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."