Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Hancock, John (1737-1793) to Joseph Clarke

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00987 Author/Creator: Hancock, John (1737-1793) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 9 March 1779 Pagination: 1 p. ; 24 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Hancock writes to Treasurer Clarke that he must deny his request for a loan, as the state is too burdened with debt. " ... the Situation of our publick Funds, & the large Calls for Money by Loans for the Service of the State, makes it impossible to obtain Loans for any other purposes."

Background Information: Hancock was a very wealthy man and major local creditor. As an individual, he advanced sterling in return for "worthless" paper money to finance the Revolution. As a result, he ...was owed large sums of money by private individuals, the state, and Congress. Since he was heavily invested in the depreciated paper money, he was left without money to loan until he could collect large sums owed to him.See More

Full Transcript: Boston March 9.th 1779

Sir,
Your favr. of 6.th Ins.t reach'd me on Sunday Eveng. and I should have been happy to have been able to obtain the Loan you ...requested, but the Situation of our publick Funds. & the large bills for money by Loans for the Service of the State, makes it impossible to obtain Loans for anyother purposes. The very large Sums such in the two Emissions of May & April has increas'd the difficulty of borrowing, and makes it impractible to comply with your request-

Whenever I may be Serviceable
to you, please freely to Command.
Sir
Your very hum Servt.
John Hancock

I return you the
note you Inclos'd me

Joseph Clarke Esq. Treasurer
See More

People: Hancock, John, 1737-1793
Clarke, Joseph, 1719-1792

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarFinanceEconomicsGovernment and Civics

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources