Beautiful uncancelled certificate from the North American Land Company
issued in 1795. This historic document is hand signed by the Company's President, Robert Morris and Secretary, James Marshall and is over 224 years old. The certificate was issued to Dr. Enoch Edwards. Light toning,
ROBERT MORRIS (1734 - 1806). Often called "The Financier of the American Revolution. Morris signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution. His downfall after the revolution came through land speculation. Morris first gained attention when he headed two of the Continental Congress' most important committees (1776-1778), one to obtain war materials, and the other to instruct overseas diplomats. He was one of the best known merchants in the colonies, and thus his business experience led to his appointment as superintendent of finance in 1781.
Morris' shrewdness and personal reputation were enough to secure the funds required for the colonies to successfully prosecute the war against Britain. After the Revolutionary War, a grateful government gave Morris large tracts of land, which Morris transformed into the North American Land Company.
Morris set the company up with the aid of John Nicholson and James Greenleaf offered 30,000 shares at $100.00 per share and they guaranteed investors a six-percent annual dividend. North American Land Company's holdings were scattered over America approcahing 6,000,000 acres between Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky. Revenues from installment sales and share sales did not come in quickly enough to meet the loan and tax.
The North American Land Company finally collapsed, forcing Morris into bankruptcy. In February 1798, Morris was placed in Prune Street Debtors' Prison, where he remained until August 1801. Morris was released due to the enactment of the first Federal Bankruptcy Law (April 4, 1800, exactly six years after he signed this document), which allowed the assets of indebted merchants and brokers to be seized and sold in order to pay the bankrupt's debts.
James Marshall was the brother of John Marshall, the first Chief of the Supreme Court. Marshall also served in Alexander Hamilton's Regiment, he was a commercial agent in France during the Reign of Terror in France and as an agent of George Washington, he also negotiated the release of Lafayette from prison in Austria.
Enoch Edwards (1751 – April 18, 1802, Frankford, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American physician and a leading Patriot during the American Revolution. Born in Byberry Township, Pennsylvania, Edwards was a member of the Provincial Congress in Carpenters' Hall on June 18, 1776, which led to the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. He was also a signatory of the 1790 Pennsylvania Constitution. During the war he served as attending physician for George Washington,was a close friend of both Benjamin Rush and Thomas Jefferson, and kept up correspondence with James Monroe and John Quincy Adams.
Dr. Enoch Edwards by Benjamin West. 1795
On October 26, 1779, Edwards married Frances Gordon (half-sister of Henry Benbridge) at Christ Church, Philadelphia.[
The Edwards family were prominent during the American Revolution.
Dr. Enoch Edwards was associated with James Monroe when the latter was minister to France, and was also on the staff of Lord Sterling.
A brother, Major Evan Edwards, was on the staff of General Charles Lee, and was General Lee's second in his celebrated duel with Laurens, in which Alexander Hamilton was the second on the other side.
It is said that Jefferson made his first draft of the Declaration of Independence in the summer house located in the garden of Dr. Edwards, in Frankford.
The mansion on these grounds, which was only recently torn down, was in its day the resort of the most eminent men of the time, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Monroe, and many others foremost in the history of our country.
Aaron Burr, who was a cousin of Dr. Edwards, and of Dr. Britton's great-grandmother, was also a frequent visitor.
As a living eyewitness to Jefferson's return to Frankford, Fanny Saltar makes the following entry while writing her memoirs:
After my uncle's return, he purchased a place in Frankford of Mr. Drinker. The house was pleasantly situated at some distance from the street, but the beauty of the place consisted in the lovely view presented from the summer-house, of the pastures, streams, bridges, mills, the village, numberless roads winding through tall trees, luxuriant shade, and rising above all other objects, was seen Christ Church steeple, five miles distant.
One day when Mr. Jefferson was on a visit to my uncle, they walked up to this summer-house. He looked round and said: This is the spot on which the signers of the Declaration of Independence dined the day they signed the Declaration.
Dr. Enoch Edwards by Benjamin West. 1795
On October 26, 1779, Edwards married Frances Gordon (half-sister of Henry Benbridge) at Christ Church, Philadelphia.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research service).