Pragmatic Patriot: Review of The Papers of Robert Morris, Volume 9: January 1-October 30, 1784. Elizabeth M. Nuxoll and Mary A. Gallagher, eds.; Nelson S. Dearmont, associate editor; Kathleen H. Mullen, assistant editor; Clarence L. Ver Steeg, editorial advisor; E. James Ferguson, editor emeritus.
Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 22, Number 2, June 2000.
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
The preceding eight volumes covered Morris's career as the country's "Financier" -in fact the actual prime minister of the early Confederation-through his official diaries, letter books, and ancillary correspondence. Morris went into office with an ambitious agenda, and the earlier volumes amply chronicle his attempts to put his plans into effect. Believing that few citizens are disinterested patriots, Morris thought, as Hamilton did, that the best way to attach them to the new government was through self-interest. For this, public confidence in the government, especially in its fiscal aspects, was essential, and retiring the Revolutionary War debt and establishing a sound fiscal policy carried out by a strong national government would be among the best ways to secure it. In 1782 he submitted a funding proposal to Congress that undoubtedly influenced Hamilton's plans nearly a decade later. He organized the Bank of North America in 1782 and attempted to retire federal and state paper money as rapidly as possible. He even proposed the assumption of state debts.
The current volume of the Morris Papers presents the culmination of Morris's pursuit of his innovative agenda to reorganize the administrative apparatus of the financial system and the fiscal policies that were to influence so greatly the financial structure of the new nation. At the time of Morris's resignation as superintendent in November 1784, many of his ambitious plans were still unfulfilled, but they were to provide a blueprint for the future.
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