Archive for the ‘Morris, Robert’ Category

“Mr. Morris has met with a great loss”

By the middle of April 1777, it became abundantly clear that the goal of the British was to capture Philadelphia. MARY WHITE MORRIS again writes to her mother about the situation. (See previous posts here, here, here and here.) The Continental Army was in dire straits. When several colonies did not contribute their share of assessed monies during the winter of 1776-77, Robert Morris loaned the government $10,000 to provision the desperate troops. And he underwrote the operations of privateers that ran British blockades in order to bring much needed supplies to this country, often to his loss, to which Mary refers in the following letter dated 14 April.

My Dear Mamma
There is orders from the Governor, to Innoculate all the Troops that are quarterd there [in New Town] Immediately. . . . There are now three men of War in our Bay, which look as if they intend this way; Mr. Morris has met with a great loss, as well as the Continent, by them, the ship Morris with a most Valuable Cargo of Arms, Ammunition, and dry goods. She had provided Her self with guns, to keep off any common Attack, but was most Unfortunately beset by three, the Roe buck one of them, at our Capes, She defended her Self bravely as long as it was possible, and then the Captain run her on Shore, and very bravely blew her up, and poor fellow, perished HimSelf, in his Anxiety to do it Effectively. We are prepareing for another flight in packing up our furniture, and Removeing them to a new purchase Mr. Morris has made 10 miles from Lancaster, no Other than the famous House that belongd to Stedman and Steagle at the Iron Works, where you know I Spent 6 Weeks, so am perfectly well acquainted with the goodness of the House and Situation. The Reason Mr. Morris made this purchase, he looks upon the other not Secure if they come by water. I think Myself very luckly in haveing this Assylum, it being but 8 miles fine road from Lancaster where I expect Mr. Morris will be if he quits this, besides many of my freinds and Acquaintances. So I now Solicite the pleasure of your Company, at this ones [once] famous place. . . .
We now begin to be Alarmd for Our City, theres 8 Sail of Men of War, at our Capes, and its thought are only waiting for their Transports to make an attempt. . . . I hope youll let me know if there is any thing in your House, you wish me to pack up and take care of for you. . . .
This Alarm is not like the first, every body as yet, seems quite Composed.

Two weeks later Mary Morris, still in Philadelphia, grumbled: “Theres no doubt, if General Washington had a Tolerable Army, he might with Ease, take every Man of them in Brunswick, but we cant deserve so fortunate an Event, Else our Contrimen wou’d have Spirit Enough to Undertake it.”

The letter can be found on pages 106-07 of In the Words of Women. The Roebuck, pictured above, was a 44-gun British frigate. More information about the ship and its movements during the Revolution can be found on this WEBSITE.

posted June 15th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Inoculation,Money,Morris, Mary White,Morris, Robert,Philadelphia

“don’t you feel quite important, I assure you I do”

I seem to be fixated on MARY WHITE MORRIS. Her story is interesting and reflects the plight of many well-to-do families in Philadelphia. Uncertain whether to stay or flee must have been hard. Mary and her children remained in Philadelphia in April 1777, awaiting evidence of the enemy’s movements. She kept her mother informed. Needless to say, rumors abounded. (See previous posts here, here, and here.)

April the first [1777]My Dear Mamma
. . . a little time Unmolest’d holding our Selfs in Readiness to fly again, if the enemy moved this way, they are not yet in motion in the Jerseys, but have sent some Ships up the north River, and Destroyd one of our magazines, many think, as I told you in my last, that their Arms will be turnd to that quarter this Spring, the Congress has appointed General Gates Commander of our northern Army, he fully expects to be visitd by them, but the Discovery of a plot last week, makes me Affraid he is mistaken, and that this is still their object, theres a fellow who is Commissioned by Lord Howe, been tampering with our Pilots, makeing them great Offers, and promises of makeing their Fortunes, if they would go with him to New York, the Honest fellows, took 50 pounds as an Earnest of their promise, but with the good intention of proveing the fact, went Immediately to the Generals and lodged their Information, Accordingly he was produced and Confessd the Charge, he is an Englishman, has Served Cucessively the late mayors of this City as a Clark, went to new York, was Introduced to Lord Howe, by your Freind Joseph Galloway for those purposes which Commission, has Ended this day with his Life. . . . Mr. Hancock intends Resigning his Seat in Congress and going home, it is Imagined he will be appointd Governor of Boston, they meant to have Complimentd Mr. Morris with the Presidentship [of Congress] but he told the Gentlemen who informed Him of it, he could not Serve, as it would Interfere intirely with his private Business, so begd it might be drop’d, any peice of Intelligence I give you that only Concern our Selfs and freinds, I hope will be confined to Mr. Halls Family. . . .
. . . . [B]y a Vessel that’s arrived at Connectigut with a very Valuable Cargo of Arms, Ammunition, Woolens, and a variety of other articles, the Congress have still a more Valuable one, Dispatches from Doctor Franklin, the French have lent us a Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling without Interest, payable when the United States have Established Independance and peace, he is received as our Embassador, and says we have every thing to expect from the favorable Disposition of the French
[D]on’t you feel quite important, I assure you I do, and begin to be Reconsiled to Independence. . . .
your very affectionate Daughter
Mary Morris

poor Tom has been under Doctor Shippens Hands
ever since we got home it was a great misfortune
he had not the attendance of a good Surgeon before,
as it would have save[d] him a good deal of Pain.

Mary wrote again on April 8 urging her parents to come to Philaldephia.

[I]t is well worth the Ride to see how Confident every one now seems of Success, Except the Torys, theres no Other news from the Camp, than that Deserters are comeing in Constantly, who all agree, that the Enemy are very Sickly, and a general Defection between the Hessian and British Soldiery, these accounts joind to the Curcumstances of their not moveing yet, all this fine weather, Joind the good News from France, has given Life and Spirit to every body who wishes us Success. . . . we have reason to think, there will be a Bank Established in France, for the Support of our Continentall money. . . .

Joseph Galloway, mentioned by Mary, became a Loyalist during the Revolution. His wife Grace Growden Galloway was unhappy in her marriage and remained in Philadelphia after the British evacuated to try to prevent the property she brought to the marriage from being confiscated by the Patriots. She was unsuccessful. Her husband took their only surviving child Elizabeth with him when he fled to New York. After the war, Galloway lived out his days in England.
When Mary says “I . . . begin to be Reconsiled to Independence,” she indicates that she as well as her husband were not initially in favor of independence, although they resented the actions of the British. Her husband in fact absented himself from the Congress when it voted for independence so that Pennsylvania’s vote would not be divided. He later signed the Declaration of Independence placing his signature right beneath that of John Hancock and committed himself to the American cause.

The letters come from the Robert Morris Collection at the Huntington Library, Lists No. 5, pages 53-55, transcribed by Louise North. [Microfilm, courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Nuxoll].

posted June 11th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Galloway, Joseph,Hancock, John,Morris, Mary White,Morris, Robert,Philadelphia

“Philad. is still their Object”

In March 1777, MARY WHITE MORRIS returned from Maryland to Philadelphia to be with her husband Robert, her spirits buoyed by the promise of French help. (See previous posts here and here.) Her pleasure at being home was short lived as it soon became clear that the British planned to attack the city. She wrote her mother 25 March 1777:

My dear Mamma
last Wensday noon I had the pleasure to arrive safely in Dear Philadelphia after a much pleasanter Journey than I expected from our Seting off, it made me very Happy to find my Self at home, after so long an Absence, with the terrible Apprehensions we fled with of never seeing it again, it looks more like it Used to do a great deal, than what I expected to see it, from the Accounts we had, in Short I have seen so many more of my Acquaintances then I expected, and with such Chearfull Happy Countenances as made me forget for a Day or two, that I must not look upon my Self as at home, but prepare my mind for alarms, which its expected we shall have; as soon as the Roads will Admit of the Enemys moving theres Varyous Opinions, w[h]ere they mean to open this Summers Campane, General Gates, who is jest gone from here, thinks they Intend to the North River, to join Carltons Army, and compleat there First Plan, others think Philad. is still their Object, while some beleive it will be on the Eastern Shore in Maryland. However a very little time will Determine, and we Shall want to know before we move to our Farms. . . .
[E]verybody Exclaim at my Thinness, Several of my Acquaintances did not know me, till they had time to recollect, and then declared there was very little traces of my former Self, I attribute it to want of Exercise, as I enjoyd such good health . . . .
I remain with the Utmost Affection your
Dutifull Daughter M. Morris

Billy has been told, that the Congress appointd Him there Chaplain, when in Baltimore, but has not yet heard it from them, and begs it may not be mentiond.

As you may surmise from the letter, Mary was pregnant. Her fourth son was born July, 1777. Billy was her brother William. Born in Philadelphia and ordained in England, he returned to America in 1771 and served as chaplain to the Continental Congress 1777-1789, and then as chaplain to the United States Senate. He later became bishop of Pennsylvania.

Robert Morris Collection: Henry E. Huntington Library, Lists No. 5, pages 53-55, transcribed by Louise North. [Microfilm, courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Nuxoll].

posted June 8th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Morris, Mary White,Morris, Robert,Philadelphia

“Rout that Impious Army”

MARY WHITE MORRIS wrote again from Aberdeen, Maryland (see previous post), where she had fled with her children against the expected advance by the British on Philadelphia in the winter of 1776, to her husband Robert who had remained behind.

December the 30 [1776]Dear Mr. Morris
We had been for many Days Impatiently wishing for a Letter from you, as the News we hear from any Other Quarter is not to be Depended on, but when the Welcomed one arrived, which brought those glad Tidings [probably news of Washington’s successful attack on the Hessians on the day after Christmas], it more than Compensated, for what our late Unfortunate Curcumstances, Prepared our Minds to Expect, which was Nothing more, then our Armys being on the Defencive, and fearing least their Numbers were not even Equal to that, but Retreat as Usiall, but I hope indeed the Tide is turning, and that our Great Washington will have the Success His Virtues Deserve, and Rout that Impious Army, who from no Other Principle but that of enslaveing this Once Happy Country, have Prosecuted this Cruell War. [M]y Father was greatly, tho Agreably Affected, at such good news, and I was the Happy means of makeing many joyfull Hearts, as we had many Guests added to our large Family to Celebrate Christmas. . . .
Pray were do you Lodge, I was told at Mr. Beveridge’s Country House, for Security, if I Exact all I wish to know I’m Affraid youll write the Seldomer, but Remember, it’s the greatest Gratification I can have, till I see you. . . . Bob walkd 3 miles to School today with one of his Cousins, I take a great deal of Pains to Preserve their Learning, Anna was right about my Shifts, but my needles I left in the tea Tabel [sic] drawer, put them there Myself, intending to put them in my Pocket the last thing. . . .
your Affectionate Mary Morris

Robert Morris Collection: Henry E. Huntington Library, Lists No. 5, pages 53-55, transcribed by Louise North. [Microfilm, courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Nuxoll].

posted June 4th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Battles,Children,Education,Hessians,Holidays,Morris, Mary White,Morris, Robert,Philadelphia,Washington, George

“Flying from Home”

MARY WHITE MORRIS (1749-1827) was the daughter of Thomas White, a lawyer and surveyor, and Esther Hewlings Newman White. Her brother, William White, became the bishop of the American Episcopal Church. In 1769, Mary married Robert Morris (1734-1806), the Philadelphia merchant and financier, who almost single-handedly arranged the financing of the Revolutionary War, his own firm profiting handsomely in the process. With many others, in the winter of 1776, Mary had left the city in expectation of the arrival of British troops. She sought refuge with her stepsister Sophia Hall near Aberdeen, Maryland, her distress heightened by the medical needs of her son Thomas. Members of the Continental Congress moved their deliberations to Baltimore but left Robert Morris to oversee affairs in Philadelphia. At the time of this letter, the Morris children included Robert, Thomas, Esther “Hetty”, and William. Charles (b. 1777), Maria, and Henry would follow.

December the 20 [1776]Dear Mr. Morris
I had not time by Joseph [a servant] to acknowledge the Receipt of your Letter by Mr. Hudson, we were at Suscohanah Ferry, I was Sorry the House was so crowded, tho with Delegates, he could not get Lodging, Else should have had more of His Company, He took an Oppertunity of telling me his House in Baltimore, was at our Service, my answer was, I should be Governd by You intirely, in my Future place off Aboad; I long to give You an Account, of the many Difficulties, and uneasyiness we have Experienced in this journey Indeed my Spirits, were very Unable to the task, after that greatest Conflict, Flying from Home, the Sufferings of our poor little Tom, distress’d us all, and without the Affectionate assistance of Mr. Hall, and the Skillfulness of Doctor Cole, whose Services I shall never forget, I don’t know what might have been the Consequence, as it was a boil of an uncommon Nature, and Required the Surgeons Hand; we had reason to Apprehend too, we should lose our goods, the many Circumstances, of this Affair, I must leave till I see you, as neither my Patience, nor Paper will hold out, Only that Mr. Hall. . . . Invited me to Lodge at His House, which when I declined, he politely Offerd me any Services in his power, and finding I had goods to be Carted Down he Immediately Offerd his Teems, which as soon as they arrived at the Bridge, were press’d for the Publick, but after all the Dangers, Ive the Pleasure to inform you, they are safely housed in this Hospitable Mansion. . . .
Joseph has returnd to Town for His Cloaths, I lent him our White Horse, he will wait on you for my nedles that are in a White nedle book in our tea table Draw[er] in the back Parlor, if they are not there Hero must apply to Anna for She must find them, Excuse me for troubleing you for what youll call trifling but indeed they are very necessary to me. . . .
I was Upstairs with my Children, when my mother Deliverd me your first Letter, you never Saw greater joy Sparkell in the Eye, then did Bobs, when he found it was from his Pappa, Read it out loud, mamma, will you, do mamma, till he was observed, which put a Stop to his Pleaseing Curiosity, your Darling Daughter is very Hearty and Saucier than ever, Bil is as stout as Ussiall, but Tom looks very thin, and will while his Sore Discharges as it does at Present, do give me the Pleasure of Hearing from you by every Oppertunity
your Affectionate M. Morris

The letter is in the Robert Morris Collection: Henry E. Huntington Library, Lists No. 5, pages 53-55, transcribed by Louise North. [Microfilm, courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Nuxoll]. The portrait is by Charles Willson Peale.

posted June 1st, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Children,Health,Money,Morris, Mary White,Morris, Robert,Philadelphia

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