Passionate biography of a Founding Father whose legacy exists in the shadow of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, but who played an equally vital role in the creation of the United States.
Born in England, Robert Morris (1734–1806) moved to the American continent at a young age and used a small inheritance to become a wealthy merchant. Although not a revolutionary by disposition, the proud Philadelphian believed that the British crown had overstepped its power, and he became active in both the formation of individual state governments and pushed for the controversial notion of a federal entity that could raise its own money. As the Revolutionary War dragged on, George Washington and other generals could not adequately clothe, feed or pay their troops, who threatened mutiny. Using his contacts and knowledge developed as an import-export businessman, Morris dealt with emissaries from France and other foreign nations, as well as leaders in each of the original states, raising millions of dollars and procuring shipments of badly needed gunpowder as if by magic. Investigative journalist Rappleye (Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution, 2006, etc.) demonstrates that behind the seeming magic, Morris labored mightily, sometimes at great cost to his beloved wife and their brood of children, as well as the near loss of his psychological equilibrium. In a nascent republic beset by political, geographical and personal rivalries, Morris became the object of suspicion by some, who accused him of enriching himself at the expense of the new nation. He worked hard for years to clear his name of those allegations and succeeded for the most part. However, his unwise land speculation after the war led to the loss of his fortune and time in jail before his death. In fluid prose, Rappleye ably resurrects an underrated contributor to the early American republic.
Provides thorough coverage of a deserving subject.