Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Page 4

Robert Morris


   Allusion has been made above to the gloomy posture of affairs, during tile year 1780; at this time the wants of the army, particularly of provisions, were so great, as to threaten its dissolution. This state of things, being communicated to Mr. Morris, he immediately proposed the establishment of a Bank, the principal object of which was, to supply the army with provisions. This plan becoming popular, ninety-six subscribers gave their bonds, on this occasion, by which they obliged themselves to pay, if it should become necessary, in gold and silver, the amounts annexed to their names, to fulfil the engagements of the Bank. By this means, the confidence of the public in the safety of the bank was confirmed.
   Mr. Morris headed the list with a subscription of 10,000l.; others followed to the amount of 300,000l. The directors were authorized to borrow money on the credit of the bank, and to grant special notes, bearing interest at six per cent. The credit thus given to the bank effected the object intended, and the institution was continued until the bank of North America went into operation in the succeeding year. It was probably on this occasion, that he purchased the four or five thousand barrels of flour, above mentioned, on his own credit, for the army, before the funds could be collected to pay for it.
   We have not yet spoken of the congressional career of Mr. Morris, nor is it necessary to delay the reader by a minute account of the services which he rendered the country, in the national assembly. In this capacity, no one exhibited a more untiring zeal, none more cheerfully sacrificed ease and comfort than he did. He accomplished much by his active exertions, and perhaps not less by the confidence which he uniformly manifested of ultimate success. The display of such confidence powerfully tended to rouse the desponding, to fix the wavering, and confirm the brave.
   In another way, Mr. Morris contributed to advance the patriotic cause. During the whole war, he maintained an extensive private correspondence with gentlemen in England, by means of which he often received information of importance to this country. "These letters he read to a few select mercantile friends, who regularly met in the insurance room at the merchant's coffee house, and through them the intelligence they contained was diffused among the citizens, and thus kept alive the spirit of opposition, made them acquainted with the gradual progress of hostile movements, and convinced them how little was to be expected from the government in respect to the alleviation of the oppression and hardships against which the colonies had for a long time most humbly, earnestly, and eloquently remonstrated. This practice, which began previous to the suspension of the intercourse between the two countries, he continued during the war; and through the route of the continent, especially France and Holland, he received for a while the despatches, which had formerly come directly from England."

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Last modified January 31, 2004