Gouverneur Morris I (January 31, 1752 – November 6, 1816) 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. He is widely credited as the author of the document's preamble, and has been called the "Penman of the Constitution."
- Upon what principle is it that the slaves shall be computed in the representation? Are they men? Then make them citizens, and let them vote. Are they property? Why, then, is no other property included? The houses in this city are worth more than all the wretched slaves who cover the rice swamps of South Carolina. The admission of slaves into the Representation when fairly explained comes to this: that the inhabitant of Georgia and South Carolina who goes to the Coast of Africa, and in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity tears away his fellow creatures from their dearest connections and damns them to the most cruel bondages, shall have more votes in a Government instituted for protection of the rights of mankind, than the Citizen of Pennsylvania or New Jersey who views with a laudable horror, so nefarious a practice.
- Debate at the Constitutional Convention (August 8 1787)
- Every Society from a great nation down to a club had the right of declaring the conditions on which new members should be admitted. (August 9 1797)
First Letter to Thomas Pinckney (1792)
- Gouverneur Morris wrote this letter from August 13, 1792 Thomas Pinckney, Text Online
- I had the pleasure to acknowledge yours of the first of Au gust by a courier, who left this city a few hours after I received it. I hope this will find you well and happy in London. The young gentleman whom I mentioned to you as being about to come hither is arrived, so that we must wait for another conveyance for the packet. In the mean time be so kind as to let me know your address in London. Mine is Rue de la Planche, No. 488.
- We have had here within these few days some serious scenes, at which I am not surprised, because I foresaw not only a struggle between the two corps, which the constitution had organized, viz. the executive (so called) and the legislative. But I was convinced that the latter would get the better. Such is the natural, and indeed the necessary order of things. It is nevertheless a painful reflection, that one of the finest countries in the world should be so cruelly torn to pieces. The storrn which lately raged is a little subsided, but the winds must soon arise again, and perhaps from the same, perhaps from another quarter. But that is of but little consequence, since in every case we must expect a little rage and devastation. A man, attached to his fellow men, must see with the same distress the woes they suffer, whether arising from an army or from a mob, and whether those by whom they are inflicted speak French or German.
- An American has a stronger sympathy with this country than any other observer, and nourished as he is in the very bosom of liberty, he cannot but be deeply afflicted to see that in almost every event, this struggle must terminate in despotism. Yet such is the melancholy spectacle, which presents itself to my mind, and with which it has long been occupied. I eanestly wish and pray, that events may prove all my reasonings to have been fallacious, and all my apprehensions vain. I am, &c.
- In adopting a republican form of government, I not only took it as a man does his wife, for better or for worse, but what a few men do with their wives, I took it knowing all of it bad qualities. Neither ingratitude, therefore, nor slander can disappoint expectation nor excite surprise. If, in arduous circumstances, the voice of my country should call for my services, and i have the well founded belief, that they can be useful, they shall certainly be rendered; but I hope that no such circumstances will arise and in the mean time, 'pleas'd let me trifle away.
- It is not easy to be wise for all times, not event for the present much less for the future; and those who judge the past must recollect that, when it was the present the present was future
- Whenever I go anywhere I find persons in humble situations who smile at me and wish me well. I smile back and wish them well. It is because at some time or other I have tipped them. To me the system has never been an annoyance but a delightful opportunity for the exercise of tact and judgment.
- Bohemian San Francisco, Its Restaurants and Their Most Famous Recipes—The Elegant Art of Dining, 1914, by Clarence E. Edwords
Quotes about Morris
- He never would concur in upholding domestic slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of heaven in the States where it prevailed. Compare the free regions of the Middle States, where a rich & noble cultivation marks the prosperity & happiness of the people, with the misery & poverty which overspread the barren wastes of Va.Maryd & the other States having slaves. Travel thro' the whole Continent & you behold the prospect continually varying with the appearance and disappearance of slavery. The moment you leave the E. Sts. & enter N. York, the effects of the institution become visible, passing thro' the Jerseys & entering Pa. every criterion of superior improvement witnesses the change. Proceed southwdly & every step you take thro' the great region of slaves presents a desert increasing, with the increasing proportion of these wretched beings. The admission of slaves into the Representation when fairly explained comes to this: that the inhabitant of Georgia and S.C. who goes to the Coast of Africa, and in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity tears away his fellow creatures from their dearest connections & damns them to the most cruel bondages, shall have more votes in a Govt. instituted for the protection of the rights of mankind, than the Citizen of Pa. and N. Jersey who views with a laudable horror, so nefarious a practice. … He would sooner submit himself to a tax for paying for all such negroes in the U. States, than saddle posterity with such a Constitution
- Morris should be remembered for his antislavery expressions in the Convention of 1787 and many other contributions to the final product of that convention.
- The language of the U.S.Constitution would be much poorer if it were the for the words of Gouverneur Morris
- Ryan J. Barilleaux on Gouverneur Morris U.S. constitution
- One of the three who dominated debate at the Constitutional debate
- Carol Berkin on Gouverneur Morris at the debate
- Encyclopedic article on Gouverneur Morris at Wikipedia