January 31, 2012
Today is the birthday of Gouverneur Morris, born in 1752. Besides being notable for his somewhat awesome first name, he’s also memorable for being a close friend of George Washington and one of his biggest supporters in Congress.
This statesman was originally from New York where he was born to a wealthy family on its estate, Morrisania, in what is today in the Bronx. From 1778 to 1779 Morris sat in the Continental Congress where he signed the Articles of Confederation and was one of the youngest and smartest members. Defeated for reelection, he moved to Pennsylvania where he practiced law and eventually re-entered public life as the principal assistant to the U.S. superintendent of finance.
At the Constitutional Convention he spoke more than any other delegates, giving 173 speeches. Additionally, he drafted the U.S. Constitution. Throughout his life Morris remained pro national government and pro aristocracy. From 1790 to 1791 he lived in London, working out diplomatic kinks between the United States and England, and then served as Thomas Jefferson’s replacement as minister to France for two years. He served in the Senate from 1800 to 1803 and finally married at age 57 after a lifetime of dalliances that he sometimes recorded in his journal. Morris would die at his family estate in 1816 at age 64.