Robert Morris to John B. Church40
Phila May 28, 1795 Wm penn Copy via N York to care of Colo Hamilton
On the third of this month I received your letter of the 20th Feby and since a Copy of it. The bargain which my son made with you for the deferred Debt was an unpleasant transaction to me, but it was always my determination to comply with it, and with this view I had determined to make you a Consignment of a number of Shares in a plan which I have formed for the Sale Improvement and Settlement of Six million Acres of Land.41 I spoke to Colo Hamilton on this Subject some months ago and he promised me a letter to you respecting this plan, but in his and my hurry it was omitted at the time of his departure from hence.42 I shall now however carry my intentions into effect by sending you 750 Shares in the North American Land Compy which you will receive enclosed herewith—That is, the Certificates43 for the same together with Six printed Copies of the Plan44 by which you will perceive that these Shares are each of the Value of 100 Mexican Dollars and they must not be disposed of for less, but on the Contrary they should now produce considerably more because One Years Int will be paid on the 31st decemr next & because we are progressing in this business of the Company. None of the Parties can sell these shares for less than 100 Dollars being under Bond to each other & to all the Share holders not to part with them at less than that price under a penalty of $100,000. I would propose therefore that you ask such an additional price as will compensate your Trouble in disposg of them (by way of Commission). I have been led into this measure by the assurances that Robert45 (who is absent at present) has given me that you would readily undertake any thing of this kind upon being allowed a proper Commission, for that you had told him so, with an assurance that it would be pleasing to you if you could render me a service, consequently I place implicit confidence in your doing this business. Some of these Shares have already been sent to England & Holland for sale and directions were given to Messrs Bird Savage & Bird46 to have the plan reprinted in London,47 so that you can learn from them and from William Temple Franklin Esqr48 what success they have met with in the sale of what has been committed to them, and if needful you can get more of the Printed Plans from the former if they have had them reprinted. Whether the above named Gentlemen have or have not succeeded in the Sale of their Shares I expect you will; because I suppose you to be better connected with Persons likely to purchase and as I conceive this plan to be the best that ever was formed in this Country for the benefit of all Parties I will take up some of your time by giving you some of my reasons for thinking so well of it….49
… As you make Sale of these Shares, you will be good enough to lay out the Money in the purchase of deferred debt to the Amount which you are to receive from me, and I pray your Attention to have the purchase made on the cheapest terms possible. Any Surplus that arises you will advise me of with authority to draw for the Same. I will send a Copy of this letter to Colo Hamilton & request that after reading he will forward it to you….
40. LC, Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress.
This letter concerns Morris’s debt to Church. For information concerning this debt, see the introductory note.
41. See the introductory note.
43. A copy of one of the certificates, dated May 28, 1795, entitling Church to ten shares in the North American Land Company, may be found in the Sol Feinstone Collection, Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia. The original document is in the Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia.
44. Plan of Association of the North American Land Company. Established February, 1795. See note 7.
45. Robert Morris, Jr., who had been in Europe and had seen Church at that time.
46. The South Carolina merchant firm of Henry Martins Bird, Benjamin Savage, and Robert Bird operated in London and also served as bankers.
47. The prospectus for the North American Land Company was printed in London in 1796. See Observations on the North-American Land-Company …, 20–83.
48. Franklin, the grandson of Benjamin Franklin and the son of the Tory ex-governor of New Jersey, had been born and educated in England and had settled in the United States in 1776. He spent several years abroad with his grandfather in Europe. In October, 1790, he sailed for England to act as Morris’s representative for the sale of lands Morris owned in western New York, and he played a significant part in the sale of Morris’s lands in the Genesee country to William Pulteney, William Hornby, and Patrick Colquhoun. For Morris’s account with Franklin, see Ledger C, 192, Robert Morris Account Books, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
49. At this point in his letter, which consists of seven manuscript pages, Morris describes in what can only be called glowing terms the plans for developing, and attracting settlers to, the lands held by the North American Land Company.