36-CIVIL WAR

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Once the borders of America became permanent, there was still a lot of work to do. The southern agricultural economy was out of sync with the rest of the country, and while the City wanted it to join the vibrant market economy of the northern states, the south was talking secession. Geopolitically, there was no question of letting it secede, not to mention the fact that it had huge oil reserves. Industry needed oil and the City wasn’t about to let a few country gentlemen destroy its masterpiece, America. The South’s old structures had to be destroyed, but the problem was how to start the civil war. The south was not about to attack the north, for it didn’t have the means and didn’t have to. All it had to do was stay put and secede. So, if something was to be done, it was up to the North. As it so happened, slavery was a hot issue in the north, and the City backed the candidacy of Abraham Lincoln, a staunch advocate for National Union and racial equality. It was rather easy to get the northerners worked up over the issue of slavery, and they declared war the minute the south seceded from the Union. Slavery was the pretext, not the real issue, and that’s why when Abraham Lincoln declared war on the south in 1861, he clearly stated that it was to preserve the Union. That was the truth, and it was precisely what the City wanted.

At first, it seemed that Abraham Lincoln was doing the City’s bidding, and, presuming he was assassinated for political reasons, we could ask ourselves why the City bankers wanted to get rid of him, if such was the case. Some say it was because, in 1862, in wanting to pay for the war, Lincoln had Congress pass the Legal Tender Act, thus giving Congress the right to print interest-free money. However, because the greenback had so little success, it was likely not the real reason. We don’t know whether the City printed counterfeit greenbacks in order to flood the market, or whether it directed its ‘defunct’ 1st Bank of the United States not to accept them, but the end result was that the greenback was not well accepted and quickly depreciated. In 1863, Lincoln had had no choice but to reverse his position and sign the National Bank Act. Even though the greenbacks remained legal tender, the law re-established the status of the dollar, thus voiding the Legal Tender Act. So why, if such was the case, have Lincoln assassinated when the interest-free money problem no longer existed?

A plausible explanation for his assassination would be to say that Lincoln was just too nice a guy. We can be sure that the City had wanted to replace the archaic social structures of the Old South after the war, for that had been the whole purpose of the war. But because Lincoln wanted to let the southerners rebuild their lives as they saw fit, and since his only requirement was to have the southerners swear allegiance to the Union, he had to be stopped. The domino theory, where the establishment players do what they’re paid to do, played out, and someone, who wanted to do what was best for America, proceeded to do just that. After winning the 1864 election by a landslide, Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, 1865. The carpetbaggers, most of them lawyers and businessmen loaded with cash, were immediately unleashed, taking the South by storm. They purchased the abandoned lands, opened businesses and banks, constructed railroads, and last but not least, started running the local governments. America was now officially the United States of America.

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32-WATERLOO 1815

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When Napoleon returned from Russia, Nathan decided it was time to get rid of him. Nathan financed all the warring factions, not only Napoleon’s Army, but that of Austria, Prussia, Russia and England. Since the days of Aboukir, financing all sides continued to be a way of getting the desired results. Napoleon suffered defeat upon defeat, and after his encounters with Wellington in Spain, he was forced out of the Iberian Peninsula. He had by then lost most of his power. He signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau on April 11, 1814, abdicating in the process, and was sent to the Island of Elba.

However, something very odd happened on February 26, 1815. In wanting to completely uproot Napoleon’s dynasty by destroying what was left of the Imperial Army, Nathan probably arranged to have him escape from Elba and have him march on Paris. As the British guard ships looked the other way, Napoleon slipped away from Portoferraio on board the warship Inconstant with some 1,000 men, and landed between Cannes and Antibes on March 1. He knew that Royalist Provence would not be very friendly to him, and so, he avoided Provence by taking a route through the Alps.

Without firing a single shot, he marched unimpeded in a country in which he was reviled, and his troop numbers swelled until they became an army. On March 5, the Royalist 5th Infantry Regiment at Grenoble went over to Napoleon en masse. The next day they were joined by the 7th Infantry Regiment under its colonel, Charles de la Bédoyère, who would later be executed for treason by the Bourbons. An old anecdote illustrates Napoleon’s charisma. When Royalist troops deployed to stop the march of Napoleon’s force at Grenoble, Napoleon stepped out in front of them, ripped open his coat and said “If any of you will shoot his Emperor, here I am.” The men acclaimed him as they had when he had first gone to Italy.

Marshal Ney, a military commander under Louis XVIII, was heard to say that Napoleon should be brought to Paris in an iron cage, but on March 14, that same Ney rejoined his old comrade in arms with 6,000 men. Five days later, after making his way northward, promising constitutional reform and an elected assembly, Napoleon entered the capital to the acclaim of the crowds.

In the meantime, the Coalition countries met in Vienna and declared Napoleon an outlaw as they each pledged 150 000 men to defeat him. Unruffled, Napoleon decided to take the offensive by going after the weakest army, that of Wellington, which had marched into Belgium. Because English troops were still committed to the War of 1812 in America, Wellington didn’t have what could be called an elite army.

The Duke of Wellington with 110,000 men, and Prussia’s Field Marshal Blucher with 120,000 men were the only two armies close enough to threaten France, and so Napoleon decided to strike before the Russians and the Austrians arrived. Moving with stunning speed, he invaded Belgium with 125,000 men in a bid to split Wellington and Blucher’s armies, and defeat each separately.

Marshal Grouchy went to meet Wellington’s army while Napoleon defeated the Prussians. Then, with the Prussians on the run, Napoleon decided to personally go after Wellington to the north. Marshal Grouchy was to make sure the defeated Prussians to the east would not come back and join up with Wellington. However, it took more time than expected for Napoleon to drive through Wellington’s defenses, and surprisingly, Marshal Grouchy was unable to hold back the defeated Prussians. When Blucher’s forces joined up with those of Wellington, Napoleon didn’t have a chance. It marked the end of the Battle of Waterloo.

Nathan had put a formidable communications network in place, and on the day the battle, he was in London waiting for the official results of the battle. Even though Nathan was financing all the armies and knew that Napoleon didn’t have a chance, he wanted, nonetheless, to be absolutely sure before putting his devilish stock exchange swindle in motion. Nathan held a good portion of the 300 million pounds’ worth of Consols, the debt England had consolidated in funded government securities that were traded on the London Stock Exchange, but he wanted to own it all. As soon as the battle outcome was confirmed by his personal couriers who had waited for the carrier pigeons to arrive, and who had then rushed to the London Stock Exchange to inform the great man, Nathan started dumping all the Consols that he owned, making sure all the traders saw what he was doing. In no time at all, convinced that Nathan knew something they didn’t, the traders started dumping their Consols until the price of Consols dropped to ten percent of their value. When Nathan gave the signal, his aides bought back all the Consols as fast as they could. When the outcome of the battle was made public a short time later, and when everybody realized it had been Wellington, and not Napoleon, who had won, the price of Consols skyrocketed past their original high, and in a single day, Nathan had taken charge of the entire English debt and consolidated his control over the Bank of England.

Napoleon was exiled to St. Helens, and Louis XVIII was encouraged to try and establish a French constitutional monarchy. But the Catholic power machine was still too strong, and Louis XVIII was removed from power before the Absolute Kings of Divine Right got too deeply implanted. There would be two more tries at establishing an English style monarchy, in 1830 and 1848, but they would both fail for the same reasons, and around 1850, Lionel, Nathan’s son, decided that enough was enough. Paris, the center of power, would be transformed into the City of Lights, and France would return to being a republic as established under Napoleon, the only difference being that the Emperor would now be an elected President.

30-LOUISIANA TO TRAFALGAR

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When Nathan moved to the City and took charge of the Goldsmid Bros. Bank, he was also taking charge of Bonaparte. One of the first things he did was help his father push through the Louisiana Purchase, and he was very successful, for the Treaties of Mortefontaine and San Ildefonso were both signed in 1800, and the Quasi-War came to a halt that same year.

Following the signing of the agreements, Bonaparte sent 35,000 French troops to free the eastern part of Santa Domingo in order to give it back to the Spanish as promised. But Bonaparte had another idea in the back of his head, for he intended to double-cross whoever was financing the deal. Once in Hispaniola, instead of freeing the island, he would use it as a military base. Being close to the USA, he could then easily land his troops in New Orleans and occupy Louisiana instead of selling it, and there was nobody to stop him. By occupying the land west of the Mississippi, a land France already owned, the French would create a bigger and more important country than the 13 loose-knitted English speaking Colonies on the east coast.

However, Nathan got word of his intentions, and was preparing to send in the English Navy to put things right when Bonaparte’s army was wiped out by yellow fever. Because the few remaining troops had to return to France, Bonaparte had no choice but to sell Louisiana to the Americans as arranged. However, he hadn’t lost out completely, for he still pocketed the sale proceeds. It was a win-win situation for all parties. The Americans got a deal beyond their wildest dreams, and the 15 million dollars went directly to Bonaparte. It was enough to satisfy all of Bonaparte’s ambitions, and he following year, in 1804, he crowned himself Napoleon. The megalomaniac had become emperor, and it was henceforth up to Nathan to keep him in check with the help of Talleyrand that he was indirectly controlling through Ouvrard.

After the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine with the USA, and the Treaty of San Ildefonso with Spain, the Quasi-War came to an end. The promised Louisiana Purchase that had been the bait was completed in 1803, the financing of the deal is proof of Mayer’s involvement. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the thirteen Colonies had around seven million dollars in revenues, a 3.2 million dollar deficit, and didn’t yet collect taxes. Naturally, it was the First Bank of the United States that proposed a loan, just like Mayer had wanted. Not only would this deal make First Bank of the United States indispensable, but the Louisiana Purchase would allow Congress to open up the west.

To everyone’s surprise, when Congress offered to pay fifteen million dollars for the port of New Orleans alone, Napoleon sweetened the deal by throwing in at no extra charge all of the French possessions, including Rupert’s Land, a territory that in large part is Canada today. That was, indeed, a mind-boggling offer, and though Congress couldn’t believe its luck, it didn’t bother to question this ‘divine’ intervention. What is never mentioned is that the intent was to unite Rupert’s Land north of the 49th parallel to Lower Canada. The straight line represented by the 49th parallel was drawn by the same ‘divine’ power that had devised the Manifest Destiny concept. America was on its way to becoming a coast to coast nation with Canada to the north, and Mexico to the south in spite of the fact there was still a strong Mexican presence north of the Rio Grande.

Nathan let Bonaparte have the proceeds in order to encourage him to accept the deal in the first place, but also to give him the means to crown himself Emperor Napoleon, which he did at Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris, on December 2, 1804. The megalomaniac gladly did what was expected of him, because in establishing order throughout France he was ensuring his renown. He started by ramming through the Civil Code on March 21, 1805. It marked the beginning of the end for the Catholic Royalists who opposed it violently because it meant they no longer had legal recourse with regards to their confiscated property. Unperturbed, backed by Fouché’s dreaded state police, the Prefects were given full powers in the departments, and the mayors answered directly to them. France thus became the centralist state that it is to this day.

But, in 1804, what remained of the French Navy was still very much commanded by Royalists. Therefore, in wanting to finish off the French Navy, Nathan, wanting Napoleon to invade England, told Ouvrard to promise the Emperor through Talleyrand all the financing needed if he decided to do so. The plan would unfold, and when the French fleet would be at its most vulnerable, Nathan would leak the information to the English Admiralty who would be pleased to have Admiral Nelson finish the job.

Since Aboukir, the French Navy had been rehabilitated by Latouche-Tréville, but it was Admiral Villeneuve, the same one who had fled at Aboukir who was given command of the fleet. Nelson, who was chosen to command the English fleet and who had great respect for Admiral Latouche-Tréville who had once routed him, didn’t know that the French had replaced him with Villeneuve. So, when Villeneuve took off for the Caribbean, Nelson thought it was Latouche-Tréville, and that he was headed for Egypt. Thanks to favorable winds, Villeneuve kept well ahead of Nelson and Napoleon’s deception worked. Villeneuve went to the Caribbean, and Nelson went to Egypt. By the time Nelson realized his mistake, Villeneuve had had time to rendezvous with other French units in the Caribbean thirty-two days ahead of Nelson’s arrival. Villeneuve’s Navy was shipshape, superior in fire power, and could have easily defeated Nelson, but instead of engaging the English fleet, Villeneuve, who had fled before Nelson at Aboukir, fled yet again.

But Napoleon was following a clever plan. By having his navy invade a few islands, he made the English Admiralty think the French were taking over in the Caribbean. Then, as expected, most of the English Navy was dispatched to the Caribbean, thus freeing the French ports that had been under siege. Villeneuve seized the opportunity and took off as fast as he could for Europe, heading for Boulogne-Sur-Mer where Napoleon and his Imperial Army were waiting. All the French ships from the now liberated French ports were to join him there and everything was going marvellously well for Napoleon. Then, for some unknown reason, Villeneuve made the worst decision possible, one that was as catastrophic as the one taken by de Brueys at Aboukir. Instead of continuing on to Boulogne, he turned back and headed south for the Spanish port of Cadiz. No doubt, Villeneuve had been intercepted and ordered to do just that. Until then, the plan to invade England had been unfolding flawlessly. Understandably, Napoleon was furious at Villeneuve and immediately sent orders to have him removed from command. However, before receiving those orders, Villeneuve joined up with the Spanish fleet and went to attack Nelson’s fleet that had been spotted approaching from the west. Why on October 21, 1805, off Trafalgar, Villeneuve decided to attack Nelson in the worst possible weather conditions remains a mystery.

At the head of a disorganized Franco-Spanish fleet, practically in a dead calm, Villeneuve headed north to engage Nelson. When Nelson saw that Villeneuve’s ships were scattered six miles wide, he seized the opportunity and, contrary to tradition, he divided his fleet into two columns, one of which cut the Franco-Spanish fleet in two. That column went in at right angles, firing broadsides to port and starboard while remaining totally immune to enemy fire. The other column went northward and sank any enemy ship that decided to turn about and come to the rescue of the sister ships being attacked. The whole Franco-Spanish fleet was either sunk or captured. The score at Aboukir had been 13 to 0 in favor of Nelson, and now at Trafalgar it was 33 to 0 in his favor, notwithstanding the fact that he died after being shot by a French sailor from one of the damaged ships.

Nathan had to be very happy with the results, for that meant the Atlantic Ocean was now under the control of only one navy, the English Navy. The Atlantic community could now flourish. Napoleon had to abandon his plan to invade England, but he was encouraged instead to go seek fame and fortune by attacking the Ancien Regime powers to the east. And since he kept all the spoils of victory, he was doubly motivated to go on the warpath. He defeated the Austrians in Italy and continued right into Austria where he defeated both Tsar Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II at Austerlitz. It marked the beginning of the end for all the Ancien Regime countries. A year later, the Holy German Empire was abolished and replaced by the Confederation of the Rhine, with Napoleon as ‘protector’.

Napoleon then took time out to tidy up his personal life. He wanted a male heir, and since Josephine couldn’t give him one, he divorced her. He married Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810, and the King of Rome was born in 1811. As far as Nathan was concerned, with the French Navy gone, with Napoleon having restructured France and with the Holy German Empire defeated, the Emperor and his Imperial Army were no longer needed. But 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.

25-REAL ESTATE SCAM

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PART III – How the City became the head office of international finance

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 how satisfied he was with their work and that 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 if urgent matters came up, and directly with Mayer in Frankfurt if he deemed it necessary.

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 always made sure they had enough money to reach any goal or satisfy any whim without their 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 slightly in the southern portion of the new nation, 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. Nonetheless, 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 was anxious to know how much gold bullion his real estate operations were generating. 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 always on hand to do the necessary legal 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 assignats which he had to buy at face value from the government. By purchasing a property worth a 100 million pounds at auction, he needed to buy 100 million pounds’ worth of assignats at face value. But if he bought the same property from Ouvrard, he would only need to have 50 million pounds in gold.

As the sales were completed, Ouvrard had the gold transported 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 Holy German Empire. 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, and the King cancelled the meeting. 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.

When the auctions got going Ouvrard’s agents were already in place and Johannot’s high quality counterfeit bills were being circulated. A number of prestigious properties had already been bought. 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 were soon the most powerful bankers in England.

Gutle was greatly troubled by the counterfeiting operations, but was happy to hear that the bullion was being stockpiled in the City, as planned by Mayer. She was relieved that nobody knew what Mayer was really worth, for most people didn’t even know he existed. 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 didn’t know 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. But 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.

24-MANIFEST DESTINY

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Mayer went to meet with Benjamin who had just arrived in Philadelphia. Though Mayer was much younger, they had become the best of friends, and they greeted each other enthusiastically. They had enjoyed the time spent together before Benjamin left for France, and again when they had met in Paris. They couldn’t wait to have a tête-à-tête which they arranged to have the day after the official welcoming ceremonies that were planned for Benjamin.

Benjamin’s German hadn’t improved much, but Mayer had since picked up an English word here and there, and they managed to communicate quite well. Mayer congratulated Benjamin on his masterful use of Morris Notes sent to him in Paris in order to pay for the French arms supplied by Vergennes and sent to Schiff in Rotterdam. Thanks to him, David had channelled vast quantities of surplus French arms to the Colonies. In other words, Mayer wanted to let Franklin know that without him, the victory at Yorktown, the founding of the Bank of North America and the about-to-be-signed Constitution would have been impossible.

Benjamin thanked him for his kind words, but he was more interested in knowing how Robert Morris had used the French gold to capitalize the Bank of North America. So, Mayer started by saying that the French gold was intact and had been used to back up the Morris notes. Morris had become the Bank of North America’s main shareholder, and the bank was on the verge of obtaining a 20-year charter from Congress. Mayer admitted that he now controlled America’s monetary system and that it was making him very rich, but was quick to add that past a certain point being rich is of no consequence. The only thing that mattered was accumulating more gold bullion in order to create more credit and strengthen the burgeoning economy. There were, however, two main concerns. Getting more gold out of the ground was limited by current technology, and it was hard to maintain anonymity while controlling the monetary system.

The subject then turned to France. Benjamin had much to say, and Mayer was all ears. Benjamin felt that France was a kettle ready to boil over. Masonic Lodges were mushrooming throughout France since the Congress of Wilhelmsbad, because members no longer had to swear on the Catholic bible in order to become freemasons. The change had opened the door to the Huguenots who were infiltrating France from England, Holland and Germany. Somebody was pushing for change in France, and that initiative seemed to be originating in the City, in London. Benjamin was quite sure the English bankers were out to destroy the Ancien Regime of France. People like Mirabeau and many others were already talking about France having a Constitutional Monarchy like that of England.

It seemed that Versailles was creating a problem. The King was completely isolated and surrounded by his aristocratic cronies in a lush setting while a starving Paris grumbled. Benjamin had personally felt this unrest in Paris in spite of the fact that Versailles was now occupied by Louis XVI and his young wife, a rather congenial couple.

Mayer then gave Benjamin some bad news concerning the Treaty of Alliance of 1778 that had unofficially made France America’s major trading partner. Since then, America’s economy had grown tremendously and now needed a stronger trading partner. Because of turmoil in France, Mayer thought that a formal trade agreement with England had to supersede the treaty that Benjamin had ratified in Paris in 1778. He knew that the French and the American citizenry would be very upset with what they would deem treacherous, which, in fact, it was. Nonetheless, Mayer wondered if Benjamin could accept to work with him if such a trade agreement were reached. Mayer saw it as an urgent matter, and a logical thing to do in that America was mainly English-speaking and Protestant just like England, notwithstanding their historical, economic and cultural ties.

Benjamin was truly taken aback by this suggestion and remained quiet for the longest time. His natural inclination was to mistrust any man who dealt in betrayal. But because he knew Mayer was right in that they had no control over what was happening in France, and because he truly admired this man, he dismissed his gut reaction. He knew that Mayer felt the same way he did about France, and that he felt very bad about not honoring the Treaty of Alliance, even though it hadn’t been an official trade agreement. Reluctantly, he agreed with Mayer. Mayer added that he would make it up to France by always giving it top consideration in all future economic and cultural matters and would do everything in his power to give France a Constitutional Monarchy like that of England.

In the meantime, if Congress was to be receptive to the idea, Mayer told Benjamin his help was sorely needed. Although he was thinking of retirement, he urged him to accept the seat he was being offered in the Senate. With him sitting in the Senate, and Alexander Hamilton controlling finances under Morris’ leadership, they could easily steer the ship. It was the only way to successfully address the pressing matters facing the 13 Colonies. Getting the constitution signed, a President elected, permanent residences built for both the President and Congress, and a trade agreement signed with England would require all their attention.

So far, Hamilton had written newspaper articles that had led to the ratification of the Declaration of Independence by New York, and he was now in the process of drafting the constitution with Madison. With regards to the ceded lands by England, since the individual Colonies had claims on them, Mayer had asked Robert Morris to forgive their war debts on condition that they sign over their rights to Congress, and it seemed to be working. There wasn’t much doubt that all would accept, and in so doing, they would be accepting the authority of Congress. That in turn would open the door to their accepting a residence for both the President and Congress up the Potomac River, and thus, a federal state.

Because Mayer thought things were going well and in the right direction, he added that it was probably now time to start thinking about the territorial boundaries of this great nation in the making. After the signing of the Paris Treaty in 1763, when the French had repatriated their administration and military leaving America to the English, and the signing of the Paris Treaty of 1783, when the English had left the 13 Colonies to the Americans, it was now time to start thinking of expansion westward.

Mayer was also thinking of a way to repay France for coming to America’s aid in 1778. America would offer to buy its vast land possessions that stretched from New Orleans to Hudson Bay and to the west right up to and including the great prairies for a substantial amount of money. The windfall would also compensate in part France for its loss regarding the upcoming trade agreement with England. Mayer would find a way to arrange a mindboggling deal that both France and Congress would be only too happy to agree to. Then, a huge buffer zone north of the 49th parallel could be created, and the USA would be free to expand westward in an orderly fashion along that parallel. Once the West was opened, the Spanish-Mexican problem to the south would be addressed. Congress would first help Mexico gain its independence from Spain, and down the road, offer to purchase the Mexican lands north of the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande would then become the southern boundary line. The American states west of the Mississippi would be incorporated as warranted by population growth, and the USA would become a coast-to-coast nation, with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. Unlike Europe, the USA would be a coast-to-coast homogeneous country, with a mainly white, English-speaking, Protestant population. It was the ‘manifest destiny’ of the USA to become the greatest country the world had ever seen.

The Jew and the goy looked at each other in total agreement, and embraced. In that instant, they took full measure of the situation, and the long silence that followed, steeped in humility and mutual respect, spoke volumes about what they had accomplished.

22-CONGRESS OF WILHELMSBAD

KNOW HOW WE GOT HERE, AND KNOW INNER PEACE

It’s a nice spring day in 1782. Gretel is sitting on the grass in front of the newly-built Green Castle watching a gentle brook trickling down into a pond. The grazing deer, and the swans paddling around the water lilies, completes the idyllic landscape. Mayer is by her side, her boisterous children are running around chasing the strange creatures that populate the marvelous gardens, and she is as happy as can be. However, even though Mayer owns the property, it is part of the goy world, a world that threatens her family with its artificial values.

Peter Heinrich von Bethmann, who fronts Mayer’s financial operations in Frankfurt, is the official resident and lives in the east wing with his family. The west wing is reserved for Mayer’s private use. The many offices needed for the considerable office staff along with the reception areas are located in the central area. With young Carl Friedrich Buderus, his assistant, in the counting house in Hanau, and a very able Moses Kuhn running his Fahrgasse office in Frankfurt, Mayer is able to spend ever more time at Green Castle, the headquarters of his fast developing international banking network.

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.

Gretel 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, Gretel has 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, a spa 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 they had done 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 doing what 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 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 amount of counterfeit notes into the French economy in order to have the currency depreciate. 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 ask him if he would like to return to Lyon. Mayer would be willing to kick-start his printing business.

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

Gretel 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 wanted to destroy the Ancien Regime of France and create a market economy tied to England, but what Mayer wanted was to take control of the Bank of England and have America, France, England and the rest of Europe trade fairly and freely with each other. Mayer told his wife that the only way to accomplish such a feat was by accumulating all the French gold he could while maintaining total anonymity.

Mayer calmed Gretel’s fears by telling her 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 found a way to take over the Bank of England. One thing was certain, the Bank of England would be printing counterfeit notes in order to bring down the Ancien Regime of France, and Mayer would join in, but it would be to amass huge quantities of French gold in order to overtake the Bank of England itself.

Mayer started explaining how he planned to do it. Huguenot agents recruited in England, the Netherlands and Germany would use the Masonic Lodges as drop-off points, where the counterfeit bills produced by Johannot would be delivered by Thurn and Taxis. 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, the wealthy Frenchmen would want to invest in real estate directly and bypass the worthless yet very expensive government bills. 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.

Gretel 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 created their own state within the state. 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.

19-MAYER RECRUITS BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

KNOW HOW WE GOT HERE, AND KNOW INNER PEACE

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.