James Monroe Reclaims Money Owed Him By Early Jewish Businessman – and Haymn Salomon Partner – Jacob Mordecai

A letter from Edward Carrington to Monroe, docketed by the future President, showing the link between Jewish businessmen and our founders

Jacob Mordecai, born in Philadelphia, was the son of Moses and Elizabeth Whitlock Mordecai. He served as a clerk under Col. David Franks during the Revolution; afterwards he resided for a while in New York, where in 1784 he formed a partnership with Haym Salomon. They maintained an auction house at the...

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James Monroe Reclaims Money Owed Him By Early Jewish Businessman – and Haymn Salomon Partner – Jacob Mordecai

A letter from Edward Carrington to Monroe, docketed by the future President, showing the link between Jewish businessmen and our founders

Jacob Mordecai, born in Philadelphia, was the son of Moses and Elizabeth Whitlock Mordecai. He served as a clerk under Col. David Franks during the Revolution; afterwards he resided for a while in New York, where in 1784 he formed a partnership with Haym Salomon. They maintained an auction house at the corner of Wall and Pearl streets. Mordecai carried on the business at 22 Wall Street after Salomon’s death in 1785, until Mordecai himself went bankrupt in the winter of 1786.

James Monroe wrote a promissory note that said his uncle Joseph Jones would pay the amount of the note ($530). Alexander Hamilton signed the note as security. Monroe then gave the note to Mordecai to convert to cash. When Mordecai went bankrupt and was unable to pay the full amount of the note, Monroe was left in an uncomfortable position.

In February, Monroe wrote to James Madison. “The day before I left New York I experienc’d an unfortunate disaster, particularly upon that occasion. I had drawn a bill on mr. Jones endors’d by Colo. Hamilton for 530. dolrs. & committed it to a broker mr. Mordicai to negotiate for me. He was to have furnish’d the money the day appointed for me to leave the city. On that day he fail’d, having previously recd. & dispos’d of my money. He advanc’d me 90£ however of that currency & assur’d me he wod. certainly indemnify me altogether. I hear from Carrington he hath made a return of my debt & that he will be able to pay a considerable part of it & perhaps the whole.”

Edward Carrington was a soldier and statesman from Virginia. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Continental Army, serving as quartermaster to General Nathanael Greene’s southern campaign. He commanded artillery at the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill and the Siege of Yorktown. He was an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati. He later served as foreman of the jury when Aaron Burr was tried for treason in 1807. In 1787, he was involved in liquidating the holdings of Mordecai and the business he founded with Salomon.

Autograph letter signed Edward Carrington, New York, June 13, 1787, to “Col. James Monroe,” with the docket in Monroe’s hand. “The eleventh of next month is appointed for the distribution of Mr. Mordecai’s effects. He has made return of your debt, the amount as well as I recollect one hundred and ten pounds. The assignee in whose hands the list of debts is being out of town, I cannot have recourse to it for greater certainty. It will however be necessary that you make allotment of your debt and make affidavit for the justness of it, to [entitle] you to a dividend, as Mr. Mordecai’s return only presumptively places it on the list. Will be good enough to do this and forward it immediately to me? It is not supposed that his effects will than 7 in the pound.” The letter is docketed in Monroe’s hand.

Plus we see that even though Mordecai was going bankrupt, he was still going to see to it that Monroe received the full amount owed to him.

Our gratitude to the scholars at the Papers of James Monroe at the College of William and Mary for their research assistance.

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