33-NATHAN IN THE CITY

When he arrived in England in 1798, other than wanting to do a good job and making his father proud, Nathan had a pressing personal matter. In 1795, on a trip to America with his father and brothers, they had stopped over in London, and he had been introduced to two families. Though Moses Elias Montefiore’s family was the one meant to welcome him when he moved to England, Nathan developed closer ties to the Levy-Barent Cohen family, for ever since 1795 when Nathan met Hannah Cohen, who was 12 at the time, that adorable little girl had been constantly on his mind.

Nathan started off by going undercover to Manchester. He had left the Judengasse ghetto as a penniless young man in 1798, and in the space of 8 years, he supposedly became the wealthiest man in the world. After achieving this feat dealing in the cloth business, he went to London. Other than wanting to see Hannah Cohen in London, being the man that he was, he must have been also champing at the bit to take over from the Goldsmids in the City. In 1806, he married Hannah Cohen, in 1808 Lionel was born, and in 1809 he moved to St. Swithin’s Lane in New Court. In 1810, after replacing the Goldsmid Brothers, he proceeded to create a bank in his own name, N M Rothschild & Sons, and overnight, he was recognized as the most powerful banker in the City, and hence, the world.

However, in taking over from the Goldsmid Bros., he had been helped by destiny. Benjamin Goldsmid committed suicide in 1808 just prior to Nathan’s moving to Swithin’s Lane. It was said that Benjamin had been depressed for some time. When his 19-year old son converted to Anglicanism, it had shaken him up, and when his wife and daughters followed suite, it appeared to do him in. At that time, he had expressed the thought that he was saddened by the thought of being the last Jew in his family, and no doubt, that had led him to be further depressed, enough to take his life. One morning, he was found in his bedroom dangling at the end of his bathrobe chord.

Abraham was troubled by his brother’s suicide, and doubly so because he was now alone in facing his firm’s business obligations. The brothers had bought £14,000,000 of Government Consoles, and in order to do so they had contracted a sizeable loan with the East India Company in Amsterdam. In 1810, for reasons unknown, the East India Company called in Abraham’s loan. That of course forced him to sell the Consoles at below market, thus making him suffer a huge loss that resulted in the insolvency of the firm. Abraham, a respected and honorable business man, used the whole of his personal assets to pay back what he owed, and that left him penniless. He committed suicide in 1810. A handgun was found near his body lying in a wooded area not far from his home.

In that same year, at age 33, Nathan opened his bank in the City. Miraculously, he was instantly recognized as the most powerful banker in the City. He probably had taken possession of his father’s gold in the Goldsmids coffers, almost half the gold ever produced in the world, some 5 thousand tons. Consequently, his bank immediately started fixing the daily price of gold for the whole world, and continues to do so to this day. If Nathan opened the bank in his own name it was because Mayer wanted to make sure Nathan’s bank didn’t have any official ties with himself. In doing so, all possible ties to a father who lived in a ghetto, to his bank, the First Bank of the United States, and to the gold accumulated during the French real estate scam, vanished. Nobody would ever know where all that power and gold enjoyed by Nathan came from. Anonymity was the key to success.

1810 was also a time to decide Napoleon’s fate. That year, Napoleon was tidying up his personal life. He had wanted a male heir, and since Josephine couldn’t give him one, he divorced her very solemnly and publicly. He married Marie-Louise of Austria later that year, and his son, the King of Rome, was born in 1811. Nathan thought that Napoleon had served his purpose. After shoring up Barras who put an end to the Terror, after serving as a catalyst for the demise of the French Navy, after politically transforming France into the centralist state that it is to this day, and after dismantling the Holy Roman Empire on both sides of the Rhine, Emperor Napoleon and his Imperial Army were no longer needed. However, there was one more thing Napoleon could do before he was given the coup de grace, he could go to Russia and force the Tsar to let private companies mine for gold in the Urals.

 

28-REAL ESTATE COUP

In 1789, upon hearing that Benjamin was feeling poorly, Mayer decided to go to America with his three teenage sons, Amschel, Salomon and Nathan. The last time he had travelled to the new world was in 1785, following Haym’s death. On this trip, he wanted the boys to get a feeling for this wondrous new country, but above all, he wanted the boys to meet Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately, Benjamin being old and in poor health, they arrived too late.

But business went on. Mayer met with Moses Hayes in Boston, Ephraim Hart in New York and the Gratz Brothers in Philadelphia. Robert Morris who had done such a superb job as head of the Bank of North America and Superintendent of Finance had passed on the torch to his young protégé, Alexander Hamilton, who was now Secretary of the Treasury. Alexander was a true prodigy and was handling the young nation’s finances brilliantly. When Mayer met with Robert Morris, he told him he was henceforth free to use his own good judgment in the running of the country’s finance. Of course, Robert was expected to consult with Alexander, Moses, Ephraim and the Gratz Brothers, and directly with Mayer in Frankfurt if urgent matters came up.

He then met with Washington in his magnificent renovated Mount Vernon estate and congratulated him on his election victory. He assured him that since trade and commerce was developing at breakneck speed, he and his political supporters would continue receiving unlimited funding in order to carry out their mandates as they saw fit.

Next, he met with Alexander Hamilton and congratulated him on getting George Washington elected. He also told him how impressed he was with the work he and Robert Morris were doing. He then brought up the subject of the Bank of North America charter that was expiring in 1791. Hamilton was way ahead of him on that one, for a first draft of the 1st Bank of the United States of America charter that was to run for another twenty years was already being circulated and was meeting with very little opposition. Mayer was indeed impressed by this young man.

The states were developing by leaps and bounds, Mayer’s people were rich and getting richer, and his bank’s charter was about to be renewed for another twenty years. There was absolutely nothing for Mayer to worry about. He always treated his collaborators as equals, and they were always made to feel free to satisfy any whim without having to ask Mayer. People don’t necessarily like being on a string, but severing a link to such bounty is unthinkable, especially when it’s so easy to forget the string exists. One thing was certain, America and his bank could look forward to twenty years of peace and prosperity.

The only matter that needed immediate attention was getting permanent residences for the President and Congress. Mayer agreed that having the federal capital at the head of the Potomac River was the best choice since the area was more or less in the south, and strategically well-protected. Having an executive building for the President and his staff separate from that of the people’s representatives was deemed important as well. However, although the constitution, drafted by Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson who had just come back from Paris, had been submitted the year before, some states were still holding back. Regardless, Alexander was certain the US Constitution and the Compromise of 1790 would be accepted and would lead the way in the creation of a strong federal state.

Before setting sail for the trip home, Mayer and his boys decided it would be a good idea to go by way of Paris, in order to see what was happening in France. Mayer wanted to see first hand how his real estate operations were going. When they arrived in Amsterdam, they took a Thurn and Taxis mail coach in order to avoid problems with the French authorities. Mayer had written ahead to David Schiff, Moses Montefiore, Gabriel Julien Ouvrard, and the Goldsmid Bros. convening them to a meeting in Paris.

The meeting took place in Gabriel’s mansion in Paris, and since it wasn’t a good idea to display wealth at that time, they kept the meeting low key which suited everybody. Mayer and the boys listened with the greatest attention as they were briefed on the state of the real estate sales and on the latest developments of the ongoing revolution.

The counterfeit assignats printed by Johannot were being circulated undetected, and Ouvrard’s agents, Huguenots working out of the lodges of the Grand Orient of France, were having no trouble buying the prodigious properties as they were put up on the auction block. Ouvrard and his agents flipped the properties to anxiously waiting French buyers with the help of Cambacérès’ law firm that was paid to do the necessary paper work. The word had gotten around that gold could be used to buy the properties at a reduced price, and the wealthy buyers were queuing up. For instance, if a buyer personally purchased confiscated Church property at auction, he had to use badly depreciated assignats which he had to buy at face value from the government. In other words, by purchasing a property worth 100 million pounds at auction, he needed to buy 100 million pounds’ worth of assignats at face value, whereas if he bought the same property from Ouvrard using gold, he could get it for 50 million pounds.

As the sales were completed, Ouvrard sent the gold to Paris by Thurn and Taxis. The gold was then shipped down the Seine to Le Havre where a waiting Baring ship from the East India Company took it to London where it was deposited in the Goldsmid Bros. vaults in the City. Montefiore in London made sure everything went smoothly at that end. So far, there had been no hitches and the elite group assembled in Paris didn’t foresee any. Mayer’s boys were in admiration of their father who had set up such a marvelous scam where no one was harmed that hadn’t been already.

Mayer and the three boys left Paris in good spirits, except for Nathan who was complaining about not being allowed to go and witness the demolition of the Bastille prison. In order to humor Nathan, Mayer talked about plans for the family as it pertained to London. Soon, he would need to have one of his sons take charge of family affairs in the City. It was a foregone conclusion that Amschel, the eldest son, would be the future head of the family and remain in charge in Frankfurt, and that Salomon was to go to Vienna to supervise the massive banking operations in the loosely united German states. As for London, since Nathan spoke English best, he would be sent to the City when he reached 21. That definitely took Nathan’s mind off the Bastille.

When Mayer got back to Frankfurt, the first thing he did was sit down with his wife Gutle and acquaint her with the latest American and French developments. All was going as planned in America, and there wasn’t much to add to what she already knew. Though Benjamin’s passing had been deeply felt by Mayer, business carried on as usual. The 1st Bank of the USA was about to receive a 20-year charter, and the buildings housing the President and Congress were to be built at the head of the Potomac River. With Morris and Hamilton at the helm, things were going fabulously well.

In France, however, it was another matter. The year before, in 1789, the Illuminati had financed a meeting of provincial representatives who had been either named or elected in order to draw up lists of grievances in view of bringing them to the King’s attention. When they congregated in Versailles, the clergy and nobility refused to sit in the same room with them. Mirabeau, a great orator, then convinced the people’s representatives to hold a meeting of their own. Naturally, when they declared their body to be the official government of France, the King sent in the National Guard to disband them. Mirabeau then seized the moment, stood up to the sergeants, and the assembly refused to disperse.

Planned famines continued to undermine major French cities, and the Illuminati were using the Palais Royal, the Paris residence of the King’s cousin, the Grand Master of the Orient of France, Louis Philippe d’Orléans, as their center of operations. The courtyard was a meeting place for all the hotheads, lowlifes and unsavory characters attracted by the firebrand speeches. In July of that year, a throng assembled in the courtyard, fired up by the speeches, went and stormed the Bastille, the much-hated royal prison. The prison governor was decapitated and his head was paraded through the streets of Paris.

A few weeks later a procession of very odd masculine ladies accompanied by Lafayette’s National Guard went to fetch the royal family in Versailles. Oddly, the royals were brought back to Paris without any intervention on the part of Lafayette and his guard. The royals were put under house arrest, and the newly formed National Constituent Assembly had followed them to Les Tuileries in order to be at the center of power. Because the National Assembly had no source of revenue, its members immediately voted to confiscate and sell church property as planned. They voted to have assignats printed and sold for hard currency, and only those with assignats were to be allowed to buy the confiscated Church property put up at auction throughout France, just like Mayer had foreseen.

When the auctions got going Ouvrard’s agents were already in place and Johannot’s high quality counterfeit bills were ready to be circulated. A number of prestigious properties had already been bought by Mayer’s people. Ouvrard’s agents having unlimited amounts of assignats had no problem outbidding the French who were quite willing to wait and buy the properties for gold at a discounted price. Ouvrard was directed to ship the gold bullion to the Goldsmid Bros. in the City, in London. Francis Baring, the Chairman of the East India Company in Amsterdam, was charged with conveying the bullion to the Goldsmids, and always had a ship at the ready in Le Havre. The Goldmids soon became the most powerful bankers in England.

Gutle was greatly troubled by the counterfeiting operations, but she was happy to hear that the operation of stockpiling gold bullion in the City, as planned by Mayer, was going smoothly. She was especially relieved knowing that nobody would ever know what Mayer had done, and that most people would continue ignoring his existence. Some knew he was rich, but since he lived in a ghetto, they didn’t know what to make of it. It would have been a far reach for anybody to even think that Mayer controlled the monetary system of the United States of America. In time, the American politicians would question the bank’s origins and wonder who the owners were, but Mayer would maintain total anonymity. People ddn’t grasp that what was best for the bankers was also what was best for the people, and they tended to envy and even revile the bankers. However, since there was not much they could do if they didn’t know where to point the finger, that’s the way it would continue to be. As long as everybody was kept guessing concerning the working of the monetary system, and as long as Mayer did what was best for the country, the people would eventually and grudgingly accept the fact that it was the only way democracy could work without ever really understanding what democracy was.

25-WILHELMSBAD

 

Mayer didn’t want to scare his wife Gutle by telling her about the huge tract of land he had recently bought on the outskirts of Frankfurt. It was a parcel of around two hundred acres of forest and marshland to the north of the city, well beyond its walls. Now that Haym was more or less confirming what he already knew regarding America, it was obvious he would need more office space. As soon as the landscaping allowed it, he would go ahead with the building of a grandiose manor that would serve as his headquarters. The marshland would be transformed into a vast botanical garden, and he already had a name for the palatial structure to be built at the north end facing south. It would be called Green Castle. Officially, it would be Peter Heinrich von Bethmann’s residence, but unofficially, it’s where Bethmann would run Mayer’s banking operations. Mayer would keep the top floor of one wing for his personal use. The manor would be a perfect place to initiate his children to the world of finance and to the world of the goys. From the terrace of Green Castle there would be a panoramic view of huge stretches of lawn, trees, ponds and many exotic plants and animals, things that were completely foreign to the Judengasse ghetto. It would be a peaceful place where Gutle could go and enjoy the fresh air and the luscious green beauty with the children. He knew Gutle would find this private green paradise hard to resist once she was introduced to it. Above all, this property was subject to the authority of Prince Wilhelm, not that of the Frankfurt Council.

As expected, on a glorious spring day in 1782, Gutle was truly enjoying a picnic with her family on the grounds facing the newly-built Green Castle. A gentle brook was trickling down into a pond where the swans were slaloming around water lilies. Mayer was sitting by her side, her boisterous children were running around chasing the strange creatures that populated the marvelous gardens, and she was happy. However, even though Mayer owned the property, it was part of the goy world, a world that threatened her family.

Mayer is forever trying to reassure his worried wife. He tells her that though their children will know a different kind of world, the family’s roots are so deep, its values so time-honoured and its commitment to honesty so true, that the children will never forget their upbringing. The boys will become powerful men and live with goys, but they will always remember who they are and where they come from.

Gutle knows Mayer is right. Judengasse may be a narrow sunless street, but it is the artery that has brought life, love, and joy of living to them all. Nobody who has lived there can ever forget the bonds that holds the community together. But now that Mayer’s bank, the Bank of North America, had been accepted as the official bank of the United States of America, Gutle has even more reason to worry.

Mayer is more concerned with what is about to take place in Hanau. Prince William is hosting a meeting in Wilhelmsbad, and the participants are coming from all over Europe. The Illuminati, or Enlightened Ones as they like to call themselves, are preparing to free Europe from the yoke of the Holy Roman Empire. The Huguenots and the Sephardim in the City are apparently planning the destruction of the Ancien Regime of France, the cornerstone of that Empire.

After the Huguenots and Sephardim created the East India Company in 1600, they had immediately started undermining their enemy’s stronghold. In early 17th century, they decided to isolate the French King from Paris, the center of French political power, by financing the construction of the Chateau de Versailles. Now, a century later, they were getting ready to topple Louis XVI, and they needed a communications network on French soil. Since 1773, many Masonic Lodges had opened throughout France, and the City bankers had even recruited the king’s cousin, Louis Philippe d’Orléans, as Grand Master of the Grand Orient of France. At the Congress of Wilhelmsbad, the Illuminati’s intention was to have the French lodges break away from the Scottish rite in order to make them available to all faiths. Members had always been required to swear on the Roman Catholic bible in order to become a freemason, and they wanted to do away with that requirement. Prince William, a Calvinist, had embraced the idea, and had allowed them to hold a meeting in Wilhelmsbad, near Hanau.

Jean-Baptiste Willermoz, a very prominent and well-respected French Freemason, organized the meeting, but violent men like Adam Weishaupt also participated. Weishaupt was heard to say that his only hope was to one day see the last priest strangled with the guts of the last king left standing. This did not augur well for France who was the main target.

With the Scottish rite gone, the Illuminati would then start undermining the French political structures and force the absentee King in Versailles to agree to a Constitutional Monarchy like the one created in England a hundred years earlier. In order to separate Church and State, they would confiscate all Church property and sell it at auction instead of giving it to the aristocrats like Henry VIII had done in England. They had already recruited a very powerful individual by the name of Mirabeau, who just happened to be a physiocrat. Mirabeau believed like many French economists of the times that the wealth of nations was derived from the value of land. Benjamin Franklin had held similar ideas when Mayer had first met him, but his thinking had since changed.

Notes backed by Church property would be a huge success at the outset, but the bankers in the City as well as Mayer in Frankfurt knew that human nature being what it is, the people’s representatives would be inclined to print ever more notes based on that success. The Bank of England would then surely take advantage of the situation by dumping a gigantic number of counterfeit notes into the French economy in order to have the currency depreciate and bring down the regime. The bankers would then facilitate the creation of a Constitutional Monarchy with Louis Philippe d’Orléans as king, and Mirabeau as Prime Minister.

Mayer had good reason to believe what he was hearing, and he came up with a plan of his own. He would ask François, the silk manufacturer, who had been a very successful printer in Lyon before coming to Frankfurt, to meet with him. A few years back, his silk mill had not been doing all that well in Frankfurt, and Mayer had asked him to run the goldsmith house in Hanau. He had since taught gold engraving while working on stereotype printing in his spare time. Printing was his first love, and since he missed France, Mayer would offer him the opportunity to return to Lyon by giving him the necessary financing to start his own printing house.

If the Bank of England could print counterfeit French notes, so could Mayer. If François returned to France and started his printing business in the immediate future, he would be ready to print the counterfeit notes in tandem with the new government when created. Having perfected a wet mat method for creating matrixes for stereotype printing and having access to the same paper as the one that would be used by the new government through Julien Ouvrard, he would be able to produce quality notes many times faster at a fraction of the cost.

Gutle was shocked to hear she was about to become a counterfeiter’s wife, and Mayer was quick to explain that his action wouldn’t hurt anybody. He wouldn’t be taking property from anyone, for the properties would already be confiscated. All Mayer would be doing is buying the confiscated properties at auction with counterfeit notes and selling them back to anxiously waiting Frenchmen for gold. The English bankers’ main objective was to destroy France in order to destroy the Holy Roman Empire. Mayer wanted to have enough gold to take control of the Bank of England in order to create more democracies and have America, France, England and the rest of Europe trade fairly and freely with each other. Mayer’s action would not hurt France, on the contrary, he would turn France into a democracy and he would do it in total anonymity.

Mayer added that he was an Ashkenazi first and a banker second, and though he was very rich, he hadn’t changed as a person. He was still Mayer, the happiest man alive, and it was not due to his business activities, but rather to his family. He admitted his ego did influence his business persona, for it was only natural to be proud. After all, he had devised a way to take over the Bank of England.

French-speaking agents, Huguenots all, recruited in England, the Netherlands and Germany would use the new Masonic Lodges in the various French communities as their base in order to communicate with Julien Ouvrard and François Johannot using the dependable and safe Thurn and Taxis mail service. Speaking French and having an unlimited supply of notes, the agents would easily outbid everybody as the properties came up on the auction block. The properties would be immediately flipped to waiting buyers for gold, and the law firm of Jean-Jacques Cambacérès would do the necessary title transfers. Ouvrard, a young financial wizard working in tandem with Cambacérès, would have the Thurn and Taxis immediately transport the gold bullion down the Seine to a waiting ship in Le Havre headed for London. With the properties being the choicest in the world and the French currency depreciating at a rapid rate, wealthy Frenchmen would want to invest in real estate directly and thus bypass the worthless yet very expensive government Assignats. Mayer expected to have accumulated several thousand tons of gold by the time it was all over. The agents, Cambacérès and Ouvrard would all be compensated beyond their wildest dreams, and the gold bullion transported by Thurn and Taxis would be sure to reach the vaults of the Goldsmid Bros. in the City, in London.

Mayer would not be involved directly, and the French authorities wouldn’t know which way to turn, especially with the English bankers flooding the market with their own counterfeit notes. Within two or three years, Mayer expected to have accumulated more gold than any other individual in the world. In a few years’ time, Nathan would replace the Goldsmid Bros. and personally take charge of things in the City.

Gutle wondered what the City was, and Mayer was more than willing to explain. He told her that, in 1694, the Jewish and Huguenot bankers, in wanting to be completely independent of the English Government, had taken over the City. The City was a financial district on the banks of the Thames and had the status of a territory. It had its own administration and was off limits to English authority. It was unassailable financial ground from which Nathan would soon launch international banking.

24-BANK OF NORTH AMERICA

American Independence and the French Aid package to America was what was foremost on Mayer’s mind, for that was the way he would become sole banker for the American Congress, just like the shareholders of the East India Company had become sole creditors to the English Parliament in 1694. After the Trenton defection of nearly 900 Hessians in 1776, and especially after the capture of Burgoyne’s army in Saratoga, in 1777, Louis XVI, impressed with Benjamin Franklin as a man and in awe of the American victories, had signed the Treaty of Alliance with the 13 Colonies, thus declaring war on England in the process. Thanks to Benjamin Franklin’s diplomatic skills, France had come to America’s aid.

The English High Command retaliated by attacking the French fleet which was in the Caribbean. Clinton, the new commander of the British forces, then sent Cornwallis to re-establish control over the southern colonies. Cornwallis’ army won major victories in Charlestown and Camden, but the English Navy had a bad time of it in the Caribbean. To make matters worse for the English, the American general, Nathaniel Greene, started hit and run tactics against Cornwallis, forcing the latter to chase him throughout the Carolinas. Eventually, Clinton had Cornwallis rest his demoralized army in the ice-free port of Yorktown in Chesapeake Bay. Clinton intended to resupply him as needed, and Cornwallis was to go back on the offensive after a much-needed rest. But they hadn’t taken into account General Rochambeau, Commander-in-Chief of the French forces, and a great military strategist.

Rochambeau was a professional soldier trained in the art of warfare, and he singlehandedly coordinated the military operations that would lead to the Yorktown victory. He marched his very well rested and disciplined army out of Newport towards New York City, and as planned, he met up with Washington’s army at Wethersfield, Connecticut, in late May. When Rochambeau saw Washington’s army in tatters, he also realized there was mutiny in the air. The troops had had it with Washington’s leadership and his ‘military family’, a group of young aides-de-camp who rode well-bred horses with fine saddlery and spent a lot of time feasting with the General. So, Rochambeau proceeded to pay the American troops what was owed them, gave them food, proper uniforms and much needed military supplies. The allies then got ready to attack New York City. But when Rochambeau got word that Admiral de Grasse had defeated the English in the Caribbean, he had a change of plan.

He knew Cornwallis’ army was recovering in Yorktown and realized how vulnerable it was. It was obvious that defeating Cornwallis’ army would be easier and have a greater impact than facing Clinton’s well-entrenched and well-supplied army in New York City. After convincing Washington, he sent word to Admiral de Grasse in the Caribbean and Admiral de Barras in Newport informing them of his change of plans. Luckily for everybody, the two admirals agreed to go along with Rochambeau, and both headed for Chesapeake Bay. Admiral de Grasse got there first and easily defeated the English fleet off the Virginia coast, while Admiral de Barras arrived from Newport and blockaded Cornwallis’ army by positioning his fleet at the mouth of the York River. Having joined forces, the two French fleets easily outnumbered anything the British were able to muster. When Rochambeau and Washington arrived at Yorktown, they had the troops dig a siege line behind Cornwallis’ position, thus entrapping his army. The allies then tightened their stranglehold, digging a second siege line closer to Cornwallis’ army. As the naval and land artillery kept pounding away from front and rear, Cornwallis realized he didn’t have a chance. The English redoubts were taken one by one, forcing Cornwallis to surrender. When the English Parliamentarians learned they had lost another army, they decided to put an end to the war, but it wasn’t to be made official for another two years.

Meanwhile, in Frankfurt, Mayer was telling Gutle, his only confidante, how Haym had convinced a lot of Hessians to defect while he was under house arrest, and how Haym had later been named broker to the French Consul, and Treasurer of the French Army when he arrived in Philadelphia. Haym had then made sure the French army, as well as Washington’s army, the 13 militias, and the politicians had everything they needed. But now that the politicians were about to take over, Mayer hated to tell Gutle that he had chosen Robert Morris instead of Haym as the one to deal with Congress. Because America was no readier than Europe to accept Jews in a leadership role, it was Robert Morris, a goy, who would look after Mayer’s finances in 1781. The continental currency that Congress had issued at the start of the war and that had somewhat helped to finance the war had by now completely depreciated. Fortunately for Congress and for Mayer, the ‘Morris Notes’ backed by the French gold had replaced the worthless currency.

When Gutle asked if Mayer has stolen the French gold, Mayer gives her a long homily on the magic of gold. He starts by telling her that it was officially all spent but that it remained stockpiled in his vaults. He continues by saying there are two ways of looking at gold bullion. The first is where the owner uses it to further his personal ambition in order to gain influence, and the second is where it is used to establish a credit system and to build a monetary system like Mayer was doing. The gold provided by France was doing what it was supposed to do. It was helping America win the war like Louis XVI had wanted, but it would do much more than that, it would help create a government, a country and an economy. When gold bullion is used to make more credit available, it becomes the cornerstone of the economic structure, whereas it accomplishes nothing if used as currency. Gold bullion is meant to be gathered in a pile, as huge as possible, and the pile is meant to remain inviolate and observable. The notes and the bills are issued and spent, but the gold stays in a neat pile. The banker who possesses the gold can issue bills of exchange in which everybody has the highest confidence, and as the pile of gold grows, it acts as a starter or mother for more notes and more bills. Confidence in the bills issued is what makes it all possible. Of course, the process of creating credit makes the gold holder richer, but beyond a certain point, getting rich is no longer the point, amassing more bullion and shoring up the monetary system is.

Creating credit is akin to controlling the monetary system, and controlling the monetary system isn’t about increasing the wealth of one individual. In Mayer’s case that’s already a given. It’s more about pointing the economy or the country in the desired direction and creating more credit and more wealth, and buying more gold. Elected individuals can’t possibly control a monetary system, for they are too subjective and think too short-term, and the monetary system is sure to founder under the weight of their greed, corruption and short-sightedness. Only objective private interests totally intent on building thriving market economies can succeed. However, because the privately-owned Bank of England was myopic and parochial in nature, contrary to Mayer’s bank that was international in nature, his bank would one day take over the prestigious Bank of England.

He continued by giving a brief account of what had been accomplished so far. The Bank of North America had been created on May 26, 1781 by the Confederation Congress, at which time, Alexander Hamilton had recommended Morris for the position of Superintendent of Finance. The constitution for the Bank of North America had been drafted by Alexander and was modeled after the Bank of England. Morris had then submitted his legislative proposal based on that draft, and that’s how Mayer’s bank became the first private commercial bank in the USA.

When Robert Morris became superintendent of finance the continental currency had ceased to be issued. On April 30, 1781, Alexander Hamilton was advised to tell Morris that the bank’s capital would consist of 1,000 shares priced at $400 each. When Mayer offered Benjamin Franklin, who was still in France, a symbolic share in order to show the great American’s faith in the Federalists and his confidence in the new bank, he gratefully accepted. Thomas Willing, the original President of the bank of Philadelphia, and William Bingham, were both given shares as well. But Robert Morris was the one chosen to front Mayer’s bank, and he held more than 90% of the shares, thanks to the French gold in his possession.

23-WORKING FOR AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

 

Franklin left Philadelphia on the 26th of October, accompanied by his illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, and his grandson Benjamin Franklin Bache, son of Sarah. Sarah was the daughter he had with Deborah Read, his common-law wife.
They sailed on board the Continental sloop-of-war Reprisal which carried sixteen guns. He had to be protected, for if Franklin had been captured by the English on the high seas he would have been hanged for treason. The 70-year-old American, widely referred to by the English as ‘chief of the rebels’ or as ‘General Franklin’, was deemed dangerous. The British Ambassador to France expressed his regrets that some English frigate had not met and dispensed with him on the high seas. However, he landed at Auray on the Loire River and made his way to Nantes with great difficulty. From there, the 250-mile trip into Paris was like a triumphal procession. He was wined and dined by scientific and literary notables on the way, and his entry into Paris caused a sensation.
Franklin’s fame was due not only to his scientific reputation, but also to the French rage for what philosopher Rousseau called ‘the natural man’. There was a vogue for things American in France at this time. Many French intellectuals looked to America as a new world, a fresh world, a world where human nature was closer to its natural origins. And Franklin, of course, was more than pleased to cater to French expectations. When he arrived in Paris, he was wearing a little fur cap to keep his bald head warm. To the French, the hat was the embodiment of the rugged American frontiersman and proof that Franklin was a true ‘natural man’. Even though no one knew what exactly he was doing in France, the French welcomed him with open arms, and he became a pop culture icon. Images of Franklin, wearing a fur cap instead of a wig, were depicted in paintings, engravings, medallions, rings, and snuffboxes.
After the Battle of Saratoga and the humiliating defeat of the British army commanded by General Burgoyne, Franklin, in spite of his struggling with the French language, used his charm, wit, and knowledge, to parlay this English defeat at the hands of American militias into a gigantic diplomatic victory. The French foreign minister, Count of Vergennes, wasted no time in officially acknowledging that the United States was an independent country. A formal treaty with France followed in 1778.
When he first arrived in Paris, Benjamin settled in Passy, a very affluent part of the city. It was necessary to seek out the French elite in order to achieve his goal. He had no direct access to the King, but he could influence those around him in order to get financial and military aid for America. He would seek out the most select salon he could find, and since he was a freemason, he would frequent a local lodge, where the great men of the day, the enlightened ones, were members.
Upon his arrival he was introduced to the salon of Mme Helvetius in Auteuil. At the relatively late age of 29, Mme Helvetius had married the French philosopher and poet, Claude Adrien Helvétius, who had amassed a fortune as a Farmers General tax collector. The couple settled in the Paris suburb of Auteuil, and Minette, as she was called, opened a salon where she entertained some of the greatest figures of the Age of Enlightenment. Among them were Suzanne Necker, Diderot, Duclos, André Chénier, Condorcet, l’Abbé Sieyès, Buffon, Condillac, d’Alembert, Lavoisier, and such politicians as Malesherbes, Talleyrand, Madame Roland, Mirabeau, and it included of course, Voltaire.
Twenty years into her marriage, her husband died, and in 1776, she and Jérôme de Lalande opened the ‘Loge des Neuf Sœurs’, a masonic lodge that was affiliated to the Grand Orient of France. Freemasonry was incontestably one of the great changes that were taking place in the west. It was where new ideas were expressed, and where men influenced the course of events. Of course, Benjamin frequented that French lodge from the very beginning. Two years later, in 1778, he was initiated as a member, and, in 1779, he was made Worshipful Master. A few weeks before his death, Voltaire was initiated as a member, and Benjamin was greatly impressed with the man. They became good friends, and when asked by Benjamin, he even gave his blessings to his grandson. Needless to say, the lodge was an excellent way for Benjamin to meet great men who had influence in the highest levels of society.
But Benjamin was also a ladies’ man. His wife had died in 1774, and in spite of his age, while in France, he was treated like a rock star, and he couldn’t help being a flirt. One lady whom he considered his equal was Mme Helvetius, and he may have even proposed to her. One thing for sure, he wanted to share her bed. He called her Notre Dame, and in one of his notes to her, he writes: ‘if Notre Dame is pleased to spend her days with Franklin, he would be just as pleased to spend his nights with her; and since he has already given her so many of his days, although he has so few left to give, she seems ungrateful in never giving him one of her nights’.
Franklin frequented the upper classes and the aristocrats, for they were the ones he had to convince in order for them to convince the king. The salon of Mme Helvetius and the Lodge of the Nine Sisters served his purpose well, but that was not his only activity. He was in constant communication with Robert Morris in Philadelphia, because, as arranged by Mayer, he depended on his financial help. There was a four-way communication between Mayer, David Schiff, Robert Morris and Benjamin because arms, clothing and war material shipments to America had to be organized as well. Because Benjamin had so many important contacts in Paris, and because he was such a hit with the French, he had been able to convince Minister Vergennes to replace the outdated arms in France’s numerous arsenals and send them to America. The arms then found their way to Rotterdam from where David shipped them to America through St. Eustatius. So, from 1776 to 1778 ever more arms and powder made their way to America.
Back in NYC, in 1776, after being arrested by the English for helping the Sons of Freedom, Haym had started interpreting for the Hessians. That’s when he befriended Colonel Johann Rall, a Hessian, and by pulling all the right strings, he managed to have him command the Hessian troops sent to hold the Trenton position opposite Philadelphia. Haym had explained to Rall that Philadelphia was a community made up of Germans who had come from the Frankfurt region just like them, and if they were to defect, not only would they feel at home but they would be given large parcels of land and enough money to start a new life. The Trenton Hessian soldier pickup was a total success, more than 900 Hessians crossed the Delaware with Washington’s help. More importantly, it was construed as a major American victory over the English, and it gave quite a boost to American morale.
Later, on July 12th, 1778, when the French Ambassador sailed up the Delaware, Mayer had been forewarned and had sent word to Haym who was in NYC. Haym escaped without too much difficulty, and though the English sentenced him to death in absentia, he arrived safely in Philadelphia ahead of the French Ambassador.
After settling in the counting house run by Bernard Gratz, Washington backed Haym’s candidacy as broker of the French aid package. But the French Ambassador was already looking for Haym, thanks to the recommendations of Benjamin in Paris. That’s how, with Benjamin’s help and the support of influential members of the Continental Congress, Haym was chosen by the anti-Semite French to be their American treasurer. Haym was not only named broker to the French Consul, but also Treasurer of the French Army, and Fiscal Agent of the French Minister to the United States. Most important of all, some 500 tons of gold were added to the bullion already in his Philadelphia vault.
However, working within Congress was another matter. Both Haym and Robert worked for Mayer, but Robert Morris was the one chosen to become a member of Congress because he was a goy. Not only that, but he was, as far as the colonials were concerned, a rich merchant who had supplied them arms and ammunitions since 1774. David had sent on the arm shipments to America as directed by Mayer, but it was Morris’ arms importing company that had fronted the operations. Congress and the militias had gotten arms and powder, and they had been too grateful to ask questions. Mayer had total confidence in Robert Morris, and since Americans, like Europeans, were not yet ready to accept Jews in the inner sanctum of political leadership, Robert worked inside Congress, and Haym outside. Mayer couldn’t have been more satisfied with the results.

22-RECRUITING BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

After Haym wrote Mayer telling him that the meeting had gone well, that the Fairfax Resolves had been accepted by all the Colonies except Georgia, that war was inevitable and that Boston was ready to explode, Mayer left for America by way of St.Eustatius in early 1776 aboard a Robert Morris ship carrying arms and powder. He was quite impressed with all the commercial activity such a small island generated, but he was especially pleased to meet Heyliger. Since all merchandise was moving so well, thanks in part to Heyliger’s efficient running of Mayer’s counting house, there wasn’t much to talk about. After the necessary formalities and the well-deserved congratulations, the two men enjoyed a great seafood dinner, and the next morning, Mayer was off to Boston.

When Morris’ ship arrived at the drop-off site in a cove south of Boston in late March, Mayer learned that the English had evacuated Boston earlier in the month and asked the captain to carry on directly to Boston. The whole cargo was unloaded while Mayer went to meet with Moses Hayes. He learned that George Washington had marched his army to Cambridge after the Battle of Bunker Hill, and had sent young Henry Knox to fetch the canons captured by Benedict Arnold at Fort Ticonderoga. The young librarian had accomplished a miracle by transporting the canons overland by oxen to Boston in the dead of winter without losing a single one. Washington had then positioned them on Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston harbor. Moses went on to say that, thanks to the arms and powder shipments received from St. Eustatius, not only had the canons been readied for action, but that thousands of New England militiamen had been recruited.

With the heavy canons bearing down on his fleet, General Howe had thought it best to evacuate Boston and take the loyalists with him. When Moses added that the merchants, the patriots and the politicians were more determined than ever to gain their economic freedom from England, Mayer was pleased that so much had been accomplished with so little blood being spilled.

When the British left Boston, Washington thought the British had gone to NYC, and that’s where he headed with his newly recruited army. This meant Mayer would not meet with Washington in Boston, and that suited him just fine, for he would have a chance to speak with Haym before talking to the General at his NYC headquarters.

Mayer told Moses that the British had sent some twenty thousand Hessians to fight in America and that the first contingent would be arriving soon. Mayer had learned that the Hanau contingent was to be dropped off in Quebec City which meant the British were planning to send troops down the Richelieu River in order to take control of the Lake Champlain-Hudson River waterway in the spring. There was no longer any doubt the British were planning to split the Colonies in two just like General von Estorff had predicted.

The next day he went to see John Adams, and although the man wasn’t a die-hard patriot, he congratulated him on the successful siege of Boston. But what Mayer really wanted was to acquaint Adams with the fact the Hessians were coming and to ask him to send couriers to spread the news to the other Colonies. If independence was to be achieved, the wavering loyalists and the moderate patriots had to know that the Mother Country was sending mercenaries to fight them, news that would surely influence them and consolidate the patriot movement. Adams agreed and couriers were dispatched on the hour.

When Mayer got to NYC, he immediately went to see Haym. The first thing Haym told him was that the 2nd Continental Congress had voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence. Copies had been sent to the different Colonies and Congress was expecting them to ratify the document. According to Haym, because everybody now knew the German mercenaries were coming, the more moderate members of the New York Provincial Congress, and even some of the die-hard loyalists, were likely to come on board.

NYC had always been a loyalist stronghold, but with recent developments in Boston the less moderate elements of the population were being swayed. After the Boston evacuation, the British had, the month before, sent a warship in NYC harbor in order to protect the loyalists, and that encouraged the rebels to foment fear, and that led to the more moderate Provincial Assembly being replaced by the Provincial Congress. A Committee of Safety whose main task was to raise and equip troops for the defense of NYC and spy on the loyalists suspected of assisting the British was created. The situation had reached a point of no return.

Mayer lost no time in arranging a meeting with Washington who had set up his headquarters in upper Manhattan. Upon reaching Washington’s headquarters Mayer and Haym were not surprised to see that he had requisitioned an elaborate mansion for his staff. The luxurious surroundings and his many young aides-de-camp prancing around in sharp uniforms contrasted sharply with the rag tag troops encamped in helter-skelter fashion in the fields adjacent to the command post. However, what mattered was having a Commander-in-Chief who held the Continental Army together and showed the colors as much as possible. How he conducted his private life, or how good a military commander he was, was of no concern to Mayer. All that was expected of him was to harass the enemy with his company of Virginia riflemen and whatever canons he had, and retreat inland as the British retaliated.

With Haym as translator, Mayer greeted the General and made a point of congratulating him on the successful siege of Boston. He then asked him how Mrs. Washington was and if the renovation and expansion of Mount Vernon was completed to his satisfaction. Washington answered that Martha was very well, and that thanks to Mayer and his collaborators, nodding in Haym’s direction, Mount Vernon was finished and was indeed a sight to behold. Mayer said that he was delighted for him and added that if he needed anything, all he had to do was ask Haym.

Washington then told Mayer he was planning to have the Declaration of Independence document read to the troops assembled on the common the next day, and that it would be an honor to have him attend. If the Provincial Congress signed the document as expected, George would then give young Alexander Hamilton, a very promising King’s College student who had formed a group of patriots called Hearts of Oak, the go-ahead to raid the battery in Manhattan. Then, he would point the seized canons in the direction of the English fleet and wait for the English to land their troops. Once that happened, George would put up a barrage of canon fire and get the Virginia rifle company to hold them off as long as possible. When the inevitable came, the Continental Army would simply retreat towards the interior, leaving Manhattan to the English. He was sure Cornwallis, not wanting to put too much distance between his army and the English fleet in NYC, wouldn’t pursue them too far inland.

Knowing the Hanau Hessians had been dropped off in Quebec, the General was convinced the English would be sending an army to Ft. Ticonderoga from Quebec by way of Lake Champlain and another up the Hudson to meet up with it. The two armies would no doubt get moving in early spring, and it was imperative that he send whatever militias he could muster to cut them off. As for the Continental Army, he needed more French muskets, more Pennsylvania rifles, more powder, more boots and clothing, more horses and saddlery, in short, more of everything.

Mayer answered that muskets, powder and boots were being sent in ever greater number. European military uniforms were also being sent to Pennsylvania along with hundreds of bolts of fine woolen red and blue cloth. An army of seamstresses would tailor the uniforms to the General’s liking. Furthermore, the Pennsylvania gunsmiths were being financially encouraged to produce as many rifles as possible and as quickly as possible. The General would soon be able to form more rifle companies. Mayer told the General all he had to do was ask Haym if he needed anything. For now, the important thing was to prevent the two British armies from joining up at Fort Ticonderoga.

Moreover, since over the winter months there wouldn’t be much action, Mayer told George that he had asked Haym to work on getting the Hessians to defect when they landed in New York. Mayer thought that if they were promised parcels of land and money in order to settle down in Pennsylvania where there already was a big population of Germans, the Hessians would readily accept the offer. If Haym succeeded in getting some Hessians to defect, Mayer wondered if the General wouldn’t mind picking them up and conveying them to Pennsylvania.

The General, happy to be getting his horses and saddlery, the promised Burgundy wine along with his guns and powder, said he would be more than willing to assist Haym in the defection of the Hessians. When Haym was ready, all he had to do was tell the General when and where to pick them up. He could also count on the General for transporting his family and capital to Pennsylvania if and when it became necessary.

The next day, Mayer witnessed a very moving ceremony on the common as the Declaration of Independence was solemnly read to the troops. A group of citizens listening on the fringes were so moved that they proceeded to tear down the newly-erected statue of the King. When it was confirmed that the Provincial Congress had signed the Declaration of Independence document earlier that day, Mayer left for Philadelphia in a good frame of mind. With New York in the American camp, the British didn’t have much of a chance.

Mayer was a judicious man who never let himself be unduly impressed by people upon meeting them, he preferred to treat everyone politely and with respect, and not prejudge them. He knew what pushed people to do the things they did and was never disappointed one way or the other. Culturally, he was an Ashkenazi, a people that had survived thanks to the solidarity of the group, a group of people he could trust with his life. He trusted Sephardim like Haym, and a few goys like Prince William in Hanau and Robert Morris in Philadelphia, but it was a case by case affair.

When Mayer met Bernard Gratz and Robert Morris in the Philadelphia counting house, they exchanged heartfelt greetings, and Mayer asked if Benjamin Franklin had been invited. He had, and when Franklin arrived, Morris explained who Mayer was, and Franklin bluntly told him he was most anxious to meet the mystery man who had made the meeting of the 1st Continental Congress possible. When Mayer met Americans, he had to use an interpreter, but this time, he was quite relieved to learn that Franklin spoke some German.

Mayer knew of Franklin’s reputation, and as they made eye contact for the first time, he was convinced that it wasn’t overstated. This man exuded humility, strength of character, and sharpness of mind, a combination of qualities that he had not seen in any of the other goy leaders. Patrick Henry, George Washington, John Adams, John Jay, and other American leaders he had met, were all talented men in their own right, but they were politically motivated. They were indispensable in the nation building process, but they weren’t men of vision. In order to achieve a monetary union and a united America, he needed an American counterpart who shared his dream, a man who wanted to establish a monetary system and who wasn’t primarily motivated by self-interest. He needed a man like Franklin.

Mayer and Franklin engaged in small talk which had to do with ocean travel and Europe. Mayer being of the strong silent type variety, Franklin was the one who kept the exchange going by asking Mayer why he had come to America. Mayer had anticipated this moment and told him he had come to meet with the directors of his counting houses, but also to find a way to help the patriot cause. He didn’t tell Franklin outright that he was the one who had financed the 1st Continental Congress and supplied arms and ammunition to the militias in the 13 Colonies, but Franklin had already put two and two together.

When Mayer asked him if they could meet privately, saying that it was a matter of great importance for America, Franklin accepted and suggested they meet the following day in his modest manor. And since he had just hired a great cook, he insisted that they have lunch. Mayer accepted on the condition he supply the wine.

The house was quite spacious and very comfortable, but Benjamin’s wife having died the year before in 1774 while he was in England, the drawing and engraving paraphernalia he was using to produce the Continental Dollar plates was slowly invading the whole house. Since his return, he had produced four fractional dollar bills for Congress and he was working on several others. Congress had reconvened in May following the Battle of Bunker Hill and had declared war on England. The dollar bills were to be used to pay for the war. Franklin wanted the bills to convey strong messages, for he hoped that the Continental currency would help unify the 13 Colonies. He wanted plants and animals instead of people on the face of the bills, and he had made hundreds of sketches and drawings that were strewn about. They kept company to the many books from which he got his ideas for symbols and sayings that he intended to translate into Latin. As each bill was printed bearing a message of resilience, strength, frugality, industry and such, he would publish an article in the Philadelphia Gazette in order to explain the meanings of the symbols, the emblems and the Latin. Mayer thought the man was brilliant but had doubts about the long-term success of his bills.

No matter, Mayer couldn’t help but scrutinize Benjamin’s work and marvel at his great talent and energy. Mayer knew a lot about printing bills thanks to all the knowledge he had gained from the printers at the goldsmith house in Hanau, and he knew that the man before him was indeed a genius.

Likewise, Benjamin was quite impressed by Mayer. It was obvious that Mayer wasn’t a rich pompous merchant, but rather a quiet powerful man who wanted to make the world a better place. When Benjamin told him that he was aware of what he had done for the patriot cause, Mayer added that it was only natural for a man such as himself, a man who was making a fortune financing trade between the Colonies and Europe, to want to help. As a matter of fact, he added, that’s what he wanted to talk to Benjamin about.

It was obvious that Benjamin knew a lot about money, for he had published a lot of treatises concerning paper currency, and over the years he had done a superb job printing bills for the Colonies and now for Congress. Mayer and Franklin both wanted the Colonies to gain their economic independence and become united, and they both knew that a common strong currency was the way to do it, and that was the topic of discussion.

Mayer proceeded to say that the only lasting monetary system that the world had ever seen was the one England had, and that was the system he wanted to duplicate. The Bank of England was made up of a group of private bankers who were the sole lenders to Parliament, and after almost a century, that arrangement was still working superbly. Above all, the Bank of England had succeeded because it was a private bank. A monetary system based on a government printing bills and minting coins for its own use, though quite morally appealing, was doomed to failure. Politicians weren’t equipped to run a monetary system, for they would always tend to print too much and for the wrong reasons. The Chinese and many others had tried to print paper money in the past, but no currency except the Pound had ever passed the test of time. A strong central government and a strong private central bank were what was needed if America was to become the great nation that it was meant to be.

Benjamin had spent enough time in England to know that Mayer was right, but he had no idea how it could be done. How does one create a central bank like the one in England out of nothing?

Mayer went on to explain how he had established his bills of exchange on both sides of the Atlantic, how he had accumulated considerable wealth, and how he had been able to organize the 1st Continental Congress and supply the various Colonies with arms and powder. He was continuing to supply war materials on credit, for he was sure the Colonies would want to pay him back after they won their independence. The debt incurred would serve as collateral for Mayer’s bank down the road. However, uniting the 13 Colonies was another matter. A strong federal power had to be created, and a strong private central bank was needed to accomplish that. Mayer had enough gold and silver to redeem all the bills he issued on demand, but he explained that more gold bullion would be needed in order to create a central bank like the one in England.

Benjamin trusted that Mayer would know what to do if he had more bullion, and so he asked him outright how it could be done. To Benjamin’s astonishment, Mayer answered it all depended on Benjamin. Benjamin had invented a lot of things, and he was curious about everything, but he wasn’t a magician, and he told Mayer so. However, he was relieved when he heard what Mayer had to say on the subject. Mayer reminded him he was the most influential diplomat America had, and that his many years of representing the 13 Colonies in London were invaluable. Since Benjamin spoke French, Mayer told him if he were to go to France and seek France’s help, given his personality, experience and fame as an inventor, he would have a great chance of succeeding. Success would mean getting aid from France and, more importantly, getting French gold. The French King would certainly welcome the opportunity to give England a bloody nose by chasing it out of America.

After a short pause, Benjamin said he had some contacts in France, but that he wouldn’t know where to start. Mayer replied that Congress would be only too happy to send him over as an official ambassador, especially if Robert Morris was to arrange to pay all his personal expenses and make sure he had all the credit needed to accomplish his mission with no questions asked. France was the country where the citizenry had the most gold bullion, and if it was to put an aid package together, it would necessarily involve gold. He and Mayer would then make sure Haym Salomon became France’s treasurer in America. Mayer had never defaulted on an exchange bill, and his bills were as good as gold. Haym would continue doing what he was already doing, and make sure that his bills backed by the French gold would be spread around generously to the politicians, the various militias, Washington’s Army, and needless to say, France’s armed forces. The continental dollar was bound to depreciate, but his bills of exchange backed by French gold would more than make up for that loss.

By the time they had put the guinea hens down their gullet and washed them down with the excellent Burgundy wine that Mayer had brought along, both men were in total agreement. They both knew they formed a great team, two men of vision who were in the process of designing the framework of a great nation. Franklin would go to France, and they would succeed.

Benjamin left for France on Oct. 26, 1776. A month earlier, the British had accused Haym of aiding the Sons of Liberty and had arrested him. Having foreseen this development, Haym had asked Washington to convoy his family and treasury to Philadelphia for safekeeping, which he did as he and his army retreated to Pennsylvania. Haym was sentenced to house arrest after agreeing to interpret for the Hessians. That was precisely what he had hoped for. The great defection of Hessians that was about to take place at Trenton would be a simple matter of getting to the right Hessian officer, Johann Rall.

21-FIRST CONTINENTAL CONGRESS

When he arrived in St. Eustatius, Haym introduced himself to Heyliger with a letter of introduction from Mayer. Heyliger said he was most happy to do more to help the American cause. In order to devote all his time to his new occupation and avoid any conflicts of interest, Abraham suggested it would be best if he handed over the post of Commander to his son-in-law at the first opportunity. Haym left a considerable amount of silver specie with him to make absolutely sure any bills of exchange that came his way in St. Eustatius would be honored. It would be more than enough because Mayer’s bills were so widely accepted that merchants simply signed them over to second and third parties who eventually redeemed them in the 13 Colonies or in Europe.

When he arrived in Boston harbor, Haym sent a runner to the home of Moses Hayes, a prominent member of the Sephardi community who ran Mayer’s local counting house. Moses had presold most of the cargo and the balance of wine and denim was promised to waiting buyers in New York and Philadelphia.

Haym acquainted Hayes with his plan to help the patriots achieve independence and asked him for the name of a goy politician won over to the cause, preferably one who was very ambitious. Once he was told what kind of man Mayer was looking for, Hayes mentioned one John Adams, a very motivated lawyer who was willing to espouse any cause for a price. Since he and Adams were practically neighbors, Hayes added he could arrange a meeting at Haym’s convenience.

The next day, Haym was sitting in front of John Adams telling him of his plans to finance a meeting of the patriots in Philadelphia in September. He asked him if he would be interested in attending, and if he would be willing to recruit five members from each of the New England colonies which included Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Haym told him the 13 Colonies were making him very rich, and the least he could do was finance a meeting to help the colonials gain their independence. When Adams realized how much money was involved, and seeing what was in it for him, he offered to leave everything he was doing and give the matter his full attention, saying the welfare of the colonies was what mattered most. Haym added that Hayes was to take care of expenses and compensate the men chosen by Adams, and to show how serious he was, he handed him £300 in silver, a small fortune in badly needed specie. Adams was thrilled to be chosen, and the two men shook hands.

Haym sailed on to New York City with the remaining merchandise and the many chests of pennies to be stored in his vault. Once the presold merchandise was unloaded and the specie deposited in a safe place, the empty ship sailed back to Boston to pick up a rum shipment for David in Rotterdam. Haym then went to meet with John Jay who was flattered to be chosen to recruit the New York delegates. Haym told him he would get all the required funding and gave him an advance of £300 in silver, just like he had done with John Adams.

The next morning, Haym crossed the Hudson River and took a stage coach to Philadelphia. Mayer’s counting house run by Bernard Gratz was doing almost as well as the one in NYC. Before leaving for Williamsburg, Robert Morris assured Haym that he would be very happy to recruit the representatives for the Mid-Atlantic colonies. It was his way of saying that he was grateful for everything that Mayer was doing for him and the Colonies. Haym then asked Bernard to build or buy the best meeting hall possible along with all the necessary housing for the representatives of the 13 Colonies, estimated to be around sixty members in all, and again Morris volunteered to help. Bernard’s superb mansion could accommodate many delegates, but since he was a Jew, it was best to have Morris, a goy, organize the housing arrangements.

He spent the night in Wilmington, and the next day he arrived early at the mouth of Elk River from where he sailed to Williamsburg on the other side of Chesapeake Bay. The winds were favorable and he reached Williamsburg by nightfall. He had written ahead to Michael Gratz who was waiting for him. Michael showed Haym to his room where he freshened up before sitting down to a very welcome meal.

Haym made plans to meet with Patrick Henry and George Washington separately. Michael told him he had met Patrick Henry on several occasions and had had a good rapport with him. He didn’t think Henry would mind coming to his home, the home of a Jew. Since they would need someone like Henry to recruit delegates in the southern colonies, he thought it best to first invite him and see if he was truly won over to the cause. The next step would be to meet with George Washington. If all went well, he could then have a meeting that would include Haym, Michael, Patrick and George. A meal washed down with fine Burgundy wine brought along for the occasion, and the promise of unlimited funding, would certainly be helpful in forging a solid bond.

Patrick accepted Haym’s invitation and arrived at Michael’s mansion the following evening. It was quite obvious this sharp-witted individual was distraught with the way the English Parliament was behaving. As a matter of fact, since the Boston Massacre, all he could think about was finding a way to have the colonies meet and devise a plan to achieve independence. It was precisely what Haym wanted to hear, agreeing with Patrick that it was the best thing for trade, and necessarily, for the people. Haym was quick to add he was a rich merchant profiting from trade with the colonies and it was to his great advantage to have representatives from the colonies meet and form some kind of government. What the English Parliament allowed or didn’t allow to go in or out of the colonies and the abusive exchange rate regarding the Spanish Dollar that they imposed upon the merchants was insane. Free and just trade had to be the colonies’ main goal, and credit had to flow if America was to thrive.

Haym continued by saying he was willing to finance such a meeting and that he had already recruited John Adams in Boston, John Jay in New York, and that Robert Morris had volunteered to do the same out of Philadelphia. If Patrick agreed to recruit representatives from Georgia, South and North Carolina and Virginia for a September meeting in Philadelphia, Haym was willing to give him unlimited funding through Michael Gratz. He told him Michael ran his counting house in Williamsburg and was authorized to finance the meeting. He went on to say, if Patrick accepted, he would get all the necessary funding to give him the necessary status and power in order to get the job done. If Patrick needed to expand his mansion in order to accommodate the American leaders when he met with them, Haym was more than willing to finance such an undertaking. Giving the impression of authority and power was important. Haym added he was quite impressed with Patrick’s initiative to have George Mason draft a complaint intended for the English Government, and that it would be a great idea to present such a document in Philadelphia when the representatives met. Patrick answered he also had a young prodigy working for him by the name of Thomas Jefferson, and together, George and Thomas were bound to come up with an impressive document. Patrick shook Haym’s hand and promised to get the job done. Since Haym was fulfilling his every wish, and since there were no conditions attached, Patrick was indeed motivated.

When George Washington came to meet Haym in Williamsburg a few days later, Haym acquainted him with the offer he had already made Patrick Henry, but added he had something else in mind for him. Saying he was quite impressed with George’s natural leadership qualities, he added he was not only willing to finance his military career as head of the revolutionary army if it came down to that, but also his political career which, if all went well, would likely include his election as head of the new government. In anticipation of the meeting, and in order to make sure he was chosen as Commander-in-Chief, he was to offer to personally finance the confederate army and forego his own salary. He would submit his expense account to Congress after the war was won. Haym would give him unlimited funding and make sure George received everything he needed. Haym was doing it for free trade. What was good for colonials was good for him.

Since many prestigious residences would be needed to house out-of-state leaders and hold meetings, Haym was allowing as much credit as needed to have them built. If George wanted to expand and renovate his mansion, all he had to do was ask Michael. As a matter of fact, George could immediately hire an architect, and if he wanted, he could even start ordering materials from England through Michael. With the help of his people in Rotterdam and London, building materials and furnishings could easily be ordered and shipped to him in Virginia within a few months.

This offer was beyond George’s wildest dreams, but keeping his excitement in check, he simply told Haym he accepted his offer, promising if he ever became leader of the new government, everybody would know where the funding came from. He couldn’t help asking, however, if Haym had a strategy regarding what had to be done next. Haym simply repeated he wanted the Philadelphia meeting to be a success, and was depending on him, Patrick Henry, and Robert Morris to make it happen. Michael and his brother Bernard would supply all the credit needed. Haym would study the maps of the colonies along with English troop and ship movement, and after consulting with General Von Estorff in Germany, he would make the general’s views known to George. Lastly, as the men shook hands, Haym told George that the most important thing he could do for now was make sure the wording of the resolves presently being drafted by George Mason and Thomas Jefferson reflected the mood of the representatives when they met in Philadelphia.

 

Post-scriptum

 

Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia was finished on time and the 1st Continental Congress met there from Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 26 1774. There were 56 delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies, Georgia being the sole exception. John Jay, John and Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, George Washington were some of the more prominent participants. The Fairfax Resolves whose content is summarized below were used as a template during the meeting.

 

Synopsis of Fairfax Resolves

 

1. Resolved that our ancestors, when they left their native land and settled in America, brought with them the form of government of the country they came from and were entitled to all its privileges, immunities and advantages which ought to be as fully enjoyed as if we had still continued within the Realm of England.

2. Resolved that the most important and valuable part of the British Constitution, upon which its very existence depends, is the fundamental right of the people not to be governed by laws to which they have not given their consent.

3. Resolved that the inhabitants of the American Colonies are not represented in the British Parliament, and that the legislative power can only be exercised by its own Provincial Assemblies or Parliaments, and that the Colonies should be allowed to trade with countries other than England

4. Resolved that it is the duty of the Colonies to proportionally contribute to the defense of the British Empire as long as they are treated on an equal footing

5. Resolved that to extort money from the Colonies without the consent of the people is not only diametrically contrary to the first principles of the Constitution, but is totally incompatible with the privileges of a free people.

6. Resolved that Taxation and Representation are in their nature inseparable.

7. Resolved that the powers over the people of America now claimed by the British House of Commons are contrary to the interests of the colonies and are most grievous and intolerable forms of tyranny and oppression.