Gouverneur Morris 


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Gouverneur MorrisMorris, GOUVERNEUR, lawyer; born in Morrisania, New York, Jan. 31, 1752; graduated at King's College (now Columbia University) in 1768; admitted to the bar in 1771, and soon acquired great reputation as a lawyer. One of the committee that drafted the constitution of the State of New York, a member of Congress from 1777 to 1780, and one of the most useful of committeemen in that body, he gained much political influence. In 1779 he published a pamphlet containing Observations on the American Revolution. In 1781 he was the assistant of Robert Morris, the superintendent of finance. After living in Philadelphia six years, he purchased (1786) the estate of Morrisania from his brother, and made it his residence afterwards. Prominent in the convention that framed the national Constitution, he put that instrument into the literary shape in which it was adopted. In 1791 he was sent to London as private agent of the United States, and from 1792 to 1794 was American minister to France. He had seen many of the phases of the French Revolution, and with a tantalizing coolness had pursued Washington's policy of neutrality towards France and England. This course offended the ardent French republicans, and when making out the letters recalling Genet, the committee of public safety, in which Robespierre and his associates were predominant, solicited the recall of Morris. For reasons of policy the President complied, but accompanied the letter of recall with a private one, expressing his satisfaction with Morris's diplomatic conduct. This letter, sent by a British vessel, fell into the hands of the French government, and greatly increased the suspicion with which the American administration was regarded. To allay that suspicion, Washington sent Monroe, an avowed friend of the French Revolutionists, as Morris's successor. Mr. Morris afterwards traveled in Europe, and in 1798 returned to the United States. In 1800 he was chosen United States Senator. He was one of the early advocates of the construction of the Erie Canal, and chairman of the canal commission from 1810 until his death in Morrisania, N. Y., Nov. 6, 1816.



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