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 labours 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 They would be meagre, indeed, were it not for the rich unpublished records of the Treasury Department which are here used for the first time in this connection; and they would doubtless have been fuller were it not for the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 Baldwins 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 Baldwins 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 $2500.2
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 Hermans 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 possession of six thousand acres of Bohemia manor, which we are informed, embraced the fairest and best portion of 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. Bassetts 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 Blounts 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 misdemeanour 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 Blounts appointment to the western post at the beginning of Washingtons 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 honours 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 Brearleys 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 Brearleys 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, Jacobs 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 Bedfords 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 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. Clymers 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. Clymers 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 ex-hibited 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 Daytons 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 honour; 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 rumoured 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 latters 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 fathers determination to force him into the ministry. Though he was almost brief-less 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 Wolcott 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.
Fews 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; 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. Fitzsimmons 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 Maclays version is correct, for in 1791 Fitzsimons 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 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 quil ny a pas un grand choix Ó faire dans cet Etat, ou que du moins les hommes des plus sensés et les plus habiles ne sont pas assÚs riches pour accepter une place publique.
In financial matters, there was no doubt of Gilmans 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, soldiers paper which could be bought from necessitous holders at a fraction of its value), and in public lands.
While Gilman 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 quotas 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 quotas 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 fathers 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 fathers 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 Madisons 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 Gerrys 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 Gerrys 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,105 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.106
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. Pickerings 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 River107 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.108
Robert Morris was one of Gorhams 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.109 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. Hamiltons 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.110
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.111 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.112
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 labouring 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 Hamiltons 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 Hamiltons 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.113 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 rumours 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.114 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.115 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,116 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.117
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 Hamiltons 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. Foxs brief against the Secretary, it soon comes out that he has made a mistake in the crucial dates on which turns his whole case.118 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.119 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?
Hamiltons 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 Caesars 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.120
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 Hamiltons 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.121 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,122 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 Maclays allegations, Hamiltons friends would indignantly deny that he had any private connections with security operations in any form. Hamiltons son, in his Reminiscences, states that Hamilton requested his father-in-Iaw, 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 Hamiltons 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.123
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, $20,689.21.124
Neither did Hamilton deem it necessary to inhibit his brother-in-law, J.B. Church, from dealing in securities. During Hamiltons administration of the Treasury, Church was a large holder of public securities.125 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 latters orders for Church.126
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 Hamiltons 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.127 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.128 Here follow, voluminous correspondence showing Setons successful purchases.
Hamiltons 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).129 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.130 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.131
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,132 we have, of course, only Maclays 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 Hamiltons brother-in-law, Church, under Hamiltons orders. When we remember that Maclays 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.133
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.134 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 buyers and sellers 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 Kings letter which had informed him of Duers 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.135 There is of course, little beyond friendly advice in this, although Hamiltons enemies may see impropriety in his communicating his own price to a man deeply engaged in speculation.
1 Herring, National Portrait Gallery, Vol. IV.
2 Ms. Treasury Department: Connecticut Loan Office, Ledger B, Assumed Debt, folio 135; ibid., Ledger C, folio 135; ibid., Ledger A, folio 136.
3 Ibid., Ledger E, Treasury, Vol, 44, folio 46; Ledger C, Treasury, 6 per cents, Vol. 42, folio 55; Treasury Ledgers, passim. Consult Index.
4 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 couse, 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 oldrecords prevents the fixing of the exact number. Those members who purchased after the Convention for speculation must have had idle capital seeking investment.
5 Papers of the Delaware Historical Society, No. XXIX (1900).
6 National Encyclopædia of Biography, Vol. XI, p. 530.
7 History of the Bank of North America, p. 68.
8 Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger E, Treasury, Vol. 44, folio 26; and ibid., Ledger C, Treasury, 6 per cents, Vol. 42, folio 33.
9 National Encyclopædia of Biography, Vol. XI, p. 530.
10 Delaware Mss., Tax Lists; Library of Congress. This was probably the father of the member of the Convention.
11 Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, Delaware, 1777-1784, see under date, May, 1779.
12 Journal C; Register of Certificates (1777); and Ledger C.
13 Biographia Americana, p. 48.
14 Farrand, Records vol. III, p. 95.
15 Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office (Va.) Register of Subscriptions, 1791 see date March 8, 1791.
16 Ibid., Register of Certificates of Public Debt Presented.
17 Ibid., Virginia Loan Office, 1791, under date September 30, 1791.
18 National Encyclopædia of Biography, Vol. VII, p. 206.
19 Haskins, The Yazoo Companies, p. 83.
20 Encyclopædia of Biography, Vol. VII, p. 206.
21 Ms. Treasury Department: Loan Office, N.C., 1791-1797, folio 75.
22 The Brearley Family Genealogy (Library of Congress).
23 Biographia Americana, p. 49.
24 L. Elmer, Constitution and Government of New Jersey, p. 274.
25 Ms. Treasury Department: RegisterLoan Office, N.J., under date, Feb. 1779.
26 Ibid., Loan Office, N.J., Ledger C/2, folio 38.
27 Brearley Family Genealogy (L.C.).
28 See records in Treasury for N.J. Loan Office, passim; also Family Genealogy.
30 W.W. Campbell, Life and Character of Jacob Broom, Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware, Vol. LI, pp. 10, 26.
31 History of the Insurance Company of North America, p. 138.
32 Campbell, op. cit., p. 26.
33 Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger E, Treasury, 3%, Vol. 44, folio 57; also, ibid., Ledger C, Treasury, 6%, Vol. 42, folio 67.
34 Calendar Madison Correspondence, under Broom.
35 National Encyclopædia of Biography, Vol. II, p. 162.
36 Farrand, Records, Vol. Ill, p. 97.
37 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.
38 Farrand, Records, Vol. III, p. 93.
39 Madison Ms: Letter to James Madison, October 28, 1787. Library of Congress.
40 State Papers: Finance, Vol. I, p. 6.
41 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.
42 Scharf, History of Western Maryland, Vol. I, p. 679; H. Crew, History of Washington, p. 108.
43 Magazine of American History, Vol. V, p. 196.
44 Sanderson, Biography of the Signers (1831 ed.), Vol. III, p. 147.
45 Sanderson, ibid., p. 150.
46 Simpson, Lives of Eminent Philadelphians (1859 ed.), p. 693.
47 Sanderson, ibid., p. 147.
48 McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, p. 705.
49 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.
50 Peele, Lives of Distinguished North Carolinians, p. 59.
51 Ibid., p. 69.
52 Ibid., p. 80.
53 Ibid., p. 69.
54 Ibid., p. 78.
55 State Papers: Public Lands, Vol. I, pp. 104-106.
56 Ibid., p. 129.
57 Ibid., p. 118.
58 John Wood, Suppressed History of the Administration of John Adams, pp. 149 ff.
59 Ms. Treasury Department: N.Y. Loan Office, 1791, folio 130.
60 Ibid., N.Y. Office, Deferred 6%, 1790-1796, folio 208.
61 Ibid., Ledger B, New York Office, Deferred 6% Stock, 1790, folio 55.
62 J. Wood, Suppressed History of the Administration of John Adams (1846 ed.), p. l45.
63 Stillé, Life and Times of John Dickinson, p. 14.
64 Ibid., p. 35.
65 Eminent Philadelphians, p. 747.
66 Stillé, p. 331.
67 Ibid., p. 327.
68 The Index in the Treasury Department gives the name of John Dickinson among the security holders, but the volume referred to was not found.
69 Morris Ms. in the Library of Congress, Private Letter Book, Vol. III, p. 160.
70 G. Brown, The Life of Oliver Ellsworth, p. 11.
71 Brown, ibid., p. 23.
72 Ms. Treasury Department: Connecticut Loan Office, Ledgers A, B, and C, folio 21 in each volume.
73 Consult same volumes through the Index.
74 Facts here are taken from his Autobiography, in the Magazine of America History. Vol. VII. pp. 343 ff.
75 Haskins, The Yazoo Land Companies, p, 81.
76 Ms. Treasury Department: Register of Certificates of Public Debt Presented to the Auditor of the Treasury.
77 Volume 31, folio 346.
78 McMaster and Stone, Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, p. 706.
79 Simpson, Eminent Philadelphians, p. 373.
80 McMaster and Stone, op. cit., p. 707.
81 Simpson, op cit., 373.
82 Sumner, The Financier and the Finances of the Revolution, Vol. II, p. 294.
83 Maclay, Journal (1890 ed.), p. 178.
84 Ms. Treasury Department: Register of Certificates of Public Debt Presented to the Auditor of the Treasury.
85 Ibid. See Ledger E, Treasury, 3%, Vol. 44, folio 335. Also Ledger C, Treasury, 6%, Vol. 42, folio 300 for small entries.
86 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.
87 Bigelow, Life of Franklin, Vol. III, p. 470.
88 Haskins, The Yazoo Land Companies, p. 62.
89 Bigelow, Works, Vol. X, pp. 206 ff.
90 Farrand, Records, Vol. III, p. 232.
91 Consult the Loan Office Records of New Hampshire in the Treasury Department, passim.
92 Ms. Treasury Department: Ledger C, Treasury, 6%. Vol. 42, folio 368.
93 State Papers: Public Lands, Vol. I, p. 118.
94 Hammond, State Papers of New Hampshire, Vol. XVIII. p. 790.
95 Sanderson, Lives of the Signers (1831 ed.), Vol. I, p. 197; Austin, Life of Gerry.
96 Sanderson, Biography of the Signers, Vol. I, p. 230.
97 Farrand, Records, Vol. II, p. 356.
98 Ibid., 413.
99 Ms. Treasury Department: Mass. Loan Office, Register of Certificates of Interest Issued (Vellum bound), folios 15 ff.
100 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.
101 Ibid., Loan Office, Pa., 1790-1791, folio 60.
102 Ibid., Ledger C. 3% Stocks. Pa., folio 37.
103 Ibid., Massachusetts Loan Office, 1791, Item 582; this wall also paper bought up by Gerry for speculation.
104 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.
105 See above, p. 49.
106 King, Life and Correspondence, Vol. I, p. 72.
107 A.M. Dyer, The Ownership of Ohio Lands, p. 68.
108 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.
109 T. Wyman, Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Vol. I, p. 424.
110 To be found in the Hamilton Mss, Library of Congress.
111 Haskins, The Yazoo Land Companies.
112 State Papers: Finance, Vol. I, p. 8.
113 Hamilton, Works (Lodge ed.), Vol. VI, p. 453.
114 Ibid., Vol. VI, p. 454; Annals of Congress, Vol. III, pp. 900 ff.
115 See below. p. 112.
116 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.
117 The pamphlet by Hamilton in his defence in printed in the Lodge edition, Vol. VI, pp. 449 ff.
118 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.
119 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.
120 J.A. Hamilton, Reminiscences, p. 18.
121 W. Maclay, Journal (1890 ed.), p. 188.
122 State Papers: Finance, Vol. I, p. 188.
123 Reminiscences of J.A. Hamilton, p. 18.
124 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.
125 Ms. Treasury Department: N.Y. Office, Deferred 6%, 1790-1796, folio 325.
126 PHILADELPHIA, Feby. 24th, 1790.
[ALEXANDER HAMILTON, Esq.,
Secretary of the Treasury at New York.]
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.
127 Library of Congress: Hamilton Mss., Vol. XX, p. 180.
128 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.
129 Library of Congress: Hamilton Mss., Vol. XXIII, p. 180.
130 A.M. Dyer, The Ownership of Ohio Lands, p. 69.
131 Mss. Library of Congress: Treasury Department, 1790-1792 (Washington papers), folio 291.
132 P. 108.
133 Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, Vol. I, p. 402.
134 Library of Congress, Hamilton Mss., Vol. XVI, p. 126. The editor of King's letters says this letter is lost.
135 Hamilton's Works (Lodge ed.), Vol. VIII, p. 234.