Robert Morris

Financier of the American Revolution

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About The Book

In this biography, the acclaimed author of Sons of Providence, winner of the 2007 George Wash- ington Book Prize, recovers an immensely important part of the founding drama of the country in the story of Robert Morris, the man who financed Washington’s armies and the American Revolution.

Morris started life in the colonies as an apprentice in a counting house. By the time of the Revolution he was a rich man, a commercial and social leader in Philadelphia. He organized a clandestine trading network to arm the American rebels, joined the Second Continental Congress, and financed George Washington’s two crucial victories—Valley Forge and the culminating battle at Yorktown that defeated Cornwallis and ended the war.

The leader of a faction that included Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Washington, Morris ran the executive branches of the revolutionary government for years. He was a man of prodigious energy and adroit management skills and was the most successful businessman on the continent. He laid the foundation for public credit and free capital markets that helped make America a global economic leader. But he incurred powerful enemies who considered his wealth and influence a danger to public "virtue" in a democratic society.

After public service, he gambled on land speculations that went bad, and landed in debtors prison, where George Washington, his loyal friend, visited him.

This once wealthy and powerful man ended his life in modest circumstances, but Rappleye restores his place as a patriot and an immensely important founding father.

About The Author

Photograph by Eric Minh Swenson

Charles Rappleye is an award-winning investigative journalist and editor. He has written extensively on media, law enforcement, and organized crime. The author of Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution; Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution; and Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency, he lives in Los Angeles.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (November 2011)
  • Length: 640 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416570929

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Raves and Reviews

“… an illuminating account of the Revolution’s improvised and even dodgy finances.” –The New Yorker

“This book, the first full-length modern biography of Morris, restores him to his rightful place among the Founders’ pantheon and tells the story of a man now known to most Americans only from basketball scores.” –Pittsburgh Times Review

“The first full-length modern biography of an extraordinary, forgotten founder of the American republic…the best ever about its subject…. Rappleye (Sons of Providence) brings Morris and his world brightly alive. Nothing of the financier's full life…escapes Rappleye, and his judgments are balanced and astute.” —Publishers Weekly

“The world needs to know more about Morris, and this highly readable book will surely foster more research and writing.” —Concord Monitor (New Hampshire)

“Charles Rappleye's biography of [Robert Morris is] a welcome addition to the recent spate of books on the remarkable men who created this country. For it was Morris who, over and over again at critical moments, found ways to ensure that the rebels had the money and matériel they needed. Mr. Rappleye's ‘Robert Morris’ is a great story, told with narrative skill and scholarly authority . . . . Rappleye has done a marvelous job of explaining why this mostly forgotten Founder deserves our gratitude.”

– The Wall Street Journal

“Passionate biography of a Founding Father. . .. In fluid prose, Rappleye ably resurrects an underrated contributor to the early American republic. Provides thorough coverage of a deserving subject.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“[RobertMorris] offers . . . pages to savor, packed with new research and anoverall new look at our founding history that is long overdue. What Mr.Rappleye reveals to us is a historical truth that is as important today as itwas during our perilous struggle for independence.”

– Washington Times

“This book deserves to be in the historic reading section of high school and university libraries.”

– Pennsylvania Magazine

“There is a lot to be learned from the storyRappleye tells of Robert Morris. And the tale is eerily familiar today.”

– Boston Business Journal.com

“Insofar as demonstrating Morris's importance to the American cause, Rappleye succeeds brilliantly.”

– American Thinker

“Robert Morris was a Founding Father who was ahead of his time. He was a believer in global capitalism, and he helped to create a financial system that would make America a leader in such a world. In this valuable biography, Charles Rappleye chronicles Morris’s under appreciated contributions to the creation of a new nation and defends his controversial commercial career. In doing so, he highlights the pragmatism that was a key element in shaping our early republic.”

– Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin

Robert Morris does not merely return a great man to his proper place at the center of the nation’s founding—it gives readers a new understanding of how the American Revolution happened. Anyone even faintly interested in how this country began should read this extraordinary book.”

– Thomas Fleming, author of The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers

“Revolutions are about battles and ideas, politics and diplomacy. But they must also be about dollars and cents, or they fail. Charles Rappelye’s engrossing book puts Robert Morris, the money man of our revolution, back where he belongs, at the center of things.”

– Richard Brookhiser, author of George Washington on Leadership

“A merchant prince of Philadelphia whose ships ranged from London to China, Robert Morris was the indispensable when the success of the American Revolution hung in the balance. Our armies completely relied on the financial wizardry of Morris. Rappleye skillfully tells the compelling story of the man who kept the American experiment in self-government alive through its darkest days.”

– David Stewart, author of Summer of 1787 and Impeached

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