The First Federal Congress Project
Documentary History of the First Federal Congress

Treasury Bill [HR-9]

 July 2, 1789 

An Act to establish the Treasury Department

[1] Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be a department of Treasury, in which shall be the following Officers, namely, a Secretary of the Treasury,25 to be deemed head of the department, a Comptroller, an Auditor, a Treasurer, a Register, and an Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury.26
[2] And be it further enacted , That it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury, to digest and prepare plans for the improvement and management of the revenue, and for the support of public credit— To prepare and report estimates of the public revenue, and the public expenditures— To superintend the collection of the revenue— To decide on the forms of keeping and stating accounts, and making returns, and to grant, under the limitations herein established, or to be hereafter provided, all warrants for monies to be issued from the Treasury, in pursuance of appropriations by law; to execute such services relative to the sale of the lands belonging to theUnited States as may be by law required of him— To make report, and give information to either branch of the Legislature, in person or in writing (as he may be required) respecting all matters referred to him by the Senate or House of Representatives, or which shall appertain to his office, and generally to perform all such services, relative to the finances, as he shall be directed to perform.
[3] And be it further enacted , That it shall be the duty of the Comptroller to superintend the adjustment and preservation of the public accounts— To examine all accounts settled by the Auditor, and certify the balances arising thereon, to the Register— To countersign all warrants drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury, which shall be warranted by law— To report to the Secretary the official forms of all papers to be issued in the different offices for collecting the public revenue, and of27 the manner and form of keeping and stating the accounts of the several persons employed therein: He shall moreover provide for the regular and punctual payment of all monies which may be collected; and shall direct prosecutions, for all delinquencies of officers of the revenue, and for debts28 due to the United States.
[4] And be it further enacted , That it shall be the duty of the Treasurer, to receive and keep the monies of the United States, and to disburse the same upon warrants, drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury, countersigned by the Comptroller, recorded by the Register, and not otherwise. He shall take receipts for all monies paid by him, and all receipts for monies received by him shall be endorsed upon warrants, signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, without which warrant so signed, no acknowledgment for money received into the public Treasury, shall be valid: And the said Treasurer shall render his accounts to the Comptroller, quarterly (or oftner if required) and shall transmit a copy thereof, when settled, to the Secretary of the Treasury. He shall, moreover, on the third day of every session of Congress, lay before the29 House of Representatives, fair and accurate copies of all accounts by him from time to time rendered to and settled with the Comptroller as aforesaid, as also a true and perfect account of the state of the Treasury; he shall, at all times, submit to the Secretary of the Treasury and the Comptroller, or either of them, the inspection of the monies in his hands; and shall, prior to the entering upon the duties of his office, give bond, with sufficient sureties, to be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury and Comptroller, in the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, payable to the United States, with condition for the faithful performance of the duties of his office, and for the fidelity of the persons to be by him employed, which bond shall be lodged in the office of the Comptroller of the Treasury of the United States.
[5] And be it further enacted , That it shall be the duty of the Auditor to receive all public accounts, and after examination to certify the balance, and transmit the accounts with the vouchers and certificate to the Comptroller for his decision thereon:
Provided , That if any person whose account shall be so audited, be dissatisfied therewith, he may, within three30 months, appeal to the Comptroller against such settlement.
[6] And be it further enacted , That it shall be the duty of the Register to keep all accounts of the receipts and expenditures of the public money, and of all debts due to or from the United States— To receive from the Comptroller the accounts which shall have been finally adjusted, and to preserve such accounts with their vouchers and certificatesTo certify upon31 all warrants for the receipt or payment of monies at the Treasury,32 and to transmit to the Secretary of the Treasury copies of the certificates of balances of accounts adjusted as is herein directed.
[7] And be it further enacted , That the Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury shall be appointed by the President, and whenever the Secretary shall be removed from office by the President of the United States, or in any other case of vacancy in the office of Secretary, the Assistant shall, during the vacancy, have the charge and custody of the records, books and papers appertaining to the said office.33
[8] And be it further enacted , That no person shall be34 appointed to any office instituted by this act, shall directly or indirectly be concerned or interested in carrying on the business of trade or commerce, or be owner in whole or in part of any sea vessel, or purchase by himself, or any other in trust for him, any public lands or other public property, or be concerned in the purchase or disposal of any public securities of any State, or of the United States, or take, or apply to his own use, any emolument or gain for negotiating or transacting any business in the said department, other than what shall be allowed by law; and if any person shall offend against any of the prohibitions of this act, he shall, on conviction, be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, shall forfeit the penalty of five thousand dollars, and be forever incapable of holding any office under the United States; and any other Officerherein mentioned, so offending, shall be removed from office, and pay a fine of two thousand dollars; the forfeitures under this act to go, one half to the United States, the other half to him who will sue for it.35 1789, July 2.

[NEW-YORK, PRINTED BY Thomas Greenleaf .]

House Bills, Senate Records, National Archives. Senate amendments are printed in the Senate Legislative Journal , p. 101, and were noted on the engrossed bill by Otis or filed with the bill. Unless otherwise noted, the House agreed to the Senate amendments on August 3.
    25. On July 31 the Senate disagreed to a motion to strike out " a Secretary of the Treasury" and insert "Three Superintendants of the Treasury."
    26. On July 31 the Senate disagreed to a motion to strike out from "and an Assistant" through "the Treasury." The Senate inserted "Which Assistant shall be appointed by the said Secretary" at this point.
    27. The Senate struck out "of."
    28. The Senate inserted "That are or shall be" at this point.
    29. The Senate inserted "Senate and" at this point.
    30. The Senate struck out "three" and inserted "six."
    31. The Senate struck out "certify upon" and inserted "Record."
    32. The Senate inserted "certify the same thereon" at this point. The House agreed to this amendment on August 4. (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, Aug. 5, The New York Daily Gazette, Aug. 5)
    33. The Senate struck out this section. On August 3 the House postponed consideration of this amendment, and on August 4, the House agreed to strike out "the Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury shall be appointed by the President," but disagreed to the remainder of the Senate amendment, with 19 votes in favor of agreement. (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, Aug. 5, The New York Daily Gazette, Aug. 5) After a conference committee on the amendment could not agree, the Senate receded from the disputed part of it.
    34. The Senate struck out "that shall be." The House agreed to this amendment on August 5.
    35. The Senate struck out "on conviction, be deemed guilty" through "will sue for it," and inserted the following:
be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor & forfeit to the United States the penalty of three thousand dollars, & shall, upon conviction, be removed from office & forever thereafter incapable of holding any office under the United States. Provided that if any other person than a publick prosecutor shall shall give information of any such offence, upon which a prosecution & convention [conviction] shall be had, one half the aforesd. penalty of 3,000 Dollars when recovered shall be for the use of the person giving such information. (House Bills, SR, DNA, hands of Ellsworth and Otis)
The House agreed to this amendment on August 5.

Recommended citation: Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2002). XML version based on the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1986) Vol. 6, pp. 1975-1991; 2028-2032. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]

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