PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK COLLECTOR
"A very intimate friend of mine Col. Kirkbride, has a Bond of Mr. Richd. Penn for about £1000... My desire to serve him on any occasion induces me to mention this circumstance to you—I believe it is not regularly within the line of business done in the Bank—but as he can deposit real security to a great deal more amount, it would give me much pleasure to be the means of promoting his convenience—I intended waiting on you this Evening on this occasion, but as I cannot I must defer it until the morning."
During Sir William Howe’s invasion of 1777, Paine was forced to flee Philadelphia, and he sought refuge at the Bucks County home of his close friend, Joseph Kirkbride. In the following decade, when Paine found himself in dire financial circumstances, he once again took up residence with Kirkbride, who had moved to Bordentown after the British had burned his Bucks County farm. Paine later bought a plot of land nearby, and Kirkbride remained a close friend and confidant until the latter’s death in 1803.
Paine was an important supporter of the Bank of North America, created by Robert Morris during the last years of the Revolution. Thomas Willing, the letter’s recipient, was a mayor of Philadelphia, a member of Pennsylvania’s provincial assembly, a justice of the state’s Supreme Court, and a member of the Second Continental Congress. He was elected first president of the Bank of North America, which was the first national bank, though under the limited powers of the Articles of Confederation. During the bitter political struggle over the bank’s recharter, Paine stood by Willing against the opposition of many old artisan allies. After ratification of the Constitution, in 1791 Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton formed the First Bank of the United States, which Willing then presided over. Kirkbride seems to be handicapped, in Paine’s telling, by possession of a bond from Richard Penn, the Loyalist lieutenant governor who was then living in London. Financial obligations with American Loyalists were in an ambiguous state after the Treaty of Paris because of disputes over two key provisions therein: the clause requiring the British to compensate for slaves who ran away to British lines, and the clause requiring states to compensate for lands and properties confiscated from Loyalists.
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