[George Washington]

G. Washington Approves Workers at the Mint and Cabinet



G. Washington Approves Workers at the Mint and Cabinet

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Printed Act of Congress, An Act To regulate the compensation of Clerks, May 30, 1796, signed in type by Washington, Speaker of the House Jonathan Dayton, and Senate President pro tem Samuel Livermore. 1 p., 8.125" x 11.125" Expected folds; some chips, repaired edge tear, none affecting text.

 

Excerpts

“Be it enacted...That the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of the Department of State, and the Secretary of the Department of War, be authorized to vary for the present year the compensations heretofore established for clerks in their respective departments, in such manner as the services to be performed shall in their judgment require.”

 

“And be it further enacted, That to the aggregate of compensations for clerks in the year, one thousand seven hundred and ninety four, there shall, during the present year, be farther allowed...to the Director of the Mint, for one clerk to be employed by him, the additional sum of two hundred dollars.”

 

Historical Background

When salaries for clerks in the executive departments of the new federal government failed to keep pace with inflation in the new republic, the clerks petitioned Congress for an increase of pay. Congressman James Madison served as chair of a committee in the Third Congress that reported favorably on the clerks’ request, and Congress approved additional allowances for clerks in the executive departments for 1794 and 1795.

 

In the first session of the Fourth Congress, in session from December 1795 to June 1796, the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Madison was a member, recommended on January 12, 1796, a salary of $800 for the chief clerk of the War Department. In this act, Congress authorized Treasury Secretary Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, and Secretary of War James McHenry to augment the salaries of clerks in their departments, authorized additional clerks and compensation to Commissioners of Loans in various states, and empowered the Director of the Mint to employ a clerk.

 

On January 30, 1796, State Department clerk George Taylor Jr. wrote to James Madison that “there never has been a time furnishing more real cause for uneasiness on account of salary” and wondered “how any one can subsist on the small and inadequate salaries allowed to Clerks.” If Congress did not act, Taylor warned, “it appears morally impossible for any Man to continue under the present exorbitant rates of living.”

 

 



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