the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

The plan included the national bank the impost a land

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solvency. The plan included the national bank, the impost, a land tax, a poll tax, and an excise tax on whiskey, plus the assumption of state debts by the Confederation Congress. It was a financial blueprint for a fully national economy almost identical to the plan that Alexander Hamilton would propose a decade later. Morris was at the peak of his power, and he felt it. “I can obtain whatever is wanted for the public service by a Script of the pen,” he boasted. Benjamin Rush concurred, calling Morris “a new star in our America hemisphere.” 24 This could not last. For Morris was attempting, on his own, to impose a national economic architecture on a political foundation that vested sovereignty in the states. Arthur Lee, whose ideological antennae were poised to detect any stirrings in the political atmosphere that disrupted his keen sense of republican purity, regarded Morris’s financial reforms as the second coming of George III. “The accumulation of offices in this man, the number of valuable appointments in his gift, the absolute control given him over all revenue officers, his money and his art,” Lee lamented, “render him a most dangerous man to the Liberty of this Country.” 25 Lee’s appetite for personal vendettas was voracious, and he now shifted his sights from Franklin to Morris, rising in Congress to question Morris’s apparently limitless power, eventually publishing a series of articles in the Freeman’s Journal attacking Morris’s character. “In fine, sir, is not the disbursement of eight million annually in contracts,” Lee asked rhetorically, “is not the profit and influence arising from this, is not the hourly offerings of incense and adulation from surrounding parasites…sufficient to satiate your vanity, pride, and avarice?” Even though Morris was spending substantial sums of his own money to subsidize the army, Lee accused him of profiteering at the expense of the public, casting a shadow over Morris’s reputation that, no matter how misguided, never completely disappeared. 26 Meanwhile, just as Morris’s relentless campaign on behalf of the impost seemed successful—eleven of the necessary thirteen states had ratified—a change in the Rhode Island delegation created an impasse. The new member was David Howell, a former mathematics teacher at Rhode Island College (later Brown) who shared Lee’s hostile attitude toward Morris and held some “pure Whig” political convictions of his own with theological fervor. Howell acknowledged that his opposition to the impost
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was partly economic, chiefly the fact that the duties proposed would fall disproportionately on maritime states like Rhode Island. But more menacingly, the impost violated a core revolutionary principle enshrined in the Articles—namely, the sovereignty of the states, making them instead “mere provinces of Congress and tending to the establishment of an aristocratical or monarchial government.” Indeed, Howell
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