Museum logo

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 2015.02.0037
Object Name Letter
Date 1819
Title 1819 March 30 John Brown to Samuel Brown
Scope & Content Letter from John Brown (Frankfort, KY) to Samuel Brown (Philadelphia, PA). John discusses the financial assistance given by Samuel to his sons. Brown discusses the economic problems caused by the shortage of United States bank notes in circulation, including the effect on prices and the inability to pay court judgments, debts, or sending money to his sons. Brown writes of his upcoming trip to Ohio to sell property.

Brown comments on the recent United States Supreme Court decision about banking and insolvency laws involving the states and Dartmouth College. Brown discusses the admittance of Florida to the Union, and the territory west of the Mississippi. Brown discusses the health of Preston and his family.

[Transcription]

Frankfort 30th. March 1819

Dear Brother

I should have replied to your very acceptable & interesting letters of the 13th. & 24th: [illegible]. at an earlier day but was in the lower part of this State when they reached this place. I can never fully express my grateful acknowledgement to you for your kind attentions to my Boys & more especially for the seasonable pecuniary relief which you have lately so liberally advanced to them. It was my intention to have remitted to you by this mail the amt. paid to them, also for insurance on my House but cannot procure at this time as much as a ten Dollar Note of U.S. Bk. paper, as none have lately been issued by the Branches here which deal exclusively with local paper. But I intend to set out for the State of Ohio in the morning & unless greatly disappointed shall remit to you from thence.

The pecuniary distresses of this Country increase daily. Money of every kind has in a great measure disappeared - All the Banks making heavy calls & very few able to meet them, for 'tis found on experiment that there is not money enough in circulation to enable the Debtors to the Banks to pay calls of from 5 to 10 p.cent on their Notes. Most of the Bills drawn by way of anticipation have returned under protest & the Drawers have been unable to take them up except by giving accommodation paper. Those who have been engaged in shipping produce to N. Orleans will be greatly injured as it sells there below the price given for it here. Flour which cost here $6.50 at latest accounts sells there at $3 to 4. Judgements [sic] have been rendered at the March terms of our Circuit Courts for more money than we have in circulation viz. in Shelby County for $95,000, Franklin upwards of $100,000 & in that proportion in other Counties, of course there must be a great sacrifice of Property, as I scarcely know a man who has $500 to spare for any purpose beyond paying his own debts. I have contracted no debts nor have I much to apprehend from my endorsements, but I find great difficulty in making sale of property, or collecting monies already due, & very much fear that it will not be possible for me to raise funds for our long projected Journey. Indeed I sometimes almost despair of being able out of all my property to provide the sums necessary to continue my Boys at College until they shall have Graduated, as real property in this State cannot be sold at any price. But I hope to find a more favorable state of things in Ohio & shall write to you from thence.

The Decisions of the Supreme Court of U.S. on the questions relative to the Banks, Insolvent laws of the State, & Dartmouth College have excited much attention in this quarter, & the first meets with general reprobation, those interested in this institution excepted. We are all greatly pleased with the acquisition of the Floridas which gives peace & security to our Southern Border. When we may think a further extension of our Territory west of the Mississippi necessary we know how to obtain it.

James Brown writes me under date of 21st [illegible]. that he proposes sailing for some of the Eastern Cities in May next, his presence on his plantation or even in the State being altogether unnecessary. His sugar crop amounted to 180 hhds [hogshead]. Only which he had not been able to see at 10 Cents owing to scarcity of money -

Tell your Dear Boy that I rejoice to hear that his Health is perfectly restored & that he is again able to attend to his school. I hope he will shortly write me another letter which shall be answered without delay.

Preston & family are well - the Girls improving very fast. His practice does not increase as fast as he expected there being very few sick in this quarter.

Margaretta is well & united in Love to you, to Susan & James with your aff. Brother

J. Brown

[Address Block]
31 25
Doctor Samuel Brown
MailPhiladelphia
People John Brown
Samuel Brown
James Brown
Preston W. Brown
James Percy Brown
Susan Brown Ingersoll
Search Terms Bank of the United States
Banking
Florida
Mississippi River
Ohio
Panic of 1819
Philadelphia, PA
Sugar