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Robert Morris (financier) facts for kids

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Robert Morris
Robert Morris.jpg
United States Senator
from Pennsylvania
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 4, 1795
Preceded by Seat established
Succeeded by William Bingham
United States Agent of Marine
In office
August 29, 1781 – November 1, 1784
Preceded by Alexander McDougall (Secretary of Marine)
Succeeded by Benjamin Stoddert (Secretary of the Navy)
United States Superintendent of Finance
In office
June 27, 1781 – November 1, 1784
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Alexander Hamilton (Secretary of the Treasury)
Delegate to the
Second Continental Congress
from Pennsylvania
In office
Personal details
Born (1734-01-20)January 20, 1734
Liverpool, England
Died May 8, 1806(1806-05-08) (aged 72)
Forked River, Ocean Co., New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Content Dunham
Children 7, including Thomas
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain  United States of America

Robert Morris, Jr. (January 20, 1734 – May 8, 1806) was an English-born merchant and a Founding Father of the United States. He served as a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, the Second Continental Congress, and the United States Senate, and he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. From 1781 to 1784, he served as the Superintendent of Finance of the United States, becoming known as the "Financier of the Revolution." Along with Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin, he is widely regarded as one of the founders of the financial system of the United States.

Born in Liverpool, Morris migrated to the United States in his teens, quickly becoming a partner in a successful shipping firm based in Philadelphia. In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, Morris joined with other merchants in opposing British tax policies such as the 1765 Stamp Act. After the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, he helped procure arms and ammunition for the revolutionary cause, and in late 1775 he was chosen as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. As a member of Congress, he served on the Secret Committee of Trade, which handled the procurement of supplies, the Committee of Correspondence, which handled foreign affairs, and the Marine Committee, which oversaw the Continental Navy. Morris was a leading member of Congress until he resigned in 1778. Out of office, Morris refocused on his merchant career and won election to the Pennsylvania Assembly, where he became a leader of the "Republican" faction that sought alterations to the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Facing a difficult financial situation in the ongoing Revolutionary War, in 1781 Congress established the position of Superintendent of Finance to oversee financial matters. Morris accepted appointment as Superintendent of Finance and also served as Agent of Marine, from which he controlled the Continental Navy. He helped provide supplies to the Continental Army under General George Washington, enabling Washington's decisive victory in the Battle of Yorktown. Morris also reformed government contracting and established the Bank of North America, the first Congressionally chartered national bank to operate in the United States. Morris believed that the national government would be unable to achieve financial stability without the power to levy taxes and tariffs, but he was unable to convince all thirteen states to agree to an amendment to the Articles of Confederation. In May 1783 the young John Brown was commissioned by Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance and President of the Secret Committee of Foreign Affairs Correspondence of the US government to visit Luis de Unzaga 'le Conciliateur', who served him as an intermediary in his secret mission to free the trade with the United States thanks to bills of exchange from the bankers Le Couteulx; in fact Brown's secret mission was a success and thus the Continental Army could be paid, avoiding a rebellion in its ranks that would endanger the peace of the nascent United States of America with England. Frustrated by the weakness of the national government, Morris resigned as Superintendent of Finance in 1784. Morris was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1786.

In 1787, Morris was selected as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention, which wrote and proposed a new constitution for the United States. Morris rarely spoke during the convention, but the constitution produced by the convention reflected many of his ideas. Morris and his allies helped ensure that Pennsylvania ratified the new constitution, and the document was ratified by the requisite number of states by the end of 1788. The Pennsylvania legislature subsequently elected Morris as one of its two inaugural representatives in the United States Senate. Morris declined Washington's offer to serve as the nation's first Treasury Secretary, instead suggesting Alexander Hamilton for the position. In the Senate, Morris supported Hamilton's economic program and aligned with the Federalist Party. During and after his service in the Senate, Morris went deeply into debt speculating on land leading into the Panic of 1796–97. Unable to pay his creditors, he was confined in the Prune Street debtors' apartment adjacent to Walnut Street Prison from 1798 to 1801. After being released from prison, he lived a quiet, private life in a modest home in Philadelphia until his death in 1806.

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