Preface:Honor Roll of Massachusetts Patriots--heretofore unknown--being a list of men and women who loaned money to the federal goverment during the American Revolution 1777-1779.
While It is a well-known fact that a preface is seldom read, a few words stating who the men and women were whose names appear on the following Roll of Honor, what service they rendered their Government, and why their names have not been published before, seem necessary for an intelligent appreciation of this book.
At the time of the American Revolution, far more even than in the days of Cicero, the truth of the adage "Money is the sinews of war" had been proven. As civilization advances, implements of warfare become more numerous and intricate; more importance is attached to the quality and effective force of the machine, and a correspondingly less degress to mere brute strength. How best to obtain these "sinews" was one of the most important questions brought up for consideration by the early Continental Congresses. As early as May 20, 1777, and again on April 11, 1778, bills of credit were issued "for the redemption of which the faith of the United States was solemnly pledged", and all persons throughout the country were exhorted to show their patriotism by taking them.
Very soon the country was flooded not only with these, but with counterfeits, "issued by our enemies at New York", who doubtless felt that "all things were fair in love and war". After a long discussion, Congress passed on Jan. 2, 1779, a resolution (the full text of which is given later) withdrawing from circulation the whole emissions of the above-mentioned dates, and providing that all such bills deposited in the various loan offices before the first of June of that year be redeemed. This date was afterwards changed to Jan. 1, 1780, by Resolve of Congress July 2, 1779, chiefly on the representation of the Legislature of North Carolina, "that from the difficulties of communicating intelligence in that State, and the remote situation of its habitants, it was impossible that they should receive seasonable notice."
It was ordered that the names of each person depositing bills at any of the loan offices be registered, together with the amounts deposited, and that these names and amounts be forwarded to the Treasury "immediately after the first day of June." On June 29 it was resolved that the owners of these bills of credit might been them exchanged for certificates in a new loan to be negotiated, and many of them did as desired.
About two years ago, while I was examining some of the many articles of interest in the Treasury Department, the clerk in charge said: "Here is a book in which you, as a Daughter of the American Revolution, may be interested." It contained, among other papers, ---- such as "Account of Sales No. 4, of 29,105 Mexican Dollars in Bills of Exchange drawn on the Hon. Benj. Franklin Esq. Minister Plenipotentiary at the court of Versailles at 90 days sight," "Receipts of Interest paid by Commissioner of Mass.... to settle the public accounts," ---- three acounts which especially attracted my attention. They were the "indented receipts" forwarded to the National Treasury by the loan offices in Massachusetts, which had been discovered about twenty-five years before while the office was undergoing repairs, and bound for the sake of preservation. I at once recognized their value as a means of establishing a claim for entrance into the Daughters of the American Revolution; for if ever a person "rendered material aid," surely those did who loaned money to the Government in the early days, when its fate was still uncertain. Moreover, as many of the depositors were from Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, etc., and presumably Quakers, and many of them were women, it was a fair supposition that this was the only official evidence of the patriotism of a large majority of them.
Before the sun had set I had taken the first steps toward getting a copy of these names to send to the "Daughters" in the State of Massachusetts, whose kindness to me while Treasurer-General is one of the pleasantest memories of my life. A letter sent to the Secretary of the Treasury, in which permission was asked to copy the names, but not the acounts, that he might know that the desired copy could not be the foundation for spurious claims against the Government, which might take time to refute. After a long, vexatious delay, during which time I repeated to each official to whom my letter was referred that my object was purely to obtain historical information, and in no way to injure the Government, permission was granted, a desk in the office of the Register of the Treasury was assigned me, and I began my self-appointed task. Upon closer examination the work increased rather than decreased in value and interest in my eyes. The three accounts before referred to were carefully copied, compared with the original, and the names arranged alphabetically.
1st. "Registers of Money deposited in the Office upon Receipt agreeable to Resolve of Congress, January 2, 1779, payle. August 1, 1779," containing certificates, numbered according to date of issue, from "No. I. Feby. 15, 1779. Beriah Curtis, Boston" to "No. 4258. June 1, 1779. John Littlefield, Holliston."
2d. "Registers of Money deposited in the Office upon receipt agreeable to Resolve of Congress July 2, 1779, payable March 1, 1780," containing certificates numbered from "No. 4259. July 29, 1779. Rachel Clapp, Walpole," to "No. 4530. Dec. 25, 1779. Noah Nash, Hatfield." (Evidently Christmas Day was not a bank holiday then.)
3d. "Registers of official indented Receipts of Money for which loan Office Certificates of the same dates are to be delivered, when the office is supplied." These range from "No. 1. March 12, 1779. Jona. Hastings, Boston" to "No. 269. May 29, 1780. Stephen Ketchum, Boston."
As many deposited more than once, however, and some as many as eight times, in reality the names of only about 3,500 different persons are given. One family is represented by father and son to the fourth generation, and several to the third. While it is not allowable to give the amounts of any individual, it is a fact that some of the amounts deposited were one hundred thousand dollars, and one woman who brought bonds at several different times deposited in one day twenty-three thousand dollars! Although most of the depositors were from towns in Massachusetts proper, a number hailed from New Hampshire, and one man, Hozediah McWain, gave Vermont as his address, that evidently being sufficient to indentify him in the minds of the authorities.
Most of the persons at that time seemed to have but one Christian name, yet I noticed that the "Esq." is carefully added whenever possible. Some persons evidently changed the spelling of their names as the years went by; for instance, "Jethro Myrick, Nantucket," became "Jethro Mirick, Nantucket." Gloucester was sometimes spelled "Glocester." It seemed best in such cases to follow the original strickly, even where there was room to suspect a clerical error. The name "Samuel Ware (negro), Boston," is entered close to that of "Oliver Wendell Esq. Boston;" and that of "Caleb Davis (Lottery Agent)," to that of "Ebenr. Storer, (Harvard College)." Some of the names arrest one's attention from their quaintness, or from the associations connected with them. Notably such are "Hannah Winthrop," "Hopestil," "Sophrina," amoung the women's names, and "Cotton Tufts" amoung the men's.
While the names were undoubtedly forwarded according to law, in 1779 and 1780, I found that the abstracts of the receipts were transmitted to the Treasury "with the Abstracts of Subscription to the Loan proposed by Act of Congress. 4th. of August, 1790." The change of wording is significant. Before 1783 Congress passed "Resolves;" after that date it passed "Acts."
In January, 1898, I wrote the State Regent of Massachusetts, offering to give the manuscript copy through her to the chapters in the State, provided that the State or some chapter or individual would agree to print the same, and present a copy to each chapter in the State. This offer was accepted by the delegates to the State Conference, and a committee of three was appointed (of which Mrs. Louise P. Sargent was chairman) to take charge of the matter.
While examining all the names for the last time, preparatory to handing over the list to the committee, I discovered to my surprise that in the resolution of Congress, July 2, 1779, a proviso was made "that the holder of such bills" should take oath that they had not been "obtained directly or indirectly at a discount." This led one to infer that all the holders of bills of the emissions of May 20, 1777, and April 11, 1778, were not necessarily the patriots they had been supposed to be. They might have come into possession of the bills simply in a commercial way. I therefore divided the names into two classes. The first, which is printed in this volume, contains the names of those who not only held bills of the emissions before mentioned, but also exchanged them for United States bonds payable in the then distant future, thereby doubly showing their patriotism. The other, by far the larger class, while containing the names of many undoubted patriots, is not printed, the evidence of patriotism not being sufficient, without some other proof, to entitle their descendants to admission to the Daughters of the American Revolution. The list is valuable simply for historical purposes.
The work which fell upon me, in common with all other Daughters of the American Revolution, in connection with the recent war with Spain, suspended for a time the completion of this compilation. Lately it has been taken up with renewed interest. The State Regent, Miss Sara Daggett, and her able assistant, Mrs. Sargent, whose enthusiasm has never failed, have zealously forwarded its publication, feeling with the compiler that if any one woman, in looking over the list, is enabled by means of it to establish her claim to eligibility to the "Daughters," their labor has been more than repaid.
BELL MERRILL DRAPER
JUNE 16, 1899"Whereas, These United States, unprovided with revenues, and not heretofore in a condition to raise them, have, in the course of the present war, repeadedly been under the nessity of emitting bills of credit, for the redemption of which the faith of these United States has been solemnly pledged, and the credit of which their honor and safety, as well as justice, is highly concerned to support and establish; and whereas, to that end it is essentially necessary to ascertain the periods of their redemption, and seasonably to establish funds which, in due time, without distressing the people, shall make adequate provision for the same; and whereas, in appointing the payments for the said fund it is expedient that an extra sum be called for the current year, both on account of the present case of paying it, and to reduce the surplus in curculation; therefore,
"Resolved, That these United States be called on to pay in their respective quotas of 15,000,000 of dollars for the year 1779, and of 6,000,000 of dollars annually for 18 years, from and after the year 1779, as a fund for sinking the emissions and loans of these United States, to the 31st of December, 1778, inclusive;
"That if the comtinuance and circumstances of the war shall make any further emissions necessary the year ensuing, they shall be done in the manner and within the period aforesaid;
"That any of the bills emitted by order of Congress prior to the year 1780, and no others, be received in payment of the said quotas:
"That the bills received on the said quotas, except those for the year 1779, be applied first for the payment of the interest, and secondly for the principal of loans made by these United States prior to the year 1780, and that the residue, together with those received on the quotas of the year 1779, be not reissued but burned and destroyed, as Congress shall direct;
"And, whereas, many counterfeits have appeared in circulation, of various denominations, of the emissions of May 20, 1777, and April 11, 1778, and counterfeits of those emissions have lately been issued by our enemies at New York, and are found to be spreading and increasing fast in various parts of these United States, whereby individuals are defrauded, prices enhanced, and the credit of the paper currency greatly injured; and it is become necessary for the security of individuals and safety of the public that those two emissions should cease to be a circulating medium, and should be called in and exchanged, or otherwise provided for, as soon as may be, with convenience to the present holders; therefore,
"Resolved, That the following bills be taken out of circulation, namely, the whole emissions of May 20, 1777, and April 11, 1778;
"That they be brought in for that purpose in the manner hereafter provided, by the first day of June next, and not afterwards redeemable.
"That they be received for debts and taxes into the Continental Treasury and into the state treasuries for continental taxes, until the first day of June next;
"That they be received until the first day of June next into the continental loan-offices, either on loan or to be exchanged, at the election of the owners, for other bills of like tenor, to be provided for that purpose.
"That the bills lodged in the said officers to be so exchanged be there registered, and indented certificates thereof be given to the owners by the respective commissioners of the said offiers;
"That the commissioners of the loan-offices make returns to the treasury-board immediately after the first day of June next, of the amount of the bills received in their respective offices to be exchanged as aforesaid, and that proper bills to exchange the same be furnished, and ready to be delivered out at the said offices, within sixty days from and after the said first day of June;
"That the first mentioned bills, as they are brought into the treasuries and the loan-offices, be immediately crossed and struck through with a circular punch, one inch diameter, to be afterwards examined and burned, as Congress shall direct.
"Ordered, That the board of treasury prepare a circular letter to the states, to accompany the foregoing resolutions."
On July 2, 1779, it was decided to change the date from June 1st to January 1st, 1780, when the following amendmaent was made:
"Provided that each holder of such bills shall previously take the following oath of affirmation, and cause to be delivered to the respective commissioners of the continental loan-offices a certificate thereof, signed by the magistrate administering the same:
"I __________ do swear (or solemnly affirm) that __________ dollars, of the emissions of May 20th, 1777, and April 11th, 1778, of the following numbers and denominations, viz. __________ were my property or in my possession on the first of June, 1779, or at the time of my being informed of the resolution of Congress of the 2d of January, 1779, for taking the said emissions out of circulation, and were not obtained directly or indirectly at a discount."
According to a resolution of Congress June 29, 1770, it was decided.
"That 20,000,000 of dollars, or such part thereof as shall be brought into the continental loan-offices on or before the first day of October next, be borrowed on the faith of the United States, at an interest of six per cent. per annum."
"For faciliating the said loan, Resolved. . . . . . . . . .
"6th. That each lender shall have his election either to receive the principal at the expiration of three years from the date of the loan, or to continue it in the funds on interest until the whole amount of continental bills in circulation shall not exceed the sum in curculation at the time of the loan."