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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Circular letter from Robert Morris to the state governors
Morris, Robert, 1734-1806
July 28, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 845-848

[From Executive Letter Book.]


Office of Finance, 28th July, 1783.


Having already transmitted the public accounts from the commencement of my administration to the first day of this month. I

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shall not trouble your Excellency with a repetition of them. But I must pray your indulgence while I make a few observations. Perhaps this Letter may contain too much of egotism, but your candor will excuse me when the motive is known. If I have rendered any services to the United States, they have been derived from the generous confidence of my Countrymen. This confidence, must not be abused, and if it be lost my utility is at an end.

The accounts will shew, to any informed and reflecting mind, that the public monies were Economically applied; and if further proof were necessary I could appeal to the Honourable Delegates in Congress who have had every opportunity of investigation. I might also appeal to the clamors against me for opposing claims I could not properly comply with. Long have I been the object of enmities derived from that origin, I have therefore the right to consider such Clamors, and such enmities, as the confession and the evidence of my care and attention.

But, Sir, from the same accounts it will appear that on the 30th Day of June last my payments had exceeded the amount of my receipts by more than a million of Dollars. How indeed could it be otherwise, when all the Taxes brought into the Treasury since 1781 did not amount to seven hundred and fifty thousand Dollars? I have been propelled to this heavy anticipation, by an earnest desire to relieve our Army, by the General’s warm representations on the subject, and above all by the directions of Congress and their assurances of support. The enclosed letter to them will shew my desire to reduce our expences. But while I urge the reduction of expence it is equally my duty to urge an increase of revenue. If I have been a faithful steward of what was intrusted to me, if more became necessary than I ever received, and if urged by that necessity, I have anticipated the receipts, surely I am in the strictest line of propriety when I loudly call for relief. Every one must know that the paper I have circulated will lose its value, unless punctually redeemed. The several receivers are indeed instructed to exchange it. But what can that instruction avail if specie be not placed in their hands for the purpose? And how can that be effected but by a vigorous collection of Taxes?

I know that my solicitude on this Subject, will be charged to improper motives. When I urge a reduction of expence it will be

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said that I wish to impair the strength and lessen the respectability of our Country. Far other wishes swell my bosom. But I have been driven into a conviction, that the necessity of strength and the advantages of reputation are not yet sufficiently felt and understood, by all the members of our Foederal Body. My present call for Taxes has been anticipated, by a slanderous report that I have speculated on this paper, which I urge the redemption of. Most solemnly I declare, that I have never been concerned directly or indirectly in any such speculation. If there be any man in the world who knows any instance to disprove what I say let him step forth with the accusation. No Sir, the object is in no wise a personal one to me. I only advocate the Interest and reputation of America. If with a view to injure me the attempt is made to violate my engagements the malice will be defeated; but at the same time let it be remembered, that the Country which will not support faithful servants, can never be faithfully served. Guilt and desperation will ever pant for scenes of tumult and disorder, office will ever excite envy, and malevolence ever delight in slanderous tales. Is it then to be wondered at if my foes are numerous? Believe me Sir, if their attempts had only affected me and mine they should have been received in the same silence, which has buried many other wrongs. But on the present occasion it becomes my duty to delineate their baneful influence.

Pains are taken to cover with infamy all those who discount the public paper. The natural effect of this measure is to prevent those men from meddling with it who from a regard to their own reputations would do the business on moderate terms. Hence it follows, that the holders cannot obtain so much for their paper, as they otherwise might. Hence again an additional clamor, and of course an additional loss to the possessors. On the basis of the depreciation is founded an argument to prevent the redemption. By these means the public credit is totally ruined and the Government becomes chargeable with flagrant injustice. No future anticipations can be made to supply the most urgent wants; and in the whole proceeding those are made the victims who confided in the faith of government.

The attempt therefore by this slander to injure me, is an injury to those who have received my paper; and in every instance where

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they have joined in propagating the report, they have joined their enemies to plunder themselves. Let me no longer intrude on your Excellency’s patience, than to declare my conviction, that the States might easily fulfil far more extensive engagements than those which I have made on their account. Notwithstanding every insinuation, I will continue my efforts for the purpose, and tho’ base minds should reiterate their charges, I will persist in my duty and defy their malice.

With perfect respect I have the honor to be, &c.,
To His Excellency the Governor of North Carolina.