Gonvernenr Morris, an American statesman, born at Morrisania, Westchester co., N. Y., Jan. 31, 1752, died there, Nov. 6, 1816. He graduated at King's (now Columbia) college in 1768, and in 1771 was admitted to the bar. At the age of 18 he wrote a series of newspaper articles on finance, which attracted much attention. From 1775 to 1778 he was a delegate to the provincial congress of New York, in which he was a member of the committee for drafting a constitution for the state. He was a delegate to the continental congress in 1777, and passed the following winter at Valley Forge as one of a committee appointed to examine, with Washington, into the state of the army. In 1779 he published a pamphlet entitled " Observations on the American Revolution." In May, 1780, he was thrown from his carriage, and his leg was injured so as to require amputation. In July, 1781, he was chosen by Robert Morris as assistant superintendent of finance, which office he held for 34, years. After the revolution he resumed the practice of law, and also engaged with Robert Morris in mercantile speculations. On the death of his mother in 1786, he purchased the patrimonial estate at Morrisania from his brother.
In 1787 he published an address to the assembly of Pennsylvania against the abolition of the bank of North America. He was a delegate from Pennsylvania to the constitutional convention of 1787, and was one of the committee of five appointed to draft the constitution. Mr. Morris sailed for France on business in December, 1788, and while there kept a minute diary. In 1791 he was appointed by Washington secret agent to England, to settle unfulfilled terms of the old treaty; he remained in London till September, but effected nothing. In 1792 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to France, and served until October, 1794, when he was recalled at the request of the French government, and travelled in Europe until the autumn of 1798. In 1800 he was elected by the legislature of New York to fill a vacancy in the United States senate, and served in that body till 1803, acting with the federalists. He spent the latter years of his life in retirement. He was a fine orator, and delivered numerous public addresses.
He was one of the earliest promoters of the project for constructing the Erie canal, was chairman of the canal commissioners from their first appointment in March, 1810, until near the end of his life, and in the summer of 1810 examined the route to Lake Erie. Morris's resemblance to Washington was so close that he stood as the model of his form to the sculptor Houdon. His life, with selections from his correspondence and papers, has been written by Jared Sparks (3 vols. 8vo, 1832).