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Gouverneur Morris

diplomat , Senator

Gouverneur Morris was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a native of New York City who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. Morris was also an author of large sections of the Constitution of the United States and one of its signers.


His first name came from his mother, whose maiden name was Sarah Gouverneur from a Huguenot family that had first moved to Holland then to New Amsterdam. According to Abigail Adams, it was pronounced "governeer."


Morris enrolled in 1764, at age 12, at King's College, now Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City. He graduated in 1768 and received a Master's degree in 1771.


On May 8, 1775, Morris was elected to represent his family estate in southern Westchester County, in the New York Provincial Congress. As a member of the congress, he, along with most of his fellow delegates, concentrated on turning the colony into an independent state

Morris was appointed as a delegate to the Continental Congress, and took his seat in Congress on 28 January 1778. He was immediately selected to a committee in charge of coordinating reforms of the military with George Washington.

He went to France as agent of Robert Morris in 1789, assisted in opening tobacco trade on better terms for America, and selling of American lands.

On July 4, 1803 he was elected an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati.

After leaving the U.S. Senate, he served as Chairman of the Erie Canal Commission from 1810 to 1813.

He was a member of the 1st N.Y. Council of Safety.


  • He is widely credited as the author of the document's preamble, and has been called the "Penman of the Constitution." In an era when most Americans thought of themselves as citizens of their respective states, Morris advanced the idea of being a citizen of a single union of states.


  • articles

    • Articles of Confederation

  • instruction

    • instruction to Benjamin Franklin (1st United States minister to France)


Morris held conservative position between radicals (who wished “reign of terror” against Loyalists) and staunch Loyalists (who wished to remain united with Eng.).

not reelected to Continental Congress because of refusal to support Gov. George Clinton and N.Y.’s claims to Vt.

He favored strong centralized government controlled by rich and well-born, a president elected for life, and a senate appreciated for life by president.;

noted for his cynical contempt for democracy;


Member of New York Provincial Congress from Westchester County, 1775-1777. Member Constitutional Convention from New York, July 1775, drafted (with John Jay and Robert R. Livingston) Articles of confederation, secured provision of elected governor rather than Executive Board. Member commission to organize new government New York State.

Member 1st New York Council of Safety. Member Continental Congress from New York, 1777-1778, drafted instruction to Benjamin Franklin (1st United States minister to France). Member United States Senate (Federalist) from New York, April 3, 1800-1803, supported Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.