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Robert Morris and the North American Land Company


An introduction to Robert Morris, “Financier of the American Revolution”.  Jim Reis gives an overview of a great man who played a pivotal role in the American Revolution but is often overlooked by historians due to his involvement in a poorly conceived land trust.

 

by JAMES J. REIS

A little known story in American History is that of Robert Morris and his involvement with the North American Land Company.  The N.A.L.C. was, and is considered, the largest land trust in American History, and is one of the first publicly traded Real Estate companies.

In the mid 1700’s Morris, an extremely wealthy Philadelphia merchant, backed the Continentals from the onset against his native countrymen, England.  If the Colonies had lost their effort for independence, we would certainly live in a different world today.

Morris, known as the “Financier of the American Revolution,” found inventive ways to fund the Revolution, and; kept his friend George Washington and his troops fed, clothed, and armed during the long war with England.  In the end, the Americans prevailed.

No doubt feeling exuberant after the war, Morris turned from a Merchant Prince to become a banker, and subsequently Real Estate Investor.  Always the entrepreneur, Morris founded the Bank of North America, the first commercial bank in the United States.  Never lacking for new business interest, by the late 1780’s he was a huge landowner and speculator.  He believed in European expansionism to the Americas and purchased inexpensive land in rural Pennsylvania and New York for as little as 10 cents an acre.

Pretty soon he was in the same situation that many Real Estate Investors were in during the late 1980’s, and he started to look for a way to settle with his creditors.  Instead of calling it quits and doing what he should have done by going back into the Mercantile Trade Business, he bought more and more real estate along the Appalachian Mountain chain from Pennsylvania to Georgia.

By the mid 1790’s Morris and 2 of his partners, James Greenleaf and John Nicholson, pooled their land and formed what must have been a very novel idea in its day, a land company called the North American Land Company.  The purpose was to raise money by selling stock secured by the real estate.  Six million acres were put into the trust in rural Pennsylvania, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.  Formed on February 20, 1795 the partnership set out to sell stock for $100 per share.  Every share represented 200 acres of real estate.  Before you bought the land you got a prospectus, which outlined the company objectives and benefits.  The stock promised a return of 6% per annum for 15 years at which time the land hopefully would have appreciated and the accrued value would have been given to the shareholders.

Well, like the late 1980’s the 1780’s looked like a real estate boom, but by the mid to late 1790’s real estate investment was a bust.  Rural locations and timing certainly added to the real estate bust.  Morris sent his son-in-law, James Marshall (the brother of Chief Justice John Marshall), to Europe to sell stock.  Things did not go well for Marshall and the other agents, as Europe was gearing up for the Napoleonic Wars, and real estate speculation was not to be trusted.  Morris also had serious problems with poor titles and creditors looking for payment.  Things looked pretty bleak for Morris by 1797.  So bleak that he was house prisoner in his own home “The Hills,” which is near Boat House Row along side the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Morris finally gave in, left his wife and six grown children, and went off to an unknown future in Debtors Prison.  To think that someone who was once the wealthiest man in America, now in his 60’s, someone who signed the two most important documents in History, the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence was now off to fend for himself in prison.  Entering prison in February 1798, he writes to his creditors and partners often up to 10 to 20 times a day.  In a personal letter to his son Thomas he asked how his wife and son William were doing (during the yellow fever epidemic of 1798 that killed 10% of the Philadelphia population).  Two weeks later his grown son and business associate William was dead from the epidemic.

Morris languished in prison for 3 ½ years while his partner, John Nicholson, died there less than a year after entering prison and his other partner James Greenleaf spent one year in prison.

Morris was the Merchant Prince who died in 1806, a pauper, in a rented house while being subsidized by a pension or annuity given to his wife Mary from the Holland Land  Company in compensation for her signing away her dower rights to land.

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The Players:

    • Robert Morris
      • Signer of the Declaration of Independence
      • Signer of the US Constitution
      • Signer of the Articles of Confederation
      • Helped finance the American Revolution
      • Founder of the first commercial bank in the United States
    • James Greenleaf
      • Former consulate of the United States at Amsterdam
    • John Nicholson
      • Comptroller General of Pennsylvania

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Purpose of N.A.L.C.:
A real estate venture intended to sell shares of stock secured by 6,000,000 acres of real estate in 6 states.  Cash received helped pay the mounting debts owed to creditors.

Pennsylvania:  647,046 acres
North Carolina: 717,299 acres
South Carolina: 957,238 acres
Virginia: 932,621 acres
Georgia: 2,314,796 acres
Kentucky: 431,043 acres

Total: 6,000,043 acres

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Intention of Investment:

    • To sell 30,000 shares of stock for $1.00/share and a 6% dividend with a land sale distribution after 15 years.

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Why it is important:

    • This is one of the 1st publicly traded real estate companies in America (the first R.E.I.T.).
    • Many players in the land company were prominent colonial Americans and their signatures appear in this collection.
      1. Clement Biddle – Revolutionary War General
      2. William Bingham -US Senator, Speaker of the House of Representatives
      3. AJ Dallas – Secretary of Treasury under President Madison
      4. Thomas Fitzimmons – Signer of the U.S. Constitution
      5. John Lawrence – Congressman from New York City
      6. Thomas Mifflin – Governor of Pennsylvania, Signer of the U.S. Constitution and President of the Continental Congress
      7. Robert Morris – Financer of the American Revolution, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Signer of the Article of Confederation and Signer of the U.S. Constitution
      8. Richard Rush – Secretary of the Treasury from 1825-1828
      9. Benjamin Say – U.S. Congressman and General from Pennsylvania
      10. Richard Dobbs Spaight – Signer of the U.S. Constitution and a North Carolina Governor
      11. Walter Stewart – Revolutionary War General
      12. James Trimble – Governor of Pennsylvania

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A synapses of the collection includes the following:

    • Original deeds, plans and mortgages going into land company
    • Stock Certificates
    • Investor Prospectus or Plan of Association
    • Letters or documents relating to the land company
    • Letters from prison
    • Other interesting Morris documents

 


THE ROBERT MORRIS COLLECTION


Much of the Pennsylvania land John Nicholson and Robert Morris put into the North American Land Company (N.A.L.C.) came from land given to Revolutionary War Veterans.   In 1780, a year before the war ended, the Pennsylvania General Assembly approved a plan to pay soldiers with land for the amount of money they had lost through depreciation in the value of currency. A second plan called for donating land to veterans of the Pennsylvania brigades that fought in the war to encourage their future enlistment in the Continental Army.

NOTE: Some of the land outlined below may have gone into other Morris land ventures.

William Fischer to Sam Wallis in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania for 300 acres.    (P-1)

Deed poll from Henry Antes to Aaron Levy for 400 acres in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.  Signed by H. Antes and probably Frederick Antes. (P-2)

Patent from Richard Soderston to Robert Morris for 430 acres in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  Signed by A. J. Dallas and Thomas Mifflin. (P-3)

Deed for 400 acres in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania between Christopher Dilworth and Robert Morris. (P-4)

Agreement signed by Robert Morris and Walter Stewart with Aaron Levy for 200,000 acres in Pennsylvania.  Counties of Northumberland, Mifflin, Huntingdon, and warrants for 50,000 acres. Signed by Robert Morris, General Walter Stewart and James Rees.

Note: This land probably went into the Holland Land Company  (P-5)

Late purchase for 900 acres to Wilhem Willink et al for 900 acres within the last purchase by the Indians.  Willink represented the Holland Land Company.   (P-6)

Late purchase to Joseph Thomas for 1000 acres for last purchase by the Indians. (P-7)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between Edward Brooke and John Nicholson. (Nicholson conveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.)  (P-8)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between John Shock and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-9)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between William Aaron and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-10)

P-11Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between Ben. Snyder and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-11)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between John Snellhard and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-12)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between Henry Snell and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson conveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.)  (P-13)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between Valentine Smith and J. Nicholson.  (Nicholson conveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.)   (P-14)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between Philip Sink and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-15)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between Henry Shieve and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-16)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between Henry Sheppard and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-17)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between John Sheppard and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-18)

Deed poll for 400 acres in Allegheny County between John Sink and J. Nicholson. (Nicholson coveys property to T. Willing, John Nixon, and John Barclay in trust for shareholders of the North American Land Company / N.A.L.C.) (P-19)

Harvey Lee to Joseph Thomas for 400A in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Probably depreciation lands awarded to Revolutionary War soldiers for their service.   (P-20)

Daniel Lee to Joseph Thomas for 400A in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.  Probably depreciation lands awarded to Revolutionary War soldiers for their service. (P-21)

P-22Patent from John Everhart to Robert Morris for 401 acres in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  Signed by Thomas Mifflin. (P-22)

Andrew Cochran to Robert Morris for 404 acres in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Signed by Thomas Mifflin. (P-23)

P-24Warrant for 1,100 acres in Northumberland County, PA from Thomas Willing to William Bingham, Robert Morris and John Nicholson. Signed by William Bingham, US Senator from Pennsylvania, and Thomas Mifflin. (P-24)

The following documents are probably depreciation lands given to Revolutionary war soldiers or their widows for service in the army.

NOTE: These deeds may have been part of the reason why the creditor George Eddy pursued Robert Morris and eventually put him in prison.

  1. Deed from Robert Tims to George Eddy for 400A in Northumberland County, PA (P-25)
  2. Deed from John Holmes to George Eddy for 400A in Northumberland County, PA (P-26)
  3. Deed from Peter Budd to George Eddy for 400A in Northumberland County, PA (P-27)
  4. Deed from Daniel Holmes to George Eddy for 400A in Northumberland County, PA (P-28)
  5. Deed from Elizabeth Stocks to George Eddy for 400A in Northumberland County, PA (P-29)
  6. Deed from Wilson Burd to George Eddy for 400A in Northumberland County, PA (P-30)

The following documents are probably depreciation lands sold to Sam Wallis then to James Wilson

  1. Sam Wallis, Esq. To James Wilson, Esq. for 900A. Last purchase made by Indians east of  Alleghany River and Coneweango Creek. #4148 (P-31)
  2. Sam Wallis, Esq. To James Wilson, Esq. for 900A. Last purchase made by Indians east of Alleghany River and Coneweango Creek. #4171 (P-32)
  3. Sam Wallis, Esq. To James Wilson, Esq. for 900A. Last purchase made by Indians east of Alleghany River and Coneweango Creek. #4174 (P-33)
  4. Sam Wallis, Esq. To James Wilson, Esq. for 900A. Last purchase made by Indians east of Alleghany River and Coneweango Creek. #4172 (P-34)
  5. Sam Wallis, Esq. To James Wilson, Esq. for 900A. Last purchase made by Indians east of Alleghany River and Coneweango Creek. #4167 (P-35)

SC-1Beautiful Deed measuring 22″ x 62″ with 2 seals. R. Smock, E. Shotwell, Abraham Morhouse to John Nicholson for various tracts of lands totaling 50,000 acres in Orangeburgh, District of South Carolina.  Signed twice by Thomas Mifflin and once by Clement Biddle. (SC- 1)

Deed from Chas. Young to Sam. Price and Samuel Yorke, appointees of Footman & Company. Deed for 24 tracts in Orangeburg district of South Carolina. Signed by Philadelphia Mayor John Inskeep. (SC-2)

These documents represent all of the land that went into the North American Land Company (N.A.L.C.) from Mason County, Kentucky.

K-1Deed for 246,900 acres, 4 tracts of land along the Ohio River, between Richard Graham to Robert Morris, John Nicholson and James Greenleaf for $61,725 in Mason County, Kentucky.   Signed by R. Graham. (K-J)

Notary signed by Thomas Mifflin and Clement Biddle. Mentions Robert Morris and John Nicholson, and land from Richard Graham. “Has great seal of Pennsylvania.” (K-2)

K-3Plan for 246,900 acres in Mason County, Kentucky along the Ohio River. Beautiful sketch of rivers and land in the Northwest Territories. Surveyed by General Thompson. (K-3)

Agreement for 246,900 acres between Richard Graham,  John Nicholson and Robert Morris.  Mentions meets and bounds.  Signed by Graham.   (K-4)

Revolutionary War soldiers from Virginia were granted land in Kentucky.

David Allison sold much land in Moore County, North Carolina, to Robert Morris.

NC-1Beautiful partially printed deed with state seal and separate survey. J. Porterfield to David Allison for 640 acres on both sides of Conners Road in Moore County, North Carolina, signed by Allison.  Has enclosed but unopened plan and legal description. Signed by Richard Dobbs Spaight. Allison was a land speculator who did business with Robert Morris. (NC-1)

The North American Land Company (N.A.L.C.)  had 44,155 1/2  acres in Harrison County, Virginia (now West Virginia near Clarksburg).

Richard Mason to Peter Williamson for 300 acres in Harrison County near the west banks of the Mangahela River.  Signed by Plunkett Fleeson and Edward Shippen.  With survey. (V-I)

Richard Mason to James Garwood for 303 acres in Harrison County. With survey. (V-2)

V-3John Davisson to Henry Phillips and John Ketland for 1,000 acres on Tiger Valley River in Harrison County.  Signed by Matthew Clarkson, mayor of Philadelphia. (V-3)

Ezekiel Rose to Grace Hendrickson for 500 acres on Hughes River. With survey. (V-4)

Isaac Hendrickson to Alex McMullen for 500 acres on the Hughes River. With survey and separate plan. (V-5)

LD-17See interesting Robert James Letter written from Greenbrier Courthouse November 7, 1798 under Letter or documents relating to the land company. (LD-17)

At no time did Robert Morris, John Nicholson and James Greenleaf have a clear title to all the lands they incorporated into the North American Land Company (N.A.L.C.) from Georgia.

G-1Coded letter from Augusta, Georgia. Letter to Joseph Tatem from John Caldwell referencing condition of land in Montgomery County, Georgia.  Mentions M’s lands and titles to 1 million acres. Mentions Mr. Fit. .. s of Philadelphia. (G-1)

Other interesting Georgia deeds, possibly part of the Yazoo Georgia Land Company.

  1. September 1799
    • Conveyance from Edmund Hale to T. Ketland, Clement Cotterill and William Cotterill for 100 tracts of land in Franklin County, Georgia. Contains 100 acres each. (G-2)
  2. July 27, 1811
    • Robert Eaglesfield Griffith to Walter Sims for approximately 600 square miles along the Mississippi River. The land was paid to Revolutionary Troops. Mentions James Greenleaf. Signed by Robert Wharton, mayor of Philadelphia. (G-3)
  3. September 22, 1813
    • Robert Eaglesfield Griffith to Walter Sims for 8 shares in Georgia company. Signed by J. Barber, mayor of Philadelphia. (G-4)
  4. September 22, 1813
    • Robert Eaglesfield Griffith to Wade Hampton for 8 shares in Georgia company. Signed by J. Barber, mayor of Philadelphia. Wade Hampton was an active agent of the Blount family of South Carolina. (G-5)

10 Certificates: Signed by Robert Morris and N.A.L.C. Secretary James Marshall, brother of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. Stock sold for $100 per share and represented about 200 acres of real estate and guaranteed a return of6% per share or $6 a share. The 3 speculators divided the capital stock of $3,000,000 into 30,000 shares of 200 acres each.

SHARES OF STOCK
Date of Issue # of
Shares
Purchaser # Representing Cancelled Location
3/10/1795 10 James Greenleaf 27 261-270 No CERT-1
3/10/1795 5 James Greenleaf 63 561-562 No CERT-2
 4/18/1795 10 William Temple Franklin  1104 15,013-15.022 Yes CERT-3
 4/18/1795 5 William Temple Franklin 1146 15,273-15,277 No CERT-4
 4/18/1795 1 Dr. Enoch Edwards 1370 15,609 No CERT-5
 4/18/1795 1 Dr. Enoch Edwards 1404 15,643 No CERT-6
 4/18/1795 2 Dr. Enoch Edwards 1285 16,631-16,362 No CERT-7
 4/18/1795 5 Dr. Enoch Edwards 1483 15,758-15,762 No CERT-8
10/15/1795 2 James Rees 2031 22,264-22,265 No CERT-9
10/15/1795 4 James Rees 2067 13,270-13,273 No CERT-10
CERT-3 CERT-10

Presumably these were given to all possible investors in the N.A.L.C.

  1. Booklet #1PROS-1
    • “Plan of the Association of the North American Land Company. Established 1795.” Printed by R. Aitken and Son, Market Street, 1795. 8 vol. 25 pages, First edition. NOTE: This may be a rare copy as a misprint appears on page 25. Instead of Now Mayor Clarkson, Esq. now mayor reads own mayor. (PROS-1)
  2. Booklet #2
    • “Plan of the Association of the North American Land Company. Established 1795.” Printed by R. Aitken and Son, Market Street, 1795. (Smith J. Somers, Jr. 6% written in pencil.) (PROS-2)

It should be noted that on page 5 of the prospectus it states: Thomas Wiling, the President of the Bank of the United States, John Nixon, the President of the Bank of North America and John Barclay, the President of the Bank of Pennsylvania held title to the land in the N.A.L.C. as the company trustee’s. They (Willing, Nixon and Barclay) refused to serve as trustees because of a possible conflict of interest with their bank positions and because they thought they might be held liable if the company failed. Jared Ingersoll, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Frederick A. Muhlenburg, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Mathew Clarkson the Mayor of Philadelphia replaced them.

Four letters written to James Greenleaf from George French a land speculator from Georgetown.

  1. LD-1November 7, 1794
    Talks about land adjoining city and lots being sold (LD-1)
  2. November 28, 1794
    Greenleaf on his way to Europe (LD-2)
  3. June 15,1795
    Mentions property on the bank of the Potomac above Hagerstown, MD (LD-3)
  4. January 4, 1796
    French coming to Philadelphia to convey property (LD-4)

LD-5A receipt presumable for furniture necessary to staff the office of the N.A.L.C.  (Secretary “Mr. Marshall” was probably James Marshall, brother of John Marshall).   (LD-5)

Protest of $5,000 between Nicholson’s Note to Robert Morris. Note was not signed. (LD-6)

LD-7Letter from Robert Morris to James Greenleaf desiring Greenleaf to come to Philadelphia immediately for a meeting.  Signed twice by Morris. (LD-7)

LD-8A note signed from Robert Morris to John Nicholson for $2,000.00.

NOTE: Same date as the formation of the North American Land Company (N.A.L.C.) Signed by Morris and Nicholson. (LD-8)

LD-9A 4th bill of exchange drawn in London, payable to Robert Morris.  Signed by Morris, John Nicholson, and Revolutionary War General Andrew Porter. (LD-9)

LD-10Letter of Attorney concerning the establishment of the North American Land Company.   Signed by the first board of managers for the N.A.L.C. (Robert Morris, Joseph Ball, Thomas Fitzsimons, John Vaughan and John Nicholson). This relates to the N.A.L.C. and 6 million acres in 6 states and was notarized by John Mifflin as Governor. This is a magnificent document, which helped establish the N.A.L.C. and give James Marshall the authority to be an agent of N.A.L.C. in Europe.

NOTE:  Robert Morris, John Mifflin and Thomas Fitzsimons all signed the US Constitution. Also signed by James Trimble, Deputy Secretary of the N.A.L.C. and Governor of Pennsylvania. (LD-10)

Court Decree, Lycoming County, PA (LD-11)

LD-12Letter to John Marshall, secretary of the N.A.L.C. at 230 Market Street, from Joshua Percival. Percival accepts on behalf of Joseph Karrick to be an agent of the N.A.C.L. in North Carolina. (LD-12)

LD-13Letter signed by Robert Morris to Benjamin Say, a US Congressman from Pennsylvania, outlining the fact that Morris is not, at present, in possession of any money. Morris is offering Say shares in the land company.  (LD-13)

Receipt from the Bank of the United States, which is payable to Thomas Randall for horse hire from Sunsbury to Philad. and back taxes in Catawissa Township. This was charged to the account of Robert Morris and John Nicholson. (LD-14)

LD-15Letter from “The Hills” from Robert Morris to John Nicholson, which mentions Wilson Hunt, Boone and Higbee. Morris mentions, “I am at 9:00 with good coal fire and a Northwester whistling outside.” Nicholson acknowledges 10/10/97. (LD-15)

LD-16Letter from “The Hills” from Robert Morris to John Nicholson. Morris is in a state of alarm as creditors were putting the pressure on him. He is offering Georgia and South Carolina in lieu of Kentucky. “God preserve us John Nicholson.” (LD-16)

Robert Morris goes to debtors prison in Philadelphia.

LD-17Letter to William Morris (son of Robert Morris), Secretary of the North American Land Company (N.A.L.C.), from Greenbrier County by Robert B. James, agent for the N.A.L.C. Letter from James asks for $1,500 from Morris to cover costs associated with old debts. (William Morris died on October 8, 1798). Great letter as James is sued and loses his horse, carriage and wearing apparel. (LD-17)

L-1From Robert Morris to John Nicholson. Morris arrived at the Prune Street Prison on February 16,1798. This is one of the first letters written from prison. It mentions George Eddy Notes, William Hunt, son William, Charles Lea, Esq., J. Pollack, Wm. Tilgman, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Forest and Dunlap. It talks about aggregate fund.  (George Eddy filed suit for $2,500 and got Morris thrown into jail. This is a great letter as it mentions his creditor, Eddy.) Signed by Morris and Nicholson.   (L-1)

O-5Deed from Derrick Peterson to Thomas Doyle (this is a significant deed as in the recital it mentions that it was part of Robert Morris’s property at 6th and High Street, which he was forced to sell to George Eddy on 4/10/1795).  See Other Interesting Morris Documents  (O-5)

L-2Letter of Attorney from N.A.L.C. to Mr. John Hoge, a US Congressman from Pennsylvania. The letter was signed by Morris, Thomas Fitzsimons (a signer of the U.S. Constitution), and J. Nicholson. Hoge is given power to sell lands in Pennsylvania, north of the Ohio River. William White Morris signed the document as the dispatcher and it was notarized by Mayor Hilary Baker.   (L-2)

L-3Letter from Morris to his son Thomas. This letter talks about mortality in the city (from the yellow fever epidemic) and mentions his son William, who died two weeks later on October 9, 1798. This mentions his wife, and daughter Maria, and their health. It also mentions the fever in New York and other ports.  (L-3)

L-4Letter from Robert Morris to John Nicholson concerning Messers. Nesbett, Donaldson and Field.  (L-4)

L-5Letter from Robert Morris to Thomas Fitzsimons. Talks about Madera Wine, John Warder in Abington, Mr. Cottinger, and son Robert visiting another son, Charles aboard a ship. Morris mentions perilous time and the fever.    (L-5)

John Nicholson joins Robert Morris in debtor’s prison.

L-6Letter written by Nicholson while a prisoner with Morris, and co-signed by Morris to the Trustees of the Aggregate Fund. Letter talks about completing the building in Washington DC. and are hoping the buildings they own in Washington D.C. are sold here once the Congress moves to D.C. Mentions Capt. Tingey and unfinished houses. Also mentions Francis and Ashley.  (L-6)

John Nicholson died in prison.

Robert Morris was released from prison with the establishment of the bankruptcy laws.

Morris letter to Richard Varick, Esq. asking for how a change of officers in Mayor’s Court can be handled.
Note: Dutch Paper Watermark: “Honic & Zooman”   (O-1)

Sale of Asylum Company land from John Nicholson.   (O-2)

O-3Deed notarized outlining the conveyance of Standish Forde to Andrew Summers. 38 acres. Forde and Joseph Ball received property on Dec. 11, 1797 from a foreclosed mortgage of Robert Morris. This is the deed for property that was Robert Morris’ residence when he went to jail. Signed by S. Forde.  (O-3)

Sale of Stock Certificate in Asylum Company.  (O-4)

O-5Deed from Derrick Peterson to Thomas Ogle (this is a significant deed as in the recital it mentions that it was part of Robert Morris’s property at 6th and High Street, which he was forced to sell to George Eddy on April 10, 1795.   (O-5)

Letter from Morris to son Thomas. Suggests that his son helps Thomas O’Connor to purchase land in Genesee Country. (Morris is now out of prison and offering real estate advice to his son Thomas, an attorney.)  (O-6)

O-7Deed for a city lot in Philadelphia at King and Race Streets near the Delaware River. Signed twice by James Greenleaf and his wife Ann. Also signed by John Lawrence, member of the Continental Congress and was the first representative of Congress from New York City. Also signed by William Tilghman and Edward Tilghman. (O-7)

Robert Morris dies on 12th Street in Philadelphia and buried in Christ’s Church.

O-8Robert Morris’ death notice as it appears in Boston’s “Columbian Centinel.” (O-8)

Lease from Charles Chauncey to Michael Baker. The land is on the west side of 5th Street between Sassafras and Cherry, next the Presbyterian Burial Ground. Robert Morris owned the property in 1777. (O-9)

Lease to from John Baker, Abraham Kintzing and Richard Rush to Michael Baker for the estate Isaac Hazlehurst. The land is on the west side of 5th Street between Sassafras and Cherry, next the Presbyterian Burial Ground. Morris sold the property in 1776. Richard Rush was the Secretary of Treasury from 1825-1828. (O-10)

Three deeds presumed to relate to “Morris Folly,” the land on which Morris was to build his dream palace on the South side of Chestnut between 7th and 8th Streets in Philadelphia.

  1. O-11September 12,1810
    • Joseph Jones to John Coats, Esq. for $10,000 (O-11)
  2. November 17,1810
    • John Coats, Esq. to John Read, Esq. for $10,000 (O-12)
  3. April 15, 1812
    • John Read to George Harrison for $9,600 (O-13)

O-14Deed from James Dundas, et al, to the Citizens of Philadelphia for Lemon Hill. Lemon Hill was Morris’ country house. (O-14)

The image at right depicts Lemon Hill.

O-1557 copies of 1790 era documents. Apparently patents and claims were used in getting legal claims settled with about real estate associated with the N.A.L.C.  (O-15)

Various portraits of Robert Morris. (O-16)