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Foreign affairs.

On Sept. 18, 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Messrs. Welling, Franklin, Livingston, Alsop, Deane, Dickinson, Langdon, McKean, and Ward a “secret committee” to contract for the importation from Europe of ammunition, small-arms, and cannon, and for such a purpose Silas Deane was soon sent to France. By a resolution of the Congress, April 17, 1777, the name of this committee was changed to “committee of foreign affairs,” whose functions were like those of the present Secretary of State (see cabinet, President's). Foreign intercourse was first established by law in 1790. President Washington, in his message, Jan. 8, 1790, suggested to Congress the propriety of providing for the employment and compensation of persons for carrying on intercourse with foreign nations. The House appointed a committee, Jan. 15, to prepare a bill to that effect, which was presented on the 21st. It passed the House on March 30. The two Houses could not agree upon the provisions of the entire the bill, and a committee of conference was appointed; and finally the original bill, greatly modified, was passed. June 25, 1790. The act fixed the salary of ministers at foreign courts at $9,000 a year, and charges d'affaires at $4,500. To the first ministers sent to Europe the Continental Congress guaranteed the payment of their expenses, with an additional compensation for their time and trouble. These allowances had been fixed at first at $11,111 annually. After the peace the Continental Congress had reduced the salary to $9,000, in consequence of which [403] Franklin insisted upon his recall, the sum being insufficient. When the bill of 1790 went before the Senate that body was only willing to vote a general sum for the expenses of foreign intercourse, and to leave the compensation of the respective ministers to the discretion of the President, urging that the difference in expenses at the various courts called for discrimination in the sums allowed. To this the House would not agree, and for a while both Houses insisted upon compliance with their respective views. Hence the delay in the passage of the bill. The act also made allowance for “outfits,” which had been insisted upon by Jefferson when he was appointed to succeed Franklin.

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