The Birth of the Treasury U.S. Budget Process: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton Orders Financial Information – Statements of Expenses and Receipts – from His Collectors, Stationed at Ports to Collect Tariffs

He acts pursuant to the order of the U.S. Senate, to collect information on national monies spent and received for the use of Congress

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He sends a form example of what he needs, which shows salary, fees and emoluments received for a year totaling $3388, and monies actually disbursed and expended of $1395

In 1792, the United States was in the early stages of setting a national budget, and to do that effectively required hard information...

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The Birth of the Treasury U.S. Budget Process: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton Orders Financial Information – Statements of Expenses and Receipts – from His Collectors, Stationed at Ports to Collect Tariffs

He acts pursuant to the order of the U.S. Senate, to collect information on national monies spent and received for the use of Congress

He sends a form example of what he needs, which shows salary, fees and emoluments received for a year totaling $3388, and monies actually disbursed and expended of $1395

In 1792, the United States was in the early stages of setting a national budget, and to do that effectively required hard information on payments, expenses, disbursements, and receipts. On May 7 of that year, in an effort to obtain reliable data on the salaries being paid to, and the expenses being incurred by, Federal employees, as well as taxes received, the U.S. Senate ordered: “That the Secretary of the Treasury do lay before the Senate, at the next session of Congress, a statement of the salaries, fees, and emoluments, for one year, ending the first day of October next, to be stated quarterly, of every person holding any civil office or employment under the United States (except the judges together with the actual disbursements and expenses in the discharge of their respective offices and employments for the same period; and that he do report the name of every person who shall neglect or refuse to give satisfactory information touching his office or employment, or the emoluments or disbursements thereof.”

The principal Federal employees, outside the judiciary, were those responsible for collecting taxes in the form of tariffs on imports, and at ports around the country were Collectors who ran the tariff operations at those ports and reported to the Secretary of the Treasury, who was Alexander Hamilton.

To gather the information, Hamilton addressed a printed Letter to the Collectors with Instructions, dated Philadelphia, August 31, 1792, and signed in full. “Agreeably to an order of the Senate of the United States, passed on the 7th of May last, a copy of which is herewith transmitted, I have to request that you will furnish me, immediately after the first of October next with the particular statements required by the said order. From these a general Abstract is to be formed at the Treasury; and as Uniformity in the mode of stating the receipts and disbursements will facilitate the business, a form is hereto annexed as a guide.

“It is my desire that the Collectors will obtain and transmit at the same time similar documents from the Inspectors, Gaugers, Measurers and Weighers, or other persons holding under the Collectors any office or employment from which salaries, fees, or emoluments are derived.”

The encloses a form, which is still present, consisting of two columns, one entitled “A Statement of the Salary, Fees and Emoluments received by the of during one year, commencing on the 1st of October 1791, and on the 1st of October 1792”, and the other “A Statement of the Monies actually disbursed and expended by the — of — in the discharge of his office and employments, for the period before mentioned.” It is interesting to note that the first category shows as an example salary, fees and emoluments received for a year totaling $3388, and monies actually disbursed and expended of $1395. A stunning artifact of the birth of the U.S. budget process.

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