PREPARED BY ANDREW McFARLAND DAVIS.
The Articles of the Silver Bank were published in full in Franklin’s General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America, Philadelphia, January, 1741, I. 11–16. The copy of which use is made here was procured, through the courtesy of our associate Mr. Wilberforce Eames, from the Lenox Library, the fortunate owner of a set of this magazine.
THE ARTICLES OF THE SILVER BANK.
Whereas the Silver and Gold, which formerly were our Medium of Exchange, have been exported to our Mother Country, in Payment for the Manufactures we have received from thence ; and for many Years our Affairs and Business, have been transacted with Bills of Credit in lieu thereof. And forasmuch as the Bills of Credit emitted by the Province of the Massachussetts-Bay, are grown scarce, by their Return into the publick Treasury, according to the Periods that have already arrived, and in a short Time the Remainder is by Law required to be brought in, and consumed to Ashes ; and whereas it seems very difficult, if not impracticable, so suddenly to procure Silver and Gold, sufficient for the Management of our Trade and Commerce.
Therefore, for Remedy in this Case, We the Subscribers have agreed on the following Articles, viz.
- I. That as soon as conveniently may be, there be emitted One hundred and twenty thousand pounds, in Bills, or Notes of Hand, of the following Denominations, viz. Ten pounds, Five pounds, Three pounds, Forty shilling, Twenty shilling, Fifteen shilling, Ten shilling, seven shilling and six penny, Five shilling, and Two. shilling and six penny, Bills, all to be redeemed and paid with coined Silver of Sterling Alloy, at twenty shillings per Ounce, or coined standard Gold at fourteen Pounds fifteen shillings per Ounce, both Troy Weight, by the last of December, Anno Domini 1755.
- II. The following Gentlemen, viz. Edward Hutchinson, Samuel Welles, James Bowdoin, Samuel Sewall, Hugh Hall, Josua Winslow, Andrew Oliver, Esqrs; Edmund Quincy, Thomas Oxnard, and James Bouteneau, Merchants, shall be the Directors or Committee, to manage the Affairs of the Subscribers to this Scheme; which Directors shall sign the Bills or Notes, and become obliged to the Possessors of them; the Tenor of which Bills to be as follows.
Bill for Forty shillings.
We jointly and severally promise to pay, to Isaac Winslow, Merchant, or Order, in Boston, two Ounces of Silver, sterling Alloy, or two penny Weight seventeen Grains of standard Gold, both coin’d and Troy Weight, by the 31st December 1755, Value receiv’d, Boston, New-England. August 1. 1740
- III. To enable the Directors or Signers of the Bills to redeem or pay them as before, and defray the incident Charges; every Subscriber or Undertaker for One thousand pounds, shall annually during the space of Fifteen Years, from December 31st 1740, pay to the said Directors, Eighty eight Ounces and an half of Silver, or Six Ounces of Gold, both of the Quality respectively, and weight as aforesaid; and shall execute fifteen Bonds accordingly; and every Undertaker for a less or greater Sum, shall be obliged to pay in Proportion; the Bonds to be made payable in each Year, by the 31st Day of December. Nevertheless, it is understood, and agreed, that the said Directors may covenant with, and shall accordingly execute Instruments to the Undertakers, That inasmuch as the said Directors will have great Occasion for Silver or Gold one Month sooner annually, than the Undertakers are obliged by the aforesaid Bonds to pay them, They the said Directors will accept of sixty seven Ounces and an half of Silver, or four Ounces eleven penny weight and thirteen grains of Gold, both of the respective Quality and Weight aforesaid, from the Undertaker of One thousand pounds, if he shall pay them annually by the 30th of November, and the Directors may agree with the Subscriber or Undertaker for a lesser or greater Sum to pay in the same proportion.
- IV. The Security to be given by the Undertakers, or Subscribers and Borrowers, shall be made to all the aforesaid Directors or Signers of the Bills or Notes, except what is given by any of the Directros [sic], which shall be made to the Remainder of the Directors. The Security both from Undertakers and Borrowers to be either Real or Personal, to the Acceptance of the Directors: If it be Personal, there shall be two sufficient Sureties with the Undertaker or Borrower, all jointly and severally: If the Security be Real, it shall be Land, worth, at least, double the Sum it is mortgaged for, exclusive of all Buildings, and other Things, being and growing upon it; and the Mortgage as a collateral Security for the Payment and Discharge of those fifteen Bonds: If the Mortgager be a Borrower of Silver or Gold, herein after mentioned to be let out, he shall give his personal Bond for the same, and his Mortgage as a collateral Security for discharge of his bond.
- V. Every Subscriber or Undertaker shall become obliged to the aforesaid Directors, to indemnify and save them harmless, as to any Act or Acts of Government they may be obliged to comply with, or as to any Damage they may sustain in redeeming, or paying the said Notes or Bills to be emitted, or in letting out the Silver or Gold as herein after directed, or by any Deficiency, or other Neglect of the Company, or either of them; the said Damages or Deficiencies to be paid, or made up, in proportion to each ones’ Subscription, including the Directors as Subscribers.
- VI. Whereas, at, and after the Expiration of the first of the aforementioned fifteen Years, there will be considerable Sums of Silver and Gold in the Hands of the Directors, it is agreed and covenanted, that the said Directors, may let or hire out the said Silver or Gold to such Inhabitants of this Province as shall desire the same; for the space of thirteen Calendar Months, and no longer at one Time, the Borrower giving full and undoubted Security for the Payment of it within that Term, with Interest, at the Rate of six per Cent, per Annum: Nevertheless it is agreed and concluded, that if the said Directors shall judge that they shall have Occasion for said Money sooner than the said Bond specifies, they may agree to give any proper Instrument to the Borrower to secure and assure him, that upon paying the Sum borrowed, with Interest at the Rate of four per Cent, per Annum, so much sooner than by Bond he is obliged, as the Directors Occasions require, and the Instrument they give the Borrower specifies, his Bond shall be delivered up to be cancelled.
- VII. The Directors shall keep fair Accompts of their Doings in the Service of the Company; and the Company shall meet annually on the second Tuesday in January, at some suitable Place in the Town of Boston, of which they shall have convenient Warning from the Directors; if in Boston, or within four Miles; when and where they shall lay before the Company the State of the Company’s Affairs from Year to Year; and at the Expiration of the aforesaid Term of Fifteen Years, shall deliver and pay to each Subscriber or Undertaker, his Executors or Administrators, his proportionable Part of all the nete Profits of the aforesaid Emission of Notes, and of their letting or hiring out the Silver or Gold aforesaid, or any other way arising from the Company’s Interest as aforesaid.
- VIII. No Person shall be chosen a Director unless he subscribes or undertakes, at least, for One thousand pounds ; and whosoever is so chosen, shall before he enter on the Service, covenant and agree, that in Case of his Death, or that another is chosen in his Stead, he the said Director, his Heirs, Executors or Administrators, will resign to the Company, or their Order, every Thing in his Hands belonging to the Company, as soon as may be, not exceeding one Month after his Death or Removal: And it is hereby agreed, and to be understood, that the Company may at any annual Meeting in January during the first fourteen Years of the Term of fifteen Years aforesaid, if they shall find it needful, remove one or more of the Directors, and chuse one, or more, new Directors, in the Room, or stead, of one or more who were Directors before; the Company giving sufficient Security to indemnify the deceased, or removed Director, or Directors, his or their Heirs, Executors and Administrators, from all Damages which may arise from what he or they may have done in the Service, or at the Desire of the Company.
- IX. No Person shall subscribe or undertake for less than Five hundred pounds, nor more than Eight thousand pounds ; and every Subscriber for Five hundred pounds shall have one Vote, and all the other Subscribers shall vote in Proportion; but it is to be understood, that no Person who by Purchase, Inheritance, or otherwise, may be Owner of more than Eight thousand pounds, shall have more than sixteen Votes, how great soever his Interest may be.
- X. Whereas we are very apprehensive that the Receiving and Passing the Bills of the neighbouring Governments, which have not any good Foundation to secure their Value, promiscuously and indifferently with these, will greatly prejudice this Province, and very much tend to depreciate these Bills, tho’ on the most sure Bottom; We the Subscribers therefore agree and promise, that we will neither directly nor indirectly, by ourselves, nor any for us, receive any Bills that shall be emitted hereafter by the neighbouring Governments, unless redeemable by Silver and Gold as aforesaid, or that have some solid and equivalent Fund. And as to Bills heretofore emitted, we agree and promise that we will receive and pass them, with such Allowance or Discount, as this Company shall agree upon by major Vote from time to time, at two Meetings yearly, the one in the Month of January, and the other in the Month of July; and that we will wholly refuse in all Trade and Business, and for all Debts due, the Notes that may be emitted by the Subscribers to the Bank commonly called The Land Bank, or any other Scheme of the like Nature: And that we will do every Thing, as much as in us lies, to make this Emission a common Currency, and prevent these Bills being hoarded up, or depreciated.
- XI. Every Subscriber or Undertaker shall be obliged, at the Desire or Demand of the Company, or Directors, to give such further and better Security as they shall judge needful.
- XII. The Directors may call a Meeting of the Company at any Time when they shall judge it needful, giving due Notice thereof, and shall be obliged to call a Meeting at any other Time when the Undertakers of one Quarter Part of the Sum emitted by the Company shall desire it, by Writing under their Hands, signifying the Occasion of their Desire: And it is agreed and understood, that in every Meeting of the Company, before they shall be capable of acting, there shall be present, either in Person, or by Proxy, in Writing, under the Hands of the Undertakers, so many as shall make one third Part of the Sum originally subscribed for.
- XIII. The Directors shall be allowed and paid Fifty Pounds each Man per Annum for their Service, besides their Allowance for signing the Bills, which shall be Twenty shillings to each Director for every thousand Bills he shall sign, and the Indorser, for signing, in the same Proportion; and the said Directors shall be allowed a Clerk or Clerks, and other Officers, as shall be judged needful, who shall be paid by the Company.
- XIV. The Directors shall from time to time take Care that every Undertaker, Subscriber and Borrower, fully comply with his Obligation, and on Failure shall forthwith put his Bond, or other Obligation in Suit.
- XV. The Company may at their annual Meeting in January make such By-Orders and Rules, as they shall judge for the Benefit of the Company; and at any other Meeting, provided Notice be given of the Rule or Order desired, in the Warning for the Meeting; always provided that no such Rules or Orders shall be any Way inconsistent with any Article or Articles in this Scheme, which are hereby declared to be fundamental and unalterable.
- XVI. The Directors shall let to hire no Silver or Gold belonging to the Company at any Time in the two last Years of the aforesaid Term of fifteen Years; and shall at the Expiration of the fifteen Years of said Term, pay to every Possessor or Proprietor of a Twenty shilling Bill or Note of the aforesaid Emission, one Ounce of coined Silver of Sterling Alloy, or thirty two Grains and an half of coined standard Gold; and to every other Possessor or Proprietor of a less or greater Sum in the same Species and Proportion at their Delivering the said Bills or Notes to them the Directors, upon which they shall be consumed to Ashes in the Presence of said Directors, and a Committee for that Purpose specially appointed by the Company.
- XVII. Every Subscriber or Undertaker shall have Liberty for the first thirteen Years, in Lieu of Silver or Gold, to pay, in Flax, Hemp, Iron, Copper, tanned Leather, or sail Duck; which Commodities shall be disposed of by the Directors for Silver or Gold Coin as aforesaid, the Directors taking two and half per Cent, for their Trouble, and upon the Expiration of the Term of Payment, taking Bond of such Subscribers for the Sums due, with Interest, in the same Manner as of other Borrowers; and as soon as the Commodities are converted into Silver or Gold, indorsing the nete Sums they fetch on the Bonds the Borrowers have given.
- XVIII. The Company may at any annual Meeting in January, release a Subscriber or Undertaker, his Executors or Administrators, at his or their Desire, on his or their bringing a Person to stand in his or their stead, and perform his or their Obligations.
- XIX. We further agree and promise, that we will receive in Trade and for Debts due (Specialties and express Contracts in Writing excepted) the Bills emitted on this Scheme, at the following Rates, in the several Terms and Periods hereafter mentioned, viz. For the first Year after their Emission, at the Rate of twenty eight shillings and four pence for an Ounce of Silver. For the second Year after their Emission, at the Rate of twenty seven shillings and nine pence. For the third Year, at the rate of twenty seven shillings and two pence. For the fourth Year, at the Rate of twenty six shillings and seven pence. And in the fifth Year at twenty six shillings, In the sixth Year, at twenty five shillings and five pence. In the seventh Year, at twenty four shillings and ten pence. In the eighth Year, at twenty four shillings and three pence. In the ninth Year, at twenty three shillings and eight pence. In the tenth Year, at twenty three shillings and one penny. In the eleventh Year, at twenty two shillings and six pence. In the twelfth Year, at twenty one shillings and eleven pence. In the thirteenth Year, at twenty one shillings and four pence. In the fourteenth Year, at twenty shillings and eight pence. And in the fifteenth Year, at the Rate of twenty shillings for an Ounce of Silver; and the Directors shall be and are hereby accordingly obliged to exchange and give in the common current Bills, to every Possessor of the above Notes, on Demand, so much as will purchase one Ounce of Silver for 28 s. and 4 d. in these Notes, for the first Year after their coming out, and so much as will purchase one Ounce of Silver for 27 s. and 9 d. in these Bills for the second Year, and in the same Manner during the whole fifteen Years abovesaid, according to the Scheme. And the Company shall be, and hereby are, obliged at all Times, on the Demand of the said Directors, to enable them thus to exchange the Bills, by supplying them with Bills of the common Currency, sufficient for the same, and shall execute Instruments accordingly.
- XX. And for the fully securing the Performance of the Obligations in the tenth and nineteenth Articles, we agree, that whoever shall take, or pass, any of the above Bills at any less Value, or any other Notes or Bills contrary to the Tenor of the said tenth Article, shall pay six per Cent, per Annum Interest in Silver at twenty shillings per Ounce to the Directors for the Use of the Company, for what Bills he takes out; and shall have no Benefit of any Profits to be divided to the Undertakers, and shall execute Instruments accordingly.