Historical Markers
Samuel Meredith Historical Marker
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Samuel Meredith

Poconos / Endless Mountains


Marker Location:
Intersection Pa. 371 and 670, Pleasant Mount

Dedication Date:
October 21, 1949

Behind the Marker

Philadelphia Mint
The Philadelphia Mint as it may have appeared in 1817, by Edwin Lamazure, 1920.
Today, American paper money is signed by both the Secretary of the Treasury and the Treasurer of the United States. The Secretary is a well-known and powerful figure, but the Treasurer is usually an obscure political appointee. This was not always the case. When the national government was launched in 1789, all federal expenditures amounted to only three million dollars, the state department consisted of only Thomas Jefferson and three clerks, and the treasurer was personally responsible for the receipt and safekeeping of the government revenues.

It is not surprising, then, that President Washington asked well-known Philadelphia merchant and financier Samuel Meredith to be the nation's first Treasurer. Meredith had loyally served the nation first as a soldier during the American Revolution, then by loaning it money, and finally by participating in several societies launched in the 1780s by leading Philadelphians to advance the nation's commerce and industry. Their writings and plans paved the way for the first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's ambitious, and highly controversial financial program of the 1790s.
Lithograph of Green Hill.
Green Hill, the seat of Samuel Meredith, near Philadelphia.

Born at Philadelphia in 1741, Samuel Meredith was the son of Reese Meredith, a merchant and friend of markerGeorge Washington, Like his father, Meredith was well-to-do and well-connected. He married into the influential Cadwalader family, and was the brother-in-law of markerGeorge Clymer, a prominent Pennsylvania politician who signed the Declaration of Independence and after the war became an important Federalist leader in the state. Appointed a major and lieutenant colonel of the Third Battalion of Associators in 1776, known as the "Silk Stocking" Battalion because its members came from leading Philadelphia families, Meredith fought bravely enough at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown to win promotion in 1777 to brigadier general of the Pennsylvania Militia. Resigning from the army in 1778, he served three terms in the Pennsylvania Assembly (1778-1783), and in 1786 was elected to the Confederation Congress.

In the mid-1780s Meredith joined the growing movement for a strong central government. Like other Federalists who believed in government by the elite and scorned democracy, Meredith thought that the right to vote should be limited to holders of significant property. He also supported a balance of power in which an independent governor or President and judiciary would hold in check a popularly chosen lower house.

Meredith made important friends within the Federalist Party as a member of societies formed in Philadelphia to promote agriculture, banking, and manufacturing. Through them he secured appointment as surveyor of the port of Philadelphia after his term in Congress expired. A year later, in 1789, Congress appointed him the first United States Treasurer under the new Federal Constitution.

During his tenure in that position, Meredith supported the economic proposals of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who defined the federalist agenda with his advocacy of a national bank, government support for manufactures, and the payment of interest at face value on the entire state and national debt by the federal government. (Hamilton did not, and in fact, could not afford immediately to pay the entire $70 million combined debt.) Meredith served as Treasurer of the United States from September 11, 1789, until December 1, 1801, when he resigned to avoid service under incoming Republican President Thomas Jefferson. Meredith lived comfortably at his country home, "Belmont Manor," near Pleasant Mount, Wayne County, where he died on February 10, 1817.
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