MORRIS, ROBERT Autograph letter signed, dated Nov[emb]er 20th 1798 [written from Prune Street Prison in Philadelphia], addre...
, dated Nov[emb]er 20th 1798 [written from Prune Street Prison in Philadelphia], addressed "Dear Sir," (to John Nicholson, so annotated by Morris at the foot), one page, 23 lines written in dark brown ink on a sheet of laid paper, page size 10 1/8 x 7 7/8 inches (26 x 20 cm). Usual folds, some toning or foxing, docketed (by Nicholson?) on verso; Together with a second, slightly earlier autograph letter signed by Morris to Nicholson, dated November 3, 1797, one page, 14 lines, from The Hills, Morris's country estate. Usual folds, laid to thin card, some show-through of adhesive.
Robert Morris, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. In large part, he personally financed the early years of the Revolutionary War with his fortune, and the Continental Navy used a number of his trading vessels, outfitted as warships. In 1781 he became Superintendent of Finance of the United States, a post he held until 1784, during which period he helped create the first financial institution chartered by the United States, the Bank of North America. Unfortunately, by 1798, as a result of overextension in land speculation (complicated in large part by the financial Panic of 1796-1797), Morris had fallen deeply into debt and was ultimately confined in the Prune Street Debtor's Prison in Philadelphia from February 1798 to August 1801. It was during this period that the present letter was written to his partner John Nicholson, the former comptroller general of Pennsylvania (who would ultimately also be imprisoned at Prune Street, and indeed would die there). The text of the first letter discusses the disposition of lands in the area of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, with a lengthy discussion of further legal tribulations. The second letter pertains to a list of lawsuits being brought against him that Nicholson had prepared for his use, and the nature of his defense.
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