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 Bird, Savage and Bird of London. 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.
Bird, Savage and Bird of London were bankers who were agents for the U.S. government. They failed in February 1803, and Baring Brothers took up their appointment.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompany.com (old stock certificate research service).