"Money is a good soldier": Financing the Revolution

Home Education Unit Plans Economics through the Long History of America’s First Bank "Money is a good soldier": Financing the Revolution

"Money is a good soldier": Financing the Revolution

During the Revolutionary War, the newly created American government not only lacked a constitution but the whole country lacked a bank.  War is an expensive undertaking, and some of the prominent Founding Fathers, including the controversial financier Robert Morris, determined that Washington’s army (and the Revolutionary effort in general) could benefit from the services of a bank, leading to the creation of the Bank of North America.  This bank, due to the fact that a large portion of its original shares were held by the fledgling government, was briefly the de facto national bank of the United States, but shortly thereafter continued its existence in private hands.

Students, particularly those who need to complete a Document Based Question, or those students looking for a research paper topic related to the Revolutionary War, or early economic policies of the United States, will be interested in these documents.  They have been compiled in order to allow critical analysis of many formative historic, government, and economic questions.

Essential Questions

How can the story of another American, past or present, influence your life?
What role does analysis have in historical construction?



The students will be able to:

  • infer the relationship between money and warfare by answering DBQ's.
  • evaluate the contribution of the Bank of North America towards the Revolutionary War by synthesizing multiple sources in order to form an opinion.

This lesson plan fulfills Economic Standards as well as History ones detailed in the Unit Plan.

Big Ideas

  • Economic decision-making by entities and individuals impact others locally, regionally and around the globe.


  • Government actions, the forces of nature, and international events are also market factors that can alter supply and demand and, therefore, price.
  • A government's fiscal policy and monetary policy also influence the market in a variety of ways. 
  • A nation's overall economic success are determined by the interaction of the specific economic decisions made by all individuals, households, firms, government agencies, and other actors within a market.


  • Analyze the impact of a variety of changes in national fiscal and monetary policies on the market.

Other Materials

Primary Source

From the Bank of North America Collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

PDF copy of the Bank of North America's The Director's Book of Letters &c, 1780

Document Based Question

Financing the Revolution, Document Based Question Sources

Suggested Instructional Procedures

  1. Teachers are encouraged to distribute the Document Based Question and the PDF of correspondence electronically to students.
  2. There are 7 sources in this DBQ:
    1. A letter from George Washington to Robert Morris concerning war supplies.
    2. Congressional proposition for the establishment of the Bank of North America, demonstrating the connection between the bank and the war.
    3. The Order of Battle for Yorktown, showing the scale of the war.
    4. A list of items carried by soldiers, demonstrating how much gear each solider needed.
    5. The ordinance of incorporation for the Bank of North America.
    6. A book of transcribed letters, relevant to the bank's revolutionary activities.
    7. A summary of the early bank account of the U.S. government.
  3. These documents can then be used to answer the question:“Evaluate the role of the Bank of North America during the American Revolution”
  4. Students may then type or write their responses, perferably quoting the specific sources themselves in order to synthesize primary source information into an argument, like real historians!

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