Morris, Gouverneur(gəvərnēr`, –no͝or`), 1752–1816, American political leader and diplomat, b. Morrisania, N.Y. (now part of the Bronx); a grandson of Lewis MorrisMorris, Lewis,
1671–1746, American colonial official, first lord of the manor of Morrisania in New York. The son of Richard Morris (d. 1672; see Morris, family), he was born in that part of Westchester co. that is now part of the Bronx, New York City.
..... Click the link for more information. (1671–1746), he was born to wealth and influence. He studied law and was admitted (1771) to the bar. At the outbreak of the American Revolution he adopted the colonial cause (although several members of his family were Loyalists). A superb orator, eloquent writer, and fine literary stylist, he was a member (1775–77) of the provincial congress of New York, helped to draft the first state constitution, and served on the Council of Safety. Morris sat (1778–79) in the Continental Congress, where he was prominent in financial, military, and diplomatic affairs. In 1779 his book Observations on the American Revolution was published.
After failing to win reelection to the Congress Morris moved to Philadelphia and resumed his law practice. A series of newspaper articles on finance secured him the post of assistant to Robert MorrisMorris, Robert,
1734–1806, American merchant, known as the "financier of the American Revolution," and signer of the Declaration of Independence, b. Liverpool, England.
..... Click the link for more information. (no relative) in handling the finances of the new government (1781–85). In this position he planned the U.S. decimal coinage system. As a member of the U.S. Constitutional ConventionConstitutional Convention,
in U.S. history, the 1787 meeting in which the Constitution of the United States was drawn up. The Road to the Convention
The government adopted by the Thirteen Colonies in America (see Confederation, Articles of, and Continental
..... Click the link for more information. of 1787 Morris played an active role, defending a strong centralized government and a powerful executive, opposing concessions on slavery, and putting the Constitution into its final literary form. He remained, however, a champion of aristocracy who distrusted democratic rule.
In 1789 Moris went to France as a private business agent, remained in Europe, and was appointed (1792) U.S. minister to France. During the French Revolution his sympathies lay with the royalists; he even helped plan a scheme to rescue Louis XVI. His recall was requested in 1794, but he traveled for several years before returning to America in 1798. From 1800 to 1803, Morris, a Federalist, was a U.S. senator from New York. He then retired to his estate. He condemned the War of 1812, going so far as to recommend the severance of the federal union. Morris was a strong advocate of the Erie CanalErie Canal,
artificial waterway, c.360 mi (580 km) long; connecting New York City with the Great Lakes via the Hudson River. Locks were built to overcome the 571-ft (174-m) difference between the level of the river and that of Lake Erie.
..... Click the link for more information. and served as chairman (1810–13) of the canal commission.
See his Diary of the French Revolution (1939), edited by his great-granddaughter, Beatrix Cary Davenport; biographies by T. Roosevelt (1888, repr. 1972), D. Walther (tr. 1934), and R. Brookhiser (2003); M. M. Mintz, Gouverneur Morris and the American Revolution (1970).