Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 | Next Page
Creation of the Executive

Gouverneur Morris to William Carmichael
Gouverneur Morris to William Carmichael,
July 4, 1789
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Full text transcript of Governeur Morris's letter.

A second issue relating to the Treasury Act concerned whether the head of the department should be one person or a three person board. In 1784 Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts had led the fight in the Confederation Congress to replace the department of finance with a three person board of treasury, but he was unsuccessful in a similar effort in 1789. The new department would be headed by one person. He complained to his old friend Samuel Adams, calling the bill the "most perfect plan I had seen for promoting peculaton & speculation in the public funds." (August 7, 1789, New York Public Library)

At the Federal Convention, Gouverneur Morris had the responsibility for putting the language of the Constitution in its final form. Here he reflects on the implications of placing the reins of the treasury department in the hands of one person: "the House of Representatives have resolved to submit the principal Direction of the finances to a single man. Thro this Measure I can feel the Pulse of our Government. It is vigorous beyond my Hopes, far beyond my Expectations, and comes up to my wishes. It is the Vigor of Administration which can alone consolidate recent Establishments. . . . Power should be tied to the Chief by those intermediate Links of Will and Pleasure."

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