19-MAYER RECRUITS 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 for 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 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 win their independence and pay him later. 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 with 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 the 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 accused Haym of aiding the Sons of Liberty, and they 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 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.

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18-1st 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, although that was quite unlikely. Mayer’s bills were so widely accepted that merchants simply signed them over to second and third parties who would eventually redeem 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 compensation for 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 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 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 they forced 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, Mayer 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 the 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.

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 as soon as possible. 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 exception. John Jay, John and Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, George Washington were some of the more prominent participants. The Fairfax Resolves whose content is briefly referred to 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.

17-BIG DECISION

Upon receiving Mayer’s letter, Haym left Ephraim Hart, his business associate and friend, in charge of the counting house in New York and went to Williamsburg by way of Philadelphia. He planned to sail out of Williamsburg aboard a Robert Morris ship transporting tobacco intended for David in Rotterdam. Because going from New York City to Williamsburg by land would take about the same time as going by sea, he decided to first go to Philadelphia and visit with Robert Morris and Bernard Gratz. And since Philadelphia was a mere two day road trip to the mouth of the Elk River on the Chesapeake, he didn’t have to rush. He could still have a long visit with Michael Gratz in Williamsburg before sailing to Europe.

In Philadelphia, Bernard and Robert told him what he already knew regarding the political climate in Pennsylvania, and he was happy to hear there was ever more grumbling in Virginia. This showed the Sons of Liberty in Boston weren’t alone in wanting the British Government out of their lives. Haym had found that even though they were poorly financed and had few weapons, the Sons of Liberty were a determined lot and a thorn in the New York Governor’s backside. He was convinced they were a viable group, one determined enough to fight the English in a systematic way if given the chance. The anti-English feelings were definitely spreading throughout the colonies, and Mayer would be happy to hear that.

When he reached Williamsburg, Michael Gratz was waiting for him. Haym had written ahead asking him if he knew members of the House of Burgesses that would be of interest to Mayer. Michael couldn’t wait to tell him that the political climate in Virginia was deteriorating at a rapid rate, and that two men stood out in their opposition to the Mother Country. When, in 1770, the British shot into a mob of colonials, in what became known as the Boston Massacre, the southerners began to oppose the ongoing ‘intolerable acts’ of the English Parliament just like the people in the colonies up north did. Here in Virginia, Patrick Henry and George Washington were trying to make a name for themselves by pushing to have a resolution drawn up condemning England’s treatment of the colonials and demanding parliamentary representation.

Patrick Henry was a lawyer, a great orator and a member of the Burgesses, and he was down on his luck. His small plantation was no longer producing, and his wife was very ill. Because he was a frustrated man, a little too hot under the collar, Michael suggested George Washington might be a better man for what Haym and his sponsor had in mind. Haym answered he didn’t know precisely what Mayer in Frankfurt wanted, but agreed it was a good idea to at least meet this fellow.

Washington was a tall imposing dour figure who worked very hard at giving the impression of a strong silent type, and the fact he was an important landowner gave credence to the image he tried to project. After her husband’s death in 1752 followed by that of their only son in 1754, Anne Fairfax, his brother’s widow, had remarried, and George Washington had become custodian of Mt. Vernon. When George married Martha Custis in 1758, he received a dowry of 6000 acres of prime land that happened to be adjacent to Mt. Vernon. In 1761, when Anne Fairfax died George inherited Mt. Vernon. Although the buildings on the estate were in a rather poor state of repair and the farm revenue modest, the man did his best to lead the life of an English country squire.

There was a lot of talk about this gentleman, and it wasn’t all flattering. He had married rather late in life, had no children, and people wondered about his motives for marrying, and his exaggerated military career claims during the French Indian War. As Commander of the Virginia Militia, he had participated in two of what could be called skirmishes during that war. In the one, he was said to have killed a French officer needlessly, and in the other, his militia unit had been captured, and he had been taken prisoner. His inexperience and impetuosity were blamed for those lackluster military achievements when later, having tried to get a commission in the British Army, he was turned down. No doubt feeling slighted, he got married to a rich widow, settled down at Mt. Vernon, and went into politics.

When Haym and Michael arrived at Mt. Vernon, Haym took one look at the imposing figure welcoming them, and he just knew Mayer would be interested in this fellow. Once done with the usual formalities and seated in the living room, Washington, in wanting to impress this very rich merchant from New York, was quick to tell Haym he had personally seen to the decoration and the furnishings of the mansion, and Mary, his wife, agreed. She was a charming no-nonsense kind of lady, and Haym knew that the shades of pink used on the walls, the rococo draperies, the overflowing array of glitzy furniture and the paintings representing biblical scenes of nude men wasn’t her doing.

They talked about the House of Burgesses and the state of affairs in Virginia, and before leaving, Haym told Washington that his sponsor in Germany wanted to help the colonials gain their independence, and asked him if he would be interested in meeting with him in order to discuss the matter. Washington, sensing a great opportunity, agreed while making sure not to show too much eagerness.

Michael and Haym took their leave, and as their carriage headed back to Williamsburg, Michael couldn’t wait to tell Haym about the rumors that were circulating in town. Apparently, Mary and her husband slept in separate bedrooms on different floors while George and the estate’s handsome overseer who lived with them had adjoining bedrooms. They both agreed he was probably leading a secret life that could very well explain his choice of colors and furnishings, and they both roared with laughter.

Haym duly left for Rotterdam, and since American captains now made a point of taking advantage of the Gulf Stream, he arrived in under two months. He spent two days with David and his wife, and thoroughly enjoyed their warm hospitality. After promising to stop by on his way back to America, he took a stage coach to Frankfurt, and five days later, he was at Mayer’s house in the Judengasse ghetto.

Both Gretel and Mayer had sworn on their wedding day they would never leave Judengasse. They were a happy couple, madly in love, and they both knew what was important in life. It was hard for Haym to determine whether this tall gentle man was happy because he was the richest men in the world or because he lived in the ghetto with his wife Gretel who was about to give him a second child. Regardless, the house was in a festive mood, and exquisite Burgundy wine was flowing.

They spent the next few days exchanging information, and when the subject of Washington came up, they had a good laugh. However, it was a serious matter, and they both agreed that since Washington had the aura of a leader and military experience of sorts, and since he was apparently a gentle megalomaniac living a secret life, he would be perfect for the job. Given the right financial incentives, he would do whatever was asked of him. It was one thing to give a man power, but it was best to keep a Damocles’ sword dangling over his head.

After hearing what Haym had to say about the Sons of Liberty, Mayer knew he had the leader and the movement, and above all, he knew it wouldn’t cost very much to get them operational. The first thing he would do is make sure his New York counting house had all the necessary specie. With a fortune that he no longer could count multiplying at a rapid rate, Mayer could easily get the colonials talking with one voice by having Haym finance a meeting of the 13 Colonies. Haym was to pay for all travelling expenses incurred by the chosen representatives, and compensate them handsomely for their time. He was to finance their political undertakings, and provide a meeting hall and adequate housing for them while in Philadelphia. From what Mayer knew, Philadelphia was the perfect city for the meeting, and Haym agreed. If the meeting went as expected, the delegates would probably want to recruit a military leader from the south, and Washington’s candidacy would be encouraged. He estimated a man like Washington would cost around £2000 the first year and £1000 thereafter, and the politicians around £300 each per year, an amount equivalent to six times the salary of a skilled tradesman. £100,000 would be more than enough to pay for the politicians’ salaries and expenses, and to house them. Getting Washington looking like a genuine military leader and supplying his army as well as the local militias would not be a big financial drain either.

Philadelphia was the largest city in the colonies and stood midway between New England and the South. Since the idea was to bring the southern gentry and the northern merchants together, it was ideal middle ground. The fact that Philadelphia wasn’t easily accessible by sea, especially for the big English naval vessels, and had an important non-English and non-royalist population was also a consideration. And because Philadelphia was close to New York City, it would make it easier for Haym to control things.

Eager to supply more arms and powder to the American militias, Mayer told Haym he had looked for a way to circumvent the English authorities. David in Rotterdam had suggested that the best way to do that was through the Dutch duty free port of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean. The Commander of the island, Abraham Heyliger, happened to be an avowed American patriot sympathizer. After confirming that information with Isaac Moses in NYC, a merchant familiar with the Caribbean, Mayer had given David the go-ahead to buy arms.

Julien Ouvrard, the French arms merchant working for David, agreed that sending French muskets and powder to America via St. Eustatius was a good idea and had volunteered to do whatever he could. St. Eustatius was nothing more than a big rock in the Caribbean on which were built hundreds of warehouses full of American, West Indian and European goods. Each year, thousands of captains stopped at this duty free Caribbean port in order to exchange merchandise.

That Caribbean free port was extremely successful because merchants from Europe and the New World could buy and sell goods at established and just exchange rates. The Bank of England’s exchange rate between the Spanish dollar and the Pound was unwarranted and to be avoided at all cost. Based on their silver content, the two currencies should have been at par, and that’s what Mayer’s counting houses offered. Necessarily, merchants who already did everything in their power to circumvent Britain as a trading partner and buy manufactured goods from other European countries out of St. Eustatius would be quite motivated to use Mayer’s letters of exchange.

For Isaac Hayes and Robert Morris who already shipped rum, tobacco and indigo, and manufactured goods presold by David in Rotterdam and Haym in NYC, shipping arms through St. Eustatius would be a welcome proposition. As for Mayer the clandestine shipments of arms and military supplies delivered to the various colonial militias on credit would become part of the nation’s debt after the war and would be useful in the creation of a national bank.

The American captains were experts at delivering goods undetected by the British authorities because they knew the coast so well. This long, rugged coast had many inlets, and it was impossible for the British to stop the contraband and the arms shipments. Ships from St. Eustatius dropping off cargo in some cove in Chesapeake Bay, up the Delaware, in Long Island Sound, or some small bay along the New England shoreline were almost never intercepted.

Before Haym left for America, Mayer asked him to go by way of St. Eustatius and make arrangements with Heyliger. From there he was to stop in all the major American ports in order to recruit goy political leaders who would in turn select representatives to represent the individual colonies at a meeting in Philadelphia planned for September. He was to explain that he was very interested in their march to independence, and financing a meeting in Philadelphia was the least a rich merchant like himself could do. He was to be overly generous in all his endeavors. The specie in Haym’s vault in NYC was more than adequate to finance a meeting in Philadelphia and anything else that needed doing.

Although Haym was sad to leave Gretel and Mayer, he was anxious to return to America and get the meeting organized. It was time for new experiences and adventures. Travelling to Rotterdam aboard a barge transporting wine, and then sailing to the Caribbean were welcome opportunities.