Description[Robert Morris] Pennsylvania Population Company Stock Certificate. One page, 13.25" x 8.25", n.p. [Philadelphia], February 6, 1793, signed by John W. Nicholson, the comptroller general of Pennsylvania from 1782 to 1794. In 1792, Nicholson used his position and connections to negotiate the purchase of a 202,000 acre tract of land from the government. With other investors, including Aaron Burr, Robert Morris, and James Wilson, Nicholson formed the Pennsylvania Population Company as a cover for their monopoly of land in the Erie triangle.
Many of the stock certificates issued by the Pennsylvania Population Company were later found to be phony. This particular certificate is made out to Declaration Signer Robert Morris, known to be one of the company's major investors. It reads: "It is hereby certified by the President and Managers of the Pennsylvania Population Company, that Robert Morris is entitled to one Share of Stock in the said Company, Numbered Eight hundred & Fifty two, Transferable in the presence of the Treasurer by the said Robert Morris, or his Attorney; subject nevertheless to the payments due or payable thereupon, according to the terms of the Plan of the Association." Signed "J. W. Nicholson" as president. Docketed on verso: "Transferred to John Nicholson, January 24, 1785."
Robert Morris Jr. was an American merchant and signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. Later in life, Morris was heavily involved in unsuccessful land speculations such as this one. Land values fell before the Pennsylvania Population Company could mount a program to sell its tracts. Nicholson was impeached in 1794 for diversion of state funds and resigned his position as comptroller general. Morris was arrested and imprisoned for debt in Philadelphia 1798-1801). Nicholson landed in debtor's prison in 1799. From prison, he then sued Morris. Moderate uneven toning; water stains at lower left; small tear at extreme upper right.
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