Report on Robert Morris’s Petition
[9 March 1790]
That the Committee have enquired at the Register’s office into the state of the accounts of the department of Finance, lately administered by Mr. Morris.1
That, for the information of the House, a general account of the receipts and expenditures has been obtained from the Register, together with a printed Statement in detail, both of which are herewith reported, together with a paper containing explanatory observations of that officer.2
That from these documents, it appears to the Committee, that the regular official examination has been already made into the transactions of Mr. Morris, as Superintendant of the Finances of the United States; and that it is inexpedient to incur the expense of a re-examination by Commissioners, as proposed by the resolution of the Senate on that subject.3
Ms (DNA: RG 233, House of Representatives Records, Reports of Select Committees). In a clerk’s hand. Enclosures not found (see n. 2).
1. JM reported for the committee appointed 10 Feb. on the petition of Robert Morris, the former superintendent of finance. Morris’s petition, dated 8 Feb., requested that commissioners be appointed to inquire into his financial administration of 1781–1784. Such an investigation had been called for by a resolution adopted by the old Congress on 20 June 1785, Morris pointed out, but the matter had not been pursued. To remove the cloud of suspicion produced by this resolution, Morris urged Congress to proceed with the inquiry. On 11 Feb. the House received a resolution of the Senate recommending the appointment of commissioners for that purpose. Senator Maclay had this reaction to Morris’s attempt to vindicate himself: “The charges against him are not as financier, but as chairman of the secret committee of Congress, and for money received as a merchant in the beginning of the business. It seems admitted that he rendered important service as a financier, and if I can penetrate his design it is to cloak his faults in the secret committee with his meritorious conduct as financier” (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds., Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America (3 vols. to date; Baltimore, 1972—). description ends , III, 288, 291–93, 323; Maclay Journal description begins The Journal of William Maclay, United States Senator from Pennsylvania, 1789–1791, Introduction by Charles A. Beard (1927; New York, 1965 reprint). description ends , pp. 188–89).
2. One of the enclosures was Report of the Register of the Treasury … on the Account of Robert Morris (New York, 1790; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 22993 [no copy located]). This report is summarized in the N.Y. Daily Gazette, 10 Mar. 1790 (reporting the House proceedings of 9 Mar.). The “printed Statement in detail” may have been Robert Morris’s A Statement of the Accounts of the United States of America, during the Administration of the Superintendant of Finance … 1781 … 1784 (Philadelphia, 1785; Evans description begins Charles Evans, ed., American Bibliography … 1639 … 1820 (12 vols.; Chicago, 1903–34). Roger P. Bristol, ed., Supplement to Charles Evans’ American Bibliography (Charlottesville, Va., 1970). description ends 19333), which ran to more than two hundred pages.
3. On 19 Mar. this report was read again and Sherman moved that a committee of five be appointed to inquire into the receipts and expenditures of public money during Morris’s administration and report a statement of the same to the House. After a brief debate, with JM speaking in favor, the motion was adopted (Gazette of the U.S., 24 Mar. 1790). As chairman of this committee, JM presented a report at the next session (see Report on the Financial Administration of Robert Morris, 16 Feb. 1791).