I just finished a biography of Robert Morris. He was a Philadelphia merchant who became the financier of the American Revolution.
Leveraging his reputation and credit he arranged for critical supplies of arms and food to get to the Continental soldiers trying to win independence for America on the field of battle against Great Britain.
He performed many financial miracles when they were most needed, but he could not stop the Congress from issuing hundreds of millions of paper Continental dollars to pay for the war.
There he had no choice. Massive devaluation followed.
The Congress had no power to tax. The 13 colonies that jointly declared independence in 1776 usually ignored requests by Congress to pay up their share of the ongoing costs of the war.
In this environment Morris helped begin the American experiment in central banking. Americans have been arguing about the concept ever since.
It did not help the national debate that after independence and after he had relinquished the financier role and the federal government had been established and functioning that he began very large personal land speculations that ultimately brought him to ruin and debtors prison.
Banks, bankers and reckless use of borrowed money have been the objects of praise and scorn ever since.
The book is called “Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution” by Charles Rappleye.
Next time Ron Paul demands an audit of the Federal Reserve, you will be glad you read it.
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