1848 Autograph Letter Signed by Samuel C. Morton, Philadelphia merchant, on banking and “Locofoco,” Democratic Politics.

Letter on banking by Philadelphia merchant Samuel C. Morton, written to attorney and Pennsylvania state representative, Richard Rundle Smith, Esq. Morton discusses a legislative bill, Philadelphia manufacturers and tradesmen and the strength of the city’s banks, and specie held in banks in New Orleans at the time of the Mexican-American War:

“I received your valued favour of the 5th last evening. Our bill was not drawn according to my views, which perfectly accorded with your own and Crabb’s as to it being unnecessarily long. Some of our Board however, thought the Western Bank Charter was a little too loose in its provisions, and that an Institution of a much larger Capital might be governed by the same restrictions, (as to Discounts &c) if the language were used, as in the case of the North American Bank. The Governor’s Message is certainly ultra Loco-Focoish, and he must be an old ass to suppose that we could do with less Capital for Banking, in our City, than at present. Our President will send you an official Copy of our affairs as they stand on the Books at the present time. Our reduction has been less pro-rata than any other Bank, and much the largest class of our customers are Manufacturers & Tradesmen, who are the real bone and sinew of the City’s prosperity. The State of New Hampshire, which certainly is the Loco State ‘par excellence,’ by a recent official statement, has showed that her Banks, with a circulation of $1,729,000 has only $155,600 Specie to redeem it with! or over $11. in Notes to $1.00 of Specie!! These forsooth are the Hard money men. What a libel on consistency. The Banks of Philada. are the very strongest in the country, (New Orleans alone excepted) where the Government have had Specie funds placed, for disbursement in Mexico.”

The letter closes with a discussion of “our boat case,” possibly a legal case involving “Boats lying at Harrisburg.” A prominent Philadelphia attorney, Richard Rundle Smith (1817–1903) graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and later served as a trustee there. He was elected as a Whig to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, serving two terms, in 1848 and 1849. He was president of the Union Canal Company and manager of The Western Savings Fund Society.

Morton apprenticed in the flour trade, later establishing the Philadelphia import/export firm of Samuel C. Morton & Co. At the time of this letter, he was president of the American Fire Insurance Company and from 1857 to 1865 was president of Philadelphia’s Board of Trade.

Description: 1848 Autograph Letter Signed by Samuel C. Morton, Philadelphia merchant, on banking and “Locofoco,” Democratic Politics.

Philadelphia, January 7, 1848. [1½]pp. 10 7¾ inches. 4to. Bifolium with integral address leaf. Contemporary docketing; small loss at wax seal; very good.


Refs. Scharf and Westcott, History of Philadelphia. 1869-1884. (Philadelphia, 1884), III:2341–2342. R. RUNDLE SMITH - PA House of Representatives accessed online.

Price: $125.00

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