the rigorous rules of the treasury oppose insurmountable obstacles … the expences of your journey here cannot be repaid, your salary cannot begin till that of your predecessor ends … no advance can be made under the head of salary. there is no doubt but that in 99. cases in 100. these rules are proper, and it is only to be regretted that the obligation to adhere to rule in all cases, disables us from doing what would be right in some … [however a] draught for 800. D. on account of the purchase of instruments … proves a desire to accomodate you as far as is practicable ….
To Jared Mansfield, July 18, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective Leaders find a way!
Mansfield (1759-1830), a skilled mathematician and surveyor, was appointed by President Jefferson to be a professor at West Point in 1801 and Surveyor General of the U.S. in 1803. Mansfield met with Treasury Secretary Gallatin and learned that none of the cost of relocating his family to Washington would be covered nor was any advance possible on his salary. He also had the mistaken notion from Gallatin that no money could be provided in advance for the purchase of necessary surveying instruments. Mansfield wrote to Jefferson about the impossibility taking the new position without some kind of financial help.
Jefferson concurred with Gallatin that the law prohibited moving expenses or salary advances. It was wise policy, but in very rare instances, like this one, counterproductive. Yet, he said Mansfield was in error thinking that buying instruments in advance was also prohibited. Thus, Gallatin would advance $800 for that purpose. The amount just happened to be more than the instruments would cost. Mansfield could use unspent funds as he wished (such as for moving expenses). That amount would be debited against his future salary.
The President warned Mansfield that this accommodation was for him alone and to keep it confidential, lest it be “injuriously perverted” by his political opponents.