ASSUMPTION. "Assumption" was the term applied to the economic policy proposed by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in his First Report on the Public Credit, which he presented to Congress on 14 January 1790. Under this policy the new federal government would "assume" about $25 million of debt that states had contracted during the War of Independence. State debts, along with about $40 million owed by the former central government, would be converted into new federal government securities to be redeemed over the long term. Representatives from states that had undertaken often painful financial measures to retire their own debt had no interest in assuming part of the burden of their less fiscally responsible neighbors. At the same time, there was a controversy over the site for the national capital. Thomas Jefferson, then secretary of state, engineered a dinner meeting, probably on 20 June 1790, at which Hamilton and James Madison of Virginia, a state that had retired much of its war debt, agreed to a compromise. In return for Hamilton's help in getting the federal capital moved to a site on the Potomac River (what is now Washington, D.C.), Madison, a leader in the House of Representatives, endorsed the assumption of debts the states could prove were contracted to prosecute the war. The entire plan was passed into law on 4 August 1790.
Ellis, Joseph. Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. New York: Knopf, 2001.
revised by Harold E. Selesky
as·sump·tion / əˈsəm(p)shən/ • n. 1. a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof: they made certain assumptions about the market. 2. the action of taking or beginning to take power or responsibility: the assumption of an active role in regional settlements. 3. (Assumption) the reception of the Virgin Mary bodily into heaven. This was formally declared a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1950. See also Dormition. ∎ the feast in honor of this, celebrated on August 15. 4. archaic arrogance or presumption.
The undertaking of the repayment of a debt or the performance of an obligation owed by another.
When a purchaser of real property assumes the mortgage of the seller, he or she agrees to adopt the mortgage debt, becoming personally liable for its full repayment in case of default. If a foreclosure sale of the mortgaged property does not satisfy the debt, the purchaser remains financially responsible for the outstanding balance.
In contrast, a purchaser who takes subject to the seller's mortgage agrees to repay the mortgage debt, but that person's liability is limited only to the amount that the mortgaged property is sold for in the case of foreclosure. If the property is sold for less than the mortgage debt, the mortgagee must seek the remaining balance due from the seller, the original mortgagor.