Gouverneur Morris – By Theodore Roosevelt

Gouverneur MorrisGouverneur Morris is a Founding Father who did much for this country but is practically forgotten today. Morris was raised in New York. In 1775, he was elected to the New York Providential Congress. He helped move New York from a colony to an independent state. However, Morris advocacy for independence brought him into conflict with his family. After the battle of Long Island, his mother gave the British full use of their property.

In 1778, Morris was elected to the Continental Congress. In the Continental Congress, he signed the Article of Confederation. However, his strong support for a strong central government was not appreciated and he was voted out of office in 1779. Morris then moved to Philadelphia.

While living in Philadelphia, his country once again called upon him into service. Morris served as the assistant superintendent of finance from 1781-1785. It was in this position that he first proposed that the United States establish its currency under our system of dollars and cents rather than follow the British system of money.

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In 1787, Morris was a part of the Constitutional Convention as a member of the Pennsylvania delegation. Morris was the most active member of the Constitutional Convention giving a total of 173 speeches. He was a strong supporter of Madison vision of a strong central government. In one of his speeches, he argued that if you “give the votes to people who have no property, [] they will sell them to the rich.”

He also served on the committee of five which drafted the final language of the Constitution. Many attribute Morris as the author of the Preamble.

In 1789, Morris went to France for business. While overseas, Washington appointed him as minister to France. When the French Revolution started, all other foreign dignitaries ran for their lives fearing that they would die in the bloody revolution. Morris however, chose to stay and serve his country. What is interesting is that Thomas Paine ended up being in Paris during the Revolution and ended up being thrown into prison. Paine asked Morris to lie to the French claiming that he was an American. However, Morris refused to lie. Morris correctly understood that Paine was not in danger of the guillotine and Paine was eventually released.

While Washington never had a problem with the service of Morris as the French minister, Washington was forced to replace Morris. There was a particular troubling Frenchman who Washington needed to recall. Washington asked the French to recall the Frenchman. They replaced the Frenchman but also insisted that Washington also replaced Morris.

After serving as the French minister, Morris enjoyed traveling around Europe occasionally serving his country with a problem that would arise. After 10 years, Morris returned to New York. Shortly after his returned, he was appointed as a United States Senator for New York for the remainder of a 3-year Senate term.

Morris was a strong Federalist. However, there were some areas where he bucked his party. Morris did not like the presidency of Adams and asked Washington to come back and serve as president. However, Washington died shortly after the letter was sent. Morris worked very closely with Hamilton in helping to ensure that Jefferson became president over Burr since Jefferson was the better of the two evils in Morris’ mind.

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While the Federalists were opposed to the Louisiana Territory purchase, Morris was a very strong advocate. Morris was afraid that Napoleon would come to America and build a huge stronghold in New Orleans and he wanted Jefferson to declare war and take Louisiana away from the French. When he heard that Napoleon was willing to sell, he threw his support behind the purchase.

The Jefferson Democrats ended up winning the state of New York and so when Morris term came to an end, he was not reelected to his position as New York Senator. Morris new project was to head up the commission to build the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal was his idea and he worked diligently for many years to get the project started.

Morris ended up marrying very late in life. Morris married Anne Randolph at age 56. Anne was 35 at the time they were married. They had one child.

Morris liked the Federal government that he helped establish. He understood that there were flaws, but he likened the adopting a republican form of government to a man taking a wife, “for better or worse, but, what few men do with their wives, knowing all its bad qualities.”

That being said, Morris became very frustrated with the presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. He felt that these Virginians were destroying the North with their partisan politics. As such, he was a very vocal voice for Northern succession. In the last few years of his life, he actively was trying to destroy the Union that he had so diligently helped build.

This particular book was written by a very famous man who most Americans do not realize wrote many books, Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt wrote this book in 1898, shortly before taking the office of New York Governor and right after his service to his country with his Rough Riders.

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