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hardest on the commercial states; officers unknown to the free law of the state would be entitled to come within her limits; and, lastly, to grant to the Congress a power to collect money, for the expenditure of which it need render no account to the states, would render that body independent and endanger the liberties of the United States. Such reasoning as this manifested the virile feeling of local liberty which underlay the Revolution, and was a good example of how well the states had learned the lesson of opposition to taxation. Though the war was not yet over, Rhode Island feared that Congress might attack her liberties! Within a short time Virginia, which had at first granted Congress the desired authority, repealed her act, for fear that the sovereignty of the state would be injured and the liberties of the state put in jeopardy.?

Men like Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, were now strongly opposing the growth of Congressional power. To inspire jealousy in the states was a simple and safe route to popularity; an orator or politician could so easily enlarge upon the dearest liberties of the people, speak of the bloodshed and ideals of the war, and pose as the defender of freedom against the machinations of government. There was already a real controversy between local and continental politics, which was to last long


Staples, R. I. in the Cont. Cong., 400.
? Hening, Statutes, X., 409, 451.
Hamilton, W'orks (Hamilton's ed.), I., 356.


after Lee and the fearsome Rhode-Islanders were buried. The failure to get the states to agree to give Congress the power to raise money was discouraging in the extreme; but there was a body of intelligent, large-minded men in the country who would not be beaten, and they determined to persist rather than give their country over to ignominy."

To overestimate the need of money would be difficult; money was needed for everything: to pay the troops, to pay the civil servants, to pay the interest on the public debt, to pay the anxious and needy creditors. “Imagine," wrote Morris, "the situation of a man who is to direct the finances of a country almost without revenue (for such you will perceive this to be) surrounded by creditors whose distresses, while they increase their clamors, render it more difficult to appease them; an army ready to disband or mutiny; a government whose sole authority consists in the power of framing recommendations."' 2

To float more paper money was no longer feasible, for the past issues had depreciated so rapidly that even to keep track of their vanishing value was a difficult intellectual task. It is not easy to say when this money had ceased to circulate commonly or how much it was worth at a given time. Jefferson says that by the end of 1781 $1000 of Continental scrip was worth about one dollar in

1 Madison, Papers (Gilpin's ed.), I., 239. ? Wharton, Dip. Corresp. of Am. Rev., VI., 203.

specie. Certainly when the Congress of the Confederation was asking for funds the old paper was valueless; an enterprising barber used some of it to paper his shop;: a crowd of men and boys, parading the streets of Philadelphia one day, used Continental bills for cockades in their hats and were accompanied by an unhappy dog which had been covered with tar and decorated from head to tail with “Congress " paper dollars. Evidently to turn out more money of this kind might add to the amusement of the populace, but would little avail the superintendent of finance.

To borrow money had never been easy, and it was now a matter of difficulty. France had been generous in her loans and gifts, but the war bore heavily on her income and her patience. Even after the signing of the preliminary articles of peace Vergennes had consented to grant aid, but he could not help remarking that when his majesty had done so much to help America in her time of “moral infancy,” she ought now in her maturity to support herself. France could not go on lending money forever; but what hope was there that the Americans would realize that fact, stop their recrimination, and pay their debts? Men that ought to have known better spent their time, not in talking for honesty,


Jefferson, Writings (Ford's ed.), IV., 154.
? Breck, Historical Sketch of Continental Paper Money, 15.

Moore, Diary of Am. Rev., May 7, 1781.
Sparks, Dip. Corresp. of Rev., XI., 172.

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but in maligning Morris, charging the troubles upon him, as if he could make money or ruin American credit. To rely on France and Holland ought to have been humiliating; but there were many Americans who were quite willing that France should bear the burden, though it was by no means a light one. Taxation in America had become irksome in the extreme. Morris pleaded and planned and labored with the states to little purpose; to talk to them, he said, was like preaching to the dead.

By January, 1783, the finances of the country were in a deplorable condition. Morris informed a committee of Congress, appointed to confer with him in secret, that his foreign account was already overdrawn three and a half million livres, and that further draughts were indispensable “to prevent a stop to the public service.” In desperation he proposed to draw again, relying on the friendship of France and the hope of proceeds from a loan in Holland. This was a bold game—to draw on funds that did not exist, to rely on the friendship of a nation already overloaded with its own burdens. But, bold as it was, there was nothing else to be done, and Congress decided to try it. This resolution, marking as it does the depth of want and the height of financial audacity, deserves to be quoted in full: “Resolved unanimously, That the superintendent of finance be and he is hereby au

1 Sumner, Financier and Finances of Am. Rev., II., 97. * Madison, Papers (Gilpin's ed.), I., 251.


thorized, to draw bills of exchange, from time to time, according to his discretion upon the credit of the loans which the ministers of the United States have been instructed to procure in Europe, for such sums, not exceeding the amount of the money directed to be borrowed, as the publick service may require." 1

Soon after this Morris determined to resign, and sent to Congress a strong letter: “To increase our debts while the prospect of paying them diminishes, does not consist with my ideas of integrity. I must, therefore, quit a situation which becomes utterly insupportable.... I should be unworthy of the confidence reposed in me by my fellow citizens if I did not explicitly declare that I will never be the minister of injustice."? He offered to remain, however, a short time, in hopes of improvement, and, indeed, he was prevailed on to retain the position till November of the next year. In a letter to Washington, written February 27, 1783, he said that Congress wished to do justice, but the members were “afraid of offending their States." + That was the root of the difficulty, and conditions were not likely to improve. Morris tried to impress on Congress the wholesome conviction that there was no more hope of European aid. “Whatever may be the ability


1 Secret Journals of Congress, I., 253, January 10, 1783. * Wharton, Dip. Corresp. of Am. Rev., VI., 229.

Sumner, Financier and Finances of Am. Rev., II., 95 et seq.; Oberholtzer, Robert Morris, 200, 209.

Wharton, Dip. Corresp. of Am. Rev., VI., 266, 267.

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