Mayer went to meet with Benjamin who had just arrived from France. Although Mayer was much younger than this great man, they shared the same ideals for America, and having gone through so much, and after being so successful, they greeted each other as old friends. They had enjoyed the time they had spent together before Benjamin left for France, and again when they had met in Paris. They couldn’t wait to have another tête-à-tête which they arranged to have the day after the official welcoming festivities for Benjamin.
Benjamin’s German hadn’t improved much, but Mayer had since picked up an English word here and there, and they struggled along in a pot-pourri of German and English. They didn’t want anyone to be privy to their conversation, and therefore, they decided they would make do without an interpreter.
Mayer started by congratulating Benjamin on his great diplomatic achievement. He had singlehandedly seduced the whole of France thanks to his fake frontiersman style and his many scientific breakthroughs that had been published prior to his arrival. After the battles of Trenton and Saratoga, he had succeeded in getting the Treaty of Alliance signed. Mayer also wanted to congratulate Benjamin on his masterful use of Morris Notes sent to him in Paris in order to pay Abraham Lazard who was supplying arms to Schiff in Rotterdam. Thanks to him, David had channeled vast quantities of French arms to the Colonies. In other words, Mayer wanted to let him know that without him, the victory at Yorktown, the founding of the Bank of North America and the about-to-be-signed Constitution would have been impossible.
Benjamin was well aware of his accomplishments in his desire to achieve independence for his country, but he wondered about the future of the Bank of North America. He knew that Robert Morris, according to Mayer’s wishes, had used the French gold that had been in Haym’s possession to capitalize that bank, and he wanted to know how it had fared since it received a charter in 1781.
Mayer felt the need to justify the fact that he was now in control of America’s monetary system. He started by saying that the Bank of North America was doing very well, and through Morris, his newly chosen front man, Mayer did indeed control America’s monetary system. He admitted it was making him very rich and powerful, but past a certain point, being rich was of no consequence. The only thing that mattered was buying and accumulating more gold bullion in order to solidify the burgeoning economy. The accumulation of gold was a self-propelling concept. It allowed the central bank to create more credit, make greater profits with which to buy more gold. There were, however, two main problems. Getting more gold out of the ground was limited by current technology, and financial anonymity had to be guaranteed at all cost.
He wanted to assure Benjamin that wealth didn’t impact his private life, and never would. He was interested in what money couldn’t buy. He lived in a ghetto in Frankfurt with his people, a crammed space that he was proud to call home, and he had the most wonderful wife who had given him six adorable and healthy children, and that was what made him happy. He had friends he could trust with his life and that of his family, and with Benjamin by his side, he was building a grand and beautiful new country. He couldn’t dream of being happier and having a more fulfilled life.
If properly used, credit made everybody richer, especially ordinary citizens. That was the beauty of an independent monetary system. Mayer intended to do everything in his power to create more central banks, a task his sons would no doubt pursue. When lending to a government the only objective was that of achieving the greatest prosperity for all. The supplier of credit and the spender couldn’t be one and the same. Congressmen were elected for a short period of time, and their thinking centered on their personal concerns, and in wanting to get re-elected and enjoy the good life, their greed and ambition only stifled national economic growth. Supplying credit made the banker rich, but in order for that to happen, credit had to stimulate growth in the whole system, and that’s why a private banker such as himself did everything in his power to keep the system private and growing. It was a win-win concept for humanity, but only if the banker and the spender remained separate and distinct.
Benjamin, who had spent a lifetime trying to establish a monetary system, knew that Mayer was right. Mayer repeated what they had already discussed in the past. The private banker as sole lender controlled the supply of credit by continually adjusting the rate of interest, and by controlling the supply of credit, he could then control prices through the stock exchange. What mattered most was to keep the economy stable while letting it grow at a measured pace. Benjamin was indeed impressed by this younger man who exuded so much strength, knowledge and assurance.
The subject then turned to France. Benjamin had much to say, and Mayer had much to learn. Benjamin felt that France was a kettle ready to boil over. The Masonic Lodges were growing like wild fire throughout France, and since Wilhelmsbad, the orientation of the lodges had changed in order to cater to lay people. One no longer had to swear on the Catholic bible in order to become a Mason. The change had opened the door to the Huguenots who were infiltrating France from England, Holland and Germany. Somebody was pushing for change in France, and that initiative seemed to be originating in London. Benjamin was quite sure the English bankers were out to destroy France from the inside. People like Mirabeau and many others had been talking about a Constitutional Monarchy like that of England for some time.
It seemed that Versailles was creating a problem. The King was completely isolated and surrounded by his aristocratic cronies in a lush setting while a starving Paris grumbled. Benjamin had personally felt this unrest in Paris in spite of the fact that Versailles was now occupied by Louis XVI and his young wife, a rather congenial couple.
Mayer was overwhelmed by this man’s observations, and he listened to his every word. But now he had to give Benjamin some bad news. When the Peace Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, the British armed forces had left North America, the lands east of the Mississippi River were ceded to the Americans, and France was officially made America’s major trading partner. Now, two years later, America’s economy was bursting at the steams and needed a stronger trading partner. Because of turmoil in France, Mayer thought that a formal trade agreement with England had to supersede the Treaty of Alliance that Benjamin had ratified in Paris in 1778. He knew that the French and the American citizenry would be very upset with what they would deem treachery, which it was in fact, and Mayer wondered if Benjamin could accept to work with him in getting such a trade agreement signed. Mayer saw it as an urgent matter, and a logical thing to do. America was mainly white, English-speaking and Protestant just like England, and the two countries had historical economic and cultural ties.
Benjamin was truly taken aback by this suggestion and remained quiet for the longest time. His natural inclination was to feel mistrust for a man who could suggest such betrayal. But because he knew Mayer was right in that they had no control over what was happening in France, and because he truly trusted this unusual man, he dismissed his gut reaction. He knew that Mayer felt the same way he did about France, and that he felt very bad about not honoring the intent of the Treaty of Alliance, even though it hadn’t been an official trade agreement. Reluctantly, he had to agree with Mayer. A trade agreement with England was necessary. Mayer, and later his dynasty, would see to it that France receive top consideration in economic and cultural development, no matter what. For now, Mayer would personally see to it that France got all the help it needed in order for it to become a democracy.
Mayer told Benjamin that if Congress was to be receptive to their ideas, his help was sorely needed. Although he was thinking of retirement, he urged him to accept the seat he was being offered in the Senate. With him sitting in the Senate, and Alexander Hamilton controlling finances under Morris’ leadership, they could easily steer the ship. It was the only way to successfully address the pressing matters facing the 13 Colonies. It was urgent to unite the 13 Colonies by getting a constitution signed, a President elected, and permanent residences built for both the President and Congress.
While Benjamin was away in France, Morris had taken Alexander Hamilton, under his wing. He had him study law before getting him elected as a representative of New York. Alexander turned out to be a prominent orator in the NY Congress that was presently sitting, and had written impressive papers that had led to the ratification of the Declaration of Independence by New York. This same young man was now in the process of drafting the constitution with Madison, and he had Morris’ complete backing.
As for the ceded lands, since the individual Colonies had claims on them, Mayer had asked Robert Morris to forgive their war debts on condition that they sign over their rights to Congress, and it seemed to be working. There wasn’t much doubt that all would accept, and in so doing, they would be accepting Congress as the Federal authority. That in turn would open the door to their accepting a residence for both the President and Congress up the Potomac River somewhere. Benjamin admired a man who could plan such an innocent yet far-reaching subterfuge, and he told Mayer so.
Once the Constitution was ratified and George Washington was elected President, and the Colonies’ war debts were forgiven in exchange for an agreement on a permanent residence for the President and Congress, there were long range plans that would need to be addressed. In the Paris Treaty of 1763, the French had repatriated its administration and its military leaving Canada to the English. With the Paris Treaty of 1783, the English had done likewise with regards to the USA. It was therefore time to start thinking of the territorial expansion of the USA. France was in great need of money, and a way to repay France for 1778 was to offer it a sizable sum of money for its land possessions that stretched from New Orleans to Hudson Bay and to the west right up to and including the prairies. The payment would be a way to avoid any future conflict while making a gesture of reconciliation. Mayer would find a way to arrange and finance such a sale, a purchase that Congress would be only too happy to agree to. The huge buffer zone to the north would become a country north of the 49th parallel, and that would let the USA free to expand westward along that parallel. In time, once the Americans were well established east of the Mississippi and had a stable government, the Spanish problem to the south could be addressed. The Spanish administration along with its army would be forced to go home just like the French and the English had been. Once the Rio Grande was established as the country’s southern border, the new states would be added one by one, and the USA would become a coast-to-coast nation, from Canada to Mexico. Unlike Europe, it would be a united country in which one language, one race and one religion dominated. It was meant to become the greatest nation on earth, and they both agreed.