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AN UNAPPRECIATED PATRIOT
 TWO days before the battle of Bunker Hill the Continental
Congress was sitting in the state house at
The king of Great Britain had declared the American
colonies to be in a state of rebellion and had sent
soldiers to reduce them to subjection. It was for the
Congress to provide some way of defense.
On this particular day, therefore, it passed the
"Resolved, That a General be appointed to
command all the Continental Forces, raised or to be
raised for the defense of American liberty.
"That five hundred dollars per month be allowed for the
pay and expenses of the General."
Who should the General be?
A delegate from Maryland arose and nominated George
Washington of Virginia.
On the following day the president of the Congress
informed Washington officially that he had
 been unanimously chosen to be commander in chief of all
the forces of the American colonies.
Washington arose and thanked the Congress for the honor
which it had conferred upon him; and while declaring
that he did not think himself equal to the duties
required of him, he asserted his readiness to do all
that he could for "the support of the glorious cause."
"As to pay," he continued, "I beg leave to assure the
Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could have
tempted me to accept this arduous employment, I do not
wish to make any profit from it. I will keep an exact
account of my expenses. These, I doubt not, they will
discharge, and that is all I desire."
Thus, the united American colonies entered upon a long
and precarious war with the mother country. They had
as yet no efficient army; they had no money; but they
felt a supreme faith in the righteousness of their
Upon George Washington of Virginia devolved the task of
organizing, equipping, and conducting the army. Upon
Robert Morris of Pennsylvania devolved the task of
supplying the funds for the
 carrying on of the war. Without the patriotic labors
of both these men, it is not unreasonable to believe
that the colonies would have failed to achieve their
liberty and the war would have ended in disaster.
Robert Morris was at the head of the largest commercial
house in Philadelphia; he was the leading man of
business in America. In the congress of 1775 he was
active in pushing forward and sustaining the war, and
people soon perceived that the country must very
largely depend upon him for financial aid.
When the Declaration of Independence was proposed,
Robert Morris voted against it. He was in favor of
independence, but he did not believe the time was ripe
for it. When the day came for adopting the
Declaration, however, he signed it, and thus pledged
his life and his fortune to the cause of liberty.
The months that followed were months of trial and great
perplexity. How should the money be obtained for
feeding and clothing and arming the patriot forces
under Washington? It required all the skill and
experience of Robert Morris to provide for
 the necessities of the new government. It required,
also, an amount of self-sacrifice which few other men
would have been willing to make. Often he was obliged
to borrow large sums of money, for which he became
personally responsible. Through his exertions, three
million rations of provisions were forwarded to the
army just at the moment when such aid was most needed.
In the following year he was appointed superintendent
of finance, or, as we should now say, secretary of the
treasury, for the United States. But the treasury was
empty; the Congress was in debt two and a half million
dollars; the army was destitute; there was no one who
would lend to the government; without some immediate
aid the war could not go on. Nevertheless, people had
confidence in Robert Morris, and it was that confidence
which saved the day.
He began by furnishing the army with several thousand
barrels of flour, pledging his own means to pay for it.
When Washington decided to make a bold campaign in
Virginia against Lord Cornwallis, it was to Robert
Morris that he looked for support.
 "We are in want of food, of clothing, of arms," said
the general. "We have not even the means of
transporting the army from place to place or subsisting
it in the field."
"I myself," said Robert Morris, "will see that you are
He hastened to borrow of his friends all the money they
were willing to spare for the cause of liberty. He
pledged his own means to the last shilling. He
directed the commissary to send forward all necessary
supplies for the army in Virginia. He procured boats
for transporting troops and provisions. He left
nothing undone; he spared no pains to make the campaign
in Virginia a successful one. Washington's victory at
Yorktown was to a large degree the result no less of
his own skill and courage than of the energy and
self-sacrifice of Robert Morris.
At the close of the war there was no money to pay off
the soldiers and there was great dissatisfaction on
every side. Robert Morris came forward, and by
endorsing certificates to the amount of three quarters
of a million dollars, relieved the public distress and
made it possible to disband the
 army. While doing this, he again pledged himself
personally to see that all the obligations that he had
made in behalf of the government were properly
It is pleasant to remember that the money which he had
so generously advanced in aid of the cause of liberty
was finally paid back to him, and that his faith in the
honesty of the government was not misplaced.
On the other hand, it is sad to relate that the last
years of this doer of golden deeds were clouded with
misfortune. He had invested largely in lands,
believing that he would be able to sell at a great
profit. He was disappointed, however. There was no
demand for the lands, and Robert Morris was unable to
pay his debts. He was sent to prison, and for four
years was shut up in a debtor's cell.
While all patriotic Americans join in honoring General
Washington for his victories in war, how few there are
who remember the services of the man who made these