An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States/Chapter V
Chapter V 
The Economic Interests of the Members of the Convention
The Economic Interests of the Members of the Convention
Having shown that four groups of property rights were adversely affected by the government under the Articles of Confederation, and that economic motives were behind the movement for a reconstruction of the system, it is now necessary to inquire whether the members of the Convention which drafted the Constitution represented in their own property affiliations any or all of these groups. In other words, did the men who formulated the fundamental law of the land possess the kinds of property which were immediately and directly increased in value or made more secure by the results of their labors at Philadelphia? Did they have money at interest? Did they own public securities? Did they hold western lands for appreciation? Were they interested in shipping and manufactures?
The purpose of such an inquiry is not, of course, to show that the Constitution was made for the personal benefit of the members of the Convention. Far from it. Neither is it of any moment to discover how many hundred thousand dollars accrued to them as a result of the foundation of the new government. The only point here considered is: Did they represent distinct groups whose economic interests they understood and felt in concrete, definite form through their own personal experience with identical property rights, or were they working merely under the guidance of abstract principles of political science?
Unfortunately, the materials for such a study are very scanty, because the average biographer usually considers as negligible the processes by which his hero gained his livelihood. The pages which follow are, therefore, more an evidence of what ought to be done than a record of results actually accomplished. They would be meagre, indeed, were it not for the rich unpublished records of the Treasury Department which are here used for the first time in this connection; and they would doubtless have been fuller were it not for the fact that most of the books showing the central operations of the Treasury Department under Hamilton have disappeared. The names of the attending members of the Convention are given in alphabetical order.
Of Abraham Baldwin's private fortune there is little known. His father was evidently well-to-do, for he enjoyed the advantage of a classical education at Yale before he established himself in the practice of law at Savannah, Georgia. He soon rose to eminence in his profession, and was reckoned among the ablest and shrewdest lawyers of his adopted commonwealth. A short sketch of him states that by "his constant habits of economy and temperance," he accumulated enough to enable him to assist many young men in their education and establishment in business. When his father died, in 1787, he was able to pay the debts of the insolvent estate, and he educated his six half brothers and sisters "in a great measure at his own expense.”
Some portion of Baldwin's fortune was invested in public securities. He possessed a few thousand dollars worth of the stocks of the new government at its very inception, which doubtless represented old paper of the Confederation acquired by original subscription or by purchase. The ledgers and other principal records of Georgia are apparently unavailable - at all events a search at the Treasury Department failed to reveal them; but Baldwin held some paper which is entered on the books of his native state, Connecticut, in April, 1792: deferred 6 per cents, funded 6 per cents, and 3 per cents to the amount of about $2500.
At later dates, 1797 and 1804, he appears on the Treasury Records for several thousand dollars worth of 6 per cents this and 3 per cents, but the sources of these sums are not apparent. It is probable, however, that these stocks were the paper which Baldwin funded at the Treasury instead of a loan office. He was a member of Congress, and naturally would have transacted business with the agency nearest at hand. They may, of course, represent purchases for investment, made after the great appreciation had taken place.
There is no exhaustive biography of Richard Bassett, of Delaware. A brief sketch of him relates that he "was born in 1745. He was the adopted son of Mr. Lawson, a lawyer, led who married Miss Inzer. The Inzer family was Herman's heir to Bohemia Manor. ...Mr. Bassett was educated and trained for the profession of law by Mr. Lawson, whose heir he became. By this inheritance he came into in possession of six thousand acres of Bohemia manor, which we are informed, embraced the fairest and best portion of he the Manor." Through his inheritance and his accumulations in the practice of law, he became one of the wealthy men of his state. Another biographer notes that "His fortune was large and he entertained lavishly at his three homes in Wilmington, Dover, and at Bohemia Manor.” He was on intimate terms with the leading financial men the community; he was very active in securing a charter in Delaware for the Bank of North America when it was attacked by the Pennsylvania legislature, and was warmly thanked for his success by President Willing, in a letter dated February 6, 1786.
Whether any considerable amount of Mr. Bassett's large fortune was invested in public securities at the inception the new government it is impossible to ascertain, on account of the meagre records of the state of Delaware preserved in the Treasury Department. In the later documents the central office of the Treasury there appears the remnant of "an old account" to the amount of a few hundred dollars worth of 3 per cents and 6 per cents under dates of 1796 a 1797. A reasonable inference from the entry would be that Bassett, like other members of Congress, carried on transactions directly with the Treasury (whose early records are missing), and that these holdings were based on paper originally funded.
Gunning Bedford, of Delaware, was the son of a "substantial land owner" and a Bedford of that name appears on the tax lists of Newcastle county for the year 1776 for the amount of sixteen pounds, a moderate sum for those days. He was a lawyer, but the extent of his practice is not known. He was of high standing in the community, and was elected governor of his state a few years after the Convention met. He took an interest in the financial affairs of the state, and under his administration as governor the Bank of Delaware was organized. How far Bedford had an interest in public securities cannot be determined on account of the fact that only a few scraps of the loan office papers for Delaware seem to be preserved in the Treasury Department. An old loan office volume shows a Gunning Bedford down for one $400 certificate of May, 1779 and large traces of the financial connections of the member of the Convention with the government are to be found in the Pennsylvania loan office records.
John Blair, of Virginia, was born in that state about 1731. He received a collegiate education, prepared for the law, and "in a very few years rose to the head of his profession." Pierce, in his notes on the men of the Convention, says: "Mr. Blair is one of the most respectable men in Virginia, both on account of his Family as well as fortune. He is one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and acknowledged to have a very extensive knowledge of the Laws. Mr. Blair is however no orator, but his good sense and most excellent principles compensate for other deficiencies."
Blair took advantage of the excellent opportunity afforded by the formation of the new Constitution to profit by the rise of securities. He appears frequently in the fiscal transactions between the federal government and the Virginia loan office, of which a few illustrations need be given here. In March, 1791, he presented £577/16/7 in Virginia certificates toward the United States loan; and of these securities £249 had been invested by Blair himself in 1782. The remaining amount he had purchased on his own account. In the same year an agent of Blair presented two small certificates which had evidently been purchased by the principal because they were issued to other parties in 1778. In September of that year, Blair himself turned in nearly $10,000 worth of paper on the United States loan of which apart was purchased and a part original issues to the holder.
William Blount, of North Carolina, was the son of Jacob Blount who died in 1789, "leaving a large estate." Of the younger Blount's property interests in 1787 it is impossible to speak in detail. Very early after the establishment of the new government he was connected with land speculations on a large scale. In 1790 he was appointed by Washington to the post of governor of the Territory South of the Ohio and it seems that he did not consider the employment of public office for personal gain as incompatible with the discharge of his administrative duties. In July, 1797 President Adams sent a message to Congress asserting that there was a conspiracy in the southwest to wrest New Orleans and the Floridas from the King of Spain and transfer then to the English crown, and adding that Blount, who was then a Senator from Tennessee, was implicated in the plot. The United States Senate immediately took action, and after inquiry expelled him by a vote of twenty-five to one on the charge of "high misdemeanor inconsistent with public trust and duty." When the sergeant-at-arms went to arrest him and take him to Philadelphia for trial he refused to go; and in his refusal he was warmly supported by his friends, of whom he had a legion, for, as his biographer remarks, "He was a man of commanding presence, courtly yet simple manners, and having a large salary and large private means, he entertained lavishly at his house."
It does not appear that Blount combined dealings in loan, securities with speculations in land, for the loan office of North Carolina credits him with only a small holding, and the origin of that is not apparent. It is true that the records Jacob of that state are incomplete, but Blount's appointment to the western post at the beginning of Washington's administration must have precluded extensive operations in securities.
David Brearley, of New Jersey, was the grandson of John Brearley, who "owned 1600 acres of land near Newton, N. J. ...a hundred acre plantation on the Delaware. .. besides several thousand acres of land near Lawrenceville." A brief sketch of him states that he "received the honors of Princeton at the age of eighteen. On leaving that celebrated seminary, he commenced the study of law, and in a leans few years stood foremost at the bar of his native state." In 1779 he was appointed chief justice of New Jersey, a post which he held until 1789 when he resigned to accept a position as judge of the United States district court of that state.
Brearley died in the summer of 1790 and consequenty could not have established any fiscal relations with the new government. The incompleteness of the early loan office records for New Jersey, preserved in the Treasury Department, renders impossible a positive statement concerning Brearley's holdings of securities at the time of the Convention. Only one small entry appears in his name for a few hundred dollars in a certificate purchased in 1779; his relatives however, appear frequently on the loan office books of his state; but their aggregate holdings were small. Joseph Brearley's name occurs several times, for example in July 1791, for $505.80 worth of 3 per cents; David Brearley had son and a brother bearing that name. Elizabeth Brearle is also among the small holders, and the Chief Justice first and second wife and a daughter bore that name. The name of Zerujah Brearley - a sister of the member of the Convention - also appears.
Jacob Broom, of Delaware, was born at Wilmington, in 1752. His father "originally a blacksmith was regarded as one of 'the gentry' of the day, and was 'a man of considerable substance, in real estate, silver, and gold,' although not one of the very wealthiest of his class. 'Class' distinctions, arising from birth, education, and worldly possessions were not wholly ignored at that time by those who came to this land to find a home, a sanctuary, and liberty. And so in the transactions of the period we find James Broom, Jacob's father, referred to as James Broom, Gentleman; and Jacob Broom as Surveyor. And both of these men had lands and houses to rent and sell and gold and silver to loan on good security. And both of them sold and rented and loaned."
Broom was a man of diversified financial resources. He was interested in cotton mills and other enterprises. He was one of the original stockholders of the Insurance Company of North America organized at Philadelphia in 1792. He was also one of the organizers and original stockholders of the Delaware Bank established under Bedford's administration. As mentioned above, the fragmentary records of Delaware in the Treasury Department throw little light on the public security holders of that state at the time of the formation of the Constitution; but the ledgers of the central Treasury show that Broom was a holder of a small amount of 3 per cents in 1797 and that this was a remnant of an older account. Broom was also willing to serve the new government in an official capacity, for he applied to Madison in April, 1789, for an appointment as collector at Wilmington.
Pierce Butler, of South Carolina, was a descendant of the Duke of Ormond and was very vain of his noble birth. William Pierce in his notes on the members of the Convention records that Butler "is a gentleman of fortune and takes rank among the first in South Carolina." He was a large slave holder, having thirty-one in his possession at the time of the first census. He also possessed some public securities, for he was a stockholder and director of the first United States Bank, and must have purchased his shares on the same basis as other stockholders, that is, by the exchange of securities. He does not appear on the records of South Carolina, however, but his daughter, Sarah, had in 1792 a small amount of the assumed debt.
Daniel Carroll, of Maryland, is recorded by his contemporary, Pierce, as "a man of large fortune and influence in his state.” His interests were wide and varied. He was a stockholder in the Potomac Company; and he favoured the adoption of a protective tariff, for he was among the signers of the petition for such a measure laid before the first Congress under the new Constitution. He was a holder of public securities, for his name occurs frequently in the Treasury records of the period. His chief source of profit out of the new system was however in the location of the capitol at Washington, on land which he owned. Incidentally, he was able to facilitate this last transaction, for he was a member of the Congress of 1789-1791 and was one of the commissioners appointed to layout the District of Columbia.
George Clymer, of Pennsylvania, was the son of "a well- to-do merchant and ship builder of Philadelphia" who had augmented his fortunes by marrying the daughter of a South fellow merchant of the same city. On the early death of .1792 his parents he was placed under the guardianship of William Coleman, one of the first business men of his native city, whose counting house he entered to learn all the arts of mercantile pursuits and "the principal part of whose fortune he inherited." Clymer's personal fortune was further enhanced by a happy marriage to Elizabeth Meredith, the daughter of Reese Meredith, "one of the principal merchants of Philadelphia." He was thus a brother-in-law of Mr. Meredith the first treasurer of the Union, also a man of "large fortune." For some time Clymer was associated profit in business with his father- and brother-in-law .
Mr. Clymer's intimate associations were therefore merchantile and financial, and his large fortune and quick understanding of the needs of trade and commerce made him one of the first men of his city in the Revolution and gave him a wide influence during the critical period, the formation of the Constitution, and the establishment of the new government, which he served as a member of Congress and later in several official capacities.
In all financial matters he took a deep interest. He helped to create the temporary Bank of Pennsylvania in 1780, and subscribed £5000 to its capital stock. When the Bank of North America was organized he became one of the directors and later was president of the Philadelphia Bank.
Clymer turned his extensive financial experience to some account in handling the securities of the new government which he had been instrumental in framing, for he is recorded in the Pennsylvania books as holding, in August, 1791, over $3000 worth of 3 per cent securities. If he held sixes deferred and funded, as may be assumed, although the incomplete records apparently do not permit of a verification or denial of this, he had in all over $10,000 worth of the government paper.
Wm. R. Davie, of North Carolina, was born in England in 1756 and was brought to America in 1763 by his father, who left him in care of his maternal uncle, William Richardson, a Presbyterian clergyman, who took charge of his education and on his death bequeathed to him his estate. Davie chose the profession of law, and by a lucrative practice "he quickly accumulated a large estate." He was of counsel in the famous case of Bayard v. Singleton, and he had the satisfaction of securing from the court an opinion declaring an act of the state legislature unconstitutional. He held a fine plantation at Tivoli and at his death left a considerable estate which was the subject of litigation as late as 1892 in the Supreme Court of the United States. His personal property certainly was not small for he was able to pay $5000 for a thoroughbred colt. His connections with the landed proprietors of his region were intimate and extensive and he is reported to have drawn all the wills made during his time in that part of the state.
Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, was associated with, and agent for, John Cleves Symmes, in the purchase of an enormous tract of land in Ohio in July and October, 1787, the year of the Convention (formally consummated in 1788), and before the ensealing of the contract Symmes and his associates had paid into the Treasury $82,198 "one seventh in military rights and the residue in the public securities of the United States." The remainder was to be paid in gold or silver or the securities of the United States, and part, (one seventh) in military rights. In 1792 Symmes and Dayton complained that on account of the "advanced price of certificates," they must have easier terms. It is apparent from this record, that they were engaged in buying up military certificates and government securities about the time of the meeting of the Convention.
Afterward, by collusion with Ludlow, the official surveyor, and the inadvertence of Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, Symmes, Dayton, and associates secured "the advantage of paying almost two-sevenths of their contract and above one-half of their actual payments in military warrants of one acre for an acre and a half of the supposed million, instead of one-seventh part of the actual payments” at a loss to the United States of more than $30,000. In March and April, 1800, Dayton purchased about 15,000 acres of public lands with military certificates.
If further evidence were needed that Dayton was speculating vigorously in government securities and military certificates, it is to be found in a suit brought by him and his partner, Lawrence, against Childs, a member of their concern in 1800, which was carried before Chancellor Livingston and later withdrawn. In this case Childs exhibited sixteen letters from Dayton, showing that while the latter was Speaker of the House of Representatives he had been engaged in speculations in public land warrants. Dayton was not unaware of the improper character of such transactions, for in a letter of April 17, 1796, he wrote to Childs: "The contents of this letter are of such a nature as to render it improper to be seen by any except yourself; burn it therefore, when you have perused it."
The conclusive evidence of Dayton's extensive operatic in public securities during the period of the establishment of the new government and his term of service as Speaker is afforded by the records of the Treasury Department. Here he appears so frequently on the books of the loan offices of several states that some pages of this volume would be required to present the bare data of his transactions. However, a few examples of his dealings may be given by way of illustration. He appears on the loan office books of New York in February and March, 1791, for the following amounts: $17,060.82, $8530.40, $11,332.93, $7401.31, $3700.73, and $5100.61, totalling more than $50,000. At another point he is recorded for more than $15,000; and at another point for $6000. Although Woods is not celebrated for the painstaking impartiality of his famous History of Adam, Administration, he is singularly accurate in one of his characterizations: "Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, the late speaker of Congress, is notorious from Boston to Georgia. The deeds of other members of Congress were scarcely known beyond the circle of their respective states, but the speculations of this man have rung throughout the western world."
John Dickinson, of Delaware, was a member of one of the established landed families of the south. He was born in 1732, on a plantation in Talbot County, on the eastern shores of Maryland; and eight years after his birth, his father, Samuel Dickinson moved from Maryland to Delaware "where he purchased a large estate in Kent County, near Dover." Dickinson was a student of law in the Middle Temple and took up the practice of his profession in Philadelphia in 1757. Within five years he had acquired an extensive practice and won a respectable standing at the bar.
If his personal fortunes, however, had not been sufficient to assure him a satisfactory position in the business and professional world at Philadelphia, his marriage into one of the first and wealthiest commercial families would have more than made up for his deficiencies.
In 1770 he married Mary Norris, and for a time lived at the family estate, Fairhill, one of the show places of the day: "This house," says Simpson, "was in its day a very grand mansion and a place of great celebrity, with a large front of sixty feet. It was surrounded by forest and evergreen trees of majestic growth and well-arranged shrubbery. It commanded a beautiful prospect of the city, with a distant view of the Delaware. ...The mansion was two stories high and most substantially built, with a very wide hall running through its centre. The library was papered, but the parlors and hall were wainscotted with oak and red cedar unpainted, but polished with wax and kept in bright and handsome order by constant rubbing. The carriageway was finely graduated and wound through an extensive lawn, from its approach on the Germantown road which was bordered with shrubbery. The pleasure grounds, lawn, green house, and gardens, fish-ponds, and walk, embraced a large area of several acres in extent." It is true the vast estates bequeathed to Miss Norris by her father were transferred to collateral male heirs in order to preserve the family holding and name, but she retained the "considerable personal property " which her father left to her. Dickinson was able to make a large gift to Dickinson College, named in his honor; and he and his wife were widely celebrated for their extensive benefactions.
The meagreness of the Treasury records for Delaware make it impossible to determine whether Dickinson was engaged in fiscal operations along with his intimate friend, Robert Morris, Thomas Willing, George Clymer, and other prominent Philadelphia men of affairs. It is possible that he was not largely engaged in the public security transactions, for he was an extremely cautious man in finances and had got into serious discredit with the patriot part; during the Revolution, because it was rumored that he had advised his brother against accepting the payment of debt in paper which was sure to depreciate. He was also unhappily involved with Robert Morris to the amount of £7000 at the time of the latter's embarrassment, and may not have wished to incur further risks.
Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut, was the son of a clever Connecticut farmer who inherited a hundred pounds and "had the industry and the shrewdness to accumulate a considerable estate and to win the reputation of an excellent farmer." Oliver was educated at Yale and Princeton and became a lawyer in spite of his father's determination to force him into the ministry. Though he was almost briefless during the early days of his practice, he had the good fortune to wed the daughter of William Wolcott, of East Windsor, "a gentleman of substance and distinction." He is described by his biographer as a man of great purpose, left to persistency, and of little imagination, and he rose rapidly to wealth and power at the bar of his native state. "It is doubtful," says Brown, "if in the entire history of the Connecticut bar any other lawyer has ever in so short a time accumulated so great a practice. . . . Measured either by the amount of his business or by his earnings, it was unrivalled in his own day and unexampled in the history of the colony. Naturally shrewd, and with nothing of the spendthrift in his nature, he quickly earned a competence, and by good management he increased it to a fortune which for the times and the country was quite uncommonly large. From a few documents still in existence it is clear that he had became something of a capitalist and investor. He bought debts lands and houses and loaned out money at interest. He was a stockholder in the Hartford Bank and one of the original subscribers to the stock of the old Hartford Broad-cloth Mill (1788)."
With that natural shrewdness and economy which his latest biographer ascribed to him, Ellsworth accumulated a by no means negligible amount in public securities from which he profited by the rise of credit that accompanied the establishment of the new government. He was among the first citizens of Connecticut to have his paper funded into the new government securities, for he appears in December, 1791, with $1330.50 in deferred sixes, $2660.98 in funded sixes, and $1995.75 in 3 per cents. His wife, Abigail, and other members of her family, the Wolcotts, had also invested in securities.
William Few, of Georgia, was almost unique among the members of the Convention in being a representative, in origin and education, of the small farming class. His father was a Maryland farmer who was led by a successive failure of crops to try his fortune in North Carolina, where young Few laboured with the axe and plough. Even here the elder Few did not prosper, and he became so deeply involved in debt that his son had to take over the management of his property. William, afterward, in 1776, settled in Georgia and soon became engaged in politics and the Revolutionary War.
At the close of the War, he relates, "I possessed not much property nor had I any expectation that I did not acquire by my own industry. I therefore determined to commence the practice of law, although I had never spent one hour in the office of an attorney to prepare for business, nor did know anything of the practice." He adds, however, that his practice grew in spite of his deficiencies and that his "pecuniary prospects were very flattering," by the time he was elected a member of the Convention. At all events he acquired a plantation in Columbia County, and after the expiration of his term as Senator in 1793, he retired there and engaged in agricultural pursuits. In 1799 he left Georgia for New York, where he managed his small fortune in real and personal property, according to his own estimate, about $100,000.
Few's personal interest in the new government was probably rather small, but the absence of the full records of Georgia from the books of the Treasury Department renders impossible a categorical statement. He was connected with the Georgia Union Company, which was involved in the Yazoo land deals; ref>Haskins, The Yazoo Land Companies, p, 81.</ref> and he presented for funding a certificate of the issue of 1779 to the amount of $2170 nominal value, which he had secured from one Spears. His name appears occasionally on other records for small amounts, and the index in the office of the Register of the Treasury cites him as being among the security holders recorded in a volume not found.
Thomas Fitzsimons, of Pennsylvania, was intimately identified with the mercantile interests of his city. He is described as "an extensive merchant," and his family connections were with people engaged in his own line. He married the daughter of Robert Meade, and established business relations with his brother-in-law "who was one of the prominent merchants and ship-owners of Philadelphia." It is recorded of him that "His influence in the country and, especially among merchants was second to none. ...Mr. Fitzsimons was one of those efficient and able men who laid the foundations of the commercial and financial systems of the United States." It is not surprising to find that he was also a "conspicuous advocate of a protective tariff."
Like his prominent associates in Philadelphia, Mr. Fitzsimons combined mercantile and financial operations. He was "for a long time a director in the Bank of North America and President of the Insurance Company of North America, in which latter office he continued until his death." Indeed he was so extensively involved in the speculations of Robert Morris that his resources were seriously crippled by the failure of that gentleman.
His intimate knowledge of finance and his immediate business connections doubtless invited him to deal in public securities; and Maclay sets him down among the speculators as follows: "The Speaker gives me this day his opinion that Mr. Fitzsimons was concerned in this business [of speculating) as well as Mr. Morris, and that they stayed away (from Congress) for the double purpose of pursuing their speculation and remaining unsuspected." It is probable that Maclay's version is correct, for in 1791 Fitzsimon's agent, Michael Conner, presented for him certificates of 1778 to the amount of nearly $12,000 nominal value which he had evidently bought up. He appears also on the records of the 6 per cents and the threes for small amounts, and his operations extended beyond his native state.
Fitzsimons was also involved extensively in land speculations with Robert Morris, for the latter in a letter of October 9, 1795, writes to James Marshall, their European agent, to the effect that Fitzsimons and he had put on sale in London "about 360,000 acres of land situated in Georgia." But as pointed out above Fitzsimons' relations with Morris cost him dearly and snatched away from him all that he had made in public securities and more besides.
Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, in the midst of his varied activities as printer, diplomat, statesman, and philosopher, managed withal by thrift and investments to accumulate a considerable fortune for his day, about $150,000. At his great age on the assembling of the Convention, it public would hardly have been practicable for him to have engaged in investments in public securities had he been so inclined; and he died in 1790, before the funding system went into effect. A short time before his death, however, he was interested in land speculations; and in his will he bequeaths "lands near the Ohio" and three thousand acres granted by the State of Georgia to him. He does not appear to have held any public paper.
Nicholas Gilman, of New Hampshire, was in public life which from his youth until his death. He entered the army at the age of twenty-one, and after the War he served in Congress and in other public positions. He does not seem to have been a man of much weight either in private life or the Convention. A French observer remarks of his election as a member of the Federal Convention: "Cette circonstance prouve qu'il n'y a pas un grand choix à faire dans cet Etat, ou que du moins les hommes des plus sensés et les plus habiles ne sont pas assés riches pour accepter une place publique."
In financial matters, there was no doubt of Gilman's ability. He managed to accumulate a considerable amount of public securities before the meeting of the Convention, and apparently added to his holdings later. In the Nicholas-Gilman papers preserved in the Library of Congress there is a list of certificates of the liquidated debt to the amount of $5400.67, declared to be the property of Nicholas Gilman, on December 9, 1786. This paper was bought up by Gilman, for the list of original holders is given. A receipt bearing the date of June 29, 1787, preserved in the above paper shows Nicholas Gilman to have received interest on $6654 of the public debt. He and the various members of the Gilman family of New Hampshire were extensively engaged in transactions in public securities. One entry in the Treasury books of the new government shows Nicholas Gilman to have $11,021.95 worth of 6 per cent Deferred Stock; and he supplemented his purely fiscal operation by dealing in military certificates (that is, soldier's paper which could be bought from necessitous holders at a fraction of its value), and in public lands.
While Oilman was quick to look after his own interests his devotion to his native state made him anxious for her towns to participate in the general prosperity enjoyed by holders of public securities after the formation of the Constitution. On September 3, 1787, he had already discovered the probable effect of the proposed Constitution not yet ready to lay before the people, upon the securities of the government. On that day he wrote to the President of New Hampshire advising the towns to buy up public securities at the prevailing low price in order to have paper to transfer to the federal government in lieu of taxes and other charges. He says: "I find many of the states are making provision to buy in their quota's of the final settlements, and I must ardently wish that the towns in New Hampshire may be so far awake to a sense of their interest as to part with their property freely in order to purchase their several quota's of the public securities now in circulation, while they are to be had at the present low rate which is in this place, at two shillings and six pence on the pound. If they suffer the present opportunity to pass and we should be so fortunate as to have an efficient Government, they will be obliged to buy them of brokers, hawkers, speculators, and jockeys at six or perhaps eight times their present value."
Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, was born in Marblehead in 1744. His father was a merchant of good standing and comfortable estate. His biographer states that after his graduation from Harvard, Elbridge "turned his attention to that line of life in which his father's prosperity seemed to hold out the greatest inducements to a young and enterprising mind; and he plunged at once into the most active pursuits of commerce. His fairness, correctness, and assiduity, and the extensive knowledge of commercial concerns which he acquired from his father's experience and his own exertions were crowned with good fortune, and while yet young in business and in years he acquired a considerable estate and a very high standing at Marblehead."
As a merchant, Gerry was closely in touch with the needs of commerce, and was deeply impressed with the necessity for national resistance to the discriminations of Great Britain. In April, 1784, he presented a report to Congress in which he called attention to the fact that Great Britain had adopted regulations destructive to American commerce in the West India Islands, and that these measures of discrimination were growing into a system. "Unless the United States in Congress assembled," he urged, "shall be vested with powers competent to the protection of commerce, they can never command reciprocal advantages in trade; and without these, our foreign commerce must decline and eventually be annihilated." The West Indian trade affected New England particularly, and Gerry is thus reflecting a local interest in demanding a national system of commercial protection.
In addition to his mercantile interests, Gerry was concerned in financial affairs. In the Convention he strongly urged inserting in the Constitution a clause conferring on the new government not only the power but also the obligation to provide fully for the holders of public securities. According to Madison's notes, "Mr. Gerry considered giving the power only, without adopting the obligation, as destroying the security now enjoyed by the public creditors of the United States. He enlarged on the merit of this class of citizens, and the solemn faith which had been pledged under the existing Confederation." Later in the Convention, when Colonel Mason objected to making the full discharge of the debt obligatory, Gerry again took exceptions. He said, " that for himself he had no interest in the question, being not possessed of more of the securities than would by the interest pay his taxes. He would observe, however, that as the public had received the value of the literal amount, they ought to pay that value to somebody. The frauds on the soldiers ought to have been foreseen. These poor and ignorant people could not but part with their securities. There are other creditors who will part with anything rather than be cheated out of the capital of their advances. ... If the public faith would admit, of which he was not clear, he would not object to a revision of the debt so far as to compel restitution to the ignorant and distressed who had been defrauded. As to the Stock-jobbers he saw no reason for the censures thrown on them. They kept up the value of the paper. Without them there would be no market."
Gerry here explains to his colleagues that he is a holder of securities; but he modestly underestimates the amount, or his taxes were rather high, for the loan office records of Massachusetts show that the interest on his securities, issued pursuant to the act of Congress of April 28, 1784, was about $3500 a year, an amount which, even at the prevailing rate of depreciation, would have covered the taxes on a considerable estate. The incompleteness of the records in the Treasury Department does not permit of an exact estimate of Gerry's holdings; but they must have been large, for the following items appear to his credit: $14,266.89 on the Liquidated Debt Book of the Massachusetts loan office, $2648.50 worth of sixes and threes in 1790 on the Pennsylvania loan office books, $409.50 in threes on the Pennsylvania ledger under the date of December 13, 1790, and £3504/8/10 worth of old paper funded into federal securities in the Massachusetts loan office, August 24, 1791. There may be of course some duplication of amounts but there can be no doubt that Gerry's interest income from confederate securities in one year shortly before the meeting of the Convention was about $3500, and also there can be no doubt that Gerry had bought largely with a view to speculation, for a very few of his certificates were issued to him originally. He had therefore more than an academic sympathy with the stockbrokers. Nevertheless, it should be noted that notwithstanding his large interests at stake, Gerry for several reasons strongly opposed the ratification of the Constitution.
However, Gerry during his entire public career seems to have intermixed his official relations with his private economic affairs. While he was a member of Congress, before the adoption of the Constitution, he became interested in the public lands. On March 1, 1785, Timothy Pickering, one of the leading land operators of the period, wrote to Gerry: "As you have expressed your wishes to be concerned in the purchase of lands on the other side of the Alleghany mountains thro' our agency, we think it very material to your interest as well as our own that we be informed, if possible, what plan Congress will probably adopt in disposing of those lands which lie west of the Ohio. If they mean to permit adventurers to make a scramble. . it will behove us to engage seasonably with some enterprising, but confidential character, to explore the country and make locations. ...If there must be a scramble, we have an equal right with others, and, therefore, the information desired in the beginning of this letter may be of essential importance. Your answer to this letter will much oblige your sincere friends who wish to advance your interest with their own."
Gerry was then a member of Congress, which had under consideration the disposal of the western lands. If this land company, of course, could secure inside information, it would be advantageous to Mr. Gerry who contemplated speculating in those lands, as well as to Mr. Pickering's agency.
Gerry undoubtedly took advantage of the opportunity to invest in western enterprises, for he was a share-holder in the Ohio Company, proprietors of lands on the Muskingum River- a concern in which he apparently became interested while a member of the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, during the organization of the Company - and the procuring of the public grant.
Nathaniel Gorham, of Massachusetts, was a successful merchant at Charlestown, the place of his birth. He was prominent in the political life of his community, having served as a member of the legislature and the constitutional convention of his state.
In addition to his mercantile and political pursuits, Gorham engaged in land speculation on a large scale. In 1786, Massachusetts, by a compromise with New York, secured a large area of western country, and in April, 1788, "sold all land to Nathaniel Gorham, of Charlestown, and Oliver Phelps, of Granville, for a million dollars, to be paid in three annual instalments in the scrip of Massachusetts, known as consolidated securities, which were then much below par. . . . Behind Phelps and Gorham there was a syndicate of persons who desired to speculate in the lands, but who, in order not to compete with each other, had united and allowed these two to act for all."
Robert Morris was one of Gorham's associates in this venture, and other prominent men were behind the project but the projectors were unable to realize fully on their scheme, because the rise of Massachusetts scrip, after the adoption of the Constitution, made it impossible for them to fulfil the original terms of their contract. Consequently, they received only a portion of the original purchase.
The unhappy outcome of this venture apparently left Gorham without a very large fortune at his death in 1796. He does not seem to have combined any considerable transactions in continental securities with those in state scrip; although he was doubtless a holder in some amount because his will shows him to have been possessed of twenty shares in United States Bank stock. Inasmuch as holders of this paper secured it in exchange for old securities and some specie, it may be surmised that Gorham must have had some of the continental paper at the time of the establishment of the Bank, although it may be that he purchased the stock as an investment. The tangled state of his affairs at his death makes this latter conclusion improbable at least.
We have now come to the colossal genius of the new system, Alexander Hamilton. It is true, that he had little part in the formation of the Constitution, but it was his organizing ability that made it a real instrument bottomed on all the substantial interests of the time. It was he who saw most keenly the precise character of the social groups which would have to be rallied to the new government in order to draw support away from the states and give the federal system a firm foundation. He perceived that governments were not made out of thin air and abstract principles. He knew that the Constitution was designed to accomplish certain definite objects, affecting in its operation certain definite groups of property rights in society. He saw that these interests were at first inchoate, in process of organization, and he achieved the task of completing their consolidation and attaching them to the federal government.
He saw, in the first place, that the most easily consolidated and timorous group was composed of the creditors, the financiers, bankers, and money lenders. He perceived that they were concentrated in the towns and thus were easily drawn together. He saw that by identifying their interests with those of the new government, the latter would be secure; they would not desert the ship in which they were all afloat. It has been charged that he leaned always on the side of the financial interest against the public as represented in the government; but it must be remembered that at the time the new system went into effect, the public had no credit, and financiers were not willing to forego their gains and profits for an abstraction. It is charged against him that he did not buy up government paper in behalf the public at the most favourable terms; but to have done so would have diminished the profits of the very financiers whose good will was necessary to the continuance of the government.
The second group of interests which Hamilton saw ready for organization were the merchants and manufacturers who wished protective tariffs. He would have been blind, indeed, if he had not discovered and interpreted the widespread movement for protection which was swiftly gathering headway during the years preceding the formation of the Constitution. He was not blind. His first report on manufactures show how keenly alive he was to the extent and diversity of the groups whose financial advantage lay in a system of protection. Whether this was for the good of the whole people need not be argued here. Hamilton's relations were with the immediate beneficiaries. They were the men who were to throw their weight on the side of the new government. How persistently Hamilton sought to inform himself of the precise nature of the interests needing protection in the separate localities, from New Hampshire to Georgia, is evidenced by his unpublished correspondence with businessmen in all the commercial centres.
The third interest which Hamilton consolidated was composed of the land speculators and promoters and embraced all the leading men of the time - Washington, Franklin, Robert Morris, James Wilson, William Blount, and other men of eminence. This dealing in land was intimately connected with public securities, for a large portion of the lands were bought with land warrants purchased from the soldiers, and with other stocks bought on the open market at low prices. Hamilton saw clearly the connection of this interest with the new government, and his public land policies were directed especially to obtaining the support of this type of operators.
Without the conciliation and positive support of these powerful elements in American society, the new government could not have been founded or continued. With keen insight, Hamilton saw this. He made no attempt to conceal it; for whatever may have been his faults he did not add the crime of demogogy. It is true that in private he often expressed a contempt for popular rule which is absent from his public papers; but his public papers contain a plain statement of his policies, and show why he considered them necessary to the strength and stability of the government.
Thousands of small farmers and debtors and laboring mechanics were opposed to his policies, but they did not have the organization or consciousness of identity of interests which was necessary to give them weight in the councils of the new government. They were partly disfranchised under the existing laws, and they had no leaders worthy of mention. The road to power and glory did not yet lie in championing their cause. It required the astute leadership of Jefferson, and the creation of a federal machine under his direction, to consolidate the heterogeneous petty interests against the Federalist group.
But during Hamilton's administration, representatives of these smaller interests began to attack his policies as inimical to public interest, i.e., their own interests; and out of this attack grew the charge that Hamilton himself was privately engaged in augmenting his personal fortune by the methods which he had created for the advantage of public creditors and financiers generally. Although this charge, even if true, should not be allowed to obscure the real greatness of Hamilton's masterly mind, and has little bearing upon a scientific application of the economic interpretation to the period, it deserves examination at length.
Rumors that Hamilton was personally interested in securities were persistent from the beginning of his career as Secretary of the Treasury, and in his famous Reynolds pamphlet, published in 1797, he precisely states the charge against himself: "Merely because I retained an opinion once common to me and the most influential of those who opposed me, that the public debt ought to be provided for on the basis of the contract upon which it was created, I have been wickedly accused with wantonly increasing the public burthen many millions in order to promote a stock-jobbing interest of myself and friends." That this heavy burden was necessary to secure the support of the financial interests concerned, and that their support was absolutely indispensable to the establishment of the new national system on substantial basis, was admitted by many of Hamilton' worst enemies; but this did not prevent their attacking the Secretary on mere rumors of private peculations.
It now remains to examine the evidence against Hamilton, and state the case fairly so far as our existing records will allow. In 1793, Hamilton was accused of a criminal violation of the laws, and laid under the suspicion of being a defaulter. The House of Representatives was so impressed with the charges that it appointed a committee to investigate the conduct of the Treasury Department, particularly with regard to the charge that Hamilton had made the public moneys "subservient to loans, discounts, and accommodations " to himself and friends.
The result of this investigation was a vindication of the Secretary by the committee on the basis of affidavits from the officers and employees of the various banks involved, public and private. Hamilton cites the report of this committee of the House as containing the "materials of a complete exculpation." But this investigation does not cover the dealings which Hamilton might have had with stock brokers and other persons handling public securities.
Evidences of such relations would not have been contained in the public and private papers available to the committee. Indeed, on account of his intimate business relations with all the leaders who were buying and selling public securities, and, on account of the fact that he could have seen them personally at New York and Philadelphia, it would not have been necessary for him to make any written record of such transactions. But of the larger charges brought against him in Congress we may regard this report as a complete vindication.
The direct charge, however, that Hamilton had violated the solemn obligations of his own office by buying up public securities, as distinct from the charge that he had employed his high authority in the interests of his friends and his class, first took on a serious form in 1797, when the notorious pamphleteer J.T. Callender, in his History of the United States for the Year 1796 published a series of papers purporting to show that in 1791 and 1792 Hamilton had been engaged in speculative ventures with one James Reynolds and Mr. Duer. It appears that in 1792 a Mr. Clingman, then in jail for a crooked transaction with the government, got into communication with Speaker Muhlenburg and hinted that a fellow-prisoner, Reynolds, had been associated with Hamilton in security operations, and had in his possession papers that would establish the facts in the case. Muhlenburg communicated with Monroe and Venable, and the three heard from Reynolds and his wife grave charges against the Secretary.
On learning of these serious charges, Muhlenburg, Venable, and Monroe confronted Hamilton with them and the Secretary explained that the whole charge of speculation was false and that his relations with the Reynolds grew out of an unhappy amour with Mrs. Reynolds. The three investigators accepted this explanation, although Monroe prosecuted further inquiries which resulted in his accumulating additional charges. The papers in the case, it was agreed by Hamilton and his three investigators, were to be kept secret and out of the reach of publication. It turned out, however, that Monroe, angered by the abuse heaped upon him later by the Federalists, gave the documents out for publication, much to the scandal of the country. Hamilton promptly replied in a pamphlet in which he denied any improper financial relations with Reynolds, and explained in painful detail his affair with Reynolds' wife.
When all the external and internal evidence is taken in this case, and the documents connected with it are carefully analyzed, it will be apparent that a decision will rest upon the answer to this question: "Shall Hamilton's testimony as to speculations outweigh that of an undoubted rascal and his wife?" Mr. F.T. Fox, in a recent study of the matter, attempts to convict Hamilton on the internal evidence of his vindication; and apparently does so. But on an examination of Mr. Fox's brief against the Secretary, it soon comes out that he has made a mistake in the crucial dates on which turns his whole case. Consequently, this particular matter rests just where it did more than a hundred years ago. Fair-minded men will be inclined to exonerate Hamilton of the charge brought in the Reynolds indictment.
That Hamilton himself made any money in stocks which he held personally has never been proved by reference to any authentic evidence. He did hold a small amount of public securities, for in a letter of June 26, 1792, to William Seton, he says, "All my property in the funds is about $800, 3 per cents. These at a certain period I should have sold, had I not been unwilling to give occasion to cavil." The origin of this holding is not explained. Even if it was derived from the funding under the acts of August, 1790, and the 6 per cents, funded and deferred were added, it would not have made more than a trifling amount.
That Hamilton ever held any considerable sum in securities seems highly improbable, for he was at no time a rich man, and at his death left a small estate. Though he lived well, and had a large income apart from his paltry salary as Secretary, his earnings as an eminent lawyer may very well account for such sources of revenue as he may have enjoyed. Certainly, had he seen fit to employ his remarkable talents in private enterprise, he might have died one of the rich men of his day. However this may be, the question may be legitimately asked whether Hamilton had any personal connections with any of the security operations which were carried on during his administration of the Treasury? Hamilton's defenders, in response to such an inquiry, will cite his famous reply to Henry Lee in 1789, when the latter asked him for his opinion about the probable rise of public securities: "I am sure you are sincere when you say that you would not subject me to an impropriety, nor do I know that there would be any in answering your queries; but you remember the saying with regard to Caesar's wife. I think the spirit of it applicable to every man concerned in the administration of the finances of the country. With respect to the conduct of such men, suspicion is ever eagle-eyed, and the most innocent things may be misinterpreted."
On the other hand, Maclay, who, as United States Senator during the funding operations, had opportunities for first-hand information, answers the above question in the affirmative. He says, in his record of the Senate on February 1, 1790: "If I needed proof of the baseness of Hamilton, I have it in the fullest manner. His price was communicated in manuscript as far as Philadelphia. Thomas Willing, in a letter to the speaker of the Representatives, after passing many eulogiums on Hamilton's plan, concludes, 'For I have seen in manuscript his whole price,' and it has been used as the basis of the most abandoned system of speculation ever broached in our country.” What Maclay doubtless means here is that Hamilton had communicated to one of the leading financiers of Philadelphia, a partner of Robert Morris and dealer in securities, his proposed plans for redemption of the public debt in full, previous to their publication in the first report to the House on public credit, January 9, 1790. On the question as to how much credence should be given to the assertions of the querulous Maclay, students of history will differ, and impartial scholars will seek further evidence.
Far from admitting any truth in Maclay's allegations, Hamilton's friends would indignantly deny that he had any private connections with security operations in any form. Hamilton's son, in his Reminiscences, states that "Hamilton requested his father-in-law, General Schuyler, not to permit his son to speculate in the public securities lest it should be inferred that their speculations were made upon information furnished by Hamilton; or were made in part on Hamilton's account. Schuyler inhibited any speculations; as Van Rensellaer Schuyler, my uncle, told me, complaining at the same time that, but for this inhibition, he would have made a large sum of money."
The General, however, evidently did not regard this inhibition as binding upon himself, for he appears upon the records as one of the large dealers in public paper in New York. Examples of his extensive financial transactions can be readily found by reference to the old loan books in the Treasury Department; there appear in March, October, and November, 1791, the following amounts to his credit $23,189.21; $15,594.61, $8036.50, $20,689.21.
Neither did Hamilton deem it necessary to inhibit his brother-in-law, J.B. Church, from dealing in securities. During Hamilton's administration of the Treasury, Church was a large holder of public securities. One entry credits him with $28,187.91 worth. Moreover, while Secretary of the Treasury, through his agents, Thomas Willing in Philadelphia, and Wm. Seton in New York, Hamilton bought and sold for his brother-in-law. In the Hamilton Mss. in the Library of Congress is preserved a letter from Thomas Willing bearing the date of February 24, 1790, and addressed to Hamilton, which shows that the former was then selling stocks under the latter's orders for Church.
At a later date, Hamilton was engaged in an extended correspondence with William Seton of the New York Bank which shows that the latter was buying United States Bank stocks for Church, under Hamilton's orders. On November 21, 1793, Seton writes that he has not been able to make an investment for Mr. Church on account of the high price of bank stock. Five days later Seton writes to Hamilton that he thinks it will be possible in a day or two to purchase stock for Mr. Church "under your limits;" and adds, after further remarks, "I therefore feel loth to enter into the market without further orders from you." Here follow, voluminous correspondence showing Seton's successful purchases.
Hamilton's operations for his brother-in-law, Church also extended to speculations in public lands; for in the Hamilton Manuscripts there is a letter bearing the date of August 24, 1792, from William Henderson to him relative to the purchase of large quantities of land (45,000 acres), It appears that Hamilton, Church, and General Schuyler were involved in this negotiation, and that Church was the principal.
Hamilton was also personally interested in western land schemes, for he held five shares of the Ohio Company, proprietors of land on the Muskingum River. Although this concern was organized before the formation of the Constitution, Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury was called upon to pass upon the validity of claims involving thousands of acres. He felt the delicacy of this situation, for on May 9, 1792, he wrote to Washington that he regretted that he was required by law to decide a case in which he was an interested, party, and stated that he had left the matter to be adjusted by the accounting officers of the Treasury acting under an opinion of the Attorney General.
Although Hamilton showed great hesitancy in passing upon his own land claims while Secretary, he did not deem it incompatible with his official duties to communicate occasionally with friends as to the probable prices of public securities and bank stock.
For the communication to Willing, mentioned above, we have, of course, only Maclay's testimony; and if his statement is true Hamilton transmitted official secrets of the most significant character to a financier who, however great his integrity, was in a position to take advantage of them, and was engaged in dealing in securities on his own account and for Hamilton's brother-in-law, Church, under Hamilton's orders. When we remember that Maclay's journal was private in its nature, not intended for publication, and not given to the world until long after all the men mentioned in it were dead, we are constrained to give some credence to his straightforward statements like the one in question, even though he was a bitter enemy of the Federalist leaders. But we are not constrained to attribute to Hamilton any improper motives. Those who assume that the Secretary of the Treasury could have carried out his enormous reorganization of the finances without conferring with the leading financiers of the time have only an elementary knowledge of Treasury administration.
As Secretary, he often found it necessary to set rumours at rest. An instance is afforded in a letter written by Hamilton, on August 17, 1791, to Rufus King, in which he mentioned having given out his opinion on prices to counteract an undue rise in script on the stock market, and concluded by giving King his standard of prices on that day, saying "I give you my standard that you may be able if necessary to contradict insinuations of an estimation on my part short of that standard for the purpose of depressing the funds."
This letter from Hamilton was evidently drawn by one from King bearing the date of August 15, 1791, in which the latter cautions the former against giving out any statements which might affect prices, and informs him that his opinions had been quoted in efforts to depress stocks. King also adds that Duer had been injured in attempts to raise prices, but is of the opinion that "his conduct has been as correct as any buyer's and seller's could be." King had little liking for popular vagaries in finance, for he tells Hamilton that "the fall of Bank certificates may have some good effects; it will operate to deter our industrious citizens from meddling in future with the funds, and teach them contentment in their proper avocations." On the same day that Hamilton replied to King's letter which had informed him of Duer's danger, he wrote to Duer cautioning him against pushing prices too high and repeating earlier warnings. He says: "I will honestly own I had serious fears for you - for your purse and for your reputation; and with an anxiety for both, I wrote you in earnest terms. You are sanguine, my friend. You ought to be aware of it yourself and to be on your guard against the propensity. ...I do not widely differ from you about the real value of bank script. I should rather call it about 190, to be within bounds, with hopes of better things, and I sincerely wish you may be able to support it at what you mention." There is of course, little beyond friendly advice in this, although Hamilton's enemies may see impropriety in his communicating his own price to a man deeply engaged in speculation.
There is some evidence, however, which may reasonably be interpreted to imply that Hamilton might have used his official power in behalf of Duer. In reply to a letter from Duer (after his disastrous failure) making some request which is not explained by Mr. Lodge, the Secretary says: "Your letter of the 11th got to hand this day. I am affected beyond measure at its contents, especially as it is too late to have any influence upon the event you were apprehensive of, Mr. Wolcott's instructions having gone off yesterday." Wolcott was Hamilton's subordinate in the Treasury Department, and evidently he had issued some instructions which affected Duer's fortunes. Wolcott was the auditor of the Treasury whose duty it was under the act of September 2, 1789, "to receive all public accounts and after examination to certify the balance, and transmit the accounts with the vouchers and certificates to the Comptroller for his decision thereon." This connection with Duer is the sole piece of evidence of what might be termed the possible use of the Secretary's office in a private matter. The nature of this is not clear, and the plan was not carried out.
The conclusion to be reached from this evidence is that Hamilton did not have in 1787 any more than a petty amount of public securities which might appreciate under a new system; that he did have some western land; but that an extensive augmentation of his personal fortune was no consideration with him. The fact that he died a poor man is conclusive evidence of this fact. That he was sway throughout the period of the formation of the Constitution by large policies of government - not by any of the personal interests so often ascribed to him - must therefore be admitted. Nevertheless, it is apparent from the additional evidence given here that it was no mere abstract political science which dominated his principles of government. He knew at first hand the stuff of which government is made.
William C. Houston, of New Jersey, was of no consequence in the Convention, and little is known of his economic interests. He was a Princeton graduate, and was for a time professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. He entered the practice of law at Trenton, and from 1784 until his death in 1788 he was clerk of the Supreme Court of his state. On account of ill health he was unable to remain through the sessions of the Convention. A search among the New Jersey loan office records in the Treasury Department failed to reveal Houston as a holder of securities but the records for that state are incomplete and Houston's death in 1788 would have prevented his appearing on the Treasury Records of the new government. A William Houston is recorded in the New York books for small amount of deferred sixes, but, although William Churchill Houston had a son by that name, the identity of the son and the public creditor cannot be established.
Houston was, however, interested in the possibilities of western land speculations, for his biographer relates that he, "joined with others in procuring for John Fitch, the steam-boat inventor, the office of Deputy Surveyor. After the treaty of peace with England, the question of how the lands northwest of the Ohio should be disposed of was mooted in Congress. It was thought that they would be sold to pay the debts of the confederacy. Fitch was a land jobber and supposed that a good operation might be made by a pre- survey of the country, so that when the Land Offices were opened, warrants might be taken out immediately for choice tracts. He found no difficulty in forming a company to forward such an enterprise. It was composed of Dr. John Ewing, Rev. Nathaniel Irwin, Wm. C. Houston. ...These gentlemen put £20 each in a fund to pay expenses." How far this venture was carried and whether Houston acquired lands through it is not related. As a member of the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, he doubtless learned of the advantages to be gained in the West.
William Houstoun, of Georgia, took some part in the proceedings of the Convention, but he was of little weight. He was the son of a royal officer in the government of Georgia; and he received his education in England and studied law at the Inner Temple. His colleague Pierce records that "Mr. Houstoun is an Attorney at Law, and has been a member of Congress for the state of Georgia. He is a gentleman of family, and was educated in England. As to his legal or political knowledge, he has little to boast of." The meagre biographical details available do not permit a statement of his economic interests; and the paucity of the records of the Georgia loan office in the Treasury Department make it impossible to say whether he was among the beneficiaries through the appreciation of public securities. An index to a volume of Treasury Records not found (Vol. XXV folio 44) contains the name of William Houstown, but whether this holder of public debt and the member of the Convention were identical cannot be determined.
Jared Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, was the son of Jared Ingersoll of Connecticut, sometime agent of that colony commissioner in England and later admiralty judge, Pennsylvania. He graduated at Yale and studied in the Middle Temple. At the bar in Philadelphia he "soon rose to first rank. His practice was larger than any others. His opinions were taken on all important controversies, his services engaged in every great litigation." Ingersoll was a man of considerable wealth, but he does not seem to be involved in the large transactions in public securities which engaged the attention of his intimate friends in the Convention. He does not appear on the Pennsylvania books as a holder of securities. If he held any, his transactions must have been with the Treasury direct, and this would have been very convenient as it was located in Philadelphia during the funding process. Ingersoll was a son-in-law of Charles Pettit, one of the security operators in Philadelphia.
Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, of Maryland, is reported by Pierce to have been "a gentleman of fortune" in his state. He was a planter and a slave-holder; the census of 1790 records his holding twenty slaves on one plantation under an overseer, but the number on his own plantation is illegible. It is probable also that he held a small amount of public securities at the establishment of the new government. He died in the latter part of the year 1790, but his son, Daniel Jenifer, Jr., appears on the loan office records as the holder of nearly six thousand dollars' worth of paper in December, 1790, which he disposed of the following year.
William Samuel Johnson, of Connecticut, was a son of Samuel Johnson, a clergyman of Stratford, Connecticut, and a gentleman of some means. He was a graduate of Yale, and entered the practice of law. He refused to aid in the Revolutionary cause, because he could not "conscientiously" take up arms against England, and he lived in retirement until the War was over. After the establishment of independence he resumed the prominent position in public life which he had enjoyed before the struggle; and according to his biographer he took "the highest rank in his profession and became the renowned and high-minded advocate who was always crowded with cases and had his clients in New York as well as in every part of Connecticut." He added to his own patrimony by marrying the daughter of a " wealthy gentleman " of Stratford.
Johnson was a member of the first Senate under the new Constitution, and he was included by Jefferson in the list of men "operating in securities." It is highly probable that he did not aid the Revolutionary cause by investing his money in the original paper; and he does not appear on the Treasury Books for large amounts of stock, but there is every reason for believing that he carried on extensive operations through his son Robert Charles Johnson. The latter was speculating extensively in New York and Connecticut immediately after the establishment of the new government, and two entries show a credit to the father through the Son. The loan office books under the date of December 13, 1791, credit Robert Charles Johnson, of Stratford, Gentleman, with nearly fifty thousand dollars' worth of sixes and threes. Connecticut loan office receipts confirm this evidence of his extensive holdings. The New York loan office also Shows large transactions in the name of Robert Charles Johnson.
Rufus King, of Massachusetts, was born in Scarborough, Maine, then in the province of Massachusetts, March 24, 1755. His father, in 1740, was "in prosperous business as a trader and factor for Ebenezer Thornton, one of the principal merchants in Boston for whom he purchased and prepared large quantities of timber." On settling at Scarborough, his father became "both a farmer and a merchant, and in each capacity was so successful as to become the owner of three thousand acres of land divided into several valuable farms and to be the largest exporter of lumber from Maine."
Rufus was educated at Harvard. When his father died in 1775 he left a good estate which was divided among several children. Rufus King was also fortunate in his marriage; his wife was Mary Alsop. Her father at first sympathized with the movement against Great Britain, but, "taking umbrage at the manner in which the New York convention had conveyed their adhesion to the Declaration of Independence to the Congress, and besides unwilling to close the door of reconciliation with Great Britain," - he retired to Middletown, Connecticut, and stayed until after the War was over, when he returned to New York, resumed business, and became president of the Chamber of Commerce. According to King himself, his wife "was the only child of Mr. John Alsop, a very respectable and eminent merchant in this city [New York]. Mr. Alsop declined business in 1775 with a very handsome fortune." King thus had extensive mercantile and other business interests which were largely managed for him by others, so that he was able to devote most of his time to politics.
Nevertheless, he did not neglect matters of private economy. Robert and Gouverneur Morris were engaged in 1788 in a plan to associate a number of Americans in a project to purchase up the debt (or portions thereof) of the United States due to France. Wadsworth, General Knox, Osgood, and Colonel Duer were involved in it. It was first proposed to send Gouverneur Morris as minister to Holland to further the scheme. The originators of the plan finally hit upon the appointment of Rufus King. King replied to the overture: "I told Col. Duer that I was not indisposed to a foreign appointment - that the honour and duties of such an office wd. be my sovreign rule of Cond. and that if in perfect consistence with the duties and dignity of the office, I cd. promote the interest of my friends, it wd. be a great satisfaction to me. But that I desired not to be considered as giving an answer any way at present, that the opinions of Mr. Jay and Col. Hamilton were of consequence in my mind. That previous to any decision on my part I must be ascertained of their opinions."
Whether King engaged in this ambitious project or not, there is evidence to show that he was a considerable holder of government paper shortly after its establishment. It may be that apart of his fortune had been invested originally in public securities, although this is not apparent from the early loan office books in the Treasury Department. Jefferson puts King down among the holders of bank stock and public securities; and he is correct in his statement. King was director in the first United States bank. He was also a large holder of government securities - one entry records more than $10,000 worth to his credit. King thought that speculations should be reserved to the experienced, and rejoiced in the hope that one of the crashes would teach the ordinary industrious citizens " contentment in their proper avocations."
John Langdon, of New Hampshire, was born on the family farm near Portsmouth in 1740, and "after a mercantile education in the counting room of Daniel Rindge, he entered upon a sea-faring life, but was driven from it by the revolutionary troubles." He must have prospered, however, before the War blighted his trade, for when the news of the fall of Ticonderoga reached Exeter, he rose in the legislature of which he was the speaker and said: "I have a thousand dollars in hard money; I will pledge my plate for three thousand more. I have seventy hogsheads of Tobago rum which will be sold for the most they will bring. They are at the service of the state. If we succeed. ..I will be remunerated; if we do not then the property will be of no value to me."
After the war, Langdon's various mercantile and commercial enterprises took on new life, and there is every evidence that in his worldly affairs he was uniformly prosperous. A French report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Congress of 1788 speaks of John Langdon as a man of great wealth and pressing commercial interests: "M.L. a fait une grande fortune dans le commerce, c' est le Rob. Morris de son Etat, faisant une grande dépense et s'attachant beau coup de citoyens par ses libéralités."
John Langdon-Elwyn, grandson of John Langdon, in whose family were preserved the valuable private papers of the elder Langdon, wrote, sometime in the early part of the nineteenth century, a pamphlet on his celebrated grandfather. The author of this useful brochure "was nineteen years of age at the time of his grandfather's death. A critical observer of men and affairs, his opportunities as a member of the family of Governor Langdon give the production of his pamphlet a special significance." This writer characterizes John Langdon as "a man that loved money, at an age when it gets the upper hand, that was prone to banking and funding, to whom such atmospheres were familiar and congenial, that knew how to make it and keep it, and felt no envy of others that did so too."
That Langdon was deeply concerned in the financial operations connected with the new government is evidenced in many sources. According to his grandson, quoted above "He voted for this bank [the first United States Bank] and was we suppose an original subscriber of some account . . . We believe he had been concerned in the Bank of North America: the first real National Bank: He was an intimate friend of Robert Morris."
Maclay also adds his testimony to that of Langdon's grandson. When he was a Senator, Langdon lodged in New York with a Mr. Hazard who followed the business of buying up government certificates of public debt which had been "issued in place of the paper money of the old Congress and bore interest for their face value," and had depreciated to even as low as seven cents on the dollar. Maclay writes: "Mr. Hazard told me he had made a business of it; it is easy to guess for whom. I told him, 'You are then among the happy few who have been let into the secret.' He seemed abashed and I checked by my forwardness much more information which he seemed disposed to give."
The loan office books of New Hampshire show that Langdon was a large creditor of the new government, and indeed he was one of the heavy original contributors who risked their fortunes on the outcome of the War. One entry in the New Hampshire ledger credits him with more than $25,000 worth of sixes and threes; and there are other entries as well. His brother, Woodbury Langdon, was also among the holders of public paper.
With that patriotism to his state and thrift in her interest that characterized his colleague, Gilman, Langdon sought to give the commonwealth some advantage in the various speculations in securities. On January 7, 1791, he wrote to the President of New Hampshire advising him of the approaching passage of the National Bank bill and advising that the state use its continental securities and some cash to buy stock in the new Bank. He says that the stock "would undoubtedly sell for specie at par at any time. ..; and in all probability it would soon sell above par, the state would therefore run no risque of looseing."
John Lansing, of New York, was a lawyer at Albany and the mayor of that city. William Pierce, in his notes on the Convention, speaks of him in the following language: " His legal knowledge, I am told, is not extensive nor his education a good one. He is however a man of good sense, plain in his manners, and sincere in his friendships." Lansing was one of the stout opponents of the Constitution and left the Convention early. He was there long enough however to learn (what was not a very deep secret) the certain effect of an efficient government on continental securities; for in January, 1791, immediately after the establishment of the new financial system, he appeared at the New York loan office with paper to fund to the amount of over seven thousand dollars. All the members of the Lansing family in Albany seem to have taken advantage of the opportunity to augment their fortunes.
William Livingston, of New Jersey, was a member of the distinguished Livingston family which was among the largest proprietors in New York. He graduated at Yale, and in 1745 married Miss French "whose father had been large proprietor of land in New Jersey." He entered the practice of law in 1748 "and soon became a prominent member of the bar and employed in most of the important legal controversies of that day in New York and New Jersey." He apparently accumulated a comfortable fortune, but had lost a portion of it in 1773 by the failure of his debtors, and the necessity of accepting depreciated continental currency.
Whether Livingston held any of the securities of the confederacy, it is impossible apparently to determine, for his death in the summer of 1790, before the funding system went into effect, would have precluded his appearing on the Ledger records. It is probable, however, that he did not entertain views in regard to the relation of public and private affairs different from those of his eminent colleagues. This theory will seem justified when it is understood that his son and heir, Brockholst Livingston, a new York lawyer, was among the heaviest security holders in that city; and in view of the wide reaching ramifications of his operations and his connections with Le Roy and Bayard was reckoned among the princely speculators of his day. One entry in 1791 credits him with about $70,000 worth; another in the same year, in conjunction with Le Roy and Bayard, with nearly $30,000. At a slightly later date, 1792 and 1793, his 6 per cents alone amount to more than $100,000, and he appears frequently in the records of other states. How much of this was his own paper and how much was for friends who did not wish to appear among the records cannot be determined.
James Madison, of Virginia, was a descendant of one of the old landed families of Virginia whose wealth consisted principally of plantations and slaves, and whose personal property was relatively small in amount. Madison's father "was a large landed proprietor occupied mainly, with the care and management of his extensive rural concerns." Madison graduated at Princeton and studied law, but the practice of his profession did not appeal to him. His inclinations were all toward politics, for which he was prepared by long and profound researches in history, law, and political economy. He was constantly in public life, and seems to have relied upon the emoluments of office and 'his father's generosity as a source of income. The postponement of his marriage until 1794 enabled him to devote himself to political pursuits rather than commercial or economic interests of any kind. He does not appear to have been a holder of public securities; for the small amounts 'credited to James Madison on the books of the Treasury Department seem to have belonged to his father, also named James Madison.
Having none of the public securities, Madison was able later to take a more disinterested view of the funding system "proposed by Hamilton; and the scramble of politicians and speculators which accompanied the establishment of the new government did more than anything else to disgust him with the administration party and drive him into opposition. Writing to Jefferson in July, 1791, he said: "The subscriptions [to the Bank] are consequently a mere scramble for so much public plunder, which will be engrossed by those already loaded with the spoils of individuals. ...It pretty clearly appears, also, in what proportions the public debt lies in the Country, what sort of hands hold it, and by whom the people of the United States are to be governed. Of all the shameful circumstances of this business, it is among the greatest to see the members of the legislature who were most active in pushing this job openly grasping its emoluments. Schuyler is to be put at the head of the Directors, if the weight of the New York subscribers can effect it. Nothing new is talked of here. In fact, stock-jobbing' drowns every other subject. The Coffee-House is in an eternal buzz with the gamblers."
Alexander Martin, of North Carolina, was a graduate of Princeton, and practised law. He was for a time governor of his state. Later he served in the United States Senate, and supported Adams and the alien and sedition laws; but was defeated for election in 1799. Martin was among the well-to-do planters and slave-owners of his state; but his tastes do not seem to have turned to dealings in public securities, for the Index to the holders of the public debt preserved in the Treasury Department does not contain his name, and a search among the papers of North Carolina fails to reveal any record of his transactions.
Luther Martin, of Maryland, was a descendant of English ancestors who had obtained "large grants of land in New Jersey [and] removed their domestic establishment there when a greater part of the colonial domain was a dense wilderness." He was a graduate of Princeton and took up the practice of law. Being the third of nine children, and having little or no assistance from his parents, who were in pinched circumstances, he was thrown upon his own resources. He commenced his career in Virginia " where he soon acquired a full and lucrative practice, amounting, as he informs us, to about one thousand pounds per annum; which, however, was after a period diminished by the disturbance growing out of the American Revolution."
Luther Martin's fortune was never very large, although he had among his clients men of great wealth and influence, like Robert Morris. The census of 1790 records his owning only six slaves, and his holdings of public securities were apparently meagre - a few thousand dollars at most. One entry of sixes and threes on June 15, 1791, credits him with $1992.67, and he occasionally appears in other records. He was always more or less in sympathy with poor debtors, and was unwilling to preclude altogether the issue of paper money or moderate impairments of contract. He was accordingly a bitter opponent of the adoption of the Constitution in his state.
George Mason, of Virginia, was born in 1725. He was the son of a rich slave owning and planting family of Dogue's Neck, and on account of the early death of his father he came into his vast estate on attaining his majority. His family fortunes were augmented by speculations in western lands. He married the daughter of a Maryland merchant, from whom a large estate came into his family. He was a member of the Ohio Company which was organized in 1749, and obtained a grant of " six hundred thousand acres of and, lying mostly west of the mountains and south of the Ohio." In 1754 he also secured a patent for about fifteen hundred acres of land in Northern Neck. He was constantly increasing his holdings, and in 1769 " he seems to have come into possession of two thousand acres of land in the district of Kentucky." As a member of the Virginia; legislature he drew a bill "to encourage the making of hemp, woollen, linen, and other manufactures."
His property at the time of the establishment of the Constitution was unquestionably large, for at his death in 1792 "he devised to his sons alone, some fifteen thousand acres, the greater part of his own acquisition, of the very best land in the Potomac region. Most of these estates were well improved, with large and comfortable mansions and all necessary outbuildings. But he left to be divided among his children what was solely acquired by himself: sixty thousand of among the finest acres in Kentucky, some three hundred slaves, more than fifty thousand dollars' worth of other personal property, and at least thirty thousand dollars of debts due on his books, while his own indebtedness was absolutely nothing." ref>Ibid., Vol. II, p. 368.</ref> Very little of this personal property seems to have been in public securities, for a search in the records of the Treasury Department shows one small entry of a few hundred dollars' worth of threes and sixes to his credit.
Mason frankly admitted his personal interest in certain landed property to be among his many objections to the Constitution - which he refused to approve and the adoption of which he bitterly opposed. Speaking on the dangers from the supremacy of the federal courts, in the Virginia ratifying convention, he said: "I am personally endangered as an inhabitant of Northern Neck. The people of that part will be obliged, by the operation of this power, to pay the quit rent of their lands. ...Lord Fairfax's title was clear and undisputed. After the revolution we taxed his lands as private property. After his death, an act of Assembly was made, in 1782, to sequester the quit rents due, at his death, in the hands of his debtors. Next year an act was made restoring them to the executor of the proprietor. Subsequent to this, the treaty of peace was made, by which it was agreed that there should be no further confiscations. But after this an act of Assembly was passed, confiscating his whole property. As Lord Fairfax's title was indisputably good, and as treaties are to be the supreme law of the land, will not his representatives be able to recover all in the federal court? How will gentlemen like to pay an additional tax on lands in the Northern Neck?"
Mason proposed to limit the judicial power in such a manner that it should "extend to no case where the cause of action shall have originated before the ratification of this Constitution, except in suits for debts due the United States, disputes between states about their territory, and disputes between persons claiming lands under grants of different states." He expressed a fear that under the Constitution as it stood the titles to all the country between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains would be upset in the federal courts and that the vast Indiana purchase would be rendered a subject of dispute.
James McClurg, of Virginia, was an accomplished man of letters and distinguished physician of his native state. He was born there in 1747, studied at the college of William and Mary, and finished his training in medicine at Edinburgh and Paris. He established himself in the practice first a Williamsburg, and about 1783 he settled in Richmond, where he took first rank as a physician, scholar, and man of the world.
McClurg's knowledge of government was not academic. He knew the subject practically, as well as theoretically for as early as November 23, 1790, he was engaged in operations in federal securities. And on February 17, 1791, he presented to the local loan office Virginia certificates to the amount of $26,819, all of which, except a few hundred pounds originally subscribed by himself, he had evidently bought for speculation. McClurg was also an investor in stock in the first United States Bank and one of the, directors.
James McHenry, of Maryland, received a classical education in Ireland, the country of his birth, and came to Baltimore in 1771. He studied medicine with Dr. Benjamin Rush at Philadelphia and became an army surgeon during the War. He was for a time secretary to Washington and later to Lafayette, and from 1783 to 1786 he was a member of Congress from Maryland.
McHenry was the son of Daniel McHenry, a Baltimore merchant, who achieved "considerable financial success” and was in business with his son, John, a brother of James until his death in 1782. John and James began buying town property, and when the former died in 1790, the latter inherited the entire estate, as John had never married. The death of James' father, says Steiner, left him financially independent.
McHenry's personal property must have been considerable. A casual letter of August 4, 1792, shows that one Dickinson owed him an amount secured by a bond for £5000. He was one of the original stockholders of the Insurance Company of North America organized in 1792.
It is not apparent that he was among the original holders of federal securities, but an entry in 1797 records an old account to the amount of $6970.90, brought forward.
McHenry's early mercantile interests left a deep impression on him, and he sympathized with the efforts made in his state to secure an adequate protective tariff. Indeed, he was among the signers of the memorial from Baltimore laid before Congress on April 11, 1789, praying for the protection and encouragement of American manufactures.
John Francis Mercer, of Maryland, was born in Virginia and graduated at William and Mary College in 1775. He served in the army and after the war studied law with Jefferson. He moved to Maryland in 1786. He seems to have been a man of some fortune, for he held six slaves, and a moderate amount of public securities. His sympathies, however, were with the popular party in Maryland. He joined with Luther Martin in violent opposition to the adoption of the Constitution. In 1801 he was elected governor of the state, and as governor he attacked the property qualifications on voters under the constitution of the commonwealth, at length securing the repeal of the provisions.
Thomas Mifflin, of Pennsylvania, was born in Philadelphia in 1744 and graduated at the College of Philadelphia where he distinguished himself as a student of the classics. His father introduced him to a mercantile life by placing him in the counting house of William Coleman, one of the most eminent merchants of his native city. "When was twenty-one years of age he visited Europe to improve his knowledge of commercial affairs, and after his return home he entered into business with his brother, the Connection continuing until after the Revolution."
Mifflin was deeply interested in the protection of American manufactures. He was prominently identified with the Philadelphia Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and Useful Arts, organized in the summer of 1787. In fact he presided at the meeting at which it was established in August of that year, during the sessions of the Convention.
General Mifflin was a holder of public securities, but does not appear that his paper aggregated more than petty sum. He and Jonathan Mifflin are down for a few hundred dollars' worth of continental paper in 1788; and he held in his own name another small account in 1791. It is, therefore, apparent that General Mifflin appreciated the position of the powerful class of security holders who looked to the Convention for relief, and had a more than abstract interest in the establishment of public credit.
Gouverneur Morris, of Pennsylvania, was born in 1752 the family manor house at Morrisania. He "belonged by birth to that powerful landed aristocracy whose rule was known by New York alone among all the northern colonies." He graduated at King's College, entered the practice of law, and very soon began to take a hand in colonial politics, attacking with great vehemence the propositions of the paper money party. "He criticised unsparingly the attitude of a majority of his fellow citizens in wishing such a measure of relief, not only for their short-sighted folly, but also for their criminal and selfish dishonesty in trying to procure a temporary benefit for themselves at the lasting expense of the community."
He was a member of the Continental Congress and was regarded as a considerable expert in financial affairs. He assisted Robert Morris in the establishment of the Bank of North America, and seems to have been able, in the midst of his public engagements, to augment his private fortunes and to engage in divers economic enterprises. At the time of the formation of the Constitution, he had accumulated enough to purchase the family estate from his elder brother, and "he had for some time been engaged in various successful commercial ventures with his friend Robert Morris, including an East India voyage on a large scale, shipments of tobacco to France, and a share in iron works on the Delaware river, and had become quite a rich man." He declared in the Convention that he did not hold any public securities, and the records seem to bear out his assertion, although his name does appear on an index to a volume of Treasury Records not found.
Of all the members of the Convention, Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, had the most widely diversified economic interests. He was born of humble parents in Liverpool in 1734, and came to America at an early age. The death of his father, about 1750, left him a small estate of a few thousand dollars, which stood him in good stead in his relations with the Willings, whose counting house he had entered to learn mercantile arts, in which he showed an early proficiency.
In the course of his long career he owned and directed ships trading with the East and West Indies, engaged in iron and several other branches of manufacturing, bought and sold thousands of acres of land in all parts of the country, particularly in the west and south, and speculated in lots in Washington as soon as he learned of the establishment of the capital there. He was instrumental in organizing the Bank of North America in Philadelphia, with Thomas Willing, his partner, as first President, and Thomas Fitzsimons, an associate in his land and speculative enterprises, as one of the directors, and was in short a merchant prince, a captain of industry, a land speculator, a financier: and a broker combined. Had he been less ambitious he would have died worth millions instead of in poverty and debt, after having served a term in a debtor's cell.
It is impossible to gauge correctly the extent of his land speculations, for they ran into the millions of acres. Before and after the adoption of the Constitution, he was busy interesting his colleagues in every kind of enterprise that promised to be profitable. James Marshall, a brother of John Marshall, was his chief agent, and carried on operations for him in the United States and Europe. Marshal was given the power of attorney by Morris and his wife to sell enormous quantities of lands and other properties, and received from his principal letters of introduction to European capitalists and persons of prominence, including Mr. Pinckney, the representative of the United States in France.
The exact extent of Morris' speculations in the securities of the new government is a matter beyond the scope of the present inquiry, but it is sufficient for our purposes to know that he held practically every kind of continental security, that his deals in stocks mounted upward into the tens of thousands of dollars, and that in the Convention and in the first Senate under the Constitution, of which he was a member, he was uniformly strenuous in his support of public credit. No man of his time had such wide-reaching interests or involved in his personal affairs so many eminent men, like Hamilton, John Marshall, Thomas Fitzsimons, Thomas Willing, Gouverneur Morris, John Langdon, and Robert Clymer, all closely identified with the new system of government.
It may be truly said therefore that Morris was an effective representative of the speculative land operators, the holders of securities, the dealers in public paper, and the mercantile groups seeking protection for manufactures - in short every movable property interest in the country. It was fortunate for the new government to have in its support a man whose economic power and personal acquaintanceship extended from New Hampshire to Georgia. It seems fair to say that no man contributed more to the establishment of our Constitution and the stability of our national institutions than Robert Morris, " the Patriot Financier."
Washington, therefore, showed his acumen when, first President of the United States, he selected Morris for the office of Secretary of the Treasury; but the latter, on a count of the pressing nature of his private business, was unable to accept the post thus tendered. Indeed, he wisely concluded that he could be more serviceable to the new government in his capacity as senator from Pennsylvania and in this position he lent his powerful support to the funding system, the new Bank, and the establishment of protective tariff. "Morris and Hamilton together worked out a tariff bill," says Oberholtzer. "But for the influence of the Senator from Pennsylvania the measure, important because it would provide the national government with ample revenues, and because it had protective features of utility in the development of the country industries, could not have passed Congress in the form which would have commended it to the Secretary of the Treasury.. ..All witnesses agree that Robert Morris was a stupendous political force in Washington's administration, and his influence did not decrease when, in December, 1790, the capital was removed to Philadelphia, where he resumed his princely entertainment of public men, surrendering his home on Market Street to Washington, and becoming the President most intimate friend and closest companion."
William Paterson was born in the north of Ireland, came this country in 1747, graduated at Princeton in 1763, and received his license to practise law in 1769. His father was merchant, and he was himself for a time engaged in the mercantile business. A by no means extensive search has failed to bring out any of Paterson's later economic interests.
William Pierce, of Georgia, does not seem to have made any considerable impression on his age, for the biographical material relating to him is meagre indeed. His economic interests do not appear to have been looked into, although it is known that he was "in business in Savannah as the head of the house of William Pierce and Company." His private fortune was probably not large, for he applied to Madison in 1788 for a position as collector in his district.
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was the son of "Chief Justice Pinckney, a man of great integrity and of considerable eminence under the Provincial Government." He received a fine classical and legal education in England. He began the practice of law in the provincial courts in 1770, and very soon "began to acquire business and reputation." After the Revolutionary war " his business was large and its profits commensurate - reaching in one year the amount of four thousand guineas, a considerable sum for that day." He became "a considerable landholder in the city of Charleston. He had numerous tenants living on his property. ...His benevolence was of the most enlarged character, and was experienced not only by the poor and such as were dependent on him, but in his liberal support of churches, seminaries of learning, and every object of public utility." ref>Herring, National Portrait Gallery, Vol. IV.</ref> He also held a country estate at Pinckney Island, and is recorded in the first census as the owner of forty-five slaves.
Pinckney had a large practice for the merchants of Charleston, and his knowledge of maritime law must have been extensive. Through this direct experience, he must have learned the importance of a national commercial system not only to merchants and manufacturers, but also to those having occasion to appear in the courts. In the midst of the local conflict between the creditors and debtors, he took a firm stand against any weakening of public and private credit.
The significance and importance of the public credit he understood from first-hand knowledge, for his holding public securities were large when compared with the average holdings in the South. Shortly after the establishment of Hamilton's funding system, Pinckney is credited with over ten thousand dollars' worth of sixes and threes on the loan office books of his state.
Charles Pinckney, like his distinguished cousin, was also an eminent lawyer in Charleston and enjoyed a large practice with the merchants. He was likewise a land-owner on a considerable scale, for the census of 1790 records number of his slaves as fifty-two.
Charles Pinckney was also identified with the conservative forces of the state in their fight against the debtor or paper money party, and he thoroughly understood the meaning of the sacredness of private and public obligations. He was a holder of government securities on a large scale, his transactions early in the history of the new system amounting to more than fourteen thousand dollars. In common with the men of his party he naturally feared the effect of popular lawmaking upon the value of personalty.
Edmund Randolph was a grandson of Sir John Randolph, English gentleman of ancient and honourable lineage. Through an uncle he inherited "three farms. ..Negroes, and other property;" but this estate was burdened with debt. As a lawyer, however, he enjoyed a magnificent practice which furnished him a considerable revenue. When charged with having defrauded the Treasury of the United States during his official service as Secretary of State, he advanced as a counter claim the fact that the condition of, his fortune was evidence that he could not have engrossed any large government funds. He reported on that occasion (1801) that in money claims he had £14,200 Virginia currency which he traced "to the best of all resources, the independent labours of my own hands." About that time, his other property which had come to him by way of inheritance amounted to "some seven thousand acres of land, several houses, and near two hundred Negroes. The slaves had long been an incumbrance on account of his refusal to sell their increase and his inability while at Philadelphia to hire them properly."
Indeed, Randolph was apparently never very prosperous. He held ten or fifteen thousand dollars' worth of public securities about the time of the establishment of the new government; but he seems to have been in debt to Hamilton for a considerable sum that gave him some embarrassment On April 23, 1793, he wrote to Hamilton asking an extension of time on the paper, saying: "I am extremely thankful to you for your readiness to accommodate me the subject of the bills. ...The sum which I want to sell is much less than £2600 stg. It is only £1300; as prefer waiting for a rise. ..."
George Read, of Delaware, was the grandson of a "wealthy citizen of Dublin." His father had migrated to America and established himself as "a respectable planter" in Delaware. George studied law under John Moland, a distinguished attorney in Philadelphia, and began business for himself in Newcastle in 1754 where he soon acquired a lucrative practice. Although he surrendered all claim his father's estate on the ground that he had received his portion in his education, Read managed to accumulate a modest competence.
Of his economic position, so far as it was reflected in his style of living, a descendant writes: "The mansion of Mr. Read commanded an extensive view of the river Delaware ...It was an old-fashioned brick structure, looking very comfortable but with no pretensions to elegance. ...Here Mr. Read resided for many years in the style of the colonial gentry who, when having no more than the moderate income of Mr. Read, maintained a state and etiquette which have long disappeared. ...How could this be, Mr. Read not being affluent? His income would buy more then that now, and he had a small farm. ..and besides he generally owned his servants." In addition to his income from official positions and his practice, Read possessed some capital for investment, because he appears among the sub- scribers to the stock of the Bank of North America issued in 1784.
A small part of his worldly goods he had invested in the securities of the Continental Congress in 1779, during the dark days of the Revolution when the chances of ever recovering it were slight indeed. He was among those who risked their lives and fortunes in the Revolutionary cause, and has the honour of being one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The loan office of Delaware records that in March and April, 1779, Read subscribed for $2000 worth of certificates, and that Mary Read subscribed for $11,500 worth of the same paper. The incompleteness of the records of Delaware in the Treasury department prevents the tracing of these securities, but an entry of 1797 shows Read as holding a small account (old) of threes. At all events, Read had felt personally the inconveniences of depreciated paper, and knew the value of a stable government to every owner of personal property.
John Rutledge, of South Carolina, was the son of Dr. John Rutledge, a native of Ireland who settled in Carolina about 1735. He was educated under a classical tutor and pursued the study of law in the Temple. He opened his practice in Charleston in 1761, and a biographer relates that "instead of rising by degrees to the head of his profession, he burst forth at once the able lawyer and accomplished scholar. Business flowed in upon him. He was employed in the most difficult causes and retained with the largest fees that were usually given."
Rutledge was elected president of South Carolina the first constitution, and when a new frame of government was made by the legislature, in some respects more democratic, he vetoed it, preferring "a compound or mixed government to a simple democracy, or one verging towards it. "However unexceptionable democratic power may appear at first view," said Rutledge, "its defects have been arbitrary, severe, and destructive."
He resigned because he was unable to prevent the adoption of the new constitution; but he was soon elected governor under it; and inasmuch as it provided that no person could be governor unless he held in his own right, on his election, "a settled plantation or freehold. .. value of at least ten thousand pounds currency, clear of debt," it must be assumed that Rutledge was the owner of a considerable plantation and a number of slaves. Indeed, the census of 1790 records the number at twenty-six, which, though small, was considerable for a man whose interests were not primarily in planting. Unlike his other colleagues from South Carolina, John Rutledge does not seem to have invested in securities, though several members of the ledge family appear on the records.
Roger Sherman, the shoemaker of New Milford, Connecticut, was one of the very few men of the Convention who had risen from poverty to affluence largely through his own efforts, and had none of the advantages of education and support which a family patrimony can give. But as his biographer remarks of him: "In regard to worldly circumstances, Sherman was very happily situated. Beginning life with- out the aid of patrimonial wealth or powerful connections, with nothing but his good sense and good principles, he, by his industry and skilful management, always lived in a comfortable manner, and his property was gradually increasing."
In common with other far-seeing business men of his day, Sherman seems to have invested a portion of his accumulations in public securities, for shortly after Hamilton's fiscal system went into effect he funded nearly eight thousand dollars' worth of paper at the loan office of his native state.
Richard Dobbs Spaight, of North Carolina, was of respectable origin. His father had been secretary of the colony under the crown, and his mother was a sister of Dobbs, a royal governor of the colony. He came into his father's estate early; he studied in Ireland, and finished his education at the University of Glasgow. At the time of the Convention, he was, according to Pierce, a "worthy man, of some abilities, and fortune." He was among the large planters of his state, and is recorded to have held seventy-one slaves. He seems to have taken no share in the public security transactions. At least a search in the incomplete records does not reveal him as an original holder- but an old account of 3 per cents for the sum of a few dollars, shows that he was not unaware of the relations of public credit to stable institutions. It was largely through his influence that Washington went to North Carolina to aid in the fight for the adoption of the Constitution by that state.
Caleb Strong, of Massachusetts, was the descendant of an old and honourable family of Northampton, the place of his birth. He was educated at Harvard and entered the practice of law. He early began a public career for which he showed remarkable aptitudes, and was rewarded by election to the convention which drafted the constitution of his state, to the federal Convention, to the first United States Senate, and later to the office of governor of the commonwealth. Whether he inherited a fortune or accumulated considerable wealth in the practice of law is not recorded by his biographer, Senator Lodge, but he took advantage of his superior knowledge of public affairs, and bought up £3271/0/6 worth of certificates of issues up to May, 1787, which he funded into federal securities in September, 1791.
Washington, of Virginia, was probably the richest man in the United States in his time, and his financial ability was not surpassed among his countrymen anywhere. He possessed, in addition to his great estate on the Potomac, a large amount of fluid capital which he judiciously invested in western lands, from which he could reasonably expect a large appreciation with the establishment of stable government and the advance of the frontier.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate his economic interests is to give the data from the schedule of his property attached to his will, drawn up in 1799. He possessed in Virginia, counting the enormous holdings on the Ohio, and the Great Kenhawa, more than 35,000 acres, valued at $200,000; in Maryland, 1119 acres, at $9828; in Pennsylvania, 234 acres, at $1404; in New York, about 1000 acres, at $6000; in the Northwest Territory, 3051 acres, at $15,255; in Kentucky, 5000 acres, at $10,000; property in Washington, at $19,132; in Alexandria, at $4000; in Winchester, at $400; at Bath, $800. He held $6246 worth of United States securities; and of this holding he said: "These are the sums which are actually funded; and though no more in the aggregate than 7566 dollars, stand me in at least ten thousand pounds, Virginia money; being the amount of bonded and other debts due me and discharged during the war when money had depreciated in that rate - and was so settled by the public authority." He held $10,666 worth of shares in the Potomac Company presented to him by the state of Virginia (which he left to establish a national university); $500 worth of James River Company shares; $6800 worth of stock in the Bank of Columbia, and $1000 worth of stock in the Bank of Alexandria. His own slaves were to be emancipated on the death of his wife. His livestock he estimated at $15,653 - making a grand total at a conservative estimate of $530,000.
Washington was also a considerable money lender and suffered from the paper money operations of the Virginia legislature. He "had bonds and mortgages to 'nigh £10,000' paid off in depreciated paper currency worth at times as little as 2/6 in the pound, and when he attended the federal Convention he was in arrears for two years' taxes through having been unable to sell the products of his farms."
If anyone in the country had a just reason for being disgusted with the imbecilities of the Confederation it was Washington. He had given the best years of life to the Revolutionary cause, and had refused all remuneration for his great services. He was paid his personal expenses to the amount of $64,355.30 in paper that steadily depreciated. M. Otto writing to Vergennes on February 10, 1787, says of Washington's losses: " I have before me a letter of this honoured man in which he complains of being obliged to sell at a rate of twenty for one the certificates which Congress sent to him in payment for the arrearages due him."
Hugh Williamson, of North Carolina, was the son of "an industrious tradesman" of Dublin, who settled in America about 1730 - five years before Hugh was born. The latter received a fine education and graduated at the College of Philadelphia in 1757. About this time his father died, leaving him sole executor of the estate, the settlement of which required the greater part of two years. He studied divinity, but later turned to medicine and went to Edinburgh to pursue his studies in that subject. He practised for a time in Philadelphia, but afterward went South to reside.
During the Revolutionary War he engaged in mercantile speculations in Charleston and later at Edenton, "from which he afterward traded to the neutral islands in the West Indies." While continuing his mercantile connections with his brother, "then also engaged in the West India trade, he determined to resume the practice of medicine; this he did with the same success as he had done formerly at Philadelphia." He was an opponent of the emission of paper money in North Carolina and published an essay against fiat currency.
He happily combined a theoretical and practical knowledge of finance, for he seems to have accumulated a large amount of public securities. He appears frequently on the records of the Treasury Department; for example in December, 1791, for $2444.84 worth of sixes and threes. Furthermore, his correspondence with Hamilton and others shows that he had "the smallest of two large trunks" full of 6 per cents, threes, and deferred stock which he had delivered to Hamilton for transfer to the New York loan office, in 1793.
Williamson also engaged in western land speculations, and was not unaware of the advantage to that class of property which the new Constitution afforded. On June 2, 1788, he wrote to Madison from New York, "For myself, I conceive that my opinions are not biased by private interests, but having claims to a considerable quantity of land in the Western Country, I am fully persuaded that the value of those lands must be increased by an efficient federal government." After his long and assiduous public services, Williamson settled in New York, where he engaged in historical writing and the management of the considerable fortune which he had accumulated in the midst of his pressing public duties.
James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, was born in Scotland in 1742 and received a fine classical education there. He came to America in 1766, began the study of law with John Dickinson, and was admitted to the bar in 1767. He developed a lucrative practice at Carlisle, where he first settled; but in 1778 he removed to Philadelphia where he established a close connection with the leading merchants and men of affairs including Robert Morris, George Clymer, and General Miffiin. He was one of the directors of the Bank of North America on its incorporation in 1781; and he also appears among the original stockholders of the Insurance Company of North America, organized in 1792.
Wilson's largest interest seems to have been in public lands, for he was among the members of the Georgia Land Company, a highly speculative concern tainted with fraud, to put it mildly, for ten shares, £25,000 cash and 750,000 acres. Haskins says, "James Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, held shares to the amount of at least one million acres and it is asserted was influential in securing the grants."
Wilson does not appear to have been a large holder of public securities; for a search in the records of the Pennsylvania loan office preserved in the Department of the Treasury reveals only a trivial amount of 3 per cents to his credit, on June 2, 1791. It may be that the extent of his other operations prevented his taking advantage of the opportunities offered in this line.
George Wythe, of Virginia, was born in 1726 on the shores of the Chesapeake in the colony of Virginia. "He was descended from a respectable family and inherited from his father, who was a farmer, an estate amply sufficient for all the purposes of ease and independence, although it was seriously impaired by the Revolution." He studied law, and "by reason of his extensive learning, correctness of elocution, and his logical style of argument, he quickly arrived at the head of the bar." His second wife "was a lady of a wealthy and respectable family of Taliafero, residing near Williamsburg." He was a slave-owner, but he emancipated his slaves and made provisions to keep them from want. His public security holding was not large. On March 12, 1791, he presented Virginia certificates to the amount of £513/2/8 which he had acquired from their original owners.
Robert Yates, of New York, was born in Schenectady, and received a classical education at New York City. He read law and began the practice at Albany where he soon built up an extensive business. He was made a judge of the Supreme Court under the state constitution of 1777, but his salary was small. "Indeed before the scale of depreciation of continental money had been settled, he received one year's salary in that money at its nominal value, the whole of which was just sufficient (as he humorously observed), to purchase a pound of green tea for his wife.'" He refused to enrich himself by speculating in confiscated estates, a favourite occupation of some of his friends, and "he died poor." He opposed the adoption of the Constitution, and apparently took no part in the transactions in public securities; but several members of the Yates family, Richard, Adolphus, and Christopher were large operators.
A survey of the economic interests of the members of the Convention presents certain conclusions:
- A majority of the members were lawyers by profession.
- Most of the members came from towns, on or near the coast, that is, from the regions in which personalty was largely concentrated.
- Not one member represented in his immediate personal economic interests the small farming or mechanic classes.
- The overwhelming majority of members, at least five-sixths, were immediately, directly, and personally interested in the outcome of their labours at Philadelphia, and were to a greater or less extent economic beneficiaries from the adoption of the Constitution.
1. Public security interests were extensively represented in the Convention.
Of the fifty-five members who attended no less than forty appear on the Records of the Treasury Department for sums varying from a few dollars up to more than one hundred thousand dollars.
Among the minor holders were Bassett, Blount, Brearley, Broom, Butler, Carroll, Few, Hamilton, L. Martin, Mason, Mercer, Mifflin, Read, Spaight, Wilson, and Wythe. Among the larger holders (taking the sum of about $5000 as the criterion) were Baldwin, Blair, Clymer, Dayton, Ellsworth, Fitzsimmons, Gilman, Gerry, Gorham, Jenifer, Johnson, King, Langdon, Lansing, Livingston, McClurg, R. Morris, C.C. Pinckney, C. Pinckney, Randolph, Sherman, Strong, Washington, and Williamson.
It is interesting to note that, with the exception of New York, and possibly Delaware, each state had one or more prominent representatives in the Convention who held more than a negligible amount of securities, and who could therefore speak with feeling and authority on the question of providing in the new Constitution for the full discharge of the public debt:
- Langdon and Gilman, of New Hampshire.
- Gerry, Strong, and King, of Massachusetts.
- Ellsworth, Sherman, and Johnson, of Connecticut.
- Hamilton, of New York. Although he held no large amount personally, he was the special pleader for the holders of public securities and the maintenance of public faith.
Dayton, of New Jersey.
- Robert Morris, Clymer, and Fitzsimons, of Pennsylvania. Mercer and Carroll, of Maryland.
- Blair, McClurg, and Randolph, of Virginia. Williamson, of North Carolina.
- The two Pinckneys, of South Carolina.
- Few and Baldwin, of Georgia.
2. Personalty invested in lands for speculation was represented by at least fourteen members: Blount, Dayton, Few, Fitzsimons, Franklin, Oilman, Gerry, Gorham, Hamilton, Mason, R. Morris, Washington, Williamson, and Wilson.
3. Personalty in the form of money loaned at interest was represented by at least twenty-four members: Bassett, Broom, Butler, Carroll, Clymer, Davie, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Few, Fitzsimons, Franklin, Oilman, Ingersoll, Johnson, King, Langdon, Mason, McHenry, C.C. Pinckney, C. Pinckney, Randolph, Read, Washington, and Williamson.
4. Personalty in mercantile, manufacturing, and shipping lines was represented by at least eleven members: Broom, Clymer, Ellsworth, Fitzsimons, Gerry, King, Langdon, McHenry, Miffiin, G. Morris, and R. Morris.
5. Personalty in slaves was represented by at least fifteen members: Butler, Davie, Jenifer, A. Martin, L. Martin, Mason, Mercer, C.C. Pinckney, C. Pinckney, Randolph, Read, Rutledge, Spaight, Washington, and Wythe.
It cannot be said, therefore, that the members of the Convention were "disinterested." On the contrary, we are forced to accept the profoundly significant conclusion that they knew through their personal experiences in economic affairs the precise results which the new government that they were setting up was designed to attain. As a group of doctrinaires, like the Frankfort assembly of 1848, they would have failed miserably; but as practical men they were able to build the new government upon the only foundations which could be stable: fundamental economic interests.
- Herring, National Portrait Gallery, Vol. IV.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Connecticut Loan Office. Ledger B. Assumed Debt, folio 135; ibid., Ledger C, folio 135; ibid., Ledger A. folio 136.
- Ibid., Ledger E, Treasury, Vol. 44, folio 46; Ledger C. Treasury 6 per cents, Vol. 42, folio 55; and Treasury Ledgers, passim. Consult Index.
- It is here assumed that when a member of the Convention appears upon the funding books of the new government he was a public creditor at the time of the Convention. Of course, it is possible that some of the members who are recorded as security holders possessed no paper when they went to Philadelphia, but purchased it afterward for speculation. But it is hardly to be supposed that many of them would sink to the level of mere speculators. There is plenty of evidence for the statement that many of the members did possess public paper before the meeting of the Convention, but the incompleteness of the old records prevents the fixing of the exact number. Those members who purchased after the Convention for speculation must have had idle capital seeking investment.
- Papers of the Delaware Historical Society, No. XXIX (1900).
- National Encyclopaedia of Biography. Vol. XI. p. 530.
- History of the Bank of North America, p. 68.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger E, Treasury, Vol. 44, folio 26; and ibid Ledger C, Treasury, 6 per cents, Vol. 42, folio 33.
- National Encyclopaedia of Biography. Vol. XI, p. 530.
- Delaware Mss., Tax Lists; Library of Congress. This was probably the father of the member of the Convention.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, Delaware, 1777-1784, see under date, May, 1779.
- Journal C; Register of Certificates (1777); and Ledger C.
- Biographia Americana, p. 48.
- Farrand, Records vol. III, p. 95.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office (Va.) Register of Subscriptions, 1791 see date March 8, 1791.
- lbid., Register of Certificates of Public Debt Presented.
- Ibid., Virginia Loan Office, 1791, under date September 30, 1791.
- National Encyclopaedia of Biography, Vol. VII, p. 206.
- Haskins, The Yazoo Companies, p. 83.
- Encyclopaedia of Biography, Vol. VII, p. 206.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, N.C. , 1791-1797, folio 75.
- The Brearley Family Genealogy (Library of Congress).
- Biographia Americana, p. 49.
- L. Elmer, Constitution and Government of New Jersey, p. 274.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Register-Loan Office, N.J. , under date, Feb. 1779.
- Ibid., Loan Office, N. J., Ledger C/2, folio 38.
- Brearley Family Genealogy (L.C.).
- See records in Treasury for N.J. Loan Office, passim; also Family Genealogy.
- W.W. Campbell, Life and Character of Jacob Broom, Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware, Vol. LI, pp. 10, 26.
- History of the Insurance Company of North America, p. 138.
- Campbell, op. cit., p. 26.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger E, Treasury, 3%, Vol. 44, folio 57; also, Ibid., Ledger C, Treasury, 6%, Vol. 42, folio 67.
- Calendar Madison Correspondence, under Broom.
- National Encyclopaedia of Biography, Vol. II, p. 162.
- Farrand, Records, Vol. Ill, p. 97.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, S.C., 1791-1797, folio 128. The entry in the ledger notes the residence of Sarah Butler as Charleston; there was another Sarah Butler in South Carolina at the time, but according to the first Census she did not reside in that city. For the evidence that Sarah Butler was the daughter of Pierce Butler, see Salley, South Carolina Marriages, p. 108, for the record of her marriage.
- Farrand, Records, Vol. III, p. 93.
- Madison Ms: Letter to James Madison, October 28, 1787, Library of Congress.
- State Papers: Finance, Vol. I, p. 6.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, Maryland, 1790-1797, folio 98; Loan Office, Penna., 1790-1791, folio 94; Ledger C, 3% Stock (Pa.) , folio 54. Alphabet to Dividend Book of Domestic Debt, Maryland, under "C " (book not found). Charles Carroll was also a holder of securities. Ms. Treasury Department; Maryland Loan Office, 1790-1797, folios 157 and 226 for over $5000 worth of sixes and threes.
- Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Vol. I, p. 679; H. Crew, History of Washington, p. 108.
- Magazine of American History, Vol. V, p. 196.
- Sanderson, Biography of the Signers (1831 ed.), Vol. III, p. 147.
- Sanderson, ibid., p. 150.
- Simpson, Lives of Eminent Philadelphians (1859 ed.), p. 693.
- Sanderson, ibid., p. 147.
- McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, p. 705.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger C, 3% Stock, Pa., folio 231; see also Ledger E, Treasury, 3%, Vol. 44, folio 170; and Ledger C, Treasury, 6%, Vol. 42, folio 114. The existence of this latter small account in sixes in 1797 is the basis for the surmise above that Clymer held also his quota of sixes. With his business acumen he might very well have disposed of most of this stock after ..taking the rise" in 1787-1792, for he could have made more money in business than from the interest which the government paid.
- Peele, Lives of Distinguished North Carolinians, p. 59.
- Ibid., p. 69.
- Ibid., p. 69.
- Ibid., p. 80.
- Ibid., p. 78.
- State Papers: Public Lands, Vol. I, pp. 104-106.
- Ibid., p. 129.
- Ibid., p. 118.
- John Wood, Suppressed History of the Administration of John Adams, pp. 149.
- Ms. Treasury Department: N.Y. Loan Office, 1791, folio 130.
- Ibid., N.Y. Office, Deferred 6%, 1790-1796, folio 208.
- Ibid., Ledger B, New York Office, Deferred 6% Stock, 1790, folio 55.
- J. Wood, Suppressed History of the Administration of John Adams (1846 ed.), p. l45.
- Stillé, Life and Time& of John Dickinson, p. 14.
- Ibid., p. 35.
- Eminent Philadelphians, p. 747.
- Stillé, p. 331.
- Ibid., p. 327.
- The Index in the Treasury Department gives the name of John Dickinson among the security holders, but the volume referred to was not found.
- Morris Ms. in the Library of Congress, Private Letter Book, Vol. III, p. 160.
- G. Brown, The Life of Oliver Ellsworth, p. 11.
- Brown, ibid., p. 23.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Connecticut Loan Office, Ledgers A, B, and C, folio 21 in each volume.
- Consult same volumes through the Index.
- Facts here are taken from his Autobiography, in the Magazine of America History, Vol. VII. pp. 343 ff.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Register of Certificates of Public Debt Presented to the Auditor of the Treasury.
- Volume 31, folio 346.
- McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, p. 706.
- Simpson, Eminent Philadelphians, p. 373.
- McMaster and Stone, op. cit., p. 707.
- Simpson, op. cit., 373.
- Sumner, The Financier and the Finances of the Revolution, Vol. II, p. 294.
- Maclay, Journal (1890 ed.), p. 178.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Register of Certificates of Public Debt Presented to the Auditor of the Treasury.
- lbid., See Ledger E, Treasury, 3%, Vol. 44, folio 335. Also Ledger C, Treasury, 6%, Vol. 42, folio 300 for small entries.
- Morris Mss. in the Library of Congress: Private Letter Book, Vol. I, p. 529. Marshall (a brother of John Marshall) was the confidential and trusted agent of Morris in large transactions in land.
- Bigelow, Life of Franklin, Vol. III, p. 470.
- Haskins, The Yazoo Land Companies, p. 62.
- Bigelow, Works, Vol. X, pp. 206 ff.
- Farrand, Records, Vol. III, p. 232.
- Consult the Loan Office Records of New Hampshire in the Treasury Department, passim.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger C, Treasury, 6%. Vol. 42, folio 368.
- State Papers: Public Lands, Vol. I, p. 118.
- Hammond. State Papers of New Hampshire, Vol. XVIII. p. 790.
- Sanderson, Lives of the Signers (1831 ed.), V 01. I, p. 197; Austin, Life of Gerry.
- Sanderson, Biography of the Signers, Vol. I, p. 230.
- Farrand, Records, Vol. 11, p. 356.
- lbid., 413.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Mass. Loan Office, Register of Certificates of Interest Issued (Vellum bound), folios 15 ff.
- Ibid., Mass. Loan Office, Certificates for Liquidated Debt, folios 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. This paper had evidently been bought by Gerry for speculation.
- Ibid.. Loan Office, Pa., 1790-1791. folio 60.
- Ibid., Ledger C. 3% Stocks. Pa., folio 37.
- Ibid., Massachusetts Loan Office. 1791, Item 582; this wall also paper bought up by Gerry for speculation.
- Gerry was accused by Ellsworth (q.v.) of having turned against the new Constitution because the Convention refused to put the old continental paper money on the same basis as other securities. Toward the close of the Convention, "Gerry”, says Ellsworth, " introduced a motion respecting the redemption of the old continental money - that it should be placed on a footing with other liquidated securities of the United States. As Mr. Gerry was supposed to be possessed of large quantities of this species of paper, his motion appeared to be founded in such bare-face selfishness and injustice, that it at once accounted for all his former plausibility and concession, while the rejection of it by the convention inspired its author wit the utmost rage and intemperate opposition to the whole system he had formerly praised." Ford, Essays on the Constitution, p. 174. Gerry indignantly denied that he ever made such a motion in the Convention, or that he held much continental money. Ibid., p. 127. It does not appear in Farrand, Records, that any such motion was made in the Convention; and under the circumstances it seems not unjust to remark that Ellsworth's charges were made with very bad grace, particularly in vie of the fact that he and members of his family and intimate friends held considerable amounts of public securities. "Bare-faced selfishness" was not monopolized by Gerry in the Convention.
- See above, p. 49.
- King, Life and Correspondence, Vol. I, p. 72.
- A.M. Dyer. The Ownership of Ohio Lands, p. 68.
- Sumner, The Financier and the Finances of the Revolution, Vol. II, pp. 253 ff. See Turner, Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York, pp. 326 ff.
- T. Wyman, Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, V01. 1, p. 424.
- To be found in the Hamilton Mss., Library of Congress.
- Haskins, The Yazoo Land Companies.
- State Papers: Finance, Vol. I, p. 8.
- Hamilton, Works (Lodge ed.), Vol. VI, p. 453.
- Ibid., Vol. VI, p. 454; Annals of Congress, Vol. III, pp. 900 ff.
- See below. p. 112.
- Mr. Lodge calls the three investigators "inquisitors,” but this seems like a strong word to apply to members of Congress engaged in running down rumours relative to the official conduct of a government officer. Works (Lodge ed.), Vol. VI, p. 450 note. The impropriety of Monroe's action in allowing the story to escape is another matter.
- The pamphlet by Hamilton in his defence in printed in the Lodge edition, Vol. VI, pp. 449 ff.
- Compare the date of the receipts on page 20 of Mr. Fox's A Study in Hamilton with the date in the pamphlet (Lodge ed.), Vol. VI, p. 494.
- Works of Hamilton (Lodge ed.), Vol. VIII, p. 268. Perhaps the remnant of an old account of Hamilton on the Treasury Books in 1797 refers to this petty holding. Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger E, Treasury, 3%, Vol. 44, folio 434.
- J. A. Hamilton, Reminiscences, p. 18.
- W. Maclay, Journal (1890 ed.), p. 188.
- State Papers: Finance, V 01. I, p. 188.
- Reminiscences of J. A. Hamilton, p. 18.
- Ms. Treasury Department: N. Y. Loan Office, 1791, folio 24. See also the volume of N. Y. Loan Office Receipts in the Mss. Division of the Library of Congress for General Schuyler's receipts for interest on securities. The intimate correspondence between Hamilton and General Schuyler during the period of the formation of the Constitution was destroyed by a son of one of the latter's executors. American Historical Review, Vol. X, p. 181. See Tuckerman, Life of General Schuyler.
- Ms. Treasury Department: N. Y. Office, Deferred 6%, 1790-1796, folio 325.
- :PHILADELPHIA, Feby. 24th, 1790.
[ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Esq.,
Secretary of the Treasury at New York.]
SIR: I have had this day the honor of yours inclosing your power of substitution on behalf of Mr. Church. At present the sale of stock, and indeed every other money transaction is nearly at a stand. The produce of the State and the sale of Bills of Exchange will alone command it, until we receive a supply from sea.
Mr. Constable has informed me of the purchase he had made of 20 shares and when they appear the transfer will be compleated.
I observe what you say respecting the sale of what remains of Mr. Church's shares and shall do whatever may be in my power to dispose of them, whenever I receive the certificates and your orders to make the sale. I am, Sir, with great respect,
Yr Obedt Servt
Hamilton Mss., Vol. XXIII, p. 1.
- Library of Congress: Hamilton Mss., Vol. XX, p. 180.
- Ibid., Vol. XX, pp. 182 ff. Lodge omits references to this correspondence on Seton's part, although he gives selected letters from Hamilton to Seton. Works, of Alexander Hamilton, Vol. VIII, pp. 231 ff.
- Library of Congress: Hamilton Mss., Vol. XXIII, p. 180.
- A.M. Dyer. The Ownership of Ohio Lands. p. 69.
- Mss. Library of Congress: Treasury Department. 1790-1792 (Washington papers), folio 291.
- P. 108.
- Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, Vol. I, p. 402.
- Library of Congress, Hamilton Mss., Vol. XVI, p. 126. The editor of King's letters says this letter is lost.
- Hamilton's Works (Lodge ed.), Vol. VIII, p. 234.
- Ibid., Vol. VIII, p. 240, date March 14, 1792.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger B. N.Y. Office. 1790. Deferred 6% Stock; folio 260; also N.Y. Office. Deferred 6%. 1790-1796. folio 144.
- T.A. Glenn, William Churchill Houston, pp. 71-72 (Privately printed), copy in Library of Congress.
- Farrand, Records, Vol. III, p. 97.
- Simpson, Eminent Philadelphians, p. 596.
- His private fortune was much impaired by the failure of Robert Morris, for whom he had pledged his faith in several transactions. Morris Mss. Library of Congress: Private Letter Book. Vol. II. pp. 193, 261, 327, 351, 414.
- H. Binney, Leaders of the Old Philadelphia Bar. p. 83; State Papers: Finance, Vol. I. p. 81.
- Farrand, Records. Vol. III. p. 93.
- Census of 1790: Heads of Families. p. 51; consult Index.
- J Appleton. Encyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. III. p. 426.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Maryland Loan Office, 1790-1797, folio 14.
- Ibid., folio 134.
- Beardsley. Life and Times of William Samuel Johnson, pp. 8-9.
- Writings of Jefferson (Ford ed.), Vol. I, p. 223.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger B, New York Office, Deferred 6%, 1790, folios 10, 152, 457.
- Folios 152 and 457 of above Ledger B.
- MB. Treasury Department; Connecticut Loan Office, Ledger A, folio 15; Ledger B, folio 15; Ledger C, folio 15. Connecticut Loan Office Receipts, Library of Congress, MBB. Division.
- Ibid., New York Loan Office, 6% Ledger, 1791-1797, folio 161; ibid., New York Office, Deferred 6%, 1790-1796, folio 107- two entries of about 525,000 each. Ledger B, New York Office, Deferred 6% Stock, 1790, folios, 152,457. Ledger E, Treasury, 3%, Vol. 44, folio 529. There can be no question of the identity of the Robert Charles Johnson who appears on the public security records and the Robert Charles Johnson who was the son of William Samuel, The cross entries between father and son in the records constitute one piece of evidence. The residence of Robert Charles in Stratford presents another, for that was the family place. Furthermore, the signature to the Loan Office Receipts is the signature of Robert Charles, son of William Samuel Johnson.
- Rufus King, Life and Correspondence. Vol. I, 132.
- Life and Correspondence of King, Vol. I, p. 624.
- Writings (Ford ed.), Vol. I, p. 223. Maclay makes some quite uncomplimentary remarks about King, Journal, p. 315.
- Dunlap's Daily Advertiser, October 23, 1791.
- Ms. Treasury Department: N.Y. Office, 6%, Ledger, 1791-1799, folio 14. Ibid., Ledger B, N.Y. Office, Deferred 6%, 1790, folio 60; ibid., Deferred 6%, 1790-1796, folio 14. The Treasury Index gives a number of references to volumes not found.
- See above, p. 112.
- C.W. Brewster, Rambles about Old Portsmouth (1859), pp. 360-361.
- Farrand, Records, V01. III, p. 233.
- Batchelor, New Hampshire State Papers, V01. XXI, p. 804 note.
- Ibid., V 01. XX, p. 868.
- Batchellor, New Hampshire State Papers, Vol. XX, p. 872.
- Journal of William Maclay (1890 ed.), p. 178.
- Ms. Treasury Department: See Loan Office Certificate Book, New Hampshire (Loan of 1777 passim).
- Ibid., New Hampshire Loan Office, Journal A, folio 4, date March, 1791, and passim.
- Hammond, State Papers of New Hampshire, Vol. XVIII, p. 824.
- Farrand, Records, Vol. III, p. 90.
- Ms. Treasury Department: New York Loan Office, 1791, folio 97.
- Johannis, Garrit, Abraham, John J., Henry R., and other Lansings appear on Ledger C, Funded 6%, 1790, Ms. Treasury Department. Consult Index.
- L. Elmer, The Constitution and Government of New Jersey (1872), pp. 57-59.
- MB. Treasury Department: Ledger B, N.Y. Office, Deferred 6% Stock, 1790, folios, 72, 306, etc.
- Ibid., N.Y., 6%, Ledger, 1791-1797, folio 123.
- Ibid., Virginia Loan Office, 1791, under date of September 30, 1791; Ledger A, Funded 6% Stock, 1790, folio 123.
- In a letter of February 13, 1791, Madison advises his father to fund his Virginia ,certificates at Richmond: '1 do not see what better you can do with your certificates than to subscribe them to the public fund at Richmond.' Writings of James Madison (1865 ed.), Vol. I. p. 529.
- Writings (1865 ed.), Vol. I. p. 538.
- National Encyclopaedia of Biography, Vol. IV, p. 420.
- The Census of 1790 - Heads of Families. p. 168, places the number of Martin's slaves at 47.
- Herring, National Portrait Gallery, Vol. IV.
- See Index to Private Letter Books of Robert Morris, Library of Congress: Mss. Division.
- Census of 1790 - Heads of Families. Maryland, p. 18.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Maryland Loan Office, 1790-1797, folios, 80.81; 194.
- See below, p. 205.
- Rowland, The Life of George Mason, Vol. I. pp. 48 ff. 55 ff.
- Ibid., I. p. 56.
- Rowland, The Life of George Mason, Vol. 1. p. 58.
- Ibid., 1. p. 60.
- Ibid., 1. pp. 117, 154.
- Ibid., 1. p. 119.
- Ibid., 1. p. 270.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger A, Funded 6% Stock, 1790, folio 130; See Loan Office Virginia, 1790-1798, folio 132. The Index gives references to other volumes not found, Vols. 41, 43, 45, folios 93, 15, and 18 respectively.
- Elliot, Debates (1836 ed.), Vol. III. pp. 528-529.
- Ibid.. p. 529.
- Duyckinck, Cyclopaedia of American Literature (1855 ed.), Vol. I, p. 283.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger A, Funded 6% Stock, 1790, folio 18.
- Ibid., Loan Office: Register of Subscriptions, Virginia (1791), see date, no folio given.
- Dunlap's Daily Advertiser, October 23, 1791.
- Magazine of American History, Vol. VII, p. 104.
- Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry, p. 2.
- Hamilton Mss., Library of Congress, Vol. XXIII, p. 156.
- T. Montgomery, History of the Insurance Company of North America, p. 142.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger E, Treasury, 3%. Vol. 45, folio 22.
- State Papers: Finance, Vol. I. p. 8.
- Census of 1790- Heads of Families, Maryland, p. 41.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office Maryland, 1790-1797, S%, folios 72, 135, and other loan office records of that state, passim.
- McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, p. 701.
- The American Museum, Vol. II, p. 248.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Pa. Loan Office Certificates, 1788, folio 45.
- Ibid.: Ledger C, 3% Stock, Pa., folio 48. John F. Mifflin was a holder paper to the amount of several thousand dollars funded in 1790. Ibid., Loan office Pa., 1790-1791, folio 6; Ledger C, 3% Stock, Pa., folio 6.
- Roosevelt, G. Morris, pp. 1,24.
- Ibid., p. 167.
- Oberholtzer, Robert Morris, p. 4.
- Ibid., p. 108.
- For his multifarious operations see Oberholtzer, Robert Morris; Sumner, The Financier and the Finances of the American Revolution, 2 vols.
- Library of Congress: Morris Mss. Consult the Index to the three volumes of - Morris' Letter Books of Private Correspondence for references, under "James Marshall." Only by turning over this enormous mass of correspondence can one gain a correct notion of the ramifications of Morris' interests and the number of prominent men involved in his schemes.
- Hamilton Mss., Library of Congress, Vol. XXII, p. 179; two minor illustrations of his operations may be given: January 1, 1791, $7588.78, July 1, 1792, $26,408.66. See also the enormous transactions in the name of Willing and Morris scattered through the books of nearly every state. Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger C, 8%, Pa., folio 334; Register of Certificates of Public Debt Presented: Auditor of Treasury; folios not given. Consult Index to holders of old securities in the Treasury Department.
- Op. cit., pp. 237 ff.
- L. Elmer, The Constitution and Government of New Jersey, p. 77.
- American Historical Review, Vol. III, p. 312.
- Calendar of Madison Correspondence, Library of Congress. Mss.
- Census of 1790 -Head, of Families, 8.C., p. 33.
- Speaking of the nature of the practice in Charleston just after the Revolution, Charles Fraser says, in Reminiscences of Charleston, p. 71: "It was stated by the Duc de Liancourt, who was well acquainted with most or all of the gentlemen named, that General Pinckney, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Pringle, and Mr. Holmes, made from eighteen to twenty-three thousand dollars a year. ...The extensive commercial business of Charleston at that time opened a wide field of litigation. Our courts were constantly employed in heavy insurance cases - in questions of charter party, foreign and inland bills of exchange, and in adjusting foreign claims. There was also a good deal of business in admiralty, and, occasionally, a rich prize case.”
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, S.C., 1791-1797, folio 38. For other entries, Loan Office, S.C ., folio 70; a later entry of $8721.53 in trust for Mary Pinckney, ibid., folio 152.
- Census of 1790 - Heads of Families, S.C., p. 34.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan office, 8.C., 1791-1797, folio 221.
- Madison Mss., Library of Congress, under date of March 28, 1789.
- M. Conway. Edmund Randolph. p. 48.
- Ibid.. p. 372.
- Ibid., p. 384.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Current Accounts, Va., 1791-1796, folios 6, 13, 21; Ledger B, Assumed Debt, Va., folio 87.
- Hamilton Mss., Library of Congress. Vol. XX, p. 57.
- Sanderson, Biography of the Signers (1831 ed.), Vol. III, p. 351.
- W.T. Read, Life of George Read, p. 575.
- History of the Bank of North America, p. 147.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, Delaware, 1777-1781 passim. His mother and daughter bore the name of "Mary." J. W. Reed, The Reed Family, pp. 433 and 436.
- Ibid., Ledger E, Treasury. 3%. Vol. 45, folio 202. The Index gives references to several other volumes which were not found.
- Herring, National Portrait Gallery. Vol. IV.
- Flanders. Lives of the Chief Justices. Vol. I. p. 551.
- Census of 1790 - Heads of Families. S.C., p. 42.
- When Roger Sherman resided in Park Lane and ran a store in New Milford, Connecticut, he lost money through the depreciation of bills of credit, and he thereupon declared a war on paper money which he continued to the end of his days. Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society. 1906-1907, pp. 214 ff.
- Sanderson, Lives of the Signers, Vol. II, p. 66.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office: Connecticut, Ledgers A, B, and C, Threes and Sixes, folio 28 in each; January, 1792.
- Farrand. Records, Vol. III, p. 95.
- Census of 1790 - Heads of Families, N.C., p. 130.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger E. Treasury, 3%. Vol. 45, folio 308.
- Encyclopaedia of National Biography. Vol. I. p. 110.
- Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings. 1791-1835. Vol. I, pp. 290 ff.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Mass. Loan Office. 1791, Vol. III. item No. 1284.
- Sparks, Life of Washington, Appendix, No. IX.
- W.C. Ford, The Federalist, p. xi, note 3.
- Bancroft, History of the Constitution (1882 ed.), Vol. II, p. 411.
- D. Hosack, Biographical Memoir of Hugh Williamson, p. 18.
- MB. Treasury Department: Loan Office, N.C., 1791, folio 3.
- Hamilton Mss., Library of Congress, Vol. XXIV, pp. 70 ff.
- Documentary History of the Constitution, Vol. IV, p. 678.
- Hosack, op. cit., p. 85.
- Simpson, Eminent Philadelphians, p. 966.
- Oberholtzer, Robert Morris, p. 108.
- History of the Insurance Company of North America, p. 146.
- State Papers: Public Lands, Vol. I, p. 141.
- Yazoo Land Companies, p. 83.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger C, 3% Stock, Pa., folio 195.
- Sanderson, Biography of the Signers (1831 ed.), Vol. IV, pp. 172 ff.
- Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office: Register of Subscriptions, V /I., 1791, lee date. Also Ledger A, Assumed Debt, Va., folio 32.
- Appendix to the Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Federal Convention (1821, Albany).
- Records of the New York Loan Office in the Treasury Department.
- See above, p. 75. n. 3.
- See above, p. 124. Livingston's holdings are problematical.
- The fact that a few members of the Convention, who had considerable economic interests at stake. refused to support the Constitution does not invalidate the general conclusions here presented. In the cases of Yates, Lansing, Luther Martin, and Mason, definite economic reasons for their action are forthcoming; but this is a minor detail.