the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

10 somehow the full implications of the fiscal crisis

Info icon This preview shows pages 31–32. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
10 Somehow the full implications of the fiscal crisis facing the government had been conveniently obscured before the Articles were ratified. At least the correspondence of the delegates to the new Confederation Congress registered a genuine sense of shock upon realizing that the exchange rate for the continental had fallen to 500 to 1, meaning that it was essentially worthless. They had also inherited a federal debt of between $30 million and $40 million, swelling each month because of interest payments. The president of the Congress, Samuel Huntington, sent a circular letter to the states in May 1781, apprising them that “our Northern Army is starving,” and there was no way for the Congress to raise funds for their relief unless the states paid their requisitions in full. 11 That was not going to happen. The unimaginable and, until now, unspeakable implication was that all those ardent and heartfelt soliloquies to virtue and “The Cause” were in the process of evaporating before the sordid reality of American bankruptcy. It was entirely possible that the war for independence could be lost because the American government was broke and was configured in such a way that rendered any resolution of the problem impossible. If there was no structural solution to the fiscal problem—indeed, the state-based structure of the Articles was the core of the problem—the only possible answer was personal leadership. That is, find the right man, vest him with the requisite authority, then trust in his judgment to balance the books and rescue “The Cause” and the Continental Army from disintegration. There was only one man eligible for this desperate mission, who happened to be the wealthiest man in America. His credentials were entirely financial, meaning that he was a latecomer to the movement for independence, but he was an acknowledged genius at reading account books, understanding markets, and winning the trust of his creditors. For all these conspicuous talents, he had acquired the nickname “The Financier.” He was also shrewd enough to realize that rescuing American fiscal policy from insolvency was a thankless task that no sane man would ever assume, a reluctance that rendered him even more attractive. His name was Robert Morris. 12 For several reasons, Morris did not want the job. As he wrote in his diary soon after receiving the offer: “A vigorous execution of the duties must inevitably expose me to the resentment of disappointed and designing Men and to the Calumny and Detraction of the Envious and Malicious. I am therefore absolutely determined not to engage in so arduous an undertaking.” He was probably remembering his earlier service on what was called the Secret Committee of the Continental Congress, where he and Benjamin Franklin had orchestrated a series of covert negotiations with French suppliers to provide arms, food, and equipment for the Continental Army. Because France was still a neutral nation at the time, all
Image of page 31

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 32
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern