the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

Conflicted with his mercantile aspirations so the

Info icon This preview shows pages 32–34. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
conflicted with his mercantile aspirations, so the thirteen-year-old Morris was sent to Philadelphia to serve as an apprentice with the shipping firm headed by Charles Willing. Eight years later, in 1757, at the tender age of twenty-one, Morris was made a full partner in Willing, Morris and Company, the largest and most lucrative mercantile house in Philadelphia. How that sudden surge happened is not fully recoverable, but young Morris, who had no formal education and showed little interest in books, apparently possessed an uncanny instinct for the way markets worked. For example, when Willing was away on business, Morris learned that a drought in Europe had created a market for flour, and on his own he purchased all the available wheat crop in eastern Pennsylvania, which when sold as flour in Paris and Madrid yielded huge profits. Under his canny eye the company tripled the size of its shipping fleet, established agents in all the European capitals and throughout the West Indies, and made Morris a very rich man. He cut quite a figure in Philadelphia society in the 1760s: tall, slightly over six feet, with a Celtic complexion and pale blue eyes. In 1763 his sexual ramblings produced an illegitimate daughter, whom he supported financially until she married. He never forgot his impoverished origins. Walking the wharves, he knew most of the workers on a first-name basis, and he did much of his business with a wineglass in hand at City Tavern, where the bartenders and waiters relished his arrival and the huge tips that always followed. In 1769 he married Mary White, who came from a prominent Maryland family, and built a baronial estate called The Hills just outside the city for his family, which eventually included seven
Image of page 32

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

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
children. Morris supported the protests against the Stamp Act but, much like Washington, left the political theorizing to others. Although it hurt his business, he supported the nonimportation agreements as a more effective form of protest than constitutional arguments. Appointed to the Continental Congress in 1775, he sided with the moderate faction led by John Dickinson, which sought, as Morris put it, “to procure Accommodation on terms consistent with our just claims.” By the spring of 1776, as the prospects for reconciliation dissolved, he grudgingly embraced the inevitability of American independence. He absented himself from the vote for independence on July 2, explaining that the war would prove ruinous for both sides, but then he signed the Declaration on August 2, probably the most reluctant signer in the Congress. He then threw his full energies and his matchless list of European and West Indian contacts into the procurement of arms and equipment for the Continental Army. He came under criticism for mixing his own private accounts with public trades, thereby making a profit on the war. But the awkward truth was that Morris’s credit in the international marketplace was a kind of gold standard that enhanced the purchasing power of the American government. Most of the money his firm made during the war came from the fleet
Image of page 33
Image of page 34
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