Letter to the Editor: History Check

Many thanks to Jonathan A. Salit for his letter to the editor, “STR Operator Reality,” which ran in the Sept. 29 issue of the Peninsula Pulse. My BA in History diploma and the three dozen volumes on colonial America and the early U.S. started shaking when I read the second paragraph linking STRs, the founding of this great country and George Washington’s possible lodgings during (I assume) the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. I set myself the task of finding out where indeed George Washington stayed from May 12, 1787 to at least Sept. 17, 1787. Four months would have made him and the other delegates long-term renters – they weren’t exactly on vacation, which were not really a thing then.

It turns out that while George Washington planned to stay with the rest of the Virginia delegation at Mrs. Mary House’s boarding house, he was “scooped up by Robert Morris, a Convention delegate and one of the country’s richest men.” (“Decision in Philadelphia – The Constitutional Convention of 1787,” page 74). Other volumes verify the fact of Washington lodgings, in addition to a lovely website on the history of Philadelphia run by the National Parks Service.

Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance, and George Washington knew each other from early revolutionary years following the Second Continental Congress and corresponded frequently during those years. (“Alexander Hamilton: A Life”). 

I have not completely read Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations,” and I do not know what he considered “capitalism at its purest.” However, for many centuries prior to the 1776 publication of the book, European nations practiced a very exploitative manner of capitalism, displacing local inhabitants and commerce (which was not recognized as such), and critically, was backed by the power of European nations. Smith argues for capitalism that is not a result of government interference (Wisconsin Act 59), but of true competition which benefits the whole of society.

Cathy Ward

Ellison Bay, Wisconsin