Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 18, 1976 · Page 25
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 25

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 18, 1976
Page 25
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tB -July 18, 1976 Sunday Gaxette-Mail. Chirleifim, w*s! Virjinit Infant United States Was Near Bankruptcy Curing the Jfevo/uf/on, lack of money irai an even greater danger than the Brituh. But lomehou, our forefather, paid the bill,-or at leaf tame of them--and muddled through. By Dennis Montgomery Anociated Preii Writer The infant United States of America teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. For want of a bankroll it seemed possible her men: tiicant Congress might be forced to bar' gain for peace. , To Benjamin Franklin, ambassador to France, the commander-in-chief, George Washington, wrote:. "Our present situation makes .ne of two things essential to us; peace, or the most vigorous aid of our allies, particularly in the article of money." ' · It was 1780, the war's darkest year. The article of money, had long been as scarce as battlefield victories for the Continentals. In another context the word Continental was now a synonym of worthlessness. "Not worth a Continental," We use the phrase still. It refers to the unsecured paper dollars issued by the Continental Congress. Soon it would be interchangeable with another bromide: "Not worth the paper it's printed on." From 1775 to the end of the Revolution in 1783, the income of the Congress, valued in hard-thai is to say coined or specie- money came to roughly $65.9 million. Not much when you consider that the army which fought at Bunker Hill cost $275,000 a month to keep. Of that, soldiers and sailors salaries alone, counting post war pensions, totaled $70 million. As modest a sum as it was, every dollar was as hard to come by as footwear at Valley Forge.' * * * WHEN CONGRESS assumed control of the war in 1775 the delegates found their government had no assets. There was no way to pay the bills. ·. Someone suggested printing paper money. Bills of credit they were called. Tax ·revenues were to provide enough hard cash to redeem the issue. Unfortunately, Congress didn't have much power to tax. That news didn't stop the presses. They seemed to run on the principle of perpetual motion. They were the chief resource of the war effort. By the end of 1779 the Congress had issued J242 million Continentals. The states printed up ?212 million of their own paper, with Virginia accounting for about half the blizzard. Inflation raged. One gold dollar was soon worth 50 to 100 paper bills. In March 1780, the government repudiated its currency, aggreeing to redeem $40. in paper for one dollar in gold. But the new paper sank to 135 to 1, then to 500 to 1, finally to 900 to 1. It cost more to print the paper than it was worth.. At one point Congress' credit was so bad the ladies of Philadelphia were able to raise more supplies fof the army than the beggar government. When there was begging to be done the bit usually was put on the King of France, Louis XV. King Louis didn't care too much for the English. He wasn't particularly solicitous of their American cousins either. What interested him was trade, and the folks ac- Robert Morris Revolutionary Financier ross the channel had controlled too many lucrative markets for too long. A little liberation of the America merchant should pay some dividend, his advis-. ors counseled. At worst the war would erode both English and American positions in the marketplace. At first the aid, much of it munitions, was semi-secret. After an alliance was signed in 1778, the King openly funneled not only an army and a navy but $9.3 million in loans and subsidies to the rebels. Spain was good for another $650,000. Foreign loans totaled $11.6 million by 1783. , Louis probably deserves the.title Financier of the Revolution. But it went to Robert Morris, a wealthy Philadelphia exporter and importer who became keeper of the government's purse as chairman of the' Committee of Commerce and later Superintendent of Finance. * * * MORRIS WAS an opportunist. Of the $2 million worth of expenditures the committee made by 1777, about one-quarter was paid to his own company. There were no conflict of interest laws in those days and his fellow congressmen didn't hold it against him. Nor did they object to Morris and other merchants shipping private goods on public vessels. In fairness, Morris performed valuable service. In 1781, for example, he sustituted his personal credit for the nation's by issuing his own currency. Washington never forgot that in 1776, as his army licked its wounds in New Jersey, Morris somehow found $410 in Spanish coin and spare change to pay spies and 550,000 in paper to cover recruitment bounties. In 1781, as the army moVed toward Yorktown, Morris secured $20,000 in hard money to help finance the march and pay the troops. It was borrowed from the French, the states and his pocket. When it was disbursed, Maj. William Popham thought the day would be "famous in the annals of history for being the first time in which the troops of the United States received one month's pay in specie." That was the sum Washington promised those who would fight Cornwallis. Merchants in general did well in the war trade and they were anxious tc protect their business. They purchased bonds, accepted the depreciated dollars as long as -they could, and were otherwise useful. New England merchants loaned the army 30,000 pounds in coin for supplies in August 1780. A year later Baltimore traders bought uniforms for Lafayette's troops and Virginia merchants offered to pay for their weapons. ' Of course, Lafayette was protecting Maryland and Virginia from Cornwallis at the time. Morris' most important contributions came after Yorktown. Returning to Congress after a period in private business, he began in July 1781 to restore the public credit through the use of private credit and the payment of debts. He reorganized the Treasury, established a national bank, augmented the collection of revenues and streamlined methods of expenditure. Morris was one of the richest men of his time in America, but he eventually lost everything in land speculation. He spent three years of his old age in debtors' prison. Until Morris' reforms, financing had been more imaginative but less effective. A popular practice was seizure of Loyalist property for sale at auction. Lotteries were tried but yielded a pittance. Bonds, about $11.5 million worth, were sold to the rich but interest and redemption was often in Continentals. * * * REQUISITIONS WERE made on state governments which complied if the spirit moved them. It moved them only to the amount of about $5.7 million. Once, John Jay and Henry Laurens were sent abroad to seek loans in Madrid and The Netherlands. Notes worth $200,000 were issued in expectation of their success before Laurens ever sailed and while Jay was still at sea. As it was, Laurens was captured and taken to London. Jay reached Spain.-which loaned money to America. Washington found one effective medium of exchange, the certificate of impress- ment. Armed soldiers were sent to farms and to merchants to offer the negotiable certificates in exchange for sustenance and supplies. Few farmers and merchants refused. From 1779 until war's end the total value in hard currency of the interest- bearing certificates was $16.7 million. None of the nation'srevenue measures was ever sufficient. To save money Congress was forced to discharge some soli- ders in early 1780 before their enlistments were up. Washington was reduced to 60 regiments and 25,000 men. The French General Jean Comte de Rochambeau wrote home that year: "Send us ships, troops and money but do not depend on these people nor upon their means." Premiere Major Scientific Finding Recorded by Viking (C) Vorfc Time* Service NEW YORK - The first major scientific finding from the Viking I spacecraft orbiting Mars was new evidence that the thin Martian atmosphere is apparently rich in the inert gas called argon. To scientists who have worked more than 10 years to develop instruments for the 51 billion pair of Viking missions around and onto Mars, this was an exciting but worrisome piece of news. Too much argon could harm the operations of a key instrument aboard the lan- ders of both Viking 1, now scheduled to land on Mars next Tuesday, and its sister ship, Viking 2, which is approaching the planet. The highly miniaturized instrument is part of Viking's search for evidence that life could have existed once on Mars, exists now or could exist in the future. The device contains both a gas chromatograph for separating chemical compounds and a mass spectromenter for identifying them, and so it is called a GCMS for the initials of the two components. . Its job is to seek out carbon-containing ' organic compounds. These could have ,: been made by present or past Martian or- · ganisms, or showered on to the surface by meteorites. They could even have been fored on the surface by the same, little understood processes, that formed the organic compounds deteced by radio astronomers in gas clouds deep in interstellar space. * * * THE ORGANIC analysis experiments, contained in boxes of less than one cubic foot, on each of the Vikings, cost $45 million. They are part of a complex of instruments designed to work together to study biological and non-biological conditions on Mars. An adjoining biological laboratory is set up to detect evidence of tiny organisms living on Mars now. In addition, the lander carries a host of instrumefffffor a variety of scientific tests. Last week, the thin, intense, Austrian- born chief developer of the GCMS, Dr. Klaus Biemann of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that the argon evidence "puts us even more on notice to watch out." Biemann has been hearing about the possibility of a large proportion of argon in the Martian atmosphere even since a pump in a Russian »pass spectrometer, being carried toward the surfacd of the planet by the Mars 6 craft in March 1974. failed to work properly. Russian scientists concluded that the problem was caused by Argon, a gas that is reluctant to form any chemical compounds. The titanium metal in the pump apparently could not handle the argon fast enough. Argon, a colorless, odorless gas, is the third most abundant constituent of earth's air; sea-level air is about 1 per cent argon. Nitrogen and oxygen are more abundant. Because it does not react readily with other chemicals, argon has numerous industrial and commercial applications such as in neon and fluorescent lamps. Last year, not long before the Vikings were launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on their year-long voyages to Mars, Viking scientists and project leaders decided because of the argon problem, to switch the strategy for operating the GCMS on the Martian surface. Earlier, they wanted to use the device to study the makeup of the Martian atmosphere first, before using the instrument to analyze soil samples for evidence of organic compounds. formation by crushing a' tiny sample of Martian soil and heating it in several steps in a tiny oven to drive off less and less volatile compounds. These pass through the gas chromatograph and then are bombarded with electrons to give them a positive charge. Ma'gnets focus them in a beam, and the gases are pumped through a counter that records a kind of "fingerprint" for each compound. I BUT MOM* YOU SAlFl { I COULP TAkt-: ANY- I I THING r WAWTEP | J ALONG TO PLAY WITH THE HOME OF DIXKLE A GRADE-TRIPLE A TRIM MEATS * PRICES EFFECTIVE THROUCH TUESDAY JULY 20,1976! FIRST-OF-WEEK STAR VALUES!! 1 192-iB. $«%37 * CAUCUS 1 1! SAUSAGE BIG STAR'S, CUBED BUCKET STEAKS HOT DOGS PINTO BEANS FRUIT COCKTAIL MAXWELL HOUSE, INSTANT COFFEE · Quantity Rights Reserved! CABBAGE IN AN INTERVIEW, Diemann noted that this could still be done if measurements taken during the Viking entry by another mass-spectrometer or by an X-ray fluoresence experiment next to the GCMS on the lander point to a composition of less than 10 per cent argon. Biemann said that the findings from a temperature-mapping instrument indicated about 5 per cent argon in the landing site's atmosphere, although.the figure in the ultra-cold air above the Martian South Pole, now undergoing a six-month winter, might be 80 per cent. The GCMS is equipped with filter material designed to screen out the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide that are thought to make up most of the planet's atmosphere. That could allow up to 60 samplings of the air. · Because the Viking landers are equipped with a radioactive power source similar to those that have listed up to nearly seven years on the moon, scientists hope the craft will send useful data back to earth for many months and that there will be money enough to receive and analyze the information. The GCMS is designed to obtain its in- THERE'S A 300DWW TO RAISE EXTRA CASH FOR YOUR. VACATIOM....USTTWE FAMILY WANT APS IMIIE Gazette-Mail 348-4848 DELI-DEPT. STAR VALUES! NEW! LARGER SIZE... ... 32-Oz. Bottle * PEPSI COLA With Purchase of a 9-Piece CHICKEN BOX 2.89 CHICKEN! 2-32 Oz. Bottles PEPSI COLA With Purchase of 18-Piece CHICKEN BOX S 5.69 A 32-Oz. 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