, these will become
dangers. We may be secured, indeed, by
proper experiments as to the purity of the
coin delivered us according to contract, but
we cannot be secured against that which,
though less pure, shall be struck in the general
die, and protected against the vigilance of
Government, till it shall have entered into
circulation. We lose the opportunity of calling
in and recoining the clipped money in
circulation, or we double our risk by a double
transportation. We lose, in like manner, the
resource of coining up our household plate
in the instant of great distress. We lose the
means of forming artists to continue the
works, when the common accidents of mortality
shall have deprived us of those who
began them. In fine, the carrying on a coin


Page 560
age in a foreign country, as far as the Secretary
knows, is without example; and general
example is weighty authority. He is,
therefore, of opinion, on the whole, that a
mint, whenever established, should be established
at home.—
Coinage Report. Washington ed. vii, 463.
(April. 1790)


The question was referred to Jefferson by the
House of Representatives.—Editor.